Fandom, discursive control, and the (dis)advantages of Hobbesian polity

Metaphorical statement: I’ve eaten so much popcorn the last three weeks. I can’t believe I ever thought I’d get tired of popcorn, but there it is. Still, I find no way forward in my own thoughts without writing about the popcorn and its manner of sticking to or avoiding other pieces of popcorn. There it is. Here are some meta-observations as a sort of conceptual mental floss against the overconsumption of popcorn. For, as you know, the real issue with popcorn, as delightful as it is to eat, cleaning up the aftermath is a pain, and you always miss pieces of the hull in your gums, which start to ache. One might think one should stay away from popcorn entirely, but I am just as susceptible to its aroma and fragrance as ever, even if I now sometimes manage to keep it out of my mouth.

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I. Theory

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 3.06.03 PM

I spend a fair amount of time in introductory classes explaining to students that popular sovereignty is not the necessary, best destination of modern history. We have the governments we have now for specific historical reasons, not because they are inherently “right” and the North American colonists finally figured that out around 1776. Europeans lived in monarchical polities for much longer, historically, and it was a particular form of the monarchical polity, the absolutist monarchy, as it emerged in the West after the sixteenth century, that highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of situations where “the people rule” and led to a wave of democratic revolutions in 1789 and afterwards. By the bye — we often ignore the key development that the state constituted by popular sovereignty maintained and extended the powers obtained by its absolutist predecessor. Our state is more, not less, powerful than that of Charles I or Louis XVI, and this fact, as Alexis de Toqueville noted in his The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution, played a major, if perhaps unconscious, role in the rationale of the revolutionaries.

Anyway.

One of the primary and most controversial theorists of the absolutist polity was Thomas Hobbes, who in his landmark work, Leviathan (1651), famously argued that man’s life in the state of nature (the condition of man without government) was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” a “war of all against all” in which nothing could be accomplished because all were constantly engaged in strife. Against this, Hobbes wrote, men (yes, in his case, men) authorized a man or group of men to rule over them — the sovereign — who was given near-absolute power. The only right the individual maintained against the sovereign was the right to self-defense in cases of life or death. Because Hobbes emphasized the absolute power of the sovereign over the subject, we often forget that Hobbes was the first important social contract theorist of the western tradition — but to me, this is key to understanding him. On his view, men contract for the supervision of the (absolute) sovereign. Hobbes preferred the monarch as the ideal of that sovereign, but the point isn’t so much the form of the sovereign as its absolute power and the fact that men contracted to establish that power in their own interest of avoiding constant, destructive war and the threat of violent death.

One last point about the history of political theory that I hope illuminates what I want to say below — The emphasis on the unchangeable and irrevocable character of the absolute sovereign makes Hobbes’ social contract theory unattractive to many of us. As a result, we derive most modern contract theory either from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government (1689) or Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1762), both of which provide for conditions under which the sovereign can be abandoned or dissolved and reconstituted on a new basis. We also tend to favor these later theorists’ ideas over those of Hobbes because both Locke and Rousseau insisted that political authority could not be constituted without the will of all the people who contracted to create it — popular sovereignty. This point seems so obvious that we almost never ask the glaring question: if popular sovereignty is so desirable, why did people avoid it for so long, and in particular, why did they ever prefer an absolutist sovereign?

The short answer to that question is that under particular circumstances, it can be more attractive to have an anonymous sovereign ruling over one than to be ruled — however consensually — by one’s peers, especially if one distrusts one’s peers or has a tendency to do so.

I would argue that the situation on imdb in the last three weeks is a nice illustration not just of the point which is obvious to us, which is

(a) why the state of nature is so potentially dangerous and certainly unpleasant, just in the sense that Hobbes specified,

but also the less obvious point

(b) of why people have occasionally preferred the absolutist sovereign to the popular sovereign.

We’ll start with the latter point.

