In the video below, intelligence analysts at Forward Observer in their daily situational awareness video discuss activity in the Ukraine war as well as some domestic moves to increase social media platform control over discussions.
The editors of The American Mind write about the chilling of online political speech in Terms of Servitude.
After January’s explosive drama, the battle for digital control of American life is now proceeding quietly, by soft degrees. The shock of 1/6 has morphed into a pretext for something still more consequential: a new phase of national crisis wherein corporations with strategic control over Americans’ communications enforce a creeping line of censorship against critics of the sitting regime. While online platforms claim only to be applying their terms of service in neutral fashion, those terms themselves stink of delegitimization. Once this shadow falls upon you and your account, you are as good as deactivated. You know this; you know they know this; they know you know they know it. Forced de facto to impose a precautionary principle on yourself, you “voluntarily” recoil well from the fuzzy line of unofficial censorship that advances far beyond the bright official line.
Already in March of 2020, Google had erased heterodox research on COVID-19. But things escalated rapidly when election season came in earnest. The New York Post was locked out of Twitter for breaking a story about Hunter Biden’s Chinese business ventures. The sitting president had his social media accounts shut down entirely. Twitter competitor Parler was removed from Amazon’s servers for hosting discussions among Trumpists about the unfolding events. And YouTube banned even the allegation of widespread election fraud. Americans realized—or should have—that they had suddenly been herded into a communications control system unlike any ever imposed—or even conceived—in America.
Not merely a handful of fringe cranks, but a full half of the country, is being pre-screened out of the kinds of political discourse fundamental to American citizenship. Yet this radical change is setting in with unnerving ease and rapidity. Day by day, Americans are losing faith that there is anything they can do about it. Day by day, they are getting used to it. Ryan T. Anderson’s fair and sensible interrogation of transgenderism was stripped off of Amazon; Shelby Steele had to fight tooth and nail before his documentary on race relations would stream on Prime, which also axed Michael Pack’s Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in his Own Words (which even PBS was open-minded enough to air) during black history month. Though all these turns of events got some press in the predictable places, each new act of censorship goes down a little easier with the general public. This “reset”—this revolution—is just the way things are now.
This week, The American Mind experienced the new “normal” firsthand. A recent piece of content entitled “The Ruling Class Strikes Back” was removed from YouTube “due to a violation” of what YouTube calls its Community Guidelines, specifically the prohibition regarding “spam, deceptive practices, and scams.” Our colleagues pressed YouTube’s support team on the claims and discovered that the video was flagged for “advancing false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S. 2020 presidential election.”
This action is much more than the online equivalent of a moving violation. It is a permanent warning, which flags not just one’s challenged content but one’s entire account. In this way, any finding of another infraction between now and eternity results in a suspension and, in effect, a blacklisting. Officially, it’s three strikes you’re out. Unofficially, and no doubt deliberately, after just one transgression against the political speech code, the only reasonable reaction is to bend over backwards to silence yourself—not just on the original matter, but on any matter that might cause the Eye of Sauron to swivel your way again.
In our case, we suspect the offending verbiage concerns the election-season wave of court suits and legislation deployed to strengthen the prospects of the Left: “Its lawfare had the effect of making vote fraud on a mass scale far easier, and harder to trace, than ever before. If nothing else, this had the effect of irrevocably undermining American confidence in our elections.” In other words, it is “deceptive practice” to suggest that the 2020 election was anything other than perfectly regular and beyond reproach in every regard. Though the podcast is still accessible on our Apple Podcasts feed, the black mark will remain on our record with YouTube—making us vulnerable to a complete account wipe down the line should we “misstep” again.
None of this is illegal. We recognize that. We understand the argument, repeated somewhat tiresomely, that private companies are free to host speech or not, and to do business or not, as they wish. But Twitter, YouTube, Google, and Facebook are more than private companies. They are now powerful quasi-government entities, with no precedent or constitutionally established role in our government, which, by their own admission, have a profound national effect on American politics. (That’s how Twitter justifies the need for its “Civic Integrity policy” in the first place.) Clinton voter Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, found in 2018 that “no company in the history of the world has had the ability to shift votes and opinions to the extent and on the scale that Google has.” These companies are not just doing business: they are reshaping our regime. At the very least, we should have a say in how this goes down. But on just this question of the ruling class transforming our form of government against our will and without our participation, the noose of suppression tightens, and Americans slip into silence.
As a governing logic for our national culture, as a regular dynamic of public life, this creeping censorship is inescapably un-American. Our colleague Michael Anton pointed out to Tucker Carlson that the way to settle concerns about election integrity in a free society is not to punish them but to answer them, with open discussion in the public square. Instead, even a conscientious objection to proclaiming affirmatively what the ruling class demands is being denied.
And what is good for the goose of the 2020 election is good for the gander of whatever the regime chooses to officialize, from the politics of transgender activism to those surrounding coronavirus lockdowns. To make the broadcast of one set of views all but mandatory, and to keep those who disagree from organizing, having their say, and engaging on their merits, is flatly inconsistent with our most fundamental habits and mores, our way of life, and, ultimately, our form of government.
We will continue sharing our frank assessments of this and subsidiary issues at the heart of the political crisis forced on our country by its current revolutionary regime. We will not stick to the pre-approved script of a powerful minority or sing from the hymnal of policed opinion. For Americans’ concerns to be answered honestly and resolved legitimately, we must protect their digital communications from the command and control of ruling-class authoritarians. Technologized censorship cannot coexist with the American way of life. It is an irrepressible conflict. And we know which one has to go.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald writes Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively
Over the course of five-plus hours on Thursday, a House Committee along with two subcommittees badgered three tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply. The hearing — convened by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of its Subcommittees, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — was one of the most stunning displays of the growing authoritarian effort in Congress to commandeer the control which these companies wield over political discourse for their own political interests and purposes.
As I noted when I reported last month on the scheduling of this hearing, this was “the third time in less than five months that the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms.” The bulk of Thursday’s lengthy hearing consisted of one Democratic member after the next complaining that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have failed in their duties to censor political voices and ideological content that these elected officials regard as adversarial or harmful, accompanied by threats that legislative punishment (including possible revocation of Section 230 immunity) is imminent in order to force compliance (Section 230 is the provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted by their users).
Republican members largely confined their grievances to the opposite concern: that these social media giants were excessively silencing conservative voices in order to promote a liberal political agenda (that complaint is only partially true: a good amount of online censorship, like growing law enforcement domestic monitoring generally, focuses on all anti-establishment ideologies, not just the right-wing variant). This editorial censoring, many Republicans insisted, rendered the tech companies’ Section 230 immunity obsolete, since they are now acting as publishers rather than mere neutral transmitters of information. Some Republicans did join with Democrats in demanding greater censorship, though typically in the name of protecting children from mental health disorders and predators rather than ideological conformity.
As they have done in prior hearings, both Zuckerberg and Pichai spoke like the super-scripted, programmed automatons that they are, eager to please their Congressional overseers (though they did periodically issue what should have been unnecessary warnings that excessive “content moderation” can cripple free political discourse). Dorsey, by contrast, seemed at the end of his line of patience and tolerance for vapid, moronic censorship demands, and — sitting in a kitchen in front of a pile of plates and glasses — he, refreshingly, barely bothered to hide that indifference. At one point, he flatly stated in response to demands that Twitter do more to remove “disinformation”: “I don’t think we should be the arbiters of truth and I don’t think the government should be either.”
Zuckerberg in particular has minimal capacity to communicate the way human beings naturally do. The Facebook CEO was obviously instructed by a team of public speaking consultants that it is customary to address members of the Committee as “Congressman” or “Congresswoman.” He thus began literally every answer he gave — even in rapid back and forth questions — with that word. He just refused to move his mouth without doing that — for five hours (though, in fairness, the questioning of Zuckerberg was often absurd and unreasonable). His brain permits no discretion to deviate from his script no matter how appropriate. For every question directed to him, he paused for several seconds, had his internal algorithms search for the relevant place in the metaphorical cassette inserted in a hidden box in his back, uttered the word “Congressman” or “Congresswoman,” stopped for several more seconds to search for the next applicable spot in the spine-cassette, and then proceeded unblinkingly to recite the words slowly transmitted into his neurons. One could practically see the gears in his head painfully churning as the cassette rewound or fast-forwarded. This tortuous ritual likely consumed roughly thirty percent of the hearing time. I’ve never seen members of Congress from across the ideological spectrum so united as they were by visceral contempt for Zuckerberg’s non-human comportment:https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/vsA4u7i20_0?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0
But it is vital not to lose sight of how truly despotic hearings like this are. It is easy to overlook because we have become so accustomed to political leaders successfully demanding that social media companies censor the internet in accordance with their whims. Recall that Parler, at the time it was the most-downloaded app in the country, was removed in January from the Apple and Google Play Stores and then denied internet service by Amazon, only after two very prominent Democratic House members publicly demanded this. At the last pro-censorship hearing convened by Congress, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) explicitly declared that the Democrats’ grievance is not that these companies are censoring too much but rather not enough. One Democrat after the next at Thursday’s hearing described all the content on the internet they want gone: or else. Many of them said this explicitly.
At one point toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), in the context of the January 6 riot, actually suggested that the government should create a list of groups they unilaterally deem to be “domestic terror organizations” and then provide it to tech companies as guidance for what discussions they should “track and remove”: in other words, treat these groups the same was as ISIS and Al Qaeda. https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/owN9C1PZgG8?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0
Words cannot convey how chilling and authoritarian this all is: watching government officials, hour after hour, demand censorship of political speech and threaten punishment for failures to obey. As I detailed last month, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the state violates the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee when they coerce private actors to censor for them — exactly the tyrannical goal to which these hearings are singularly devoted.
There are genuine problems posed by Silicon Valley monopoly power. Monopolies are a threat to both political freedom and competition, which is why economists of most ideological persuasions have long urged the need to prevent them. There is some encouraging legislation pending in Congress with bipartisan support (including in the House Antitrust Subcommittee before which I testified several weeks ago) that would make meaningful and productive strides toward diluting the unaccountable and undemocratic power these monopolies wield over our political and cultural lives. If these hearings were about substantively considering those antitrust measures, they would be meritorious.
But that is hard and difficult work and that is not what these hearings are about. They want the worst of all worlds: to maintain Silicon Valley monopoly power but transfer the immense, menacing power to police our discourse from those companies into the hands of the Democratic-controlled Congress and Executive Branch.
And as I have repeatedly documented, it is not just Democratic politicians agitating for greater political censorship but also their liberal journalistic allies, who cannot tolerate that there may be any places on the internet that they cannot control. That is the petty wannabe-despot mentality that has driven them to police the “unfettered” discussions on the relatively new conversation app Clubhouse, and escalate their attempts to have writers they dislike removed from Substack. Just today, The New York Times warns, on its front page, that there are “unfiltered” discussions taking place on Google-enabled podcasts:
We are taught from childhood that a defining hallmark of repressive regimes is that political officials wield power to silence ideas and people they dislike, and that, conversely, what makes the U.S. a “free” society is the guarantee that American leaders are barred from doing so. It is impossible to reconcile that claim with what happened in that House hearing room over the course of five hours on Thursday.
