It grieves me to write this, but I feel I have no choice but to do so if I want to be able to live with myself in good conscience.
I remember some time ago that Michel Bauwens posted something on the P2P Foundation email list reflecting the mindset of Jordan Peterson and/or Quillette (I forget the details) and expressed my negative reaction to it, and didn’t think any more about it afterward because I didn’t notice anything further along those lines on-list and the Blog has also apparently steered clear of such issues.
But earlier this year a comrade at C4SS informed me that such material — alt-right or “Intellectual Dark Web”-adjacent — was appearing on the P2PF Facebook group, which I don’t follow because I’m not on Facebook. They suggested I might want to think about how closely I associated myself with the Foundation, and avoid any public interviews or guest articles that promoted them. That made me uneasy enough that I minimized the amount of P2PF material I shared on Twitter and limited it to the stuff I considered genuinely indispensable, and any material I saw on the Blog I shared from the original source rather than the P2PF Blog reprint as I would have earlier.
I still wasn’t prepared to make a sharp, public break because I had no idea just how toxic things had gotten.
But in the past couple of days, it’s come to my attention that the Facebook group is rife with tropes from the Intellectual Dark Web, along with explicit promotions of Quillette, Aero and the like as antidotes to “Political Correctness” and “identity politics.” Michel and others have also explicitly iterated common alt-right “reverse hierarchies” tropes suggestive that those in movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too, as the common bar room refrain puts it, “don’t just want to be equal, they want to be superior!” The wrong-headed (and just plain incorrect) assessment that “identity politics” promotes disunity in economic- or class-based movements also makes a predictable appearance, as does the spurious claim that these things “push people farther right.”
On top of everything else, those who have called out Michel and others for the direction they are taking have been banned from the Facebook group, and have been subjected behind the scenes to campaigns harassing and attempting to discredit them. This is despicable.
As I noted at the outset, this is very hard for me. Michel has shown me great kindness in the past and promoted my work on the P2PF Blog in ways that have been invaluable. Aside from such personal considerations, a great deal of earlier work by Michel, Franco Iacomella, and others is still of monumental importance, and I will continue to cite it in my own work when appropriate.
Nevertheless, I cannot continue to associate myself with an organization whose internal culture has been overrun and contaminated with such ideas, and where such ideas are actively promoted by the leadership. You are giving aid and comfort to a toxic ideology that came to prominence thanks to utterly wretched movements, hatched in the bowels of 8chan, like GamerGate and ComicsGate, which proliferated on social media and in turn gave birth to the alt-right, and are now being mainstreamed by Quillette, the “Intellectual Dark Web,” and pundits ranging from Reason’s Robby Soave and Cathy Young on the right to people like Aimee Terese, Jimmy Dore, and Michael Tracey on the “Dirtbag Left.”
For this reason, I publicly disassociate myself from the Peer-to-Peer Foundation, Michel Bauwens and anyone else engaged in the activities I described above. I will unsubscribe from the Foundation’s email list and no longer promote its content on social media. When I do cite their valuable older work in future publications, I will always add a footnoted disclaimer stating my views on the course they have chosen to take.
I urge Michel and others sharing his views to strongly rethink the direction in which they are headed. The possibilities of Wikileaks, and its accomplishments in 2010-11 in helping to launch the Arab Spring, M15 and Occupy, were of inestimable value. Julian Assange chose to undermine and compromise Wikileaks by hijacking it as a personal marketing and propaganda vehicle, using it to promote his anti-“SJW” agenda and his alt-right allies, and pursuing a personal grudge by intervening in support of the GOP in the American 2016 election. This was an act of utter selfishness and amounted to sabotage of Wikileaks’ potential. I believe that Michel’s embrace and promotion of the ideas he has chosen to identify with have discredited and sabotaged the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives, and seriously undermined its mission.
To repeat, I beg you to rethink this and take action to restore your credibility. If nothing else, this is required by the P2P ethos itself, and by the stake many people and groups not represented in your inner circle have had in the success in your original mission.
If anyone still affiliated with the P2P Foundation shares my concerns, I ask you to make your voice heard and use your influence to the best of your ability within the organization, to rescue it from this cancer.