Saturday Commentary and Review #92
Fukuyama Revisited (and Attacked), Canada's Politicized, Non-Scientific COVID Shutdowns, Poland Squeezed Yet Defiant, FBI Raids Black Nationalist Offices, Content Creators vs. Audiences
When Pablo Escobar met his bloody end on a rooftop in Medellin, Colombia in 1993, the Cali Cartel threw a legendary party to celebrate their great rival’s demise. They now had a stranglehold on the business of exporting cocaine worldwide. The future looked incredibly bright.
That ‘bright future’ dimmed rather quickly as the US DEA immediately moved to do to the Cali Cartel what they did to their competitors in Medellin: shut them down (in spite of the CIA’s activities, but that’s a subject is for another time). It was as if a slow, lumbering beast had finally managed to turn itself around after spotting a new target over its shoulder. With its eyes now firmly set on its next prey, their fate was already a foregone conclusion.
In the 1990s, the West felt just like the “Gentlemen of Cali” did after Escobar’s killing. Their great ideological foe, the USSR, had collapsed and was relegated to the proverbial dustbin of history. This heightened self-confidence led some to conclude that not only was global liberal democracy inevitable, but that the machine of history had miraculously stopped as well. The most famous proponent of this idea was Francis Fukuyama, the author of the wildly popular book “The End of History and the Last Man”.
Three decades later, everyone now agrees that Fukuyama’s triumphalism was premature at best, or entirely wrong altogether. To borrow a cliche: history had returned with a vengeance.
Not only had it returned, but it now threatened the bedrock upon which Fukuyama’s future world was to rest upon: that of individual freedom and property rights. Revisionist powers like Russia and China are posing threats to the liberal democratic world from outside, and radicalized politics of the left and right are challenging it from within. Fukuyama’s recipe for saving liberal democracy is to RETVRN to classical liberalism, by rejecting both Neo-Liberalism of the right and identity politics of the left. Michael Brenes, a history lecturer at Yale, reviews Fukuyama’s latest offering, “Liberalism and Its Discontents”, and takes a progressive knife to its jugular.
The world has been remade again. Yet if there were reasons to be optimistic about democracy in 1989, there’s little of that now: instead, fears about the demise of liberal democracy are rampant—in Europe and in the United States as much as anywhere else. So, now, as white nationalism and necropolitics animates the U.S. Republican Party, as over one million Americans have died from the Covid-19 virus, and as climate change has wreaked unmitigated, irreversible damage to world stability—not to mention mass incarceration operating as the primary solution to unemployment and poverty—what ambitions demarcate our era, what paradigm will determine our new order? What is to be done, dear Francis?
The best Fukuyama can muster, as conveyed in his new book, Liberalism and Its Discontents, is to mount a “defense of classical liberalism.” He’s looking backward, at what went wrong. The right and the left have distorted liberalism, attacked its premises, eroded its value, he argues. The right let neoliberalism run amok, while the left took refuge in identity politics that destroyed “modes of discourse” that stimulate free thinking. As a result, he implies, the liberalism of the post-Cold War moment is waning. Après Francis, le déluge.
It turns out that Fukuyama doesn’t like what history’s end has wrought. Liberalism has been corrupted by bad actors on all sides who have lost faith in its tenets: free speech, universal tolerance, and human equality. Rampant consumerism has atomized public interactions and suffocated civic life. Only “a sense of moderation, both individual and communal” can restore faith in the promise liberalism seemed to offer three decades ago. We need to return to Cold War liberalism, to the principles of liberalism that made it an emancipating philosophy nearly a half-century ago. We have to turn back.
You can hear classical liberalism’s last rites being read on the political right as well these days. What classical liberals like Fukuyama and the IDW (Intellectual Dark Web) see when this happens is what they term the “horseshoe theory”, and not at all two or more competing groups seeking to pursue (most) often-likely diametrically opposed goals despite sharing an aversion or wholesale opposition to them and their cherished system. Their philosophy has suffered a stunning collapse in legitimacy in the eyes of the masses, the same ones turning to more radical offerings.
