Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The modern troll

I sometimes like to troll my local hardcore nationalists. You know the type - people who adamantly insists that every and all problems that arise without error has its roots in immigration or immigration related issues. Whatever it happens to be, and however much they have to crowbar it.

The biggest fear is that the immigrants will somehow supplant the already existing culture with their own. Or, rather, that the incessant wave of immigrants one day will take over and declare themselves the new rightful rulers of the land. With all kinds of drawbacks for everyone involved - a favorite fear is that medieval sharia will be brutally imposed. Somehow.

It's just as paranoid as it sounds. Which is why I troll them in the first place.

I do this primarily in two ways. The first one is by diving into the concept of modernity and explicate how it all works. That you really can't just replace one culture with another, and that the alienated economic and social conditions that govern the everyday life of the working person serves to discipline just about everyone to accept certain modern values. Because it's not really about traditional culture, but about means and modes of social/physical/political production.

Which, in short, means that the kids of immigrants grow up to be just as cynical and apathetic as native kids, and that the main difference between them is how certain racist elements in society views them. Much to the chagrin of any imagined entity trying to accomplish systematic cultural terraforming.

I also point out that modernity is not a local thing, and that it tends to have taken root in the countries the immigrants come from. More often than not, it is the very reason they are here to begin with, in different ways.

The second way is by drawing their attention to what the young people of today are actually doing. While modernity may not have ended, it has certainly changed. And the kids are the first ones to pick up on this. So while the nationalist breastbeating about the inherent superiority of local culture goes on, the kids do the strangest of things that has no relation at all to any local history whatsoever.

Like, for instance, listen to Hatsune Miku.

Or, more specifically, participation in various worldwide movements that unite people more in terms of ideology or (more often) consumer patterns than ye olde nation state. While loudmouthed political efforts are made to preserve the particular Swedish identity, the young Swedes have become the strangest of people. Kopimists, pirate internationalists, with online as a sixths sense - a far cry from the good ol' traditional down to earth Swede so beloved in the loudmouthed propaganda.

Needless to say, neither of these approaches makes me popular among the more hardcore believers. Which is why I call it trolling. The less hardcore folks, on the other hand, have sometimes come to me some time after my doings and said that I got them to rethink their position. And that the more they rethought this whole issue of national identity, the more they came to the conclusion that it is somewhat of a dead end to defend it. And that the more the concept of modernity permeates their thinking, the more they see that the mess we live in is way more complicated than the traditional "us and them".

And that is why I keep doing it. One troll face at a time.

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