Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Rancid Hypocritical Honeytrap

These days it is hard to wade across the morass of the virtual political world. There are radical activists, those who are trying to make a difference in the world for the better – whatever their flaws – and there are those who aggrandize themselves by trying to tear down such activists while posing as the pure "marginalized" left. One such poser is someone going by the internet name of @RancidTarzie. While also a blogger – The Rancid Honeytrap, hence the title of this post – with 90K+ tweets under his belt he primarily trolls the tweetersphere attacking what he sees as the inconsistencies of various leftist figures: from Noam Chomsky, to Amy Goodman, to David Graeber, to Glenn Greenwald. The latter perhaps being Tarzie's favorite target as it would be difficult on any given day not to find a tweet by Tarzie attacking Glenn. In fact, the tenacity with which Tarzie stalks Greenwald is perhaps indicative of a certain level of homophobia on Tarzie's part (more on this later).

While it is not my intention to fight fire with fire, I think it is important to understand why would any self-proclaimed leftist spend his waking time in such a manner. The main reason for this post is thus to expose Tarzie's own hypocrisy, which perhaps is due to ego-projection on his part – something which may help explain the vitriol he exudes as he goes after his targets. As I will try to show, he is either a phony – someone who poses as a leftist while doing the dirty work of the power structure – or a self-deluded and self-destructive nihilist. While I do not claim to have an answer – only he perhaps knows – either possibility is something that needs to be kept in mind when one sees the level of hatred that flows from this person's fingers. In the end, whatever his motives, it is clear that Tarzie has internalized the very hypermascunilist patriarchal mores that he pretends to be fighting against and thus he is ultimately a victim of the very system which he professes to abhor.

Whatever the reasons behind it, the important issue is that ultimately he acts as a splinter – or, as a source of faux friendly flak, as we shall see – within leftist political discourse and, if only for this reason, I believe he must be outed. And while, unlike his, it is not my intention to suppress criticism, I believe it is important to point out that not all criticism is meant as constructive. In fact, as I am trying to show, there are good reasons to believe that Tarzie's stance is geared toward destructive ends. Specifically, whether conscious or not, his criticism seems aimed at preventing the coalescing of a unified radical left based on convergence and commonality within difference rather than on a self-proclaimed, and ultimately illusory, ideological purity. This is not to say that we should refrain from criticizing sacred cows. I, for example, have my own reservations with Greenwald's partnership with Pierre Omidyar and, in this respect, I appreciate people like Chris Floyd keeping Glenn's feet to the fire. As another example, I personally criticized Democracy Now! (i.e. Amy Goodman) for participating in the censoring of John Pilger's film The War You Don’t See initiated by the Lannan Foundation (Chris Hedges's was included because of his unwillingness to stick his neck out for Pilger):

Yet, in the case of Tarzie, what stands out is the relentless attack on anyone on the radical left who is actually getting something done, with whatever limitations, without offering any type of alternative vision in return. In fact, when confronted with this Tarzie's lame answer was: "Critics aren’t required to provide a vision." I guess he can't walk and chew gum either. Which goes to show that in his mind, criticism and movement building seem to be mutually exclusive.

And so, the main purpose of this essay is to show that Tarzie is a hypocrite who exhibits the very flaws he criticizes others for and who in the end, whether willingly or not, is doing the dirty work of the establishment in trying to discredit the radical left by injecting strife, division, cynicism and ultimately apathy. I will use one case in point, which is the way I came across him in the first place, the second part of a logorrheic two-part essay titled Passing Noam on My Way Out, Part 2: Chomsky vs. Aaron Swartz. The original essay can be found here. In the essay, Tarzie takes Chomsky to task for supposedly minimizing the ordeal suffered by Aaron Swartz. In addition, Tarzie argues that Chomsky is a defender of American exceptionalism because he believes that the United States people enjoy a certain degree of freedom. And so Tarzie's main argument is that Chomsky is unable to apply his own propaganda model to himself. This latter criticism sounded to me particularly bizarre and so I decided to post a comment in order to voice my disagreement:

While I understand your point, your analysis doesn’t really stand the test of reality on the ground. Just look at the recent sentencing of 500+ people to death in Egypt. That is something that would simply not be possible in the US, not at this level. So, Chomsky is correct, there is a quantitative and qualitative difference. By not acknowledging this difference, in the name of ideological purity, you are nullifying the efforts of millions of activists who in the past two centuries have spent their life toimprove people’s lives.