Centrists as the eternal referees and arbiters, with a concession to Fukuyama:
Fukuyama is now included among a cadre of centrists who’ve built careers advocating for a liberalism that avoids “extremes”—always evolving—on the left and the right since 2016. But unlike those making a career out of easy posturing against “illiberalism” and “populism,” Fukuyama actually cares about ideas. In addition to Kant, Marx, and Hegel, Fukuyama has read his Lacan, Marcuse, and Foucault—the leading lights of leftist, postmodern political theory. He is also well-versed in Freud, Rousseau, and Nietzsche. Fukuyama is a serious thinker, even willing to take on neoconservative and centrist ideologues—as he did in his book America at the Crossroads, which critiqued the 2003 Iraq War from the right. He is someone who surprises readers with transient moments of contrarianism.
What went wrong on the right:
In his current defense of classical liberalism, he swerves against neoliberalism. It may have started from a good place—“its premises were often correct” according to Fukuyama—but it created an “irrational” reaction against government where “economic efficiency” overrode “all other social values.” Fukuyama’s takedown of neoliberalism makes the book an interesting read for a moment, but it becomes hollow and deflating as the criticism gets lost in his attachment to “economic individualism” as the locus of liberalism. All we get then is the realization that neoliberalism went off the rails because its foundations were “historically contingent.” Attention neoliberals: beware of history.
and on the left:
While neoliberals have corrupted individualism from the right, Fukuyama affixes blame on the political left for their own perversion of “individual autonomy.” Fukuyama’s main enemy here is John Rawls, author of the 1971 book A Theory of Justice. Fukuyama faults Rawls for “the absolutization of autonomy, and the elevation of choice over all other human goods.” Rawls articulated the theory of a “property-owning democracy” that ensured the individual was invested in their own pursuits, their life’s purpose, through the help of a redistributive welfare state. The result, however, according to Fukuyama, was a solipsism that protected individual interest at the expense of universal rights.
The only hope is to return liberalism to its general principles: tolerance, good governance and federalism, freedom of speech, individual rights, and yes, moderation. Our decades of liberalism have produced a lack of appreciation for it among its beneficiaries. We have instead become “complacent” and are now able to castigate liberalism without fear of the consequences to liberalism’s long-term health. In this sense, we have ended up where Fukuyama feared we would be in 1989, with the “prospect of centuries of boredom” materializing in less than half a century. How convenient for him.
The progressive rejects this because these principles do not help achieve what is their overarching goal: ‘equality’. The progressive is more than happy to ditch all of these trappings of democracy in order to achieve it. OTOH, these centrists still cling to the old rules of the game, e.g. “tolerance” and “freedom of speech”. Many of these centrists were very late in learning that these principles were no longer universal and that they would be used as a cudgel with which to beat them (and those to the right of them), while being rejected by progressives at the very same time.
Brenes openly admits it here:
Liberalism and its Discontents ultimately offers readers a worldview that rejects progress in favor of revanchism. Fukuyama turns out not to be the neoconservative he is often labeled, but a conservative akin to Edmund Burke, someone who would prefer a lasting plutocracy over a liberalism that might temporarily destabilize society so that, in time, more individuals obtained political rights.
Quite the understatement!
Given the existential crises we confront as a globe, we should receive Fukuyama’s classical liberalism as would a congregation of Southern Evangelicals forced to sit through a defense of polytheism: with a mixture of confusion, boredom, and anger. “Classical liberalism” is practically moot in our era. It is a liberalism without the power to create change. Classical liberalism, like much of liberalism today, is performative—gesturing toward democracy but never moving us toward equality.
Equality, or equity, is the name of the game now on the left. Classical liberalism is an impediment to it in their eyes, so therefore it must be shoved aside to make way for ‘social democracy’, a vehicle to deliver these goals. This leaves Fukuyama and his fellow centrists wit the thorniest of problems: how to turn back the clock while remaining tolerant of the intolerant?
Every June, July, and August I get to spend a lot of time with family, friends, and acquaintances from out of country who come here to Split, Croatia to visit or vacation. In particular, the entire month of July and the first half of August see me constantly moving around, whether in the city, on the islands, or in the hinterland, as I hang out with different groups, sometimes multiple ones the same day. Much is talked about, particularly in regards as to what is going on in Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, the USA, and whatever other places that they are coming from.
It’s the cohort from Canada that have been most interesting so far. Returning for the first time since the pre-COVID era, I’ve been taken aback at just how radicalized these traditionally apolitical types have become, whether they are diaspora, some other flavour of ethnic group-Canadian, or actual Canadian. The anger with what has happened in that the country is immediately obvious and on display, their opposition having long passed into rage. I’ve also met couples who have moved here permanently, selling everything back in Canada, as they have simply had enough with the rapid progression of social change that has left them feeling out of place in the country that they either were born in or grew up in.
