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Published: 09-09-2020 // Written by: Diana Munteanu
Without Quite Knowing
Without Quite Knowing is a meditation on change, a reflection of the times it’s been conceived – times in which previously taken for granted certainties have been shaken and can no longer be left unquestioned. The alienation, the lack of direction and frames of meaning that characterize the disruptions like those we have experienced in the past months, find their expression in this performance through disembodied movements, an uncanny technological mediation, and a relentless drive to ask questions. In a dark room, a low positioned cold light shines over a reclusive plaster sculpted head. Stillness and silence prevail until a voice creeps inside the earphones. The voice belonging to a performer is narrating her thoughts, hesitations, disclosures from the process of making the performance. The audio channels switch in between, we hear different voices, different stories, points of view, from different times and spaces. From the dazing and dizzying audio convolution, a sudden “Why” resonates across the room from the stage.    “Why should I be moved by anything else than the desire to ask questions?” This question will reverberate throughout the whole performance.  Three bodies enter the stage one by one. One is silent, one is speaking, and the last one has headphones on, listening. Each dancer is following their own inner call to move, very absorbed by what they are doing. They are aware of each other but they seem to move in isolation, without interacting. Their movements are fragmented, distorted, awkward at times. A hand reaches out, stops halfway, goes back, and loops the motion—while the rest of the body is performing an entirely different sequence from that of the limb. There’s no apparent rhythm that directs them. However, none of this looks arbitrary either. There is indeed a strong feeling of improvisation, but also of an underlying structure that somehow always evades definition. Commands like “Switch” and “Drop” hint that these are more like exercises, or tasks being executed following an obscure internal logic. They change the course of the movement and function like nodes in the interaction between the dancers. Halfway through, a memorable and revealing phenomenon occurs. The dancers’ movements start to accelerate in velocity and intensity towards a point of which feels like unleashing a stream of consciousness. Words and sentences in different languages blend gush out in a swirl along with expanding movements. The body seems to fully mirror the state of mind, moreover, their unity in motion is so clear and conspicuous, it feels like witnessing a genuine transformation across different states rather than watching a choreographed performance. The relationship of mind and body resurfaces throughout the piece several times, but its most distinct manifestation comes from the very format of the performance which makes extensive use of spoken word juxtaposed with body movement. Gazing at the performers’ moves, I found myself pondering the continuity between thought and movement. Could we think of thought and speech as movements of the mind as body movements are to the body? And what about the opposite, are our body movements our body’s thoughts? The experience of listening to the performer’s thoughts, which reflect on the making process, while watching the finished result brings a meta-dimension to the role of the audience, as if temporarily inhabiting someone else’s mental space. There’s no sense of breaking the fourth wall—this piece feels like it can’t even be contained by walls.  The feedback loops incorporated into the piece makes it feel like all of the elements feed into each other like a breathing organism, and always changing. Fortunate to watch the performance more than once, what struck me was the open-endedness and the great degree of variation and freedom that is inherent in the choreography. If you’re wondering in the end what the piece is all about, I still can’t tell you. No aboutness can be grasped, nor any common frames of reference will help fit it into a coherent whole, as this is precisely what the performance constantly evades. There are only questions, contradictions, disruptions, and sounds. At the bottom of it all, you meet yourself—three versions of yourself that invite you for a ride surrendering to the poetry, the abstraction, the ambiguity, and the open-endedness, which are the preconditions of any great transformation.  Dansmakers 11 and 12 September 2020 TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE Choreography: Irina Baldini Assistant: Simona Piras Performers and voice: Elisa Vassena, Artémise Ploegaerts, Marco Caudera, Charlie Prince Voice: Andrew Demetriou, Tashi Iwaoka, Irina Baldini Visual and sound design: Irina Baldini Lights: Ellen Knops Co-production: 4bid Gallery – developing temporary cultures, OT301, AFK
Issue #032 Published: 09-09-2020 // Written by: Jan Pieter ’t Hart (Kriterion)
Film/Documentary tip top 5
Every issue we publish a tip top 5 of documentaries and films that we think are worth watching.This issues list has been created by Jan Pieter ’t Hart from Kriterion.If available we share the content on our Youtube channel. Allen Tegen Allen Director: Luuk Bouwman Release: 1 October 2020 Topic: What makes a fascist? Where to find it: In theaters from 1 October, and once in Kriterion on October 14th, including a Q&A with the director. Was fascism a one-off historical phenomenon or something of all times, a certain mentality? This film investigates this question on the basis of pre-war fascism in the Netherlands. Stop Filming Us Director: Joris Postema Release: 1 April 2020 Topic: Western framing of the Congo Where to find it: Online platforms like Picl, Vitamine Cineville, Pathe Thuis and CineMember. This docu creates a cinematic dialogue between Western perceptions and the Congolese experience of reality. While the Congolese perspective becomes clearer in the film, questions arise about the perspective of the film itself. Born in Flames Director: Lizzie Borden Release: 1983 Topic: Feminism, racism, social critique Where to find it: Vimeo on demand Influential political sci-fi film. Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, it presents a dystopia in which the issues of many groups - minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists - are dealt with by the government.  ​Possibly in Michigan Director: Cecelia Condit Release: 1983 Topic: Feminist operatic fairytale Where to find it: On Youtube and in Kriterion on September 3th. In this operatic fairytale in Technicolor, a masked man stalks a woman through a shopping mall and follows her home. Combining the commonplace with the macabre, humor with the absurd, Condit constructs a world of divided reality. Ways of Seeing Director: John Berger Release: 1972 Topic: Art and sociology Where to find it: All four episodes are available on Youtube A fantastic mini-series by art critic John Berger, with 30-minute cleverly constructed episodes reflecting upon advertising, reproduction, the female nude and photography.  
