Category Archives: Internet

The Rise of the Terminally Online

Americans, rich or poor, now live in a culture entirely perceived through simulacra-media images and illusions. We live inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation that has not existed for quite some time now. Our national reality is held together by images, the originals of which have been lost or never existed. The well-off with their upscale consumer aesthetic, live inside gated Disneyesque communities with gleaming uninhabited front porches representing some bucolic notion of the Great American home and family. The working class, true to its sports culture aesthetic, is a spectator to politics … politics which are so entirely imagistic as to be holograms of a process that has not existed for decades in America, if ever. Social realism is a television commercial for America, a simulacrum republic of eagles, church spires… and ‘freedom of choice’ between holograms. America’s citizens have been reduced to balkanized consumer units by the corporate state’s culture producing machinery. We are all transfixed on and within the hologram and cannot see one another in the living breathing flesh.

— Joe Bageant, from a 2005 interview with my late friend, Richard Oxman

We need to understand that technology is not simply a relation between humans and their natural environment, but more fundamentally a way of organizing global human society.

— Alf Hornborg, “Technology as Fetish: Marx, Latour, and the Cultural Foundations of Capitalism”, Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 31, no. 4

Note to readers: This is an impromptu, long overdue, unsolicited, and frankly incomplete second attempt at describing aspects of digital media and “extremely online” culture and ideology. You can read my first essay “Questioning the Extremely Online” by clicking the link. There are conservative, liberal, and leftist variants of the extremely online crowd; what unites them are social media as well as internet and screen addictions, a lack of class analysis, and technological fetishism.

The Psychology of the Terminally Online

It is not enough to change the world. That is all we have ever done. That happens even without us. We also have to interpret this change. And precisely in order to change it. So that the world will not go on changing without us. And so that it is not changed in the end into a world without us.

– Günther Anders, The Obsolescence of Man, Volume II

There are a few very inconvenient truths about the internet, digital media, and technological “progress” that Western societies have largely failed to account for. They are as follows: the technology and mediums are addictive, alienating, manipulative, exploitative, and violate privacy. Also, the glut of information that the internet and online media stores no longer seems to be able to advance any coherent cultural education or socio-economic framework for change that corresponds to what is necessary to avoid the devastating effects of climate change and various forms of collapse that are on the horizon.

One of the obvious and pernicious aspects of social media is its addictive and manipulative nature. As we have known for awhile now, social media amplifies negatives news and posts that anger and/or irritate us through algorithms designed to capture and hold our attention. As Silicon Valley guru Jaron Lanier explains in a British TV interview, our social media feeds are designed using behavioral modification techniques to serve an attention economy; where data is sold off to third parties to hook the user on products and/or digital services. This represents a new era for humankind, based on full-scale data accumulation and manipulation of our digital selves, one that Shoshana Zuboff details in her work The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. As Lanier and Zuboff aptly point out, the addictive and manipulative elements inherent to social media leads to degradation of the self and society.

The nature of time spent on computers and smartphones necessarily involves the lack of use of one’s material body. By atrophying our senses, we no longer question what it “feels like” to be online, allowing the alienating “manipulation engine”, as Lanier puts it, that is social media and web advertising to distort one’s neurobiology: the corporeal biochemical and physiological makeup of each person, and part of what makes an individual unique. Then comes addiction: as Lanier points out in the same interview, the addict is hooked to both the positive and negative aspects of the addiction: in this case the social media addict experiences positive emotions from validation, exposure and pseudo-solidarity and in the best cases deep connections, but also a perverse enjoyment from diving into the swamp of “rancor and abuse” that posting inevitably stirs up. Furthermore, fighting (in this case posting) for a cause becomes an end-in-itself and rationalized as worthy of the time spent: one cannot just give up, as the “sunk costs” of obtaining an outlet, platforms and followers self-justifies the “need” to always be broadcasting one’s unique or even brilliant ideas as well as inane and banal trivia and gossip.

One main and obvious critique regarding digitally-based sociopolitical manipulation is that people increasingly confuse, if only on subconscious levels, digitally-based “virtual” and “cyber” interaction, friendship, and activism with in-person connections and organizing. Certainly, a great many people fall into this category, as the substitution of virtual life for face-to-face offers a palliative to the endemic depression, anxiety, and host of psychosocial issues caused by the reactionary nature of capitalism and the hollowing out of communal life and civil society. Social media has become the new center of spectacle for post-modern society. As Guy Debord wrote in 1967, “the spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”

Capitalism has managed to thrive in our screen-driven world, even with the forces of production being shifted to the developing world, by profiteering off humanities’ sharing/cooperative communal ties: through harvesting personal data, then using targeted advertising to get users to buy and thus hook them on the platform and its products, and also selling one’s digital profile to third parties. Not only that, but mainstream capitalist ideology has managed to insinuate itself into every corner of the internet, and drive public narratives of events, through a process of regimenting the public on every issue, instantaneously, all the time.

Still, not many are going to readily admit that they believe most mainstream news sources verbatim, or even that advertising is particularly useful or accurate online. In terms of activism, most people still understand that signing online petitions has very little impact compared to in the street protest movements. Many people can see through the “bad faith” inherent to social media. Even taking into account the addictive nature of the medium and the resulting physiological manipulation that social media use causes, on both the conscious and subconscious levels, this still does not explain the immense forces behind internet and social media addiction and its hegemonic position within the cultural landscape.

What is taking place is quite broader in scope than a “substitution” of communal face-to-face activism and social connection with virtual, internet-based networks. While quite a lot of people fall into the first category above, as somehow ignorant and oblivious to the alienating and exclusionary nature of social media, there is another large group that needs analysis: the ruling class “winners” of social media, those with large platforms and significant followings, as well as those among the “extremely online” who engage in non-stop socio-economic and political commentary.

The Disintegration of the Digital Commons

On the floors of Tokyo
down in London town’s a go go,
with the record selection,
And the mirror’s reflection,
I’m dancin’ with myself

— Billy Idol, “Dancing with Myself”

This second group — one that explicitly acknowledges the inequalities and injustices baked into digital media — may indeed have more education and wealth, and some of whom even readily understand what has been lost; yet still view the new world of social media and digital engagement as the only game in town, and therefore the only way to gain new adherents/followers, or in the case of the extremely online left and right, political power.

Sadly, many on the left appear to be resigned to LARPing: playing an online game where they do not make the rules, do not have any leverage, power, or any money for that matter, and cannot possibly win. There is not any significant need for liberal/left journalists providing day-to-day “hot take” commentary, using platforms and influencer methods to gain followers and viewership, if the goal in mind is revolutionary change and/or attaining political power. If the goal in mind is likes, shares, streams of revenue, and even new forms of social capital, then the actions of these users makes more sense. What is needed is organizing skills and the ability to bridge gaps between classes and cultures in order to activate a working class base, and that is sorely lacking.

The terminally online in this second category can perceive that notions like the community, a social contract, and democratic consensus based on a shared culture of trust and reciprocity have been demolished in the Western world. They mostly fall into liberal-left/progressive camps but there are certainly conservative and even isolationist/anti-war libertarian variants. The common thread is that even with the implicit acknowledgment that “local community” and even face-to-face interaction is waning (especially in light of the technocratic and authoritarian reaction to the pandemic) the urge remains to put internet technology to work for the good of their own brands and content promotion.

So a new digital hierarchy of opinion and commentary is becoming entrenched, and has been for over a decade now, controlled by the ruling class and its mainstream media mouthpieces with the ability to censor and shadow-ban dissenting voices. The significant followings of online political commentators have created its own monopoly on user engagement and viewership — whether through a Google search, Youtube stream, or social media account, the masses are herded to the opinions of the same tiny group of influencers by the invisible algorithm. It was always easy to discredit a cable news commentator as biased and untrustworthy, but now the personalized feeds of social media give a new sheen of legitimacy and respectability — even if digital commentators with large viewerships are simply parroting mainstream lies and distortions (which they mostly do).

A related issue that has come to the fore is that the virtual nature of online “work” and digital influencing models simply mimic the wider mainstream capitalist model of capturing attention; through clicks, “likes”, advertising, and hawking merchandise. This certainly doesn’t take away from the valuable educational and activist networks that are coerced into adopting these models, but simply to point out that the most facile, vapid, compromised, lowest-common-denominator political analysis and trends will float to the surface, and become the most popular, in this environment. It’s no surprise, then, that the serious alternative media on the left has been taking a beating from Google’s adjustment of search algorithms, social media censorship, “shadow-banning” and “throttling” on platforms, as well as being ignored as usual by the mainstream.

Of course, just taking a wider lens of how most of the non plugged-in world and the poor (in the West and worldwide) views the often bitter, internecine factionalism and sometimes irrelevant controversies within social media would be helpful. When the usual posturing, identity politic culture wars, and cos-playing in online turf squabbles are put ahead of the material needs of the people, open-minded individuals who could be potential allies and comrades check out of the milieu and view socialism as an arcane subculture. Within the maelstrom of fighting for more reach, subscribers, and content promotion, nothing becomes more relatable in a narcissistic culture than endlessly talking about oneself.

This debased charade of public discourse has been allowed to fester, with basically no resistance, precisely because it suits late-stage capitalism — not only is the profit motive of targeted advertisement too lucrative, but the mechanisms of social control and surveillance too tantalizing, as it enters an era of semi-controlled collapse and corporate consolidation of the entire planet. There are alternate “post-truth” realities (Q-Anon, Russiagate), bubbles of echo-chamber subcultures preaching to the choir, the labeling of any ideas contrary to mainstream media as conspiracy theory (a term invented by the CIA to discredit anyone questioning the official story of the JFK assassination), ego-trippers taking pot-shots and “dunking” on those less knowledgeable, and sections of an overzealous cancel culture which all contribute to dividing, disempowering, and disincentivizing a populace from understanding how the dominant mode of production on the planet, capitalism, is holding the world hostage for the sake of short-term monetary profit.

The privileges of the extremely online (coming from mainly middle class backgrounds) create insular echo-chambers which keeps them sheltered from the realities of daily labor; it also alienates working class people who might otherwise be attracted to anti-capitalist thinking. The lack of blue-collar life experience and organizing skills from the self-proclaimed “leaders” in online discourse face problems relating to the cultural and aesthetic styles of the working classes, in terms of social capital, personal affect, to how theories and obscure references are flaunted, as well as artistic taste.

Connected with this notion are a perceived lack of authenticity and dedication; in this context, it is understandable how it is hard to take successful bloggers, podcasters, journalists, and even academics seriously because many do come from more privileged backgrounds, with all of the blind spots of class that this usually entails. This would not be as much of problem if the nexus of the extremely online was not nearly always targeting content towards their own white-collar milieu and focusing on fringe aesthetic pretensions and/or nice forms of cultural capital: instead, if the animus was focused against the ruling classes consistently, the snarky and cringe-worthy cultural signaling, non-stop commentary careerism, and thin gruel of cosmopolitan affects could be dropped.

Since much of the terminally/extremely online is middle class, they invariably come off as out-of-touch at best; dilettante, effete, or “soft” to put it politely: some re-create bubbles of professional class affluence and gate-keeping hierarchy online; others mimic the non-profit bureaucracy and the pseudo-organizing principles of white-collar NGOs; and more ape serious civic groups, community organizations, subversive ideology, serious strategies of resistance and protest, all the while staying within the confines of their self-imposed defanged and declawed liberal “progressivism”.

The Memeification of Society

The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. Not only is the relation to the commodity visible but it is all one sees: the world one sees is its world.

— Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

It would be remiss if we did not mention one of the dominant forms of expression on social media: the meme. The function of the meme: a pictogram, is telling insofar as it reminds us that people not only do not want to read anymore, but also often don’t have time to invest in watching a short video, essay or novel, or even examine worthy works of art, either. Memes have become a form of postmodern hieroglyphs for screen-addicted Westerners. The meme acts as a floating signifier par excellence; when there is very little common ground or shared reality inherent in the online world, users (netizens is one cute name scholars like to use) pass along memes and interpret them to fit into prefabricated narratives and beliefs.

Not only that, certain extremely online media “poison the well” of nuanced online discourse by using the same generic tropes and stereotypical styles borrowed from memes and mass culture, and endlessly regurgitating one-dimensional thinking. Posters then inevitably adopt the same styles of humor from memes, and appear in the form of pre-packaged personalities: there’s the preening virtue signaler; the petit bourgeois influencers hawking a channel, brand, or merchandise; the bipartisan shrieking about the perils of socialism; the self-deprecating very earnest posters with endless commentary; the low-key spiritualist humble-bragger; the perpetual oversharer; the haranguing trolls and snarky “edgelords” who get off on other’s misery; the cantankerous self-appointed ideology police who admonish everyone who deviates from their purity politics; and many other prefabricated templates of virtual personality types to follow and waste one’s time “engaging” with.

“Posting wars” have taken the mantle from the culture wars that began heating up in the early 2000s: everyone can engage in their own lame version of liberal, conservative, or radical punditry; everyone can be their own asinine Jon Stewart, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Bob Avakian — whatever skin one wants to try on for the day; parroting the same tired tropes, shuffling through the never-ending news cycle, applying embarrassingly childish levels of critique, and usually stoking nationalistic fervor on all sides. Through algorithms that amplify the most simplistic, most milquetoast, most authoritarian, and frankly the most enraging and ignorant voices, social media performs a key element of social engineering and low-level psychological warfare: it keeps the population in perpetual angst, disorientation, and even fear; just off-kilter enough to be swayed by authoritarian demagogues, and just desperate and delusional enough to be assuaged by the liberal “resistance” that “democracy” will be restored soon.

This is just more Hollywood: we can find the same types of styles of media personalities, the same shows and movies promoting US foreign policy, the same jokes and narratives online as in mass consumer culture. Even if the “content” is likeable, or wholesome, or whatever, we often find the same tedious set-ups, the same formulaic variations to get to the punchline, the exact same references online that one might see in a lame superhero movie.

Again, there certainly is worthwhile work and even political education being done within online culture, but some of the problems with posting are the inexorable rise of the hyperreal blurring of truth and illusion, the layers of shellacking with ironic distance to make things “funny” or acceptable to an audience. Much like the sadistic overseer at one’s job who confuses “being the boss” with having a personality, the new cadres of the extremely online misunderstand that simply having an online presence, significant following in terms of numbers, or a media platform does not confer experience, brilliance, uniqueness, the ability to lead or be a role model about, well, anything. Much like politicians and modern celebrities (who are increasingly becoming the same thing), the extremely online are simply popular for being popular.

Through the Cyborg Looking Glass

It’s not an experience if they can’t bring someone along
They hang on emotions they bottle inside
They peck at the ground
And strut out of stride

— Phish, “Birds of a Feather”

Another issue that establishment commentators cannot seem to wrap their heads around is the liberal-dominated kitsch and camp social media behavior, attitudes, and posts that appeal to specific subcultures and make things go “viral” within small communities, but face the same echo-chamber issue when confronted with going beyond the “target audience”. By pandering towards in-groups, many internet-savvy influencers (even socialist and radical-minded ones) unconsciously adopt the same tactics as PR and marketing firms relying on focus groups to target audiences. Developing a following now consists of who can shout the loudest, report the fastest, and spurt out the most ridiculous and sensationalist click-bait. In other words, socio-economic control no longer simply functions with capitalist monopolization of the means of production — as many astute observers have pointed out, non-waged labor, leisure time, biopower, and cultural reproduction now are absorbed into the nascent “new world order” of global capitalism; which is in turn reshaping human consciousness in totally unforeseen ways.

Apparently variations of the above happens among leftists quite often on social media: the retweet/sharing of another’s post followed/captioned by a snappy or poignant comment to provide context, an added emphasis,  an angry denunciation and disavowal of the concept, or a gentle nudge to offer clarity. Certainly this is necessary in some cases, but the idea of becoming each other’s constant 24/7 news aggregators, soundboards, and amplifiers…in order to accomplish what exactly? Is there an unconscious desire to carry on with this quasi-forced show, which is obviously coercive due to social pressures, in order to meet the perceived need to regularly signal one’s beliefs and develop monetization models?

Another way of framing the question is to what extent are the flurry of posts about daily “news” and critiques of current events required, and to what extent do individuals yearn for and crave the never-ending spectacle of discourse to feed egos, get a dopamine rush, and/or gain popularity? To what extent is the drive to secure social capital an excuse to develop a liberal-left version of having “credentials”, and to what extent are those involved softening the edges of critiques, compromising values, and slowly becoming assimilated into a virtual world where technological power is worshipped and fetishized? Is there an engaged and dedicated minority of revolutionaries ready, willing, and able to storm the barricades physically, or do our online connections consist of a simulacra of ally-ship, and represent the dying embers of a burnt-out husk of a public sphere masquerading as serious discourse?

Putting aside the ignorance and vitriol all over the web for a minute, and there’s plenty of that, what comes to the fore is the quite boring and tedious background to online discourse. Not only is it incredibly lonely, nearly everyone is in some important sense going through the motions, performing in service of whatever fad or niche subculture, instantly sucked into commentary on any media narrative and scratching the itch; in this environment, political commentary in the West resembles sports news, or movie reviews, or fashion advertising; a running conversation on trendy, stupefying, salacious current events where no serious response to the power structure or the money system is offered. Not only are we faced with online/digital ennui, but internet commentary has become downright predictable- running the gamut from “influencers” who are demagogic authoritarians, to establishment types pandering to centrist neoliberal notions of “bipartisanship”, to libertarian pseudo-spiritual grifters, to tech moguls and celebrities incessantly reminding us “we’re all in this together”.  Pretty soon we will have algorithms and AI writing TV and movie dialogue as well as political news, if it’s not already happening, in order to gauge and profiteer off of what machine learning tells us is “fun” and “likeable” to the public.

The common thread is that high technology will somehow save us and make the world a more interesting and enjoyable place, which is a technophilic worldview: only the vast arrays of screens, robots, AI, internet of things, smart-grids, ever-watching and listening surveillance, and multinational corporations can solve the problems they themselves have created. No one stops to think — and this is another part of the equation, the lack of free time in the always-online world — maybe, just maybe, modern technology is diverting us from coming together, forming community-level mutual aid groups, organizing the working class, protecting the environment, and many other deadly serious issues.

As for the reasons why we keep diving head-first into the toxic stew of social media, here’s a quote from one Jay Hathaway at the Daily Dot to ponder over:

Why do we continue to lap at this useless, mean trickle of garbage juice? Even worse, why do we seek out more of it? Is it because we hate ourselves? Quite possibly, yes. Is it because we’re lonely, and we’re hooked on this simulacrum of human connection even as it makes us less relatable to the real people around us? There’s definitely some of that… At some point, you have to admit that you’re Extremely Online because you want to be. Or because you once wanted to be, and now it’s part of your identity. Who would you be if you weren’t Extremely Online?

We’re all liable to badger on about whatever pet issue we stand up for, and sometimes rightfully so; but the majority don’t really want to take action or even think through the implications of what would be needed to change our cultural momentum or our personal inertias. This is because, through the money system and the vagaries of an extreme social hierarchy, mainstream liberals and conservatives have become so beaten down that they adopt fatalistic and nihilistic mentality. Part of the reason they despise each other so much is that they recognize so much of themselves in each other. On varying levels of cognition they despise themselves. Being told their entire lives that more money and technology will bring more happiness and progress, and yet not being able to partake in any tangible culturally enriching activities or soul-expanding journeys, many become schizoid.

Social media and the denizens of the extremely online compound this problem. The loudest, meanest, crudest of the bunch are amplified in our social media feeds by algorithms designed to capture our attention, most obviously for ad revenue. Of course this is how the game got started in Silicon Valley, so we are ostensibly told that this whole racket is all about the money, no other nefarious “agendas”. Unfortunately the extremely online liberal and soft-left has swallowed this hook, line, and sinker that the only motive driving these companies is profit.

Yet, Facebook and Google are known to have taken start-up money from In-Q-Tel, a CIA created venture capital firm, and intelligence agencies are known to use backdoors through every browser, operating system, social media app, etc. Further, just thinking through what an “attention economy” and Shoshana Zuboff’s notion of “surveillance capitalism” really entails brings up rather unpleasant truths. One of which is that the national security state is monitoring the web at large not to play “defense” but to actively plant and stir up counterrevolutionary ideology not only in the mainstream but in the furthest recesses of online discourse. In short, there are now intelligence operators whose job is to act as an online COINTELPRO.

Beyond that, the full-scale push for more time spent in online communities as well as the wide availability of broadband internet connected to nascent “digital identity” technologies in the developing world will only allow for the wider use of cyber-based, psychological warfare, propaganda, and counterinsurgency techniques. Even pushing further, establishment narratives and media stories can be amplified through algorithms that favor “trusted sources”. The fact is that the public is not aware of the full capabilities of the national security state, and that social media can operate to create the same sorts of conditions that the CIA program “Operation Mockingbird” used to bribe journalists and editors into printing mainstream-favored news over dissident opinions.

We’ve already seen Facebook manipulate individuals media feeds as a social experiment to see if it would provoke more positive and negative emotions, and it worked as they readily admit. If, in previous generations mass propaganda worked through the model of “manufacturing consent”, today we are faced with perhaps an even more intractable situation: the normalization of consent and the amnestic erasure of the social, erosion of community, and destruction of a slower type of deliberative discourse, and of history. The regiments of mainstream liberalism and co-opted progressives are stirred into action to promote the interests of the status quo. Take two glaring recent examples from the US and the UK: Bernie Sanders’ supposed misogyny and Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called anti-Semitism.

Driven by an absurd, relentless media narrative, both messages were amplified and both candidates tarred and feathered in public because of an inane social media discourse. 2016 may have been the year that Twitter became relevant for national politics because of Trump; four years later, things have gotten even more absurd. To cite just one example in the 2020 election race, Elizabeth Warren became incensed about Bernie Sanders’ supporters being mean to her online- this become somehow debate-worthy and relevant enough to provoke national discussion. So not only has mass media become fixated on reactions to bad jokes or distasteful references on Twitter, but it now parrots the same maudlin sentimentality and priggishness as the denizens of the extremely online world.

Similarly, across the pond Corbyn was smeared over little more than insinuations and hyperbole; again amplified by ridiculous anti-socialist social media influencers, liberal and conservative alike. Then there was the mother of all the liberal delusions and overreactions the past four years: Russiagate. While the mainstream media played the dominant role, social media trolls, bots, and liberal officialdom continued to hammer away at collusion, becoming the mirror image of the nascent conservative post-truth fake news era. Narratives are now almost entirely driven by the profit-motive, money values and celebrity click-bait begin to exclusively dominate discourse, gossip becomes the main focus in a doomed capitalist economy where its leaders can no longer alter its course.

The fact is that this intentional manipulation of human nature serves the ultra-rich classes through more than their bank accounts. It’s not just about advertising money and profit, and not just about surveillance, or a new form of attention economy. It’s all of that and much more, much darker and dystopian. Social media, the web, and streaming services are the new fuels that run the alienation and atomization engine of our culture. They have become the dominant form of online expression, and through ads, codes, and algorithms have found their way into our collective unconscious. Not only do these pervasive media elements divide those with obvious ideological differences; the intricacies of the algorithms stir up unconscious impulses and polarize those with largely overlapping interests.