The very strict COVID regime instituted by the Trudeau Government was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Whether it be the constant shutdowns or the coercion to get vaccinated, people became fed up. The travel ban was just another egregious violation of what they considered their natural right to move about freely, and it’s one that has now been shown to have had zero scientific basis.
On August 13, 2021, the Canadian government announced that anyone who hadn’t been vaccinated against Covid would soon be barred from planes and trains. In many cases, The Backward could no longer travel between provinces or leave the country. If you lived in Winnipeg and wanted to visit your mother on her deathbed in London or Hong Kong or, perhaps, Quebec City, you’d better get jabbed—or resign yourself to never seeing your mother again.
Jennifer Little, the director-general of COVID Recovery, the secretive government panel that crafted the mandate, called it “one of the strongest vaccination mandates for travelers in the world.”
It was draconian and sweeping, and it fit neatly with the public persona that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had cultivated—that of the sleek, progressive, forward-looking technocrat guided by fact and reason. The Canadian Medical Association Journal, in a June 2022 article, observed that “Canada had among the most sustained stringent policies regarding restrictions on internal movement.”
But recently released court documents—which capture the decision-making behind the travel mandate—indicate that, far from following the science, the prime minister and his Cabinet were focused on politics. (Canadians are hardly alone. As Common Sense recently reported, American public-health agencies have also been politicized.)
Two Canadian residents successfully sued the government to have the records released:
One plaintiff is Karl Harrison. In his affidavit, Harrison, 58, said that he and his partner, Emma, had immigrated in 2009 from Britain to Canada. (He became a Canadian citizen in 2015.) They have two children, a 24-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter, and they live in a tony neighborhood in Vancouver. He’d always been an entrepreneur. “I was involved in establishing, owning and co-owning over 40 venues of one sort or the other—restaurants, bars, music venues and comedy clubs,” he told me. “One music venue is fairly well known, called The Bedford. Ed Sheeran got his start there.”
Since 2000, Harrison had been involved in the travel industry. “We have a company in the U.K., Ireland, Spain, and we’re the largest retailer of packages for Disneyland Paris,” he said.
He also has an 88-year-old mother in Britain, and he was furious that, for months, he couldn’t visit her. “When you’ve got oppressive government behavior,” he told me, “you’re only left with only three choices: accept it, fight it or leave. I can’t accept it. I moved my family here, and I would be letting them down if we moved away—so I’m in fight mode.”
The other plaintiff is Shaun Rickard, whose father, also in Britain, is suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s. Rickard, 55, lives in the town of Pickering, outside Toronto, and he owns a small exterior-siding and eaves-contracting business. He portrayed himself as something of an activist. “I guess I’m the Lone Ranger,” he told me. “When I see something wrong, evil, corrupt happen, I feel I have to speak up.”
He was surprised when Trudeau announced the travel mandate. “I said to myself, ‘Holy fuck, how can this be happening here?’” He added that the only way to stop it would be “through revolution, which is never going to happen in Canada, or through the courts, and the latter is what we did.”
So, in the fall of 2021, Rickard launched a GoFundMe to do battle with his government. In November, Harrison, who had learned of Rickard on social media, reached out to him. In December, they jointly filed suit.
Rickard said that, so far, the lawsuit had cost the two plaintiffs about $186,000—of which, Rickard had raised $121,000 on GoFundMe. (In February of this year, when the Canadian government invoked the Emergencies Act in response to the truckers protesting a separate vaccine mandate in Ottawa, GoFundMe forced Rickard, like those raising money for the truckers, off the site.)
Rickard and Harrison’s attorney, Sam Presvelos, said that all government decisions related to public health demanded transparency. “Civil servants shouldn’t hide behind a shroud of secrecy,” Presvelos told me.
The whole point of the case was to lift that shroud and cast a spotlight on the unscientific basis of the mandate.
Among other things, the court documents indicate:
No one in the COVID Recovery unit, including Jennifer Little, the director-general, had any formal education in epidemiology, medicine or public health.
Little, who has an undergraduate degree in literature from the University of Toronto, testified that there were 20 people in the unit. When Presvelos asked her whether anyone in the unit had any professional experience in public health, she said there was one person, Monique St.-Laurent. According to St.-Laurent’s LinkedIn profile, she appears to be a civil servant who briefly worked for the Public Health Agency of Canada. St.-Laurent is not a doctor, Little said.
(Reached on the phone, St.-Laurent confirmed that she was a member of COVID Recovery. She referred all other questions to a government spokesperson.)
Little suggested that a senior official in the prime minister’s Cabinet or possibly the prime minister himself had ordered COVID Recovery to impose the travel mandate. (During cross-examination, Little told Presvelos repeatedly that “discussions” about the mandate had taken place at “senior” and “very senior” levels.) But she refused to say who had given her team the order to impose the travel mandate. “I’m not at liberty to disclose anything that is subject to cabinet confidence,” she said.
The term “cabinet confidence” is noteworthy because it refers to the prime minister’s Cabinet. Meaning that Little could not talk about who had directed the COVID Recovery unit to impose the travel mandate because someone at the very highest levels of government was apparently behind it.
In the days leading up to the implementation of the travel mandate, transportation officials were frantically looking for a rationale for it. They came up short.
Desperately flailing about in search for a justification:
McCrorie seemed to be casting about for a credible rationale for the travel mandate. This was less than two weeks before the mandate was set to kick in.
“To the extent that updated data exist or that there is clearer evidence of the safety benefit of vaccination on the users or other stakeholders of the transportation system, it would be helpful to assist Transport Canada supporting its measures,” McCrorie wrote.
Four days later, on October 22, McCrorie emailed Lumley-Myllari again: “Our requirements come in on October 30”—in just over a week—”so need something fairly soon.”
On October 28, Lumley-Myllari replied to McCrorie with a series of bullet points outlining the benefits, generally speaking, of the Covid vaccine. She did not address McCrorie’s question about the transportation system, noting that the Public Health Agency of Canada was updating its “Public health considerations” with regard to vaccine mandates.
Two days later, on October 30, the travel mandate took effect.
Government attempts to shut down the lawsuit:
Within days, government lawyers filed a motion seeking to shut down Harrison and Rickard’s suit on the grounds that it was now moot—and, Presvelos said, to make sure the public never saw the court documents. (Since the case was still open, and court documents are unavailable to the public while cases are open, shutting it down would have sharply reduced the likelihood of anyone seeing government officials’ testimony.)
So, on July 12, Presvelos filed an additional damages motion, arguing that his clients had suffered damages during the mandate. Neither Harrison nor Rickard said they wanted money. The point was to make sure the suit didn’t go away and the court documents were made public.
Spite, rather than science:
“The Trudeau government has claimed to follow The Science on COVID, but that science is strangely different than it is everywhere else,” Bruce Pardy, a law professor at Queens University and a former board member at the conservative Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, said in an email. “Instead, its policies are based on spite, divisiveness, and pure politics. COVID now serves as an excuse to punish the government’s ideological enemies.”
Harrison and Rickard wanted to expose the truth behind the mandate: that it was driven by politics, not science. They believed they had a right to refuse a vaccine about which they had come to have doubts. They said they were doing this for all Canadians, even those who thought they were wrong.
The overall suit is still to be decided, but the curtain has been pulled to show Canadians just what it is behind it:
In September, a judge will decide whether to quash the lawsuit. So far, 16 government officials have testified. Even though this kind of case almost never goes anywhere—there have been several court challenges to the mandates, and all of them have been rejected—Harrison and Rickard, in a way, have already won: They have cast a spotlight on how the sausage gets made. It may not matter. “I find the idea of helplessness prevalent in Canada,” Harrison told me. “The idea of protesting doesn’t come naturally here. There’s a tendency for people to keep their head down, which I don’t understand, and the government exploits that.”
I think it is rather safe to now conclude that the government shutdowns in response to COVID in Canada and elsewhere were dry runs for the coming “Climate Change Emergencies” that will bring new shutdowns, so that many participating states will be able to more easily re-structure their economies and societies to pursue certain global elitist goals, without the pesky interference from the hoi polloi.
For the Polish right, the war in Ukraine could be viewed as a godsend. Positioning itself as a rampart of the West against Russia, Polish conservatives and nationalists were under the impression that this role would allow them a state of grace from which to fend off attacks launched against them by both Brussels and the US State Department due to their reform of the judiciary. “They’re not going to pressure us while the Russians are at war in Ukraine”, thought the Pole. “After all, we’re not Hungary”.