Journalist Michael Tracy writes How the Censors Won.
On March 30, 2017, the Senate Intelligence Committee convened one of what would become an endless series of exhaustive hearings on “Russian interference in the 2016 election.” Media, cultural, and political elites — bewildered and angry — were desperate to get to the bottom of how a former beauty pageant proprietor and reality TV show host could have possibly just won the presidency.
Understandably dissatisfied with explanations that would require any kind of reckoning with their own seismic faults, politicians and journalists poured an enormous amount of resources into directing blame for the ascendance of Donald Trump at nefarious external actors, with Russia and its devious online trolling initiatives suddenly catapulted to public enemy no. 1.
The star witness in that 2017 hearing, appearing right alongside former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, was Thomas Rid. Impressively presented by C-SPAN as a “War Studies Professor” at King’s College London, Rid made a passionate case that the US body politic had been woefully unprepared to contend with an onslaught of what he called “the dark art of disinformation.” Rid’s mission was to alert the Senate and the Nation as a whole to just how dire a threat this new breed of “disinformation” posed.
Rid placed particular emphasis on the problem of “unwitting agents” getting duped into advancing the geopolitical objectives of hostile foreign states, in this case Russia, by aiding in the propagation of their “disinformation” offensives. “Three types of unwitting agents stand out,” he intoned, remarking on the various culprits for the polluted political atmosphere which purportedly enabled Trump’s rise. “WikiLeaks, Twitter, […] and over-eager journalists aggressively covering the political leaks while neglecting or ignoring their provenance,” he charged.
Later, in his scarily-titled book Active Measures, Rid would elaborate at length on the Journalists Doing Russia’s Bidding theme — lamenting that in the heady days of the 2016 presidential campaign, “reporters, worn down by breakneck news cycles, became more receptive to covering leaked, compromising material of questionable provenance.” Taken for granted by Rid was that the allegedly “questionable provenance” of these materials ought to have been journalists’ paramount consideration, as opposed to whether the materials were 1) authentic (which they were) and 2) shed light on the secret behavior of the country’s most powerful political factions (which they did).
In any event, the three entities that Rid singled out for condemnation in the testimony — WikiLeaks, Twitter, and “over-eager journalists” — either capitulated to varying degrees in the ensuing years to his demands, or were otherwise neutralized. The founder of WikiLeaks was prosecuted by the US government and currently languishes in UK prison, which removed one of the central threats that so troubled Rid. Twitter, whose founder once espoused a relatively maximalist conception of free speech (at least compared to other social media companies) drastically changed its philosophy on such issues — embarking on repeat banning sprees, suppressing newsworthy materials falsely classified as “Russian disinformation” just weeks before the 2020 election, and eventually purging the sitting president from the platform.
Even more excitingly for Rid, elite journalists’ attitude toward the alleged menace of “disinformation” became increasingly indistinguishable from his own. In the years since that 2017 testimony, it was more and more the journalists themselves who led the charge in demanding censorship to curtail supposed “disinformation,” especially if they could somehow speciously link such “disinformation” to “harassment” and/or “violence.”
And the “over-eagerness” of journalists to report newsworthy information that Rid had condemned was replaced by journalists instead harboring extreme paranoia about being accused of aiding scary foreign influence campaigns — and thereby turning into “unwitting agents” of those scary foreigners. That created a new industry-wide taboo against doing anything which may be perceived as assisting in the dissemination of unjustly “hacked” materials, even if those materials are authentic and expose the malfeasant conduct of powerful officials. Thus, in the years since Rid’s testimony, journalists converted into the most vocal advocates for the suppression of online political speech and the constriction of the bounds of acceptable political discourse — in large part to counteract the claimed threat of “disinformation.” Rid had gotten exactly what he wanted.
So he was perfectly justified in expressing pleasure this week upon the publication of the latest Intelligence Community Assessment regarding “foreign threats” during the 2020 election. Rid gushingly proclaimed the document “remarkable” and indicated how “impressed” he was by it, with his pleasure extending to heaping praise on Facebook for having been “particularly proactive” in purging Extremely Dangerous political content from the internet. “Twitter also delivered,” Rid added.
The most telling part of the “Intelligence Community Assessment” was its contention that a key tactic of Russia is “exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” Variations on this Rid-adjacent theme have frequently percolated in elite discussions of the horrors of “Russian interference” since 2016: the idea that Russia seeks to gain world domination by inflaming domestic divisions in the US and undermining confidence in US institutions, and so journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia. But weirdly, you’ll notice, this decree never seems to apply to by far the most inflammatory purveyors of division in the country, that being mainline corporate media. It’s their foundational business model. Also left out of the equation is whether these vaunted institutions deserve confidence in the first place, or if lacking confidence in them is in fact the only rational response to their deceptions and corruptions.
Those who are expelled from social media platforms tend to be political actors who operate outside the ambit of hegemonic left/liberal corporate consensus, rendering them susceptible to marginalization per the framework popularized by Rid and the Intelligence Community he holds in such high esteem. Which demonstrates the ultimate function this framework: to limit and constrict the range of acceptable political opinion in the US, because deviation from the acceptable range invites accusations that one is “furthering the cause of Russia” (as Rid put it in the 2017 testimony). And during the Trump years, “furthering the cause of Russia” was seen as tantamount to abetting Trump and thereby fascism, which as you might imagine is not the greatest thing for journalists’ career prospects.
After the publication of the Assessment this week, there were momentary flutters of an attempt by corporate media acolytes to hype a zombie Russiagate revival — it was alleged in the Assessment that Russia had technically “interfered” again — but this attempt quickly fizzled. Even journalists groping for a titillating storyline to fill the Trump-sized hole in the media landscape can evidently recognize that this sequel was never going to be as good as the original. And either way, why bother focusing too much on whatever “interference” may or may not have occurred during the 2020 election, if it ultimately did not impede the achievement of the outcome that cultural and political elites so viscerally craved — the removal of Trump.
The comparatively muted reaction to the Assessment provides further evidence that “disinformation” and “interference” are only regarded as existentially dangerous by political and media elites if it can be causally tied to what they regard as a bad political outcome — such as the election of Trump. Imagine if just 42,918 votes in three states had been shifted from Joe Biden to Trump in the 2020 election, and Trump had won Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin and thus another term in the White House. Does anyone with basic memory-recall facilities of the past several years doubt for one second that even the slightest indications of “Russian interference” would’ve been frantically hyped again as a causal explanation for Trump’s victory? But with Trump out of the picture, the narrative has ceased to perform the function it served during the 2016-2020 period. So the narrative propagators can just claim victory and move on.
In other words, Rid is entitled to celebrate his role in fostering what is now a far more stringently regulated and policed online information ecosystem. He — the censor — won.
POSTSCRIPT: There’s thematic continuity between Rid’s successful crusade to bludgeon US political and media culture into submission, and the latest round of anti-Substack hysteria that is now reaching a fever pitch among embittered and resentful journalists. Though Rid isn’t expressly calling for the destruction of Substack like so many others are, he was a critical figure in inculcating the key premises that underly this escalating drive for censorship — excessively obtrusive “content moderation,” de-platforming, and other speech-suppression initiatives in the name of combatting “disinformation.” For those interested, I was on Tucker Carlson’s show last night discussing the rage-fueled journalist-led drive to destroy Substack.
From Colion Noir:
I made a video in response to US Representative Mike Thompson, who tweeted, HR8 “A Universal Background Check Bill”, Has bi-Partisan Support from 90 percent of the American People. In my video, I stated that this is not true, because the polls where Mike Thompson got this 90% number from were misleading because they didn’t ask about Universal Background Checks which are different from the Regular background checks that we already have.
I further Stated that if the people who were polled understood the distinction between a background check and a “UNIVERSAL” background check and that a Universal Background check can’t be enforced effectively without a national gun registry I highly doubt 90% of Americans would agree with a UNIVERSAL Background Check.
Four Days after I released my video, I got an email from a guy named Tom Kertscher with PolitiFact asking me to submit proof by noon CT today.
A few hours later, PolitiFact Released an article from Tom concluding my video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed & my video was false.
Tom is anything but objective on this issue. All you have to do is search Guns on his Twitter feed and the vast majority of his gun tweets are anti-gun tweets from politicians and the PolitiFact articles that he’s written to try to disprove pro-gun arguments.
Toms’s entire argument for why my video was false, is based on polls about background checks. Here’s the problem, none of the polls used the phrase UNIVERSAL Background Checks in their question. Tom used it in his title when he concluded: Support for UNIVERSAL Background checks on gun buyers is near 90%, but none of the polls actually used the phrase UNIVERSAL background check or explained the difference from the Background Checks we already have.
The reason why this is important is that Universal Background checks do not only apply to gun sales they apply to all transfers.
It’s even harder to believe this 90% Number when this percentage doesn’t show itself when universal background checks are voted on the state level.
Washington State has universal background checks but it only got 59% of the popular vote in Washington and that’s a state that hasn’t elected a Republican senator since 1994 or a republican Governor since 1980.
In Nevada, it only got 50.5% of the popular vote and in Maine, Lost with only 48% support.
If you combine the number of people who actually voted on universal background checks in all three of those states, it’s close to 3.97 million people, and each of these states leans blue, and out of the 3.97 million voters in those three states, only 54.7% voted in favor of Universal Background Checks.
Facebook is supposed to be a platform for open discussion. Instead, it’s turning into a platform where random fact-checkers get to play GOD.
How are we supposed to have an open dialogue and exchange of ideas and opinions when the platforms where the vast majority of these conversations are happening, use a clearly biased “Independent fact-checker” to justify invalidating my video and as a result limiting its reach.
I’m just trying to inform people about one of the most important if not the most important right we have in this country.
I get that Facebook is a private platform and they can do whatever they want and use whatever guy named after a pair of shoes they want to determine what can be posted on your platform but have an ounce of intellectual honesty and let us have the conversation without artificially limiting our voices.
That doesn’t help the country nor does it help the platform. We become stronger as a country by sharpening our ideas against the blade of open discourse. All these so-called fact-checkers are nothing more than political and intellectual bullies, not because they critiqued my video but because there’s no one to check the fact-checkers.
They have the final say and their say dictates how many people get to hear and see my ideas and that indirectly makes them Gods of online political and intellectual discourse and it’s insanely dangerous.
Scragged has a series of three articles on Samizdat Strategies or how to survive in a trending police state. Samizdat is a Russian term which referred to self-published articles designed to spread truth under an oppressive communist regime. With Big Tech’s censorship of voices which dissent from the government approved narratives, people in the US may very well need to receive truth from sources other than the mainstream.
The US has a rich history of creation; we pioneered concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, structured as a democratic republic run for the people. We’ve crated many tangible things such as cars, computers, the internet, etc. Our use of fossil fuels has freed most of us from slavery to back-braking toil needed to scratch enough food out of the ground to survive. These benefits have been the result of the creativity enabled by the freedom of thought and expression of ideas given to us by our government.
Today, our reality has changed, and not for the better.
