Why Parler is worth a punt

True liberals should embrace any challenge to Twitter’s stifling monopoly.

Andrew Doyle
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Following the recent eruption of the culture war, identitarians on both extremes of the political spectrum have doubled down on their bad faith practices and ad hominem attacks. The tribal lines have been drawn, and there is little possibility of meeting halfway. Social-media platforms such as Twitter have been openly advocating social-justice causes and urging their users to subscribe to faith-based positions such as ‘trans women are women’ or the nebulous theory of ‘structural inequalities’. Accounts are being banned not only for hateful conduct, but for unfashionable opinions.

In these circumstances, it is unsurprising that Parler, a new rival to Twitter, has suddenly taken off. Last week, the app acquired over a million new users, and even prominent Republicans (such as Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale) have signed up. Given the president’s recent salvos against Silicon Valley tech giants – most notably last month’s executive order which proposes to remove legal protections from social-media companies in order to encourage political neutrality – it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that Trump himself might soon make the switch.

We have been here before. When Gab was launched in 2016 in response to Twitter’s censorial practices, it was inevitable that unpleasant people would gravitate towards the site in order to express hateful views that would see them banned elsewhere. The founders of Gab understood that freedom of speech is indivisible, and part of the price we pay for our freedom is that those we detest are also able to express themselves as they see fit. Had more moderate voices joined the exodus from Twitter to Gab, its reactionary contingent would have been diluted in the broader marketplace of ideas.

Unfortunately, identitarian commentators in the mainstream media mobilised quickly to dismiss Gab as a nest of fascists, thereby discouraging moderates from creating accounts. The false claim that Gab was designed for the alt-right became a self-fulfilling prophecy. This was no accident. It is in the interests of such commentators to maintain Twitter’s monopoly as the de facto public square, particularly given the partisan manner in which its deliberately vague speech policies are implemented.

Last week, when it became clear that Parler’s popularity was escalating, it was not difficult to predict that the usual suspects would be quick to damn Twitter’s new competitor. The Guardian described Parler as ‘increasingly synonymous with the alt-right’, apparently on the grounds that the provocateur Katie Hopkins had set up an account following her permanent ban from Twitter. The New Statesman has already decided that the site is ‘pro-Trump’, presumably because it has no intention of censoring Trump supporters. According to the article, ‘Parler exists as an echo chamber for hard-right views’ and ‘any lingering hope of balance has already been thwarted’. This may not be the case as yet, but by prematurely making such assertions, activist publications such as the New Statesman are seeking to make it so.

Although I am nervous about the possibility that Parler will simply create another echo chamber, there is much to be gained from attempting to break Twitter’s monopoly. In any case, given the ferocity with which social-justice activists treat attempts at dialogue, is there any choice but to embrace the echo-chamber phenomenon? I do not know whether this is the right approach, but with the identitarian movement increasing its stranglehold on our society by the day, and the ongoing cultivation of a climate in which people are afraid to speak out for fear of being ‘cancelled’, it is certainly worth considering.

Ultimately, one cannot argue with those who are incapable of argumentation. This is why parents of young children do not waste time explaining their reasons, but simply enforce the necessary discipline. The combination of a general decline in educational standards and the rise of social media has led to an infantile culture in which even prominent commentators and politicians are unaware of the basic principles of critical thinking. Too often these days, debate between adults consists of mudslinging, mischaracterisation and bad faith.

It is no great revelation that those who have been seduced by the lure of identity politics tend to fare particularly badly in this regard. For the high priests of social justice, to be challenged is a form of heresy. Not only is the movement largely impervious to reason, but also many of its adherents see rationality itself as a threat to their utopian goals. For those whose arguments cannot withstand scrutiny, it makes perfect sense to redefine speech as violence, and to impute malevolent intentions to any detractors. When somebody claims to know the inner workings of another’s mind, adult conversation is usually impossible. This is why we all need to be wary of those who use phrases such as ‘grifter’, ‘dog whistle’ and ‘so what you’re saying is…’.

For years, those of us who believe in liberal values and free speech have been reaching out to groups who have advanced an identity-orientated social-justice ideology. We have been keen to engage them in discussion and to have our concerns taken seriously. More often than not, such attempts have been in vain. Social-justice activists have routinely mischaracterised our arguments as veiled forms of fascism, racism, homophobia, transphobia or misogyny. While such prejudices do continue to blight our society, they certainly do not apply to liberals, and have been promiscuously applied to anyone who questions the new orthodoxies. Even a publication such as spiked – which has always been consistently opposed to racism and has repeatedly called for liberal immigration policies – has been labelled ‘hard right’, ‘alt-right’ and ‘far right’. When even prominent news outlets are so partisan that they are happy to resort to such palpably false smears, we know that journalism is in a parlous state.

With this in mind, perhaps it’s time reluctantly to accept the echo chambers that have been created by intolerant social-justice acolytes who refuse to open their ears. Efforts by leftist journalists to ensure that Parler becomes a haven for the far right might well turn out to be successful, but at some point moderates will have to find a way to speak out without fear of being censored by the ideologues of Silicon Valley. Like Twitter, Parler has a block feature, which is all one needs in order to bypass the venom of the far right and enable sensible discussions on the app. In spite of underhand attempts to smear users as fascists, if those who believe in true liberalism join in sufficient numbers Parler might just stand a chance.

Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist.

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Comments

kinglbj smith

21st July 2020 at 5:20 pm

gab has block features as well and less conservative top-down censorship built into it.

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Sean Lydon

16th July 2020 at 2:20 pm

*identitarians on both extremes of the political spectrum*

False equivalence. Since when is resisting your own demographic displacement ‘extreme’? On current trends, according to Oxford demographer David Coleman indigenous British are set to be a minority in their own land by 2066. Jamaican racial separatist and ‘back to Africa’ folk hero Marcus Garvey is celebrated in some quarters. Fair enough, it’s normal for people to seek community with their kinfolk. But where do Europeans in Europe go ‘back to’?

The premise here is a globe where *no one* is at home, everyone displaced. But it’s only in Europe and European-settled lands that Europeans have no more right of abode than new arrivals from Mogadishu or Lima. If Asian nations were similarly opening their borders, becoming minorities in their ancestral homelands, you might have a point.

European ‘identitarianism’ is a defensive reaction to explicitlly racial scapegoating on the part of incomers which has intensified as they grow increasingly conscious of their numerical advantage, just as Powell predicted. As the great truth-teller of our time Rene Girard has put it: ‘Not only is the revolt against ethnocentrism an invention of the West, it cannot be found outside the West.’

Tony Benn

15th July 2020 at 10:58 am

Is it true some “opinion formers” are being offered £20k to move to Parler and promote it?

Highland Fleet Lute

13th July 2020 at 11:45 pm

Read the small print. If Parler is sued for anything you write on their platform – you will be financially liable.

IT’S OK TO BE EX-GAY

13th July 2020 at 8:20 am

If they permit filthy sodomites like Andrew Doyle on Parler I have no interest in joining it. Let me know when there’s a social media platform for people who understand even just the basic bare bones of reality, such as men ought not be engaging in mouth to anus contact with other men.

Gweedo LeStrange

15th July 2020 at 9:59 pm

Are you a subject matter expert in this regard?

jessica christon

10th July 2020 at 9:21 pm

Trump is playing games with Twitter and Dorsey’s a smart guy but I’m not sure that he’s sees it. Who remembers 2015 when Twitter was dying on it’s bum with virtually no active users, the kidz had moved on to Snapchat and then what happens? Donald Trump single handedly revives it out of nothing.

He’s fully aware that he could move over to Gab or any of the “free speech” alternatives – but he doesn’t, and I think it’s because Twitter censorship is valuable to him as it rallies his base; being on Gab would do nothing for him in this regard.

Let’s wait and see what he does during his second term when he doesn’t need to seek reelection – that will be interesting!

Tony Benn

15th July 2020 at 10:59 am

If you’ve ever watched professional wrestling you’ll know why Trump is on Twitter and Twitter wants Trump.

mister wallace

8th July 2020 at 12:23 am

It’s worth giving Parler a try, at least ’til it goes feral. Anything to teach twitter et al a lesson.

Dan Under

3rd July 2020 at 10:52 pm

Gab provides for freedom of speech within the law. Parler does not. The Twattersphere as others have noted, having become a censorial Rainbow echo chamber is doomed to vapid irrelevance. Farcebook is en route.
BTW, did Parler make a nice donation to spiked?

alan smithee

2nd July 2020 at 5:59 pm

You need to be a US citizen to have your profile authenticated. Shame Spiked didn’t look this up before wasting time writing this article.

Andrew Levens

2nd July 2020 at 10:39 am

Yes absolutely, we need an alternative to Twitter. It’s all very well blocking the far right posts, but I really need a list of moderate members of Parler so i can follow them. also need government organisations, no 10, police, nhs , local government, to use parler. Many non media Twitter users signed up to get this official information.