Issue #032 Published: 31-08-2020 // Written by: Menno Grootveld
Losgeslagen populisme: Hoe rechts gebruik maakt van de pandemie om de macht te grijpen
Covidioten aller landen: Verenigt u! Er is een slechte grap over de sociale media die als volgt gaat: In het verleden had ieder dorp zijn dorpsidioot. Die wisten dat ze idioten waren omdat hun dorpsgenoten hen daar vaak aan herinnerden. Toen kwamen de sociale media. De dorpsidioten gingen online en ontmoetten alle andere dorpsidioten die elkaar er al snel van wisten te overtuigen dat hun vermeende idiotisme in feite verkeerd begrepen slimheid was. Niet wíj zijn de idioten, maar alle anderen. Als je kijkt naar de mediabeelden van de protesten tegen Covid-gerelateerde voorzorgsmaatregelen als gezichtsbedekking en social distancing, is het lastig om geen kern van waarheid te ontwaren in deze grap. Er heeft zich een nieuwe groep idioten – de covidioten – gevormd, die verhalen de wereld in stuurt over door Facebook geïnspireerde samenzweringen rond 5G, Bill Gates, mind control en natuurlijk het virus zelf, dat voor hen niets anders is dan ‘een griepje.’ Dikwijls associëren ze zich bereidwillig met de ideologen van extreemrechts en vergelijken ze het dragen van mondkapjes met het dragen van de Davidsster tijdens de nazi-bezetting, of verwijzen ze naar het stalinisme, omdat van hen wordt gevraagd hun ouders te beschermen door ze een tijdje niet te knuffelen. De misschien wel ernstigste uiting van deze nieuwe trend vond niet in Nederland plaats, maar op 2 augustus jl. in Duitsland, toen 17.000 covidioten zonder enige bescherming de straten van Berlijn op gingen, precies op het moment dat het aantal Covid-besmettingen weer begon op te lopen. Alternatieve feiten Hoewel je vol ongeloof naar een dergelijke mate van burgerlijke degeneratie zou kunnen kijken, speelt hier meer dan alleen maar de door de sociale media mogelijk gemaakte covidiotie. Het is ongelooflijk om te zien hoezeer politiek rechts heeft geïnvesteerd in de strijd tegen het gezond verstand rondom Covid-19. Veel van de samenzweringstheorieën die het internet over gaan zijn gefabriceerd door een van de in de VS gevestigde rechtse media, zoals Info Wars of Breitbart, of hun Europese filialen. Blijkbaar zien deze extremisten de corona-pandemie als een testcase voor hun oorlog tegen het gezond verstand van een gedeelde werkelijkheid. Laten we niet vergeten dat de voortdurende aanval op eenvoudige, objectieve waarheden waar we nu getuige van zijn, op de eerste dag van het presidentschap van Donald Trump mainstream is gegaan. In een poging om de onverdedigbare claim van de grootste menigte uit de geschiedenis van presidentiële inauguraties te verdedigen, heeft Kellyanne Conway de wereld die dag laten kennismaken met de notie van ‘alternatieve feiten.’ Het was een poging om de president en zijn regering carte blanche te geven om ongemakkelijke waarheden te negeren en een wereld te creëren waarin het de regering is die bepaalt wat waar is en wat niet. Met betrekking tot Covid-19 zijn we ruimschoots in de gelegenheid gesteld om de regering-Trump dit dodelijke spel te zien spelen, waarbij de eigen bevolking aan een voorheen onvoorstelbare hoeveelheid totaal onnodig lijden werd onderworpen. De pogingen om de geschiedenis te herschrijven zijn overduidelijk. De misschien wel meest bizarre gebeurtenis in deze eindeloze keten van absurditeiten was Trumps pronken met een groep ‘alom gerespecteerde’ artsen die het succes van de regering bij de aanpak van de pandemie zou hebben geprezen. Later bleek dat ten minste één van die ‘artsen’ berucht was wegens zijn bewering dat gynaecologische problemen zoals cysten en endometriose worden veroorzaakt doordat mensen in hun dromen seks hebben met demonen en heksen. Deze ‘artsen’ beweren ook dat buitenaards DNA momenteel in medische therapieën wordt gebruikt om te voorkomen dat mensen religieuze gevoelens gaan koesteren. Een wereld van onverdraagzaamheid: Café Weltschmerz In Nederland is het vooral het schijnbaar gematigde Café Weltschmerz dat de thuisbasis is geworden van de vrijheidsstrijders tegen de medische wetenschap en de mondkapjes. Hoewel Café Weltschmerz zich graag profileert als een neutraal internet-platform en YouTube-kanaal voor afwijkende stemmen over kwesties van maatschappelijk belang, zijn deze stemmen verdacht stil gebleven toen bijvoorbeeld de regerende liberalen van de VVD besloten om de Nederlandse pensioenen te koppelen aan het wel en wee van de internationale financiële markten. En over het algemeen is er bij Café Weltschmerz weinig belangstelling voor stemmen die afwijken van de neoliberale consensus, wordt er niets gezegd over de problemen die het gevolg zijn van decennia van bezuinigingen, de onverdedigbare ecologische voetafdruk van de