All America is in the process of learning many harsh lessons that our forefathers fought and died to avoid us having to repeat. Perhaps the most severe lesson is this: Given that we have proved ourselves incapable of keeping a functional representative republic, as Ben Franklin feared, it’s now time to take serious, inconvenient action to conceal any of your activities that the cancel mob might consider to be at all controversial either now or in the unforeseeable future.
Government is like fire – a necessary but untrustworthy servant and a fearsome master. People who seek power over others will do pretty much whatever increases their power. That’s why it’s said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty – a price we have signally failed to pay in convenient monthly installments for lo these many years, and now the accumulated bill has come due with interest.
As soon as someone’s elected to office, he or she figures out that there’s only so much power to go around. Any power citizens have over their own lives means that elected officials have less power. Thus, regardless of party, elected officials have a powerful incentive to take power from us and give it to themselves and to their friends.
That’s what politics is all about – gaining and using power. If freedom-loving people take their eyes off the ball for even a moment, we end up with tyranny. Joe Biden is the President because his side understands the effective usage of power: his side controlled the counting of votes, controlled the adjudication of challenges of both the count and the votes, controls the reporting of all of the above, and today, bids fair to control your and my ability even to talk about anything they don’t want discussed.
That is power, pure and simple – truth, justice, and the American way factor in not at all, but that doesn’t make the power any less real or effective in causing grief to dissenters.
Tyranny is always based on fraud, fear, and force. Since no regime can directly control all of the people all of the time, the majority are kept in line by lying to them or keeping them too fearful to resist. Force is used against those who refuse to believe what they’re told to believe and become vocal about it; as long as their number is in a small enough minority, they present no threat to those in power.
Truth Finds a Way
During the era of Stalinist tyranny in the Soviet Union, people who saw through the communist fable engaged in a practice known as “samidzat“, a Russian word meaning “self-publishing” to spread whatever truth they could.
When the entire MSM and the Tech Lords colluded to make it impossible for the New York Post, the 4th largest newspaper in America, to spread its story about the Biden crime family’s lucrative connections to Ukraine and China, we realized that we had arrived at the “total fraud” stage of our slide into tyranny. During the pre-Internet samizdat days, the Russian government tried to register all typewriters to prevent people from spreading the word. People caught with unregistered typewriters they’d smuggled in from abroad or using registered typewriters in forbidden ways faced jail or worse – sometimes a lot worse.
Similarly, even mentioning the well-attested 2020 vote fraud or claiming that the Capitol riot was organized by Democrats to make Trump supporters look bad will get you canceled from social media and in some cases fired from your job, unless, of course, you’re a Democrat luminary. AOC, for example, blames Facebook for the Capitol riot because, she says, it let the rioters organize.
Doesn’t she realize that if it was organized, as we all believe it to have been, it couldn’t have been caused by Mr. Trump’s speech, given that the riot had already started before he’d even gotten well underway? We don’t know what she knows or believes – but we do know that she won’t be criticized for exonerating Mr. Trump of the Democrats’ latest bogus charge against him because Democrats are above criticism.
You can’t possibly keep up with what woketivists can say, must say, and what they can’t say unless you spend hours per day on Twitter. We don’t have time for that, so it’s time to figure out how to communicate securely and how to minimize the visibility of your now-unacceptable ideas, while still making them visible to those who might still have ears to hear them.
Once our Tech Lords revealed their true colors by canceling President Trump’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, stopping his campaign from sending email, and lowering his Google page ratings, others are piling on. Harvard students are circulating a petition to revoke the degrees granted to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw. The petition describes these three as “violent actors” who need to be held accountable for their actions.
Not to be outdone, Yale law school students and alumni are demanding that Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) be disbarred over what it says were their “efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election.”
Hawley and Cruz led efforts in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to stop the counting of electoral votes certifying the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over President Trump in the November election.
If nothing else, these Ivy-league students reveal what liberals mean by “free and fair election” – it means their candidate won, no more and no less. This isn’t surprising: they’ve been saying for years that “free and fair elections” can only result in elected Democrats.
Twitter has “not yet begun” to censor, per its CEO. Project Veritas has published information about Twitter founder Dorsey saying, “This is going to be much bigger than just one account”:
“We know we are focused on one account right now,” Dorsey said, in reference to his company’s decision to ban President Trump. “But this is going to be much bigger than just one account and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, and this week, and the next few weeks and go beyond the inauguration. We have to expect that, and we have to be ready for that.”
The New York Post wrote a long article describing the many, many ways Democrats plan to deplatform, demonize, demonetize, and destroy anyone who ever supported Mr. Trump. One wonders how long their printing press will survive.
That is not an idle concern. Amazon is the largest bookseller in the world and has used its market power to ban books which contradict the current woketivist dogma. Searching for “amazon book ban” on duckduckgo.com will get you quite a list – on Google, though, not so much.
The Washington Post told us how Amazon had reversed a ban on an e-book “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates,” which argued that the mainstream media overstates the threat from the virus. An hour after Mr. Biden was inaugurated, the WHO announced that they’re changing the sensitivity of the covid test “which will result in large reductions in the numbers of positive cases.” This confirms our belief that the covid threat was overstated from the beginning, just as we and many others had said.
Why did Amazon ban a book which seems to have told the truth? Is Amazon on the side of truth and debate?
Amazon also banned a book discussing the health hazards which are inherent in the gay lifestyle, and a book arguing that it’s not a good idea to let a 12-year-old girl decide that her desire to be a boy is so strong that her breasts should be surgically removed. Trying to talk her out of this irreversible surgery is called “conversion therapy,” which has been banned in some US jurisdictions.
In addition to selling books, Amazon also offers Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the largest cloud facilities on the planet. When Google and Apple pulled the Parler smartphone from their app stores and made it disappear from many if not most subscribers’ phones, AWS ended their hosting agreement and threw Parler off their platform on the grounds that Parler had refused to delete some posts which AWS regarded as unacceptable.
The concept of a business which rents server capacity having the right to tell customers what they may and may not store on their servers is as new as Twitter and Facebook banning the President of the United States from communicating. AWS also provides servers to Twitter, which saw Parler as a potential competitor, particularly if all of Mr. Trump’s supporters abandoned Twitter for Parler. We’re looking forward to hearing what comes out of discovery as Parler sues AWS, though it isn’t going well so far.
The fact that Mr. Bezos is stepping down as head of Amazon to pursue other interests has been in the news lately. We know pretty much what to expect from his successor, Andy Jazzy, who was the driving force behind the growth of AWS which provides nearly half of Amazon’s operating profit – he accused the Louisville police of murdering Brianna Taylor and he’s the executive who made the decision to dump Parler. How can any small business stay on AWS, knowing that they may be thrown off the platform at any moment for political reasons?
On the grounds that it’s silly to send money to your enemies, some people we know have stopped buying from Amazon. That’s a major pain because no other service provides nearly as convenient a mechanism for finding products. Others have suggested to carefully order only one thing at a time to at least maximize their shipping expenses – but we’ve found that Amazon’s computers are usually smart enough to pick up on this and combine them anyway.
Even if you don’t oppose Amazon because of its political stance, life won’t be pleasant if they put most other retailers out of business and create an effective monopoly. There’s no reason to cancel your Prime subscription because that will be noticed, but you could stop buying and let Prime expire.
Google recently blocked ads from an organization opposed to packing the supreme court and took down videos taken in the US Senate(!) of doctors testifying about their experience treating covid. Banning such forms of free speech is the thin edge of the wedge.
Educrats who are wedded to the idea that kids should always be promoted to the next grade regardless of whether they’ve mastered the material, because being held back damages their self-esteem, have believed for decades that the Christian practice of teaching kids they’re sinners in need of salvation harms their self-esteem and should be banned.
Back before the 2016 election, we quoted the Washington Post which quoted Hillary Clinton as saying that longstanding religious practices would have to “be changed.” The context of her statement makes it plan that she advocated use of force to bring about such changes.
Lest you take comfort in the prominence and visibility of the victims of these wrongful attacks, be assured that cancellation is not limited to prominent persons. Innocent nonentities such as retired Chicago firefighter David Quintavalle have been falsely accused of participating in storming the US Capitol, and all but driven from his home by ignorance-based abuse.
Mr. Quintavalle presented receipts as proof that he was in Chicago at the time, but false accusations are still all over Twitter and he has received death threats. TV crews staked out his house and police dispatched a patrol car to keep watch.
Our Department of Injustice
Cancel culture started in the federal government. You’ve read about their attack on Gen. Flynn. This was one of many violations of law by the Obama administration. Now that we know how they shafted him, we know that the FBI is not the good guys.
On the bright side, at least we know how they operate. Deep State perjury traps depend on most citizens thinking the FBI is seeking truth. Now that you know that government employees don’t care about truth at all, there’s no excuse for letting them trap you.
It’s simple. Suppose you tell the feds you had lunch with 2 “friends” on Wednesday. They lean on your “friends” to get them to say it was Thursday. Unless you can prove it was Wednesday, they can charge you with lying to them, which is a crime even if you weren’t under oath, and bankrupt you by forcing you to pay for lawyers.
Having a lawyer won’t help you – Gen. Flynn’s first law firm betrayed him to the feds.
Why would they so blatantly violate the fundamentals of legal ethics? Lawyers have to be members of the bar to practice. Liberals are already calling for the lawyers who defended Mr. Trump to be disbarred. When push comes to shove, will “your” lawyer defend you or defend his career?
“King George Rides Again” shows how our bureaucrats are creating a great many “crimes” that can send you to jail. Prosecutors get rated on the amount of jail time they inflict which is easy to measure. It gives examples and tells you part of how to protect yourself.
“Injustice” tells the story of an innocent man who spent $2 million on lawyers and finally copped a plea for 6 months in club fed as opposed to 150 years if he’d gone to trial. It gives more detail how they work you over and tells what you need to get from them before telling them anything at all, not even your name. You can justify that – during WW II, Japanese-Americans were locked up because of their names. Japanese girls who had married Americans were left alone because they no longer had Japanese names.
There’s no doubt that we are in a position that has been unfamiliar to Americans for centuries: one where, like residents of any totalitarian land, we must watch what we say – or else! The American mindset is not oriented toward operating in this kind of environment, but necessity breeds invention, which we’ll explore in upcoming articles in this series.
Given that liberals won’t like what we’re telling you and Internet service providers have shown their willingness to take down sites they do not like, ours may disappear. You’d be best off pasting this article and the rest of this series into a Word doc, or even printing it out, for later reference and samizdat-style sharing.
But, maybe we aren’t to that point yet. There is much further to fall, as we’ll see in the next article in this series.
Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute writes Techno-Censorship: The Slippery Slope from Censoring ‘Disinformation’ to Silencing Truth.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”― George Orwell
This is the slippery slope that leads to the end of free speech as we once knew it.
In a world increasingly automated and filtered through the lens of artificial intelligence, we are finding ourselves at the mercy of inflexible algorithms that dictate the boundaries of our liberties.
Once artificial intelligence becomes a fully integrated part of the government bureaucracy, there will be little recourse: we will be subject to the intransigent judgments of techno-rulers.
This is how it starts.
Martin Niemöller’s warning about the widening net that ensnares us all still applies.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
In our case, however, it started with the censors who went after extremists spouting so-called “hate speech,” and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shamed for being perceived as politically incorrect.
Then the internet censors got involved and went after extremists spouting “disinformation” about stolen elections, the Holocaust, and Hunter Biden, and few spoke out—because they were not extremists and didn’t want to be shunned for appearing to disagree with the majority.
By the time the techno-censors went after extremists spouting “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, the censors had developed a system and strategy for silencing the nonconformists. Still, few spoke out.
Eventually, “we the people” will be the ones in the crosshairs.
At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes “extremism, “we the people” might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other.
When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense.
Whatever we tolerate now—whatever we turn a blind eye to—whatever we rationalize when it is inflicted on others, whether in the name of securing racial justice or defending democracy or combatting fascism, will eventually come back to imprison us, one and all.
Watch and learn.
We should all be alarmed when prominent social media voices such as Donald Trump, Alex Jones, David Icke and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that are deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous or conspiratorial.
The question is not whether the content of their speech was legitimate.
The concern is what happens after such prominent targets are muzzled. What happens once the corporate techno-censors turn their sights on the rest of us?
It’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act.
We are on a fast-moving trajectory.
Already, there are calls for the Biden administration to appoint a “reality czar” in order to tackle disinformation, domestic extremism and the nation’s so-called “reality crisis.”
Knowing what we know about the government’s tendency to define its own reality and attach its own labels to behavior and speech that challenges its authority, this should be cause for alarm across the entire political spectrum.
Here’s the point: you don’t have to like Trump or any of the others who are being muzzled, nor do you have to agree or even sympathize with their views, but to ignore the long-term ramifications of such censorship would be dangerously naïve.
As Matt Welch, writing for Reason, rightly points out, “Proposed changes to government policy should always be visualized with the opposing team in charge of implementation.”
In other words, whatever powers you allow the government and its corporate operatives to claim now, for the sake of the greater good or because you like or trust those in charge, will eventually be abused and used against you by tyrants of your own making.
As Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:
The glaring fallacy that always lies at the heart of pro-censorship sentiments is the gullible, delusional belief that censorship powers will be deployed only to suppress views one dislikes, but never one’s own views… Facebook is not some benevolent, kind, compassionate parent or a subversive, radical actor who is going to police our discourse in order to protect the weak and marginalized or serve as a noble check on mischief by the powerful. They are almost always going to do exactly the opposite: protect the powerful from those who seek to undermine elite institutions and reject their orthodoxies. Tech giants, like all corporations, are required by law to have one overriding objective: maximizing shareholder value. They are always going to use their power to appease those they perceive wield the greatest political and economic power.
Welcome to the age of technofascism.
Clothed in tyrannical self-righteousness, technofascism is powered by technological behemoths (both corporate and governmental) working in tandem to achieve a common goal.
Thus far, the tech giants have been able to sidestep the First Amendment by virtue of their non-governmental status, but it’s a dubious distinction at best. Certainly, Facebook and Twitter have become the modern-day equivalents of public squares, traditional free speech forums, with the internet itself serving as a public utility.
But what does that mean for free speech online: should it be protected or regulated?
When given a choice, the government always goes for the option that expands its powers at the expense of the citizenry’s. Moreover, when it comes to free speech activities, regulation is just another word for censorship.
Right now, it’s trendy and politically expedient to denounce, silence, shout down and shame anyone whose views challenge the prevailing norms, so the tech giants are lining up to appease their shareholders.
This is the tyranny of the majority against the minority—exactly the menace to free speech that James Madison sought to prevent when he drafted the First Amendment to the Constitution—marching in lockstep with technofascism.
With intolerance as the new scarlet letter of our day, we now find ourselves ruled by the mob.
Those who dare to voice an opinion or use a taboo word or image that runs counter to the accepted norms are first in line to be shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various “word crimes” and banished from society.
For example, a professor at Duquesne University was fired for using the N-word in an academic context. To get his job back, Gary Shank will have to go through diversity training and restructure his lesson plans.
This is what passes for academic freedom in America today.
If Americans don’t vociferously defend the right of a minority of one to subscribe to, let alone voice, ideas and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different, then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).
No matter what our numbers might be, no matter what our views might be, no matter what party we might belong to, it will not be long before “we the people” constitute a powerless minority in the eyes of a power-fueled fascist state driven to maintain its power at all costs.
We are almost at that point now.
The steady, pervasive censorship creep that is being inflicted on us by corporate tech giants with the blessing of the powers-that-be threatens to bring about a restructuring of reality straight out of Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Truth polices speech and ensures that facts conform to whatever version of reality the government propagandists embrace.
Orwell intended 1984 as a warning. Instead, it is being used as a dystopian instruction manual for socially engineering a populace that is compliant, conformist and obedient to Big Brother.
Nothing good can come from techno-censorship.
Again, to quote Greenwald:
Censorship power, like the tech giants who now wield it, is an instrument of status quo preservation. The promise of the internet from the start was that it would be a tool of liberation, of egalitarianism, by permitting those without money and power to compete on fair terms in the information war with the most powerful governments and corporations. But just as is true of allowing the internet to be converted into a tool of coercion and mass surveillance, nothing guts that promise, that potential, like empowering corporate overlords and unaccountable monopolists to regulate and suppress what can be heard.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, these internet censors are not acting in our best interests to protect us from dangerous, disinformation campaigns. They’re laying the groundwork to preempt any “dangerous” ideas that might challenge the power elite’s stranglehold over our lives.
Therefore, it is important to recognize the thought prison that is being built around us for what it is: a prison with only one route of escape—free thinking and free speaking in the face of tyranny.
Michael Krieger at Liberty Blitzkrieg has taken a break from his writing break to write Cancel Yourself .
At this point we find ourselves confronted by a very disquieting question: Do we really wish to act upon our knowledge? Does a majority of the population think it worthwhile to take a good deal of trouble, in order to halt and, if possible, reverse the current drift toward totalitarian control of everything? If the United States of America is the prophetic image of the rest of the urban-industrial world as it will be a few years from now — recent public opinion polls have revealed that an actual majority of young people in their teens, the voters of tomorrow, have no faith in democratic institutions, see no objection to the censorship of unpopular ideas, do not believe that government of the people by the people is possible and would be perfectly content, if they can continue to live in the style to which the boom has accustomed them, to be ruled, from above, by an oligarchy of assorted experts. That so many of the well-fed young television-watchers in the world’s most powerful democracy should be so completely indifferent to the idea of self-government, so blankly uninterested in freedom of thought and the right to dissent, is distressing, but not too surprising. “Free as a bird,” we say, and envy the winged creatures for their power of unrestricted movement in all the three dimensions. But, alas, we forget the dodo. Any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded. Something analogous is true of human beings. If the bread is supplied regularly and copiously three times a day, many of them will be perfectly content to live by bread alone — or at least by bread and circuses alone.
Take the right to vote. In principle it is a great privilege. In practice as recent history has repeatedly shown the right to vote by itself is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing voluntarily cooperating groups capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, 1958
This isn’t how I intended to return to writing. There was supposed to be a new website and a new focus, but circumstances emerged and laid waste to my plans. So here I am, back again. I’m a bit rusty so bear with me.
There’s no reason to rehash what happened over the last several days, but the gist of it is that significant components of internet infrastructure were weaponized for ideological and political purposes. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all knew this day was coming. We just didn’t want to admit it or confront it, because it’s not a comforting or easy thing to admit or confront. But the day has arrived and we’re no longer in a position to ignore it. The most concerning aspect isn’t that it happened, but that it could happen at all. The internet is clearly broken, possibly dying, and if we want to digitally associate freely again at some point in the future, we have no choice but to fix it.
Although I have no team in the parochial political fight, I’ve chosen one in the broader ideological battle. The wielding of such concentrated and unaccountable power over human communication has crossed a very serious line and sets us up for a future world I’m uninterested in participating in. As such, we have no choice but to confront the issue head on.
People who think this is about Trump for me are the most ridiculous people. I never voted for him, supported him or took him seriously. While I recognize the role he played in the greater scheme of this massive historical cycle, the best thing that can happen is for him to disappear as a political force and be understood as the spectacle and distraction he was. I’m not here to lecture anyone about who they voted for, but I’m here to connect with people of all political persuasions ready to become serious and admit that a real strategy is needed to address the unaccountable power of the national security state oligarchy. Conventional political avenues are a dead end at this point.
I recognize that tens of millions of frustrated, angry and concerned minds are trying to make sense of it all and reorient themselves. This presents a giant opportunity, but also very real danger. All the emotion being felt currently can be channeled into negative avenues such as violence, aimless spectacles, Trump martyrdom or a futile search for the next political savior guaranteed to disappoint, or it can be channeled in productive ways. That’s why I’m here writing this post at this moment. Enough people are finally motivated to respond, but what really matters is the nature of this response. The dominant aggregate reaction is what will determine the future.
Most of us eagerly, or more likely lazily, embraced the current insipid and dull paradigm in the name of convenience, low prices, and free shipping, but we never stopped to consider the sacrifices made along the way. We swallowed it whole, became comfortable fat and happy, and now the facade’s about to be slowly stripped away unless we bend the knee to an ever narrowing Overton Window of speech and behavior parameters. It begins with social media purges, but it won’t end there. All the special things we sacrificed from the prior era are gone, yet the consequences are here to stay. We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.
In this regard, I have a simple suggestion. Cancel Yourself. Unshackle yourself mentally from our suffocating and bland corporate culture while you still have a chance to do it voluntarily. Cancel yourself before they have a chance to cancel you. In this there is power. You’re taking charge and acting proactively as opposed to reacting. We need to play the game on our own terms, because the game’s coming for us either way. If you were a Trump supporter, forget about him. If you held your nose and voted for Biden, don’t expect anything good. If you’re a Sanders supporter, forget it, he’s done. Most importantly, don’t waste time and energy thinking about 2024 and who might run. A lot of really bad stuff can happen between now and then and there may not be much of a country left at that point. Focus on today and focus on what you’re willing to do personally in the near-term.
What’s happening right now is undeniable. They are rolling out the corporate social credit score world. For now it’ll only be the most tasteless people banned, tomorrow it will be you.
You need to opt-out before they do it for you.
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) January 11, 2021
Once you’ve made the decision to preemptively cancel yourself, start thinking about specific steps you’re willing or able to take from there. Personally, this has been a 10 year+ journey that began when I quit my lucrative Wall Street job and left New York City permanently. It then expanded to public writing, cultivating a social media presence, and developing a passion for gardening. While all these actions brought me to where I am, the biggest realization I had along the way was that I need to focus most of my energy on the things I can control and my own state of consciousness.
The future won’t be determined by whether or not there’s a response, because there’s always some sort of response. What matters most is the specific nature of humanity’s dominant response. Will it be a frothing, violence soaked reptilian reaction, or will it be intelligent, wise, conscious and asymmetric. If we confront the national security state oligarchy by conventional means, we’ll end up with another conventional world, and one that’s potentially worse than this one. If we want something fundamentally distinct and better, we had better respond thoughtfully. Rejecting a tepid paradigm is an important first step, but it does not in itself guarantee a better one. The ends don’t justify the means, the means are everything.