II. Praxis

So, yeah, imdb’s Richard Armitage discussion board. Not a location for the faint of heart. Something about which I’ve myself frequently thought, the less said, the better. Fans whisper behind the scenes about imdb and I’ve been party to some of those conversations and I’m sure you have, too, so you know what people say. Not representative of us, is something I hear a lot, and I have tended to agree, which is why I don’t worry about it much. imdb’s got nothing much to do with me or what I’m doing here. Since about the third month I’ve been blogging, it’s been linked in my sidebar solely for informational purposes, not out of endorsement. And yeah, one watches it for the flames, about which one has different reactions depending on the content and participants. (I’m being intentionally vague because I don’t want to discuss the content of the discussions, but their form.)

It’s never felt to me like a very rational place for engagement. I read it for the first time in the midst of the incident described here when I had been fan for less than a week, and that (as well as intervening incidents in which I was more than once a tangential target) kept me very firmly off of it until last summer, when I made a handful of posts to correct a misunderstanding that was being spread about me. I’ve not felt any desire to return. Especially now, because I was never a part of that community and I feel strongly that it’s the responsibility of community members to settle their own hash (however they manage to do that). One problem in a setting like that is, of course, knowing “who” is part of the community, who gets to decide.

In political theory terms, imdb’s Armitage board is a Hobbesian polity — perhaps an extreme variety. I need to note that while it’s tempting to consider this particular board as it’s looked for the last week or so a representation of the war of all against all, in fact it is not entirely representative of the state of nature. There is an extremely limited range of things one can’t say or do on imdb which are specified in the terms and conditions for use of the site, which users agree to in order to obtain an account (whether or not they read them). The sovereign (which we could define for our purposes as the entity with the last word about what is published) is absolute and may not be questioned — and doesn’t even respond to questions. It can be appealed to enforce a very basic series of transgressions on the part of the polity — which it does mostly mechanically by means of bots (software that applies algorithms to enforce certain rules when the demand arises from posters), and occasionally by human interference. But it’s not totally clear when a human is interfering, and beyond those actions, the imdb sovereign (represented in discussions solely as “an administrator” and seen only when something has been deleted) has no opinions and maintains nothing but the cyberspace in which we view the board.

When everything is running right, the board members are thus mostly left alone. The sovereign is far away, emotionally distant and treats everyone very equally, which is to say, not at all unless there is a transgression. This is the attraction of the Hobbesian polity. It’s been my observation over the years that people who gravitate to imdb and stick around are people who tend to be suspicious of, or even hostile to, the rule of their peers. They tend to be explicitly not interested in something that comes closer to popular sovereignty (the traditional forums, where there are board owners and subsidiary mods whose identities are known and who are generally felt to represent community opinion, even if they are not elected officials, and whom everyone agrees to obey) — perhaps because they don’t share the consensus rules of those communities. And they are often emphatically uninterested in the blog, a more extreme, personalistic absolutism than Hobbes foresaw (the endpoint of the development, historically) in which a single individual who sets the rules is entirely free to say or or do what she wishes, and who, perhaps with the help of people who adviser her informally, administers the rules for entrance to and participation in the polity on her own. In other words, it’s my perception that what imdb regulars have tended to like about imdb was precisely the fact that its members, while conceding their need for certain rules, ceded their sovereignty to a distant, abstract entity which enforced only very limited ones, did not interfere very often, and most importantly, did not allow them to rule over each other as they would have to permit in a popular sovereignty. They thus had only themselves and imdb to blame for any unhappiness — not their peers, over whom they agreed not to rule, and certainly not a specific single peer (blogger).

So far the situation when things are working on the Hobbesian scheme.

That hasn’t been the case for a long time at imdb, however, which illustrates the attractiveness and the power of the popular sovereignty model (unsurprisingly — one reason for the disintegration of absolutism was indeed its inability to fulfill responsively the growing needs of people in ever closer community and particularly to mediate conflicts between different social groups and their interests.) A segment of people who posted at imdb posited and successfully enforced a rule extraneous to the imdb terms and conditions, about which the community of all posters either agreed actively, or didn’t care much about, or to which it acquiesced silently. When new people showed up who didn’t know the rule or violated it on purpose, they were effectively silenced. For quite some time, imdb looked Hobbesian with an additional Rousseauvian moment insofar as the additional rule appeared to conform to the general will (or insofar as it did not, those who disagreed didn’t care enough to contest it very vociferously or successfully, depending on your view of things) and the regular posters could thus speak, or at least appear to do so, in meaningful ways about “we.” It looked like we might be seeing the development of a more modern, coercive social contract precisely among people who seemed suspicious of one in the past.

