Nationalism In The Digital Age: Fun As A Metapractice Of Extreme Speech

Critical assessments of the recent resurgence of right-wing nationalism have rightly highlighted the role of social media in these troubling times, yet they are constrained by an overemphasis on celebrity leaders defined as populists. This article departs from a leader-centric analysis and the liberal frame that still largely informs the assessment of political action, to foreground “fun” as a salient aspect of right-wing mobilization. Building on ethnographic fieldwork among the Hindu nationalists in India, I argue that fun is a meta practice that shapes the interlinked practices of fact-checking, abuse, assembly and aggression among online volunteers for the right-wing movement. Furthermore, fun remains crucial for an experience of absolute autonomy among online users in ideological battles. Providing the daily drip feed for exclusion, fun as a meta practice bears a formal similarity to objectivity in its performative effects of distance and deniability.

Tags: Extreme Right, Mass Media, National Separatists, Social Media