Category Archives: Censorship

National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices

The US rulers use many tools to disrupt and disorganize the anti-war and anti-imperialist left. Three discussed here include: (1) corporate control of the news media gives them free reign to spread disinformation and fake news against foreign and domestic targets; (2) they use government and corporate foundation resources to fund and promote a compatible left to counter the anti-imperialist left; and (3) the rulers use their control of social media and internet to censor those voices.

Since 2016 their censorship of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, and Paypal accounts has escalated alarmingly. They target those who counter the narratives the government and big business media feed us, whether it be US intervention and attempted overthrow of other governments, Covid, or stories of Russian interference.

With the Ukraine war, the US government and corporate media immense propaganda power has been directed against Russia and intensified on an overwhelming scale.

As the US empire began the Cold War soon after the end of World War II, with the rise of McCarthyism (which predated Joe McCarthy), news manipulation and suppression often fell under the control of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. The corporate media followed CIA directions in representing the interests of the US rulers. The CIA secretly funded and managed a wide range of front groups and individuals to counter what the US rulers considered its enemies. It encouraged those on the left who opposed actually existing socialism, seeking to foster splits in the left to undermine the communist and build the non-communist left.

Significant liberal and left figures who worked with the CIA included Gloria Steinem, key feminist leader, Herbert Marcuse, considered a Marxist intellectual, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers Union (1946-1970), David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1932-1966). The CIA collaborated with Baynard Rustin, Socialist Party leader and close associate of Martin Luther King, with Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington, who became the fathers of the third campist (“neither Washington nor Moscow”) Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Likewise, Carl Gershman, a founder of Social Democrats, USA, and later founding director (1983-2021) of the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Through  the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA underwrote the publishing of leftist critics, such as Leszek Kolakowski and Milovan Djilas’ book The New Class. The CIA aided the “Western Marxism” of the Frankfurt School, which included Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, former director of New School of Social Research, also subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Corporate foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Open Society, and Tides foundations, among many others, funneled CIA money to progressive causes. The Cultural Cold War (pp. 134-5) noted that from 1963-66, nearly half the grants by 164 foundations in the field of international activities involved CIA money. The Ford Foundation continues as one of the main financers of progressive groups in the US; for instance, both Open Society and Ford foundations have heavily funded Black Lives Matter.

The CIA is regarded as a ruthless organization overthrowing democratic governments that US corporations considered a threat to their profits. While true, overlooked is “gentler” CIA work: underwriting and encouraging a compatible left, one which looks to forces in the Democratic Party for political leadership. This third camp left provides an alternative to an anti-imperialist or a communist left, and yet appears progressive enough to lure radicalizing youth, activists and intelligentsia. This cunning CIA strategy has fostered confusion, dissension, and divisions among these sections of the population.

These secret US government and CIA operations have been detailed in The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, The Cultural Cold War, and AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?

In 1977 Carl Bernstein revealed CIA interconnections with the big business media. More than 400 journalists collaborated with the CIA, with the consent of their media bosses. Working in a propaganda alliance with the CIA included: CBS, ABC, NBC, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, United Press International, Miami Herald, Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune. The New York Times still sends stories to US government for pre-publication approval, while CNN and others now employ national security state figures as “analysts.”

Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat operate similarly, participating in covert British government funded disinformation programs to “weaken” Russia. This involves collaboration with the Counter Disinformation & Media Development section of the British Foreign Office.

The CIA pays journalists in Germany, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to plant fake news. Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest German newspapers, showed how the CIA controls German media in Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA. Ulfkotte said the CIA had him plant fake stories in his paper, such as Libyan President Gaddafi building poison gas factories in 2011.

The CIA was closely involved with the long defunct National Students Association and with the trade union leadership. The AFL-CIO’s American Institute of Free Labor Development, received funding from USAID, the State Department, and NED to undermine militant union movements overseas and help foment murderous coups, as against President Allende of Chile (1973) and Brazil (1964), as well as defended the rule of their masters at home. This continues with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, which receives $30 million a year from NED.

The CIA created publishing houses, such as Praeger Press, and used other companies such as John Wiley Publishing Company, Scribner’s, Ballantine Books, and Putnam to publish its books. It set up several political and literary journals such as Partisan Review. This CIA publishing amounted to over one thousand books, mostly geared to a liberal-left audience, seeking to bolster a third camp left, and undermine solidarity with the once powerful world communist movement.

That mission largely accomplished years ago, today the national security state works to undermine the anti-imperialist left and build up a left inclined towards the “lesser evil” Democratic Party.

Recent US Government and Media Thought Control Measures

CIA use of corporate media to undermine perceived threats to the national security state escalated with Obama signing NDAA 2017, which lifted formalistic restrictions on security state agencies feeding fake news directly to the US population. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act in the NDAA, which went into effect in the early stages of Russiagate, created a central government propaganda organ:

to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments (with the role of the Russian Federation hidden or not acknowledged publicly) through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, disinformation or forgeries, funding agents of influence, incitement, offensive counterintelligence, assassinations, or terrorist acts. The committee shall expose falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.

Glen Ford observed:

Every category listed [above], except assassinations and terror, is actually a code word for political speech that can, and will, be used to target those engaged in ‘undermining faith in American democracy’ — such as Black Agenda Report and other left publications defamed as ‘fake news’ outlets by the Washington Post [article on PropOrNot].

This Disinformation and Propaganda Act created the innocuously named Global Engagement Center, operated by the State Department, Pentagon, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors [renamed US Agency for Global Media], the Director of National Intelligence, and other spy agencies. This Center oversees production of fake news supporting US imperial interests, focused primarily against Russia and China (such as Uyghur genocide and Russiagate), but also against Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. Verifiable reports exposing US regime change operations and disinformation are often outright censored or labeled pro-Russian or pro-Chinese propaganda.

The Global Engagement Center finances journalists, NGOs, think tanks, and media outlets on board with campaigns to vilify non-corporate media reporting as spreaders of foreign government disinformation. This may shed light on the origins of smears that opponents of the US regime change against Syria or in Ukraine are Putinists, Assadists, tankies, Stalinists, part of a red-brown alliance.

National security state propaganda against Russia surged after it aided Syria in thwarting the US-Saudi war against the Assad government. It reached levels of hysteria with the fabricated Russiagate stories designed to sabotage the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Seymour Hersh disclosed that the widely covered news of Russian hacking of DNC computers in 2016 was CIA disinformation. Hersh confirmed from FBI sources that Hillary Clinton’s emails were taken by Seth Rich and offered to Wikileaks for money, and that the fake news story of Russian hacking was initiated by CIA head John Brennan. However, exposures of the Clinton-neocon-national security state Russiagate fake news were themselves written off as disinformation concocted by pro-Russian operators.

An example of Global Engagement Center work may be a recent smear against anti-imperialists as agents of Russia appeared in The Daily Beast. It targets Lee Camp, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, and others: “propaganda peddlers rake in cash and followers at the expense of the truth and oppressed people in Ukraine, Xinjiang, and Syria” because of their accurate reporting that goes against the US propaganda line.

Other articles may indicate this government Disinformation Center use of the third camp left in the tradition of Operation Mongoose. George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian fit the billing:

We must confront Russian propaganda – even when it comes from those we respect – The grim truth is that for years, a small part of the ‘anti-imperialist’ left has been recycling Vladimir Putin’s falsehoods.

Louis Proyect crusaded for Syria regime change, and against those opposing the US war on the country as being part of a “red-brown alliance.” Proyect often relied on British Foreign Office funded Bellingcat for his articles, writing, “The Bellingcat website is perhaps the only place where you can find fact-based reporting on chemical attacks in Syria.” Proyect defended “Syrian revolution” “socialist” Anand Gopal, of the International Security Program at the New America Foundation, funded by the State Department and corporate foundations, and run by Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department official.

Democracy Now, which also repeatedly relied on Anand Gopal as a news source, has long received foundation money, and we see the self-censoring effect this has on its former excellent anti-war journalism degenerating into compatible leftism.

Another product of this government-corporate aid for this Democratic Party “lesser evil” left may be NACLA’s articles smearing the Nicaraguan government. NACLA Board Chair Program Director is Thomas Kruse of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2018, NACLA, New York DSA, and Haymarket Books hosted anti-Sandinista youth activists while on a tour paid for by right-wing Freedom House.

In These Times, which receives hundreds of thousands in foundation money, ran similar articles smearing socialist Cuba. It claimed Cuba was “the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government” – not Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Chile with its police who blinded pro-democracy protesters, not Colombia’s death squad supporting government, nor Honduras’ former coup regime, or Haiti’s hated rulers.

Haymarket Books, which produces many third camp left books, receives Democratic Party aligned think tank and nonprofit money via the pass through Center for Economic Research and Social Change. The Grayzone reported that the DSA, Jacobin Magazine, and Haymarket sponsored Socialism conference featured NED and State Department funded regime-change activists.

Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara is former vice-chair of the Democratic Party’s reform oriented DSA. In 2017 the Jacobin Foundation received a $100,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation, set up by billionaire publisher and Nixon administration U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Annenberg.