This post has been mostly theoretical and philosophical thus far, so let’s shift gears and get practical. The world we’ve become so dependent on is quickly being turned against anyone who refuses to conform to what amounts to some mangled form of corporate sanctioned, woke imperialism. If you don’t acquiesce fully you’ll be removed eventually. The primary form of leverage being used to bend us into submission are the corporate tools and services we’ve become so dependent on, most explicitly big tech, but increasingly internet infrastructure more broadly. They think they’ve got us trapped via our dependence on these conveniences and addictions, but do they really? What can we do in response?
When thinking about this, it makes sense to look at Bitcoin for some guidance. What first got me involved nearly a decade ago was a keen understanding of how a digital world dominated by centralized digital currencies could be easily weaponized against the entire planet. As such, I and countless others around the world have embraced this revolutionary protocol governed by rules, not rulers. A means of sending value across the planet digitally that’s permissionless, peer-to-peer, decentralized and censorship resistant. There’s no CEO, no one individual human to coerce or pressure in order to change the rules. It’s a politically neutral global money in a world becoming overwhelmed with a willingness to use centralized technological services and hardware for political ends. An oasis in a desert of topdown control. So what can we learn from Bitcoin?
Central banks want CBDCs so they can deplatform you for wrongthink
— Ben Kaufman (@_benkaufman) January 13, 2021
For starters, no one can stop you from sending bitcoin to whoever you want, which is the same sort of principle needed for online communication. Unpopular or even tasteless opinions are not a crime, but we’ve allowed tech oligarchs to act as judge and jury based on their own whims or political calculations. Even worse, they do this after having corralled everyone into their platforms by falsely claiming they served as public squares for free human expression. It’s been a gigantic bait and switch, and the lesson here is to never again rely on individuals to determine something as important as the acceptable parameters of human communication.
Which brings us to the crux of this post. The internet in its current form is dying — it has been for some time, — yet it is far from dead. We all continue to use our Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon products even though we know we shouldn’t. We’ve all become hostages to convenience and now an omnipresent sword of cancel culture hangs over our collective heads. As such, we have some important decisions to make. We can choose to constantly alter our minds and speech to conform to a growing mob of ridiculousness, or we can fix the internet itself.
As someone who’s in the process of preemptively canceling himself, I have little choice in the matter. We’re either going to transition to a decentralized, peer-to-peer internet, aka web 3.0, or the entire thing’s gonna become a sterile Potemkin Village of woke corporate imperialism and national security state talking points. I’m optimistic when it comes to the emergence of web 3.0 for several reasons, but mainly because I don’t think it’s plausible to give humanity freedom of expression via the web for a couple of decades and then just remove it for good and turn it into television. This doesn’t mean the transition will be quick or easy, but I do believe it’s probably inevitable.
If you’re on board with most of what’s been laid out here and are comfortable with canceling yourself, at least symbolically, the next choice you need to make is to determine what you can do to help usher in a different kind of paradigm. Each individual has different skills, temperaments, circumstances and commitments, so what degree of action one takes is a deeply personal decision. All I ask is that you think about how you can contribute to the goal of a more voluntary, decentralized, peaceful, conscious, cooperative, community-centered and networked world and how much time and energy you’re realistically willing to give the effort. Voting isn’t going to do it, we need direct action from millions upon millions of humans around the world.
In addition to the steps I’ve already taken in the past decade, there are several additional actions I’m committing myself to. First, given my determination that web 3.0 is critical to the future of human progress, I’ve committed myself in 2021 to getting up to speed on some of the most promising privacy and peer-to-peer technologies currently in existence, software and hardware alike. Although I don’t have the skillset to add to such projects, I do have the capacity to experiment with them and assess how far along we are and what needs to be done.
From what I know so far, there’s a lot of brainpower working on a multitude of different projects, but it’s unclear how far along and how user friendly they are. The reason this particular avenue is interesting to me is not just because it’s become increasingly necessary, but because we now have a critical mass of people ready to leave the centralized big tech products and services, but this won’t happen until web 3.0 is ready to onboard the average human relatively seamlessly. My objective is to determine how far along we are in this regard.
“Build, use, and support tools that empower individuals.”
Here’s a great resource from @matt_odell
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) January 11, 2021
Beyond that, the recent decisions made by Twitter and big tech generally have once again driven the point home that it’s not wise for me to post all of my thoughts via such platforms, which was a motivating factor for spontaneously writing today’s post. I’ll continue to use Twitter because that’s how I’m able to reach the largest audience for now, but I have one foot out the door.
The next thing on my agenda is to step up efforts to launch a new website that more accurately reflects a new focus, which is not to convince, but to offer inspiration and suggestions about how we move forward as individuals and as a human race. That said, I won’t make any promises about how often I’ll be writing, because I have no idea. It’ll depend on a lot of things, including how well this post is received and how inspired I am to publish at any given moment. When I have something I really want to say I’ll write, and when I don’t, I won’t.
The big final request here for readers wanting to stay abreast of my work is to sign up for the email list (signup box found near the top right of the desktop version, and at the bottom of the mobile site). If I get canceled from Twitter, it’ll be much harder to reach out unless I have your email. Email lists have become very important once again.
With all of the de-platforming and banning of conservative sites and accounts, AmRRON has some suggestions for alternatives in Patriot Action Items: Alternative Email and News Sources.
In the wake of increasing censorship by left leaning internet-based services, conservative Christian patriots are finding themselves without news sources they can trust and ways of communicating with each other.
Here, I will cover two components of what I see as part of the solution:
- Email alternatives which offer increased privacy, security, and a degree of anonymity.
- News resources as alternatives to the corporate mainstream ‘fake news’ media.
We have received reports that Yahoo and Outlook email services have blocked user accounts
due to Christian/conservative views.
While this isn’t surprising, in fact it is to be expected, there are some great freedom-supporting services.
Tutanota (Germany) – has similar architecture as Protonmail, but as of 2009 Germany is a third party 5I participant.
(Servers randomly move around the world, not free)
NOTE: Unseen email. We were strong proponents and users of unseen.is secure email, based in Iceland.
They have since closed their service and shut down the last of their servers. If you see references to unseen email
in our Underground documentation or in postings on our AmRRON or Radio Free Redoubt websites, please disregard.
Those references are obsolete.
Stop watching or listening to any corporate mainstream news sources.
Avoid Drudge Report — Has since developed into anti-patriot propaganda arm.
Here are some excellent news alternatives:
Aggregate News Sites:
The Liberty Daily https://thelibertydaily.com/
United Patriot News https://www.unitedpatriotnews.com/
Conservative News Outlets:
One America News Network https://www.oann.com/
Newsmax — After a Newsmax anchor walk-out of the Mypillow CEO, Mike Lindell, Newsmax is on probation, despite the anchor’s apology.
World Net Daily — https://www.wnd.com/
The Epoch Times https://www.theepochtimes.com/
Daybreak Insider http://www.daybreakinsider.com/
Zero Hedge https://www.zerohedge.com/
New American Magazine https://thenewamerican.com/
The Gateway Pundit https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/
The Geller Report https://gellerreport.com/
MAGA Pill http://www.magapill.com/
United Patriots http://www.unitedpatriotsofamerica.com/news-and-articles
One News Now https://www.onenewsnow.com/
Bongino Report https://bonginoreport.com/
Western Journal https://www.westernjournal.com/
*Activist Post https://www.activistpost.com/
*despite the Anarchist symbology, Activist Post actually tends to lean strongly toward libertarianism, and not ‘anarchist’.
https://redoubtnews.com/ (American Redoubt / PNW)
http://inlandnwreport.com/ (Inland NW / WA State)
Strategic and Analysis
https://unconstrainedanalytics.org/ Rich Higgins
https://www.understandingthethreat.com/ John Guandalo
https://forwardobserver.com/ Sam Culper
The following is adapted from a speech delivered by Allum Bokhari, senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News, at Hillsdale College on November 8, 2020, during a Center for Constructive Alternatives conference on Big Tech. Who Is in Control? The Need to Rein in Big Tech
In January, when every major Silicon Valley tech company permanently banned the President of the United States from its platform, there was a backlash around the world. One after another, government and party leaders—many of them ideologically opposed to the policies of President Trump—raised their voices against the power and arrogance of the American tech giants. These included the President of Mexico, the Chancellor of Germany, the government of Poland, ministers in the French and Australian governments, the neoliberal center-right bloc in the European Parliament, the national populist bloc in the European Parliament, the leader of the Russian opposition (who recently survived an assassination attempt), and the Russian government (which may well have been behind that attempt).
Common threats create strange bedfellows. Socialists, conservatives, nationalists, neoliberals, autocrats, and anti-autocrats may not agree on much, but they all recognize that the tech giants have accumulated far too much power. None like the idea that a pack of American hipsters in Silicon Valley can, at any moment, cut off their digital lines of communication.
I published a book on this topic prior to the November election, and many who called me alarmist then are not so sure of that now. I built the book on interviews with Silicon Valley insiders and five years of reporting as a Breitbart News tech correspondent. Breitbart created a dedicated tech reporting team in 2015—a time when few recognized the danger that the rising tide of left-wing hostility to free speech would pose to the vision of the World Wide Web as a free and open platform for all viewpoints.
This inversion of that early libertarian ideal—the movement from the freedom of information to the control of information on the Web—has been the story of the past five years.
When the Web was created in the 1990s, the goal was that everyone who wanted a voice could have one. All a person had to do to access the global marketplace of ideas was to go online and set up a website. Once created, the website belonged to that person. Especially if the person owned his own server, no one could deplatform him. That was by design, because the Web, when it was invented, was competing with other types of online services that were not so free and open.
It is important to remember that the Web, as we know it today—a network of websites accessed through browsers—was not the first online service ever created. In the 1990s, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee invented the technology that underpins websites and web browsers, creating the Web as we know it today. But there were other online services, some of which predated Berners-Lee’s invention. Corporations like CompuServe and Prodigy ran their own online networks in the 1990s—networks that were separate from the Web and had access points that were different from web browsers. These privately-owned networks were open to the public, but CompuServe and Prodigy owned every bit of information on them and could kick people off their networks for any reason.
In these ways the Web was different. No one owned it, owned the information on it, or could kick anyone off. That was the idea, at least, before the Web was captured by a handful of corporations.
We all know their names: Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon. Like Prodigy and CompuServe back in the ’90s, they own everything on their platforms, and they have the police power over what can be said and who can participate. But it matters a lot more today than it did in the ’90s. Back then, very few people used online services. Today everyone uses them—it is practically impossible not to use them. Businesses depend on them. News publishers depend on them. Politicians and political activists depend on them. And crucially, citizens depend on them for information.