Nederlandse industrie of welke relevante uitdaging ook waarmee de mensheid wordt geconfronteerd als het gaat om haar eigen voortbestaan. Wat men in plaats daarvan krijgt voorgeschoteld is het volledige spectrum van corona-complotten en interviews, waarin leden van haatgroepen mogen vertellen hoe moeilijk het is om als jonge racist in Nederland te leven. Café Weltschmerz is in 2013 opgericht door Max von Kreyfelt, een creatieve ondernemer in de designwereld, en Dirk van Weelden, een filosoof en schrijver. Het is een typisch voorbeeld van de ontaarding van de politieke cultuur in Nederland (en het Westen in het algemeen) na de jaren zestig. In Nederland kwam deze ontaarding aan het begin van deze eeuw voor het eerst aan het licht, toen Pim Fortuyn een bijna dodelijke aanval op de multiculturele samenleving inzette. Zijn strategie was het benadrukken van traditionele ‘liberale’ waarden als individuele vrijheid en de vrijheid van meningsuiting, ook al waren deze waarden in strijd met de waarden van andere culturen, zoals de islam. Een paar jaar later deden Ayaan Hirsi Ali en Theo van Gogh er nog een schepje bovenop met de film Submission, ter bevestiging van de westerse culturele waarden tegenover de ‘achterlijke’ islamitische waarden, en nog weer later werd het stokje overgenomen door Geert Wilders en Thierry Baudet, die uitgesproken islamofobe, xenofobe en racistische opvattingen in het parlement en de media vertolkten. De vrijheid van alternatieve feiten Wat deze ‘vrijheidsstrijders’ bewust negeren is dat ze door hun handelwijze het concept de individuele vrijheid veranderen in een bijna totalitair concept, dat overduidelijk in strijd is met de oorspronkelijke gedachte. Absolute vrijheid is onmogelijk en moet zelfs niet worden nagestreefd. Er moet altijd rekening worden gehouden met de context waarin de vrijheid tot uitdrukking wordt gebracht, evenals met andere waarden (zoals ‘broederschap’ en ‘gelijkheid’). Losstaand, gereduceerd tot het particuliere bezit van een individu, verliest vrijheid iedere betekenis en wordt het een leeg en onmenselijk begrip. Helaas heeft deze denkwijze na de jaren zestig delen van de Europese intellectuele cultuur in haar greep gekregen. Nergens is de malaise zo groot geweest als in Nederland. In een interview met de Volkskrant stelt Max von Kreyfelt het als volgt: ‘In Café Weltschmerz moet je alles kunnen zeggen. Alles mag.’ Een van de neveneffecten van dit Mickey-Mouse-liberalisme is dat de sluisdeuren worden opengezet naar de eerder genoemde ‘alternatieve feiten.’ Makers en volgers van Café Weltschmerz delen de mening dat ‘het establishment’ (lees: iedereen die het niet met hen eens is) erop uit is om de vrijheid van meningsuiting te verstikken en de individuele vrijheden aan allerlei beperkingen te onderwerpen. Zij geloven dat ‘iedere regering onder curatele staat van de WHO, en dus van Bill Gates’ (een rechtstreeks citaat van Van Kreyfelt uit hetzelfde interview met De Volkskrant) en dat het uiteindelijke doel is om overal 5G te installeren, teneinde het beoogde controle- en bewakingssysteem te vervolledigen. Het probleem is dat dit soort samenzweringsdenken in de weg staat van een oprecht en ook absoluut noodzakelijk debat over 5G of de zin en onzin van bepaalde anti-coronamaatregelen. Het zaait verwarring en saboteert eerlijk activisme dat probeert te mobiliseren tegen reële gevaren zoals de verwaarlozing van de klimaatverandering, de ongelijkheid, en de sociale en economische onrechtvaardigheid in het algemeen. Lessen in de vrijheid van kameraad Stalin Interessant is dat voor dit alles een precedent bestaat. Paradoxaal genoeg (of misschien is het wel helemaal niet zo paradoxaal) werd het concept van alternatieve feiten uitgevonden en geperfectioneerd in het stalinistische Rusland. Vanaf de laatste jaren van Stalins regime tot aan zijn eigen dood in 1982 trad Michail Soeslov op als de belangrijkste ideoloog van het Kremlin. Communistische apparatsjiks plachten naar zijn kantoor te komen als ze een citaat van Lenin nodig hadden om een nieuw beleidsproject te rechtvaardigen. Soeslov ging dan naar een grote kast, opende een lade en koos een kaart met een handgeschreven citaat dat geschikt was voor deze rol. Het punt is dat al deze citaten volledig uit hun context waren gerukt. Het gebeurde zelfs dat Soeslov na de dood van Stalin hetzelfde citaat koos, dat eerder was gebruikt om een typisch stalinistische maatregel te rechtvaardigen, ter verdediging van een totaal tegenovergesteld beleidsvoorstel tijdens het bewind van Chroesjtsjov. Vandaag de dag gebruikt de Russische president Poetin dezelfde methode om zijn tegenstanders in toom te houden en te controleren. Ja, sommige tegenstanders zijn vermoord (zoals Boris Nemtsov) of gevangen gezet en verbannen (zoals Michail Chodorkovski), maar de meest effectieve manier om zich te ontdoen van iedere echte oppositie was het creëren van valse oppositiebewegingen en -partijen die in werkelijkheid door het Kremlin werden gestuurd. Het meest gedurfde voorbeeld van dit beleid komt uit de koker van Vladislav Soerkov, een sleutelfiguur in de regering van Poetin. Onder het pseudoniem Nathan Doebovitski heeft hij vijf romans geschreven die allemaal zeer kritisch waren over Poetin (waarvan de bekendste Close to Zero is, gepubliceerd in 2009). Het is niet verwonderlijk dat Soerkov alle beweringen dat hij de auteur van deze werken is heeft ontkend. Een andere belangrijke ideoloog van Poetins bewind is Alexander Doegin, een dubieuze figuur die pleit voor het ‘eurasianisme’ en berucht is om zijn uitgesproken fascistische opvattingen. Doegin is een vaste gast op de G10, de grootste jaarlijkse Amsterdamse conferentie over economie en filosofie. Doegin wordt ook beschouwd als de bedenker van het concept van de ‘Hyperborea,’ ter aanduiding van het gebied waarin de ethische Russen leven. Joden en moslims worden gezien als ‘indringers’ die de plaats innemen van de oorspronkelijke (lees: Arische) bevolking. De term ‘boreaal’ is afkomstig van de Italiaanse fascistische filosoof Julius Evola en werd door Thierry Baudet gebruikt in zijn overwinningstoespraak na de Nederlandse provinciale verkiezingen in 2019. Baudet was zelf ook een van de gasten van de G10 in dat jaar. Een huwelijk in de populistische hel: Café Weltschmerz en de G10 Er bestaan veel verbindingen tussen Café Weltschmerz en de G10, maar de meest in het oog springende is Ab Gietelink, een theatermaker uit Amsterdam. Hij is een goede vriend van Boudewijn Richel (de oprichter en directeur van de G10), en een van de presentatoren van Café Weltschmerz. Zeer recentelijk trad hij op als de eisende partij in een proces tegen de stad Amsterdam over de verplichting om in bepaalde drukke gebieden van de stad mondkapjes te dragen. In dit proces werd hij gesteund door de actiegroep Viruswaarheid (voorheen Viruswaanzin), de meest luidruchtige groep covidioten in Nederland tegen de coronamaatregelen. Leden en supporters van Viruswaanzin hebben een prominente rol gespeeld in recente uitzendingen van Café Weltschmerz op YouTube. In de persoon van Ab Gietelink (en van zowel Max von Kreyfelt als Boudewijn Richel) sluit de cirkel zich en komen alle draden samen: geleid door een pervers gevoel van vrijheid zijn zij (en andere ‘vrijheidsstrijders’) totalitaire en extremistische figuren gaan omarmen wier geheime (maar niet altijd verborgen) agenda het vernietigen van de fundamenten van de democratie is, via het ondermijnen van ons collectieve gevoel van een gedeelde werkelijkheid. Door de kritische reflectie te vervangen door de hyperbool van samenzweringstheorieën saboteren deze cynische creatieve ondernemers ons vermogen om als samenleving de belangrijke lessen te leren die de corona-pandemie te bieden heeft. De voornaamste daarvan is de ervaring dat een effectieve politiek nog steeds mogelijk is; dat de vermeende onoverkomelijke beperkingen van de wereldeconomie niets anders zijn dan ideologische hersenschimmen. In tegenstelling tot leerstellingen van het neoliberale evangelie zijn wij als samenlevingen zeer goed in staat om politieke beslissingen te nemen tegen de economische rationaliteit en de financiële markten in. Om deze democratische en diepgewortelde politieke visie tot leven te brengen in een post-Covid-wereld hebben we de krachtige stemmen nodig van eerlijke activisten, politieke dissidenten en alle anderen die bereid zijn om deel te nemen aan de collectieve strijd voor een wenselijke toekomst voor iedereen. Café Weltschmerz en de G10 hebben duidelijk de intentie om deze strijd te ondermijnen met hun giftige mix van creatief ondernemerschap en samenzweringstheorieën. Daarmee helpen ze cynische politieke avonturiers als Baudet bij hun pogingen om in Nederland de macht te grijpen. We moeten waakzaam zijn en ervoor zorgen dat ze daarin nooit zullen slagen.
Issue #032 Published: 31-08-2020 // Written by: Gabrielle Fradin, Liska Suckau
1 step forward, 1 step back: the closure of the emergency shelter in the Staatsliedenbuurt