This milieu includes New York’s Left Forum, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, underwritten by the German government.

Bob Feldman revealed corporate financing for the Institute of Policy Studies, The Nation, In These Times, NACLA, Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Progressive, Mother Jones, AlterNet, Institute for Public Accuracy, among others.

The US Chamber of Commerce discovered that foundations gave $106 million to workers centers between 2013-2016, and concluded that the worker center movement was “a creature of the progressive foundations that encouraged and supported it.”

These are but a few examples of US ruling class financing of anti anti-imperialist leftists, an effective means to channel and organize the left milieu into an opposition that poses no real threat to their control.

An essential characteristic of this milieu is looking to the Democratic Party as a lesser evil ally.

Alexander Cockburn  pointed out the dangers of this financing back in 2010:

The financial clout of the “non-profit” foundations, tax-exempt bodies formed by rich people to dispense their wealth according to political taste… Much of the “progressive sector” in America owes its financial survival – salaries, office accommodation etc — to the annual disbursements of these foundations which cease abruptly at the first manifestation of radical heterodoxy. In the other words, most of the progressive sector is an extrusion of the dominant corporate world, just as are the academies, similarly dependent on corporate endowments.”

Right after Trump’s surprise 2016 election win, the Washington Post cranked up the anti-Russia McCarthyism by introducing PropOrNot. ProporNot’s catalog of supposed Putin-controlled outlets sought to resurrect the witchhunts of the Red Scare era,  when 6.6 million people were investigated just between 1947-1952. The PropOrNot blacklist includes some of the most alternative and anti-war news sites on the web, including Anti-war.com, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Consortium News, Truthout, Lew Rockwell.com, Global Research, Unz.com, Zero Hedge, and many others.

PropOrNot asserted 200 websites were “Russian propaganda outlets.” No evidence was offered. PropOrNot refused to reveal who they were or their funding. Alan Mcleod recently uncovered: “A scan of PropOrNot’s website showed that it was controlled by The Interpreter, a magazine of which [Michael] Weiss is editor-in-chief…[a] senior fellow of NATO think tank The Atlantic Council.” The Atlantic Council itself is financed by the US government and Middle Eastern dictatorships, weapons manufacturers Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs; and petrochemical giants like BP and Chevron. Mcleod concluded, “Thus, claims of a huge [foreign] state propaganda campaign were themselves state propaganda.”

Soon after PropOrNot, the German Marshall Fund, largely financed by the US government, concocted Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter. This identifies supposed “accounts that are involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals.” Daniel McAdams of Ron Paul Liberty Report noted, “They are using US and other government money in an effort to eliminate any news organization or individual who deviates from the official neocon foreign policy line on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, etc.”

This year, the Department of Homeland Security presented a new censorship and disinformation organ, allegedly to combat pro-Russian fake news, the Disinformation Governance Board. As the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act and PropOrNot showed, what challenges US national security state narratives is often labeled Russian disinformation. Glenn Greenwald forewarned, “The purpose of empowering the Department of Homeland Security to decree what is and is not “disinformation” is to bestow all government assertions with a pretense of authoritative expertise and official sanction and, conversely, to officially decree dissent from government claims to be false and deceitful.”

The national security state, which lied about Russiagate, lied about National Security Agency’s 24/7 spying on the US population, lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, plans to decide what is true and false, and enforce that on big business and alternative media outlets.

Thus, the CIA’s secret Operation Mongoose, devoted to encouraging hostility to actually existing socialism among the left, has morphed into official, public US government McCarthyite agencies directed at shutting down or smearing outlets and activism opposing the US empire and its wars.

What Corporate Social Media instruments are targeting which anti-war outlets?

This joint US government corporate media censorship has become an increasingly open attack. Paypal has allied itself with the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to “fight extremism and hate through the financial industry and across at-risk communities… with policymakers and law enforcement.”

Twitter has shut down many political accounts, even possessed the power to suppress the President of the United States’ account. In 2020, Twitter deleted 170,000 accounts “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” and in 2021, it deleted hundreds of accounts for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.” The company has hired a number of FBI officers for this censorship work. Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier Gordon MacMillan of the 77th Brigade, which uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to conduct “information warfare.”

Google and Youtube executives team up with government spy agencies to censor anti-imperialist voices. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative [compatible] content” and downgrade “offensive” [anti-imperialist] material. As a result, traffic dropped off to websites such as Mint Press News, Alternet, Global Research, Consortium News, liberal-left Common Dreams and Truthout.

Wikipedia censors articles on its website, as Ben Norton notes:

The CIA, FBI, New York Police Department, Vatican, and fossil fuel colossus BP, to name just a few, have all been caught directly editing Wikipedia articles.

A minor player,  NewsGuard, “partners” with the State Department and Pentagon to tag websites that deviate from the establishment line.

Facebook relies on PropOrNot’s Atlantic Council to combat reporting contrary to the US government line. Facebook later announced it would further fight “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations sponsored by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI was chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while Senator John McCain was the longtime IRI chair.

Just as The Mighty Wurlitzer, The Cultural Cold War, and Bernstein’s The CIA and the Media showed with the big business print media, we are witnessing an integration of social media companies into the national security state.

Who have been censored by this corporate media and social media integration with the national security state? 

Like with any censored book list, national security state targets provide a Who’s Who of what we should be reading and watching: The Grayzone, TeleSur,  Venezuelanalysis, Lee Camp, By Any Means Necessary, Caleb Maupin, Syria Solidarity Movement, Consortium News, Mint Press News, Abby Martin, Chris Hedges, CGTN and other Chinese media, George Galloway, Pepe Escobar, Scott Ritter, ASB Military News, RT America, Strategic Culture Foundation, One World Press, SouthFront, Gonzalo Lira, Oriental Review, Revolutionary Black Network, Sputnik News, Ron Paul’s Liberty Report.  Youtube warns us of watching Oliver Stone’s Ukraine on Fire. Journalists who have collaborated with a Russian media outlet are now dubbed “affiliated with the Russian government.”

The FBI directly shut down American Herald Tribune and Iran’s Press TV. RT and Sputnik are already shut down in Europe. PropOrNot listing of 200 media sites catalogs for us what the national security state doesn’t want us to read, listen to, know, or think.

Since the beginning of the first Cold War, there has been a continuous CIA-national security state operation to neutralize, marginalize, and create disunity among its opponents, often with the collaboration of the left that consider the Democratic Party a lesser evil. This strategy includes extensive foundation financing of leftist outlets and NGOs in order to tame them.

Therefore, it is mistaken to fault the US left for its weakness. The CIA and the foundations have been key players in covertly manipulating opposition to US imperial rule, in part by strengthening the left soft on the Democrats to undermine any working class or anti-US empire challenge. To date, this national security state mission has also shown considerable success.

The problems of building a working class left-wing partly results from the US rulers’ decades long campaign to disrupt the movement. This involves not just imprisoning and killing activists, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or the Black Panthers, but also big business media marketing disinformation as news, their funding of a compatible left, and the present social media and internet censorship of anti-imperialist voices. Rebuilding an anti-war and working class left wing requires us to directly address and navigate through this maze ruling class sabotage has created.

The post National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices first appeared on Dissident Voice.

All the News that’s Fit to Post

Thought control hides behind Veterans For Peace (VFP) flags on the VFP Discussion Group site and this is causing consternation among members.<

At a glance, the banner at the top of this page showcasing fluttering VFP flags emblazoned with its widely recognizable dove and olive branch logo appears to be an official VFP link, but it’s not. Below the banner on another line is a vague addendum informing readers that the link is a “Group by Willie Hager” and two lines under that in smaller, soft grey lettering it says “Private group.”

This spring I visited the site to learn more about the group’s controversial decision to ban articles from RT. Detractors were arguing that readers should be able to marshal out facts for themselves and that alternative media venues have traditionally been one of the few places where dissenting voices including VFP members could find platforms.

After attempting to post an RT article listing awards they’d won at a prestigious New York festival I was kicked off the page for about a day. One award was for a story about drought in India and another on the plight of homeless children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Later during the first week of June, I was not allowed to post a story about censorship published by Consortium News. A couple days later I posted this — “Hi VFP discussion group moderator, I submitted a link a few days ago to this site from Consortium News and still don’t see it. Is the article still under review or have you decided not to publish it?”

The comment was removed about five minutes later, but it was republished shortly after I messaged Hager on FB. However, I wasn’t allowed to comment or respond to it with an emoji. When I messaged Hager again and asked him to explain this, he said he’d look into it and get back to me. He also said that he’d decided against having an interview with me and that’s the last I heard from him. The comment was deleted again too.

Discussion group moderator Joey B King did agree to an interview. He believed Hager was largely responsible for the rules and said the discussion page administrators didn’t meet on a regular basis to discuss policies. He wasn’t sure about the differences between moderators and administrators. When I asked him a little later about the clamorous background noise present throughout our scheduled interview he said he was loading dishes and pots.

