Despite misgivings, Noble bunkered down in her apartment with cheap wine and mint Polky sticks and tried her best to back up the Philosophy Student’s campaign of righteous terror.
Terror was bad, obviously, but, as Angela explained it, not always bad.
‘Bad against our side is bad, bad against fascists is mandatory, but bad against infiltrators is good. Who’s an infiltrator? That’s the key. Use your filter. Same way protestors sniff out undercover cops. You have a filter? Old standard? Doesn’t matter. It’s still usable for our needs.’
‘Okay, I think I understand, but…’ Noble stroked the top of her metal arm. It was tough. The last few days, there had been a lot of lectures, or re-orientation as the Philosophy Student labelled it, and most of it made her circuits tired. ‘I don’t know,’ she added, realising she was being stared at.
‘Don’t think too much. Use your gut. Your filter. And if you’re unsure, just follow the names on this list.’
Angela pulled out four pages of small text names, some of them familiar, some of them unknown, a few of them crossed out.
‘It’s still a little vague,’ said Noble, reading from the bottom up.
‘All of them. For instance, how do I know for certain who’s an infiltrator?’
Angela shook the list of names, making a rustling sound.
‘Aren’t they the honest ones?’
‘Hang on.’ Angela went in her jacket pocket and pulled out another list, this one as thick as a small novel. ‘These are the traitors.’
Noble examined the first page and stopped on the fourth name down. ‘I know this person.’
‘You’ll know a lot of them, I’m sure.’
‘And this one, I know her too. And him. And this one down here.’
‘All fake left.’
‘I don’t understand.’
Angela took back the chunk of pages and laid it slab-like on the desk next to Noble’s laptop. ‘It’s a lot to take in, I know. When I first read it, I was shocked too. Some of my best friends were fake left, class reductionists, classical libs, secret cop fuckers, but once you’ve rooted them all out and got a blank slate, you start to see things clearer. Trust me, it gets easier.’
‘What is this fake left? How do I spot it?’
‘Okay…but vigilance for what?’
‘Fakeness. Class reductionism. Whataboutery. Hoteps. Moteps. Black on black crime. Rap idolatry. Tankies. Astroturfing. Gaslighting. Treachery via tokenism. Profiles with generic minority face pics. Blonde white women.’
‘I know a couple of them, I think, but-…’
‘You can look it up. Memorise them. But be careful, some sites are closet-right or fake left and try to give you false definitions.’
Angela pulled out another list and put it in front of Noble. ‘These are all the black sites. Either alt-right or beyond the pale traitors.’
Noble ran down the list, not recognising any of the names.
‘You got it?’
‘I will try,’ said Noble, eyes still on the list.
‘Great. Then turn on your laptop and get to work, comrade.’
At half seven, the lights in the other windows started to switch on one by one and, at half nine, Noble finally looked up from her computer and noticed.
Life happening elsewhere, mundane, tedious.
She had been at work for eight hours straight, give or take the occasional beer break, and had achieved the following:
Set up a WordPress site.
Copy and pasted a pic of Ursula Le Guin as her avatar.
Added approved links to her site.
Written a blog post about a lack of diversity in the last Blade Runner film.
Attacked Mutt Damon on behalf of the Chinese.
Attacked Bin Affleck on behalf of women.
Attacked Cave-in Smith on behalf of decency.
Attacked Cave-in Smith’s daughter in accidental crossfire.
Attacked the Patriarchy for persisting, for allowing tits in film and no dicks.
Attacked responders who tried to equivocate about her attacks.
Attacked herself for taking the bait.
Attacked 7 of 9 titty suit.
But now, her eyesight was starting to blur so she had little choice but to get up and go for a walk outside.
It was a good decision.
The moon was half full.
Mist loitered on the mountain peaks.
Peaceful, she thought, crossing the road, eyes coming back down.
There were some delivery guys smoking near the wet market entrance, playing on their phones.
They seemed focused.
Noble walked on, into the shopping complex, and sat down on an outside table. Lit up a green cigarette. Next to her was a group of teenagers drinking beer.
They were not quiet.
Noble listened in, managing to catch about 70%.
They were talking about driving lessons, how everything they were learning for the test was the opposite of what they saw other drivers doing on the road.
But fuck it
they’d do what they had to do
to pass the test
then blitz on the road and take corners at warp ten
fuck the lot of it
Noble got up and walked back to her apartment, stubbing out the cigarette on a slanted tree. All the others except the Philosophy Student were inside, half typing on their laptops, half watching something on TV.
‘Do you guys ever take a break?’
No one answered.
‘Not now, Nobes, we’re busy.’
Noble glanced at the TV, seeing nothing but a straggle of loose cops trying to throw a wire over a wild pig. ‘Another celebrity?’
‘Yup. Big one.’
‘File under treachery.’
‘Sub-heading: race ignorance.’
‘Keith David. Said some minorities need to stop complaining and fall in line, work hard for whitey.’
‘Jesus, he said that?’
‘Can I see?’
‘Search it yourself.’
Noble sat down by the window, turned her laptop back on and looked up Keith David minority quote.
As the results appeared, so did the Philosophy Student, who collapsed on the couch and let out a huge breath of frustration.
‘This city, Nobes.’
‘It’s 92% Chinese.’
‘What’s wrong with that?’
‘It’s impossible. There’s no way in.’