Matt Ryan

2nd July 2020 at 12:28 pm

Anything a government organisation puts on Twatter isn’t worth knowing. It might be convenient for the hard-of-thinking to consume it in one place, but it’s not exclusively there.

alan smithee

2nd July 2020 at 6:00 pm

You need to have a US driving licence to get your profile authorised.

Jonathan Swift

3rd July 2020 at 6:35 pm

You do not need to be authenticated to use it. I never gave then my driver’s license number.

steve moxon

2nd July 2020 at 10:21 am

Usual garbage line from Andrew Doyle her of supposed ‘ident(it)arians’ on the Right.
Like WHERE, Andrew? Eh?
‘Identity politics’ is purely a left political phenomenon.
It’s a smear to deliberately mistake to be ‘nationalist’ movements, and ‘white backlash’ what are revolts against the elite for imposing the Left’s ‘identity politics’ — in particular, the widespread if not ubiquitous (accurate) understanding that ‘identity politics’ is cover for attacking ordinary people. The cynical widening by the Left of the applicability of terminology to try to make out that ‘identity politics’ has long been with us as a political-Right phenomenon, evidently is a smokescreen to try to take the sting out of criticism of what has become the main manifestation currently of Left politics. It’s another ‘projection’ of a mirror-image of own position on to those considered opponents, in classic ‘we’re the saints, you’re the devils’ mode. Very few individuals even in the USA focus politically as nationalists (or, vanishingly rarely, ‘white nationalists’): for almost all ordinary people a sense of belonging to a country is merely the furthest extent of possible group identification, and if present at the back of the mind at all, hardly is salient in everyday consideration. Of the very few who may now label themselves ‘ident(it)arian’, it’s as a new subversive ploy, pointedly to oppose ‘identity politics’ on its own terms. Far from nationalism, the main political phenomenon of today is the backlash against the backlash that is ‘identity politics’ / ‘PC’, as so starkly evident both in the election of Trump in the USA and the referendum result for Brexit in the UK. A recent study [Hawkins et al 2018] finds dislike of ‘PC’ is by the overwhelming majority (about 80%) of the US population, and contrary to usual commentary this is across all categories: the young as well as the old, the rich as well as the poor, ‘blacks’ as well as ’whites’ (actually, most especially some ethnic minorities: nearly 90%); and fully two-thirds even of the college educated. Opposition, not only not being some form of nationalism, is not even conservative. Certainly there are more US citizens who are conservative (25%) than progressive (8%), but 66%, fully two-thirds, are “the exhausted majority”, whom the study’s authors found to have no political allegiance; indeed a flexible, open-minded attitude to politics. A UK parallel is provided by the very strong correlation between voting ‘Leave’ in the EU Referendum and several anti-‘PC’ attitudes. Describing as ‘a force for ill’ (as opposed to good) were 78% re feminism, 80% re immigration, 81% against multiculturalism, and 74% negative towards social liberalism [Lord Ashcroft EU Referendum ‘How Did You Vote?’ Poll, June 21-23, 2016].

jessica christon

10th July 2020 at 9:05 pm

Whenever someone tries painting some kind of equivalence between the left and the right with identity politics, making it seem like it’s all the same thing – it shows me that they’re not an honest broker so I just keep it moving!

L Strange

2nd July 2020 at 7:25 am

Looking forward to Donald Trump opening a Parler account – it would be a huge boost to the site and blow a raspberry at Twitter, even if he kept his account there too.

David Wolcott

2nd July 2020 at 1:11 am

It’s ironic you pick on the phrase “So what you’re saying is…” because this is the name of a New Culture Forum channel (http://www.newcultureforum.org.uk/#video), hosted by Peter Whittle, and the latest interview with Marc Sidwell, “How the Left Won the Culture War”, really is excellent. I now look at the world as different manifestations of “the long march through the institutions”.

David Margison

2nd July 2020 at 8:42 am

Looks interesting, wiill give it a read later thanks

Jerry Owen

1st July 2020 at 10:24 pm

If Parler becomes an ‘ echo chamber ‘ so be it. What concerns me is the banning of people’s freedom of speech on YT, Twitter FB etc.
We’re all grown up enough to source information from different sources at the touch of a keyboard.