Twice during the brief interview he assured me allegations about censorship were overblown and there was “no story.” He laughed when I asked him to address concerns former National Board President Gerry Condon and others had about the page having an anti-Russian bias. “Gerry went to Syria and visited the president” he said alluding to Condon’s participation in a peace and fact-finding delegation that traveled to Syria in 2016 to meet with religious leaders, NGO representatives and big wigs that included a personal meeting with President Basher al-Assad. King ended the interview shortly after with another laugh saying he had “better things” to do.

Condon’s frustration with the group is evident in his post below from early June:

Two articles I posted on VFP Discussion today were removed with the flimsiest of explanations “lacking 3 sources” and “unsubstantiated.”

Both articles were by respected writers and academics, Ted Snider and William J. Astore. Both articles warned about the negative consequences of sending more high-powered weapons to Ukraine.

One can only conclude that this is an opinion that the managers of this Facebook page do not want people to hear. The sooner they drop the “VFP” from their name, the better.

VFP member Gene Marx believes the discussion group has a pro-NATO and Russophobic bias and its speech regulations are out of an Orwellian Ministry of Truth playbook. He further states:

Censoring any anti-war content from social media or cable news is playing into the hands of US pro-war narrative managers, and for it to occur on a  Veterans For Peace platform is not only dereliction of duty but violates the first provision of the VFP Statement of Purpose: To increase public awareness of the causes and costs of war.

Garrett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of VFP mentioned in Minneapolis last month he was tired of hearing about the issue and felt there wasn’t much of anything he could do because FB allows the Willie Hager group to use the VFP name. In a chain-message he wrote:

The board is currently working to disconnect the national organization from the facebook discussion group. These minor personal platforms don’t have the impact or attention worth concentrating energy and resources from the VFP office and directors. I feel the most we will get from the situation is a disclaimer on the page ensuring visitors the opinions in the discussion group are not the official position of VFP.

In a note back to Reppenhagen, Independent VFP member Mike Madden thinks the page crossed a line when Marx and others were censored. He also criticized moderators and administrators for suppressing information and urged the Board to take action.

On June 8, VFP national Board member Jeff Paterson weighed in with a disclaimer requesting that administrators of private VFP groups adhere to core national principles while acknowledging that the national VFP Communications Committee has no ability to ensure this occurs. He also posted an eight-point code of conduct. Accusations of censorship were not addressed.

So far, VFP Board President Susan Schnall hasn’t responded to my request for an interview although she said she’s open to revisiting the issue at the next Board meeting.

Until then, those with gripes about censorship seem to have two choices — ignore the site or hold out for a management that doesn’t try to steer the narrative by restricting comments and blocking or removing contrarian links. Behavior that’s generally interpreted by critical thinkers as disrespectful (and embarrassing to many VFP members) — especially to those who take the open interchange of ideas seriously. Perhaps those concerns can be added to the recently released code of conduct under a new category — Tolerance For Other Points of View.

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Educating Journalists about Canada’s Propaganda System an Eyeopener

Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
—Noam Chomsky, Media Control:  The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, April 1, 1997

 Propaganda isn’t a euphemism for how the other side controls information. Nor is it simply about jailing journalists or shuttering media outlets. A serious discussion of the matter must look at the broader forces shaping information dissemination and suppression.

On May 22 I spoke on a panel at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference titled Censorship, Journalism and War. The Ukraine-focused exchange climaxed with journalist Justin Ling asking if I was “ashamed” for having been interviewed by RT. Nope.

The CEO of Ethnic Channels Group, Slava Levin, launched the discussion by describing how broadcasters Rogers, Bell and Shaw summarily removed RT from their networks. As the distributor of RT and many international channels in Canada, Levin pointed out how the decision subverted the regulatory process.

The broadcasters and Liberals indifference to the regulatory process warrants criticism but I sought to drive the discussion away from RT, Russia, China and authoritarian enemies. Even without formal restrictions, the corporate media (and CBC) permit only a narrow spectrum of opinion regarding Canadian foreign policy, as I detail in my 2016 book A Propaganda System: How Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation. Various internal and external factors explain the media’s biased international coverage. Most importantly, a small number of mega corporations own most of Canada’s media and depend on other large corporations for advertising revenue. Less dependent on advertising, CBC relies on government funds and has long been close to the foreign policy establishment. All major media firms rely on easily accessible information, which is largely generated by US wire services, Global Affairs, DND, internationally focused corporations and a bevy of think tanks and academic departments tied to the military, arms industry and corporate elite. Finally, the military, foreign affairs, organized ethnic lobbies and major corporations have the power to punish media that upset them.

In their coverage of Russia’s war with Ukraine/NATO the Canadian media and RT are the mirror image. They are exceedingly one-sided and their divergent reactions to antiwar disrupters highlight the point.

At the panel, I contrasted the Canadian and Russian ‘propaganda systems’ reaction to my March 21 interruption of foreign affairs minister Melanie Joly on Canada’s role in escalating violence in Ukraine, opposing the Minsk peace accord and promoting NATO expansion. With the exception of a short clip by CTV News World, Canadian media outlets that covered Joly’s speech on Ukraine ignored my intervention.

The Russian media treated the intervention differently. They portrayed me as an important author with a number of the top Russian channels inviting me on to comment. Russian media treated my disruption in a similar way to how the North American media covered Marina Ovsyannikova two weeks earlier. After she held a “no war” sign on Russia’s Channel One the western media hailed Ovsyannikova.

I told the audience that the CBC refuses to offer vital context. Just prior to the Russian invasion I wrote about senior CBC military writer Murray Brewster, who published a slew of reports in the proceeding weeks portraying Canada/US positively and Russia negatively while failing to report information he’d previously revealed that undercuts the notion that Canada is on the side of angels in the Ukraine crisis. In 2015 Brewster revealed that the protesters who overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 were stationed in the Canadian embassy in Kyiv for a week. That year Brewster also reported that Canadian soldiers trained neo-Nazi political forces in Ukraine and in 2008 that Canada pushed Ukraine’s adhesion to NATO against Russian, French and German objections. These measures increased tensions, led to war in the east part of the Ukraine and helped precipitate Russia’s illegal invasion.

In his intervention senior CBC international correspondent Saša Petricic described how in countries with more repressive media climates that an “atmosphere” of self-censorship develops. In response I asked who in the room had heard of the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti?

In 2003 Canadian officials brought together top representatives of the US and French governments to discuss Haiti’s future without inviting anyone from that country’s government. According to the March 15, 2003, issue of L’Actualité (Quebec’s equivalent to Maclean’s), they discussed ousting elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, putting Haiti under UN trusteeship and re-creating the disbanded Haitian army. Thirteen months later what was discussed largely transpired yet the dominant media largely ignored the Ottawa Initiative meeting. A Canadian Newsstand search I did in 2016 while writing A Propaganda System found not one single English-language report about the meeting (except for mentions of it by me and two other Haiti solidarity activists in opinion pieces). It wasn’t until 2020 that Radio-Canada’s flagship news program “Enquête” finally reported on the meeting, interviewing the minister responsible for organizing the meeting Denis Paradis.

What type of “atmosphere” exists in the Canadian media that would lead it to ignore this important meeting Haiti solidarity activists raised repeatedly?

I asked the room of 30 journalists if they knew which institution has the largest public relations apparatus in the country. No one answered. The Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces (CF) has the largest PR (propaganda) machine in Canada, employing hundreds of “public relations professionals” to influence the public’s perception of the military. Last fall the military, reported the Ottawa Citizen, established “a new organization that will use propaganda and other techniques to try to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of Canadians.” Previously the head of CF called for the “weaponization of public affairs”, which proposed a plan to induce positive coverage and deter critical reporting. Journalists producing unflattering stories about the military were to be the target of phone calls to their boss, letters to the editor and other “flack” designed to undercut their credibility in the eyes of readers and their employers.

The editor in chief and executive director of CBC news, Brodie Fenlon, told the room it didn’t matter that DND had the largest PR apparatus in the country since they don’t determine what’s covered. True enough. But historically the public broadcaster’s close ties to the military have made it highly deferential to the CF. According to Mallory Schwartz in War on the Air: CBC-TV and Canada’s Military, 1952-1992, “When CBC-TV produced programs that raised controversial questions about defence policy, the forces or military history, it did so with considerable care. Caution was partly a result of the special relationship between the CBC and those bodies charged with the defence of Canada.” CBC’s ties to DND sometimes translated into formal censorship. After broadcasting The Homeless Ones in 1958 Deputy Federal Civil Defence Co-ordinator Major-General George S. Hatton requested the film’s withdrawal from the NFB Library and the public broadcaster cancelled its planned rebroadcast. Hatton insisted the CBC clear all content on civil defence with his staff.

The public broadcaster’s independence from DND has increased over the years. But since its inception the government has appointed CBC’s board and provided most of its funds.