On August 1st, the Van Hogendorphall officially returned to its original function as a sports hall, thereby closing its doors to the group of homeless people it sheltered during the Corona lockdown. This marked the intention of the municipality to go back to business-as-usual, a laudable goal if it had come with a strong commitment to sustainable solutions for the homeless of Amsterdam. Clearly, closing the Hogendorphall without putting forward an alternative displays the opposite and left the sports hall’s guests to return to the same harsh reality of being homeless. In March, following Rutte’s national lockdown announcement, the Amsterdam municipality decided to transform a few sports halls into homeless shelters for the people most economically hurt by the global pandemic. As school kids and sports clubs left these places deserted, they were soon filled by charity workers, volunteers and a variety of people who found themselves without a roof over their heads during the lockdown. As both of us volunteered in one of those shelters, we wanted to share our impressions of these particular places that provide a much needed space to rest as well as a place where social links are strengthened and future opportunities created. During the 4 months in which the shelter was operating, every day around 4pm, several men started arriving one by one and sat in front of the sports hall around the corner from Westerpark. As some lit up cigarettes, others just lied down or chatted with each other waiting for the shelter to open. Thanks to the city’s decision to limit opening hours to night time, around one hundred men were left to roam the streets of Amsterdam during the day. At 4:30pm the facility opened its doors and the guests started entering the sports hall  heading towards their personal area - a square, tape-delineated space, containing a camp bed, a small desk and a chair. A couple of volunteers, positioned in the middle of the room, at the bottom of what is usually used as stands, set up a small stand offering refreshments and snacks. When the shelter opened, a surprising amount of donated food arrived at the shelter, including Albert Heijn’s most expensive ginger beer bottles, Turkish delights as well as (out-of-date) ultra-nutritious, vegan peanut butter protein bars. As the hype of Corona related donations from big corporations was wearing out, grassroots solidarity took over. Small, local shops and neighbours were providing collected underwear, t-shirts, shoes, socks and basic necessities. Asked about what the hardest part of running the shelter was, Els van Koeverden, the programme coordinator from the Regenboog Groep that operated the Van Hogendorp shelter, pointed out that setting up and implementing rules for a crowd with so many different needs and individual stories was quite challenging. In addition, the shelter was under the ultimate supervision of the municipality. Unsurprisingly, this led to rigid administrative rules that triggered a few problematic situations of people not allowed in, although there were free beds inside. Most guests had precarious jobs that didn’t survive the economic downturn. Predominantly Eastern European and North African, more than 60% of the beneficiaries were originally not from the Netherlands. Still, the astonishing diversity of people, journeys and stories makes any generalisation about the status of the guests hard to achieve. We met guests that had been living abroad for 15 years, hopping from one production line to the other, constantly changing location; others were seasonal workers locked in the Netherlands as the borders shut; others again were Amsterdammers, struggling to find sustainable accommodation. Still, what most of their stories had in common was the forced reliance on extremely precarious job contracts that allows employers and job agencies to easily terminate it. As a consequence seeing some guests find jobs that were as precarious as the ones before came with a bittersweet aftertaste. Most disappointing though, is the shelter’s closure without the municipality offering a clear alternative. Indeed, Els van Koeverden rightly emphasises, accommodation is a basic necessity and is key to putting one’s life back on the rails. It is impossible to get anywhere if one is constantly worrying about finding a bed for the night. That’s why, although we welcome the municipality’s support of the homeless, we condemn the shelters closure. In fact, it undermines the city’s initial positive steps and makes its commitment to the needs of the homeless community appear half-hearted at best. Indeed, any serious commitment to ending homelessness would entail setting up a reliable and permanent network of accommodation centres, alike the Hogendorpall. As it was, the shelter revealed itself to be far more than a mere place to rest for its guests, as it quickly became a safe space to establish social links, access activities and crucial information to grow and move forward. Such transitional places are crucial and the work achieved within a few months at the Hogendorphall should be seen as a positive precedent to be inspired by for future public policy towards the homeless in Amsterdam and beyond.
Issue #032 Published: 31-08-2020 // Written by: Geert Lovink
Delete Your Profile, Not People