In the last three weeks, however, we’ve seen the forceful return of the Hobbesian sovereign to imdb, which does not enforce any additional rules extraneous to itself, whether or not they conform to a general will among the populace. Although the newcomers spoke in the terms of “free speech” (which they have discovered means little if the sovereign intervenes, as it has at least twenty-five times now), “stopping bullying,” “making the board normal” and “wanting more open discussion,” they have engaged in their own bullying, had little of substance to say, and proclaimed a great deal that is primarily gauged deliberately to inflame the board’s regulars and not to enliven discussion. The mechanism for this change was hardly a benevolent one — read: the accidental synergy between an obvious, indeed notorious troll who quickly found a few fellow travelers whose agendas were not exactly the same but which coincided on a practical level, all of whom were recognizable from other social media venues and who use sockpuppets to make themselves look bigger than they are, along with a few people who had been involved on the board but disagreed with or had never seen themselves bound by the previous additional consensus. Nonetheless, the fact of the change was simple. The agenda of the newcomers was clear, and make no mistake, it was mean, spiteful, and driven by things that have nothing to do with the core interests of the Armitage fandom no matter the gender, age, or sexual preferences of its membership. Despite what this discourse claimed about itself, it was not fan-motivated or conducted in the interest of fans. Moreover, it dragged the regulars to descend to a discursive level they hadn’t anticipated, as they too created sockpuppets, insulted their opponents, and above all could not stop themselves from writing pointless responses to clear provocations made for that purpose by rhetorically expert bullies. But in terms of this kind of problem, imdb purports only to be a Hobbesian sovereign. No popular sovereignty, no matter now influential the community wish, is enforceable that imdb does not which to enforce, even when people come in whose primary intent is to disrupt within the capacity allowed by the terms and conditions.

More disturbingly for fans, perhaps, the general will of the “we” who constituted the extraneous rule has been exposed as not only not enforceable on imdb terms, but not necessarily something that the people enforced it for so long had been entirely consistent or coherent about, and certainly not part of the general will. Social media compound this problem by infinitely expanding the numbers of temporarily invisible individuals who must theoretically be considered in determining a general will — and the sockpuppet aspect made some segments look larger than they really are and thus bogusly in need of representation.Still, in the Hobbesian polity, as long as the purported general will is not supported by the rules made by the sovereign, and one cannot enforce one’s own will only by appealing to one’s peers, because one’s peers are there precisely because they do not seek a popular sovereignty, one will put oneself at the mercy of this problem. The question for the polity at this point, historically, was always whether its members were willing to impose rule on each other in order to avoid the problematic neglect of the sovereign, or whether they preferred the distance of the sovereign and the risk of potential injury or unpleasantness on terms not dictated by the Leviathan (as is happening now at imdb).

This is the disadvantage of this particular version of the Hobbesian sovereign, which is both distant and to some extent erratic. In particular, imdb enforces no border controls. Anyone can post any material on any board for any reason as long as they accept the rule of the sovereign. It enforces no entry level criteria — one does not have to be a fan to post. And it imposes no discursive rules over posters vis-à-vis each other, so insults are allowed as long as they don’t constitute obscenities or hate speech. (It’s a nice example of why a Hobbesian polity could disintegrate — for true absolutisms imposed heavy regimes of censorship and developed increasingly more sophisticated border controls in order to protect themselves from these challenges. This is why absolutisms tended toward variably benevolent despotisms.)