Another element that helps make sense of Fenlon downplaying the importance of the CF’s PR machine is his (positive) assessment of the institution. But, as I pointed out, the CF is deeply integrated with the biggest purveyor of violence the world has ever seen — US military — and Canada has only fought in one war that could even be argued was morally justifiable. Sudan, South Africa, World War I, Korea, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya were not morally justifiable wars.

Fenlon is, of course, unlikely to have risen to a position of influence within CBC news if he shared my assessment of the Canadian military’s ties to the US Empire.

As I was leaving the room, a young CBC journalist came over to say how much she appreciated my work. She then laughed and said she hoped her boss hadn’t heard her.

 

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Until the Destruction of the Last Cage

Welcome to another Episode of System Fail. In this episode we will be covering the trend of rising state repression around the globe.

We start in so-called Chile where the newly elected ostensibly left-libertarian president Gabriel Boric has failed to deliver on his promise to free political prisoners.

Meanwhile in Munich, police have raided a number of apartments, an anarchist library, and a print shop.

Then in Greece, long term anarchist prisoner Giannis Michaildis has announced a hunger strike demanding his release.

Finally, a run down of the recent events at the Defend the Forest Atlanta encampment.

The post Until the Destruction of the Last Cage first appeared on Dissident Voice.

More Facebook Censorship

So, I posted the above meme on my personal Facebook page with this silly caption: “Business idea: Woke yoga school called Reverse Warrior. (They’re gonna need a whole lot of flexibility to keep contorting themselves in and out of all these poses.)”

Obvious comedy, all around…right? Not in The Land of the Free™.

For my heinous transgressions, I got this notice:

My crime, you wonder?

Where exactly is the “false information”? That I’m not really gonna open a yoga school? Nah, those A.I. bots are carefully programmed to suss out unacceptable denials of reality like “Men couldn’t get pregnant anymore.”

Never mind that memes are the most popular form of modern humor, there is no room for laughter — or variance. Either you obey or you lose your privileges. Just think of how any prison runs if you need a base of comparison.

In all my many years of cynical writing, I never imagined living in such a dystopia. If the rise of this behavior across the spectrum of American social life isn’t freaking you out — if it doesn’t have you petrified for the young people of the world — it’s time you got your head out of your ass.

The world being created by the powers that shouldn’t be can still be stopped. But you will be required to take off the blinders and actually do something. This is a spiritual war. Which side are you on?

The post More Facebook Censorship first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Google Censorship! Now Your Private Email is under Threat!

Previously, intercepts like the one below, only happened when you clicked on a link in your Browser but Google have taken censorship onto an entirely new level. Google now intercepts your PRIVATE EMAIL, allegedly to protect you against phishing and other online scams.

This is how it works:

The email in question arrives in your Inbox and looks normal until you click on it to open it when this message appears, replacing the content of the email!

Mr intercept

There are two live links in the offending message, one asks you to report the ‘offending’ site by saying “This isn’t a web forgery…” and when you click on it, you arrive at this Google page:

Google intercept

There’s a box at the bottom of this intercept that asks you to report the ‘offending’ page and if you reply, which I did, cursing the bastards for interfering with my right to information, you see the page above, ‘Google Safe Browsing’ [sic] but not safe from Google! The algorithm even intercepts mail from Google!

If you click on the link, “Ignore this warning”, the message disappears and the original Email message is revealed but Google have another trick up their sleeve, as any links in the message, DON’T WORK! There is however, a workaround as the actual link is there it just doesn’t work! If you can, copy the link and paste it directly into your browser (Windows and Macs use a different method to reveal the link) and you’ll get to the site in question.

This is insidious censorship masquerading as protecting the user and it reveals the true nature of Google because it means that Google is not only scanning your PRIVATE EMAIL for ‘questionable’ links but of course, for ‘questionable’ content, which means Google is actually reading the contents of your formally, private Email!

Given the ubiquitous nature of Google’s role in ALL electronic communications, short of returning to actual, physical letters, I’m not sure what can be done about this outrage but at least let’s make the world aware that this kind of outrageous interception of our communications is going on. Frankly it’s the final nail in coffin of any kind of democratic control over communications.

The post Google Censorship! Now Your Private Email is under Threat! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Censorship: Donbass Insider in the Crosshairs of Newsguard, an Agency Linked to the CIA, NATO and the White House

On 18 March 2022, I received a letter in my e-mail box from a certain Edward O’Reilly, an analyst for NewsGuard, a sort of international Decodex (which awards green or red stickers to news sites, i.e. justifies the censorship of such and such a site), linked to the CIA, NATO and the White House, concerning their analysis of the Donbass Insider site. After having sent them packing when they saw the obvious bias of this site, they insisted and sent me a week later a series of questions, which contradict each other, and written in such a way that one has the impression that the author is writing to a 10 year old girl. Since they are so keen to have me answer them, while giving themselves the right to publish only part of my answers in their analysis (as they indicate in their e-mail), I will do so publicly, so that all my readers can have the whole of the information, and not just the part that would suit NewsGuard.

NewsGuard, a site linked to the CIA, NATO and the White House.

Let’s start by analyzing who is behind NewsGuard, a site that claims to analyse and rate news sites according to nine criteria to determine whether or not they are reliable.

As with the French Decodex, there is a good old system of green or red dots, plus an orange one for satirical sites and a grey one for simple platforms that let anyone publish on them. One might think that such ratings are harmless, but this is not the case. For as we discover on their website, the aim of NewsGuard is to “give platforms and moderation teams the data and information to protect their users from online risks, and to control the spread of misinformation”.

Clearly, NewsGuard provides companies like Google, Facebook or Twitter with data to justify their censorship of bad media that misinform (or in fact that do not follow the Washington narrative, as we will see right away).

Indeed, when we look at the profile of the NewsGuard team, and especially of its advisory board, we immediately understand that there is a problem, a big problem even, in terms of impartiality and neutrality. Indeed, the NewsGuard advisory board includes :

– Don Baer, former White House communications director during the Clinton administration;

– Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education under the Obama administration;

– Retired General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, and former director of the National Security Agency (NSA);

– Elise Jordan, former pen of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice;

– Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General of NATO;

– Tom Ridge, former first Secretary of State for Homeland Security in the George W. Bush administration;

– Gianni Riotta, editorial writer for La Stampa (you know the Italian newspaper that used a photo of the massacre of civilians in Donetsk by the Ukrainian army to illustrate an article on the situation in Kiev);

– Richard Stengel, former Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the Obama administration;

– Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, whose presence on this strongly biased committee (to put it mildly) indicates that the famous encyclopaedia is not neutral.

Add to this the fact that the “analyst” writing to me, Edward O’Reilly, is a former member of the US Marine Corps, and that Newsguard regularly cites Bellingcat (whose links to the British Foreign Office’s secret programmes have been proven) as a reliable source, and it soon becomes clear that this site is just another showcase for the US intelligence services, led by the CIA, the White House and NATO, to impose the US narrative.

Why does this site decide to attack Donbass Insider only now (we have been in existence since 2018 I remind you)? Well, simply because with the brutal heating up of the conflict in Donbass, then the launch of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, and following the violent censorship of international Russian media such as Sputnik or RT, our little website has seen its audience multiplied extremely significantly. Enough to attract the attention of NewsGuard. Clearly, Donbass Insider has reached a large enough audience to begin to panic Washington, and the site must be quickly discredited or even censored, to prevent its information from totally destroying the narrative about the situation in Ukraine.

When NewsGuard contradicts itself from one question to the next

So let’s move on to the questions Edward O’Reilly sent me, and the answers I have to give. I am publishing them here in the order in which they were sent to me, as you can see from the full screenshot of his e-mail, available here.

1. Your site does not indicate who owns it, which does not meet our criterion of providing information about the owner of the site. Can you explain this choice? Also, are you the owner of Donbass-Insider.com? If so, why not say so on the site?

Because if your criteria are justifiable for a news site working in a democratic country where there is peace, when you are working in a civil war zone (because that’s what the Donbass war is which has been going on since 2014), where one of the parties (Ukraine) spends its time imposing sanctions against any person or media giving information other than the official narrative, and where children and journalists can have their personal data published on a site of Ukrainian neo-Nazis (you know the ones that are not that dangerous according to NewsGuard) like Mirotvorets, so that they become a target, your criteria becomes a source of risk.

We are not going to put our team members in danger just to please you and tick the right box in your list of bogus criteria. I remind you that in Ukraine journalists like Oles Bouzina and Anatoli Chary have received death threats, and that Bouzina was murdered outside his home shortly after his personal data was published on Mirotvorets. People have been murdered or abducted in the DPR and LPR (Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) by Ukrainian secret services (the same services you cite as a source later on). Do you really believe that the lives of our team members are worth less than your rating criteria? If you come to tell me that you don’t know about the existence of Mirotvorets, then how can you judge the veracity of information about Ukraine and the ongoing conflict if you don’t even know this simple fact?

I know very well what is behind your question about domain name ownership. You’re looking for someone to put on the sanctions list so you can do what you did with other news sites that had their .com domain names taken away. Save yourself the trouble, we’ve already anticipated this, censoring Donbass Insider won’t get you anything. Even when hackers working for the West (and therefore for your bosses) attacked our site, taking it down, our content continued to be available.

