Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When is it flamewar?

One of the things that I have been debating lately is where is the line between discourse and flame war in the Golden Dawn community. It has became an obsession as the beginning of the year approaches and I am writing out the disclosure statements that start to go live after the first of the year.

And the conclusion I come to presents a sticky wicket for me.

As far as I have been able to determine from the outcries of the internet police is that if someone does not agree absolutely with your opinion, your lesson plan, your Grade system, and your version of Golden Dawn history, then it is flame war. Even with something like a book review, unless you agree completely with the other person's opinion, then you open yourself up to being accused of being a member of the flame war trolls tenth division.

If you know me, you immediately see my problem. I don't agree a hundred percent with anyone's opinion. The short list of people that I disagree with (to a lesser or greater extent) includes Pat Zalewski, Nick Farrell, Chic Cicero, Steve Nicohols, Tony Deluce, Sam Robinson, Tomas Stacewicz, David Cherubim, Aaron Leitch, Robert Zink, and David Griffin. And the list goes on and on. (If I did not mention you, it is simply because I do not want to spend days typing out the names of every known member of the Golden Dawn community.) Some of these people I consider friends---others I would never even remotely consider having a drink with.

Basically, I do not agree a hundred percent with anyone's opinions. But that is where the line in the sand has been drawn: if you do not agree a hundred percent with someone, then you are guilty of being in a blood feud with them. Therefore by the rules being shouted the loudest, I am at war with the entire Golden Dawn community, even the people that I consider my friends.

There is a few dangers with this strict hundred percent agreement standard.

For one, it kills the diversity of the tradition. If everyone must agree with everyone else all the time, then you have no difference of opinion and you can have no discourse. The community will just become a fan club for whoever managed to get the others to agree with them. Of course, this is exactly what I suspect some people want---they want to be the only game, the only true Golden Dawn authority on the block.

It also leads to the possibility of abuse, monetary and emotional, of the entire Golden Dawn community. One of the worst things that could happen to the Golden Dawn is for a single person to corner the entire market---they would be free to abuse the members of the community any way they want simply because there would be no other options. And worse, if you disagree with the abuse, you are the one that is guilty, not them.

And it has already led to a double standard being applied to the various fora and blogs. Comments bad-mouthing other parties are let through despite the fact that if such comments were said elsewhere about the moderator, they would be labeled flame war attacks. Basically, you can say anything you want about other people in the Golden Dawn community, provided that you agree with the moderator of the online community you are posting to.

The cries of flamewar has split the Golden Dawn community is several camps, and honestly I don't think that the wounds will ever heal.

Now, I will admit that is some flaming going on in the Golden Dawn community. There are some things being said that I look at and realize are nothing more than "attack ads." Interestingly enourgh, the replies of the internet police are no better; in fact, sometimes their replies are actually worse. I think that we should have some concern about the possibilities of flame wars being conducted, but I think that it is an error to insist on a hundred percent agreement standard.


Nick Farrell said...

The Golden Dawn tradition is actually a lot closer than many think or would like it to be. Most of us do talk to each other without drawing weapons.
I am always accused of flaming other groups, although those who say this are unable to quote me, (or if they do it is certainly not in context).
I think there are those who depend on the idea of being persecuted to bolster up their group minds (it worked for Christianity). "If everyone is against us then we must stick together" sort of thing. To do that you have to see everything that others say about you as a threat or a Flame. It is the sort of mentality only possible in a fundamentalist religion or the psychotic, which is a why it is attractive to some who need that sort of approach to esoteric groups.
But one thing that is strange with this world view is that, despite what these people say, most of the leaders of the various GD groups do talk to each other on fairly friendly terms. We swap notes, documents and often share secrets and information on nutty students. My latest book "King over the Water" has involved help from the heads of at least eight different orders. If we were at each others throats over minor ideas about where you hold the Chief Adepts wand that would not be the case.

Mike said...

Well the good thing is there will never be a situation where one person corners the Golden Dawn market. Hooray!

I grew up in a fundamentalist household, so the us vs them mentality Nick described is easy to recognize anywhere. Eric Hoffer's The True Believer goes over this quite well iirc. My guess is a lot of people lurking over the so-called flame war probably can see it for what it is. Which isn't much.