So one is put before a particular decision. The imdbers can

(a) stay for a fight that is likely to get bloodier as the days go on, precisely because the agenda of the trolls is not the one they explicitly espouse for all to hear (free speech on imdb terms), but an entirely different one that is obvious to everyone who reads the site (at the very least, provoke and embarrass Armitage’s fans and increase dissension among them and above all, enjoy the fun they derive from happiness theft);

(b) they can resolutely put everyone who outs him or herself as a troll on ignore, talk only to the likeminded, and hope that their positive threads are comprehensible enough to generate a conversation that will drown out the provocations;

(c) they can take a breather and hope the trolls have had their fun and will eventually go away and not return;

(d) or they can go away, either to a site that will reinstate their Hobbesian situation, or to constitute a Rousseauvian polity elsewhere.

To my mind, however — after eating the popcorn with fascination and a growing level of nausea for three weeks now — the days of a meaningful, open inclusive Hobbesian polity for Armitage’s actual fans are over at imdb.

I’m tense about doing this but I’ll leave comments open for now and see how long I have the energy for any discussion. Please follow the comments policy. I’m interested primarily in discussion of the political / discursive aspects of this, the meta-issue, if you will. And please remember — I’m an absolutist. I decide the discursive boundaries in every case, not trolls.

~ by Servetus on May 14, 2014.

54 Responses to “Fandom, discursive control, and the (dis)advantages of Hobbesian polity”

  1. I never liked the IMDb board because I noticed that people were not very courteous there, and I disagreed with many of the opinions expressed anyway. So I’ve just stayed away — and now I’m very glad I have.
    Don’t tell me the details, I don’t have the time or the brain cells to devote to such dreck.

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    • Yeah — I don’t want to talk about the details, which are silly. The interaction fascinates me though. Early modern political philosophy totally applies 🙂

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  2. OK, bear with while I probably butcher this (my knowledge of Hobbes is cursory at best). So, In general, the Hobbesian sovereign exists at a distance, largely unmoved by the day to day interactions within the polity. Occasionally, the sovereign is spurred to action upon certain parts of the the polity (as has happened frequently in the past week) but still from a distance and still . Is there a provision within Hobbesian theory that deals with a point at which the previously distant, perhaps largely disinterested sovereign, reaches a tipping point in terms of polity transgressions and steps in as a much less distant and less disinterested entity?

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    • Yes, that’s certainly possible. In that case the sovereign is completely justified in everything it does — the subject has no grounds for revolt. (This is why later contract theorists hated Hobbes, or it’s one reason anyway.) The subject may attempt to defend himself if his life is threatened, but he has only the right to self-defense, not the right to prevail.

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    • and I might add — the situation that people (primarily the trolls, but also a scant few of the regulars) have been either calling for or at least willing to put up with — the wiping of the entire board in order to provide a cold reboot — was entirely within the prerogative of the Hobbesian sovereign. It was foreseen by Hobbes.

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      • That’s what I suspected (of course in human terms, that’s pretty chilling!)

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        • Absolutely. There are good reasons to be troubled by what he was saying. (Although most people at the time were more bothered by the possibility that he was an atheist and his use of the Bible against the idea of a Christian polity.)

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  3. […] Servetus describes it – fairly accurately from an outsider’s point of view – here Don’t let the discussion on political philosophy put you off – you can skip to the […]

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  4. Sick of popcorn, really ,unbeliveable. How could anyone get sick of it, haha. Son1 calls popcorn packing peanuts.

    Even in the early days the only thing I would go to IMDb is to check out someone, never looked at the board part of it till 2012 and almost stayed a lucker in all parts of the fandom, due to how bad it was at that time. I wonder how many others have felt the same way? I just don’t have time for all the drama.

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    • the summer of 2012 was particularly painful there. I think a fair number of people have been turned off over the years.

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  5. I’m on IMDb a lot to look up various movies, shows and actors. I’ve lurked on the boards, but I don’t participate. Just not value-added.

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    • It depends a lot on the individual board in question. The Armitage board, whatever its faults, always had the virtue of being on topic as well as being active / lively, which is more than one can say for a lot of the other ones.

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  6. I prefer to look at the imdb boards through the lens of Kenobian theory – it’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy (all of them, not just RA’s).