“The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky Nobody and nothing seems safe. “Cremated” eye shadow? Canceled. The Dalai Lama? Canceled. Israel? Canceled. Novelty Internet Rappers? Canceled, recanceled, and then uncanceled. Kanye West? Cancelled for not cancelling. The pandemic has proven itself the ideal temperature for the online breeding ground of US ‘cancel culture’.  The spinning buzzword is a product of the merger between social media platforms and the celebrity news industry (previously known as ‘old media’). Mainstream outlets have so far survived off the continuous production of scandals, where VIPs, stars, royalties, and media personalities are provoked to show off their bad behavior, in order to be condemned, only to reappear in the next cycle. In this system, scandals were neither exceptions nor sign of crisis, but the very core of the business model. If, in the past, bad characters would have been ‘canceled’ (and thus disappeared), soon there would be nothing to report about. Outrageous, dreamlike celebrities are, by definition, modelled not to act in a politically correct manner. In the old media model, the audience delegated, or should we say outsourced, their own desires for excesses to them. It is through the extraordinary lifestyle that norms in the ordinary everyday life are defined—and renegotiated. Until recently, celebrity role models (including intellectuals, writers, and actors), have performed in a fantasy world that both fascinates and disgusts ordinary folk, segmenting the very notion of class, of masters, and slaves. Is ‘de-platforming’ going to fundamentally change the ways entertainment and distraction are organized? Unless we change the parameters of our daily conversations and exit the platforms, together, yes. In this social media age ‘cancellation’ means unfollowing or unfriending certain individuals or organizations from your feed. _“If you can’t beat ‘em, ban ‘em.” _It means terminating the communication once you’ve deemed their opinion, behavior, or a particular comment, objectionable. A breakup in the name of social justice. Staying true to the transactional nature of the word, it can be considered a total divestment. Once reservations and credit cards were the objects of cancellation. Now, it is ordinary people. The social media deletion logic has spilled over into the real, with devastating consequences for activists and artists, causing a hysterical hype of witch hunt proportions in some circles. Fear that a ‘cancel culture’ may be here to stay has been demonstrated to us through its explanation of worthy goals, such as the need for open debate and disagreement, which tolerance is supposed to endanger. In this accelerationist day and age, the paradox is that cancel culture can successfully ignore and shortcut the public sphere, and usher out discussion. Users respond in split seconds and before you know it, they’ve moved on. Dopamine-driven, impulsive users are known for their ignorance of the rules set by Habermas and cannot be bothered with the long hours it takes for a general assembly to reach consensus. But the main fear towards ‘cancel culture’ often remains unspoken. The US professional class is de facto locked-in, and simply cannot think outside of the existing platform premises. They live haunted by ‘_Will you still like me tomorrow?_’ Losing followers on Twitter means immediate loss of one’s reputation, attention, and ultimately income. We’re all influencers now. Less likes and retweets literally mean loss of salary. This is the high price intellectuals and artists pay once they have been sucked into the vortex and cannot see a way out. The Twitterati have zero imagination that a debate outside of social media channels is possible. In times of economic crisis, social media panic effectively leads to the closing of the American mind: There Is No Alternative. We’re stuck on the platform. Temporary expulsion of individuals from the tribe or nation has always happened, this is not unique. What happens today, in the age of platform capitalism, is that millions of users are simultaneously presented with the same ‘outrageous’ moralistic content, selected by algorithms whose purpose it is to provoke as much interaction (clicks, retweets, comments, likes) as possible, in order to keep us on the same service for as long as possible. In the age of social media, users are ‘paying’ (with) attention. A cancellation can reach a critical mass within hours. This is the unpredictable part. It is a sign of protest from users when they wish to ‘delete’ evil characters but in the logic of the entertainment industry this is simply not possible. America loves a comeback. And in the digital age, your past can come back to haunt you anytime. At the moment