Today, Big Tech doesn’t just mean control over online information. It means control over news. It means control over commerce. It means control over politics. And how are the corporate tech giants using their control? Judging by the three biggest moves they have made since I wrote my book—the censoring of the New York Post in October when it published its blockbuster stories on Biden family corruption, the censorship and eventual banning from the Web of President Trump, and the coordinated takedown of the upstart social media site Parler—it is obvious that Big Tech’s priority today is to support the political Left and the Washington establishment.
Big Tech has become the most powerful election-influencing machine in American history. It is not an exaggeration to say that if the technologies of Silicon Valley are allowed to develop to their fullest extent, without any oversight or checks and balances, then we will never have another free and fair election. But the power of Big Tech goes beyond the manipulation of political behavior. As one of my Facebook sources told me in an interview for my book: “We have thousands of people on the platform who have gone from far right to center in the past year, so we can build a model from those people and try to make everyone else on the right follow the same path.” Let that sink in. They don’t just want to control information or even voting behavior—they want to manipulate people’s worldview.
Is it too much to say that Big Tech has prioritized this kind of manipulation? Consider that Twitter is currently facing a lawsuit from a victim of child sexual abuse who says that the company repeatedly failed to take down a video depicting his assault, and that it eventually agreed to do so only after the intervention of an agent from the Department of Homeland Security. So Twitter will take it upon itself to ban the President of the United States, but is alleged to have taken down child pornography only after being prodded by federal law enforcement.
How does Big Tech go about manipulating our thoughts and behavior? It begins with the fact that these tech companies strive to know everything about us—our likes and dislikes, the issues we’re interested in, the websites we visit, the videos we watch, who we voted for, and our party affiliation. If you search for a Hannukah recipe, they’ll know you’re likely Jewish. If you’re running down the Yankees, they’ll figure out if you’re a Red Sox fan. Even if your smart phone is turned off, they’ll track your location. They know who you work for, who your friends are, when you’re walking your dog, whether you go to church, when you’re standing in line to vote, and on and on.
As I already mentioned, Big Tech also monitors how our beliefs and behaviors change over time. They identify the types of content that can change our beliefs and behavior, and they put that knowledge to use. They’ve done this openly for a long time to manipulate consumer behavior—to get us to click on certain ads or buy certain products. Anyone who has used these platforms for an extended period of time has no doubt encountered the creepy phenomenon where you’re searching for information about a product or a service—say, a microwave—and then minutes later advertisements for microwaves start appearing on your screen. These same techniques can be used to manipulate political opinions.
I mentioned that Big Tech has recently demonstrated ideological bias. But it is equally true that these companies have huge economic interests at stake in politics. The party that holds power will determine whether they are going to get government contracts, whether they’re going to get tax breaks, and whether and how their industry will be regulated. Clearly, they have a commercial interest in political control—and currently no one is preventing them from exerting it.
To understand how effective Big Tech’s manipulation could become, consider the feedback loop.
As Big Tech constantly collects data about us, they run tests to see what information has an impact on us. Let’s say they put a negative news story about someone or something in front of us, and we don’t click on it or read it. They keep at it until they find content that has the desired effect. The feedback loop constantly improves, and it does so in a way that’s undetectable.
What determines what appears at the top of a person’s Facebook feed, Twitter feed, or Google search results? Does it appear there because it’s popular or because it’s gone viral? Is it there because it’s what you’re interested in? Or is there another reason Big Tech wants it to be there? Is it there because Big Tech has gathered data that suggests it’s likely to nudge your thinking or your behavior in a certain direction? How can we know?
What we do know is that Big Tech openly manipulates the content people see. We know, for example, that Google reduced the visibility of Breitbart News links in search results by 99 percent in 2020 compared to the same period in 2016. We know that after Google introduced an update last summer, clicks on Breitbart News stories from Google searches for “Joe Biden” went to zero and stayed at zero through the election. This didn’t happen gradually, but in one fell swoop—as if Google flipped a switch. And this was discoverable through the use of Google’s own traffic analysis tools, so it isn’t as if Google cared that we knew about it.
Speaking of flipping switches, I have noted that President Trump was collectively banned by Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and every other social media platform you can think of. But even before that, there was manipulation going on. Twitter, for instance, reduced engagement on the President’s tweets by over eighty percent. Facebook deleted posts by the President for spreading so-called disinformation.
But even more troubling, I think, are the invisible things these companies do. Consider “quality ratings.” Every Big Tech platform has some version of this, though some of them use different names. The quality rating is what determines what appears at the top of your search results, or your Twitter or Facebook feed, etc. It’s a numerical value based on what Big Tech’s algorithms determine in terms of “quality.” In the past, this score was determined by criteria that were somewhat objective: if a website or post contained viruses, malware, spam, or copyrighted material, that would negatively impact its quality score. If a video or post was gaining in popularity, the quality score would increase. Fair enough.
Over the past several years, however—and one can trace the beginning of the change to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016—Big Tech has introduced all sorts of new criteria into the mix that determines quality scores. Today, the algorithms on Google and Facebook have been trained to detect “hate speech,” “misinformation,” and “authoritative” (as opposed to “non-authoritative”) sources. Algorithms analyze a user’s network, so that whatever users follow on social media—e.g., “non-authoritative” news outlets—affects the user’s quality score. Algorithms also detect the use of language frowned on by Big Tech—e.g., “illegal immigrant” (bad) in place of “undocumented immigrant” (good)—and adjust quality scores accordingly. And so on.
This is not to say that you are informed of this or that you can look up your quality score. All of this happens invisibly. It is Silicon Valley’s version of the social credit system overseen by the Chinese Communist Party. As in China, if you defy the values of the ruling elite or challenge narratives that the elite labels “authoritative,” your score will be reduced and your voice suppressed. And it will happen silently, without your knowledge.
This technology is even scarier when combined with Big Tech’s ability to detect and monitor entire networks of people. A field of computer science called “network analysis” is dedicated to identifying groups of people with shared interests, who read similar websites, who talk about similar things, who have similar habits, who follow similar people on social media, and who share similar political viewpoints. Big Tech companies are able to detect when particular information is flowing through a particular network—if there’s a news story or a post or a video, for instance, that’s going viral among conservatives or among voters as a whole. This gives them the ability to shut down a story they don’t like before it gets out of hand. And these systems are growing more sophisticated all the time.
If Big Tech’s capabilities are allowed to develop unchecked and unregulated, these companies will eventually have the power not only to suppress existing political movements, but to anticipate and prevent the emergence of new ones. This would mean the end of democracy as we know it, because it would place us forever under the thumb of an unaccountable oligarchy.
The good news is, there is a way to rein in the tyrannical tech giants. And the way is simple: take away their power to filter information and filter data on our behalf.
All of Big Tech’s power comes from their content filters—the filters on “hate speech,” the filters on “misinformation,” the filters that distinguish “authoritative” from “non-authoritative” sources, etc. Right now these filters are switched on by default. We as individuals can’t turn them off. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The most important demand we can make of lawmakers and regulators is that Big Tech be forbidden from activating these filters without our knowledge and consent. They should be prohibited from doing this—and even from nudging us to turn on a filter—under penalty of losing their Section 230 immunity as publishers of third party content. This policy should be strictly enforced, and it should extend even to seemingly non-political filters like relevance and popularity. Anything less opens the door to manipulation.
Our ultimate goal should be a marketplace in which third party companies would be free to design filters that could be plugged into services like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube. In other words, we would have two separate categories of companies: those that host content and those that create filters to sort through that content. In a marketplace like that, users would have the maximum level of choice in determining their online experiences. At the same time, Big Tech would lose its power to manipulate our thoughts and behavior and to ban legal content—which is just a more extreme form of filtering—from the Web.
This should be the standard we demand, and it should be industry-wide. The alternative is a kind of digital serfdom. We don’t allow old-fashioned serfdom anymore—individuals and businesses have due process and can’t be evicted because their landlord doesn’t like their politics. Why shouldn’t we also have these rights if our business or livelihood depends on a Facebook page or a Twitter or YouTube account?
This is an issue that goes beyond partisanship. What the tech giants are doing is so transparently unjust that all Americans should start caring about it—because under the current arrangement, we are all at their mercy. The World Wide Web was meant to liberate us. It is now doing the opposite. Big Tech is increasingly in control. The most pressing question today is: how are we going to take control back?
From the Independent Institute, Big Tech’s Gravest Sin? Working with the Security State . There is an argument that Big Tech censorship is not a violation of free speech because they are private entities. But when those Big Tech companies get financially entangled with the government, who can say when quid pro quo censorship is occurring?
The “de-platforming” of Donald Trump by Twitter, Facebook, and Google-owned YouTube—that is, Big Tech—recently garnered big headlines. Trump’s change in status has raised cries among some conservatives of “censorship.” Yet a more libertarian view holds that these are private companies that have a right to control their own content, just as private broadcast and print media do. The word “censorship” has been traditionally and more appropriately applied to government violations of the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech.
More disturbing might be Big Tech’s aiding of law enforcement’s violations of the rights of individuals at home and contributions to the military’s violation of human rights abroad. Despite its reputation for independence, it has recently been revealed that Big Tech’s relationship with the American national security establishment may be stronger than was previously thought. At some tech firms, workforce opposition has arisen over company contracts with the military and law enforcement. Yet these employee objections have usually led the companies to hide such government business through the use of mundane and nondescript subcontractors.
Big Tech has had a long-standing relationship with the U.S. government and military. During World War II, the government used IBM’s punch card technology to keep track of prisoners at unconstitutional domestic internment camps housing Japanese Americans, who even government reports admitted posed no threat to the American war effort. (At the same time, Nazi Germany was using similar IBM technology.) The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the Department of Defense (DoD) funded research on computing in the 1960s that led to the Internet and later to Siri. Such spinoffs are beneficial, but it is more efficient for the private sector to invest in them directly. Less positively, Honeywell Aerospace manufactured fragmentation bombs, which killed many civilians during the Vietnam War. Silicon Valley was no stranger to military contracts, with Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin), builder of military aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other defense systems, being the biggest player there during the 1980s.
Nowadays, Big Tech companies have loads of contracts with the military and law enforcement. Tech Inquiry, a non-profit organization promoting tech accountability, has reported that DoD, ICE, FBI, DEA, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have thousands of contracts with Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Dell, IBM, and Hewlett Packard. Microsoft is by far the contract champion, with 5,000. Amazon and Google trail with 350 and 250, respectively.
For example, Amazon’s facial Rekognition software could easily be misused by the government, yet the company is still marketing it to government agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Furthermore, Amazon’s cloud services are employed by Palantir, a company that creates databases for ICE. Microsoft even admits that its software allows ICE to “utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification” of immigrants. Dell also licenses software to ICE.
Google was involved in Project Maven to provide artificial intelligence for U.S. drone warfare in foreign nations. American presidents have used drones to illegally kill people, including Barack Obama’s assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Awlaki was an American citizen, killed by his own government without charges, a trial, or sentencing. Almost 4,000 Google employees demanded the company end the contract and some resigned over it. Yet Google is now providing off-the-shelf technology for drones.
Big Tech is even helping foreign governments conduct what can be legitimately called “censorship.” For example, Google, in a project called Dragonfly, sold the oppressive Chinese government a censored version of its search engine. Microsoft beat out Amazon for a whopping $10 billion JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract to provide cloud computing for DoD.