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    • in that sense, when the trolls said they wanted to make the board more “normal,” they were indeed being at least superficially sincere.

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      • There were serious nasty implosions all over the Dominic Monaghan & Elijah Wood boards 10+ years ago, with some other Fellowship actors’ boards dragged into it. Supernatural & just about everyone connected it has had problems big enough to catch the notice of people outside fandom. So yeah, normal is pretty bad.

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        • it probably depends on what we mean by bad in any instance, but it’s certainly the case that at least one of the imdb Armitage regulars is explicitly on record as wanting to prevent a Domlijah situation.

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  7. I’ve never once been to the IMDb board and I had no idea. As always, I am blissfully ignorant of these things.

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    • Stay unaware. There’s been an uneasy silence for the last few weeks and I know too much of my attention fell on watching it. I’m hoping to release some energy this way.

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      • As an answer to your other post about happymakers which seems connected to this topic, I’ll confess that I seem to be in an exclusive relationship with a particular gif. Without realizing that it was becoming a ritual, I’ve gotten into the habit of pulling it up every night just before I shut down the computer. I think I’ve been trying to say goodnight on a happy note.

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        • That’s fantastic! You SO have to blog that. That just makes me giggle!

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          • I can’t stop myself from smiling every time I look at it. Like magic.

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            • You have to blog it. (and yes, the other post is connected in theme to this one)

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              • Incidentally, I love seeing a glimpse of the way your mind works, as in the structure of this post. It is comfortably familiar to me. 🙂

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                • maybe you should have been a professor? 🙂 reasoning from abstract to particular to illuminate a theoretical system is a fairly common approach where I come from.

                  I want to mention, because of one message I got via email — I am not saying this is the only perspective from which one could consider this instance (political philosophy). The reason I chose this one (as opposed to charting a history of fan dissent / enmity, which I could also have done without too much difficulty, and which history probably underlies this analysis unconsciously) is that I’m interested in the problem the imdbers have set up for themselves, which I don’t believe is solvable within the imdb framework because they have outgrown the Hobbesian polity. In other words, I would be seeking a discursive solution or to understand the situation via a discrusive solution (rather than just in terms of he said / she said).

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                  • nod
                    This seems clearly to be an issue that has grown beyond personal fan ideologies or individual disputes. It’s not about sides, or is no longer about sides. It’s about the machinery involved. As such, it’s not productive to think in terms of who is “right” and should “win.” When the conflict threatens to destroy everything in its path, it becomes necessary to take a more architectural view of the structure of the conflict in order to figure out how to salvage anything from the inevitable collapse.

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                    • agree, not least because the regulars found themselves discursively trapped again and again over the last two weeks. They need a different machine.

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        • 😀 😀 It feels good,Alyssa.

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        • Loved that gif! Thanks for sharing the link Alyssabethancourt!

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    • I second that. From what Servetus has written – excellent piece, by the way – I gather these discussions are highly unproductive.
      However, as someone who’s researching and teaches communication on social media, among other media, I will read them this weekend, because these discussions/fallings out indicate miscommunication.
      What interests me is the driving force behind this (intentional?) miscommunication; why is it triggered and by what?

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      • Sorry, the above post was entered in the wrong place. It should read immediately after Alyssa’s post regarding being unaware of the goings on on the IMDb board. I’m also in the dark (and clearly no technical wiz-kid).

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      • Good luck. They started around April 25th or so. One problem you will have is that imdb allows threads to be deleted if people object. I suspect roughly 60 threads in which much of this conflict occurred are now missing. Given that someone is always watching, there are copies somewhere that will probably reappear when someone wants to chastise or expose someone who participated in the whole thing.

        I think it’s hard to characterize what is driving the intentional miscommunication because the newcomers have at least three separate explicit motives and at least one implicit one. In order to understand what’s going on at imdb you also have to be reading the threads about Lee Pace at datalounge, and a little familiarity with past incidents at imdb and elsewhere where the same people have been involved in arguments would not go amiss.