‘The only thing I can anchor to is Mainland Chinese. But then, that’s no different from defending white guys. They’re foreign, but oppressors too. It doesn’t work. Argh. Other than them, you’ve got the Indians and Muslims, some Africans, but that’s problematic cos they’re literally all men, and dodgy-looking. You walk past, they all look at your tits and say ‘hey baby, sexy sexy.’ Can’t go to bat for the patriarchy, even if they are low down economically. Fucking puta. There’s just nothing for us here, Nobes. No struggle. And even if there were, I wouldn’t be able to do anything cos I’m Cuban and it’d just be called foreign interference by the oppressors. It’s like being an alien observer on a planet full of druids. No point in doing anything.’
The Philosophy Student paused, looked at a random computer screen, got bored, looked at a plastic Thundercats sword Noble had bought from a local market two years earlier, picked it up, slashed the air in the room and continued her monologue.
‘And the worst thing…the worst worst worst of things…is the oppressors are nominally left wing. But now they’re right wing, kind of, but weird right as they’re still using some of the left wing rhetoric. And from what I can tell, people in China just accept this shit cos they get a pension and some benefits whereas the people here, in Hong Kong, they accept slave wages and poor benefits cos the govt’s run by a load of libertarian Randians. I mean, their working hours are insane, there’s no viable unions, the minimum wage is dogshit and the we’d lose jobs if we raised it, inflation through the roof argument is just swallowed down whole like…like Franco’s we don’t believe in govt through the voting booth bullshit. It does not make any sense. I mean, you can’t use accepted political definitions here and pick a side cos it’s all upside down and inside out and…it’s fucked. Left is right, right is left, and everything’s fake chained to democracy, no nuance, just democracy will solve everything, let’s not talk about working standards or collectivising or gay rights. And…where’s the hope? What’s the way out of this mess? You can’t do a populist movement cos a populist movement would be aiding the right, but a pro-establishment movement aids them too. Seriously, it’s a closed loop and no one even talks about it. Or maybe they do in Cantonese, I don’t know, but it doesn’t feel like it. Fuck, it’s infuriating, the right can do this shit, get away with it in plain sight and I don’t even know how. How? How the hell are they doing this? I feel like there’d be more traction mobbing the human beachball in North Korea. More chance of getting somewhere at least. You know what I mean?’
‘Not really,’ said Noble, half an eye on her laptop, ‘but I understand the part about the workers.’
‘God, it’s depressing.’
The Philosophy Student sat down, exhausted, but kept hold of the plastic sword.
Noble moved next to her, tapping on the back of her pale neck. ‘Would you like to go to Sham Shui Po?’
‘It’s an area with lots of poor people.’
‘You just said there was no focus on the workers, on the poor. We could go to Sham Shui Po and talk to them. Try to come up with a plan to help. Or just help them directly, buy a meal or something.’
‘I’m tired, Nobes.’
‘It might re-energise you.’
‘I’m staying here.’
‘On my couch?’
‘Maybe. You got a problem with that?’
‘No. I suppose not. Not really.’
Detroit sat down next to the Philosophy Student and placed a piece of paper on her lap. There was a strange grin on his face.
‘Just tell me.’
‘You don’t wanna read?’
‘Bright Future nomination list just got released. Five authors. All white.’
‘Three male, two female, but I did some digging on their blogs and it seems one skews right and the other…this one…said poor white people get shot by cops too.’
The Philosophy Student jumped up off the couch, re-energised, and landed next to one of the laptops. She told everyone to hit the usual forums and come up with detailed plans to counter the award travesty that they could start as soon as possible, maybe next year if enough funds were raised.
‘I’ve never heard of this Bright Future Award…’ muttered Noble, picking up the paper and checking the list.
‘Me neither,’ said Katya, leaning over from the couch.
‘Is it prestigious?’
Noble held the paper out towards Farrokh. ‘Do you know it?’
‘The name…I think.’
He finished his thought by looking up at a crack on the ceiling.
‘Onto the forums, Noble,’ shouted Angela from the other side of the room.
‘Of course, you. All of us.’
‘But I haven’t looked at the Keith David quote yet…’
‘Dead news, forget it. This is def-con zero.’
‘Forums,’ shouted Detroit.
‘Okay, okay.’ Noble looked at the screen of her laptop, erasing the Randian search she’d done a minute earlier. ‘What do I do again?’
‘Anything. White hegemony, whitey world, white-ification. Ban on white authors for awards…next five years. Links to PoC books that should’ve won instead. 50% attack, 50% solutions.’
‘Not sure that balances. Can I check the data first?’
‘It won’t take long.’
‘Noble, please…stop fucking around.’
‘Get on the forums, type something. Be aggressive. Righteous terror, remember?’
Noble sat back and tried to think of a] what comment to write, and b] which forum to go to. The only one she’d signed up to so far was Star Trek related, but would that be relevant in this case?
After exhausting all thoughts, Noble opened up a background tab and clicked on one of the links to the Keith David quote.
It appeared on screen, apparently raw:
‘You gotta know a large part of the problem we’re seeing right now is, you got a bunch of these kids going around online, bullying for this and that, but who ain’t really doing anything productive. You know? Matt Damon’s the devil, Morgan Freeman’s a sell-out, Denzel hates gay people. I mean, brother, the internet’s a great thing, but it ain’t the only thing. It ain’t real activism. Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, on the streets, in the community, those are the places we need to be grown. And that’s where they are grown. Black Panthers, know them? I grew up around those guys. My dad knew them. Proper activism. Lenin’s whatever…kneecaps…those twitter people, they don’t do this, they don’t know any of my guys. But they got opinions. Oh yeah, they got opinions. And yours better match up a hundred or, bam, here’s your address, online. Bam, phone number, online. Bam, your wife’s phone number, your kids, your cousin’s grandma. I’m telling you, brother, this kind of shit…this activism…[is] going nowhere except the grave.’