Big Tech should be leery of working with both the U.S. and foreign governments—and not only because many of their employees object to contracts that can result in deaths or the violation of human rights. Government money never comes without strings attached. Contracting with the government will bring a slew of regulations that can change the commercial nature of any business, rendering it less creative and innovative.
Nonetheless this admonition may fall on deaf ears—because the government is so big and spends so much money in the private sector that it is hard for tech companies to avoid being tempted by its pot of gold. Although it pretends differently, Big Tech has a long and lucrative relationship with government contracting and, unfortunately, that business will probably continue to grow in the future.
Norwegian bushcrafter Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen says censorship will get worse as Apple CEO calls for more censorship of social media. Of course, Apple CEO Tim Cook has a history of pro-censorship rhetoric; back in 2018 he called it a sin not to attack people with whom you don’t agree and celebrated the banning of users who held disagreeable opinions.
Real Clear Politics has an article on Big Tech, Big Brother and the End of Free Speech.
In George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” members of the Outer Party of Oceania engage in the Two Minutes Hate ritual against Emmanuel Goldstein, who is supposed to be the enemy of the people but may actually just be a fabricated symbol to distract the people from their real enemy — Big Brother.
In Nancy Pelosi’s “Twenty Twenty-One,” members of the Democratic Party engage in the Two Hours Hate against Donald Trump, who is supposed to be the enemy of the people, but may actually just be a fabricated symbol to distract the people from their real enemy — Big Tech.Two hours of hate — er, debate — was held in the House of Representatives last Wednesday for the avowed purpose of removing a president of the United States. That’s all it took. Two hours. That should tell you everything you need to know about the state of democracy in our country.
More time is routinely spent on picking wallpaper. But let’s face it, most families wouldn’t trust Congress to pick out wallpaper for their living room, so why should we trust these self-appointed moral arbiters to pick our president?
Well, we don’t. Not all of us.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican representative from California, put it plainly in his 90-second speech when he said the “second annual impeachment” of Donald Trump “isn’t really about actual words spoken at a rally. No, this is all about the unbridled hatred of this president [by Democrats]. You use any extreme language and any process to oppose the core of what he has really fought for. You hate him because he is pro-life, the strongest ever. You hate him for fighting for the freedom of religion. … You hate him for Israel. You hate him for defending our borders. … You hate him for putting America first.”
They certainly shouldn’t hate him — or impeach him — just for telling a rally crowd that “everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” But that’s what they did. In two hours.
And before they ever got around to impeaching Trump, they de-platformed him. With stunning suddenness, Trump went from the most powerful man in the world to a cornered, desperate fugitive. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google — they all came for him. Most importantly, they came for us. Everyone who sided with the president, everyone who agreed with the president about the questions of election fraud, we are all now guilty by association, and Big Tech has turned its sights on all of us.
“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”
Those were the words that terrified millions of Americans in the 1950s when Joe McCarthy and other senators tried to purge the United States of what they considered a subversive movement designed to overthrow the government.
In that case, of course, it was conservative senators — both Democrat and Republican — who were trying to expose what they called a communist conspiracy. In their zeal to protect the nation, they trampled on the civil liberties of individual Americans and tried to strip them of their jobs, their reputations and in some cases their very freedom.
What was the crime most of those Americans had committed? They had either attended a meeting of the Communist Party, donated money to the Communist Party or signed a petition on behalf of the Communist Party. In other words, they had exercised their First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. They had used their own minds and reached unpopular opinions. That was all it took for McCarthy to try to ruin their lives.
Apparently the American left never forgot what was done to them, and now that they have achieved absolute power, it looks like they want revenge.
In the lead-up to the impeachment vote, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts put Trump defender Jim Jordan “on trial” for the new crime of having a dissenting view on the 2020 presidential election. The question McGovern barked at Jordan in a congressional hearing last week could be repeated in job interviews for years to come:
“Will you admit that Joe Biden won fair and square and that the election was not rigged or stolen?”
Jordan avoided a direct answer, but of course he and millions of other people don’t believe that Biden won fair and square. In a free country, they could say so, but in Pelosi’s “Twenty Twenty-One,” you say so at your own risk. To begin with, you can lose your Twitter account or your Facebook account, but who’s to say that you won’t lose your bank account next? China has a “social credit” system that deprives citizens of certain rights if their score falls below a certain level of acceptability — meaning if they don’t follow the party line in their thinking and their public persona. You might lose your job. You might be denied a ticket on a train or a plane. The only recourse is to do what the party tells you to do — even if it means accepting that 2+2=5.
Now, in modern America, we are precipitously close to duplicating the monolithic control of information that Orwell predicted in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and that the Chinese Communist Party has perfected.
In the last two weeks, we have seen the power of Big Tech unleashed mercilessly. With the complicit assistance of Big Media, the Silicon Valley oligarchs not only neutered President Trump as a political leader by taking away his bully pulpit but also effectively crushed dissent by demanding that only social media companies that censor unpopular opinions can have a platform on the Internet. Bye-bye, Parler. You can also make a reasonable case that Democrats in Congress would never have impeached President Trump from public office so hastily were they not goaded into action by Twitter and Facebook taking the first step of banning him from public life.
In a sense, Big Tech has taken cyberbullying to its logical conclusion. When 13-year-olds are entrusted with cellphones and Snapchat accounts, they can use them to bring shame on innocent children and even destroy their lives. Often, this involves spreading false rumors about the person or discrediting them for something they espouse, like their religion, their political beliefs or their sexual identity.
Tell me how this is different from what Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have done to Donald Trump and, by extension, the more than 74 million people who voted for him. This group of post-pubescent cyberbullies in Silicon Valley doesn’t like Donald Trump. They feel justified in calling him names like white supremacist and Nazi and racist. They don’t care whether it hurts him or not. They don’t care whether it is true or not. They are strangely enlivened by what they perceive as their ability to hurt him, to weaken him. Like the mob that they have attempted to link the president to, these bullies act in mindless concert, emboldened by each other to see who can strike the deeper blow, who can make the victim hurt more.
And over what? Differences of opinion, for the most part. Strong border or no border? Mask or no mask? Globalism or Americanism? Carbon credits or fracking? Abortion or no abortion? And then the last straw — fair election or fraudulent election?
These should be legitimate subjects for debate in a free society. But not anymore. Big Tech has banned debate about government policy on the coronavirus, and any discussion of election fraud is treated as if it were a crime. But wait? It’s only a crime to question the government in a totalitarian system, like that in communist China or Orwell’s fictional Oceania, right? In America, we have the right and obligation to question our government, don’t we? Because, if we don’t have that right any longer, then what are they afraid of? What are they hiding?
Bottom line: At some point in some election, the allegations of election fraud have to be real. It can’t always just be the figment of some right-wing president’s imagination. And if we aren’t allowed to have free speech, then how do we fight back? If Big Tech and Big Government have their way, we don’t. Just keep your head down and your nose clean — and never ever question what you are told.
Today’s post – Censorship, Parler, and Antitrust – by Cory Doctorow of Pluralistic found its way to us through Kyle Rankin of Purism article/sales pitch Parler Tricks. Both talk about some recent deplatforming, especially of social media application Parler.
As Parler disappears from the Android and Ios app stores and faces being kicked off of Amazon’s (and other) clouds, people who worry about monopolized corporate control over speech are divided over What It Means.
There’s an obvious, trivial point to be made here: Twitter, Apple and Google are private companies. When they remove speech on the basis of its content, it’s censorship, but it’s not government censorship. It doesn’t violate the First Amendment.
And yes, of course it’s censorship. They have made a decision about the type and quality of speech they’ll permit, and they enforce that decision using the economic, legal and technical tools at their disposal.
If I invited you to my house for dinner and said, “Just so you know, no one is allowed to talk about racism at the table,” it would be censorship. If I said “no one is allowed to say racist things at the table,” it would also be censorship.
I censor my daughter when I tell her not to swear. I censor other Twitter users when I hide their replies to my posts. I censor commenters on my blog when I delete their replies.
Dress is up as “content removal” or “moderation” if you’d like, but it’s obviously censorship.
That’s fine. Different social spaces have different rules and norms. I disagree with some censorship and support other censorship. Some speech is illegal (nonconsensual pornography, specific incitements to violence, child sex abuse material) and the government censors it.
Other speech is distasteful or hateful (slurs, insults) and the proprietors of different speech forums censor it. This legal-but-distasteful speech is a mushy, amorphous category.
I’m totally OK with hilarious dunks on the insurrectionists who stormed the capitol. Tell jokes about Holocaust victims and I’ll throw you out of my house or block you.
And when I do, you can go to your house and tell Holocaust jokes.
I’m not gonna lie. I don’t like the idea of anyone telling Holocaust jokes anywhere. Or rape jokes. Or racist jokes. But I have made my peace with the fact that there are private spaces where that will happen.
I condemn those spaces and their proprietors, but I don’t want them to be outlawed.
Which brings me back to Parler. It’s true that no one violates the First Amendment (let alone CDA 230) (get serious) when Parler is removed from app stores or kicked off a cloud.
But we have a duopoly of mobile platforms, an oligopoly of cloud providers, a small conspiracy of payment processors. Their choices about who make speak are hugely consequential, and concerted effort by all of them could make some points of view effectively vanish.
This market concentration didn’t occur in a vacuum. These vital sectors of the digital economy became as concentrated as they are due to four decades of shameful, bipartisan neglect of antitrust law.
And while failing to enforce antitrust law doesn’t violate the First Amendment, it can still lead to government sanctioned incursions on speech.
The remedy for this isn’t forcing the platforms to carry objectionable speech.
The remedy is enforcing antitrust so that the censorship policies of two app stores don’t carry the force of law; and it’s ending the laws (copyright, cybersecurity, etc) that allow these companies to control who can install what on their devices.
I got into a good discussion of this on a private mailing list this morning and then I adapted them and published them in the public “State of the World 2021” discussion on The WELL.
There are three posts: the first deals with Apple and Google’s insistence that they removed Parler because it lacked an effective hate-speech filter. Given that there is no such thing as an effective hate-speech filter, this is obvious bullshit.
The second addresses the fundamental problems of moderation at scale, where you are entrusting a large number of employees to enforce policies against “hate speech.”
The biggest problem here is that “almost-hate-speech” is emotionally equivalent to “hate speech” for the people it’s directed at. If tech companies specify hate speech, trolls will deploy almost-hate-speech (and goad their targets into crossing the line, then narc them out).
And if tech companies tell moderators to nuke bad speech without defining it, the mods will make stupid, terrible mistakes and users will be thrown into the meat-grinder of the stupid, terrible banhammer appeals process.
The final post asks what Apple and Google should do about Parler?
They should remove it, and tell users, “We removed Parler because we think it is a politically odious attempt to foment violence. Our judgment is subjective and may be wielded against others in future. If you don’t like our judgment, you shouldn’t use our app store.”
I’m 100% OK with that: first, because it is honest; and second, because it invites the question, “How do we switch app stores?”