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  8. I’m idifferent to IT, especially lately when it’s mostly “land of humbug(?)”
    Intrigue and gossip is not in my nature (gender trouble ? 😉 )

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  9. Interesting post! In some ways I think you’re right, that is that a certain group do not like that they are governed by an absolute sovereign. However, I’m not sure that they want popular sovereignty. For this to be the case they would have to say, ‘okay the community consensus stands’. On my reading very few people on the board think that the prior policy of policing conversations about ‘certain’ topics should continue. Most of the regulars seemed to switch a week or so ago to saying, okay let’s just go with the imdb rules. For me the more interesting question is: why stick with an internet space where you cannot establish popular sovereignty? Why don’t the regulars who like to avoid certain topics simply set up their own board. For me that’s the fascinating thing, the persistence with which some people stick to a venue that does not fit their value system…

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    • Hmm, I might have expressed myself poorly. I think they do want Hobbesian polity, they just want the additional extraneous rule added to them. IMO they don’t want popular sovereignty — I think you could almost say to them, if they were to found a new board, that they should go with the old TOS and just add the one rule, and probably most of them would be fine with that. Possibly our perspectives on who is a regular there may differ, but on my read the most regular and consistent contributors have forwarded the additional rule aggressively. Other regulars have decided they didn’t care enough to make a fuss or disagreed but not been interested in a fight. The existence of the latter two groups created a wedge for the trolls who came along speaking in the name of free speech — but that doesn’t mean the other people really wanted popular sovereignty. In fact, they could have been said to want exactly what the imdb ToS promised — Hobbesian polity.

      My answer to your question would thus be that they don’t really want popular sovereignty. Possibly because it is a lot of work and constant negotiation would be the outcome.

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      • I was probably also reading into what you were saying. I’m thinking that if it’s a Hobbesian polity with extra rules it isn’t really a Hobbesian polity. I guess my Q is; why seek out a forum where one cannot have additional rules and insist that it must have these additional rules? I have not been monitoring the board very closely but I think I would agree with you that the most regular and consistent posters tend to forward the rule aggressively, but still perhaps a third of that very regular group do not. And there is also a group of people that seems to post on a reasonably regular basis that do not aggressively support the rules. What strikes me is that these additional rules are very frequently justified in the name of a community that has come to an agreement but the number who actually strongly agree with that rule seems to be very small. Of course this is what you are saying when you point out that the extra rules are certainly not part of the general will.

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        • I think what they want is the Hobbesian sovereign who will also enforce the extra rule. Failing that, they posited a Rousseauvian general will around that particular extraneous rule that they could not enforce in their Hobbesian polity.

          Why a Hobbesian imdb sovereign? That gets to my contention that people historically tended to like an absolutist sovereign when it worked because it was efficient and predictable in terms of its regulation of conflict and required no work in terms of self-rule, constitution of community, etc.. (Because it didn’t do those things, however, the absolutist polity just wasn’t efficient in terms of its responsiveness to changing social needs.)I think the reason they want the Hobbesian sovereign is that they don’t want to rule over each other — they are so diverse and they are better off not spending the time in an impossible struggle for consensus that one engages in as part of effective functioning popular sovereignty — if they felt they could control each other, a power struggle would ensue that would be tiring. If it’s the imdb sovereign controlling them, in return, they can do what they want and no one has to accept anyone else’s mutual power. They just need the imdb sovereign to adopt their own additional rule.

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          • which won’t happen… so they can posit a general will but there isn’t one… what’s the block to dropping the rule? …I don’t know, there is something there I just don’t get, something I don’t see ..

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            • I guess the block to dropping the extraneous rule in our particular case is that when people transgress that rule, some of the others become so angry that they make all conversation impossible. This isn’t really a problem in the Hobbesian polity, which would ignore any problem that doesn’t transgress the sovereigns’ prerogatives. In that setting the disgruntled subject has to put up or shut up (which is what seems to be happening).