Of course we all know this phenomenon well (the narcissism of small differences) and it predates the internet age, but what is novel here is not its reappearance on a bigger “stage” but its targeted, precise, insidious deployment into our social newsfeeds. Individuals are made to feel the need to keep up with internet flame wars, memes, and obscure references or else the feeling of being “left out” and/or uninformed begins to creep up out the recesses of one’s consciousness. Social isolation and stigmatization for not being able to “keep up with the facts” (Fear of Missing Out-FOMO) and events in our modern world is a very real thing, just as ruthless on social media as the various hierarchies in the corporate world, civic life, and academia, just to name a few instances.

Further, the lack of being able to have one’s opinion heard or validated online in the maelstrom of discontent it has sown often gives young people, especially those with low self-esteem, the idea that their thoughts and opinions don’t matter and are somehow unworthy of attention. This is compounded for those that, due to propaganda uncritically filtered from others or simply naiveté, believe that the best art, theory, and culture rise virtuously to the top in the great “democratic” marketplace of ideas that the internet and social media has come to represent.

Unfortunately the trend of the extremely online is to uphold the hegemony of the insulated, college-educated, the mostly liberal but also conservative petit bourgeoisie. Working class leftists and anti-capitalists, and even the very minor celebrities in the international left, will continue to be marginalized, censored, and their work ignored because they do not bear the stamps of officialdom: the Twitter blue check-mark or “verified” Google news.

All of these trends and addictive technologies converge into a dystopic framework: one that will attempt to enslave humanity in some form of digital prison; one where real-time sensors, AI driven and smart-grid internet hyperconnectivity will be able to drive human behavior on an unprecedented scale. Our “docile bodies” are being reprogrammed and conditioned to accept this, one ad, TV show, one scroll through the feed, one dopamine hit at a time. In order to accomplish this nightmare, the ruling elites need to “data-fy” us by hooking us up — by merging man and machine. Hence, this is why wearable technologies have been marketed so hard: it is not enough for a smartphone or external biosensors to do the job of extracting surplus value from our bodies. The falling rate of profit will eventually force the “data is the new oil” tech oligarchs to police our thoughts, modulate our pleasures and pains, and keep up the façade of a world of obedient workers, even if it means resorting to dystopian totalitarian tactics such as implants, virtual reality gaming systems, cheap or even free housing for those who live where they work, and a host of unforeseen emerging concepts as global civilization continues down the glide path towards oblivion.

Techno-Feudal Oligarchy

Bill Gates’ and Paul Allen’s BASIC-MS operating system, which they sold to IBM and ended up dominating the global market for many years, was written in BASIC computer language. This language was developed by professors at Dartmouth in 1964 with funding from the National Science Foundation…The PARC research facility, from which Steve Jobs obtained the basics of the graphic user interface that became the Mac and later all computer interfaces, had several former ARPA researchers working on these display concepts…Facebook’s deferential corporate biographer David Kirkpatrick admits, ‘Something like Facebook was envisioned by engineers who laid the groundwork for the internet. In a 1968 essay by J.C.R. Licklider and Robert W. Taylor, ‘The Computer as Communication Device,’ the two essentially envisioned Facebook’s basic social network. They worked for ARPA… Google itself, considered the most academically inspired of the megacaps, was originally google.stanford.edu, where it was developed through the state and federal tax funding of California and the United States…Page’s first research paper included the note, ‘funded by DARPA’.

— Rob Larson, Bit Tyrants

One thing to remember is that Western governments are never going to willingly reign in the monopoly transnational corporations that dominate the internet. The five biggest (Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon) form an internet oligopoly, as Nikos Smyrnaios explains. Through a process of the convergence of IT, web, media, intellectual property rights domination, deregulation of the digital sector, tax avoidance, and a never-ending slush fund from the biggest banks, as well as the “network effect” that herd consumers to a very few web conglomerates, the big five have managed to create basically a private internet cartel, based on inventions and achievements made with public funding, which have been effectively stolen and privatized using intellectual property and patent laws.

As Rob Larson explains in his book Bit Tyrants, the network effect occurs because the very few big social media networks offer increased connections and usefulness for people as more people flock to the platform. This makes the Big Five and a few other platforms virtual monopolies that can exert leverage; whether through algorithms, censorship, banning, and other opaque measures to destroy competition.

Naomi Klein pointed out in The Intercept in her piece “Screen New Deal” that the tech oligarchs are prepared to use the pandemic as an excuse to push their business model onto the world. As she writes:

It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration ‘in the community’ was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration.

Another glimpse into a high-tech dystopia revealed itself in Toronto, where citizens smartly made an uproar about turning part of the waterfront area known as Quayside into a “smart city” constructed by an innocuous sounding company, Sidewalk Labs. Of course, it turns out that Sidewalk is affiliated with Google, and concerned citizens and privacy advocates shot it down for obvious reasons, such as privacy and surveillance violations which would undoubtedly occur.

A similar idea has been introduced recently in Nevada, which goes by the innocuous name of the “Innovation Zone”. The Governor has been preparing to allow private corporations to buy land, develop cities, and form private governments, courts, police, and essential services to residents, who would live under private law which would have the same weight as county laws in the state. A company called Blockchains LLC, part of a holding company with very little transparency, has bought a ton of land outside of Reno and is all in on forming a new “smart city” there. This sort of techno-libertarian dystopia is ostensibly being introduced to raise tax revenue and boost economic growth. Yet for a governor to hand over sovereignty to an unaccountable corporation, it begs a number of questions, no? Especially since the company has donated to the Nevada governor, one would think the obvious conflict of interest would be enough to kill the project. Something much larger than the petty corruption of a US governor and the greed and opportunism of a technology company are at play here. As we shall see below, these private-public partnerships and deceitful collaborations are signs from a possible future of total social control and surveillance.

Online Labor and Value

If a free market economy plus intellectual property leads to the “underutilization of information”, then an economy based on the full utilization of information cannot tolerate the free market or absolute intellectual property rights. The business models of all our modern digital giants are designed to prevent [access to] the abundance of information.

– Cryppix, “The End of Capitalism Has Begun”, Blog Post from Medium.com, 2019

People understand that essential jobs are the only ones who really matter in our economy: food production, construction and housing, keeping store shelves stocked and life-sustaining services running, nurses and surgeons, those kinds of jobs. The rest of the economy falls into the category of what the late David Graeber rightly called “bullshit jobs”. These are jobs that exist solely for the sake of making corporations more profit, and provide no tangible material benefits in terms of food, housing, clothing, making domestic and communal life easier, and even art and culture for humanity.

White collar jobs (the extremely online included, at least those who benefit considerable or have a career closely related) in the US mainly exist to sell tangential perks and benefits for rich elites and the affluent; whether it’s fancy gadgetry and high technology, or either to reduce their own labor within their households, or to manufacture false consumer needs in the wider populace, or to exploit labor forces domestically and abroad. The modern West increasingly does not physically make or manufacture anything of value. The tech-heavy jobs of the future, as well as the new high technology and extremely online jobs of today, whether it is mainstream jobs in media, journalism, graphic designers, computer coders and software developers, engineering and science in service to the military industrial complex, Ad and PR firms, political consultants, armies of middle managers and think tanks wonks all reinforce and re-circulate narrow-minded and ignorant neoliberal economics and conservative cant about how the US is a shining beacon of freedom and democracy, and not a capitalist-imperialist authoritarian oligarchy bent on world domination and driving the world towards ecological annihilation. This is connected to too much time spent on digital devices. Upper-middle class white collars are “making bank” and have gotten intellectually lazy and morally corrupted by their ill-gotten wealth and they have effectively substituted online life for local community. They decry gentrification and white privilege even as they are the ones pushing minority and working class communities out of desirable inner city areas.

One of the reasons this happens, whether its liberals or libertarian Silicon Valley acolytes on the coasts or conservative tech-savvy suburbanites in the Midwest and breadbasket of the US, is because the upper-middle class thinks of itself as a meritocracy. What they’ve created of course, is a bougie neo-Victorian aristocracy of wealth, social status, and cultural capital, a “New American Aristocracy” as one Matthew Stewart explained in The Atlantic. What is interesting about Stewart’s piece is that he is at least cognizant of his own position in what he calls the “upper 9.9%”, and how the people and families in this class all slavishly service, idolize, strive towards, and navel-gaze at the top 0.1%. Reading his essay one can feel his consternation, as he acknowledges his complicity:

But that is not to let the 9.9 percent off the hook. We may not be the ones funding the race-baiting, but we are the ones hoarding the opportunities of daily life. We are the staff that runs the machine that funnels resources from the 90 percent to the 0.1 percent. We’ve been happy to take our cut of the spoils. We’ve looked on with smug disdain as our labors have brought forth a population prone to resentment and ripe for manipulation. We should be prepared to embrace the consequences.

Of course, as Stewart states, “running the machine” is a euphemism for improving the bottom line, and the only way that’s done today is to make blue-collar people work harder for less money, to deregulate industry, to smash labor rights, and to transfer production offshore to countries using essentially slave labor and indentured servitude. We do not live in a Taylorist-Fordist manufacturing economy anymore and even the ruling elites acknowledge that producing more for the sake of more is insane, as most affluent and upper-middle class people just binge on a steady diet of useless mass-culture goods, cycles through endless perks that the service economy provides, and consumes digitally-based mainstream lowbrow entertainment. Anyone who tells you different is mostly likely either a snake-oil salesperson or a sycophantic brown-noser for the ruling class.

The white collar professional milieu now functions mainly to create make-work jobs to sop up the millions of university educated indoctrinated into the capitalist world order, who otherwise would find  their fields outsourced just as the working class jobs have been for the past forty-odd years. Elite overproduction does present a problem, insofar as late-stage neoliberalism no longer affords the opportunities for obedient, conforming middle-class workers who feel entitled to a slice of the American pie that in the postwar period was more equitable divided — at least towards white, educated citizens. These educated, professional class individuals ostensibly would prefer a modicum of social democracy, but today instead are bribed with aforementioned bullshit jobs in the corporate world, who are eventually psychically broken down and assimilated into “normal” capitalist relations, become inured to human suffering, and begin to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy of capitalist realism.

The Normalization of Technocratic Language

The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit — and take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with bullshit of the second order. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.

– Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West, Callingbullshit.org

Paeans to productivity and a smarter, more efficient economy while doing nothing to alleviate poverty, homelessness, environmental problems, etc. also reinforces the striving, overachieving, smarmy, centrist white-collar dweebs in the professional classes and political wonks of the world whose smugness and arrogance only increases as they delude themselves into believing they are the winners in a fair meritocracy.

The milieu of the extremely online crowd are the ones occupying these “bullshit jobs” and whose role it is to filter and mediate who, what, when, where, why, and how issues are framed and discussed in the media. This explains some of the sneering dismissal and resentment from the right about the “coastal liberal elites”: the conservatives understand that media liberals have no real expertise and are not serious thinkers, and they doubly resent them because they see in liberals the same moral relativism and nihilism they see in themselves. This can be made clear when one considers who the modern far-right respects and fears among world leaders more: effete neoliberal elitists who peddle bullshit, such as Obama, Clinton, Macron, and Trudeau; or staunch socialists of the recent past and present like Morales (and now Arce), Lula, Chavez, Castro, etc.

As for what increases in productivity in material terms even means anymore at work for white-collar jobs in 2020, it’s laughable on its face, as our economy has become so divorced from reality. I’m not even referring to small businesses offering tangible, physical products here, but rather professional class jobs which exist solely to make money for giant corporations, aka more bullshit jobs, without any actual corporeal objects to sell.

What we do know is that, besides tech and computer workers, the only people who talk about increasing productivity and GDP in glowing terms are sadist executives and managers in soulless corporate America, delusional mainstream economists, Wall Street sociopaths, real estate speculators displacing the poor and gentrifying inner cities, CEOs who rely on slave labor overseas, people who work for pyramid schemes, tech moguls destroying middle class jobs and transmuting them into a precarious gig economy, hedge fund managers who instigate hostile takeovers of companies and lay off loyal employees, military contractors who build more drones and bombs, etc.

Simply put, only the most craven and bougified people used to talk like this about economic issues, but with the emergence of online culture and the double expansion of the financial and computer-centric sectors of the economy, this sort of Orwellian PR-speak has expanded to the “attention economy” and is becoming normalized, internalized, and disseminated by tech entrepreneurs, the culture industry and Hollywood/web influencers, “lean-in” liberals, and social media-addicted journalists, who then feign responsibility for the type of hyper-fast, work all the time environments and disposable culture and entertainment that they help to cultivate and profit off of.

Essentially, the denizens of the extremely online normalize liberal, bourgeois ideology by couching their ideas in the “woke”, “hip”, rhetoric of identity politics and neoliberal economics, which they interpret as somehow being “progressive”. They normalize an ever-shrinking political discourse which excludes radical thinkers and promotes an updated, social media-savvy version of Orwellian corporate-speak, which Pierre Bourdieu dubbed as “NewLiberalSpeak” in 2001.

Screen-Captured Subjectivity: Digital Interpellation and Algorithmic Control

Hence the exclamation ‘another world is possible’ today seems to be confronted with the riddle, ‘would another digitality be possible?’

– Jan de Vos, “Fake subjectivities: Interpassivity from (neuro)psychologization to digitalization”, Continental Thought and Theory, Vol 2. Issue 1

Regardless of the many brilliant complex analysis of social ills, either on social platforms or digital media more broadly, it appears that the web and social media provides a very strong new avenue for what we might term digital interpellation. Users of the web and social media are constantly hailed, as in Althusser’s famous example, and continually modulated and nudged by algorithms to conform to bourgeois ideology, and endlessly diverted by the mass culture industry. Again, this constant feedback loop of being online only gives the ruling classes more power — simply logging into social media and posting does this. Academics have even attempted to calculate the monetary values of posts, retweets, and photos shared online: we are literally making money for tech corporations when we post on social media. The only real option is to stop feeding the beast and boycott these monopolies altogether; finding ways to bring people off these platforms onto non-monetized, secure, non-surveilled services, or at the very least use them sparingly — to instigate revolutions, for example.

Whereas in Althusser’s example it was the policeman doing the “hailing” in the physical environment, today we have moved to the digital plane: and it’s the thought-police and propagandists peddling mainstream narratives that define the new enemy. Jan de Vos describes this evolution from the Althusserian “discourse of the master”, to the modernist “discourse of the university”, and now we are faced with what I’d call a “discourse of the algorithm.” Power is being displaced onto the micrological level, where absent causes have real life devastating effects. In the internet panopticon, which stretches beyond the confines of spatio-temporal planes into the digital ether, not only do we self-censor what we post and share but also annihilate the processes by which we are able to think critically.

Not only do we take for granted what we know, but how we know what we know ceases to be a domain of contestation: the economic and power relations of how knowledge is constructed and wielded by the ruling class isn’t questioned, and the ways in which invisible actors and algorithms decide what is “popular” and newsworthy are assumed to be neutral and balanced. Whereas Althusser’s concept stemmed from interpellation as the discourse of the master, clearly now this archetypal ruling class figure has dissolved and seeped into the social body with no central character — we now enter the age of the discourse of the serpent, where algorithms and thus viewpoints on subjects as disparate as “science” or “international relations” which guide “professional” mainstream journalism and polite, acceptable thought which conforms with the demands of capitalism.

Why are these new forms of control so important and relevant in today’s times? Simply put, the national security state and corporations care very much about what we think, and how we feel. As late capitalism lurches towards semi-controlled collapse and contraction due to its internal contradictions, the old model of the corporate state’s indifference to the masses, the “f*** your feelings” approach, is no longer realistic for the goals of social control, especially after the mass outcries against the travesties of Vietnam and the second Gulf War in Iraq. Modern institutions care very much about our feelings nowadays, and are heavily invested in our collective emotional reactions; not only for monetary reasons, but to gauge policy decisions, for psychosocial mass monitoring of dissent, for biopolitical control of birth and death rates, and to market the imperial national security state to the public, among just a few examples. For instance, we know the CIA and intelligence community has been seeding itself into Silicon Valley and Hollywood for decades now, with shadowy agents literally rewriting movie scripts and tech executives making regular trips to Langley and DC to discuss integration and public-private partnerships.

The new tools of social control involve not only the hard aspects of indoctrination into nationalism and imperialism, but also the “soft” underbelly of manipulating our emotional states, and programming our tastes to like or at least accept aspects of our society that are crass, barbaric, camp, kitsch, trendy and faddish. The culture industry has evolved over the past fifty years to anticipate and channel public discontent into consumption patterns and “acceptable” resistance. The next stage invariably involves the immaterial realm of molding minds: of pacifying the unrest of the gig economy precariat, service economy workers, and unpaid household domestic laborers; of offering endless streaming services and apps to modulate and condition the populace to accept whatever technological mediated and biosecurity-centered “new normal” is coming, and of substituting “cyberspace” for local, grounded, in-person relations.

“Cruel Optimism” and “Ugly Feelings”: Affect Theory and Interpassivity in Relation to Digital Media

As a judgement, however, the gimmick contains an extra layer of intersubjectivity: it is what we say when we, unlike others implicitly evoked or imagined in the same moment, are not buying into what a capitalist device is promising. Robert Pfaller refers to this structure of displacement as a ‘suspended illusion’: beliefs like the superstitious ritual of the sports fan that ‘always belong to others, that are never anyone’s own [beliefs].’

– Sianne Ngai, Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form

It would be a disservice to understanding the extremely/terminally online without applying the lens of two heavyweights of cultural criticism, Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai. Berlant became prominent after her book, Cruel Optimism, managed to thread the needle of accessibility and scholarly erudition: her notion of cruel optimism can be succinctly defined as follows: “when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your own flourishing”. There is hardly a better way to explain the effect of social media today on individual psyches and the body politic. As Berlant aptly points out, her idea is connected to the notion of the “American Dream”: a delusional belief system fraught with contradictions; and one increasingly predicated on insecurity and ever-looming economic precarity. In the context of the digital age, social media use is mostly just another escape and addiction for the growing precariat — we know too much web use is bad for us, a way to pass the time with pop-media pablum and ignore the reality that our lives are being wasted on performing pointless rote work — as internet users learn experientially as the addiction takes hold and spirals.

The figure of the internet/computer addict and the ambivalence the subject has towards the object; the computer or social media account- simultaneously attracted and repulsed by it- provides a good segue towards understanding the work of Sianne Ngai. As Ngai and Berlant point out, these contradictory reactions towards commodities and media at large in some sense determine what the late Raymond Williams called the “structure of feeling” in late capitalist society.

Ngai builds on this model through a brilliant examination of cultural affect and “aesthetic categories”. Spanning decades now, her work analyses categories of emotion endemic to late capitalism: the “cute” consumer creature-comforts and the dark side of how cuteness is used to manipulate; the “zany” which can represent, among other things, the precarious hyper-active work environment, emotional labor and super-productive demands of the service economy; and the “interesting”, which can stand in for withholding judgment: here the interesting is an invitation towards a discourse with another; how aesthetic judgment comes from shared understandings and mimesis. Ngai’s varied and textured analysis leaves room to show how political subjects today can enact many categories simultaneously — the “cute” always smiling, ever-happy disposition of the service worker and the emotional labor expended performs alongside the zany ever-increasing demands of a super-fast paced retail store.

There can be no doubt that alongside social media’s hacking of our neurobiology, the systematic playing off on citizen’s mental states and emotionality represents the new “dark arts” in politics. This is why Berlant and Ngai are so prescient, because they foresaw this decades ago, just as, for example, the novelist Octavia Butler was able to foresee the slogan “Make America Great Again” in 1998.

Ngai’s most fascinating concept is her notion of “stuplimity” — a combination of shock and boredom — of the sublime with the stupid. Really, there is hardly a more apt word to describe being online today, or on social media. The incessant chatter and news headlines may at the same time excite, titillate, awe, bore, and depress us- again, the blended attractive and repulsive nature of which, like capitalism itself, is ingrained into the structure of our everyday lives.

In her most recent work, Ngai analyses the nature of the “gimmick”, and strikingly reveals the economic undercurrents of how and why we critique commodities as such. Not only do gimmicks simultaneously entertain and annoy us, they show labor and value are at the core of how we judge and develop tastes for consumer goods as well as art (here is a good interview with Ngai to explain).

To tie back to modern technology — media outlets, social media, and many overproduced devices (computers, cars) as well as superfluous ones (smartphones, tablets, private jets) well, these are all modern gimmicks of an extractivist capitalist economy. They are not capable of being produced sustainably in the long-term. Not only are these objects not built to last, trendy and faddish in a cultural sense, they are built by supply chains and manufacturing techniques which require mass exploitation, coercion, and environmental degradation. The laptop one uses for create surplus value for one’s employer is still just a softer version of accepting a blood diamond — the “cost of doing business”. Laptops with which rare earth elements are mined by child labor and victims of human trafficking in Africa, manufactured into circuit boards under unsafe and extreme conditions in East Asia, and shipped and sold by precarious laborers in transport, big-box stores and online retailers worldwide. If society is in fact unaffected, indifferent, and ignorant of such things, it does in fact reveal that our aesthetic judgments — our interior worlds of emotions as well as discernment of what constitutes truth, beauty, and various affective states has been hijacked by a culture that is hell-bent on advancing technological progress at all costs — even if it means the collapse of our web of life and the enslavement of humankind.

As the epigraph for this section points out, Ngai reminds us that the gimmick has a fungible quality — one person’s gimmick is another’s useful, or even adored good — and vice versa. The gimmick can also slip between pretentious and useless to utilitarian and labor-saving: Ngai likes to point out how the Google Glass morphed from a fad that was (appropriately) derided by consumers into a workplace device for hands-free smart-device used in industrial work.

Ngai’s work on the gimmick can be compared to Robert Pfaller’s (with an assist from the inimitable Slavoj Zizek) notion of interpassivity: the delegation of enjoyment. With social media we delegate positive experiences to the “anonymous other” — when we post, we trick ourselves into believing another is viewing and enjoying our content — even if, in fact, there is no one observing. This faces us with prospects of staging “illusions without a subject”; no one may be watching but we take pleasure in the illusion someone is doing so, in Pfaller’s examples of the TV fanatic who records shows without watching them, or of the academic who photocopies books at a library where no one else is watching. Whereas the gimmick relies on the subject who believes someone is being “duped” into buying a trivial kitsch consumer item with no “value” to most people, while they can see through the gimmick; the interpassive subject may be staging an illusion, but either no one is there to question the motive, or there is a perceived “naïve observer” in the mind of the stager.

Yet with the delegation of enjoyment, and more broadly, life experiences, are transposed in our age from material consumer goods to the immaterial realm of the internet, what passes as a gimmick becomes even trickier to define. Also, just as endless signifying chains can mutate, fold, or implode upon themselves, interpassive subjects can infinitely delegate, one to the other, feeding memes, art (which now has been degraded into “content”), videos, and journalistic forays through endless cycles. Thus the progression of an economy based on production to one based on reproduction and circulation that we find today in the West, solipsistic and self-generating, with varying degrees of simulation and hyperreality.

