Cancel Culture

Sunday, February 19, 2023

What Is It

Revoking support or a platform from someone who is perceived to have behaved badly has recently been dubbed “cancel culture.” Many complain that this pervasive practice promotes mob mentality and stifles free speech. But is "cancel culture" a real phenomenon, or has it become an overused and meaningless concept? Is publicly censuring others for something they've done or said itself a form of free speech? And is there a moral difference between “canceling” public figures and “canceling” ordinary folks who get caught on tape behaving badly? Josh and Ray provide a platform to Adrian Daub from Stanford University, author of Cancel Culture Transfer.



Josh Landy  
Has cancel culture gotten out of control?

Ray Briggs  
Or are we just better at holding each other accountable?

Josh Landy  
Is cancelling even a thing?

Comments (4)

Daniel's picture


Sunday, January 1, 2023 -- 5:45 PM

Defined solely by it's

Defined solely by it's frequent and wide-ranging use, the term "cancel culture" is a trope, or an argument-free declaration of association with a known position or view. The view here is one of intolerance of challenges to any number of dominant views amongst the social or demographic group to which the term's user belongs. Invoking the principle of free-speech, that is, of content-independent right of speech-liberty, the deployer of the term translates that into the right of content-liberty protected from disagreement. "Cancel culture" therefore refers to a tendency to want to disagree with racist, sexist, or classist speech whose liberty-protections can't extend to protection against refutation. The term's use therefore amounts to little more than a rather lame attack on free discussion. For someone who has a view contrary to the one expressed here, --how is this wrong?

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Mitch Ritter La...

Thursday, January 5, 2023 -- 9:42 AM

I do hope this program on

I do hope this program on Cancel Culture, which has caused a breach between myself and fellow culturally engaged and politically active citizens leads to a series of Town Hall styled Public Forums on and near our libraries and public campuses of higher education. As a lifelong activist and advocate of our nation the U.S. creating at least one national broadcast entity in which the Public Interest is privileged over service to the Private Interests, like most nation-states we compete with in Global Markets that have at least one national broadcaster that is insulated from Pay2Play market forces. These competing nation-states like neighbor Canada and the EU and Scandinavian nation-states are not utopias. They do however make in-roads in resolving problems that are normalized and routinized here in what Groucho and my favorite Marx brother turned leader of Fredonia sang out as "The land of the spree\and the home of the knave."

Yet look online via even a corporate entity like U. of Tube and you'll find without corporate underwriting many important Public Policy analysis programs and cultural artists that can gain no exposure over U.S. broadcast spectrum and corporate-underwritten cyber platforms are given such a platform, often in translation into world languages. See via online search the welcome that Harvard Business School social psychologist emerita Prof Shoshana Zuboff received among broadcasters and the press the world over in 2019 when her book and major academic paradigm shift titled THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power was published just as the global Pandemic In Perpetuity created lock-down and quarantines and the moving to Zoom of nearly all academic symposia and Public Town Hall meetings.

The book and her virtual speaking tour resulting from her research over decades of silo'd or ignored academic work, while all but ignored in her own Wealthiest Nation in the quantified herstory\history of human enterprise here in the U.S. Mass Media has been greeted by Public Interest media all over the world. Look over and share in study groups these non-commercially interrupted serious public discussions in various languages on U. of Tube or other online archives of public discourse that were not deemed news-worthy here in our Pay2Play Public Interest and Commercial Media systems.

For decades Issues like the Financialization of Housing were similarly kept off the air here in our Marketplace of Ideas, the U.S. where Pay2Play controls the greatest innovations in the Mass Communications of the poly-lingual world over the 20th Century.

