Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Is AAV a propaganda merchant who is intolerant of dissent?

I keep getting comments on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page (generally from furious right-wing people) which complain that I'm intolerant towards dissent and that my work constitutes propaganda. 


The idea that I don't tolerate dissent is laughable. Absolutely anyone is free to comment on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page or blog as long as they don't go completely crackers and start inciting murder, libelling people, calling for ethnic genocide, repeatedly posting spam, bullying other users or the like. 

Anyone who reads through AAV comments threads can see that I allow people of all political persuasions to have their say about my posts.

Over the years I've banned fewer than two dozen people from the AAV Facebook page (which constitutes less than 0.01% of the 226,000+ people who now follow it), and on the very rare occasions that I have banned someone for this kind of behaviour I've always informed the community of my reasoning.

People who accuse me of not tolerating debate are guilty of using the censorship fallacy, which manifests as condemnations of anyone who dares contradict your own views as having committed censorship against you.

It suits a lot of people's purposes to conflate criticism with censorship in this manner because it helps them to easily dismiss all forms of criticism as "unreasonable censorship" or "intolerance". The problem of course is that the censorship fallacy relies on a blatant misunderstanding of the concept of free speech. Freedom of speech means that you can say whatever you like (within certain limits), but it doesn't exempt you from having other people use their own freedom of speech to criticise what you said.

Furthermore the existence of comments asserting that I don't tolerate dissent are blatantly self-refuting, because if I didn't tolerate dissent then any critical comments would surely result in an immediate Britain First style "delete and ban" reaction to preserve my page as a "pure" closed ideology echo chamber.

That such comments exist at all beneath my posts prove beyond doubt that they are wrong, because if I didn't tolerate dissent then such comments would get purged from my page and wouldn't even exist would they?


The accusations that I'm a propagandist is not inherently self-negating like the accusations of censorship and intolerance toward dissent, but they do depend on the definition of propaganda, and what I stand accused of propagandising in favour of.
Given that I don't pretend to be offering anything other than my own personal views (backed up with facts, evidence, hyprerlinks, quotations etc), and that I don't accept donations from political parties or big business, is it fair to accuse me of being a propagandist?

Isn't "he's a propagana merchant for his own views" a long-winded and quite smeary way of saying "he's opinionated"? I'll freely admit that I have strong opinions on all kinds of issues, and that I express them through my work. Does that make me guilty of being a propagandist though?

The modern usage of the word propaganda implies dishonesty, the use of loaded emotive arguments and/or deliberate misdirection to sell a particular political agenda. This being the case I think it's reasonable to ask what kind of modern propagandist would call for people to subject their own work to critical scrutiny (like I do)?

If I stand accused of propagandising in favour of the Labour Party (which is so often the case), I can easily respond with articles like this, and this, and this, and this and this and this to prove that I'm no Labour Party tribalist.

If I stand accused of being a propagandist in favour of honesty, critical thinking and social justice, and against corruption, dishonest manipulation and injustice, then I plead guilty as charged. 


Pretty much whatever I say I'm always going to have some people criticise it and I'm absolutely fine with that. In fact the more people who get involved in the debate the better as far as I'm concerned, as long as people stay reasonably civil and avoid hurling personal attacks and blatantly self-negating smears around.

Even though I don't like the insults, abuse, crude misrepresentation of my views, and smears that sometimes get hurled at me (who would?), I still don't delete stuff like that because I find that this kind of commentary against me actually reinforces my work because whenever the arguments against my position consist of little more than foul-mouthed personal abuse, logical fallacies, misrepresentations, rote learned tabloid rhetoric, anti-intellectualism and the like, my case actually looks much stronger.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Why I want you to question everything, even me! 
What is a Closed Ideology Echo Chamber?
How the mainstream media frame the political debate
Why I don't speak for the collective left
Guest Post: A political awakening
What is ... the censorship fallacy?