Technological Salvation: The Religion of the Ruling Class

Left ‘accelerationist’ ideas of a post-work society based on state-supported ‘4th industrial revolution’ development, with a UBI to pacify surplus populations, could well be enabler of, rather than alternative to, large scale capitalist AI development. Ecosocialists might also suggest that the idea that human emancipation is identical with the advance of a high-production, high-technological networked society is precisely what is thrown into question by global heating and other environmental-crises…

– Nick Dyer-Witheford, “Left Populism and Platform Capitalism”, tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, Vol. 18 No. 1

As we have seen above, the profit motive is not the only thing being served by social media. Driven by individualized “feeds”, web and screen-based news/commentary are being unleashed with additional benefits — one of which being that it is an updated model for social cohesion and mass obedience, based on elements of what Gilles Deleuze described as a “Society of Control.”

As the epigraph to this section suggests, many within progressive and even socialist spaces favor the expansion of modern technology into nearly every aspect of our lives, in order to supposedly make labor easier and alleviate undue suffering. These “left-accelerationist” and “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” (FALC) promoters have a lot of overlap with green capitalist and eco-modernist thought.

To use clumsy and obscure analogy, just as twenty years ago it was written that “Empire can be read as the Lexus and the Olive Tree of the Far Left”, today we can confidently say that FALC and its promotional grifters can be viewed as the Al Gores, Steward Brands or Alvin Tofflers of the far left. Indeed, in a sense the FALCists continue in the starry-eyed idealist vein, in the sense that the technological salvation the former believe in can be juxtaposed with the supposedly inevitable deterritorializing process of “Empire” for the latter: both presuppose and give preeminence to very Western notions of social change and the role of technology.

Why is FALC delusional, exactly? In part because the technology required to create these notions of automated communism (never mind full or luxurious) would have huge carbon and environmental footprints. Also, an AI driven 5G and eventually 6G smart grid would make even today’s omnidirectional surveillance states look like child’s play. Compounding these delusions of grandeur is the uneven development between the advanced industrial economies and the exploited postcolonial states. Where do the Western FALC advocates believe the physical infrastructure and manufacturing power will come from? From poorer developing nations of course, as there is no real desire of organizational understanding of how to revolutionize an international working class among those hoping for technological salvation. This sort of pseudo-leftism desires the comfort and security of an advanced industrial system without taking into full consideration the levels of sacrifice necessary to create an eco-socialist economic model.

These are just a few examples of how semi-radical thought reproduces and reinforces capitalist hegemony, but the wider trend has been visible for decades now. As Baudrillard wrote in Simulacra and Simulation:

It is the justice of the left that reinjects an idea of justice, the necessity of logic and morals into a rotten apparatus that is coming undone…the system puts an end one by one to all its axioms…all the objectives of the historical and revolutionary Left that sees itself constrained to revive the wheels of capital in order to lay siege to them one day…everything that is disappearing, that the system itself, in its atrocity, certainly, but also in its irreversible impulse, has liquidated, must be conserved.

The Ouroboros Economy

All corporations become increasingly organized around the worship and control of information. Control over the value chain through ownership of the information vector extends even into life itself…through monitoring its states, through modifying its functions with drugs that alter chemical signals, through patenting aspects of life as design. What is at stake is neither a bios nor a polis but a regime of property in information extending into the organism. The novel forces of production as they have emerged in our time are also forces of reproduction and forces of circulation.

– Mckenzie Wark, Capital is Dead: Is This Something Worse?

When Debord noted, and rightly so, that the spectacle is a “social relation among people, mediated by images”, it was understood that we all participate in and collectively make up the spectacular worldview. Yet that is not how many people today think, and when it is casually mentioned, spectacle is situated outside the self, not a set of social relations. Unfortunately, being able to detect vacuously transparent and craven corporate advertising as well as political rhetoric mostly is not sufficient for the second-level effects on the unconscious. As “desiring machines” integrated into late stage capitalism, the prison is not longer only physically constructed around us- and not only have we become both inmate and warden, oftentimes we take it on ourselves to perform the labor, both at work and in leisure time, that entrenches the powers of corporations and the national security state.

Here, it helps to have a grasp of a few key basic concepts from thinkers such as Debord, Foucault, Baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari, and also Bourdieu, and even Latour. As many have noted, the pandemic has conveniently set the stage for capital and computer technology to fully absorb nearly all facets of everyday life, which reinforces the arguments of the terminally online and their worship of technology, and thus, American empire.

For Baudrillard a metaphor of simulation could be visualized as the Mobius strip, and for Deleuze describing the society of control it was the serpent. Today we can conjoin the concepts into the archetype of the ouroboros — a self-contained system of simulation and hyperreality, embedded to an immanent, infinite process of death and rebirth, one that contains within it seeds of destruction and the potential for renewal and societal transformation. The ouroboros encapsulates our era: from cybernetics, to algorithmic feedback loops of code, to cosmology, and even evolutionary anthropology, to the financialization and cannabilization of economies, the circuital globe-spanning nature of capital, the ineffable mimetic nature of cultural transmission and (re)production.

The consolidation of media narratives into social media outlets performs one unique function insofar as it renders the “official” establishment narrative into the only possible reasonable, logical way of seeing the world. Analogically, one can see this as a digital version of what Deleuze and Guattari called “state philosophy”, the incorporation and transmutation of “proper” stories and events into those which uphold state hegemony and corporate control. Of course, there can never be a totalization of these views online, just as there could not before in the age of print, or before in oral traditions. Reality cannot be consolidated into a tweet, just as it could not before in a newspaper editorial. What comes out of the void are “post-truths”, “alternative facts”, and other unruly features foreseen decades ago by Bruno Latour, when he undertook that could be called an anthropological study of modern science. Thus, what used to be called misinformation or half-truths have been reified by mainstream media, as objects with viral properties that must be censored before they can “infect” the populace.

What seems to be happening over and over again on the media satured/technophilic left is the refusal, the blind spot which keeps repeating the mantra that media monopolization and social media misuse by tech elites is somehow only driven by money and profit motives. The elites already have all the money. Certainly, their greed is a huge driving force, but what’s another billion to someone with a net worth of 50 or 100 billion. At a certain point one has to concede that there are deeper, more sinister agendas, which involve shaping reality and perception, and total social control. As one can easily see with a healthy degree of skepticism towards technological progress, lockdowns and restrictions due to Covid-19 are a perfect excuse for the nascent authoritarian biosecurity state, just as the legitimate protests against police brutality will be used by the state to implement more curfews and police state measures.

Social media and digital media are in the midst of a totalizing process in which all dissent will be censored, shadow-banned, or posts that differ from official narratives “throttled” by tech algorithms. The age of book-burning may be over but a new age of technological authoritarianism is emerging. To assuage the worst aspects of this emerging techno-feudal society, where “the economy” has fully replaced society and monetization of content and followings has replaced spontaneous and anarchic/communistic web interaction are the extremely online celebrities, influencers, and the corporate cut-outs and shills who fund them: and they strive towards and imitate tech owners and executives, bankers, lawyers, doctors, and various professional class snake-oil salespeople who offer escapist fantasies, slavish devotion to modern technology and overconsumption.

Since the upper and upper-middle classes are surrounded by corporate and state propaganda like fish in an ocean, which conforms to varying degrees to Bordieu’s notion of habitus; they are the most likely to “buy in” to the new prison system mediated by new repressive technology apparatuses, which is in line with Herman and Chomsky’s findings in Manufacturing Consent.

Like the sirens of Greek mythology, the job of the influencer, backed and financed by the ruling class, is to hypnotize the masses, and lull us back to sleep — “be like us” they intonate, we’re rich, successful, famous, powerful. While the vast majority toil away working for technological advancement and capital, the tech tyrants and web celebrities succeed by making internet technology and monopolized media work for them. Since the ruling class and new media elite earn passive income from conglomerate platforms, algorithms, and computing power, they have no interest in discovering how they have become the new architects of inequality and mass immiseration. It’s up to us to show them.

The post The Rise of the Terminally Online first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Taking a Trip Through the Magical Mania Tour

Current State of Modern Biotechnological-Based Aeromonas hydrophila Vaccines for Aquaculture: A Systematic Review

Oh, the time I have, putting in application after application, for a job. A job, that’s a double-edged word. What is that job without a jab. Now, one year-plus, perfectly accepted that the restaurant or retail outlet or any manner of “job” can require you to submit to the jab. Make that jabs. This is the continuing criminality of a rigged system.

Unfortunately, the entire globe has sucked that mRNA potion. That mRNA cleanser was only possible after how many years? The atomic bomb, splitting of the atom, orbital flight. It hasn’t been long, civilization wise, but so long evolution wise, since that lovely scientific lovely was born. Make no bones about it — science was bad before that, but the atomic era heralded in the complete prostration to the “experts,” or to the “MD,” or “engineer.” With all that education, all those cohorts, the amazing jet-jetting of these virologists and hard rock geologists, the entire crew, popping off into orbit, space station and undersea world station, it doesn’t matter.

The PhD’s and post docs (along with drop-outs like Gates) have it.

GLOFISH

Regulatory agencies not keeping pace

Scientists and companies keep tweaking our plants and animals and even our pets but our regulatory agencies are not keeping pace. We don’t have adequate rules about how to release genetically engineered plants and animals into the environment. Businesses still introduce new plants, seeds and animals without making adequate information available to the public about what they are or where they are. And no single federal agency has responsibility for assuring the safety of genetically engineered plants and animals.

The glowing fish are shedding some light on an important problem. We don’t have sufficient oversight in place to make sure that the new animals and plants that result from genetic engineering are really safe for us and the environment. We need Congress to assign clear responsibility for genetically engineered plants and animals to one federal agency. And that agency needs to make sure that the rules for release and standards of safety glow brightly for both business and the public.

Arthur Caplan is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Please note that this Caplan is a capitalist, one of those dangerous scientists, all-knowing types, and this site, is anything but ethics and pushback. This place pushes mandatory vaccine passports, pushes these jabs for children, pushes the idea that youth 15 or older do not need parental consent to get jabbed.

These are the masters, the controllers — another site of madness dressed up as science and open-discourse —

by Brian M Cummings M.D. and John J. Paris S.J.

Vaccine passports are likely to become a necessary part of our lives until we achieve herd immunity and no longer need worry about contracting a potentially life-threatening virus from strangers. Such ‘passports’ might not be the first item on our wish list. But the arguments for their use are basic and compelling. As Gostin and colleagues’ recent article notes, vaccine passports encourage people to be vaccinated and allow a reopening of the economy. For those who want—as much as possible– to recover life as it was prior to the pandemic, they will become a necessity.

Vaccination is not a risk-free action; it involves an assessment of both risks and benefits. Individuals whose position does not significantly impact public safety are free to decline to be vaccinated. With the adoption of a vaccine passport requirement, such declinations may cost people opportunities for social interaction and economic engagement. Such is their choice. The benefit calculation of vaccination increases the prospect going to a restaurant, sporting events and to other unrestricted activities. Vaccine passports simultaneously encourage vaccination and provide a quick way to assure a public concerned about Covid they can safely enter public venues. (source)

They control the narrative frames, the entire mix of thought. They are the shamans, the arbiters of good sense, future knowledge, and interpretations of human and non-human kind, throughout the ages.

There is no debate, really around how dictatorial and patronizing the entire project is in Capitalism, from book writing/publishing, to how you get your prostate analyzed, to how you are supposed to take those classes and lift off with a degree. Until we have reached, 2021, the massive unethical, illogical, and propagandistic level of forced jabs.

It is amazing, really, that we have let this happen — no choice, no pushback (real pushback). Those who are putting their lives at risk, who have fought the jab, have submitted. You can’t get a cappuccino or rental car without the jab passport. This is the most amazing time for the flagging masses. Even communist Cuba is into this Genetic Engineered jab. Imagine that, dark age thinking with high-tech manipulation.

So, the body can’t fight this off, or, well, 92 percent can, without major issues, or, well, we mostly can fight it off to the point of no hospitalization, incubation, but in the end, we are living caldrons for this SARS-2 to set off on variant after variant, attacking heart, lungs, liver, more, until we might be permanently damaged by the virus.

A novel virus, indeed. Those novels I have piled up as manuscripts were inventions of my own, time honored hard work, crafting, editing, cutting, and adding. Building characters, detailing settings, regulating pitch in language. All that hard work of imagination put to crafting.

Here, bio(unethical) — their Covid page:

Source They call it a toolkit, and yep, no contrarian, no pushback.

Bioethics.net and the American Journal of Bioethics have assembled a bioethics toolkit for people dealing with COVID-19.

We have a collection of important blogs from around the internet that you can find here. We also highly recommending our growing catalog of our original blog posts by leading scholars writing on bioethics in pandemics.

Other compendium resources

  • The Hastings Center has assembled a number of reports and resources.Thomas Cunningham at Kaiser-Permanent has put together a comprehensive resource of academic articles, government plans, and allocation frameworks.AMA COVID-19 Ethics Resource Center

  • For the best scientific information:

  • For policies, protocols, and practices:

  • For ethical guidelines on vaccines & allocation:

  • For ethical guidelines for responding to crisis:

  • For plans on triage:

  • For clinical algorithms for making allocation decisions

  • For CPR/DNR with COVID protocols

  • For communicating with patients and others

  • VitalTalk: Communication skills and sample scripts

  • Communicating in a crisis

  • Special journal issues/articles

The coronavirus particle has a crown of spikes on its surface.

Oh those scientists, working on gain of function, tweaking viruses, super-charging them, creating chimeric madness, testing a bat virus by bulking it up and putting it to the test on humanized mice. Working the spiked proteins and the messenger genes to go for the heart, lungs, vital organs.

For Christ’s sake, we get ad nauseum articles on research into coffee — too much bad for you, or a few cups a day, amazing? Cures for cancer, or cancer causing? We have every manner of deep research into whether dairy is good or bad, whether sugar is good or bad. Yet, this sticky wicket, well, we can’t even dare ask the questions around how/why/who/when/what/where have these experiments been conducted. Instant open records for the background on all the military involvement with virus research, all the 13,000 USA researchers on gain of function, all those other countries’ researchers and facilities. And, what are the effects of the mRNA and recombinant DNA molecules mucking about. Imagine, these recombinant DNA molecules are formed by laboratory methods of genetic recombination that bring together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in the genome.

Not found in nature, that is.

There are no questions, no challenges, and so we get forced jabs, globally, and no other forms of dealing with, a, this zoonotic jump of a bat virus to human (there are not bats found yet to have this SARS-2 virus; or, b, that this is man-lab made, hands down, and all of that crafting of novelty has created an out-of-control genetically engineers virus that does double, triple and quadruple duty to various humans.

To the point that St. Fauci isn’t sure about a booster, or when, but the three big Pharma Boys, already have their boosters manufactured and at the ready, in a few months.

This is not questioned — how it was anticipated, that SARS-CoV2 is now in need of double or yearly boosters.

In all manner of thinking this through, we have no agency, no collective group of people to count on who might question the narrative. We just get plowed over by history and move forward — no questions asked, or too many questions to ask.

Recombinant DNA and Biotechnology

Ahh, try finding articles and debates within mainstream journals, etc., on anyone questioning mandatory vaccine passports, and the very idea of it being wrong for this philosophy (sic) of “no jab, no job.” It is utterly disgusting how the internet has shaped up. Good luck looking for deep discussion on why mandatory vaccination programs are wrong in this day and age, and exactly, what sort of vaccine (sic) is being mandated, that is never a question in the mainstream. Of course, we have other sources that question the entire narrative, the entire issue of this novel virus, and, alas, what the chemicals they are delivering through the needle really are and what they really do. But again, passports are digital, a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle for the master race — the rich, the elite, the (point).zero-zero-zero-One percent. Oh, the war criminal, Tony Blair. This mumbo-jumbo is doublespeak, marketing emptiness, and a huge campaign for a deeper and darker agenda:

Meanwhile the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change – headed up by former UK Prime Minister Blair, a strong proponent of passport tech – lays out a five point plan for how to design an equitable scheme, arguing they need to be:

Equitable. Health passes should be available to all citizens, including people who have not been vaccinated – for reasons of not being eligible yet, for medical reasons or through personal conviction – and not forgetting the needs of non smartphone-users.

Adaptable. A pass should be able to be updated as understanding of the virus changes and as wider circumstances alter.

Seamless. It needs to be easy and quick to use to encourage adoption and be as frictionless as possible in terms of the administrative burdens on businesses or health organizations.

Transparent. Data collection and retention policies and parameters need to be strictly defined and completely open to users.

Reliable. Passports must be designed with security and privacy at their core. (Source)

These are monsters, and yet, in capitalism, in this totalitarian, or inverted totalitarian state, this is it —

Salesforce’s long game –The pandemic response has also seen cross-industry alliances between tech firms and this is continuing around the concept of health credentials. Salesforce, for example, has committed to integrating the IBM Digital Health Pass into its work.com safe return to the workplace platform offering. The cloud leader is also a founding member of the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), alongside arch-rival Oracle and a host of healthcare organizations. The VCI aims to develop a standard model for organizations administering COVID-19 vaccines to make the immunization data available in an accessible, interoperable, digital format.

For its own part, Salesforce’s internal Office of Ethical and Humane Use of Technology has been heavily involved in the specifics of work.com and in considering the wider complexities of Vaccine Passports, although this last is a term that Yoav Schlesinger, Principal of Ethical AI Practice, doesn’t use, preferring to talk about the broader idea of digital health credentials:

“From our perspective, one of the most critical elements of this safe return back to ‘normal’ is that digital health credentials incorporate much more than just vaccine status. Digital health credentials need, from an equity standpoint, to allow people to demonstrate their health status through a negative COVID test, through proof of recovery and antibody tests etc, so there needs to be multiple ways to present that information, so that we can all be assured of a safe return to whatever locale and location we’re talking about, whether for travel or returning to work or attending a concert, etc.”

He adds that proof of vaccination is not the only way to establish that a workplace is safe:

“Relying exclusively on proof of vaccination status may or may not be the strategy that an employer wants to employ. I think it’s critical that employees, and anyone else, are able to also establish that we can return to work through a negative COVID test or proof of recovery as well. There will certainly be circumstances and situations where people can’t be vaccinated, because of health conditions or because of a religious conviction. We want to ensure for the sake of equity that people are able to present their health credentials and their health status in multiple formats and through multiple avenues.”

tonyprophet
[Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet and April Oliver, Associate General Counsel, Office of Ethics & Integrity at Salesforce]

Human scum. Whitney Webb reported about the plans for expansive data collection through Vaccine Passports. Webb wrote about the Vaccine Credential Initiative’s SMART Health Cards, which were developed by governments working alongside Microsoft, Oracle and MITRE. According to Webb the developer of the cards, Josh C. Mandel, listed ‘Name, gender, birth date, mobile phone number, and email address in addition to vaccination information’, specifically as a ‘Starting point.’ (Source)

Here, the January 2021 article 

“Silicon Valley and WEF-Backed Foundation Announce Global Initiative for COVID-19 Vaccine Records” — Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, alongside healthcare companies, US intelligence contractors and the Commons Project Foundation, recently launched the Vaccination Credential Initiative. The initiative’s ambitions reach far beyond vaccines and will have major implications for civil liberties. BY WHITNEY WEBB

We can’t have these ethical discussions with philosophers, gurus, all those groups spewing “we are medical and biological ethicists.” This is contradictory, and they are in no way acting as oversight folk, or ombudsmen. They are part of the colonized, and any discourse outside their frame is labeled, mostly, unworthy, uninformed, out of place, radical for radical sakes, contrarian, reckless, dangerous, and to be ignored. “We have toolkits for stopping this mindset. We have our ways. We know how to extract and inject.”

The agenda is not hidden, in the shadows, but for most in the world, they have no bandwidth or willingness to question.

The effort to manufacture consent for an all-encompassing digital identification system is notable given that its main selling point thus far has been coercion. We have been told that without such a system we will never be able to return to work or school, never be able to travel, or never be allowed to participate normally in the economy. While this system is being introduced in this way, it is essential to point out that coercion is a built-in part of this infrastructure and, if implemented, will be used to modify human behavior to great effect, reaching far beyond just the issue of COVID-19 vaccines. — Whitney Webb

What got me onto the computer was reading Max Forte’s blog piece, ‘Race,’ ‘Diversity,’ and the University‘. He’s writing, Zero Anthropology.

Through a continual succession of fear campaigns, Canadian universities are being intellectually sanitized to suppress, marginalize, and ideally to banish contrary thought. It is all done under the banner of familiar “good intentions”. In 2018, the panic was about “rape culture”. In 2019, it was about the “climate emergency”. In 2020, it was of course about “the pandemic”. In 2021, it is about “systemic racism”. What will it be next year? An outbreak of neo-fascist cannibalism?

At least in a formal way, since 2007 (when ZA was launched as “Open Anthropology”) I have been studying the history and political-economy of academic knowledge production. When turning to the Canadian university, one learns of the “Canadianization” movement that gathered steam and strength in the 1970s and 1980s, which emphasized Canadian content in research and teaching, and Canadian hiring. At that time, Canadians were very aware of the country’s status as a dependent appendage of the US. It is a dependency that is enforced, from the top down, and where the dependency turns into cultural and political forms it can be most acutely observed in Anglophone Canada. That dependency has in fact increased: the law requiring that qualified Canadian applicants should get first preference, is routinely skirted by university departments and administrations. Our content is directly imported from the US: we are mere retail sales staff; we are spectators to knowledge production; we are, essentially, just an audience. To be deemed a serious and respectable academic in Canada, one must show advanced imitation skills in knowing how to synthesize and combine pieces of work produced by this or that prominent American/British/French scholar. Preparing a “literature review” is our favourite sport. We excel as consumers—much like regular Starbucks customers who invent complex and convoluted demands for how their “coffee” (i.e., liquid dessert) should be mixed. Our “signature” contribution involves the creative mixing of elements we had no hand in creating in the first place.

Living in an officially approved “Monkey See, Monkey Do” culture, I would inevitably become attuned to patterns of importation and imitation sweeping “Canadian academia”. It is a determined mimesis; just as it banishes integrity and originality, it now silences dissent…where what one would expect academics to do as part of their job (doubt, question, debate) is what now constitutes “dissent”. We are meant to act as bobbleheads, perpetually nodding to uphold this virtual reality of uniformity, to pretend unanimity lest the spectre of “disagreement” should rear its ugly head.

He’s spot on in so many ways, but in the end, he is parsing about diversity programs/training/ brainwashing. Absolutely, much of the diversity training is infantilized, and retrograde. I think in many ways, though, Max misses the point of academia — or the way it is set up, and has been. It is a training camp, mostly, for the colonized, the believes in Western Civilization, in discourse and knowledge in a most empirical way, and also, it is a place of disgusting hierarchies, and lock-step. Yes, the new in thing, the new normal, is diversity training, and LGBTQAI+ work. This stuff is fluff, window dressing, and alas, the corporation, THE CORPORATION(s) have colonized higher education, and K12 is a boot camp for compliance, follow the crowd, believe in authority, go the way, not against any grain.

I’ve been on many mandatory diversity trainings, and yes, some content is childish, touchy feely, pop psychology, and, to be honest, yes, we need to tear down the entire system, and having LGBTQAI+ and BIPOC in the chambers of power, that is it, no, the Black Misleadership Class, as Glen Ford calls this reality.

By 1970, the Black Radical Tradition lay mostly in the graveyard, and the way was clear for the Black Misleadership Class to monopolize Black politics on behalf of their corporate overseers. The first act of the first big city Black mayor, Cleveland’s Carl Stokes, was to put the police under the command of a Black retired general, whose first act was to issue the cops flesh- and bone-destroying hollow point bullets.