2. Your site also does not indicate who is responsible for the content (such as an editor-in-chief or a director of publication, for example), which does not meet our criterion in this respect. Do you have a comment on this? Are you responsible for the content of Donbass-Insider.com?

Because there is no editor-in-chief on our site, nor a director of publication. Each contributor is free to write his or her own articles without review or censorship.

3. We could not find any corrections published on your site. Have you corrected any articles, and if so, could you send me a recent example of a correction on the site? If not, can you explain why no corrections have been published recently?

Why are there no corrections on our site? Well, because unlike other media, we check the information as much as possible before publishing it, instead of quickly coming up with racy headlines or unsubstantiated rumors to create a buzz. Our articles are factual, sourced, and substantiated, which avoids the humiliating exercise of retraction or correction.

4. After analysis, we believe that your site does not meet our criterion of clearly distinguishing between news and opinion. Indeed, we have noticed that many news articles contain opinions. This is the case for the articles below.

a. The noose is tightening around the Ukrainian neo-Nazis entrenched in Mariupol, and the Western media is wallowing in abjection

b. Despite Russophobia in Ukraine, Russia continues to welcome Ukrainians with open arms

c. Ukraine goes into hysterics after Russia signs a gas supply contract with Hungary

After analysis you think… Well, we’re well on our way with that.. No details as to why these articles are opinions. Because in fact, if you look at the articles concerned, everything is sourced and based on facts. There is only one where I give my opinion at the very end, and that is my right. A journalist has the right to give his opinion, to comment on a piece of information, or to analyse a situation. A journalist is not just a copyist barely able to adapt Reuters or AFP dispatches.

Moreover, your demand to make a clear distinction between information and opinion is something that you brandish only when it suits you, and you sit on it at other times (we’ll come back to that later). Our readers know the difference between information and opinion. It’s nice that you care about them, but they are not mentally retarded or five-year-olds. They are adults and capable of reading and understanding what they read. They don’t need you to explain it to them. This mania for infantilising people by putting coloured stickers on sites like the school teacher in class is frankly revolting.

No, what bothers you is that I call a spade a spade. Abjection is a perfectly deserved term for the Western media denounced in the first article. I call Ukrainian neo-Nazis neo-Nazis and not nationalists, or whatever other euphemism. And Russophobia in Ukraine is more than proven (if you don’t see it, I think you need to change jobs).

The following question is very long and I will answer each sub-question individually.

5. We also believe that your site does not meet our criteria of not publishing false content, collecting and presenting information responsibly and not publishing misleading headlines. Indeed, we found many articles containing false information in their titles and texts:

a. For example, a March 2022 article entitled “Russia gets hold of documents on US biological laboratories in Ukraine” states that “for Kirillov, the haste with which Ukraine launched the destruction of all strains of pathogens in these US biological laboratories could indicate that they were working on strengthening the pathogenic properties of microbes there, which is a violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. This would also explain why the US has set up these laboratories in Ukraine, instead of conducting such research on its own territory: to avoid being held accountable for what is happening there! And the ultimate proof that these US biological laboratories in Ukraine are hiding something was provided by Victoria Nuland, the US Secretary of State, herself during a Senate hearing!”

However, while the US has provided assistance to Ukrainian laboratories since 2005, and has contributed to the construction and modernisation of Ukrainian laboratories, the laboratories themselves are managed and mainly funded by the Ukrainian government. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) clarified the terms of this agreement in a May 2020 press release, in which it stated that ‘there are no foreign biological laboratories in Ukraine’.

Moreover, there is no evidence that these laboratories were working on strengthening the pathogenic properties of microbes. An April 2020 statement on the website of the US Embassy in Ukraine said that the joint projects in Ukrainian laboratories were aimed at “strengthening and securing pathogens and toxins of security concern in Ukrainian government facilities”.

Also, when Victoria Nuland referred to these laboratories, she was referring to Ukrainian “diagnostic and biodefense” laboratories, not to biological weapons facilities.

Can you explain why you chose to publish this article on your website?

Why did you publish it? Because what you claim as facts are not facts. Your sources are simple statements from the SBU and the US embassy. That is to say, the Ukrainian secret services whose use of torture in a systemic way since the Maïdan is proven, and who were caught with both hands in the pot of false information concerning MH17… And the other source is the American government, that is to say, a government that did not hesitate for a second to lie before the UN (!!!) to justify its illegal war against Iraq by brandishing stories of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Now that’s a reliable source…

For our part, we have published internal Ukrainian documents, not just statements, as evidence of US involvement in the work of the biological laboratories in Ukraine! Like these documents showing that in 2010, Viktor Yanukovych tried to regain control of these biological research laboratories, since contrary to what you claim, the management of what was happening in these laboratories was beyond the control of the Ukrainian authorities! And what was happening there was, I quote from an SBU report (since you seem to consider this source as reliable):

“… These actions of the US side are considered by national experts as the formation of their own database of pathogen strains that are stored at Ukrainian sites, their storage system, as well as the control and study by military doctors of the effectiveness of the use of particularly dangerous infection pathogens in specific regions of Ukraine to create or improve new types of selectively acting biological weapons (against a particular race, genotype, territory of birth or residence).”

More recent documents released by Russia show that these laboratories, based in Ukraine but funded and supervised by the US, were studying diseases that can be transmitted to humans by migratory birds or bats. And if these labs mentioned by Victoria Nuland were, as you claim, only “diagnostic and biodefense” labs, why worry that they might fall into Russian hands? If these labs were only doing what you say, then there is nothing dangerous there.

And just to rub salt in the wound of your arguments, the DailyMail (hardly a Kremlin-friendly media outlet) published an article stating, with sources (in this case, emails found in the famous laptop Joe Biden’s son left at the repair shop), that “Hunter Biden helped secure millions of dollars in funding for a US subcontractor in Ukraine specializing in researching deadly pathogens, according to laptop emails. Oops. I think you’re good to review the ratings of all the news sites that had reported on this, and swallow your certainties about what’s true or not.

b. In February 2022, Donbass Insider published a French translation of Vladimir Putin’s speech justifying his decision to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. The speech was published in full, without comment or context in the news section of the site, and stated that “modern Ukraine was created entirely by Russia, or more precisely, by Bolshevik and communist Russia”. Putin also lamented that the communists had ‘given the republics the right to separate from the unified state without any conditions’ and added that ‘Ukraine has never had a stable tradition of a real state’.

Contrary to Putin’s claim that ‘the Bolsheviks invented Ukraine’ and that Ukraine ‘never had a stable tradition of a real state’, Ukraine fought for independence in 1918, a status that lasted only a few years. In 1921, the Russian Bolsheviks defeated the national government of Ukraine and established the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Ukraine spent the next 69 years as part of the Soviet Union.

As for the claim that a weakened Moscow “gave” Ukraine the right to become independent from the Soviet Union “without any conditions”, it was the Ukrainians who chose independence in a democratic referendum. In 1991, as the Soviet Union dissolved, 84% of eligible Ukrainian voters went to the polls and over 92% voted to leave the Soviet Union. Moscow even promised to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty on the condition that it gave up its nuclear weapons – a fact commemorated in 1994 in an agreement known as the Budapest Memorandum.

Can you explain why you chose to publish this speech on your website without commentary or context?

Why did you publish the translation of Vladimir Putin’s speech without commentary or context? Well, because it was to provide 100% pure information without any personal opinions, which should be fine with you since you criticized me in question 4 for mixing information and opinions. And when I provide an article that is pure information, in this case the complete translation into French of Vladimir Putin’s speech so that my readers can make up their own minds about the Russian President’s view of events by having the entire text in their own language, that doesn’t suit you either. You should know, guys, that either we are only allowed to provide pure and cold information, or we have to systematically make comments. But it can’t be both at the same time.

As for your arguments, Ukraine in its current borders is indeed a product of the USSR. The short-lived Ukrainian state that emerged after the 1917 revolution was not at all within the current borders of Ukraine, it was the USSR that gave it most of its territory. And three years of existence yes is not a “stable tradition of a real state”, don’t get me wrong.

Concerning the referendum held in Ukraine in 1991, this has nothing to do with the content of Vladimir Putin’s speech. He is talking about the Soviet constitution adopted in 1924, which allowed the republics the right to separate from the USSR unconditionally… You are mixing up everything.

Moreover, the nuclear weapons deployed in Ukraine did not belong to Ukraine, but to the USSR, as stated in the Lisbon Protocol, which predates the Budapest Memorandum (which was the result of Ukraine’s desire to monetise the application of what it had already signed in 1992). It was therefore normal for them to be sent back to Russia, which is the official successor state of the USSR. So this cannot be called a “condition”. Russia did not demand anything from independent Ukraine other than to return what belonged to it in order to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

c. A June 2021 article entitled “Protassevich allegedly framed by his own side and handed over to Belarus to serve as a sacrificial victim” claims that the Belarusian authorities did not force the pilots of Ryanair flight 4978 to land in Minsk in order to detain Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protasevich. The article says that “on May 23, 2021, at 12:25, while the Ryanair plane is still over the Volyn region of Ukraine, a first bomb threat e-mail arrives at Minsk airport” and that “after receiving the bomb threat e-mail, and despite its incongruities (such as the requests made) the airport authorities apply the international procedure foreseen in such cases and consider the threat to be real”.

In reality, the Ryanair plane was not diverted because of a bomb threat. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary called the hijacking a “case of state-sponsored hijacking” and confirmed to Politico in May 2021 that the Belarusian target was Roman Protasevich.

Can you explain why you chose to publish this article on your website?

I chose to publish it because the facts stated in the article, such as proof that the Belarusian airport did receive bomb threat emails, and that the authorities did not know Protassevich was on board until his “friends” were screaming all over the internet that he was there, are worth more than the opinion of the Ryanair CEO!!! Are you serious when you say you assess whether my article is telling the truth or not, simply based on the opinion of the airline CEO? My article contains all the evidence to back up what I said, but for you O’Leary’s opinion is worth more than facts? Is that your criteria for evaluating the information published by the sites you analyse? Your evaluation “criteria” are truly appalling in their partiality.

More generally, would you comment on your editorial process?

Yes, we report facts and testimonies from the field, and our articles are sourced and substantiated. We consider facts to be more valuable than the opinion or unproven statement of some official or CEO approved by your site. We have done this since the beginning of Donbass Insider, and we will continue to do so.

Christelle Néant

The post Censorship: Donbass Insider in the Crosshairs of Newsguard, an Agency Linked to the CIA, NATO and the White House first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Endless Wars and Failed States: The Tragedy of Neoliberalism

Then all cried with one accord,
‘Thou art King, and God and Lord;
Anarchy, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now!’

— “The Mask of Anarchy,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1819

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the American ruling establishment embarked on a policy of backing radical anti-nation state ideologies (henceforth to be referred to as ANSIs) with the goal of dismantling national identities and leaving failed states in their wake. Only through acknowledging both the extraordinary dangers that this entails, and the fact that the process emanates from powerful transnational capitalist forces rather than from “the left” (which once referenced a Marxist or social democratic position), can the chaos within the West as well as US foreign policy in the post-Soviet era be understood.

If left unchecked, an ANSI will act as a cancer and metastasize, until the national identity it has infiltrated has reached the point of dissolution. Indeed, it will either eradicate or be eradicated; there is no other alternative. A curious phenomenon in the panoply of neoliberal barbarities is that those who reject extremism are inevitably labeled as extremists themselves. For instance, the American and Canadian truckers who are defending the informed consent ethic, the principle of bodily autonomy, and the Nuremberg Code, without which a democracy cannot survive, are guilty of “antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, homophobia, and transphobia,” to quote Canada’s puerile prime minister – i.e., it is they who are the extremists.

Serbs that endured over seventy days of NATO bombing, and who suffered genocidal attacks at the hands of Croatian neo-Ustasha soldiers and Kosovo Liberation Army terrorists were also “extremists;” their oppressors, “freedom fighters.”

Identity politics, a deranged yet powerful ANSI which has cataclysmically destabilized American society, and is likewise being used as a battering ram to turn much of the West into a Tower of Babel while dismantling the rule of law, is predicated on the notion that any opposition to unrestricted immigration and the jettisoning of the American canon is indicative of “white supremacy.” This zealotry has been taken to its inescapable conclusion in the New York City public schools, where non-native speakers of English are hanging from the chandeliers, and a curriculum which demonizes American letters, British literature, classics of Western Civilization, civics, and the history of Western art – the foundational pillars of our civilization – is hegemonic.

Not only has this brought about a collapse of the society, but those for whom this curriculum purports to help – Americans of color and immigrant youth – are rendered illiterate, both culturally and intellectually. What better time than the 21st century to use one’s knowledge of the Nuremberg Code, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, McCarthyism, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War (particularly prior to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan), and the role played by Ukrainian nationalists during the Second World War? The ignorance, alienation, tribalism, atomization, and dehumanization fomented by the multicultural society (essentially the inversion of white supremacy), has spawned a younger generation drowning in amnesia and amorality – a zombie class which is extremely amenable to brainwashing by the presstitutes.

Another example of an ANSI is the problem of Sunni fundamentalism in Syria, as Syria is comprised of not only Sunnis, but Alawites, Jews, Christians, Kurds, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities, all of which would be regarded as nonpersons by the jihadis should they sack Damascus. There are also considerable numbers of Sunnis in Syria that reject the radicalism of ISIS, Jaysh al-Islam, and Jabhat al-Nusra. In other words, the Syrian government had no choice but to outlaw these groups, as there is no way that they could peacefully coexist with a modern and secular Syrian state.

Multiple ANSIs were introduced into Iraq during the US military occupation. In commenting on the animus between the Baath Party and the Dawa Party, The Oklahoman writes:

The parties’ rivalry dates back more than four decades. The two groups have traditionally held opposing views on how Iraq should be run, with Dawa calling for an Islamic Shiite state, and the Baath party having a secular, pan-Arab ideology.

Unlike Iran, Iraq is not a predominantly Shiite state. Consequently, the rise of the Dawa Party, which was dominant in Iraq from 2003 to 2018, disenfranchised Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians, thereby facilitating Kurdish separatism as well as the birth of ISIS. In a similar vein, the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India undermines a cohesive national identity and poses a threat to democratic institutions. Democracy demands freedom of speech, yet cannot become a synonym for dogmatism, sectarianism, and tribalism.

The Branch Covidian coup d’état has facilitated the emergence of a global cult which is anchored in a contempt for informed consent and which poses an existential threat to democracy. This contempt for the informed consent ethic is rooted in the notion that human beings are the property of the state, and that the state has a right to do whatever it wants to its subjects medically. Hence, this is a totalitarian position. Once a totalitarian position has been embraced, its acolytes invariably abandon the world of reason. This explains why you can send your indoctrinated relatives countless links to articles showing that masks and lockdowns don’t work, that the mRNA vaccines are dangerous and do not confer immunity, and that Covid can be treated with repurposed drugs, all to no avail. They have turned their backs, not only on democracy, but on logic, and are operating on a purely primordial emotion. Indeed, the irrationality of totalitarianism is tied to the fact that those who seek to destroy vital democratic pillars, such as the First Amendment and informed consent, are not only fighting to destroy the freedom of their adversaries but are fighting to destroy their own freedoms as well.

One might argue that the polarization that has ensued following the imposition of medical mandates was an unforeseen consequence of the Branch Covidian response, yet this phenomenon is fundamentally no different than inciting internecine strife within a country that has fallen into Washington’s crosshairs. Alas, it is another mechanism of the age-old divide and conquer strategy.

The Western elites’ post-Soviet love affair with smashing civilizations to the wall came to Ukraine in the winter of 2014, when the US-backed Maidan “Revolution of Dignity” saw the violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych, which precipitated the disintegration of Ukraine’s constitutional order. In the Western part of the country there has long been a considerable amount of support for Ukrainian nationalism, whose disciples regard themselves as “Aryans” and who romanticize Stepan Bandera, a fanatical leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, rabid Russophobe and Nazi collaborator. This putsch allowed the heirs to the Ukrainian nationalists that collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War to seize power in Kiev. As there are millions of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine, this could only lead to the country becoming a failed state.

Consider this extravaganza of ludicrousness: we have been told that truckers protesting medical mandates are “Nazis,” while the Western elites have been supporting a neo-Nazi government in Ukraine for eight years. No less galling, the Branch Covidian contempt for informed consent has its roots in the Nazi medical ethos.

On May 2, 2014, Banderite pogromists set fire to the Odessa Trade Union House, where locals who were protesting the nationalist coup were holed up, savagely beating and shooting those who attempted to escape. This incident, which led to the loss of over forty lives, was deeply symbolic of the new regime, its lawlessness and savagery, and its visceral hatred of Russians. In the West it would be unthinkable for there to be statues and monuments honoring prominent Nazis and Nazi collaborators. However, in Ukraine this is all too common. That Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, and Zelensky have proven adroit in speaking in the language of neoliberalism fails to alter the fact that the real power in post-Maidan Ukraine lies unequivocally with the Banderites.

A recent Bloomberg article titled “Russian Fleet Approach has Ukraine’s Port City Odessa Bracing” embodies the pervasive ignorance of the Western media, as Odessa is a Russian speaking city whose civilian inhabitants would mostly be delighted should the Russian military turn up. Not to be outdone, the BBC laments the fact that the residents of Kiev have been forced to spend a couple of nights in basements and metro stations. Where have the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other esteemed institutes of skulduggery been when Donbass residents were forced by a genocidal NATO-backed regime to live in basements for eight years? Incredibly, the songs and music videos of the Russian singer Artem Grishanov offer better journalistic coverage of post-Maidan Ukraine than all the Pentagon storytellers put together (see here, here, here and here). Note the total absence of any context in the mass media’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: do we discuss the Invasion of Normandy in this way?