The first few months of the war did see a relaxation of the pressure being applied to Warsaw, but that lull has now ended. Brussels and Warsaw have returned to their showdown, with neither side wanting to budge one inch.
And there’s no sign that the EU is planning to release €35 billion in loans and grants from its pandemic recovery fund.
Warsaw has yet to formally apply to Brussels to release the funds, something it had pledged to do in July. The country’s Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy said it plans to make Poland's first application for payment covering the period from February 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022 in the fourth quarter of this year.
"The Polish government is digging in and is preparing a narrative on how the recovery fund is not really needed at all," said Jakub Jaraczewski, research coordinator for Democracy Reporting International, an NGO. "They’re kind of preparing to lose it."
There’s no indication that either side is preparing to give way.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week said that Poland had failed to meet the EU’s “milestones” in rolling back changes to the justice system that violated EU rules by bringing the courts under tighter political control.
Poland’s ruling United Right coalition passed legislation on July 15 that moves some way toward the Commission's demands by renaming a controversial chamber on the Supreme Court that disciplines judges. But those measures haven’t gone far enough, von der Leyen told Poland’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper.
Poland has yet to reinstate the suspended judges, and the country is still facing fines of €1 million a day for ignoring rulings on the judicial system from the Court of Justice of the EU.
“Poland must honor the commitments it made to reform the system of disciplinary measures,” she said.
But Warsaw doesn’t plan any further steps to meet those commitments.
The Poles have been backed into a corner while opening up their country to millions of Ukrainian refugees.
He said that the Commission’s tough stance on rule of law has surprised Warsaw.
“PiS understood that the deal with the Commission was that it would pretend to undo the reforms, and that Brussels would accept that. But the Commission came under such pressure that it toughened its position,” he said.
Now Warsaw is playing a waiting game with the Commission, hoping that it “gets exhausted and throws in the towel by accepting the reforms and releasing the cash,” Kucharczyk said.
“I think they’re digging in,” said Jaraczewski. “The loser in this situation is of course the Polish people, who will not see this money.”
Poland’s role as bulwark against Russia was supposed to be its trump card in its dealings with the excessively meddlesome bureaucrats in both Brussels and the US State Department. Its economy is suffering from galloping inflation, negatively impacting the ruling party PiS in polling. With friends like these……..
Soviet propaganda in the post-WW2 era was laughably weak and ineffective in both Western Europe and North America (just like the Russian variant has been shown to be rather clumsy these days as well), winning over only the most marginal types of actors. However, their intelligence operations were a wholly different matter, successfully infiltrating the West German SPD, building on their successes in WW2 in the UK with the continuation of activities with the Cambridge 5, and most spectacularly of all, securing the information to successfully build their own nuclear bomb in 1949 thanks to spies like the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Reeling from this shock, American Cold Warriors began to fear that the Soviets would exploit vulnerabilities in the USA to destabilize it from within, particularly the combustible race relations that plague the country. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Reverend Ralph Abernathy did in fact receive training from a suspected communist training school in the 1950s, serving to only amplify their paranoia. J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI treated communist subversion as its top priority, and acted accordingly.
The Soviets were unable to turn American Blacks against the USA to any significant degree, despite these repeated attempts to do so. Those few that were won over were left orphaned with the collapse of communism in the Eastern Bloc.
Institutional memory can often be long and persistent, which is why the FBI recently raided the offices and homes of a Black Liberation group in St. Louis, Missouri, due to suspicions of “Russian collusion”, including “tampering with US elections”.
Officials of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and African People’s Socialist Party say the FBI performed a "violent" raid with flash grenades and drones around 5 a.m. Friday morning.
At a news conference Friday, Chairman Omali Yeshitela said he and his wife were handcuffed during the raid as investigators searched their home. He said the FBI threw flash grenades into his home and performed the raid without knocking or showing him a search warrant.
Yeshitela said the FBI believes the Uhuru Movement and African People’s Socialist Party may somehow be involved with Russia’s tampering in U.S. elections.
“What they have claimed is that they are indicting someone, a Russian nationalist who is in Russia,” Yeshitela said. “They have claimed that they were investigating the African People’s Socialist Party that I lead in the Uhuru Movement because of some association that we might have with the Russian government.”