The rise of the almost entirely Democrat-allied Black Misleadership Class is perfectly coterminous with construction of the Black Mass Incarceration State. The “New Jim Crow” was a bipartisan project, initiated under Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, which vastly increased the manpower and funding for local police departments, and was put on hyper-drive by Republican President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs”–a War on Blacks that never ended but was re-declared by Republican President Reagan and reinforced by Democrat President Bill Clinton. At the local level, the exponential growth of the Mass Black Incarceration regime was administered by increasingly Black city governments, which oversaw and processed the deportation of millions of Black men, women and children to the Prison Gulag. Virtually all of these Black operatives of race and class oppression are Democrats. And all of them are celebrating their own political ascension as the wondrous outcome of Dr. King’s “dream.”

By 2014, 80 percent of the Congressional Black Caucus was voting to continue the Pentagon 1033 program that funnels billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. Four years later, 75 percent of the Black Caucus voted to make police a “protected class” and assault on cops a federal crime. (See BAR, “Black Caucus Sells Out Its Constituents Again–to the Cops.”)

The Black misleaders are as silly as they are shameless, but they are not ineffectual. No white man could eviscerate Dr. King’s radical legacy, or make Malcolm X appear harmless to the imperial order–that’s a job for the Black Misleadershsip Class. While Dr. King rejected an alliance with the “triple evils,” Black Democratic misleaders describe their deal with the Devil as smart, “strategic” politics. They whip up war fever against small, non-white nations that seek only the right to govern themselves, behaving no differently on the world scene–and sometimes worse–than Donald Trump.

They shame and weaken Black America, and have joined the enemies of life on Earth. King would shake his head, mournfully. Malcolm would keep his tight smile, doggedly. Then both would organize to expose and depose the Black Misleadership Class.

MLK and the Black Misleadership Class

Interesting, how one guy’s blog precipitates this loose ends response. There are corollaries, to the Forced Jab, the Forced Digital Gulag, the Forced Surveillance State up our asses, to what happened to MLK and Malcolm X. They were outliers in this country, but not worldwide, not surprisingly. Not sure what the Canadian Max Forte has to say, but in the end, I believe the white race, even those believing in good intentions, are flawed, to the max. Now, white race means European whites, Catholic Church white, Jewish white, so-so many (most all) billionaire white, millionaire white.

The Life and Times of Hubert Harrison: A Forgotten Synthesis of African-American Socialism and Black Nationalism, Review of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 by Jeffrey B. Perry (Columbia University Press, 2009). In the first quarter of the 20th century, the major, competing trends of Black American political thought were already in vivid evidence: Black nationalist and socialist tendencies vied with corporate-backed accommodation. In Harlem, an extraordinary St. Croix-born activist-thinker named Hubert Harrison emerged on the scene, described as “more race conscious than [A. Philip] Randolph and more class conscious than [Marcus] Garvey.”

In the following presidential election year of 1912, Perry explores the evolving political thought of Harrison in a discussion of a new set of articles by Harrison which appeared in the Chicago based International Socialist Review amid a growing, but not fully manifest tension between Harrison and the Socialist Party, which masked his simmering disillusionment with the party. In an article taking off on Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” Harrison’s “Black Man’s Burden” depicted the suffering of African-Americans under white over-lordship. Over eight million African-Americans were disfranchised in sixteen Southern states by fraud and force, lacking political rights to protect their economic rights (i.e. property and jobs). Part two of the “Black Man’s Burden” demonstrated how the southern state school segregation laws contributed to the underfunding, creation of industrial education or “labor-caste schools” and miseducation of African-Americans. In these two articles, Harrison aimed a devastating critique at the accommodationist philosophy of Booker T. Washington, which publicly eschewed voting rights and a liberal arts college/​university education. Washington’s lieutenants had successfully conspired to obtain the removal of Harrison from his $1,000 a year job at the post office for two anti-Washington articles in the New York Sun newspaper, thus causing great economic hardship to Harrison’s family. Harrison’s final article in the International Socialist Review, “Socialism and the Negro,” was based on an earlier pro-IWW speech, in which he asserted African-Americans rather than constituting a reactionary hindrance to socialism, as some socialist theorists like Algie Simmons and Charles Vail claimed, were indeed the key component in the struggle by the American proletariat without which socialism in America stood little chance. (Source)

Hubert Harrison

I have a deep suspicion that we dissenters, dissidents, oppositional types, questioners, doubters of the official histories/narratives/sciences, and those of us who have a compunction to not trust the bloody intercourse of brute capitalism-militarism-government, that we are in one way or another, in the process of being exterminated. We are the brutes to heads of those Fortune 5000 Corp./LLC/Wall Street devils. We represent everything wrong with free-thought.

[Still from Exterminate All the Brutes, 2021. (HBO)]

Raoul Peck’s HBO docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes isn’t easy to watch — but it’s important popular education on the 600-year development of the concept and system of white supremacy associated with colonialism, slavery, and genocide.

Within the film, Peck addresses the complexity of his own project, including its rhetorical implications for an intended audience, in a risky but interesting way. After providing a four-hour alternative history — alternative to the traditional mainstream education provided in America, at least — Peck concludes that it’s not really education that’s needed:

“The educated general public has always largely known what atrocities have been committed and are being committed in the name of progress, civilization, socialism, democracy, and the market.”

Mike Hale of the New York Times found this conclusion maddening:

“He closes with a reproving phrase that echoes through the film: “It’s not knowledge we lack.” But he declines to say what it is we lack — compassion? Willpower? If there is something we possess that could have made history different, either he doesn’t know or he’s not telling.”

But Peck’s conclusion is the most interesting aspect of the film. The implication seems clear: the majority knows the history, but doesn’t care, at least not enough. Peck’s jarring effects, in keeping with the groundwork laid by liberation cinema, seem designed to make us feel so sick of the history we’re part of and the system we’re in, we’ll actually lash out and try to destroy it.

One docuseries isn’t nearly enough, obviously. It’s going to take a lot of furious filmmaking, and organizing, and speechmaking, and protesting, and marching, and fighting, to get a revolt going. Peck’s doing his part. (Source)

That is the maddening aspect of today, that for most, they do not know the history of the USA and the White Race and Civilization and what they have all done to imprison, poison, indenture, shackle, co-opt, colonize, erase, flood with fear our own ability to see through the madness. This culture and capitalism have always been a punishing thing, and a giant psychological operation, way before Edward Bernays or PT Barnum . . . way back to the plagiarists and fabulists of those Abrahamic religions.

Between 2011 and 2020, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet (the owner of Google), Netflix, Apple, and Microsoft — known as the “Silicon Six” — paid roughly $219 billion in income taxes, which amounts to just 3.6% of their more than $6 trillion in total revenue, according to the Fair Tax Foundation. Income tax is paid on profits, not total revenue, and researchers said these tech giants are adept at reducing their tax liabilities by shifting profits to offshore tax havens.  (Source)
 Oh, those tax dodgers — We know how they roll!
Show us the Benjamins — 
Big Pharma model is serious obstacle to wiping out Covid-19, new report suggests - Global Justice Now Global Justice Now
It all come downs to war, baby, war!
The U.S. war industry sells to capitalist regimes around the world through direct commercial sales and foreign military sales (FMS). FMS tend to deal with big-ticket items or goods and services of a sensitive nature. Through FMS, the U.S. government procures and transfers industry goods and services to allied governments and international organizations.
So, customers of the U.S. war industry typically affirm that they’re using the goods and services in self-defense, and the U.S. government doesn’t press them on the matter. After all, there is a lot of cash at stake. In fiscal year 2020 alone, the war industry sold $50.8 billion through FMS and $124.3 billion through direct commercial sales.  (Source)
The post Taking a Trip Through the Magical Mania Tour first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Etymological Animal Must Slip Out of the Cage of Habit to Grasp Truth

Life is full of slips.

Words slip out of our mouths to surprise us.  Thoughts slip into our minds to shock us.  Dreams slip into our nights to sometimes slip into our waking thoughts to startle us.  And, as the wonderful singer/songwriter Paul Simon, sings, we are always “slip sliding away,” a reminder that can be a spur to courage and freedom or an inducement to fear and shut-upness.

Slips are double-edged.

It is obvious that since September 11, 2001, and more so since the corona virus lockdowns and the World Economic Forum’s push for a Fourth Industrial Revolution that will lead to the marriage of artificial intelligence, cyborgs, digital technology, and biology, that the USA and other countries have been slipping into a new form of fascist control.  Or at least it should be obvious, especially since this push has been accompanied by massive censorship by technology companies of dissenting voices and government crackdowns on what they term “domestic terrorists.”  Dissent has become unpatriotic and worse – treasonous.

Unless people wake up and rebel in greater numbers, the gates of this electronic iron cage will quietly be shut.

In the name of teleological efficiency and reason, as Max Weber noted more than a century ago in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, capitalist elites, operating from within the shadows of bureaucratic castles such as The World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Health Organization WHO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank (WBG), The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Google, Facebook, the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, etc., – run by people whose faces are always well hidden – have been using digital technology to exert increasing control over the thoughts and actions of people worldwide.  They have been doing this not only by diktats but by manufacturing social habits – customary usages – through which they exert their social power over populations.  This linguistic and ideational propaganda is continually slipped into the daily “news” by their mainstream media partners in crime. They become social habits that occupy people’s minds and lead to certain forms of behavior.  Ideas have consequences but also histories because humans are etymological animals – that is, their ideas, beliefs, and behaviors have histories.  It is not just words that have etymologies.

When Weber said “a polar night of icy darkness” was coming in the future, he was referring to what is happening today.  Fascism usually comes on slowly as history has shown.  It slips in when people are asleep.

John Berger, commenting on the ghostly life of our received ideas whose etymology is so often lost on us, aptly said:

Our totalitarianism begins with our teleology.

And the teleology in use today is digital technology controlled by wealthy elites and governments for social control.  For years they have been creating certain dispositions in the general public, as Jacques Ellul has said, “by working spells upon them and exercising a kind of fascination” that makes the public receptive to the digital life.  This is accomplished slowly in increments, as permanent dispositions are established by slipping in regular reminders of how wonderful the new technology is and how its magical possibilities will make life so free and easy. Efficient. Happiness machines.  A close study of the past twenty-five years would no doubt reveal the specifics of this campaign.  In The Technological Society, Ellul writes:

… the use of certain propaganda techniques is not meant to entail immediate and definite adhesion to a given formula, but rather to bring about a long-range vacuity of the individual.  The individual, his soul massaged, emptied of his natural tendencies, and thoroughly assimilated to the group, is ready for anything.  Propaganda’s chief requirement is not so much to be rational, well-grounded, and powerful as it is to produce individuals especially open to suggestion who can easily be set into motion.

Once this softening up has made people “available,” the stage is set to get them to act impulsively.  Ellul again:

It operates by simple pressure and is often contradictory (since contradictory mass movements are sometimes necessary).  Of course, this dissociation can be effective only after the propaganda technique has been fused with the popular mores and has become indispensable to the population. This stage may be reached quickly, as, for example, in Germany in 1942, after only ten years of psychic manipulation.

The end result, he argues, is the establishment of an abstract universe, in which reality is completely recreated in people’s minds.  This fake reality is truer than reality as the news is faked and people are formed rather than informed.

In today’s computer driven world, one thing that people have been told for decades is to be vigilant that their computers do not become infected with viruses.  This meme was slipped regularly into popular consciousness.  To avoid infection, everyone was advised to make sure to have virus protection by downloading protection or using that provided by their operating systems, despite all the back doors built in which most have been unaware of.

Now that other incredible “machine” – the human body – can get virus “protection” by getting what the vaccine maker Moderna says is its messenger RNA (mRNA) non-vaccine “vaccine” that functions “like an operating system on a computer.”  First people must be softened up and made available and then “set in motion” to accept the solution to the fearful problem built in from the start by the same people creating the problem.  A slippery slope indeed.

But slipping is also good, especially when repetition and conventional thought rules people’s lives as it does today in a digital screen life world where algorithms often prevent creative breakthroughs, and the checking of hourly weather reports from cells is a commonplace fix to ease the anxiety of being trapped in a seemingly uncontrollable nightmare.  It seems you now do need computer generated weather reports to know which way the wind blows.

In our culture of the copy, new thoughts are difficult and so the problems that plague society persist and get rehashed ad infinitum.  I think most people realize at some level of feeling if not articulation that they are caught in a repetitive cycle of social stasis that is akin to addiction, one that has been imposed on them by elite forces they sense but don’t fully comprehend since they have bought into this circular trap that they love and hate simultaneously.  The cell phone is its symbol and the world-wide lockdowns its reality.  Even right now as the authorities grant a tactical reprieve from their cruel lockdowns if you obey and get experimentally shot with a non-vaccine vaccine, there is an anxious sense that another shoe will drop when we least expect it.  And it will.  But don’t say this out loud.

So repetition and constant change, seemingly opposites, suffuse society these days. The sagacious John Steppling captures this brilliantly in a recent article:

So ubiquitous are the metaphors and myths of AI, post humanism, transhumanism, et al. that they infuse daily discourse and pass barely noticed. And there is a quality of incoherence in a lot of this post humanist discourse, a kind of default setting for obfuscation….The techno and cyber vocabulary now meets the language of World Banking. Bourgeois economics provides the structural underpinning for enormous amounts of political rhetoric, and increasingly of cultural expression….This new incoherence is both intentional, and unintentional. The so called ‘Great Reset’ is operationally effective, and it is happening before our eyes, and yet it is also a testament to just how far basic logic has been eroded….Advanced social atomization and a radical absence of social change. Today, I might argue, at least in the U.S. (and likely much of Europe) there is a profound sense of repetitiveness to daily life. No matter one’s occupation, and quite possibly no matter one’s class. Certainly the repetitiveness of the high-net-worth one percent is of a different quality than that of an Uber driver. And yet, the experience of life is an experience of repetition.

A kind of flaccid grimness accompanies this sensibility.  Humor is absent, and the only kind of laughter allowed is the mocking kind that hides a nihilistic spirit of resignation – a sense of inevitability that mocks the spirit of rebellion.  Everything is solipsistic and even jokes are taken as revelations of one’s personal life.

The other day I was going grocery shopping.  My wife had written on the list: “heavy cream or whipping cream.”  Not knowing if there were a difference, I asked her which she preferred.  “I prefer whipping,” she said.

I replied, “But I don’t have a whip nor do they sell them at the supermarket.”

We both laughed, although I found it funnier than she.  She slipped, and I found humor in that.  Because it was an innocent slip of the tongue with no significance and she had done the slipping, there was also a slippage between our senses of humor.

But when I told this to a few people, they hesitated to laugh as if I might be revealing some sado-masochistic personal reality, and they didn’t know whether to laugh or not.

It’s harder to laugh at yourself because we get uptight and are afraid to say the “wrong” things.  Many people come to the end of their lives hearing the tolling for their tongues that never spoke freely because of the pale cast of thought that has infected them.  Not their own thoughts, but thoughts that have been placed into their minds by their controllers in the mass media.

Freud famously wrote about slips of the tongue and tried to pin them down.  In this he was a bit similar to a lepidopterist who pins butterflies.  We are left with the eponymous Freudian slips that sometimes do and sometimes don’t signify some revelation that the speaker does not consciously intend to utter.

It seems to me that in order to understand anything about ourselves and our present historical condition – which no doubt seems very confusing to many people as propagandists and liars spew out disinformation daily – we need to develop a way to cut through the enervating miasma of fear that grips so many.  A fear created by elites to cower regular people into submission, as another doctor named Anthony Fauci has said: “Now is the time to just do what you are told.”

But obviously words do matter, but what they matter is open to interpretation and sometimes debate.  To be told to shut up and do what you’re told, to censor differences of opinion, to impose authoritarian restrictions on free speech as is happening now, speech that can involve slips of the tongue, is a slippery slope in an allegedly democratic society.  Jim Garrison of JFK fame said that we live in a doll’s house of propaganda where the population is treated as children and fantasies have replaced reality. He was right.

So how can we break out of this deeply imbedded impasse?

This is the hard part, for digital addiction has penetrated deep into our lives.

I believe we need to disrupt our routines, break free from our habits, in order to clearly see what is happening today.

We need to slip away for a while. Leave our cells.  Let their doors clang shut behind. Abandon television.  Close the computer.  Step out without any mask, not just the paper kind but the ones used to hide from others.  Disburden our minds of its old rubbish. Become another as you go walking away.  Find a park or some natural enclave where the hum and buzz quiets down and you can breathe.  Recall that in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four the only place Winston Smith can escape the prying eyes and spies of Big Brother, the only place he can grasp the truth, was not in analyzing Doublethink or Crimestop, but “in a natural clearing, a tiny grass knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely” and bluebells bloomed and a thrush sang madly.  Here he meets his lover and they affirm their humanity and feel free and alive for a brief respite.  Here in the green wood, the green chaos, new thoughts have a chance to grow.  It is an old story and old remedy, transitory of course, but as vital as breathing.  In his profound meditation on this phenomenon, The Tree, John Fowles, another Englishman, writes:

It is not necessarily too little knowledge that causes ignorance; possessing too much, or wanting to gain too much, can produce the same thing.

I am not proposing that such a retreat is a permanent answer to the propaganda that engulfs us.  But without it we are lost.  Without it, we cannot break free from received opinions and the constant mental noise the digital media have substituted for thought.  Without it, we cannot distinguish our own thoughts from those slyly suggested to us to make us “available.”  Without it, we will always feel ourselves lost, “shipwrecked upon things,” in the words of the Spanish philosopher Ortega Y Gasset.  If we are to take a stand against the endless lies and a world-wide war waged against regular people by the world’s elites, we must first take “a stand within the self, ensimismamiento,” by slipping away into contemplation.  Only then, once we have clarified what we really believe and don’t believe, can we take meaningful action.

There’s an old saying about falling or slipping between the cracks.  It’s meant to be a bad thing and to refer to a place where no one is taking care of you. The saying doesn’t make sense. For if you end up between the cracks, you are on the same ground where habits hold you in learned helplessness.  Better to slip into the cracks where, as Leonard Cohen sings, “the light gets in.”

It may feel like you are slipping away, but you may be exploring your roots.

The post The Etymological Animal Must Slip Out of the Cage of Habit to Grasp Truth first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Second Stage Terror Wars

We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.

– William Casey, CIA Director, February. 1981

It is well known that the endless U.S. war on terror was overtly launched following the mass murders of September 11, 2001 and the linked anthrax attacks.   The invasion of Afghanistan and the Patriot Act were immediately justified by those insider murders, and subsequently the wars against Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.  So too the terrorizing of the American people with constant fear-mongering about imminent Islamic terrorist attacks from abroad that never came.

It is less well known that the executive director of the U.S. cover story – the fictional 9/11 Commission Report – was Philip Zelikow, who controlled and shaped the report from start to finish.

It is even less well known that Zelikow, a professor at the University of Virginia, was closely associated with Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Dickey Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Brent Scowcroft, et al. and had served in various key intelligence positions in both the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. In 2011 President Obama named him to his President’s Intelligence Advisory Board as befits bi-partisan elite rule and coverup compensation across political parties.

Perhaps it’s unknown or just forgotten that The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission repeatedly called for Zelikow’s removal, claiming that his appointment made a farce of the claim that the Commission was independent.

Zelikow said that for the Commission to consider alternative theories to the government’s claims about Osama bin Laden was akin to whacking moles.  This is the man, who at the request of his colleague Condoleezza Rice, became the primary author of (NSS 2002) The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, that declared that the U.S. would no longer abide by international law but was adopting a policy of preemptive war, as declared by George W. Bush at West Point in June 2002.  This was used as justification for the attack on Iraq in 2003 and was a rejection of the charter of the United Nations.

So, based on Zelikow’s work creating a magic mountain of deception while disregarding so-called molehills, we have had twenty years of American terror wars around the world in which U.S. forces have murdered millions of innocent people.  Wars that will be continuing for years to come despite rhetoric to the contrary.  The rhetoric is simply propaganda to cover up the increasingly technological and space-based nature of these wars and the use of mercenaries and special forces.

Simultaneously, in a quasi-volte-face, the Biden administration has directed its resources inward toward domestic “terrorists”: that is, anyone who disagrees with its policies.  This is especially aimed at those who question the COVID-19 story.

Now Zelikow has been named to head a COVID Commission Planning Group based at the University of Virginia that is said to prepare the way for a National COVID Commission.  The group is funded by the Schmidt Futures, the Skoll Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Stand Together, with more expected to join in.  Zelikow, a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program Advisory Panel, will lead the group that will work in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Stand together indeed: Charles Koch, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, the Rockefellers, et al. funders of disinterested truth.

So once again the fox is in the hen house.

If you wistfully think the corona crisis will soon come to an end, I suggest you alter your perspective.  Zelikow’s involvement, among other things, suggests we are in the second phase of a long war of terror waged with two weapons – military and medical – whose propaganda messaging is carried out by the corporate mainstream media in the pursuit of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset. Part one has so far lasted twenty years; part two may last longer. You can be certain it won’t end soon and that the new terrorists are domestic dissidents.

Did anyone think the freedoms lost with The Patriot Act were coming back some day?  Does anyone think the freedoms lost with the corona virus propaganda are coming back?  Many people probably have no idea what freedoms they lost with the Patriot Act, and many don’t even care.

And today?  Lockdowns, mandatory mask wearing, travel restrictions, requirements to be guinea pigs for vaccines that are not vaccines, etc.?

Who remembers the Nuremberg Codes?

And they thought they were free, as Milton Mayer wrote about the Germans under Hitler.  Like frogs in a pot of cold water, we need to feel the temperature rising before it’s too late.  The dial is turned to high heat now.

But that was so long ago and far away, right?  Don’t exaggerate, you say.  Hitler and all that crap.

Are you thankful now that government spokespeople are blatantly saying that they will so kindly give us back some freedoms if we only do what they’re told and get “vaccinated” with an experimental biological agent, wear our masks, etc.? Hoi polloi are supposed to be grateful to their masters, who will grant some summer fun until they slam the door shut again.

Pfizer raked in $3.5 billion from vaccine sales in the first quarter of 2021, the first three months of the vaccine rollouts, and the company projects $26 billion for the year.  That’s one vaccine manufacturer.  Chump change?  Only a chump would not realize that Pfizer is the company that paid $2.3 billion in Federal criminal fines in 2009 – the largest ever paid by a drug company – for being a repeat offender in the marketing of 13 different drugs.

Meanwhile, the commission justifying the government’s claims about COVID-19 and injections (aka “vaccines”) will be hard at work writing their fictive report that will justify ex post facto the terrible damage that has occurred and that will continue to occur for many years.  Censorship and threats against dissidents will increase.  The disinformation that dominates the corporate mainstream media will of course continue, but this will be supplemented by alternative media that are already buckling under the pressure to conform.

The fact that there has been massive censorship of dissenting voices by Google/ YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc., and equally massive disinformation by commission and omission across media platforms, should make everyone ask why.  Why repress dissent?  The answer should be obvious but is not.

The fact that so many refuse to see the significance of this censorship clearly shows the hypnotic effects of a massive mind control operation.