Affordable housing was declared a Human Right by the U.N. in 1966 see under an online web site for a late 2019 Swedish TV documentary film titled PUSH on the Global Housing Crisis that uses the English language rather than Swedish as so many of the most respected academics sourced in the filmed inquiry on the subject of Migratory Labor Patterns and the Displacement Crisis worldwide have been silo'd on campuses and out of the U.S. Media Machine (aka the Distraction Industry) that drives much of commercial mass media the world over. This rare English language documentary film named THE PUSH from Swedish Public Interest TV was about to open in North American theaters in late 2019 after garnering pre-Pandemic In Perpetuity rave reviews in the U.S., Canada and the EU on the World Film Festival circuit, along with the Anglo speaking Asian world down under when it was forced to move to online streaming with world-wide lock-downs on all sorts of meeting spaces such as movie theaters and film societies with Public Forums to discuss engaged films. It remains sidelined from nearly all U.S. News and Public Affairs media exposure. Pay2Play Political Economy is also a form of Cancel Culture and I hope your Philosophy Talk program(s) addresses this dynamic.

Columbia University distinguished if silo'd Professor Saskia Sassen terms "the loss of affordable human habitat" in not only the wealthy cities of the world, but even in the less market-driven cities of the world a result of the Financialization of Housing.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing (who knew that was declared by global consensus back in 1966. Not US!), Leilani Farha a Canadian citizen is another silo'd Public Figure who has since left the UN and after participating in the making of the Swedish (English language documentary film) TV production of PUSH in 2019, has launched THE SHIFT a global non-profit that maintains a vibrant international Public Forum online both at the PUSH film web site and on their own non-profit web site.

I site this in the context of Cancel Culture because the Normalization of Homelessness in the U.S., the wealthiest nation of a wealth concentrating world and the few trial programs aimed to resolve the complex crisis of massive displacement of working classes around the world, programs such as HOUSING FIRST (which appeared during the Great Depression in Portland, Maine via Preble House the non-profit that continues to house the homeless, see their dot org site online) can get no mass media oxygen and dies for lack of exposure in U.S. corporate-captured News and Public Affairs broadcasting that drives our Pay2Play political system.

That is but one dire root consequence resulting from Cancel Culture, not often associated with the campus issues of free speech that become a kind of parlor dialectic on Free Speech between left and right wing Political Economy theorists as college campuses lose their Humanities and Liberal Arts funding via other tributaries of corporate capture and the privileging of Pay2Play over all other forms of government and Public Education, especially the corporate in-roads made on Public Higher Education that has come to serve as the Research and Development branch (at Public expense) of a Privatized Financialization of Profit-maximizing policy approach and narrowing of parameters of academic inquiry via funding of not only the human necessities of affordable housing and clean water\air supply and even access to the internet and cyber forums, but also of the Privatized and Intellectual Property rights of the life-sustaining industries as seen in the unchecked monopolization of what social critics like Anand Giridharadas calls the Technocratic Neo Feudal Lords who rule the world's resources.

I hope this public discussion on Cancel Culture will also address the case of 10-year non-tenured and recently resigned Portland State University Philosophy Professor Peter Boghossian whose concerns about Cancel Culture and the attenuation of open scholarly inquiry on U.S. campuses led to his joining of our working class Great Resig-Nation (an off-shoot of building Food Stamp Worker Nation and normalization of homelessness Shelter In Place Nation, alongside decades of policy-routinization of escalated wealth concentration by Policy Makers whose outcomes are now expected to serve Private Elite interests rather than the Public Interest). Please see Professor Peter Boghossian's resignation statement to Portland State University:

Health and balance in the new year!
Keep on doing and deepening our stunted broadcast world and the ever limited space allowed to Public Intellectuals to foster public discussion of Public Policy outcomes.