The following is a written adaptation for Imprimis of a speech given by Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn last November – Orwell’s 1984 and Today.
On September 17, Constitution Day, I chaired a panel organized by the White House. It was an extraordinary thing. The panel’s purpose was to identify what has gone wrong in the teaching of American history and to lay forth a plan for recovering the truth. It took place in the National Archives—we were sitting in front of the originals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—a very beautiful place. When we were done, President Trump came and gave a speech about the beauty of the American Founding and the importance of teaching American history to the preservation of freedom.
This remarkable event reminded me of an essay by a teacher of mine, Harry Jaffa, called “On the Necessity of a Scholarship of the Politics of Freedom.” Its point was that a certain kind of scholarship is needed to support the principles of a nation such as ours. America is the most deliberate nation in history—it was built for reasons that are stated in the legal documents that form its founding. The reasons are given in abstract and universal terms, and without good scholarship they can be turned astray. I was reminded of that essay because this event was the greatest exhibition in my experience of the combination of the scholarship and the politics of freedom.
The panel was part of an initiative of President Trump, mostly ignored by the media, to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project. The 1619 Project promotes the teaching that slavery, not freedom, is the defining fact of American history. President Trump’s 1776 Commission aims to restore truth and honesty to the teaching of American history. It is an initiative we must work tirelessly to carry on, regardless of whether we have a president in the White House who is on our side in the fight.
We must carry on the fight because our country is at stake. Indeed, in a larger sense, civilization itself is at stake, because the forces arrayed against the scholarship and the politics of freedom today have more radical aims than just destroying America.
I taught a course this fall semester on totalitarian novels. We read four of them: George Orwell’s 1984, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.
The totalitarian novel is a relatively new genre. In fact, the word “totalitarian” did not exist before the 20th century. The older word for the worst possible form of government is “tyranny”—a word Aristotle defined as the rule of one person, or of a small group of people, in their own interests and according to their will. Totalitarianism was unknown to Aristotle, because it is a form of government that only became possible after the emergence of modern science and technology.
The old word “science” comes from a Latin word meaning “to know.” The new word “technology” comes from a Greek word meaning “to make.” The transition from traditional to modern science means that we are not so much seeking to know when we study nature as seeking to make things—and ultimately, to remake nature itself. That spirit of remaking nature—including human nature—greatly emboldens both human beings and governments. Imbued with that spirit, and employing the tools of modern science, totalitarianism is a form of government that reaches farther than tyranny and attempts to control the totality of things.
In the beginning of his history of the Persian War, Herodotus recounts that in Persia it was considered illegal even to think about something that was illegal to do—in other words, the law sought to control people’s thoughts. Herodotus makes plain that the Persians were not able to do this. We today are able to get closer through the use of modern technology. In Orwell’s 1984, there are telescreens everywhere, as well as hidden cameras and microphones. Nearly everything you do is watched and heard. It even emerges that the watchers have become expert at reading people’s faces. The organization that oversees all this is called the Thought Police.
If it sounds far-fetched, look at China today: there are cameras everywhere watching the people, and everything they do on the Internet is monitored. Algorithms are run and experiments are underway to assign each individual a social score. If you don’t act or think in the politically correct way, things happen to you—you lose the ability to travel, for instance, or you lose your job. It’s a very comprehensive system. And by the way, you can also look at how big tech companies here in the U.S. are tracking people’s movements and activities to the extent that they are often able to know in advance what people will be doing. Even more alarming, these companies are increasingly able and willing to use the information they compile to manipulate people’s thoughts and decisions.
The protagonist of 1984 is a man named Winston Smith. He works for the state, and his job is to rewrite history. He sits at a table with a telescreen in front of him that watches everything he does. To one side is something called a memory hole—when Winston puts things in it, he assumes they are burned and lost forever. Tasks are delivered to him in cylinders through a pneumatic tube. The task might involve something big, like a change in what country the state is at war with: when the enemy changes, all references to the previous war with a different enemy need to be expunged. Or the task might be something small: if an individual falls out of favor with the state, photographs of him being honored need to be altered or erased altogether from the records. Winston’s job is to fix every book, periodical, newspaper, etc. that reveals or refers to what used to be the truth, in order that it conform to the new truth.
One man, of course, can’t do this alone. There’s a film based on 1984 starring John Hurt as Winston Smith. In the film they depict the room where he works, and there are people in cubicles like his as far as the eye can see. There would have to be millions of workers involved in constantly re-writing the past. One of the chief questions raised by the book is, what makes this worth the effort? Why does the regime do it?
Winston’s awareness of this endless, mighty effort to alter reality makes him cynical and disaffected. He comes to see that he knows nothing of the past, of real history: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified,” he says at one point, “every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. . . . Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” Does any of this sound familiar?
In his disaffection, Winston commits two unlawful acts: he begins writing in a diary and he begins meeting a woman in secret, outside the sanction of the state. The family is important to the state, because the state needs babies. But the women are raised by the state in a way that they are not to enjoy relations with their husbands. And the children—as in China today, and as it was in the Soviet Union—are indoctrinated and taught to spy and inform on their parents. Parents love their children but live in terror of them all the time. Think of the control that comes from that—and the misery.
There are three stratums in the society of 1984. There is the Inner Party, whose members hold all the power. There is the Outer Party, to which Winston belongs, whose members work for—and are watched and controlled by—the Inner Party. And there are the proles, who live and do the blue collar work in a relatively unregulated area. Winston ventures out into that area from time to time. He finds a little shop there where he buys things. And it is in a room upstairs from this shop where he and Julia, the woman he falls in love with, set up a kind of household as if they are married. They create something like a private world in that room, although it is a world with limitations—they can’t even think about having children, for instance, because if they did, they would be discovered and killed.
In the end, it turns out that the shopkeeper, who had seemed to be a kindly old man, is in fact a member of the Thought Police. Winston and Julia’s room contained a hidden telescreen all along, so everything they have said and done has been observed. In fact, it emerges that the Thought Police have known that Winston has been having deviant thoughts for twelve years and have been watching him carefully. When the couple are arrested, they have made pledges that they will never betray each other. They know the authorities will be able to make them say whatever they want them to say—but in their hearts, they pledge, they will be true to their love. It is a promise that neither is finally able to keep.
After months of torture, Winston thinks that what awaits him is a bullet in the back of the head, the preferred method of execution of both the Nazis and the Soviet Communists. In Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, the protagonist walks down a basement hallway after confessing to crimes that he didn’t commit, and without any ceremony he is shot in the back of the head—eradicated as if he were vermin. Winston doesn’t get off so easy. He will instead undergo an education, or more accurately a re-education. His final stages of torture are depicted as a kind of totalitarian seminar. The seminar is conducted by a man named O’Brien, who is portrayed marvelously in the film by Richard Burton. As he alternately raises and lowers the level of Winston’s pain, O’Brien leads him to knowledge regarding the full meaning of the totalitarian regime.
As the first essential step of his education, Winston has to learn doublethink—a way of thinking that defies the law of contradiction. In Aristotle, the law of contradiction is the basis of all reasoning, the means of making sense of the world. It is the law that says that X and Y cannot be true at the same time if they’re mutually exclusive. For instance, if A is taller than B and B is taller than C, C cannot be taller than A. The law of contradiction means things like that.
In our time, the law of contradiction would mean that a governor, say, could not simultaneously hold that the COVID pandemic renders church services too dangerous to allow, and also that massive protest marches are fine. It would preclude a man from declaring himself a woman, or a woman declaring herself a man, as if one’s sex is simply a matter of what one wills it to be—and it would preclude others from viewing such claims as anything other than preposterous.
The law of contradiction also means that we can’t change the past. What we can know of the truth all resides in the past, because the present is fleeting and confusing and tomorrow has yet to come. The past, on the other hand, is complete. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas go so far as to say that changing the past—making what has been not to have been—is denied even to God. Because if something both happened and didn’t happen, no human understanding is possible. And God created us with the capacity for understanding.
That’s the law of contradiction, which the art of doublethink denies and violates. Doublethink is manifest in the fact that the state ministry in which Winston is tortured is called the Ministry of Love. It is manifest in the three slogans displayed on the state’s Ministry of Truth: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” And as we have seen, the regime in 1984 exists precisely to repeal the past. If the past can be changed, anything can be changed—man can surpass even the power of God. But still, to what end?
Why do you think you are being tortured? O’Brien asks Winston. The Party is not trying to improve you, he says—the Party cares nothing about you. Winston is brought to see that he is where he is simply as the subject of the state’s power. Understanding having been rendered meaningless, the only competence that has meaning is power.
“Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution,” O’Brien says.
We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. . . . There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. . . . All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
Nature is ultimately unchangeable, of course, and humans are not God. Totalitarianism will never win in the end—but it can win long enough to destroy a civilization. That is what is ultimately at stake in the fight we are in. We can see today the totalitarian impulse among powerful forces in our politics and culture. We can see it in the rise and imposition of doublethink, and we can see it in the increasing attempt to rewrite our history.
“An informed patriotism is what we want,” Ronald Reagan said toward the end of his Farewell Address as president in January 1989. “Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?”
Then he issued a warning.
Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.
But now, we’re about to enter the [1990s], and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. . . . We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.
So, we’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important—why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. . . . [S]he said, “we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.” Well, let’s help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.
American schoolchildren today learn two things about Thomas Jefferson: that he wrote the Declaration of Independence and that he was a slaveholder. This is a stunted and dishonest teaching about Jefferson.
What do our schoolchildren not learn? They don’t learn what Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just,” he wrote in that book regarding the contest between the master and the slave. “The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.” If schoolchildren learned that, they would see that Jefferson was a complicated man, like most of us.
They don’t learn that when our nation first expanded, it was into the Northwest Territory, and that slavery was forbidden in that territory. They don’t learn that the land in that territory was ceded to the federal government from Virginia, or that it was on the motion of Thomas Jefferson that the condition of the gift was that slavery in that land be eternally forbidden. If schoolchildren learned that, they would come to see Jefferson as a human being who inherited things and did things himself that were terrible, but who regretted those things and fought against them. And they would learn, by the way, that on the scale of human achievement, Jefferson ranks very high. There’s just no question about that, if for no other reason than that he was a prime agent in founding the first republic dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
The astounding thing, after all, is not that some of our Founders were slaveholders. There was a lot of slavery back then, as there had been for all of recorded time. The astounding thing—the miracle, even, one might say—is that these slaveholders founded a republic based on principles designed to abnegate slavery.
To present young people with a full and honest account of our nation’s history is to invest them with the spirit of freedom. It is to teach them something more than why our country deserves their love, although that is a good in itself. It is to teach them that the people in the past, even the great ones, were human and had to struggle. And by teaching them that, we prepare them to struggle with the problems and evils in and around them. Teaching them instead that the past was simply wicked and that now they are able to see so perfectly the right, we do them a disservice and fit them to be slavish, incapable of developing sympathy for others or undergoing trials on their own.
Depriving the young of the spirit of freedom will deprive us all of our country. It could deprive us, finally, of our humanity itself. This cannot be allowed to continue. It must be stopped.