Name calling and censorship are sufficient.  Perfectly healthy people have now become a danger to others.  So mask up, get your experimental shot, and shut up!

Your body is no longer inviolable.  You must submit to medical procedures on your body whether you want them or not.  Do not object or question. If you do, you will be punished and will become a pariah.  The authorities will call you crazy, deviant, selfish. They will take away your rights to travel and engage in normal activities, such as attend college, etc.

Please do not recall The Nuremberg Code.  Especially number 7: “Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability or death.” (my emphasis)

“Now is the time to just do what you are told,” as Anthony Fauci so benevolently declared.

I am not making a prediction.  The authorities have told us what’s coming. Pay attention.  Don’t be fooled.  It’s a game they have devised.  Keep people guessing.  On edge.  Relieved.  Tense.  Relaxed.  Shocked.  Confused.  That’s the game.  One day this, the next that.  You’re on, you’re off.  You’re in, you’re out.  We are allowing you this freedom, but be good children or we will have to retract it.  If you misbehave, you will get a time out.  Time to contemplate your sins.

If you once thought that COVID-19 would be a thing of the past by now, or ever, think again.  On May 3, 2021 The New York Times reported that the virus is here to stay.  This was again reported on May 10.  Hopes Fade for Global Herd Immunity.  You may recall that we were told such immunity would be achieved once enough people got the “vaccine” or enough people contracted the virus and developed antibodies.

On May 9, on ABC News, Dr. Fauci, when asked about indoor mask requirements being relaxed, said, “I think so, and I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along, and as more people get vaccinated.”  Then he added: “We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated.”

But then, in what CNN reported as a Mother’s Day prediction, he pushed the date for “normality” out another year, saying, “I hope that [by] next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now. I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.  We’ve got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated. When that happens, the virus doesn’t really have any place to go. You’re not going to see a surge. You’re not going to see the kinds of numbers we see now.”

He said this with a straight face even though the experimental “vaccines,” by their makers own admissions, do not prevent the vaccinated from getting the virus or passing it on.  They allege it only mitigates the severity of the virus if you contract it.

Notice the language and the vaccination meme repeated three times: “We get more people vaccinated.” (my emphasis) Not that more people choose to get vaccinated, but “we get” them vaccinated.  Thank you, Big Daddy. And now we have another year to go until “we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.”  Interesting phrase: as we can.  It other words: we will never return to normality but will have to settle for the new normal that will involve fewer freedoms.  Life will be reset, a great reset.  Great for the few and terrible for the many.

Once two vaccines were enough; then, no, maybe one is sufficient; no, you will need annual or semi-annual booster shots to counteract the new strains that they say are coming.  It’s a never-ending story with never-ending new strains in a massive never-ending medical experiment.  The virus is changing so quickly and herd immunity is now a mystical idea, we are told, that it will never be achieved.  We will have to be eternally vigilant.

But wait.  Don’t despair.  It looks like restrictions are easing up for the coming summer in the northern hemisphere. Lockdowns will be loosened.  If you felt like a prisoner for the past year plus, now you will be paroled for a while. But don’t dispose of those masks just yet.  Fauci says that wearing masks could become seasonal following the pandemic because people have become accustomed to wearing them and that’s why the flu has disappeared. The masks didn’t prevent COVID-19 but eliminated the flu.  Are you laughing yet?

Censorship and lockdowns and masks and mandatory injections are like padded cells in a madhouse and hospital world where free-association doesn’t lead to repressed truths because free association isn’t allowed, neither in word nor deed.  Speaking freely and associating with others are too democratic. Yes, we thought we were free.  False consciousness is pandemic.  Exploitation is seen as benevolence. Silence reigns.  And the veiled glances signify the ongoing terror that has spread like a virus.

We are now in a long war with two faces.  As with the one justified by the mass murders of September 11, 2001, this viral one isn’t going away.

The question is: Do we have to wait twenty years to grasp the obvious and fight for our freedoms?

We can be assured that Zelikow and his many associates at Covid Collaborative, including General Stanley McChrystal, Robert Gates, Arnie Duncan, Deval Patrick, Tom Ridge, et al. – a whole host of Republicans and Democrats backed by great wealth and institutional support, will not be “whacking moles” in their search for truth.  Their agenda is quite different.

But then again, you may recall where they stood on the mass murders of September 11, 2001 and the endless wars that have followed.

The post Second Stage Terror Wars first appeared on Dissident Voice.

We can defeat the corporate media’s war to snuff out independent journalism

My talk at the International Festival of Whistleblowing, Dissent and Accountability on May 8. Transcript below.

I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about my experiences over the past two decades working with new technology as an independent freelance journalist, one who abandoned – or maybe more accurately, was abandoned by – what we usually call the “mainstream” media.

Looking back over that period, I have come to appreciate that I was among the first generation of journalists to break free of the corporate media – in my case, the Guardian – and ride this wave of new technology. In doing so, we liberated ourselves from the narrow editorial restrictions such media imposes on us as journalists and were still able to find an audience, even if a diminished one.

More and more journalists are following a similar path today – a few out of choice, and more out of necessity as corporate media becomes increasingly unprofitable. But as journalists seek to liberate themselves from the strictures of the old corporate media, that same corporate media is working very hard to characterise the new technology as a threat to media freedoms.

This self-serving argument should be treated with a great deal of scepticism. I want to use my own experiences to suggest that quite the reverse is true. And that the real danger is allowing the corporate media to reassert its monopoly over narrating the world to us.

‘Mainstream’ consensus

I left my job at the Guardian newspaper group in 2001. Had I tried to become an independent journalist 10 years earlier than I did, it would have been professional suicide. In fact, it would have been a complete non-starter. I certainly would not be here telling you what it was like to have spent 20 years challenging the “mainstream” western consensus on Israel-Palestine.

Before the Noughties, without a platform provided by a corporate media outlet, journalists had no way to reach an audience, let alone create one. We were entirely beholden to our editors, and they in turn were dependent on billionaire owners – or in a few cases like the BBC’s, the  government – and on advertisers.

When I arrived in Nazareth as a freelance journalist, though one with continuing connections to the Guardian, I quickly found myself faced with a stark choice.

Newspapers would accept relatively superficial articles from me, ones that accorded with a decades-old, western, colonial mindset about Israel-Palestine. Had I contributed such pieces for long enough, I would probably have managed to reassure one of the papers that I was an obliging and safe pair of hands. Eventually, when a position fell vacant, I might have landed myself a well-paid correspondent’s job.

Instead I preferred to write authentically – for myself, reporting what I had observed on the ground, rather than what was expected of me by my editors. That meant antagonising and gradually burning bridges with the western media.

Even in a digital era of new journalistic possibilities, there were few places to publish. I had to rely on a couple of what were then newly emerging websites that were prepared to publish very different narratives on Israel-Palestine from the western corporate media’s.

Level playing field

The most prominent at the time, which became the first proper home for my journalism, was Al-Ahram Weekly, an English-language sister publication of the famous Cairo daily newspaper. Few probably remember or read Al-Ahram Weekly today, because it was soon overshadowed by other websites. But at the time it was a rare online refuge for dissident voices, and included a regular column from the great public intellectual Edward Said.

It is worth pausing to think about how foreign correspondents operated in the pre-digital world. They not only enjoyed a widely read, if tightly controlled, platform in an establishment media outlet, but they had behind them a vitally important support structure.

Their newspaper provided an archive and library service so that they could easily research historical and newsworthy events in their region. There were local staff who could help with locating sources and offering translations. They had photographers who contributed visuals to their pieces. And they had satellite phones to file breaking news from remote locations.

None of this came cheap. A freelance journalist could never have afforded any of this kind of support.

All that changed with the new technology, which rapidly levelled the playing field. A Google search soon became more comprehensive than even the best newspaper library. Mobile phones made it easy to track down and speak to people who were potential sources for stories. Digital cameras, and then the same mobile phones, meant it was possible to visually record events without needing a photographer alongside you. And email meant it was easy to file copy from anywhere in the world, to anywhere, virtually free.

Documentary evidence

The independent journalism I and others were developing in the early Noughties was assisted by a new kind of political activist who was using similarly novel digital tools.

After I arrived in Nazareth, I had little use for the traditional “access journalism” my corporate colleagues chiefly relied on. Israeli politicians and military generals dissembled to protect Israel’s image. Far more interesting to me were the young western activists who had begun embedding – before that term got corrupted by the behaviour of corporate journalists – in Palestinian communities.

Today we remember names like Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, Brian Avery, Vittorio Arrigoni and many others for the fact that in the early Noughties they were either killed or wounded by Israeli soldiers. But they were part of a new movement of political activists and citizen journalists – many of them with the International Solidarity Movement – who were offering a different kind of access.

They used digital cameras to record and protest the Israeli army’s abuses and war crimes from up close inside Palestinian communities – crimes that had previously had gone unrecorded for western audiences. They then sent their documentary evidence and their eye-witness accounts to journalists by email or published them on “alternative” websites. For independent journalists like me, their work was gold-dust. We could challenge Israel’s implausible accounts with clear-cut evidence.

Sadly most corporate journalists paid little attention to the work of these activists. In any case, their role was quickly snuffed out. That was partly because Israel learnt that shooting a few of them served as a very effective deterrent, warning others to keep away.

But it was also because as technology became cheaper and more accessible – eventually ending up in mobile phones that everyone was expected to have – Palestinians could record their own suffering more immediately and without any mediation.

Israel’s dismissal of the early, grainy images of the abuse of Palestinians by soldiers and settlers – as “Pallywood” (Palestinian Hollywood) – became ever less plausible, even to its own supporters. Soon Palestinians were recording their mistreatment in high definition and posting it directly to YouTube.

Unreliable allies

There was a parallel evolution in journalism. For the first eight years in Nazareth, I struggled to make any kind of living by publishing online. Egyptian wages were far too low to support me in Israel, and most alternative websites lacked the budget to pay. For the first years I lived a spartan life and dug into my savings from my former, well-paid job at the Guardian. During this period I also wrote a series of books because it was so difficult to find places to publish my news reporting.

It was in the late Noughties that Arab media in English, led by Al-Jazeera, really took off, with Arab states making the most of the new favourable conditions provided by the internet. These outlets flourished for a time by feeding the appetite among sections of the western public for more critical coverage of Israel-Palestine and of western foreign policy more generally. At the same time, Arab states exploited the revelations provided by dissident journalists to gain more leverage in Washington policymaking circles.

My time with Al-Ahram came to an abrupt end after a few years, as the paper grew less keen on running hard-hitting pieces that showed Israel as an apartheid state or that explained the nature of its settler colonial ideology. Rumours reached me that the Americans were leaning on the Egyptian government and its media to tone down the bad news about Israel.

It would be the first of several exits I had to make from these English-language Arab media outlets. As their western readership and visibility grew, they invariably attracted hostile attention from western governments and sooner or later capitulated. They were never more than fickle, unreliable allies to western dissidents.

Editors as sheepdogs

Again, I would have been forced to abandon journalism had it not been for another technological innovation – the rise of social media. Facebook and Twitter soon rivalled the corporate media as platforms for news dissemination.

For the first time, it was possible for journalists to grow their own audiences independently of an outlet. In a few cases, that dramatically changed the power relations in favour of those journalists. Glenn Greenwald is probably the most prominent example of this trend. He was chased after first by the Guardian and then by the billionaire Pierre Omidyar, to set up the Intercept. Now he’s on his own, using the editorially hands-off online platform Substack.

In a news environment driven chiefly by shares, journalists with their own large and loyal followings were initially prized.

But they were also an implicit threat. The role of corporate media is to serve as a figurative sheep-dog, herding journalists each day into an ideological pen – the publication they write for. There are minor differences of opinion and emphasis between conservative publications and liberal ones, but they all ultimately serve the same corporate, business-friendly, colonial, war-mongering agenda.

It is the publication’s job, not the journalists’, to shape the values and worldview of its readers, over time limiting the range of possible thoughts they are likely to entertain.

Readers to the rescue

In the new environment of social media that has begun to change. Not only have some journalists become more influential than the papers they write for, but others have abandoned the employee-servant model completely. They have reached the conclusion that they no longer need a corporate outlet to secure an audience. They can publish themselves, build their own readership, and generate their own income – freeing themselves from corporate servitude.

In the last few years, this is a path I have pursued myself – becoming mostly reader-financed. For most of us, it is a precarious option. But it is liberating too – in a way that no previous generation of journalists could ever have imagined possible.

We are subject to no editorial oversight or control, apart from our own self-imposed sense of what is right and fair, or in some cases what we think our readers are ready to hear. We have no bosses or advertisers to please or appease. Our owner is the readerhip, and with an owner that diverse and diffuse, we have been freed of the tyranny of billionaires and corporations.

This new model of journalism is revolutionary. It is genuinely pluralistic media. It allows a much wider spectrum of thought to reach the mainstream than ever before. And perhaps even more importantly, it allows independent journalists to examine, critique and expose the corporate media in real time, showing how little pluralism they allow and how often they resort to blatant falsehood and propaganda techniques.

The fact that a few journalists and activists can so convincingly and easily tear apart the coverage of corporate media outlets reveals how little relationship that coverage often bears to reality.

Reporters for hire

Corporate media took none of this lying down, of course, even if it was slow to properly gauge the dangers.

Dissident journalists are a problem not only because they have broken free of the controls of the billionaire class and are often doing a better job of building audiences than their corporate counterparts. Worse, dissident journalists are also educating readers so that they are better equipped to understand what corporate journalism is: that it is ideological prostitution. It is a reporting and commentary for hire, by an establishment class.

The backlash from the corporate media to this threat was not long coming. Criticism – narratively managed by corporate outlets – has sought to character-assassinate dissident journalists and browbeat the social media platforms that host them. Reality has been inverted. Too often it is the critical thinking of dissident journalists that is maligned as “fake news”, and it is the genuine pluralism social media corporations have inadvertently allowed that is repudiated as the erosion of democratic values.

Social media platforms have put up only the most feeble resistance to the traditional corporate media-led campaign demanding they crack down on the dissidents they host. They are, after all, media corporations too, and have little interest in promoting free speech, critical thinking or pluralism.

Manipulated algorithms

What resistance they did muster, for a short time, largely reflected the fact that their early business model was to replace top-down traditional media with a new bottom-up media that was essentially led by readers. But as social media has gradually been merged or incorporated into the traditional media establishment, it has preferred to join in with the censorship and to marginalise dissident journalists.

Some of this is done out in the open, with the banning of individuals or alternative sites. But more often it is done covertly, through the manipulation of algorithms making dissident journalists all but impossible to find. We have seen our page views and shares plummet over the past few years, as we lose the online battle against the same, supposedly “authoritative sources” – the establishment media – we have been exposing as fraudsters.

The perverse, self-serving discourse from establishment media about the new media is currently hard to miss in the relentless attacks on Substack. This open platform hosts journalists and writers who wish to build their own audiences and fund themselves from reader donations. Substack is the logical conclusion of a path I and other have been on for two decades. It not only gets rid of the media’s sheepdog-editors, it dispenses with the ideological pens into which journalists are supposed to be herded.

Sordid history

James Ball, whose sordid history includes acting as the Guardian’s hatchet man on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, was a predictable choice as the Guardian Group tried this month to discredit Substack. Here is Ball ridiculously fretting about how greater freedom for journalists might damage western society by stoking so-called “culture wars”:

Concerns are emerging about what Substack is now, exactly. Is it a platform for hosting newsletters and helping people discover them? Or is it a new type of publication, one that relies on stoking the culture wars to help divisive writers build devoted followings? …

Being on Substack has for some become a tacit sign of being a partisan in the culture wars, not least because it’s a lot easier to build a devoted and paying following by stressing that you’re giving readers something the mainstream won’t.

Ball is the kind of second-rate stenographer who would have had no journalistic career at all were he not a hired gun for a corporate publication like the Guardian. Buried in his piece is the real reason for his – and the Guardian’s – concern about Substack:

Such is Substack’s recent notoriety that people are now worrying that it might be the latest thing that might kill traditional media.

Notice the heavy-lifting that word “people” is doing in the quoted sentence. Not you or I. “People” refers to James Ball and the Guardian.

Severe price

But the gravest danger to media freedom lies beyond any supposed “culture wars”. As the battle for narrative control intensifies, there is much more at stake than name-calling and even skewed algorithms.

In a sign of how far the political and media establishment are willing to go to stop dissident journalism – a journalism that seeks to expose corrupt power and hold it to account – they have been making examples of the most significant journalists of the new era by prosecuting them.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been out of sight for a decade – first as a political asylum seeker, then as an inmate of a British prison – subjected to endlessly shifting pretexts for his incarceration. First, it was a rape investigation that no one wanted to pursue. Then, it was for a minor bail infraction. And more recently – as the other pretexts have passed their sellby date – it has been for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange could languish in jail for years to come.

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray, a chronicler through his blog of the legal abuses Assange has suffered, has faced his own retribution from the establishment. He has been prosecuted and found guilty in a patently nonsensical “jigsaw identification” case relating to the Alex Salmond trial.

My talk has been recorded too early to know the outcome of Murray’s sentencing hearing, which was due to take place the day before this festival [and was later postponed to Tuesday May 11]. But the treatment of Assange and Murray has sent a clear message to any journalist inspired by their courage and their commitment to hold establishment power to account: “You will pay a severe price. You will lose years of your life and mountains of money fighting to defend yourself. And ultimately we can and will lock you away.”

Peek behind the curtain

The west’s elites will not give up the corrupt institutions that uphold their power without a fight. We would be foolish to think otherwise. But new technology has offered us new tools in our struggle and it has redrawn the battleground in ways that no one could have predicted even a decade ago.

The establishment are being forced into a game of whack-a-mole with us. Each time they bully or dismantle a platform we use, another one – like Substack – springs up to replace it. That is because there will always be journalists determined to find a way to peek behind the curtain to tell us what they found. And there will always be audiences who want to learn what is behind the curtain. Supply and demand are on our side.

The constant acts of intimidation and violence by political and media elites to crush media pluralism in the name of “democratic values” will serve only to further expose the hypocrisy and bad faith of the corporate media and its hired hands.

We must keep struggling because the struggle itself is a form of victory.twitter sharing buttonThank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today’s festival. sharethis sharing button

The post We can defeat the corporate media’s war to snuff out independent journalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Post-Pandemic American Society Must Not Return to its Industrial Capitalist Roots

Our mace shaped COVID-19 enemy and its mutations merrily popping up around the United States, ironically has opened up new possibilities for inching beyond the grimy confines of industrial capitalism to new modes of work, learning and being that were initially promised by technocrats at the dawn of the Internet/World Wide Web. Indeed, the Pandemic of 2020-21 (Pandemic) revealed that remote education and work was feasible easing; for example, the pollution that filled the air with the exhaust from automobiles, buses, aircraft and idle factories.

Further, telemedicine was catapulted from mere novelty to reality as the medical community realized that simple follow-up appointments did not require brick and mortar (B&M) office visits. Corporations like Amazon saved billions, according to CNBC, on travel expenses by halting the practice of needlessly sending employees to conferences and trade shows that could just as easily be conducted online. Families were forced to spend time together maybe getting to know one another better.  Businesses that survived during the Pandemic were forced to make hybrid arrangements for employees so they could care for their children while staying physically distanced from the workplace. Americans had time to think in isolation and perhaps, for a moment, they became bored with all the technological gadgets and networks that blur, rather than educate.

Was it really all that bad? Can’t the nation wean itself off of industrial capitalism? Do we have to go back?

Yes, no doubt, suffering was real. Millions went unemployed and the destruction wrought by the Pandemic was revealed in the numbers filing for unemployment claims, food assistance, rent/mortgage and student loan forbearance. Homelessness increased. Surplus labor skyrocketed. Indeed, according to the human resources consultancy Adeccogroup.com, the top five jobs set for the post-Pandemic chopping block are in higher education, sales, administration and office support, construction, air travel and the hospitality industry. What now?

Never Forget

It was in this that the Pandemic exposed the sheer ruthlessness of American industrial capitalist governance and its homicidal policies. Even as 500,000 Americans died from complications of COVID-19, Americans would watch as the US government—through its elected representatives, simply told the people to go pound sand. Watching the mostly wealthy entrenched ideologues in the US Congress bicker, or vacation, while COVID-19 was causing America to eat itself has to stand as one of the more sickening events in American history. Indeed, stock prices soared at many points during the Pandemic even as a modern day plague ravaged the land.

No one should ever forget it.

The Pandemic caused American government to buckle on its knees. It was a horrific structural failure and the wreckage is there for all Americans, and the world, to see. It is there in the COVID-19 KIA body counts, a flimsy healthcare system ravaged by privatization, logistical impasses in transporting vaccines and, in the midst of it all, the US Congress—while in session affirming the electoral vote count for president Joe Biden—was overrun by an ignorant mob. And now those at the apex of industrial capitalism, here in the United States, and those at the bottom of it, want to move back to the standard industrial model that has left a path of death, suffering and waste in its wake. “Build Back Better,” US president Joe Biden says. Back to what?

Yes, our deadly friend COVID-19 showed that Americans are made of the stuff of ignorance, fear, complaint and irresponsibility. The Pandemic caused Americans not to adapt and put on a brave face, but rather exposed the flimsy myth of America as exceptional. Oh, first responders and frontline medical workers have great courage, of course, and so do many US soldiers that experience combat, but those individuals are small in number in a nation of 335 million people.

It is strange that the Pandemic pushed the Internet/WWW to be used for what it was initially meant for: research, learning, work, and video/voice communication in a time of isolation. It was a far better use of the medium as opposed to  24 hours news casts, Tik-Tok videos and perpetual head-down positions required by the handhelds; all accompanied, of course, by loud, tractor-pull mutilated language or techno pop. With 100 places to turn for electronic stimulation— and the fear of missing a call, video or text—it’s no wonder attention spans for the young and old have become so irreparably damaged that recalling sentence number one at the end of a four sentence paragraph is a challenge of the highest order.

Lobotomy Please, Not Reality

But perhaps there is a ghost in the machine type of logic to it all. The network connected American has come to forget in the evening what was purchased in the morning. It is certainly good for business. History is what happens in the future, not the past. The past needs to be wiped away so the future can appear. The unintended use of the Internet/WWW and communications technologies/gadgets, have caused in-depth, critical thinking to be wiped away in the United States. The Pandemic has shown that Americans do not want to slow down or spend time apart from their handheld which is, of course, connected to the Internet/WWW.

With the Internet—the cables, links, routers, switches and other machinery upon which content (voice, images, video, text, software) travels the World Wide Web, Americans became easily blinded into thinking that they were living out some novel, fantastical existence in a technologically sophisticated, forward thinking society. It was all cosmetic gloss, a techno-veil, one which we all donned because we really believed that by doing so we were moving in some direction to a sort of new American Nirvana.

It is tempting to refer to the artsy-tech movie The Matrix and the scene where Morpheus shows Neo that the world he thought he knew has been destroyed. “Welcome to the world of the real,” Morpheus says as Neo looks on and goes into shock, vomiting.

But the world of 2021 is no special effects movie.