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              • Yes! My question was about those who become so angry when people transgress that rule. Why not realize that it’s not possible to enforce it? There seems to be some kind of (cognitive? emotional?) block…

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                • That would require me to speculate on the psychology of the people involved, and that’s kind of out of the purview of this — I specifically didn’t want to write about personalities here, but rather about political interactions. That said, I agree that the answer to that question plays a role in what’s happening.

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  10. Hi Serv,
    I don’t visit the IMDB message boards– I only followed a link inadvertently once or twice precisely. My choosing to stay away is because fellow RA Fans I respect–such as yourself–have seemed to uniformly describe the IMDB message board’s activities as being unproductive and negative (which affirmed my opinion of it from the little exposure I had to it), neither attribute of which I would choose to engage with. Life is short. I’ll stick with the happiness bRigAde. Ha! Love, Hugs, and Cheers! Grati ;->

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    • People have found a niche there, or they wouldn’t be regulars, but happiness is the major focus from my perspective 🙂

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  11. What a fascinating article, Servetus !!!
    Hobbes discussion regarding RA fandom. A dream come true for me 😉

    I must first state, that I have no idea about the current imdb discussion. I was so overloaded with work, that I did not even have a look at the alerts regards RA pooping up in my mails and when imdb is mentioned, I click them away anyway. (As imdb is synonymous to me for ‘bad’ discussions.)

    Following your political discussion, I was absolutely fascinated about your interpretation of the discussion areas for fans. I would have positioned blogs in a slightly – or rather greatly – different way, though in the end, I recognized, the effect is not so different in the end. But I even for blogs see a ruler or a rather ‘democratic’ control on top, ruling over their position of individual rule, so not the individual anarchic position you give them.
    As I am rather democracy-suspicious anyway, that makes not such a great difference in the end interpretation of blogs, though limits their anarchic effect under a democratic cover.
    I see our current political systems, that we are in a state where people figure out that democratic rulers still are not necessarily ‘right’. I just am waiting for the theoretical attempts to approach this matter. (I did not see a good one so far.) The practical approach we already see with whistleblowers everywhere, fighting democratic rule and going back to a more basic democracy of involving everyone and a right of knowledge of all aspects of rule.

    I always liked the fundamental and honest way of Hobbes’ theory and mistrusted the evasiveness of Locke and Rousseau. What great memories you evoked with your article. Thank you, Servetus !!!

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    • Sorry! Should read “popping up” 😉

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    • I may have expressed myself poorly — I don’t see the blogger as an anarchist. I think most blogs try to start out with as little government as possible and realize at some point that they have to more toward more. The point being that it’s the blogger who decides for the community what can be tolerated. Blogs as a whole may tend toward anarchy — or like a political entity like the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th / 15th / 16th centuries, minus an emperor.

      My issue with Locke is his illusion that there is a state of nature to which one can return — he writes as if it actually exists. The problem with Rousseau is more that he never says how the general will can be determined …

      if I hadn’t been a historian I might have been a scholar political philosophy — the whole thing fascinates me still.

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  12. Are all messaged boards on IMDB like this or just RA’s?

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    • I think most of them have been less “regulated” by a small group of fans than Armitage’s has been. I don’t think most of them are as vitriolic as Armitage’s has been for the last three weeks.

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  13. I meant message typing without glasses … never a good thing

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  14. I was just wondering … I don’t normally read IMDB message boards, I am usually there to find out where did I see that “actor” before.

    Any additional comments I would want to make about this are not on topic so I will keep them to myself.

    Atho, I agree that life is way to short for all that type of negativity and anger. Why generate that in your life even under a pseudonym? I don’t totally get it, but to each her own I guess. But again off topic.

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    • I appreciate that. More than you know 🙂

      Yes, if fans want to do that in their spare time, that is definitely their decision and their business!

      Like

  15. […] the midst of mindlessly mampfing the popcorn, I’d read something particularly punishing toward fans, written by someone who claimed to be […]

    Like

  16. […] first, I’m gratified because when the same thing happened at imdb about six weeks ago, the community of regulars more or less disintegrated, although it took three weeks for the trolls […]

    Like

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