Christopher Tyson

1st July 2020 at 8:12 pm

Cheer up Andrew!
In the days before social media, I used to write to the press and magazines a lot, had a lot published too. I stopped though, I didn’t want to get typecast but I also learnt that publications have their editorial positions and they won’t shift one little bit for you (not this magazine of course).
After the Brexit vote, Nick Clegg, former Liberal party leader, wrote a book call ‘How to stop Brexit’, this publication received fulsome praise by many establishment figures, including former Tory PM John Major. Former PM Tony Blair called for an insurrection against Brexit. The Liberal Democrats (I just googled to confirm that that is still their name) came up with a slogan b******s to Brexit, while simultaneously bemoaning the coarsening of public debate.
The black UK newspaper The Voice, after the election of the Conservatives under Boris Johnson, pronounced that the black community was now dis-enfranchised, I wrote to them to point out that their party, The Labour party were still HM Opposition, that there own calculation of 70% of the black vote going to Labour, left a significant minority of 30% of black people who didn’t support Labour and that as a self-styled ‘back newspaper’ surely they should speak for all black people not just those who vote Labour, I didn’t mange to convince them on any point.
My point is that what has happened has been a rejection of electoral, that is, democratic politics. There are sections of British society who do not believe that they can achieve their ends by democratic means, believing or convincing themselves of their own rectitude, they have looked to extra-parliamentary politics. There have always been groups and individuals who have pursued extra-parliamentary politics, but I can’t remember a time when so much of the intelligentsia, chattering classes, opinion formers, had turned against democracy. Of course will say that we do not have true democracy and they are righteous fighters for true democracy. Even tyrants in the 20th century wanted the mantle of democracy. East Germany was the German Democratic Republic.
Today we have the leader of the opposition, the media and academic establishments, big business, sports stars and celebrities, supporting a leftist, identitarian, intersectional organisation, of little known origin called Black Lives matter. Who they are doesn’t seem to erm, matter very much, that they are able to draw a crowd, and cohere a movement in opposition to traditional Conservatism and conservatism (little ‘c’), and the current Conservative, Brexit supporting government.
How worried should we be? Stalin asked ‘How many division has the pope?’ How many divisions have BLM? Nothing to worry about, and yet can we be sure of the support of the British Army and the Security Services? Will they support the rule of law or turn a blind eye to a few toppled statues? After all, a high proportion of our black radicals and activist have been ennobled by Her majesty the queen, and high profile academics, journalists and politicians don’t seem overly concerned about a bit of criminal damage. The rule of law means that we are all equal before the law, our establishment need to understand that they cannot turn a blind eye to breaches of the law with which they sympathise, that is corruption.
There are instances when breaking the law can be justified, in a truly tyrannical regime for example, such as Apartheid South Africa, were the law itself was a system of oppression of the black majority. That is not the case in the UK today. We have a popularly elected Conservative government and we voted to leave the EU, maybe some people need some lessons in politics, constitution and the working of democracy, rather than black history.

Hasting Keith

1st July 2020 at 7:22 pm

That Twitter is obstructing free speech by banning people for expressing unfashionable opinions is bad enough, but perhaps the bigger threat to free speech has come from the over-zealous covid lockdown. For Oldies like me, free speech is being able to debate current affairs face-to-face and without fear, whether in the pub, café or on the street, all of which have been denied during the lockdown. I don’t use Twitter, but I am guessing that you would get a much better debate when speaking to face-to-face than you would anywhere online, particularly as people nowadays are going to be so guarded about what they post online for fear of the Twittermob. The pubs open again in a few days’ time, but it’s all going to be socially distanced and strictly managed, so I worry that the old conversational (and yes, sometimes, but rarely, confrontational) atmosphere won’t be there. And as for public meetings, they aren’t going to be allowed anytime soon. That will be a sore loss for freedom of speech, and it will affect the older generation more than the younger Twitterati. The Covid lockdown has atomised a whole generation of Oldies that have been prevented from meeting in public and risk being shut out of public debate. The ending of all lockdown restrictions is a freedom of speech issue as well as an economic issue.

Philip Humphrey

1st July 2020 at 6:58 pm

I can see that in the end Twitter will end up as a leftist echo chamber. They have abused their privilege as a message platform by censoring and adding content of their own and they deserve to be stripped of their legal immunity as a platform. As far as I can see Parler will only censor if you break US law on libel, incitement to violence, promoting banned terrorist organisations or you’re spamming.

Ellen Whitaker

1st July 2020 at 6:19 pm

I think Andrew is right about this. I don’t have a Twitter account, and make minimal use of Facebook, but I may sign up to Parler just to support it. I have long been worried about the power, international reach, and sheer size of our major social media companies. Most of them, after their initial huge success, do not have to worry about competitors, at least in their home countries. And now, companies such as Twitter and Facebook are becoming our censors. To their credit, they initially tried to resist this role, but now they find they cannot. Unless people have other options, these huge companies will be able to cancel anyone they don’t like. Actually, right now, they do have that power. That’s what we’ve come to.