Americans are eager to get back to the way things were, in their world of the real. To get back on the road to commute to work/school; that is, increase pollution, vehicle accidents. To be relieved of parenting, that is, using schools/teachers as a babysitting service and prisons for prepubescent adolescents and/or maturing teenagers. Why does the United States want to rush back into the B&M model? Consider building construction, or, better still, phrase it as building empty, wasteful spaces. Elementary and high school buildings remain largely empty during a 24/7, 12 month cycle (after hours they remain largely vacant). The sports fields, running tracks and basketball courts that accompany each structure are only partially used. The same can be said for sky-scraping office buildings that, over the same 24/7 hour, 12 month cycles, remain empty. Meanwhile, taxpayer funded sports stadiums are never fully used. It is reminiscent of cathedrals and mosques built at great expense on the backs of the poor that become tourist attractions more than places of worship. Or think about military bases, factories and housing projects abandoned, rotting away. These are the wasteful byproducts of industrial capitalism still existing and perpetually constructed in what is wistfully called “The Information Age.”

The Human Condition has hardly changed at all.

Warehouses for the Young

The Pandemic showed that the Internet—those land, seafloor and space-based communications networks, combined with the content and software of the World Wide Web (WWW), could be effectively used to teach students online, at home, and in virtual classrooms. As it is, America warehouses K-20 students; separating, or rather protecting them, from the messy society adults have created. Students are taught — what exactly? How to master a college entrance exam? To memorize Algebraic equations they will forget in a year?

The Pandemic of 2020-21, showed just how archaic B&M education is. Let’s face it, isn’t distance learning/work the way the United States was supposed to evolve even minus COVID-19?

Prognosticators claimed the greatest technological powerhouse on the planet was going to push ahead building pipelines to carry and host vast stores of knowledge content via the Internet and WWW for learning. No more bulky, out of date textbooks. Students, parents, teachers and local-state-federal government officials (in that order) would work together to develop an educational plan based on the student’s primary interests which would likely be demonstrated by 12th grade, perhaps, with second and third interests in the pipeline if the student’s subject matter area changed.

Course tracks would be customized by downloading, largely free, content from the WWW. The teacher would become more like a tutor and the student would have many of them with perhaps a learning coordinator/advocate constantly tweaking the course menu. Since performance data on students in K-12 in the USA is tracked anyway; for example—including absent/sick days, suspensions and legal problems— career path/trend analyses based on grades and other statistics could be implemented to assist the student in selecting a field of study-employment.

Chained to the Bicycle Rack

“It’s nice to know things. I like to know things. You like to know things,” said Professor David Perkins of Harvard University in the 2015 issue of Harvard Ed Magazine. “But there are issues of balance, particularly in the digital age. The information in textbooks is not necessarily what you need or would like to have at your fingertips…Conventional curriculum is chained to the bicycle rack…It sits solidly in the minds of parents: I learned that. Why aren’t my children learning it? The enormous investment in textbooks and the cost of revising them gives familiar elements of the curriculum a longer life span than they might perhaps deserve. Curriculum suffers from something of a crowded garage effect: It generally seems safer and easier to keep the old bicycle around than to throw it out…the life worthiness of the multitudinous facts and ideas in the typical curriculum is spotty, it seems not to have been thought through very carefully.”

It is often necessary to visit the past for a solution to the present. Consider the following from 1971. It is excerpted from Between Two Ages: The Technetronic Era, by Zbigniew Brzeziński.

The following would be a good start for Americans to set about changing their views of learning, working and being.

In America higher education is carried on within a relatively self-­contained organizational and even social framework, making for a protracted period of semi­-isolation from problems of social reality. As a result, both organizationally and in terms of content, a divorce between education and social existence has tended to develop…extending education on an intermittent basis throughout the lifetime of the citizen, society would go a long way toward meeting this problem. The duration of the self­-contained and relatively isolated phase of initial education could then be shortened. Taking into account the earlier physical and sexual maturation of young people today, it could be more generally pursued within a work ­study framework, and it should be supplemented by periodic additional training throughout most of one’s active life.

A good case can be made for ending initial education—more of which could be obtained in the home through electronic devices, somewhere around the age of eighteen. This formal initial period could be followed by two years of service in a socially desirable cause; then by direct involvement in some professional activity and by advanced, systematic training within that area; and finally by regular periods of one and eventually even  two years of broadening, integrative study at the beginning of every decade of one’s life, somewhere up to the age of sixty. For example, medical or legal training could begin after only two years of college, thus both shortening the time needed to complete the training and probably also increasing the number attracted into these professions. Regular and formally required retraining—as well as broadening—could ensue at regular intervals throughout most of one’s professional career.

By now you are wondering: So what is my solution? I don’t have an adequate response to that question, but I do know that national and transnational cultural education has to be connected to any answer or plan that sets America—and the world, for that matter, on a path to a post-industrial capitalist society. The country isn’t even close to it now. The Pandemic has shown that. It just does not seem likely that returning to the industrial capitalist, B&M norm—or the model of governance as it is run by officials now in power—will move the country any closer to change. The wars go on, weapons are more lethal and will soon be operated by AI programs, racism still exists, ignorance is bliss, corporations are people, pollution continues, wasted spaces are good for business, and education is awash in a mishmash of learning methodologies, software applications and a war between parents, teachers and administrators.

Perhaps—like the US military as it seeks to stand down to contemplate the problem of extremism in its ranks—American civil society needs to stand down for some period of time to reassess learning, work and being.

The post Post-Pandemic American Society Must Not Return to its Industrial Capitalist Roots first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Former Israeli army spy recruited by Labour should feel right at home

The revelation this week that the British Labour Party recently appointed a former Israeli military spy to work in its headquarters, reporting to the office of leader Keir Starmer, is truly extraordinary in many different regards.

It is hard to believe the Labour leadership did not know who Assaf Kaplan was or appreciate the likely backlash to placing someone with his background in charge of the party’s social media work. That may explain the continuing reluctance from the Labour leadership to comment.

In his online CV, Kaplan had drawn attention to his years spent in the notorious Israeli military intelligence unit 8200, which has a long and ugly record of surveilling Palestinians.

One of the unit’s main tasks, highlighted by a group of whistleblowers in 2014 and widely publicised in the British media, is to gain damaging information to blackmail individual Palestinians. They are then threatened into collaborating with Israel’s military authorities against fellow Palestinians.

Unit 8200 is the lynchpin of Israel’s success in maintaining its 54-year occupation, by engineering a policy of divide-and-rule among Palestinians and foiling any efforts they make to liberate themselves from Israeli oppression.

Tone deaf

If Labour officials did not know the significance of Unit 8200, or how the invitation of a former Israeli “military intelligence officer” into Labour headquarters would look to swaths of party members, that in itself is an indictment.

A near-civil war has been raging for some time in Labour over the suspension and expulsion of party members whose social media accounts have been scoured for anti-Israel sentiment by pro-Israel groups. To now put a former Israeli officer trained by a cyberwarfare unit in charge of monitoring social media for Labour is, on the best interpretation, completely tone deaf.

It simply highlights how indifferent Labour under Starmer is to the sensitivities of many of its members – and, of course, Palestinians – in stark contrast to the party’s strenuous and divisive efforts to placate each and every demand from the pro-Israel lobby.

Meddling in politics

If Kaplan’s work in Unit 8200 did not raise a red flag, other details lurking in his social media accounts should have rung alarm bells. Not only was he once an operative for Israel’s military spying machine, but he was also an online “friend” of the disgraced Shai Masot, a far more prominent Israeli spy.

Four years ago, an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera exposed Masot, who worked at the time in the Israeli embassy in London, interfering at the highest levels of British politics. Masot was filmed in clandestine talks with Conservative Party staff about how to “take down” a British foreign minister, Alan Duncan, who was seen by Israel as too sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

More damagingly for Starmer, Masot was also exposed working closely with pro-Israel activists inside the Labour Party to bring down his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. That included efforts by Masot to set up “youth movements” intended to operate as a front for the Israeli government.

Transcripts from sections of undercover filming not aired by Al Jazeera reportedly show the then director of the Jewish Labour Movement, Ella Rose, who had previously worked at the Israeli embassy, speaking of the JLM’s close relations with Masot.

The goal of these Israeli-organised groups was to undermine Corbyn from within, because of his public role in the Palestinian solidarity movement and his trenchant criticisms of Israel.

Dirty tricks

After the four-part investigation was aired, Israel had to carry out a damage-limitation operation, quickly returning Masot to Israel and portraying him – unconvincingly – as a rogue operator.

In fact, Masot’s work was entirely in line with the remit of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry to use dirty tricks to sabotage prominent individuals and movements abroad that criticise Israel, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

A few months before Masot’s exposure, the Israeli media had reported a feud at the embassy in London. The Israeli foreign ministry had complained that the strategic affairs ministry was carrying out potentially illegal activities in the UK and jeopardising the diplomatic mission.

So why, before he took up his new UK post, was Kaplan moving in the same social or professional circles in Israel as the disgraced Masot? In a sign of just how embarrassing this information is for the Labour Party, Kaplan appears to have hurriedly erased his military intelligence past after it was exposed by the Electronic Intifada website.

The decision to appoint Kaplan is all the more remarkable given that Starmer has been extolling his efforts to move past the legacy of his predecessor, Corbyn. For five years, Labour was mired in endless controversy around Israel, Zionism and Jews.

Corbyn had to endure relentless, evidence-free claims from pro-Israel lobby groups, echoed by the mainstream media, that Labour had become institutionally antisemitic on his watch. These smears were chiefly designed to stop Corbyn from winning power.

Rope to hang Corbyn

Starmer’s own campaign to win the leadership included a pledge that he was a Zionist supporter of Israel “without qualification” and a commitment to those same lobby groups that they would get to oversee, and even dictate, Labour policy on Israel-related matters.

It emerged after his election that Starmer had accepted – and concealed – a large, £50,000 ($68,000) donation to his campaign from Trevor Chinn, a member of a leading Israel lobby group, Bicom. The organisation was founded by Poju Zabludowicz, whose Israeli father made his wealth from the arms trade.

In the past, Chinn has donated to several Labour MPs who worked to undermine Corbyn: Joan Ryan, a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel; Tom Watson, who served as Corbyn’s highly antagonistic deputy; and Owen Smith, who led an early challenge to unseat Corbyn as leader.

Starmer’s campaign to distance the party from Corbyn reached its climax in October, when the UK government’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission issued a report after its investigation into Labour antisemitism claims. The report quietly exonerated Labour of any charge of institutional antisemitism, but the watchdog’s inconsistent findings offered Starmer and the UK media just enough rope to hang Corbyn.

Starmer incensed much of the membership by taking the unprecedented step, in the wake of the report, of stripping Corbyn of his place in the parliamentary Labour Party, forcing him to sit as an independent.

Deliberate provocation

It is hard not to view Kaplan’s appointment as either an astounding and entirely unnecessary self-inflicted wound, or as a deliberate provocation. Most of Starmer’s critics will regard it squarely as the latter.

It fits too neatly with Starmer’s behaviour since he was elected leader last April. Since then, he has been working overtime to cosy up to pro-Israel lobby groups that were not only deeply opposed to Corbyn, but actively worked to oust him.

In addition to expelling Corbyn as a Labour MP, Starmer has purged the party of members critical of Israel, including Jewish members, and silenced by diktat all support for Corbyn in constituency parties.

Why, after what amounts to a mini-reign of terror within Labour to get matters related to Israel off the party’s radar – and out of media headlines – would Starmer now plunge Labour into a new potential row about Israel?

Gagging orders

The answer is that the recruitment of a former Israeli spy into the inner sanctums of Labour headquarters will ultimately prove a minor and temporary controversy for him.

It will antagonise only the swath of members who supported Corbyn, for whom he has shown utter contempt and who have been battered into silence by what are effectively gagging orders from his new general secretary, David Evans.

It will not likely cause controversy with the Jewish Labour Movement, which was reportedly revived by political allies of Israel as a weapon against Corbyn” in 2015. Rather, they will be further enthused by Starmer.

It will raise barely a flicker of interest from most Labour MPs, who were desperate for Corbyn to be gone, and many of whom belong to another pro-Israel lobby, Labour Friends of Israel.

And it will be largely ignored by the British mainstream media, which has been giving the establishment-friendly Starmer a far easier ride than they ever gave Corbyn.

Ugly Labour politics

If anyone doubts this, just recall the hasty hushing up by the media of, and indifference of most Labour MPs towards, Al Jazeera’s expose four years ago.

After brief indignation over Masot’s efforts to oust Duncan, the documentary series was quickly forgotten by the media. It was certainly not brought back into the spotlight in relation to the campaign of antisemitism smears against Corbyn, despite its very obvious and pressing relevance.

The Masot affair, as well as this new one, reveal something very ugly about Labour – and British – politics.

Corbyn was widely criticised, mostly over activities that predated his becoming leader, for bringing the issue of Israel onto Labour’s agenda. His opponents argued that his foreign policy concerns overshadowed Labour’s more important domestic agenda. Could he not just forget about Israel?

Anti-Palestinian stance

But the decision of Starmer’s Labour to now invite a former Israeli spy into party headquarters – after a previous one, Masot, failed to gain a foothold – shows that the problem was never about getting Israel out of Labour politics. It was about getting the issue of Palestinian suffering, one of the most enduring legacies of British imperialism, out of Labour politics.

The antisemitism controversy was never really about supposed anti-Jewish racism from Corbyn’s supporters. It was about fighting anti-Zionists in the Labour Party, and in so doing, making support for the Palestinian cause harder to express – which has indeed been the result.

The current party leadership wants any discussion of the Palestinian issue, and Britain’s continuing colonial role, cleansed from the party.

Skewed values

In Kaplan’s job description, under a category titled “values/behaviours”, it says that applicants must show a “commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion” and “to the Labour Party’s goals, values, policies and codes of conduct”.

What Starmer has made clear is that Labour’s values give no weight at all to the injustices still being suffered by Palestinians because of Britain’s historic meddling in the Middle East.

Labour has also demonstrated that it has no commitment to “equality, diversity and inclusion” when it comes to Palestinian and Jewish members critical of Israel. Indifferent to the optics, Starmer’s Labour sacked its only senior Palestinian party official this month, reportedly over his support for Corbyn.

Imagine the outcry if Labour had sacked its only senior Jewish official. Rather, Labour’s vision of “equality, diversity and inclusion” springs from the same ideological worldview as its sister party in Israel – an Israeli Labor party that decades ago established a single political framework governing the lives of Israelis and Palestinians that B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights group, described this week as “apartheid”.

In the racist context of British politics, including Labour politics, there is no cost to screwing over Palestinians time and again. This is why Starmer will happily ride out the short-lived controversy – one restricted to ordinary party members – over appointing a former Israeli spy to his party headquarters.

Lucrative laboratory

For Palestinians, this decision cannot but be deeply offensive. For many years, scholars have been noting how Israel has turned the occupied Palestinian territories into a giant and lucrative laboratory in which it battle-tests weapons and military equipment for export.

But equally importantly for Israel, it turns ordinary Palestinians into guinea pigs for experiments in how to surveil, control, divide and exploit them. Unit 8200, in which Kaplan worked for many years, is at the heart of that infrastructure of terror that keeps Palestinians afraid and oppressed.

Israeli academics, such as Jeff Halper, have pointed out that Israel parlays this expertise into political and diplomatic power. Other states are queueing up to mine the lessons learned by Israel from surveilling Palestinians so that they can use similar techniques on their own populations back home. The need for these military and intelligence skills – learned from oppressing Palestinians – is reflected in Israel’s wide diplomatic backing by other states.

Starmer’s Labour Party is showing it is no different. It will profit directly from the skills of one of the graduates of Unit 8200, benefiting from the lessons Kaplan learned in a military organisation that spies on and extorts Palestinians.

That should not sit well with anyone in a party that claims to be left-wing, anti-racist and progressive, and to care about social justice. And yet, there are unlikely to be any meaningful repercussions for either Kaplan or Starmer from this ugly alliance.

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The Machine Age: is it progress, or is it an anomaly?

When one questions current trends, especially for those beyond their twenties, it is quite common to be thought of as ‘out of touch’, ‘outdated’, ‘reactionary’ or various other negative descriptions for those who might be resistant to the inevitable process of change.

Change is perhaps the only constant in known existence, on both a micro or macro scale. Accepting that all things are subject to eventual change is perhaps a valuable life lesson that all of us must confront if we wish to attain any self-knowledge of wisdom. However, not all change is necessary, inevitable or beneficial and change for its own sake is not something we should blindly accept. Blind acceptance of all change as ‘progress’ is foolish to say the least and one must consider the view that just because something is possible it is not necessarily imperative.

Looking at human history, we can see variations in the pace of human change over millennia, in different societies and in different parts of the world. Most people would agree that it is fair to say that change has been slow up until the Renaissance period. During and after this period, the rate of change in technology and human innovation increased dramatically, as did the effect of humans on the planet.

This rate of change increased again as we entered the industrial age – with the creation of machines that ran on steam, hydrocarbon fuels and electricity. Coupled with technological progress we see a huge increase in the human population, reaching around 1 billion in 1800 approximately and hitting 2 billion around 1925 and currently at just under 8 billion people.

Although electricity became practically usable in the 1820s, mostly due to the work of Michael Faraday, it did not become widely usable by vast numbers of people until after World War 2. Even today, there are over 1 billion people in the world without electricity available to them, although developments in ‘Free Energy’ might soon change that. So, apart from the last 70 years, the entirety of human history (except for minor uses in ancient Sumer, Greece etc) has been without electricity, and without any understanding of it, or any desire to avail of it.

Likewise, the motorised vehicle, gas appliances, street lighting, metalled roads, advanced medicine and most practical sciences are all recent innovations that humans have done without for millennia. For the most part, people would agree that these recent innovations have been a huge benefit to humanity, even though many of them have had a detrimental effect on the wider environment. However, most of the innovations of the last 200 or so years have been fairly gradual in comparison to recent developments.

Along with faster, but still gradual technological change, there has been huge but gradual social change. The most dramatic change has been the acceptance of women  as the social and intellectual equals of men, although this has taken considerable time and arguably is still incomplete.

Much of the ‘progress’ we have seen in the 20th century has been of great benefit – such as in medicine, but some of it is rather questionable. Two areas that are most suspect are agriculture and computer technology. Agricultural innovation of the ‘Green Revolution’, which began in the 1950s has yielded as many problems as it has benefits, and is now proving to be catastrophic for bio-diversity, despite the increased productivity in human food generation.

Computer technology has also yielded somewhat mixed results – innovation and computational ability far beyond that of individual humans is a great benefit, but one must also remember that computers have eliminated entire industries, created alienation, unemployment, addiction and a host of other social ills that we still do not fully appreciate or comprehend.

Alvin Toffler, in his 1970 book Futureshock predicted much of the problems that have come to pass, due to the vast acceleration in the pace of change. These changes have not just been technological but social in nature, and have stressed the very fabric of human society near to breaking point on occasion. As a result, we now live in an increasingly fragmented world, where human experience and perception is perhaps more diverse than it has ever been.  While diversity in generally a good thing, extremes and myriad deviations can cause loss of continuity, cohesion and the destruction of formerly homogeneous societies.

What we see now in the world is vast array of experiences – ranging from the non-technological indigenous person, who has no experience of modern lifestyles to the techno-savy, socially aware city/town dweller – ready to embrace a transhumanist future. These two extremes are worlds apart, and most people do not fit in either extreme, falling somewhere between the two, in all or many areas of their life – as humans are not simple beings, we are complex, nuanced and at times contradictorary.

Along with the vastly accelerated technological changes of the 21st century, we are seeing social changes that, although somewhat slower, mirror the technological shift, perhaps, in part, in an attempt to adapt to the technological norms that are increasingly imposed upon humanity.

The concept of the Overton Window, developed by the late Joseph Overton, at the end of the last century, has become very popular in sociology, politics and increasingly so in popular culture. The basic idea is that what is acceptable now is different from what was acceptable in the past and that extreme ideas, beyond the bounds of current reasonable public perception will not be accepted. At one time gladiatorial games would have been normal and acceptable to Roman citizens, but in our current time such a thing would be socially and politically anathema.

While it is clearly a good thing that slavery, oppression of women, widespread violence, racism, etc. are generally no-longer acceptable, I question whether some of the social changes we are now seeing fall into the category of ‘beneficial to humanity’. Where the pace of change accelerates beyond what the human mind can easily adapt to, we end up in unknown territory.

While change is inevitable and one cannot even hope to prevent the development or evolution of humanity, it is perhaps wise to question the current direction we are taking. Is an over-reliance on technology really a benefit? A simple example would be the electronic calculator, that became fairly common in the 1970s and present in the bags of most western school children by the end of the 1980s. As a result of this small innovation, many people have difficulty in performing simple arithmetic and slightly more advanced arithmetic (such as long division) is pretty much impossible for some. This is only one small example of where mental laziness has crept in, due the replacement of thought with a technological aid, today we see the possibility of a multitude of tasks being undertaken by machines in a ‘labour saving’ exercise. In truth, mental effort and exertion are both necessary and beneficial for humans – without use, both our bodies and brains deteriorate and atrophy.

In the space of 70 years we have automated and electrified human existence, making many everyday tasks easier, eliminated much of the need for back-breaking work and created new areas of endeavour that were just science-fiction or unthought of before WW2. In the last 20 years the internet has been brought from its humble beginning (the academic JANET) to a world-wide information exchange system. Far beyond its original purpose of information sharing, the Internet  as the ‘Internet Of Things’ has become the ultimate information monitoring, sharing and distribution system. If your home is a ‘smart-home’, technology companies have access to unprecedented information, such as how often your toilets are used and how much milk is in your fridge; not to mention all the data that is collected through phones, tablets, laptops, Alexa etc, smart TV and conventional desktop computers.

Seemingly the next step is integration of human thought processes with this technology. In the past Human Computer Interaction (HCI) was about screen design and external devices (peripherals) but it has now progressed to the stage of direct interfacing with the body (phones, Fitbit) and even with the human brain (Elon Musk’s Neuralink, for instance).

It is clear that robotics are to become part of every-day human life in the same way that computerized devices have become omnipresent. The prospect of computerized human enhancements and prosphetic devices is also within reach – the main obstacle to this is not the technology but human resistance to such a major sea-change. We can now choose to change our gender, aided by hormones and surgery. Perhaps in the future we will be able to change our ‘species’ and even become cyborgs – part machine.

Going back to the Overton Window – much of the films, series, documentaries, journalism, social commentary and ‘woke’ culture seem to be conditioning us through what some call ‘social engineering’ to accept a future of unlimited possibilities, including machine-human integration that is total departure from 99.9% of historical human experience. It may be unacceptable right now, but these concept could become normlized in the very near future.

Transhumanism is a concept that has been around for a long time, about 100 years or so. Aldous Huxley wrote about it in his 1931 novel Brave New World, although this was a fictional warning, Huxley knew plenty about the Transhumanist philosophy through his brother Julian, who was an eminent supporter of it. Aldous Huxley later discussed his fears for the future at length in a television interview in 1958 (still available via YouTube), which was a rather grim prediction of what has come to pass and may come to pass very soon.

