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In Defense of BLM Corruption
Why We Should Legalize Political Activism Scams
Note to readers: Firehose of Bullshit 3 is still in the works. It’s just been quite a grueling task working on it and I decided to take a break, even during my writing time. So, there’s a few lighter, simpler articles piled up that I may publish. This is one of them.
By now there’s been ample reporting on the various accounting schemes of BLM. The most recent article doing the rounds is about a six million dollar mansion paid for by donors. Of course, the reflexive response from both left and right is to critique this type of open corruption. A similar story played out with the Trump “Election Fraud” PAC (political action committee), which spent very little of the money collected on its claimed purpose, election-related legal fights. A strange occurrence is that the political opponents of those being scammed seem to be much more outraged than the allies.
As we like to do on this newsletter, let’s take a step back and look at the consequences of what we’re doing. Do you want the money of your political opponents to effectively advance their goals? Or do you want the exact opposite to happen? Not only that, what are the type of people who donate to organizations who claim to want to defund the police or overturn the election actually donating for? I seriously doubt they clearly researched their priorities and donated to effectively advance their goals. Instead, the marketing is the product. The service that is delivered is a public signal, emotional thrill, conspiratorial narrative, or all of the above. The fact that they donated to scams in the first place cements this point.
Do we want to force organizations to carry out the misinformed wishes of people in this mental state? Or would we perhaps want to allow those who collect their money the choice to minimize the damage done? I’m very happy for BLM to buy mansions, or even just pocket the money. Same for Trump, so long as he takes it into his political retirement. So, why not just legalize political scams?
This solution is not without possible consequences. People may disguise regular scams as political scams so that they get away with it. This is a bit of a problem, and we have to be a bit specific with the legal language to solve it. We don’t want someone promising to build wells in Africa scamming people and saying, “well it’s just political activism”. I’m not a lawyer, but I think we have a body of law relating to political organizations that would come in handy here. If this isn’t possible to achieve, then we might need a more nuanced approach to allow political scams, and we should be careful of introducing unintended loopholes.
Another consequence is that creating a market for this type of moral entrepreneurship (taken more literally than usual) may produce propaganda so effective that some of the people who fall for it do a billion dollars of damage in riots or invade the U.S. Capitol. This would be a terrifying outcome that is simply unimaginable in our current timeline. In all honesty, I’m skeptical that a purely market direction would result in more violence-inducing grifting than our present state. Being associated with violence is not without social or sometimes legal consequences, so in my view it's more likely that a profit-driven, rather than ideological or self-deceptive, grift will avoid it.
Isn’t it cruel to allow these people to be scammed? Yes, but unless we enforce a degree of scientific accuracy upon political campaigns that would be impossible to clearly define and easily manipulated, people will always be scammed in this manner. Most anti-corruption measures don’t prohibit all such scams, but restrict the ways these scams can “cash out”. They can only be scammed into influencing political decisions that impose the cost of their ideology upon everyone else, instead of being scammed in a way that only harms themselves.
The long-term consequences are even better. If this becomes a norm, we can expect people to be discouraged from donating to political organizations that have an emotionally compelling message, but no proof that they actually produce positive outcomes. More likely is that there’s a general chilling effect on political organizations, which if you’re like me and believe they mostly have a negative impact, is also an excellent outcome.
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
~ Napoleon Bonaparte