Abolition, Dual Power, and the Viability of Cancel Culture

Abolition, Dual Power, and the Viability of Cancel Culture

Originally posted October 19, 2021

The way we have come to insist that “believe survivors” means that any person can come forward with accusations and be believed instead of “don’t traumatize someone confiding in you in active crisis by questioning them” is probably one of the most dangerous aspects of cancel culture.

Of course the harassment, dogpiling, dehumanization, coercion, and all of the other abuses that can be perpetuated under cancellation campaigns are dangerous too, but this misappropriation of the principle to believe survivors at the expense of due process only makes these tactics more dangerous.

And ironically enough, as much as the people steeped in this ideology believe these are the necessary tools to combat abuse, the cancel culture tools and framework are actually highly exploitable for abusers to continue an abusive dynamic against a victim.

It is community sanctioned isolation and harassment.

Sure cancel culture may target people who have truly caused grievous harm. The question of whether or not this is appropriate aside, I have to ask those who think they are championing a cause for survivors if they really want to risk that these tactics be used against survivors?

I know that many steeped in cancel culture understand DARVO- is it really that difficult to make the logical leap that cancel culture poses a huge risk as a way for people who abuse to escalate their abuse and get their community to cosign?

If we are truly looking for abolitionist ways to eradicate the prevalence of abuse in our communities without a state- I struggle to understand the continued investment in upholding cancel culture and dismissing those of us on the left who can clearly see the dangers and limitations of cancel culture as conservatives or abuse apologist.

Cancel culture is not and never will be a viable alternative to the criminal justice system.

Building dual power means creating structures that work, systems that people will truly consider as a viable alternative over police, prisons, or other forms of violent intervention.

I truly believe this is within our capacity.

Mediation and facilitation services performed by people who are well versed in the complex realities of abuse- who understand that you cannot take a narrative at face value, that people and particularly those who abuse will skew facts to cast themselves in the best light, who have a solid knowledge of appropriate division of power and responsibility.

Therapeutic services that know how to challenge people rather than coddle or enable dysfunctional and abusive tendencies.

The other piece which is possibly of the most importance, is emphasizing accessible education on abuse, manipulation, and healthy relationships

Cultivating relational literacy and confidence is the preventative measure that we need to be focusing way more of our energy on if stopping abuse is important to us.

I do believe that there will be situations where creating community boundaries to prevent a person from causing serious harm is inevitable. But the degree to which we have decided that is an appropriate solution and invested so much faith into cancel culture to fix the prevalence of abuse is evidence to me that we have not invested half as much into creating truly viable alternatives based in abolitionist principles as we should be.

As a person who was firmly pro-cancel culture for nearly a decade who has in the last year or so begun to change my stance, I can confidently say that despite the intense polarization in the cancel culture conversation, the spirit of our intentions on both sides is shared. I would love to see collaborative efforts taken towards crafting solutions and community based institutions that are actually pursuing the goal of eradicating abuse.