To some, my concerns about the direction of human progress may seem far-fetched and nonsensical, but considering how far we have come in such a short time, I believe a modicum of caution and restraint would be wise. Once we let the AI genie out of the bottle there is no putting it back in. The benefits of AI as a ‘stand alone’ device are obvious, but we are increasingly looking at integration and networking of AI technologies with human activities and human consciousness. Once we integrate into a network we can never be alone again, we cannot ever have true privacy again, unless we remove ourselves from that network. If permanent physical devices (prosphetics and implants) are used to connect us to each other and increasingly sophisticated computer networks, then that removes the option of disconnnection – effectively there will be no off switch.

Already it is hard to disappear. Even if we switch off our wifi, our phones and all surveillance-capable electrical devices we can still be monitored by CCTV, electronic purchases and other peoples’ devices. Some might say that ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about’, but that is not the point. Up until recently, humans have had the choice whether or not to share their time, space, energy, words and thoughts with others – in short, privacy was easily obtained. In this current era, one will find it increasingly difficult to find true privacy – perhaps in a forest or a deserted beach, but otherwise privacy is in increasingly short supply.

One could argue that this current period is simply an anomaly and that technology will continue to be the tool that it always was meant to be. Certainly some people are now desensitized to social media, electronic devices and no longer make them the centre of their existence. I am not advocating for a de-technologized future; what I am saying is that we need to consider that when ‘progress’ ceases to be a choice, then we are in trouble. Innovation is part of human existence, but acceptance and integration of technological innovation has always been optional up until now.

My fear is that technological obsession will not be an anomaly but become a new integrated future of humanity, in which there is no ‘opt-out’. I do not like the prospect of a world where I cannot choose to use my mind to perform multiplication tasks instead of using my electronic calculator. What AI and network integration between computers and human nural processes offers is the ability for us to stop thinking for ourselves. What is more frightening still is the possibility that AI will preemptively think for us, predictively and far faster than we can make analyses and decisions ourselves. Self-reliance is a key skill to be a successful human and societies that have relied too much on technology, other actors (machines, servants or slaves) have often deteriorated and failed in the long term.

We are at a pivotal stage in human history – whether we choose to truly embrace the machine and AI, or encourage and develop our own faculties, is key to how the rest of this century may unfold. Indeed, what we choose to do in the next decade or so might change the future direction of humanity as fundamentally as the invention of the wheel.

The post The Machine Age: is it progress, or is it an anomaly? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

No Work, Little Work, Too Much Work, UBI/DIY/Gig Economies

It’s an unprecedented coalition of business networks that have come together to raise our ambition. Not just to help our individual CEOs succeed, we’ll do that for sure. But to actually bring their voices together to help shift culture. So that the pushback on the BRT [Business Roundtable] from different business publications or other people within the business community lessens. So there’s less of a headwind culturally for this type of leadership. 
— Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab and B Corporations [Source]

[These are not good people, and if anyone thinks otherwise, then, well, War is Peace, Truth is Lies, Hate is Love!]

We Are Big Data’s Dregs

The great data dredge. Everyone’s hired through a digital head hunter, staffing firm, and the result is a continuation of atomizing society with no water cooler, so to speak, from which to complain about working conditions, to discuss the next austerity measure concocted by the boss/management/ CEO/Corporation. No after work bull session at the local Chili’s or T.G.I.F. to compare notes about those exploding gas tanks and caustic chemicals and faulty electrodes in the air bag systems.

This is what Ford would have wanted, and this is what the heads of retail and data and manufacturing want. They’ve already put most of us over a barrel with forced arbitration clauses, non-compete agreements (sic), and rule after penalty after threat after law after delimitation, that, well, in this knowledge (sic) economy and post-Industrial (sic) economy, the white collar and pink collar workers are hemmed in by management. More than the field hands picking this country’s lettuce!

The hemming in is an oppression planned and sealed, and a deep seated zombifcation of the “higher castes” and to be honest, people of the land, even those in struggle, in other countries that have been deemed shit-holes by Trump and Third World by Biden have more gumption about them, more ability to fight the systems, the oppressors, than any member of the Western Civilization.

Just drive around your town or suburb, anywhere. Take a look at what and how the systems have been set up for and about the rich, for the money changers, for the money takers, for the dream hoarders. Take a look. How many bus stations, how many covered and art-imbued public amenities? How many public toilets, public waysides, public paths, public trails, public pedestrian overpasses, public bandstands, public gazebos, public museums, public eateries, public statues, signs, art, historical markers? How many trees and shrubs and open spaces set up for the public? How many picnic tables and interpretive trails, and …? How many tiny home villages for the houseless? How many community gardens? Theaters and cinemas for and by the people?

Talk about dead and lobotomized citizens, as we have allowed the captains of industry and oppressors of finance and the legions of pushers of the realm rule: retailers, consumer crack salesmen/women, middle managers, ant hill after ant hill of processors and facilitators of the entire house of cards built upon the dopamine hits of lizard drips of the brain. “I betcha can’t eat just one Lays potato chip,” now on steroids – “I betcha you can’t just have 3 big screen TVs in your pad … “And now you fill in that blank – Just look at the so-called Black Friday ads.

Amazing, junk, junk and more junk. Families buying deep fryers and rice steamers and any number of electronic junk that they can’t or don’t know how to use. All that plastic and tin, diodes and LED screens. All of that planned obsolescence. Nary a word about the embedded energy, the packaging, the toil and slave labor, the life cycle analysis. Piles and piles of worthless junk, planned to break, parts planned to snap, wires planned and ready to melt.

Planned Human Obsolescence

This is not a difficult thing to comprehend,  about socialism for the land and people versus capitalism for the elite and bankers and small group of sociopaths, who will fight tooth and nail (well, with a battalion of lawyers at $1500 an hour each, not really a fight per se) to push the poisons, hawk the faulty products, demand the welfare for the rich and corporations, and deposit all the externalities of their profit schemes onto the public and the commons’ health.

But …  Man, those “buts.” I talk all the time with great white saviors, who just start spewing at the mouth of the evils of socialism, and that, well, capitalism is good, and “we let Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg” accumulate so much wealth and power, so it’s our fault, and really, is it that bad we have these Titans who give us goods and services? This is like heaven compared to countries who push that bullshit democratic socialism crap. Do you know what the 10 pillars of socialism/communism/Marxism are?”

Try putting “debunking the critics of socialism” into the Google Gulag Search, and you shall receive so much hatred and polemics around anything tied to socialism on the first 50 pages of the search, that, well, you get the picture why these big white saviors will dare  come up to me and challenge me the socialist on how and why socialism is bad-bad-bad while capitalism is god’s work.

As these great white saviors are pushing a cart filled with two TV’s, a new printer, two iPads, and junk junk junk, 50 pounds of kitty liter and a hundred pounds of dog chow. While walking past the two young men I am working with who are taking in shopping carts as part of their competitive work as people who happen to be living with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. These Great White Hopes are Blind to “them.”

These great white saviors, well, it’s all about survival of the fittest. All about the colonized mind. All about – “you majored in the wrong subject matter, sucker … born into the most messed up family, sucker grew up on that side of the railroad tracks, dufus … got stuck with those bills and foreclosures, sucker.”

Oh, the invisible hand of the oppressors, and these people – Biden and Trump supporters, what have you – are criminal thinkers, really, because with one huge swath of their inhuman brain, they disregard 90 percent of the planet’s people.

“They are all sucka’s for being born where they are and from the loins of ‘those’ rotten people.”

A Sucker Borne Every Nanosecond

Oh, and I am seeing more and more quasi-leftist stuff, saying, well, the left needs to embrace the Trumpies, to work with them on labor rights, on environmental rights, on health care for all, on all those issues, and not be so hung up on their misogyny, racism, classism, white Duck Dynasty Ted Nugent shit.

Insanity, man. Leftists writing from the comfort of their offices, well, they are a dime a dozen. The reality on the ground is that this country has a cool 100 million or so hateful, resentful, ignorant of the world, pro-war, rah-rah, hate welfare of all kinds sort of people. They don’t have to be Proud Boys and KKK. These people in this USA, the white ones, mostly, have come from that evil spawn stock, back even before SCD, Smith Colony Disease.

Then, again, we have Democrats with a wilted big “D” who need their comeuppance, and who are just one half brain shy of a squid, and somehow, the other squids (sorry about the dispersion to cephalopods) with another load of brain cells missing need to be embraced, because, the GOP and Trumpies and the like want to move toward a truly socialist society?

Again, the reality is some bad-ass slow, consistent and in many cases rapid death by a 1,000 capitalist cuts.

I meet people in my new job, working with Adults with ID/DD, to get job ready and jobs in the community – real jobs, not stuck in some sheltered workshop getting one-tenth the wage of anyone else in the same job.

Sure, I am doing great work, god’s work, the work of an angel (they really say this stuff to me, a commie, a devoted atheist), and while I get the gist of that, we talk about how it is my careers have been shit for pay, highly exploitive and yet highly regarded in some sense: teaching, social services, and, well, community journalism.

“Ha-ha, you are doing these great services knowing you are not going to get rich doing it, but thank you for your service.”

Imagine that stupidity, that dense mentality. Imagine, the hard jobs that need doing in a broken capitalist society with wave after wave of damaged, chronically ill, economically strafed, mentally poisoned, generously precarious, and one paycheck away from bad ass disaster citizens on the precipice? PayDay Loans? That in and of itself defines capitalism. The Mafiosi aspect of this spiritually deserted society.

Yet, now, these great leftist warriors are saying the Trumpies and the GOP of the world – the log cutters, the mill workers, the truckers, the blue collar millionaires – that they want workplace rights, the right to strike, the right to squat, the right to refuse bad and dangerous work; that they want to be able to shut down polluting industries, and the right of the people to take over industries? That these Trumpies and GOP want universal health care, universal rights for all people. That these GOP and Trumpies want real education, more education, holistic education, writing and thinking across the curriculum, across disciplines, across industries. That the GOP-Trumpies will work so-so well with organizers and “the people” over defunding and holding to task “the police-backed” banks-warehouses-fulfillment centers. Right!@#$%

So how does anyone on both sides of the manure pile called USA politics square this fact?

Ahh, the world’s 26 richest people currently have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion—down from 61 people in 2016. As the rich get richer, sea levels are rising, tribalism is flourishing, and liberal democracies are regressing. Even some of the wealthiest nations are plagued by job insecurity, debt, and stagnant wages. Ordinary people across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned that the system is rigged against them. Trust in public institutions is near an all-time low.

So that Google search got one hit on the “other side” of the dividing line (not really) – “What the Right Gets Wrong About Socialism. As Scandinavia shows, it does feature plenty of public ownership—but also a thriving economy.”1

Sure, we get this from the Norwegian:

Norway’s success has not come without costs—wealth accrued through oil and other extractive industries has had harsh ecological consequences. But students there and across Scandinavia graduate without the horrifying debt burdens of their U.S. counterparts. Those who sustain injuries in traffic accidents never have to beg bystanders not to call for an ambulance, for fear of drowning in medical debt. Norwegian diabetics don’t need to crowdsource their insulin. As seniors, they don’t spend their golden years working at Walmart or living in their vehicles. Their homes were not repossessed en masse by banks during the Great Recession. Extensive public ownership shields Norwegians from the harshest aspects of unfettered capitalism.

But then he attacks North Korea and Venezuela for being failing socialist countries, and without the context of the international transnational monetary criminal system of sanctions and debt and theft of Venezuela’s treasury, and war war war with Korea still on the hot plate. Then the illegal maneuvers of governments like the USA and supported by all those others, including Norway, in its attack on Venezuela’s elected leaders and support of the dirty rich racist opposition groups, that is not mentioned.

Yep, there is a link in the Norwegian’s piece to another article – July 2018, “There is Nothing Inherently Wrong with State Ownership” by Matthew Bruenig over at Current Affairs Magazine.

Again, short anemic, and an essay in response to an attack on Norway and Sweden and “socialist” countries in the Nordic category by a New York Times “writer,” a Bret Stephens, who is sloppy and makes untrue claims in this piece, “Democratic Socialism Is Dem Doom.”

No Richard Wolf and no Michael Parenti or any thousands upon thousands of thinkers who know about societies and economies and cultures and ecologies who could put this tripe to rest. This is it?

Hemming Us In

Imagine, a 69-year-old working in a deli at a national chain. “I was once a speech therapist with a thriving private practice. And then my retirement went bust, thanks to Enron.” So, Molly works with a terrible limp, arthritis everywhere and almost no hair left. Fryers, slicers, prepping, and she runs it. Since age 55, when not only her measly retirement went bust, but the speech therapy arena turned more and more into high end certification racket, and gobbled up by, well, monopolies, agencies that scarf up the independents, or make it impossible to compete against the aggregators and services felons.

Then another guy, James, working the parking lot, bathrooms, carts, etc., making a wage when he started at this national grocery chain, of $9.75 an hour. He busts his butt, and we talked about his chronic heart failure, the meds he takes each month, all of that, including the pace maker and other aspects of his life, at age 60. He is at $12 an hour after five years with this outfit, and he tells me his supervisor likes his work, and his helping the other cart people, so much so that he is in for a wage increase to $15 an hour. He has to wait 90 days for the higher ups to approve that.

Hemming in. Working hard jobs at an old age to keep bad health insurance that is part of a for-triple-profit system of penury and theft. Oh, stories of an item being charged 18 times more during this Covid “crisis.”

A study that revealed hospitals may be charging as much as 18 times over their costs.

Nurse Jean Ross – “ Yes. Again, unconscionable, but that seems to be the way in this country. Up to 18 times. So, for example, if your true cost — it’s called the charge-to-cost ratio, or CCR — if your true cost for your service is $100, they are, in many cases, charging up to $1,800. And they do it because they can.” This from a study put out by National Nurses United.

Sit on the Ground and Try and Pull Yourself Up by Bootstraps

Those great white hopes, those big happy white males and big happy white females who voted for Trump and then those that believe Biden is better, well, that’s what we have – “Just let it take place, and that’s the way the Capitalist Cookie crumbles. What would Cuba be doing? The great invisible hand will fix things!”

Where I currently work – a small non-profit – the amount of software and tracking-time management apps and all the government agencies I have to get my mandatory trainings on and get my certifications renewed, well, it’s almost daunting. That’s the squeeze, the money train to the middle men, having nothing to do with my job, my humanity, work.

This is a non-for-profit agency working with adults with ID/DD.

Imagine all those warehouses and factories and office buildings and other places where the atomization was already on overdrive before the plan-pandemic.

Now, with the lockdowns, the on-line doom dungeons, and alas, with more and more AI and IT measures in place to keep us out of each other’s social distance arena, things are really degrading big time.

Teaching to the New Technology

I want to look at another gig I had – substitute teaching. Not just the bad working conditions of the public schools and anxious teachers and idiotic principals and the dictatorial superintendent. Let’s look at the payrate. Look at this – substitute teachers, K12, in Oregon, on the Coast, now managed by a Tennessee outfit. Note the hourly rate, and of course, coming into substitute teaching, a teaching certificate is required, and that means, well, most teachers like me, we have master’s degrees. That Oregon licensing costs another cool $400 to get the license and jump through the hoops. We get no mileage expended to get to and from very remote schools.

Job details — $14 an hour; Full-time/ Part-time; The State of Oregon requires all substitute teachers to hold an active Oregon Teaching License, Restricted Substitute Teaching License, or an Oregon Reciprocal License.  As leaders in the education staffing space since 2000, ESS specializes in placing qualified staff in daily, long-term, and permanent K-12 school district positions including substitute teachers, school aides, and other school support staff. With more than 700 school district partners throughout the US, ESS supports the education of more than 2.5 million students every day.

I had been teaching as a substitute a year ago. I had been hired by the District, and my contacts were through the District. I was making $80 for four hours and $160 for seven. In many cases I could get called in late and then get ready, make the drive in the rural county, get to the school and still  get the full day’s pay rate. That’s more than $18 an hour, and alas, I got to know the teachers who wanted me when they had planned absences, and the school secretaries also knew me.

There is a shortage of substitutes, and, well, if things were better all around, substitutes could be integrated more seamlessly and holistically to provide amazing outside the box perspectives and teaching.

Not so in Lincoln County, as is true of most counties, with plenty of Administrators, plenty of bullshit curriculum cops, plenty of teach-to-the- test zombies running roughshod over the entire project of working with our youth, our kids, our aspiring young adults.

This staffing “solution” is killing again teachers getting together, working with the district, getting to know people in the district, airing grievances with the district. Everything goes through this Tennessee outfit. Complaints go nowhere, and if you get a complaint leveled against you by a school, ESS will NOT go to bat. They have taken that $18 an hour and whittled it to $14 an hour. Then, they probably charge more than just that $4 per each hour taught to the DIstrict. Add to the fact they will manage who gets called, how they get called. These people are running call centers, data dredging centers, and know zilch about the schools, the roads, the weather, the culture, the teachers, the students.

I am sure they will not be allowing teachers to get a few extra hours pay if they are called in late and end up working a partial day. I am sure there are all sorts of cost-cutting (human-killing measures) this Education Staffing Solutions outfit deploys.

And, they probably pay Google for a net cast to see how many hits on the world wide web Education Staffing Solutions gets mentioned or Yelped or rated on Indeed or Linked In. You can only imagine if I was still employed as a substitute teacher, through ESS, that conversation happening, as ESS would be the outfit that would be managing me, so to speak. Finding this article criticizing them, well, sayonara subbing Mister Paul Haeder.

Management fees, man, and government (local, city, county and state, and federal) giving up oversight and decent livable wages for all the agencies and the public utilities (that we could have) and everything else, gone to middle and middle and middle men.

Again, these warped folk with ESS probably backed Trump and believe in Capitalism on Steroids, while they make bank on all the public entities across the land, AKA, public schools.

That the bus systems for schools is now outsourced from sea to shining sea, that again, defines the bottom line of pathetic capitalism. All the food cooked in cafeterias, outsourced to Sodexo. There is nothing local anymore, and these multinationals, these huge stockholder and stock board run outfits, they are making money off of us, US taxpayer, and in that formula, they are welfare recipients, and mostly welfare cheats, and with ESS, they are ripping off the very people that do the work – teachers, para-educators, more.

My comeuppance it seems was being banned from the entire District because of a few students I was in charge of at a local high school accused me of “upsetting” them when we were having a classroom discussion about homelessness, about epigenetics and families, about poverty, about the potential for many people to become substance abusers. We were talking about the books Of Mice and Men and Animal Farm.

What happened was La-La-Land level stuff, and while I think some students are crackpots, and little versions of really bad parents, I am ready to deal with crackpots and talk them off their cliff.

I did not get my day in court, so to speak, and I was not allowed to explain what could have been the students’ (three of them) hysteria, and I had no chance to query the people involved or bringing in the rest of the classroom students who were both inquisitive and enthralled to have a well-traveled, well-read, well-educated, well-experienced person like me in their classroom, albeit, temporary.

And ESS did nothing to defend me, protect me, or gain some sort of redress. That was a year ago.

Here’s a positive story — “Musings on a Monday After Teaching High School Get You Down? Nope!”

Another — “Professor Pablo and Fourth Grade Enlightenment in Lincoln City”

Education By and Because of the Corporation

The backdrop of my teaching debut … was a predicament without any possible solution, a deadly brew compounded from twelve hundred black teenagers penned inside a gloomy brick pile for six hours a day, with a white guard staff misnamed ‘faculty’ manning the light towers and machine-gun posts. This faculty was charged with dribbling out something called ‘curriculum’ to inmates, a gruel so thin [that this school] might rather have been a home for the feeble-minded than a place of education.
— John Taylor Gatto, “The Underground History of American Education,”

I did get a bird’s eye and on-the-ground look at the elementary, middle and high schools in this District. I have done substituting elsewhere, as in Vancouver, Seattle, Spokane and El Paso. Things are not looking good for youth. And I have written about that fact decades ago, and, yes, way before COronaVIrusDisease-2019, and, now, in a time of stupidity, fear, self-loathing, and complete loss of agency, the world is flipped around and, in most cases, crushed for our young people.

Did I mention fear, and while this Intercept piece below is a superficial look at the digital divide, there is so-so much more to write about this lockdown and social (pariah) distancing. It is a caste system on steroids. Calling it “remote learning” is doublespeak, oxymoronic.

In agro-industrial Watsonville, California, English-language learners struggle with remote learning. It’s much easier for students in a nearby Bay Area suburb.

I have a daughter, a step-daughter and a niece in various schooling situations. One is in med school, one is getting a chemistry degree and one is in esthetician school. Hmm, you’d expect hands-on for med school and chemistry majors. Nope. The fear factor for one of the three young women is high, and she is not wanting to leave campus, and the great reset is not in her vocabulary. There is a bombastic, “I am so glad Trump is gone. I hate him. I wish he was dead” from one of the college students. But that’s about it.

The med school woman, well, she is still having to pay out the nose for the school, yet there are less hands-on classes, again, through this doublespeak system of “remote learning.”

Now the esthetician student is hands-on, learning about the human skin dynamics, the chemistry of things in the body and outside, and working on clients, hands on. Seems very interesting that this one area – not to knock one career choice over another – has more practical hands on work than university-level chemistry majors and medical school attendees.

Now, the chemistry major’s school is introducing an “app of paranoia and tracking 101” – you put it on your smart phone, and all those who accept this app, well, as soon as someone tests (sic) positive for the virus (sic), then the entire network of users will get a notification and a detailed map of that person’s whereabouts. Oh, it’s secure, safe, no personal data shared (or mined – right!) they say, and that is a blatant lie-lie-lie. This is the Great Reset, and it’s pathetic and a gateway drug to implanted RFID’s.

The two college students, well, they are focused on their majors, but because of the siloing (atomization) of schooling, the demands on S/T/E/M do not enter the real of STEAM, science technology engineering arts math as  interdisciplinary critical studies and as a praxis of seeing how the world could, should and might work outside the Corporate Thievery of Capitalism.

The net effect of holding children in confinement for twelve years without honor paid to the spirit is a compelling demonstration that the State considers the Western spiritual tradition dangerous, subversive. And of course it is. School is about creating loyalty to certain goals and habits, a vision of life, support for a class structure, an intricate system of human relationships cleverly designed to manufacture the continuous low level of discontent upon which mass production and finance rely.” —John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

More atomization, and more dumb-downing, and more caste systems, and more social-economic-intellectual-employment-philosophical-cultural distancing. This is it for us, no?

 …. the world’s 26 richest people currently have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion—down from 61 people in 2016. As the rich get richer, sea levels are rising, tribalism is flourishing, and liberal democracies are regressing. Even some of the wealthiest nations are plagued by job insecurity, debt, and stagnant wages. Ordinary people across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned that the system is rigged against them. Trust in public institutions is near an all-time low.” [source]

Read some of this report, and the surface stuff, well, just surface feel good stuff, but dig deep — Oxfam Report. It’s harrowing.

Nick Hanauer, entrepreneur and venture capitalist:
I am a practitioner of capitalism. I have started or funded 37 companies and was the first outside investor in Amazon. The most important lesson I have learned from these decades of experience with market capitalism is that morality and justice are the fundamental prerequisites for prosperity and economic growth. Greed is not good.

The problem is that almost every authority figure – from economists to politicians to the media – tells us otherwise. Our current crisis of inequality is the direct result of this moral failure. This exclusive, highly unequal society based on extreme wealth for the few may seem sturdy and inevitable right now, but eventually it will collapse. Eventually the pitchforks will come out, and the ensuing chaos will not benefit anyone – not wealthy people like me, and not the poorest people who have already been left behind.