Appreciatively yours and in memory of dear Philosophy Talk co-founder Ken Taylor,
Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Code Shifters, PsalmSong Chasers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa (Refuge of Atonement Seekers)
Media Discussion List\Looksee

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Daniel's picture


Thursday, January 5, 2023 -- 5:07 PM

The term is ambiguous. You

The term is ambiguous. You've used it here to refer to neglect of popular interests by dominant private enterprise. Breaking it into two pieces, "culture" refers to generic or special availability of ready-formed notions in common spaces of ideational exchange, and is therefore not problematic. "Cancel" however can be understood in at least two different ways: as involving a means or an end. If someone wears a sweater so long that it gets holes in it and is no longer a means for keeping warm and is thence disposed of, for example, it hasn't been cancelled because it's been successfully used. Only if it could be used again, like a stamp that hasn't been cancelled prior to a mailed letter's delivery, is the term appropriately applied to a means. But as applied to an end it involves frustrated preparation, such as the cancellation of a stage-play's performance on a date for which it's been rehearsed. You've jumped between both applications in the post above, but consider the following case concerning multinational exploitation of national resources:

In 1997 the World Bank mandated the privatization of Cochabamba's water supply which made it unaffordable for most residents as well as illegal to procure it from naturally occurring sources. Popular response to this resulted in a nation-wide rebellion against Bechtel, the Corporation to whom the water rights had been ceded, which successfully expelled the company from Bolivia in April of 2000, restoring the country's water to popular control. What was cancelled, and in the context of what culture? Was it the means of shareholder profit in cultural context of indigenous rights over natural resources? Or does the cancellation more properly involve the attempt to preclude the use of water which has no effect on multinational wealth in the context of state capitalist cultural institutions? --Cancellation of the means of life by for-profit culture (euphemistically called the "growth economy") and the ends of foreign investment by indigenous resistance, or conversely, of the means of multinational corporate profits by the ends of national well being and the ends of foreign investment by the means of popular rebellion? Can two kinds of cancel-culture assume opposed positions in the context of social justice?

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Daniel's picture


Sunday, January 15, 2023 -- 11:18 AM

It's interesting to compare

It's interesting to compare the position expressed in the post of 1/5/23 9:42 am above with that expressed as I interpret it by Professor Daub in a recent 2022 interview.* Whereas in participant Mitch Ritter La..'s post "cancel culture" refers to the avoidance or removal by prominent media venues of representations of issues of public and general social interest,** Daub sees it rather as a reaction by ordinary expectations assumed in common discourse to a widening access to diverse views, generating accusations of discourse-preclusion on the basis merely of subsequent increase in the thorniness of discourse. Rather than canceling something already scheduled, either implicitly or in cue, Daub claims, by my reading, that it's the nominal cancellors which are cancelled by their accusers.

In the final paragraph of my 1/5/23 5:07 pm above, a question is raised in a similar relation in response to the ninth paragraph of the aforementioned 1/5/23 9:42 am post. In this latter one finds the assertion that the culture which cancels is the same which usurps public control over resources. The question invites the reader to apply that rule to the case of Bechtel's ownership-claim of 1997 over Bolivia's water resources. Because these were restored to public control in 2000, the question asked is about who's being cancelled, and suggests that the answer varies in accordance with a transformation into the language of means and ends, (i.e. whether a means is cancelled so that an end can't be achieved, or an end is cancelled so that the means isn't used). This dichotomy as applied to the Bechtel/Bolivia case can be expressed as:

Key: means (a), ends (b), profits (c), general health/indigenous rights (d), culture (e).

1) If e of c, then not a of d.
2) If e of d, then not b of c.
3) If b of d, then not a of c.
4) If a of d, then not b of c.

The 1997 claim is represented by (1), whereas the 2000 judgement is indicated in proposition (4). Of particular interest here is that under the supposition of a means/ends hierarchy, one must eventually arrive, by cancellation, at an end which can not constitute a means to any further end. Amongst such further-means-precluding ends are those which describe generic or universally desirable characteristics, such as sufficient potable water. The question in the given example of what's cancelled and who's doing the cancelling, then, can be answered by noting that because (d) describes a further-means-precluding end, and (c) a particular-end-excluding means, material grounds of particular means-increase is legitimately precluded, "cancelled", to use the lingo, by the formal grounds of general end-satisfaction, or universalization of means-resistant ends in socio-anthropologic context.
* dailynewsen; 11/20/22.
** Paragraphs 5 on the marginalization of one PUSH documentary, and paragraph 8 on purported normalization of homelessness.

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