The raid appears connected to one in St. Petersburg, Florida, that occurred around the same time Friday morning. The Tampa Bay Times reports that federal law enforcement and St. Petersburg police performed searches at multiple locations, including the Uhuru House in Florida, under search warrants seemingly related to an indictment against a Russian national.
According to a federal indictment obtained by the Times, Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov is alleged to have worked with unnamed officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service to use members of U.S. political groups as foreign agents of Russia.
Ionov recruited members of various political groups to attend government-sponsored conferences in Russia to encourage participating groups to advocate for “separating from their home countries,” the indictment states.
The indictment does not explicitly name Yeshitela or the African People’s Socialist Party but describes two co-conspirators as residents of St. Petersburg, Florida and St. Louis.
The indictment against Ionov identifies him as the founder and president of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, a Moscow-based organization that advocated for “sovereignty of nation-states including the sovereignty of Russia.”
Yeshitela said he visited Russia in 2014 as part of a conference organized by a Russian organization that dealt with an anti-globalization movement in Russia, but his involvement with the country did not extend beyond that.
“This movement had conferences in Russia, organizing peoples from around the world who were opposed to globalization and who were struggling for self-determination,” Yeshitela said.
Yeshitela founded the African People's Socialist Party in 1972. According to its website, party members aim to free African and oppressed populations from "U.S. capitalist-colonialist domination."
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is an organized group of white people who stand in solidarity of Black liberation under the leadership of the African People's Socialist Party. FBI raided the group's Uhuru Solidarity Center in south St. Louis.
Yeshitela explained his party is not composed of pacifists; they believe in “just wars” that are “fought by people who are trying to liberate themselves.”
“We don’t just support Russia in this war against Ukraine, we support Palestine, even as the U.S. government and U.S. citizens are leaving this country every day, going to Palestine that is murdering Palestinian Arabs on a daily basis."
Yeshitela added: “Don’t tell us that we can’t have friends that you don’t like.”
When asked if he had ever accepted money from the Russian government, Yeshitela replied, “No,” but laughed and said he "apologizes for not receiving money from Russia.”
This story is much more about the more aggressive nature of the FBI in recent years, exemplified by how thoroughly they have gone after participants in the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill, than it is about any potential Russian destabilization of the USA itself.
We end this weekend’s Substack with an interesting piece on how online audiences affect content producers. In the early days of the internet, 'interactivity’ was one of the key buzzwords that were used to market its potential. We did not understand just how this interactivity would affect those on both sides of the screen.
I. The Man Who Ate Himself
In 2016, 24 year old Nicholas Perry wanted to be big online. He started uploading videos to his YouTube channel in which he pursued his passion—playing the violin—and extolled the virtues of veganism. He went largely unnoticed.
A year later, he abandoned veganism, citing health concerns. Now free to eat whatever he wanted, he began uploading mukbang videos of himself consuming various dishes while talking to the camera, as if having dinner with a friend.
These new videos quickly found a sizable audience, but as the audience grew, so did their demands. The comments sections of the videos soon became filled with people challenging Perry to eat as much as he physically could. Eager to please, he began to set himself torturous eating challenges, each bigger than the last. His audience applauded, but always demanded more. Soon, he was filming himself eating entire menus of fast food restaurants in one sitting.
In some respects, all his eating paid off; Nikocado Avocado, as Perry is now better known, has amassed over six million subscribers across six channels on YouTube. By satisfying the escalating demands of his audience, he got his wish of blowing up and being big online. But the cost was that he blew up and became big in ways he hadn't anticipated.
Nikocado, moulded by his audience’s desires into a cartoonish extreme, is now a wholly different character from Nicholas Perry, the vegan violinist who first started making videos. Where Perry was mild-mannered and health conscious, Nikocado is loud, abrasive, and spectacularly grotesque. Where Perry was a picky eater, Nikocado devoured everything he could, including finally Perry himself. The rampant appetite for attention caused the person to be subsumed by the persona.
We often talk of "captive audiences," regarding the performer as hypnotizing their viewers. But just as often, it's the viewers hypnotizing the performer. This disease, of which Perry is but one victim of many, is known as audience capture, and it's essential to understanding influencers in particular and the online ecosystem in general.
There’s a lot of lessons to absorb in this piece ;)
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