Ironically, the woman going into the beauty field is much more keenly aware of the economic and social disasters befalling small businesses in her own city, her own state and her region of the country.  She is super left, but is keenly aware of her democratic governor’s insipid lockdown measures.

I have many friends who now are going bankrupt, closing their businesses. Those businesses are part of a multiplier fabric. The town is or was so much better off with all these independent and mom and pop owned businesses. Not just the cool eateries and breweries, but many people I know opened up furniture stores, businesses around building and construction, all kinds of services you can’t find at the national level. Heck, used computer parts and computers, and even car rental places. Things that are not part of the monopolizing Fortune 500 set. Gone.

That means, of course, STEAM is damaged, in that, sure, the arts are hit hard, but the rest of the STEM also are hit hard on many levels. These STEM folk like their food, beer, edgy stuff, locally sourced and owned. The neutron bomb  that the lockdowns and lack of financing and wages and deep-deep help for the small guys and gals, well, it is hollowing out and even more hollowed out economy. The STEM folk will follow the money, while the arts folk and those deeply tied to something richer than science for profit and engineering for war and math for building and construction and technology for the Fourth Industrial Revolution will embed and grow a city’s or town’s or area’s culture.

This all leads us back to the semi-liberal class, even the youth who hate Trump and who don’t get all the conspiracies because they go to schools (universities) which are nothing to shake a stick at, since they are tied to social constructs and hierarchies reliant on the investor class; and they pay out the nose, take out loans and go to classes that are on-line, given to them now largely by scared educators, monitored and mashed up by the Titans of Technology, who have colonized every aspect of our society, ESPECIALLY, PK12 and higher education.

The young woman working on beautifying people and supporting their self-esteem and confidence on a superficial level (skin deep beauty, so to speak), well, she is more acutely aware of the lies of the authorities on both sides of the political manure pile than these card-carrying creeps who actually think Kamala Harris is something good. Anyone-but-Trump is what got us here, this evil of two lesser, lesser of two evils. The two college-going/educated ones are more and more tied into getting out and making money, and not to knock them, because they too know the disgusting reality of poverty and more and more people who once had decent lives, who were the fabric of communities, from that baker to the speech therapist, from that teacher to the counselor, from that glass blower to that coffee shop owner, from all those service workers with lives outside just the service economy (if they are budding or bustling artists).

The creative class is not what Richard Florida yammers about. The liberal class, as Chris Hedges writes, is dead. Education has been gutted and sold down the river, as Henry Giroux states. The New Jim Crow, as Michelle Alexander states, is the new normal for not just American mindsets at the citizen level, but on the economic and investor and Capitalist level.

But conditions today favor the amateur. They favor “speed, brevity, and repetition; novelty but also recognizability.” Artists no longer have the time nor the space to “cultivate an inner stillness or focus”; no time for the “slow build.” Creators need to cater to the market’s demand for constant and immediate engagement, for “flexibility, versatility, and extroversion.” As a result, “irony, complexity, and subtlety are out; the game is won by the brief, the bright, the loud, and the easily grasped.”  — “The Great Unread: On William Deresiewicz’s The Death of the Artist

Capitalism is fascism, and it takes over entire cities and states and regions. It operates on the “buyer beware” mentality, which relies on consumers to take it up the rear, no foul called on the billionaires and CEOs and capitalist systems;  and it is protected through the fascist laws of the land created by the massagers of the law from the Supreme Court down to traffic court.

More Nazis Than They Knew What to do With

Again, the great reset tied to Dashboards, a million different types of Education Staffing Solutions (ESS), universal buffoon incomes, all of that inculcated by Karl Schwab, Bill Gates, the Aspen Institute, the TED-X-ers, the World Economic Forum, all of them in the elite class, their handlers, their sycophants, all of those billionaires determining the course of cradle to grave predetermination for billions of people (Zuckerberg has encircled the African continent with his cables and lines and  fiber optics), that reset was started decades ago. Debt. Foreclosures. Bailing out corporations. Drugs for guns; Crack Cocaine and the CIA; and, well, the CIA is god, into everything, right, making sure the reset has already been ensured. CIA and Nazis, and Mossad and Jihad, and, these are the merry makers of the world of Lords of War, Lords of Disruptive Economies, Lords of Predatory-Parasitic-Vulture-Usury Capitalism.

Operation Paperclip – 1,600 of Hitler’s Angels of Death. Housing, citizenship, and carte blanc living in the United States. Families welcomed. Italy’s and Germany’s intelligent agencies working closely with the National Security State, and this was in the form of so-called the rat-lines. Tens of thousands going to South America. Tens thousand other Nazi’s allowed to come to USA.

And this was the plan, from the last days right before WWII ended with an illegal double bang of Atomic Murdering Tools – all these stay-behind armies from those defeated fascists of Italy and Germany. Check out this interview on RT –Chris Hedges talks to Gabriel Rockhill about the undercurrents of fascism in America’s DNA, and the US role in internationalizing fascism after World War II through clandestine activities such Operation Paperclip and Operation Gladio.

Rockhill is a Franco-American philosopher and the founding Director of the Critical Theory Workshop and Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. His books include Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy, Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics, Radical History & the Politics of Art and Logique de l’histoire.

Try having conversations with liberal (illiberal) college-educated and college-loving Democrats about USA’s bioweapons program dating back to again, WWII, and Japanese scientists who were working on all sorts of bioweapons but were captured by the USA and reappropriated and brought back to the USA for, well, good paying jobs.

That is capitalism, right, reappropriating and stealing and setting up systems of mental, physical, psychological, biological, ecological, cultural repression, and eventually, disease and illness, because it pays more to treat and encourage the disease than it does to have a society living disease-free or at least living with those old time religion concepts of – precautionary principle, do no harm, preventative medicine, treat your fellow human as you would want to be treated. You know, all of that mumbo-jumbo that is not put into practice one iota in Capitalism, but certainly is mishmashed into the systems of propaganda, and, alas the “Si Se Puede” marketing of such criminals at Audacity of Hope Obama. et al makes some feel like there is change where change will NEVER be.

Until we get this liberal archetype  who says Columbus was a bad guy, and that the USA was built upon the deaths and murders of Indians and Blacks, but, shoot, when ordering from the Prime Amazon account, or when scrolling up and down the iPhone, and, well, all of that which we take for granted in this First World which comes on the back of people here and now in this country and especially in other countries, then, well, the tune changes.

Fascism: Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality

Because in an economic fascism, when again, old worn out people have to still hoof it to Walmart and stock shelves, and when there is no home health care for the sick and dying, young or old, unless there is always huge exchanges of money going out into the pockets of the purveyors of capitalism, you will be getting variations on a theme of a people hooked on Netflix, hooked on buying, hooked on not knowing, hooked on confusion and chaos and, well, this is what is planned.

The great reset and fourth industrial revolution are no-brainers. We’ve given up our fingerprints for a shit job, we have given up blood and urine for a shit job, we are guilty before we can attempt to prove our humanity, our innocence, and in reality, we are always guilty in the eyes of Capitalists.

Western and ruling class ideologies have played a crucial and cruel role in the violent transformation of the peoples, ecosystems and biosphere. The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents the most violent transformation of all. For as long as the ruling class is allowed to exist, social and environmental justice remain pipe dreams. [Cory Morningstar, source]

We are now taking those supposedly benign things like tracking outcomes – you know, if you have prenatal education and vitamins as a pregnant teen, and if you get the little tikes reading on a Chromebook, watching Sesame Street and if you eat this veggie over that deep friend morsel, and, all of those metrics that the data ditzes love, all of it is now being used AGAINST self-agency, AGAINST not just individuals, but all manner of classes, groupings, economic strata. You do the stuff “right” which Bill and Melinda have studied are right, then there will be s few more digital dollars in your bank account. If you fail to do them, well, no more dialing for dollars.

Because the jobs are going. The mom and pops are folding. Even chains like bowling alleys and movie theaters, all of that, they are shuttering. This revolution was already in the works before Marshall McLuhan and the medium is the message and Herman and Chomsky’s manufacturing consent. Way before deadly at any speed, a la Nader, and way before the lies of better angels of our nature Pinker.

The fix was in long-long time ago, when the food was locked up and the agricultural revolution forced us to stop being human and humane, and made us into the cogs in so many machines of oppression and suppression.

Until today, when the Catholic freaks are coming in their vestments with their exorcising tools for anyone who would dare desecrate the statue of Columbus or any Fray who pushed their stinking selves and their stinking religions onto this continent and the one south.

In response to Indigenous-led efforts that demanded land back and the toppling of statues, Catholic Church leaders in Oregon and California deemed it necessary to perform exorcisms, thereby casting Indigenous protest as demonic. [Truthout]

LaRazaUnida cover the Fray Junípero Serra Statue in protest at the Brand Park Memory Garden across from the San Fernando Mission in San Fernando on June 28, 2020.

Exorcism: Increasingly frequent, including after US protests

This is 2020, and the trillionaire Catholic Church is walking in downtown Portland with these conquistadors of nothingness, while the great reset is happening, with the green light of the Pope. “The story did not end the way it was meant to,” Pope Francis wrote recently, deftly excommunicating about a half-century’s worth of economic ideology.  [source] In a striking, 43,000-word-long encyclical published last Sunday, the pope put his stamp on efforts to shape what’s been termed a Great Reset of the global economy in response to the devastation of COVID-19.”

Here it is imperative to note the consolidation of power happening in real time. World Economic Forum founder and CEO Klaus Schwab refers to this consolidation as a new global architecture; the new global governance. The following dates of are of paramount significance. On May 18, 2018, the World Bank partners with the United Nations. On June 13, 2019, the World Economic Forum partners with the United Nations. On March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum partners with the World Health Organization (a UN body) launching the COVID Action Platform, a coalition of 200 of the world’s most powerful corporations. This number would quickly swell to over 700. On this same day, March 11, 2020, the WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. The UN-WEF partnership firmly positions Word Economic Forum at the helm of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also referred to as the Global Goals), which they are frothing at the mouth to implement. This is not because they care about poverty, biodiversity, the climate, or world hunger. Marketed with holistic language, dressed with beautiful images of brown smiling children, SDGs represent the new poverty economy (impact investing/social impact bonds) and emerging markets. Children as human capital data to be commodified on blockchain linking behaviour to benefits. Coercion has been repackaged as empowerment. The human population to be controlled via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT, and an augmented reality environment. A world where every function of nature is monetized, to be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street. — Cory Morningstar, The Great Reset: The Final Assault on the Living Planet [It’s not a social dilemma — it’s the calculated destruction of the social — Part III]

Pope Francis meets with members of the clergy after his weekly general audience at the San Damaso courtyard, at the Vatican, September 30 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi - RC2X8J96HY8F
[Pope Francis meets with members of the clergy after his weekly general audience at the San Damaso courtyard, September 30 2020. Image: REUTERS/Yara Nardi]
  1. Erlend Kvitrug, June 29, 2019 at Foreign Policy Magazine.

The post No Work, Little Work, Too Much Work, UBI/DIY/Gig Economies first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Social Media’s Erasure of Palestinians is a Grim Warning for our Future

There is a growing unease that the decisions taken by social media corporations can have a harmful impact on our lives. These platforms, despite enjoying an effective monopoly over the virtual public square, have long avoided serious scrutiny or accountability.

In a new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, former Silicon Valley executives warn of a dystopian future. Google, Facebook and Twitter have gathered vast quantities of data on us to better predict and manipulate our desires. Their products are gradually rewiring our brains to addict us to our screens and make us more pliable to advertisers. The result, as we are consigned to discrete ideological echo chambers, is ever greater social and political polarisation and turmoil.

As if to underline the ever-tightening grip these tech corporations exert on our lives, Facebook and Twitter decided this month to openly interfere in the most contentious US presidential election in living memory. They censored a story that could harm the electoral prospects of Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger to incumbent President Donald Trump.

Given that nearly half of Americans receive their news chiefly via Facebook, the ramifications of such a decision on our political life were not hard to interpret. In excising any debate about purported corruption and influence-peddling by Biden’s son, Hunter, carried out in his father’s name, these social media platforms stepped firmly into the role of authoritarian arbiter of what we are allowed to say and know.

‘Monopoly gatekeeper’

Western publics are waking up very belatedly to the undemocratic power social media wields over them. But if we wish to understand where this ultimately leads, there is no better case study than the very different ways Israelis and Palestinians have been treated by the tech giants.

The treatment of Palestinians online serves as a warning that it would be foolish indeed to regard these globe-spanning corporations as politically neutral platforms, and their decisions as straightforwardly commercial. This is to doubly misunderstand their role.

Social media firms are now effectively monopolistic communication grids – similar to the electricity and water grids, or the phone network of a quarter of a century ago. Their decisions are therefore no longer private matters, but instead have huge social, economic and political consequences. That is part of the reason why the US justice department launched a lawsuit last week against Google for acting as a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet”.

Google, Facebook and Twitter have no more a right to arbitrarily decide who and what they host on their sites than telecoms companies once had a right to decide whether a customer should be allowed a phone line. But unlike the phone company, social media corporations control not just the means of communication, but the content too. They can decide, as the Hunter Biden story shows, whether their customers get to participate in vital public debates about who leads them.

The Hunter Biden decision is as if the phone company of old not only listened in to conversations, but was able to cut the line if it did not like the politics of any particular customer.

In fact, it is even worse than that. Social media now deliver the news to large sections of the population. Their censoring of a story is more akin to the electricity company turning off the power to everyone’s homes for the duration of a TV broadcast to ensure no one can see it.

Censorship by stealth

The tech giants are the wealthiest, most powerful corporations in human history, their riches measured in hundreds of billions, and now trillions, of dollars. But the argument that they are apolitical – aiming simply to maximise profits – was never true.

They have every reason to promote politicians who side with them by committing not to break up their monopolies or regulate their activities, or, better still, by promising to weaken controls that might prevent them from growing even more fabulously rich and powerful.

Conversely, the tech giants also have every incentive to use the digital space to penalise and marginalise political activists who urge greater regulation either of their activities, or of the marketplace more generally.

Unlike their explicit deletion of the Hunter Biden story, which incensed the Trump administration, social media corporations more usually censor by stealth. That power is wielded through algorithms, the secret codes that decide whether something or someone appears in a search result or on a social media feed. If they desire, these tech titans can cancel any one of us overnight.

This is not just political paranoia. The disproportionate impact of algorithm changes on “left-leaning” websites – those most critical of the neoliberal system that has enriched social media corporations – was highlighted this month by the Wall Street Journal.

Wrong kinds of speech

Politicians increasingly understand the power of social media, which is why they want to harness it as best they can for their own ends. Since the shock of Trump’s election victory in late 2016, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives have regularly found themselves dragged before legislative oversight committees in the US and UK.

There, they are ritually rebuked by politicians for creating a crisis of “fake news” – a crisis that, in fact, long predated social media, as the deceptions of US and UK officials in linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and claiming that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” testify to only too clearly.

Politicians have also begun holding internet corporations responsible for “foreign interference” in western elections – typically blamed on Russia – despite a dearth of serious evidence for most of their allegations.

Political pressure is being exerted not to make the corporations more transparent and accountable, but to steer them towards enforcing even more assiduously restrictions on the wrong kinds of speech – whether it be violent racists on the right or critics of capitalism and western government policy on the left.

For that reason, social media’s original image as a neutral arena of information sharing, or as a tool for widening public debate and increasing civic engagement, or as a discourse leveller between the rich and powerful and weak and marginalised, grows ever more hollow.

Separate digital rights

Nowhere are ties between tech and state officials more evident than in their dealings with Israel. This has led to starkly different treatment of digital rights for Israelis and Palestinians. The online fate of Palestinians points to a future in which the already-powerful will gain ever greater control over what we know and what we are allowed to think, and over who is visible and who is erased from public life.

Israel was well-positioned to exploit social media before most other states had recognised its importance in manipulating popular attitudes and perceptions. For decades, Israel had, in part, outsourced an official programme of hasbara – or state propaganda – to its own citizens and supporters abroad. As new digital platforms emerged, these partisans were only too willing to expand their role.

Israel had another advantage. After the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, Israel began crafting a narrative of state victimhood by redefining antisemitism to suggest it was now a particular affliction of the left, not the right. So-called “new antisemitism” did not target Jews, but related instead to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights.

This highly dubious narrative proved easy to condense into social media-friendly soundbites.

Israel still routinely describes any Palestinian resistance to its belligerent occupation or its illegal settlements as “terrorism”, and any support from other Palestinians as “incitement”. International solidarity with Palestinians is characterised as “delegitimisation” and equated with antisemitism.

‘Flood the internet’

As far back as 2008, it emerged that a pro-Israel media lobby group, Camera, had been orchestrating covert efforts by Israel loyalists to infiltrate the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to edit entries and “rewrite history” in ways favourable to Israel. Soon afterwards, politician Naftali Bennett helped organise courses teaching “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia.

In 2011, the Israeli army declared social media a new “battleground” and assigned “cyber warriors” to wage combat online. In 2015, Israel’s foreign ministry set up an additional command centre to recruit young, tech-savvy former soldiers from 8200, the army’s cyber intelligence unit, to lead the battle online. Many have gone on to establish hi-tech firms whose spying software became integral to the functioning of social media.

An app launched in 2017, Act.IL, mobilised Israel partisans to “swarm” sites hosting either criticism of Israel or support for Palestinians. The initiative, supported by Israel’s ministry of strategic affairs, was headed by veterans of Israeli intelligence services.

According to the Forward, a US Jewish weekly, Israel’s intelligence services liaise closely with Act.IL and request help in getting content, including videos, removed by social media platforms. The Forward observed shortly after the app was rolled out: “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli military censor who was then assigned to Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, said the goal was to “create a community of fighters” whose job was to “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda.

Willing allies

With advantages measured in personnel numbers and ideological zeal, in tech and propaganda experience, and in high-level influence in Washington and Silicon Valley, Israel was soon able to turn social media platforms into willing allies in its struggle to marginalise Palestinians online.

In 2016, Israel’s justice ministry was boasting that Facebook, Google and YouTube were “complying with up to 95 percent of Israeli requests to delete content”, almost all of it Palestinian. The social media companies did not confirm this figure.

The Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel lobby group with a history of smearing Palestinian organisations and Jewish groups critical of Israel, established a “command centre” in Silicon Valley in 2017 to monitor what it termed “online hate speech”. That same year, it was appointed a “trusted flagger” organisation for YouTube, meaning its reporting of content for removal was prioritised.

At a 2018 conference in Ramallah hosted by 7amleh, a Palestinian online advocacy group, local Google and Facebook representatives barely hid their priorities. It was important to their bottom line to avoid upsetting governments with the power to constrain their commercial activities – even if those governments were systematically violating international law and human rights. In this battle, the Palestinian Authority carries no weight at all. Israel presides over Palestinians’ communications and internet infrastructure. It controls the Palestinian economy and its key resources.

Since 2016, Israel’s justice ministry has reportedly suppressed tens of thousands of Palestinian posts. In a completely opaque process, Israel’s own algorithms detect content it deems “extremist” and then requests its removal. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested by Israel over social media posts, chilling online activity.

Human Rights Watch warned late last year that Israel and Facebook were often blurring the distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and incitement. Conversely, as Israel has shifted ever further rightwards, the Netanyahu government and social media platforms have not stemmed a surge of posts in Hebrew promoting anti-Palestinian incitement and calling for violence. 7amleh has noted that Israelis post racist or inciteful material against Palestinians roughly every minute.

News agencies shut down

As well as excising tens of thousands of Palestinian posts, Israel has persuaded Facebook to take down the accounts of major Palestinian news agencies and leading journalists.

By 2018, the Palestinian public had grown so incensed that a campaign of online protests and calls to boycott Facebook were led under the hashtag #FBcensorsPalestine. In Gaza, demonstrators accused the company of being “another face of occupation”.

Activism in solidarity with Palestinians in the US and Europe has been similarly targeted. Ads for films, as well as the films themselves, have been taken down and websites removed.

Last month, Zoom, a video conferencing site that has boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic, joined YouTube and Facebook in censoring a webinar organised by San Francisco State University because it included Leila Khaled, an icon of the Palestinian resistance movement now in her seventies.

On Friday, Zoom blocked a second scheduled appearance by Khaled – this time in a University of Hawaii webinar on censorship – as well as a spate of other events across the US to protest against her cancellation by the site. A statement concerning the day of action said campuses were “joining in the campaign to resist corporate and university silencing of Palestinian narratives and Palestinian voices”.

The decision, a flagrant attack on academic freedom, was reportedly taken after the social media groups were heavily pressured by the Israeli government and anti-Palestinian lobby groups, which labelled the webinar “antisemitic”.

Wiped off the map

The degree to which the tech giants’ discrimination against Palestinians is structural and entrenched has been underscored by the years-long struggle of activists both to include Palestinian villages on online maps and GPS services, and to name the Palestinian territories as “Palestine”, in accordance with Palestine’s recognition by the United Nations.

That campaign has largely floundered, even though more than a million people have signed a petition in protest. Both Google and Apple have proved highly resistant to these appeals; hundreds of Palestinian villages are missing from their maps of the occupied West Bank, while Israel’s illegal settlements are identified in detail, accorded the same status as the Palestinian communities that are shown.

The occupied Palestinian territories are subordinated under the name “Israel”, while Jerusalem is presented as Israel’s unified and undisputed capital, just as Israel claims – making the occupation of the Palestinian section of the city invisible.

These are far from politically neutral decisions. Israeli governments have long pursued a Greater Israel ideology that requires driving Palestinians off their lands. This year, that dispossession programme was formalised with plans, backed by the Trump administration, to annex swathes of the West Bank.

Google and Apple are effectively colluding in this policy by helping to erase Palestinians’ visible presence in their homeland. As two Palestinian scholars, George Zeidan and Haya Haddad, recently noted: “When Google and Apple erase Palestinian villages from their navigation, but proudly mark settlements, the effect is complicity in the Israeli nationalist narrative.”

Out of the shadows

Israel’s ever-tightening relationship with social media corporations has played out largely behind the scenes. But these ties moved decisively out of the shadows in May, when Facebook announced that its new oversight board would include Emi Palmor, one of the architects of Israel’s online repression policy towards Palestinians.

The board will issue precedent-setting rulings to help shape Facebook’s and Instagram’s censorship and free speech policies. But as the former director-general of the justice ministry, Palmor has shown no commitment to online free speech. Quite the reverse: she worked hand-in-hand with the tech giants to censor Palestinian posts and shut down Palestinian news websites. She oversaw the transformation of her department into what the human rights organisation Adalah has called the Orwellian “Ministry of Truth”.

Tech corporations are now the undeclared, profit-driven arbiters of our speech rights. But their commitment is not to open and vigorous public debate, online transparency or greater civic engagement. Their only commitment is to the maintenance of a business environment in which they avoid any regulation by major governments infringing on their right to make money.

The appointment of Palmor perfectly illustrates the corrupting relationship between government and social media. Palestinians know only too well how easy it is for technology to diminish and disappear the voices of the weak and oppressed, and to amplify the voices of the powerful.

Many more of us could soon find ourselves sharing the online fate of Palestinians.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Social Media’s Erasure of Palestinians is a Grim Warning for our Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.