Ellen Whitaker

1st July 2020 at 6:11 pm

I love the block feature: it really cut down on trolls. If all social media sites had them, then social media would become much less toxic and (actually) anti-social than it currently is. Yes, that would help some people live in a bubble, but a lot of people who use social media like to argue, so they’d be unlikely to block all opposing opinion. It’s pretty easy to spot trolls: they post all the time; and, usually, their posts are written to anger and upset as many of their opponents as possible.

Jim Lawrie

1st July 2020 at 6:02 pm

Jaysus Andrew. You seem to be saying that Gab or Parler would be alright but for the people whose opinions you do not like.

Stef Steer

1st July 2020 at 3:27 pm

I have gone on there.

My thinking on echo chambers is this:- basically I know what the left stand for because its mainstream and frankly the more they echo chamber on twitter the more extreme and more unelectable they get and I can’t remember the last time the left did anything useful that remotely reflected truth for the ordinary person, so I don’t think I am missing much.

Personally I believe in reason and critical thinking so I will check stuff out on parler and if it smells right I will look further into it but its pretty easy to tell if stuff is nonsense or a stretch.

Jim Lawrie

1st July 2020 at 5:52 pm

What a sniffy, stick up post. The point is to build it, not to condemn or reserve judgement.
Suggest an alternative. Or point us to your contribution on Parler and we’ll hoist you by your own petard?

Neil Wilson

1st July 2020 at 1:55 pm

You forgot to mention what your handle on Parler is Andrew. We need to locate each other if we’re to form a defensive wall against the barbarians.

Stewart Ware

2nd July 2020 at 7:13 am

Just search for Andrew Doyle using the search button at the bottom.

Matt Ryan

1st July 2020 at 1:48 pm

Perhaps Andrew can explain why we need “liberal immigration policies”. It’s not something that the working class want so what is the rationale?

Michel Houllebeq

1st July 2020 at 1:56 pm

These “liberal” immigration policies have made the White British population a minority in London 10 years ago – the census next year will show a further decrease to around a third max.
With today’s announcement, 3 million HK and their dependents can freely live and work here – the long march to 0% is going to plan – now let me look up the definition of genocide.

Eric Praline

1st July 2020 at 5:24 pm

Yes you definitely do need to look up the definition of genocide.

Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth

3rd August 2020 at 11:50 pm

No, Eric, you need to look up the definition of Genocide.

Though it can include the killing of people the actual definition is:

“genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to *DESTROY*, in whole or in part, *A* national, ethnical, racial or religious *GROUP*”.

None of the group needs to die.

It’ not about mass murder.

It’s about wiping out the nationality, ethnicity, racial identity or religion!

Neil Wilson

1st July 2020 at 1:57 pm

The working class do want liberal immigration policies. Ones based upon genuine need, not cheap labour of powerful firms. And certainly not based upon whereabouts in the world the immigrant comes from.

There’s also the discussion about whether any form of net immigration is moral. After all one country’s skilled immigration is another’s brain drain. However if we exchange people one-for-one with other countries (ie net zero), then that is a liberal immigration policy that might just work.

Jim Lawrie

1st July 2020 at 4:59 pm

We elected you to tell everyone that, did we?

We elected Johnson to grant citizenship to 3,000,000 Chinese, plus chain migration of a further 9 million?

Jerry Owen

1st July 2020 at 10:21 pm

I’m relieved you know what the working classes want. Well done!

Tony Benn

15th July 2020 at 11:13 am

Jim and Jerry need to read more widely I’m afraid

“21. While the public have a nuanced view on different types of immigration, Ipsos MORI have found that three in every five UK adults supports a reduction in immigration levels. Deltapoll finds that nearly three quarters of those surveyed in 2018 wanted a significant reduction. In addition, a 2019 YouGov-Cambridge Globalism poll found that 72% of respondents did not say that the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs (read more about public opinion regarding immigration).

22. In its 2017 election manifesto the Conservative Partystated (see p.48) that it would bring net migration down ‘to the tens of thousands’ and ‘bear down on immigration from outside the EU’.”

https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/migrants-in-the-uk-an-overview/

Tony Benn

15th July 2020 at 11:13 am

George Whale

1st July 2020 at 2:15 pm

Bizarre, isn’t it?

D G

2nd July 2020 at 8:34 am

What is the rationale? Follow the money.
Big builders are major donors to the Tories. Rising population is very good business. It also fattens supermarkets, car dealerships, energy firms etc, etc.
Once you’ve abandoned ideas of nationality or patriotism it doesn’t matter who the people are; just get more of them.

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