it is uncertain whose logic will win: social media or traditional publishing? The ‘cancel culture’ meme can also be read as an amputated, passive-aggressive version of what is known in geek culture as up or down voting. This is a part of internet culture that originated in forums that existed before the World Wide Web. The branding logic forbids the implementation of the downvoting principle and shows that platforms are not neutral. Users are not allowed to vote, they can only delete or bail out, so to say. To speak in the terminology of Heather Marsh, the user-as-reflector is able to do is to ‘reflect’ current power relations. The technical premises of ‘cancel culture’ are unlikely to change soon—unless world history will demand a fundamentally different network architecture. On the dominant social media platforms, we never hear of the downvoting side, as social media in their current forms are dominated by large marketing firms that organize brands’ PR campaigns, including politicians, pop stars and ‘influencers’. This global management class despises all things negative. They are not hired to organize, critique, and debate. As we all know, we still do not have ‘dislike’ buttons. As a result of this, today’s ‘cancel culture’ is a pretty wild beast that seems to come from nowhere, provoking a lot of moral panic inside the ruling media elites, whose interest it is to keep the ‘bad characters’ on-stage. This is not supposed to happen. The atmosphere has to remain positive—at all costs. Celebrities may be sentenced, pay a fine and even go to jail, but they will reappear soon enough. After the remorse has been extensively covered, the cycle can start again. The spectacle goes on with the aim not to allow any space to address underlying problems such as sexism, racism, social inequality or climate change. The ‘issues’ stay under the surface until—surprise surprise—they burst out onto the streets, provoked by seemingly random events (such as the murder of George Floyd). In theory we could say that when we ‘cancel’, we unfollow and remove, or delete, data (in this case followers or ‘friends’). The collective deletion act is perceived as surprisingly negative and destructive. It’s seen as a symbolic way to say ‘No, thanks, I don’t like you anymore, get out of my life.’ To unfollow someone quickly becomes a statement. Cancellation may be an implicit sign that users desire change, a gesture that they want to abandon ship and call-off a symbolic connection to the figures that have been given power. But this viewpoint may be too voluntary. Using notions from the vanished mass psychology discipline, it would be better to emphasize the hysteria group-think aspect in which individuals ‘dissolve’ into one giant mass act of denunciation and get pleasure from the sudden movements of an online mob that is usually non-existent and invisible. From a European materialist media theory perspective, cancellation is not an armchair replacement of ‘real’ protest but a software effect. Let’s leave the cultural analysis of the ‘mass morality’ (Achille Mbembe), identity politics, and religious aspects of ‘woke’ culture to our American friends. What’s important to emphasize here are the global implications of this culture as it is embedded in code (both on the level of the visible interface design, and the invisible algorithms and AI). If anything, ‘cancel culture’ is an expression of the limited ways we have to express ourselves on the dominant social media. My recent ‘sad by design’ research emphasizes the ways in which behavioral scientists are working for Silicon Valley platforms to produce human emotions such as sadness, anger, and depression. The techno-induced distractions, depressions and resentment has so far produced an extraordinary profit for companies such as Facebook and Google. The good news is that more and more of us are finding out how all this works, in contrast to 2016, the year of Brexit and Trump. However, not much has changed fundamentally since then. ‘Cancel culture’ as a sudden mediated response of the social media masses has itself become a meme. It is hardly something we associate as something that emerges out of street protests or social movements, as such. There’s no doubt that certain norms are prevalent in this context, associated with US-American ‘political correctness’. However, we need to be careful here. Decisive is the toxic clash at play here between two rival male cultures that fight over the dominance of a shrinking, regressive empire: the op-ed culture of liberal-conservative media versus algorithms, written by geeks with their often white-supremist right-wing libertarian mindsets. Sudden waves of ‘public shaming’, initiated by influential mediators, with the aim to humiliate