The Tyranny of Structurelessness and the Case of the Imaginary Transformative Justice
The Tyranny of Structurelessness is a classic essay by feminist Jo Freeman examining the ways in which activist groups which eschew formal organizational structures can sometimes end up just generating unofficial and unacknowledged hierarchies instead, leading to resentment and dispute and hindering their activist work. Though there are valid critiques to be made of Freeman’s essay, and I do not think that exactly the same processes are at play in the Nexus, I want to borrow the central concept of the essay to argue that something similar is happening in the Nexus on a mass scale with regard to cancellation. Namely, I think that within the Nexus, an activist affect (an affect is basically a combination of a vibe and a posture) is widely taken up; that the structure(lessness) of the Nexus is extremely distributed and unorganized; and that these two factors combine to produce a situation in which individuals behave as though they are part of an activist group, but the group does not exist in any meaningful way, and thus organized oversight over their activities is effectively impossible. This can play out in any number of ways, but what I’m interested in here specifically is how it functions with cancellation and the spectres of ‘accountability’ and ‘transformative justice’.