This coup, which brought a bloodthirsty ultranationalist cabal to power, proceeded to ban the formerly influential pro-Russian Party of Regions as well as the Communist Party, and has taken steps to undermine the language rights of Russian speakers. When the oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk refused to recognize the new junta, the Ukrainian military, backed by neo-Nazi units such as the Azov Battalion and the Aidar Battalion, and supported by the no less loathsome Right Sector and Svoboda Party, placed the Donbass under a medieval siege, a siege that has caused terrible suffering, but was doomed to fail militarily due to the fact that Donetsk and Lugansk share a border with Russia. These paramilitary groups have committed crimes against humanity, operate with minimal oversight, and have, together with regular Ukrainian forces, long been attempting to “ethnically cleanse” the Donbass of its ethnically Russian inhabitants in the same way that the Croatian government of Franjo Tudjman forcibly expelled 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina region in 1995 (see here, here, and here). Many thousands of Donbass residents have lost their lives at the hands of these Western-backed gangs, which delight in shelling residential neighborhoods, and which have been green-lighted to commit atrocities with impunity. Videos of neo-Nazis boasting of how they are abusing and torturing captured Russian soldiers, and how they will hunt down and punish Ukrainians accepting Russian aid, is yet another sad reminder of who invariably benefits from US government largesse.

Putting Ukraine, a country that has long-standing cultural, linguistic, and civilizational ties to Russia that go back centuries in the hands of Ukrainian nationalists, has served to weaken Russia and transformed the country into a dangerous Western proxy. The mass media’s histrionics over the Russian military’s alleged targeting of residential neighborhoods is preposterous indeed, as this has long been an integral part of US imperial policy, as evidenced by relentless and indiscriminate US bombing campaigns conducted over Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Serbia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, and even when conducting air raids in the heart of Europe during the Second World War. Many Russians, in fact, have family in Ukraine – hence their genuine desire to not do this. Moreover, the Russian military has made a concerted effort to help civilians evacuate the war zone via humanitarian corridors, avenues of escape which have been repeatedly cut off by nationalists who have been accused by refugees of holding them hostage and even firing on those attempting to flee the fighting.

A substantial percentage of the Ukrainian population was hoodwinked into believing that for eight years they have been at war with Russia when they have been massacring their fellow countrymen in the Donbass. This underscores the mass hysteria that has gripped a vast swath of the country following the Maidan coup, and is indicative of how a mass psychosis can seize hold of a population once an ANSI has been imposed through the use of a hijacked media and education system.

Perhaps forgetting that Russia has nuclear weapons, Adam Kinzinger has called for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Ukraine, a country whose airspace is controlled by Russia. Elaborating on the there-is-no-difference-between-Russia-and-Somalia theme, Sean Hannity has called for drone strikes to be carried out against Russian military convoys, arguing that the Russians wouldn’t be able to figure out who did it; which leads one to wonder which country has more lunatics per capita: Ukraine or the United States? Perhaps Nietzsche was correct when he wrote in Beyond Good And Evil that “Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.”

Following the onset of the Russian intervention, the freedom-loving government in Kiev opened the doors to its prisons, granting convicts an early release should they agree to fight “the Moskal.” Empowered by this maelstrom of anarchy, heavily armed bandits are free to join their Banderite brethren, embrace “democracy,” and terrorize the locals at will. Fittingly, the new draconian sanctions directed at Russia are being called “the Halting Enrichment of Russian Oligarchs and Industry Allies of Moscow’s Schemes to Leverage its Abject Villainy Abroad Act;” a strange name, yet one which happens to form the acronym HEROIAM SLAVA, a Ukrainian fascist greeting meaning “Glory to the Heroes,” and which is comparable to “Sieg Heil.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Russophobia in the US is starting to resemble the Russophobia in Ukraine itself, with Lindsey Graham openly calling for Putin to be assassinated (which doesn’t constitute “hate speech,” incidentally, according to Twitter).

The government in Kiev has recently spoken of reconsidering its commitments under the Budapest Memorandum and obtaining nuclear weapons, a threat that undoubtedly contributed to Moscow’s recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states. There has also been speculation that one of the objectives of the denazification campaign is the elimination of biowarfare labs, as the Russian government has been accusing the US of operating these facilities near its borders for quite some time (a claim not denied by Maidan architect Victoria Nuland). A false flag chemical weapons attack à la the White Helmets is a real and present danger.

The Kremlin has been trying for decades to have a respectful dialogue with the West about NATO’s relentless eastward expansion, and has repeatedly attempted to come to terms with its “Western partners” on establishing a new European security architecture which would take into account Moscow’s legitimate security concerns. The Kremlin’s attempts at getting Washington to cease its deliveries of arms to the murderers and sociopaths in Kiev, coupled with Putin’s tireless attempts at getting the Banderite regime to implement the Minsk agreements, have proven no less futile. Moscow will not permit the Banderite regime to obtain nuclear weapons, it will not permit the Donbass to be overrun, and it will not allow Ukraine to join NATO – each constitutes a non-negotiable red line.

In many ways it was inevitable that the Russian military would be sent into the Donbass, as the position of Donetsk and Lugansk has grown increasingly precarious due to the relentless influx of NATO weaponry, and they have been pleading with Moscow for protection ever since the commencement of hostilities. The decision to execute a reverse regime change operation is likely due to the Russian elite concluding that if they were to leave the Banderite junta in place, it would grow increasingly dangerous over time as its military capabilities expand exponentially – a kind of illiterate Russophobic Israel at one’s doorstep, if you will. If thousands of Americans were being killed and tortured at the hands of a tyrannical Moscow-backed puppet government in Mexico, would Washington have the patience to pursue diplomacy for the greater part of a decade?

The Russian military needs to get in and out of Kiev, a hornet’s nest of Banderivtsi, as efficiently as possible. The longer they remain, the greater the likelihood that the CIA will entrap them in an Afghan-style quagmire, as Western intelligence agencies are working around the clock to flood Ukraine with as many private military contractors, jihadis, and neo-Nazi volunteers as possible. Should Ukraine cease to exist, balkanization would certainly be preferable to the country being pulled inexorably into a never-ending vortex of violence as transpired in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It is difficult to see how the country could be put back together, with one half comprised of Russophobes; and the other, of Russophiles.

The Western elites’ growing reliance on the use of ANSIs as a form of unconventional warfare threatens civilization both at home and abroad, and if directed at Russia or China, could unleash a nuclear war from which there would be no survivors. Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton, Washington has worked long and hard to smoke a hibernating bear out of its den. Through the resurrection of the ghost of Bandera, at long last, they have succeeded.

The post Endless Wars and Failed States: The Tragedy of Neoliberalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Business as Usual: Facebook, Russia, and Hate Speech

Seedy, compromised and creepy, the surveillance machine of Facebook, now operating under the broader fold of its parent company Meta Platforms, is currently giving out the very signals that it was condemned for doing before: encourage discussions on hating a group and certain figures, while spreading the bad word to everyone else to do so.

The Russian Federation, President Vladimir Putin, and Russians in general emerge as the latest contenders, the comic strip villains who those in the broadly designated “West” can now take issue with. According to a Meta spokesperson, the Russian attack on Ukraine had made the company make temporary “allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’” Cryptically, the same spokesman goes on to say that, “We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.” Meta gives us no guidelines on what would constitute a “credible call”.

Twitter has also permitted posts openly advocating homicide and assassination. US Senator Lindsey Graham was caught up in the bloodlust of permissiveness, using the platform to ask whether Russia had its own Brutus. “Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” The only way to conclude the conflict was “for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.”

The cartoon villainy approach of the Meta group also has precedent. In July 2021, the policy on incitement and hate speech was eased with specific reference to Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei. The firm decided to permit posts featuring “death to Khamenei”, or videos of individuals chanting the phrase for a two-week window. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai wrote pointedly at the time that this permission was “a bizarre choice that highlight’s Facebook’s power and often confusing content moderation rules.”

The Russia-Ukraine policy is only startling for being an open admission to a practice that Facebook has embraced for years. With the company’s astronomical growth, accusations about how it utilises hate speech and deceptive content have reached a crescendo without deep effect. Mock efforts have been taken to deal with them, never deviating from the firm’s market purpose.

An example of this zig-zag morality meet reputational damage was given in 2018. In August that year, the company employed 60 Burmese-language specialists to review posted and distributed content, with a promise to employ another 40 more by the end of the year. Product manager Sara Su called the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar “horrific and we have been too slow to prevent misinformation on Facebook.”

A more accurate appraisal of the company’s conduct was revealed by an internal trove of documents showing how harms were closely monitored but algorithmically exacerbated. The documents, disclosed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission by whistleblower Frances Haugen, revealed a number of things, including the gulf between CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public statements on improvements and the company’s own findings.

In testimony given to Congress in 2020, Zuckerberg claimed that 94 percent of hate speech was removed before a human agent reported it. The picture emerging from the internal documents showed that the company did quite the opposite: less than 5 percent of hate speech on the platform was actually removed.