individuals, are never spontaneous and only ‘go viral’ when they trigger values which are embedded and already existing. As Lisa Nakamura suggested, it may be better to transform the individual focus of cancellation into collective ‘cultural boycott’ campaigns as it makes more explicit who’s acting and in what political context it is happening in. Emotional terms such as ‘humiliation’ do not mean much. Record or film companies can decide to no longer work with an artist, consumers can stop buying their products or related merchandise, politicians can be voted out, and most important, investigative journalism should, more often, lead to actual prosecution and change of legislation. The problem is, this rarely happens, resulting in widespread resentment and rage. The endless production of scandals without consequences are the main reason behind the recent rise of organized public online shaming. US ‘cancel culture’ in its current form is indeed a form of ‘protest without consequences’, as social media users have no say about their next contract or new job. We’re talking about clouds of sentiments that can blow over very quickly and even have reverse consequences. In these times in which we build a ‘stack’ of multiple crises, we should not be surprised that a strong anti-racism movement erupts alongside increasingly stricter immigration laws and structural violence, particularly within education and the labor market. What discriminatory artificial intelligence and violence against women have in common, is that they are both invisible. It is our duty as activists and researchers to make power visible. However, we need to take into account that, despite all the graphic and physical violence (that, in theory, can be documented with cameras etc.), we’re increasingly fighting against abstract violence (code, borders, and other forms of structural separation). The Social Media Question is not an irresolvable problem. Jaron Lanier’s 2017 call to delete your social media accounts still holds. What’s to be done is to steer Europe’s big data and artificial intelligence billions into the ‘Unlike Us’ direction of building social media alternatives, build by muti-disciplinary teams, not just geeks (as is still the case of the EU _Next Generation Internet_ program). To say it with the art world’s No.1 follower Hans Ulrich Obrist: “It’s urgent!” Much like in the Covid-19 case, European alternatives to the dominant social media platforms that are no longer based on advertisement and hidden data extraction are entirely possible—and can be built within months. The urgency is there. From the perspective of change, a lot of our institutions will have to be closed down as they are beyond repair—and Silicon Valley tops the list. New business models are in dire need. If you hope that a revolution will happen while we remain polite and do not question anything or anyone incase somebody gets hurt, nothing will ever happen. In these times of acceleration, Corporate America has lost its monopoly of moving fast and breaking things. The immanent breakup and closure of Facebook will be a moment of liberation for mankind. By no means does it mean the end of the internet. Quite the opposite. “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move,” Benjamin Franklin once said. It is sad to see that large corporations are now in the avantgarde position with their (largely symbolic) Facebook ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ advertisement campaign. It is us, users, that are immovable category.  For decades Silicon Valley monopolized and stifled the innovation of communication and business. Users are trapped in ‘virtual cages’, clueless how to escape. Virtually all activists, artists and geeks have no longer any imagination how to an exodus could be organization (let’s not even talk here about academics, NGOs and the cultural sector). Freeing Europe from the venture-capital start-up model, driven by hypergrowth and related ‘free’ services, could lead to a renaissance of social networking tools. The decentralized app landscape may seem chaotic at first, but will inspire young people to become actors again, instead of tragic zombie consumers. Delete your profile, together, not some ‘friend’. Needless to say that the development of alternatives extends well beyond the strategic social media realm. We don’t need Airbnb or Uber to find a rental or call a taxi. New services can be based on data prevention, not protection. Give peer-to-peer a chance. Let’s find other ways that we can search for information, and each other. Yes, this also implies that we cancel Google (not just Facebook) and reclaim their algorithms and databases, as it was us, the people, who provided them with that data in the first place.