It was then that I was inundated with a barrage of insults interspersed with a flimsy rebuttal. (The entire exchange can be found here, at the very bottom; my handle is PJ). At the end of the brief exchange, apparently unhappy that I wasn't biting into his flame, he first threatened, and then proceeded to delete the entire exchange from the blog with the exception of my first comment. I was aghast. Here was a person who was taking Chomsky to task for not applying the propaganda model to himself (however incongruous that may be) while engaging in the very sort of top-down institutional censoring of radical criticism that Hermann and Chomsky had worked to uncover. In typical propagandistic fashion, he had made me literally disappear while leaving a small trace of the exchange as if to show that his comment section was open to criticism. It was clear that he had studied the propaganda model and was applying it to his blog in order manipulate the perception of unaware visitors and followers. Paraphrasing Chomsky, Tarzie keeps the level of dissent within narrow, pre-determined boundaries, in a manner strikingly similar to the practices of the establishment media. All this coming from someone who pretends to be part of the "extreme left" (per the title of his blog). (The very use of the term "extreme left," commonly used in a derogatory manner by the establishment to stigmatized those to the left of the neoliberal mainstream, should also give a warning of possible duplicitousness on his part). Fortunately, I was able to save the exchange before the cleansing happened, and  it now stands as a record of Tarzie's manipulatory tactics. The question that instinctively arises is: how often and in which ways does Tarzie manipulate the comments on his blog? While we may never know for sure, what is sure is that he does it and that, for this reason, he shouldn't be taken seriously. In fact, he is a perfect case of the pot calling the kettle black.

When I pointed out his hypocritical and authoritarian behavior on Twitter, he responded with the predictable barrage of insults. Again, amidst the insults, the lame excuse for deleting the thread was that my comments were "boring" and that we were supposedly "going in circles." I guess those are important reasons for deletion in Tarzieworld. Here is a sample:

That is to say: comments are carefully manipulated in order to show how most people agree with him while giving the false impression that he is open to criticism. In regard to the insults, the first giveaway to Tarzie's authoritarian personality, I will spare you the experience which you are always free to partake in by looking at his feed. Suffices to say that he has been singled out by Greenwald as

In this regard, as I mentioned in one of my comments on his blog, Tarzie's aggressiveness denotes a deep internalization of the logic of the hypermasculinist Hobbesian capitalistic logic of all against all. In typical totalitarian and narcissistic fashion, he sees any critic as a threat to his integrity that must be destroyed at all costs, as if his own survival depended on it. His behavior, in a way, is thus not so dissimilar to the torturing of Chelsea Manning by the Obama administration, or to that of Prosecutor Carmen Ortiz whose aggressive tactics, it could be argued, ultimately led to the death of Aaron Swartz. And while Tarzie obviously does not have the power to inflict such punishments on his critics, it is not unreasonable to believe that, given the chance, he would behave in similar ways, as he cleary exhibits personality traits that are very similar to those exhibited by those who serve the very system of power he proclaims to be fighting against. This type of hypermasculinist aggressiveness can perhaps also help explain Tarzie's latent homophobia toward Glenn Greenwald.

Further proof of Tarzie's authoritarian nature was offered by Tarzie himself this very morning. Having been caught red-handed censoring his blog and clearly not wanting people to judge for themselves, he has been repeatedly pleading with Scribd and Wordpress (the service which hosts the PDF of our exchange) to remove the document:

As I have stated in the summary of the post in question, I believe that my posting constitutes fair use as it is meant to highlight a clear of case of political censorship. Yet, Tarzie's  internalized controlling patriarchal behavior shows that he is obviously struggling with the inability to control discourse and, not content with censoring me on his blog, he is now trying to use the rentier system of monopoly intellectual property rights in order to impose censorship beyond his sphere of control. If Tarzie was not such a low level servant of power  acting as a flaker while posing as a marginalized extreme leftist, I may actually be tempted to send the pdf to ExposeFacts.org. Jokes aside, the point still remains that Tarzie is, similarly to the NSA, clearly trying to cover his tracks after being exposed for the fraud that he is. Hopefully this post will help in setting the record straight.

No comments:

Post a Comment