Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 8 | Twitter Activism as a Decolonial Project

October 8, 2014

The newest episode of Reappropriate: The Podcast is now available, and it’s one of my favourite episodes yet! In this episode, guest Cayden Mak (@cayden, is back for another discussion on digital activism. In this episode, we specifically tackle the power and peril of Twitter as a tool for social change, and we discuss whether or not the use of Twitter could or should be considered radical and decolonial.

You can view the episode by streaming it through YouTube above or by listening or downloading the audio only version using the mp3 player at the bottom of the post. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel or subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store.

Next episode: I’m excited to announce a joint podcast between myself and the podcasters of the Ladies of the Round Table (@LadiesADRadio), recording next week on October 13, 9pm EST / 6pm PST! We will be talking about feminism, sexism and nerd/gamer culture so please RSVP now!

  • Junweiwei

    You guys do not get it right.

    Social media is a tool for mobilizing for political events and staying in contact with each other. Israelian trade union Histadrut use social media to mobilize for labour issues and it is used as a tactical tool within the wider framework of social movement unionism. Chinese workers in the Pearl River Area use social media to mobilize their fellows to fight the police and their chefs.

    The US secret service implement a Twitter clone ZunZuneo in Cuba to help making troubles for the Cuban socialists.

    Of course it is not the intention to substitute reading circles and direct action, but to mobilize effectively for political events and build a political identity around shared political memories. Reading circles are only suited for students, church groups and academics. Direct action needs sultry folks. Twitter activism have low risk and can include wider circles of sympathisants. Normally a political socialization does not happen over night and you must have a series of actions, reflections and a supporting political milieu to get new members.

    There are political risk with Twitter, because the NSA are collecting datas and store them in Big Data databases and it is possible to construct social networks of activists with these databases. Hence if you want to keep the usefulness of Twitter, you should be aware of it.

    The problem with the Occupy movement is their belief in non-hierarchical social movement, but actually it is not true. There are always hierarchy among activists, because some folk know much more about the movement, some folks know more people and some folks control more resources. Hierarchy is not the problem if you have a kind of mixture of hierarchy, heterarchy and adhocracy that make it impossible to stop a movement by removal of its leaders.

    I think the biggest problem of Asian Americans are their lack of political education. There are to much knowledge about marginal metropolitan intellectuals writings in postcolonialism and too much time are assigned to Asian American movements of the 1960s and the civil right movements. Postcolonialism is restricted on cultural phenomenons and decades of writings show us the weakness of postcolonialism in interrupting hegemonial discourse even if they are located in the centers of discourse productions. Civl right movement are movements of marginal inner black minorities.

    Asian American have to go back to the political traditions of Russian Jews who did great things with multi-lingual organization of labourers, cultural organization and youth organization. They bring their experiences with the nationality policy in the Russian empire with them to America and organize very effectively “multicultural” organizations. The Industrial Workers Of the World was a very effective multi-racial labour organization with its mixture of anarchism and syndicalism.

    Jewish American and Mexican Americans are far ahead of Asian American in theorizing diaspora politics as part of international relationships. You know nothing about it. Jewish American have very effective special interest groups for lobbying. Mexican-american have effective hometown associations to influence infrastructure projects in Mexican hometowns and political outcomes with external voting rights. The Mexcian Americans actually have a voice in the World Social Forum and can pull Mexcians from the USA and Canada to the meetings. Asian Americans managed to sent noone – even they actually have issues with the trade unions, peasantry and NGO’s.

    I notice that you guys knows nothing about venture capital. A normal venture capital firm has a general partner for the ground work managing, monitoring and investment selections and limited partner who provides the funds. The limited partners are pension funds, insurance companies and banks. In the USA the companies have big pension funds to administer the pensions of workers and to diversify the risks of longetivity – pension funds invests into venture capital funds to hedge against the risks.

    Actually you as a worker or salary man need venture capitalism to hedge your longetivity risks, business cycles and income risks. Venture capitalism is not a problem because normally the 2 – 5 Mio. investments are located in software, internet services, biotech and clean tech. They created high-skilled jobs and these jobs normally generate low-skilled jobs along the job chain.

    The problem is actually not venture capitalism, but pension fund capitalism. Pension fund managers invest in suppliers with no trade unions, outsourcing and landgrabbing activities to crush the worker’s organizations and they are able to manipulate the stock market. Managers are very often payed with options on company stocks and they have every incentives to manipulate the stock value of their firms if they have access to an instrument like a company pension funds.

    Landgrabbing is obviously a big theme for transnational Asian American politics, because the bulk of small farmers are located in Pacific Asia. Landgrabbing enables to buy vast amount of land to produce biosprit and food to influence energy prices and crush small farmers. Recently a free trade agreement failed with India, because the USA demand the end of free food provision and end of price control for food in favor of Indian poors.

    The commercialization of development aid started with the microcredit movement. Nowadays entire Indian villages are filled with over-debted women. The USAID port the business model to Latin America to get the peasantry over-debted to get access to their land rights. We have evidence that the undocumented migration of Latinos are financed by microcredit to repay the loans and preserve the land ownership. The US financial community have a great interest in microcredit, because they are not a very weak correlation with other asset class. Hence they have no problem to make women life like debtor’s hell.

    Long distance nationalism of Indian Americans and Pakistanis enables India and Pakistan to get access to capital with patriotic diaspora bonds during the crisis with nuclear arms tests. Both nations cannot access the international capital markets during this period, but their kin diasporas helpp them out of the mess and we get a more dangerous security competition in Pacific Asia with now five nuclear powers: Russia, China, India, Pakistan and the USA – maybe there are actually six with North Korea.

    Asian Americans missed every important themes in the past. Instead they only react to political schemes of white electorial politics with Affirmative Actions – endless academic discourse about intersections and strategic essentialism, identity politics etc.

    The gap between theory and practice is already too large.

  • Jun, I am not entirely certain what your point is with this comment, other than to criticize the direction of AAPI political discourse. I do not think that AAPI need to model our discourse off of other groups, when we are building our own diasporic narrative here. But, either way, that has little to do with the use of Twitter as a tool for activism, since this conversation was focused on its use generally in the Progressive Left (and on the Right) rather than specifically within AAPI circles.

    Instead they only react to political schemes of white electorial politics with Affirmative Actions – endless academic discourse about intersections and strategic essentialism, identity politics etc.

    Yeah, I don’t see how focusing on identity formation is a problem, for a community as politically nascent as ours. Considering that, simultaneously, you characterize the struggle for Civil Rights as a black struggle, you argue that the AAPI political narrative is both unmoored, and argue on behalf of its unmooring. Given that very framework, one should imagine that “endless academic discourses about intersections and strategic essentialism, [and] identity politics” would in fact be essential. One cannot talk strategy if one does not first understand identity.

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