“for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust”

A comment from 3 years ago on reddit about Ashley Madison:

Not really question, but I want to make sure that everyone else knows what Mr Biderman knows.
There are few or no women on Ashley Madison. Ads and messages “from” women are in fact from employees of Ashley Madison.
The business model is fairly simple. The would-be adulterer buys the privilege of sending X messages, say 50 for $100. He uses them to respond to ads supposedly from women (unbeknownst to him, of course, they are just plants).
When he starts to run low, one of his messages will be answered. A woman who is, miraculously, exactly what he was looking for and lives nearby, will start up a conversation with him. Things will be looking really good just when he runs out of messages. He’ll have to buy a whole new package of 50 or 100 but someone that women will never as responsive — until he starts running low again.
Personally, I think it’s a pretty sleazy business, but what the hell.
(No, I’m not a victim. I used to run an honest dating site.)

If you want to understand the motivations of the AM hackers, you need to understand how very intensely anons hate this kind of thing. It’s not wannabe-adulterers they have a hate-boner for – they’re quite sanguine about treating AM’s userbase as collateral damage, but if they rationalise this as “punishment” it’s for stupidity not immorality. But that’s by the by. What they hate, with the fire of a thousand suns, is systematic deception and unfairness – because what they adhere to, as a value above all values, is the idea of a level playing field with transparent rules. They know very well that the world isn’t like that, but they believe that it should be and can be made to be by exposing and punishing offenders against fairness – the corrupt, the duplicitous, the biased and self-serving. This is the underlying principle behind both the old anon campaigns against the Church of Scientology, and all the bits of ‪#‎gamergate‬ that are in any sense actually about ethics in games journalism. If AM had actually done what it purported to do, fairly and consistently and without false advertising or making a sucker out of the punters, then I can guarantee that absolutely no fucks would have been given by anyone in that community.

As usual, it all gets a bit skewed in the presence (or, rather, absence) of sex, because anons tend to see male sexual desire as an uncontrollable need exploited by a) individual unscrupulous women (hence the monstering of Zoe Quinn), b) society at large, via advertising and the apparatus of celebrity (hence the rationalisability of the Fappening as a kind of pirate raid on the hoarded sex-value of female celebs, a return to the commons of a resource made artificially scarce), and c) scammers like AM who promise to service that need but never delivar (cf the tremendous anger of disappointed PUAs, who’ve been promised a reversal of fortunes that never materialises in practice). To be male, and to have unmet and probably unmeetable sexual needs, is in their eyes to be permanently and damagingly vulnerable – it’s an unbearable and deeply-resented state of dependency on others. The AM hack is unusual in that in this case that resentment has been focussed on something other than women – but it’s nevertheless based on the same truly horrible and destructive understanding of what it is to be a sexual being.

p.s.: my initial take on the AM hack –

Laura Kipnis says something somewhere in Against Love to the effect that adultery is almost like an American religion – it fulfils a need for having secrets, for private meaning, for a kind of self-ownership based on reclaiming the prerogative of defaulting on one’s public oaths and pledges of allegiance: “my tongue swore to, but my heart (or mind, or other backstage artiste) did not”. Don Draper is explicitly positioned as a figure of envy, even if he simultaneously seems – as he is – sad, empty, driven by futile compulsions. His capacity for duplicity is the most authentic thing about him. The point here isn’t that monogamy is “too hard”, that it’s unnatural and too much for ordinary, unsaintly people to bear; it’s that the couple form is invested with such tremendous significance that it generates a perverse incentive to break out, a counter-investment of equal and opposite potency. AM’s sales pitch – have an affair, take possession of a part of your life that you had surrendered control over, evade detection, act as if invisible and untouchable by consequence – proposes adultery as a ring-of-Gyges scenario, almost like the exercise of a superpower: be Walter White in your own life! And now it’s Naked Lunch time – “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork”…

The Adventure Of French Philosophy

BADIOU: hey Gilles
how’s that body coming
you know
the one without organs

DELEUZE: oh hi Alain
how’s it going with that political organisation
what was it called again
oh yes
“the political organisation”

BADIOU: it’s going great
been hanging out with the migrant workers
doing stuff
political stuff
not that you’d know anything about that

DELEUZE: the migrant workers told me
you and Sylvain just talked
for three hours
about the real

BADIOU: IT WAS A TRUTH PROCEDURE
WE WERE DOING TRUTH

BADIOU: Gilles did I ever tell you
they got rid of infinitesimals
like
a hundred years ago

DELEUZE: Alain
we’ve been over this
not everything is a set
just because you say so
for example
multiplicities

BADIOU: are totally sets

DELEUZE: sets aren’t even real
tho

BADIOU: what do you think
a riemannian manifold is
no really
I want you to tell me

DELEUZE: it’s a metaphor Alain

BADIOU: pre
fucking
cisely

DELEUZE: lol nerd

BADIOU: u mad

DELEUZE: microfascist

BADIOU: spudfucker

Res Publica

PLATO: kings are stupid
why do we have to have kings
anyone who wants to be king
is stupid
but you know who isn’t stupid

XENOPHON: go on then who

PLATO: philosophers
philosophers aren’t stupid
because they know about Ideas
unlike stupid people

XENOPHON: you mean the people
in the cave

PLATO: that’s right
people like uncle Critias
i hate him

XENOPHON: careful Plato
that kind of talk
could totally get you hemlocked
for real

PLATO: I don’t even care
any more
stupid kings
you know what there should be

XENOPHON: what should there be

PLATO: philosopher
kings

XENOPHON: but I thought
people who wanted to be kings
were stupid

PLATO: no idiot
philosophers aren’t stupid
haven’t you been listening
to a word I’ve said

with apologies to Mallory Ortberg, who invented this form and excels at it.

Tunnel Of Love

Not so to exit, so perform exilic
leaderboard, how putatively reft
the early gates unswung, the left undone
or lately stifled. Murder by remote
new-normal novel, fuzzing out on impact:
be that our pitch, our key to elevation
stray pupillage, slipping through jagged straits
unverified of iris, crudely hitched
to heavy providence. Critic of all,
dress down each apparition, pluck from lambent
ectoplasm the least fungible
imaginary kernel; make for home
a final coronet, a bounding circuit
outsizing the imperishable parish.


 

Written at speed, and without one might think sufficient care given the subject matter. The immediate occasion is a more than usually revolting cartoon by “Mac” in the Daily Mail, which nevertheless in depicting refugees attempting to storm the walls of heaven touches on some questions about the economy of salvation worth considering more seriously.