Haugen summed up the approach in her opening statement to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security in October last year. Conceding that social networks faced “complex and nuanced” problems in dealing with misinformation, counterespionage and democracy, she was blunt about the “choices being made inside Facebook”. They were “disastrous – for our children, for our public safety, for our privacy and for our democracy – and that is why we must demand Facebook makes changes.”

The platform has also been the target of legal suits for encouraging hate speech. In December, Rohingya refugees, having little time for the firm’s promises to turn a new leaf, instigated legal action in both the United States and the United Kingdom for $150 billion. The San Francisco lawsuit, filed by Edelson and Fields Law on behalf of an anonymous plaintiff, alleges that Facebook’s introduction in the country in 2011 encouraged “the dissemination of hateful messages, disinformation and incitement to violence” which led to genocide of the Rohingya.

The Ukraine War has revealed a familiar pattern. On February 26, 2022 Facebook initially announced that it had “established a special operations center staffed by experts from across the company, including native Russian and Ukraine speakers, who are monitoring the platform around the clock, allowing us to respond to issues in real time.” The company promised that it was “taking extensive steps to fight misinformation and implementing more transparency and restrictions around state-controlled media outlets.”

Then came the easing of policies on hate speech regarding Russian figures, with the predictable and, given the context, understandable reaction. The Russian embassy in Washington called the policy “aggressive and criminal […] leading to incitement and hatred and hostility”. It gave Moscow a good basis to claim that this was yet another feature of an “information war without rules”.

Disinformation experts adopt a bit of hair splitting in approving Meta’s approach. “The policy calls for violence against Russian soldiers,” insists the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab’s Emerson Brooking. “A call for violence here, by the way, is also a call for resistance because Ukrainians resist a violent invasion.”

This policy of intervening on the side of the Ukrainian cause to Russia’s detriment is encouraged by Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg. In his March 11 statement, Clegg makes the case for selective violence even more pronounced. “I want to be crystal clear: our policies are focused on protecting people’s rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country.” Had standard content policies been followed, content “from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces would have been removed.”

This immoderate stance does not have universal agreement. Media sociologist Jeremy Littau has made the pertinent observation that, “Facebook has rules, until it doesn’t.” It claims to be merely a platform above taking sides, “until it does.” To not permit hate speech except in designated cases against certain people of a certain country was “one hell of a can of worms.”

Meta’s latest move is disturbingly refreshing in calling out a policy that remains haphazard, selectively applied, but always driven by the firm’s own amoral calculus. The Ukraine conflict now gives the group a cover for practices that enfeeble and corrupt democracy while picking sides in war. The company is clearly not above encouraging posts advocating homicide and murder after testing the wind’s direction. With Russia being rapidly cancelled culturally, politically and economically throughout the fold of Western countries, Zuckerberg is bound to think he is onto a winner. At the very least, he has found a distracting alibi.

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Dystopia Disguised as Democracy: All the Ways in Which Freedom Is an Illusion

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

— Frank Zappa, Interview with Jim Ladd, “Zappa On Air,” April 1977.

We are no longer free.

We are living in a world carefully crafted to resemble a representative democracy, but it’s an illusion.

We think we have the freedom to elect our leaders, but we’re only allowed to participate in the reassurance ritual of voting. There can be no true electoral choice or real representation when we’re limited in our options to one of two candidates culled from two parties that both march in lockstep with the Deep State and answer to an oligarchic elite.

We think we have freedom of speech, but we’re only as free to speak as the government and its corporate partners allow.

We think we have the right to freely exercise our religious beliefs, but those rights are quickly overruled if and when they conflict with the government’s priorities, whether it’s COVID-19 mandates or societal values about gender equality, sex and marriage.

We think we have the freedom to go where we want and move about freely, but at every turn, we’re hemmed in by laws, fines and penalties that regulate and restrict our autonomy, and surveillance cameras that monitor our movements. Punitive programs strip citizens of their passports and right to travel over unpaid taxes.

We think we have property interests in our homes and our bodies, but there can be no such freedom when the government can seize your property, raid your home, and dictate what you do with your bodies.

We think we have the freedom to defend ourselves against outside threats, but there is no right to self-defense against militarized police who are authorized to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, and granted immunity from accountability with the general blessing of the courts. Certainly, there can be no right to gun ownership in the face of red flag gun laws which allow the police to remove guns from people merely suspected of being threats.

We think we have the right to an assumption of innocence until we are proven guilty, but that burden of proof has been turned on its head by a surveillance state that renders us all suspects and over-criminalization which renders us all lawbreakers. Police-run facial recognition software that mistakenly labels law-abiding citizens as criminals. A social credit system (similar to China’s) that rewards behavior deemed “acceptable” and punishes behavior the government and its corporate allies find offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

We think we have the right to due process, but that assurance of justice has been stripped of its power by a judicial system hardwired to act as judge, jury and jailer, leaving us with little recourse for appeal. A perfect example of this rush to judgment can be found in the proliferation of profit-driven speed and red light cameras that do little for safety while padding the pockets of government agencies.

We have been saddled with a government that pays lip service to the nation’s freedom principles while working overtime to shred the Constitution.

By gradually whittling away at our freedoms—free speech, assembly, due process, privacy, etc.—the government has, in effect, liberated itself from its contractual agreement to respect the constitutional rights of the citizenry while resetting the calendar back to a time when we had no Bill of Rights to protect us from the long arm of the government.

Aided and abetted by the legislatures, the courts and Corporate America, the government has been busily rewriting the contract (a.k.a. the Constitution) that establishes the citizenry as the masters and agents of the government as the servants.

We are now only as good as we are useful, and our usefulness is calculated on an economic scale by how much we are worth—in terms of profit and resale value—to our “owners.”

Under the new terms of this revised, one-sided agreement, the government and its many operatives have all the privileges and rights and “we the people” have none.

Only in our case, sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, we’ve allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp.

The problem with these devil’s bargains, however, is that there is always a catch, always a price to pay for whatever it is we valued so highly as to barter away our most precious possessions.

We’ve bartered away our right to self-governance, self-defense, privacy, autonomy and that most important right of all: the right to tell the government to “leave me the hell alone.” In exchange for the promise of safe streets, safe schools, blight-free neighborhoods, lower taxes, lower crime rates, and readily accessible technology, health care, water, food and power, we’ve opened the door to militarized police, government surveillance, asset forfeiture, school zero tolerance policies, license plate readers, red light cameras, SWAT team raids, health care mandates, over-criminalization and government corruption.

In the end, such bargains always turn sour.

We asked our lawmakers to be tough on crime, and we’ve been saddled with an abundance of laws that criminalize almost every aspect of our lives. So far, we’re up to 4500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminal regulations that result in average Americans unknowingly engaging in criminal acts at least three times a day. For instance, the family of an 11-year-old girl was issued a $535 fine for violating the Federal Migratory Bird Act after the young girl rescued a baby woodpecker from predatory cats.

We wanted criminals taken off the streets, and we didn’t want to have to pay for their incarceration. What we’ve gotten is a nation that boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people locked up, many of them doing time for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes, and a private prison industry fueling the drive for more inmates, who are forced to provide corporations with cheap labor.

We wanted law enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to fight the nation’s wars on terror, crime and drugs. What we got instead were militarized police decked out with M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, battle tanks and hollow point bullets—gear designed for the battlefield, more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year (many for routine police tasks, resulting in losses of life and property), and profit-driven schemes that add to the government’s largesse such as asset forfeiture, where police seize property from “suspected criminals.”

We fell for the government’s promise of safer roads, only to find ourselves caught in a tangle of profit-driven red-light cameras, which ticket unsuspecting drivers in the so-called name of road safety while ostensibly fattening the coffers of local and state governments. Despite widespread public opposition, corruption and systemic malfunctions, these cameras are particularly popular with municipalities, which look to them as an easy means of extra cash. Building on the profit-incentive schemes, the cameras’ manufacturers are also pushing speed cameras and school bus cameras, both of which result in hefty fines for violators who speed or try to go around school buses.

We’re being subjected to the oldest con game in the books, the magician’s sleight of hand that keeps you focused on the shell game in front of you while your wallet is being picked clean by ruffians in your midst.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, “we the people” are being reminded that we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis.

Indeed, there are chilling parallels between the authoritarian prison that is life in the American police state and The Prisoner, a dystopian television series that first broadcast in Great Britain more than 50 years ago.

The series centers around a British secret agent (played by Patrick McGoohan) who finds himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly idyllic retirement community known only as The Village. While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

Much like the American Police State, The Prisoner’s Village gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

Described as “an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia,” The Prisoner is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of mankind to meekly accept his lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of his own making.

The Prisoner is an operations manual for how you condition a populace to life as prisoners in a police state: by brainwashing them into believing they are free so that they will march in lockstep with the state and be incapable of recognizing the prison walls that surround them.

We can no longer maintain the illusion of freedom.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, “we the people” have become “we the prisoners.”

 

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