Right uses left
Through its amplification of an interlinked, multi-centered network organized around institutions like Lozansky’s American University in Moscow and the Voltaire Network and conferences like Moscow’s “Multi-Polar World” and Tehran’s “New Horizons,” syncretic networks associated with Dugin’s Eurasianist ideology have combined distortions and ambiguities into a geopolitical narrative meant to confuse audiences and promote authoritarian populist opposition to liberalism.
The “gray measures” used to deny the Kremlin’s influence operations may seem dubious when delivered through channels like Sputnik that are, themselves, political technologies of far-right political influence. When cycled through “narrative laundering” of secondary and tertiary networks enhanced by trolls and coordinated influence operations, however, propaganda is “graywashed” of its dubious sources and presented as cutting-edge journalism.
As shown with Figure 3, think tanks like Katehon and connected Russian Institute for Strategic Studies develop strategies for media spin and online promotion through influence groups and botnets. These think tanks engage in feedback loops with Russian state media channels and linked syncretic news sites, amplified through social media with the help of botnets, and eventually reaching more legitimate sources often freed of their dubious sourcing. The results are explored by a recent study from Data and Society called Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online: “Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas, and so on.”
Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.
And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).
the two most influential things I did last year was watch this short film and read Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us.
In an essay on inequality in 2015, The Atlantic talked about the effects of poverty on children.
“Children from families with less income have relatively less extensive and privileged social networks and, compared to their rich peers, are more likely to experience the type of “toxic” stress that can hamper brain development and long term academic, health, and economic outcomes. In short, inequality entrenches immobility not just by enabling increasingly unequal transfers of wealth from one generation to the next, but also through a number of more subtle pathways that affect opportunity on a daily basis. As more of the benefits of growth flow to a narrower slice of households at the top of the wealth scale, it becomes increasingly more challenging for the majority on the wrong side of the inequality divide to make the investments in themselves, their children, and their neighborhoods that can foster their mobility. Once political power is added to the mix — the established fact that the beneficiaries of high inequality are disproportionately influencing public policy on their behalf — the opportunities for the middle class and poor to build better lives become even more limited.”
Kimberly Noble, professor of neurology and education at Columbia, found in a study that poverty physically affects the brains of low income children: “Family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size — specifically, the surface area of the cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain that does most of the cognitive heavy lifting. Further, we found that increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children,” Noble said in 2015 in the Washington Post. A 2013 study found that more Americans are living in high-poverty areas — where annual income is below $23,000 for a family of four — than at any other point in our nation’s history.