By Ally Marie McLean
With all of the censorship and deplatforming done by America’s big tech corporations lately, there have been calls from many on the right to create alternative platforms for dissenting voices. Anarchists can take advantage of this situation and create such alternative platforms, if we put our minds to it, showing the world that if anyone will champion free speech, it is the anarchists.
We could very well end up the heroes of the story if we follow such a course of action, and this kind of move on our part could very well help with the project of pan-secession that so many of us are so passionately involved in. The role such innovations would play in the struggle for pan-secession is simple enough: many would no longer be beholden to the gatekeeping of the state’s corporate cronies when it comes to who gets a platform, what they can say, or a number of other aspects of association that are better off free from corporate constraint.
One example of such an undertaking by anarchists was the infamous crowdfunding site Hatreon, launched by crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson in 2017. Making crowdfunding available to those kicked from the major crowdfunding and payment services, it attracted an assortment of dissidents, including a number of dissidents and reactionaries. The site was definitely a success story until Visa, months after its launch, suspended its services as payment processor. After this, the site was doomed, of course.
Perhaps the best thing about Hatreon is the inspiration we may take in this era of deplatforming and censorship by our enlightened overlords in the corporate world, who insist they have the moral authority to decide what kinds of association should be permitted. And dissidents of the right are not the only ones losing access to services for doing things our overlords disapprove of. Take a recent example of this corporate discernment: Jailbreak PGH, an activist group which does jail support for survivors of the Allegheny County Jail, tabling and raising funds for inmates’ commissary, rides, and small bail, recently had their CashApp shut down without warning. We can only assume that this deplatforming was politically motivated, and the group that was deplatformed is not right wing in any way.
The deplatforming and censorship might not be solely directed toward reactionaries, but it is those on the right and libertarians who are usually the ones pushing for alternatives to corporate platforms for social media, crowdfunding, payment services, and other online infrastructure. The reasons for this seem to be two-fold: it is mostly the right that is being targeted with said deplatforming and censorship, and a lot of the censorship is being done in the name of social justice. This is an example of a phenomenon some have dubbed “Woke Capital,” displays of social awareness and egalitarian values on the part of huge corporations.
It makes sense that the right is largely behind the push for alternative online infrastructure, and it would make sense for anarchists to be the ones to provide it. Many of us are very tech-savvy, and our commitment to free speech would be proven yet again by such a push on our part. Furthermore, this kind of initiative fits perfectly as part of the broader struggle for pan-secession.