The Insurrection’s Latest Moves

The insurrection amps up — in many venues, with scholarly publishing's modeling others. And why gates and their keepers are to be respected.

The forces and attitudes undermining required disclosures, professional peer-review, and editorial rigor have been injected and fostered by OA extremists using a variety of justifications — careerism in science, funder privilege, government privilege, and the catch-all of disruption.

While comparing the sum of these activities to an insurrection has always seems florid and overblown to me when I start writing this kind of post, the logic, comparisons, and evidence tying it together consistently convinces me the vocabulary is accurate rather than exaggerated or extreme.

As I wrote in my first post to float this comparison (2021):

Like all good insurrections, the first attempt was neither successful nor the last, yet it was not shut down. Each subsequent attempt grew in scope and ambition, often catching institutions and intermediaries off-guard. Now, the efforts seem to have installed the funder oligarchs atop the publishing world, with negative externalities — like persistent unreviewed manuscripts, predatory publishers, and a generally less truth-based culture — ignored or rationalized, as those are not compatible with the oligarchs’ goals or path to dominance, or to the apologists who hope to survive in their shadow.

In a recent podcast interview, Ruth Ben-Ghiat — author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present — provided an overview of the techniques autocrats and anarchists have used in the past to dupe a populace into accepting a consolidation of power with them at the top, many of which seem familiar when you look at the OA movement: