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The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West

The Neoliberal War on Dissent in the West

Those who most flamboyantly proclaim that they are fighting fascists continue to embrace and wield the defining weapons of despotism.

Police in Canada deployed to dislodge the final truckers and protesters from downtown Ottawa, aimed at bringing an end to three weeks of demonstrations over Covid-19 health rules. (Photo by Dave Chan / AFP) (Photo by DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

When it comes to distant and adversarial countries, we are taught to recognize tyranny through the use of telltale tactics of repression. Dissent from orthodoxies is censored. Protests against the state are outlawed. Dissenters are harshly punished with no due process. Long prison terms are doled out for political transgressions rather than crimes of violence. Journalists are treated as criminals and spies. Opposition to the policies of political leaders are recast as crimes against the state.

When a government that is adverse to the West engages in such conduct, it is not just easy but obligatory to malign it as despotic. Thus can one find, on a virtually daily basis, articles in the Western press citing the government’s use of those tactics in Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and whatever other countries the West has an interest in disparaging (articles about identical tactics from regimes supported by the West — from Riyadh to Cairo — are much rarer). That the use of these repressive tactics render these countries and their populations subject to autocratic regimes is considered undebatable.

But when these weapons are wielded by Western governments, the precise opposite framework is imposed: describing them as despotic is no longer obligatory but virtually prohibited. That tyranny exists only in Western adversaries but never in the West itself is treated as a permanent axiom of international affairs, as if Western democracies are divinely shielded from the temptations of genuine repression…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australia’s Government Is From the Dark Ages

On July 27, 1656, senior leaders of the Jewish community in Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem— the Hebrew term for expulsion and excommunication.

Their target was a young, 23-year old Dutch/Portuguese intellectual named Baruch Spinoza, himself a Jew, whose dangerous crime was questioning the unquestionable teachings of the faith.

The Jewish elders proclaimed that “The Lord will rage against this man and… blot out his name from under heaven” and ordered that no Jew should communicate with him, offer him shelter, give him money, or read any of his writings.

A few years later, the Catholic Church followed suit and added all of Spinoza’s works to its Index of Banned Books. This makes Baruch Spinoza one of the few people in history to be banished from both the Jewish and Catholic religions.

His philosophy was widely misunderstood at the time. Everyone accused him of being an atheist, which was one of the worst things you could call someone in the 1600s.

But he wasn’t actually an atheist. Spinoza’s works were an attempt for him to reconcile his faith with certain religious teachings that were illogical, self-contradictory, or refuted by science.

He wrote extensively about his “intellectual love of God”. But simply for expressing intellectual independence, Spinoza was expelled from his own Jewish community.

Now, Novak Djokovic is hardly a Baruch Spinoza. But it is truly bizarre in the year 2022 to see someone be expelled from an advanced western democracy simply for expressing intellectual independence.

Just to catch you up, Novak Djokovic is a professional Tennis player from Serbia who is considered one of the all-time greats in the sport. He’s currently ranked #1 in the world and holds an incredible number of records in professional tennis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pierre Omidyar’s Financing of the Facebook “Whistleblower” Campaign Reveals a Great Deal

Pierre Omidyar’s Financing of the Facebook “Whistleblower” Campaign Reveals a Great Deal

The internet is the last remaining instrument for dissent and free discourse to thrive outside state and oligarchical control. This campaign aims to put an end to that.

Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay, and Publisher of the Intercept looks on during the final session of the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, on Thursday, September 23, 2010. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)

It is completely unsurprising to learn, as Politico reported last Wednesday, that the major financial supporter of Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen’s sprawling P.R. and legal network coordinating her public campaign is the billionaire founder of EBay, Pierre Omidyar. The Haugen Show continues today as a consortium of carefully cultivated news outlets (including those who have been most devoted to agitating for online censorship: the New York Times’ “tech” unit and NBC News’s “disinformation” team) began publishing the trove of archives she took from Facebook under the self-important title “The Facebook Papers,” while the star herself has traveled to London to testify today to British lawmakers considering a bill to criminally punish tech companies that allow “foul content” or “extremism” — whatever that means — to be published.

On Sunday, Haugen told The New York Times that her own personal Bitcoin wealth means she is relying on “help from nonprofit groups backed by Mr. Omidyar only for travel and similar expenses.” But the paper also confirmed that the firm masterminding Haugen’s public campaign roll-out and complex media strategy, a group “founded by the former Barack Obama aide Bill Burton,” is “being paid by donors, including the nonprofit groups backed by Mr. Omidyar.”…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Most Powerful Force on Earth

The Most Powerful Force on Earth

If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn.” —Thomas Merton

The dissenting voice is perhaps the most potent force on the face of the Earth.

Expressed as an informed opinion, it frequently finds itself at odds with a prevailing worldview, an official government policy, or even the general consensus — some aspects of which may actually be enforced by authorities or gatekeepers in their respective contexts and domains.

Dissent is doubly powerful when it involves the reasoned application of critical thinking in questioning or challenging a dominant or majority view. As such, dissention, by definition, expresses a minority view.

Yet history teaches us that it’s the minority that has always been the motive force in shaping the world; it will prove no less effective in forging the future of human flourishing and freedom we seek to manifest through the actions we take today.

And while motivated dissenters may be few in number, Margaret Mead reminds us, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!”

Not only is dissent vital to the hard work of making the world a better place, but it is also absolutely essential to our humanity and to realizing our true and full potential.

The critical thinking that empowers dissent is not just good thinking, it’s only the kind of thinking that is able to yield true knowledge, understanding, insight, and wisdom. And on those rare occasions when it is applied in government, dissent contributes to better policy decisions and outcomes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Corporate Media’s War to Snuff Out Independent Journalism

Corporate Media’s War to Snuff Out Independent Journalism

Journalist Jonathan Cook’s searing talk at the International Festival of Whistleblowing, Dissent and Accountability on Saturday on the counterattack from legacy media.

By Jonathan Cook
Jonathan-Cook.net

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 argue 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 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…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dissenters, Unite!

Being contrarian is hard work. You need to withstand ridicule, the loss of friends, employment, and acquaintances, face the imminent possibility that most of the time you’ll be wrong, and abandon the warm fuzzy feeling of having your otherwise friendly peers confirming your bias.

Yet, authentic critics are crucially important, even if (and when) they are wrong. When at least some of us speak out against what is the prevailing wisdom on any given topic, we break the numbing spell that majorities have over groups. We temper extremities, flush out the overlooked assumptions in the majoritarian take, and encourage better decision-making.

Consensus, contrary to the “science is settled” mantra of climate change activists and affectatious Covid pushers alike, is not desirable. At least according to U.C. Berkeley psychologist Charlan Nemeth, who, in her 2018 book In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business, summarizes research into majorities and minorities, consensus and dissent.

It’s not a pretty view for those who think bashing wrong-thinkers into silence and reeducating those with the wrong disposition are the treasured fights of our times. In very accessible chapters, Nemeth takes us through detailed analysis of how the lone dissenter in 12 Angry Men could persuade a powerful majority opting for a guilty verdict (majorities persuade quickly and in numbers; minorities quietly and through persistence); we get a comparison between the JFK administration’s internal information-processing in the Bay of Pigs disaster in 1961 and the more balanced and nuanced approach to the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year; we have a brief look at Edward Snowden and the gradual shift of him from a careless criminal to a courageous whistleblower.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers: to Bar Critiques of Journalists

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers: to Bar Critiques of Journalists

This new political battle does not break down along left v. right lines. This is an information war waged by corporate media to silence any competition or dissent.

Supporters of Mark Meechan aka Count Dankula gather in central London to protest against his conviction under the Communications Act in March 2018 (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, I wrote about how corporate journalists, realizing that the public’s increasing contempt for what they do is causing people to turn away in droves, are desperately inventing new tactics to maintain their stranglehold over the dissemination of information and generate captive audiences. That is why journalists have bizarrely transformed from their traditional role as leading free expression defenders into the the most vocal censorship advocates, using their platforms to demand that tech monopolies ban and silence others.

That same motive of self-preservation is driving them to equate any criticisms of their work with “harassment,” “abuse” and “violence” — so that it is not just culturally stigmatized but a banning offense, perhaps even literally criminal, to critique their journalism on the ground that any criticism of them places them “in danger.” Under this rubric they want to construct, they can malign anyone they want, ruin people’s reputations, and unite to generate hatred against their chosen targets, but nobody can even criticize them.

Any independent platform or venue that empowers other journalists or just ordinary citizens to do reporting or provide commentary outside of their repressive constraints is viewed by them as threats to be censored and destroyed. Every platform that enables any questioning of their pieties or any irreverent critiques of mainstream journalism — social media sites, YouTube, Patreon, Joe Rogan’s Spotify program — has already been systematically targeted by corporate journalists with censorship demands, often successfully.

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They Don’t Work To Kill All Dissent, They Just Keep It From Going Mainstream

They Don’t Work To Kill All Dissent, They Just Keep It From Going Mainstream

One of the most consequential collective delusions circulating in our society is the belief that our society is free. Our society is exactly free enough to create the illusion that we have freedom; from that line onwards it’s just totalitarianism veiled in propaganda.

I get comments from people every day wagging their fingers at my criticisms of western imperialist agendas against nations like China or Iran saying “If you lived over there you wouldn’t be allowed to criticize the government the way you criticize western governments!”

It is true that dissidents are permitted to criticize the government systems of the US-centralized empire to an extent, but only to an extent. Yes, as long as my criticisms of capitalism, oligarchy and imperialism remain relegated to the fringes of influence I am indeed permitted to express my views unmolested. If however I somehow ascended to a position of significant mainstream influence I would be targeted and smeared until my reputation was ruined or I had a psychological breakdown and went away. You may be certain of this.

The managers of empire do not work to crush and silence all dissent like a conventional totalitarian regime would do. They are much more clever than that.

In a society that maintains the illusion of freedom in order to prevent outrage and revolution, it does not serve rulers to stifle all dissent. Just the opposite in fact: their interests are served by having a small number of dissidents hanging around the fringes of society creating the illusion of freedom. If Johnny Hempshirt over there is allowed to stand on a soapbox and criticize the US war machine, then the US must be a free country.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

The Masks Are Coming Off

Orwell

I had intended to start the New Year with a heart-warming piece entitled, “2021: The Year of Censorship of Dissent”. It would have been a somewhat prophetical piece, shocking some readers with predictions of a coming crackdown on dissent, and causing others to hoot with laughter because they haven’t quite caught up with the times we are in. You know, the types who say things like “Oh perrrlease! Social Media companies are private companies and they have the right to decide who they allow on their platform” and “Stop making out it’s the gulag” etc.

Unfortunately, my plans were scuppered by the fact that media and social media companies — let’s call them Global Pravda — have come out of the blocks even earlier than even I anticipated, and have been censoring left right and centre. As a result, my intended “prophetical” utterance seems like yesterday’s news.

We’ve had the censoring of Talk Radio on YouTube. Although this was then restored after intervention at the highest level, I understand some of the wonderful conversations between Mike Graham and Peter Hitchens are still banned. YouTube have also banned videos from extremely qualified scientists around the world, including two lengthy interviews given in English by one of the most qualified microbiologists on planet earth, Professor Sucharit Bhakdi.

We’ve then seen the President of the United States being banned from Facebook, Instagram and more recently Twitter. I am no fan of Donald Trump, but it is clear that he has never used these platforms to “incite violence” – the excuse given for his ban –, and it is obvious that there something else going on there. And we’ve also seen numerous conservatives and scientists who oppose or question the mass quarantining of healthy people literally losing hundreds of Twitter followers in the last few days…

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Repressive Tolerance in Action

Repressive Tolerance in Action

Recent Coverage Captures The Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse

The events of January 6th captivated the attention of the nation and the globe. I will not discuss them here right now. If, as Zhou Enlai allegedly claimed, it is “too early to say” the full impact of the French Revolution; then it is far to soon to know the impact of January 6th.

This has not, of course, stopped the political pundits of Left and Right from telling us what they think. Perhaps the most consistent narrative that has emerged is one of right-wing outrage at the left-wing media coverage.

Across the social media landscape, right-wing pundits and populists are furious at the “hypocrisy” of the Left praising last summer’s #BLM “protests” while condemning this week’s DC “insurrection.”

But the Left is not being hypocritical when it condemns the Americans who stormed the Capitol Building. It is following its stated doctrine. Repressive tolerance is that doctrine, and it was developed by Herbert Marcuse in a famous article of the same name. I have twice broached the doctrine of repressive tolerance, once in Why Don’t Leftists Condemn the Violence and once in Total and Limited War and Politics. The reaction to January 6th suggests I should discuss the doctrine again.

For a detailed exposition of repressive tolerance, I refer you to my earlier articles. Here, let’s just summarize the doctrine of repressive tolerance in plain English:

  • Tolerance is only to be extended to truth.
  • Leftism is objectively true, and anything other than leftism is not.
  • Therefore tolerance is only to be extended to leftism.
  • Anyone who disagrees with this has been indoctrinated. To the extent that the majority of people disagree, that means the majority of people are indoctrinated.
  • Since most people are indoctrinated, leftists must break the indoctrination so that they can grasp the truth of leftism.
  • To break the indoctrination, leftists must promote left-wing thought and suppress right-wing thought.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

The Boot Is Coming Down Hard And Fast

The Boot Is Coming Down Hard And Fast

A lot’s been happening really fast. It’s a white noise saturation day and it’s impossible to keep track of everything going on, so I’m just going to post my thoughts on a few of the things that have happened.

Biden has announced plans to roll out new domestic terrorism laws in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot.

“Mr. Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them,” Wall Street Journal reports.

Did you know that Biden has often boasted about being the original author of the US Patriot Act?

The first draft of the civil rights-eroding USA PATRIOT Act was magically introduced one week after the 9/11 attacks. Legislators later admitted that they hadn’t even had time to read through the hundreds of pages of the history-shaping bill before passing it the next month, yet somehow its authors were able to gather all the necessary information and write the whole entire thing in a week.

This was because most of the work had already been done. CNET reported the following back in 2008:

“Months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, [then-Senator Joe] Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of ‘terrorism’ that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detention of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review…

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Assange Wins. The Cost: Press Freedom Is Crushed & Dissent Labelled Mental Illness

Assange Wins. The Cost: Press Freedom Is Crushed & Dissent Labelled Mental Illness

We must not downplay the price being demanded of us for this victory, writes Jonathan Cook.

The unexpected decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser to deny a U.S. demand to extradite Julian Assange, foiling efforts to send him to a U.S. super-max jail for the rest of his life, is a welcome legal victory, but one swamped by larger lessons that should disturb us deeply.

Those who campaigned so vigorously to keep Assange’s case in the spotlight, even as the U.S. and U.K. corporate media worked so strenuously to keep it in darkness, are the heroes of the day. They made the price too steep for Baraitser or the British establishment to agree to lock Assange away indefinitely in the U.S. for exposing its war crimes and its crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we must not downplay the price being demanded of us for this victory.

Moment of Celebration

We have contributed collectively in our various small ways to win back for Assange some degree of freedom, and hopefully a reprieve from what could be a death sentence as his health continues to deteriorate in an overcrowded Belmarsh high-security prison in London that has become a breeding ground for Covid-19.

For this we should allow ourselves a moment of celebration. But Assange is not out of the woods yet. The U.S. has said it will appeal the decision. And it is not yet clear whether Assange will remain jailed in the U.K. – possibly in Belmarsh – while many months of further legal argument about his future take place.

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Big Media: Selling the Narrative and Crushing Dissent for Fun and Profit

Big Media: Selling the Narrative and Crushing Dissent for Fun and Profit

The profit-maximizing Big Tech / Big Media Totalitarian regime hasn’t just strangled free speech and civil liberties; it’s also strangled democracy.

The U.S. has entered an extremely dangerous time, and the danger has nothing to do with the Covid virus. Indeed, the danger long preceded the pandemic, which has served to highlight how far down the road to ruin we have come.

The danger we are ill-prepared to deal with is the consolidation of the private-sector media and its unification of content into one Approved Narrative which is for sale to the highest bidders. This is the perfection of for-profit Totalitarianism in which dissent is crushed, dissenters punished and billions of dollars are reaped in managing the data and content flow of the one Approved Narrative.

So don’t post content containing the words (censored), (censored) or (censored), or you’ll be banned, shadow-banned, demonetized, demonized and marginalized. Your voice will be erased from public access via the Big Media platforms and you will effectively be disappeared but without any visible mess or evidence–or recourse in the courts.

That’s the competitive advantage of for-profit Totalitarianism–no legal recourse against the suppression of free speech and dissent. And if you’re shadow-banned as I was, you won’t even know just how severely your free speech has been suppressed because the Big Tech platforms are black boxesno one outside the profit-maximizing corporation knows what its algorithms and filters actually do or exactly what happens to the disappeared / shadow-banned.

Shadow-banning is an invisible toxin to free speech: if you’re shadow-banned, you won’t even know that the audience for your posts, tweets, etc. has plummeted to near-zero and others can no longer retweet your content…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance

Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance

You can measure the effectiveness of resistance by the fury of the response by ruling elites.

Two of the rebels I admire most, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher, and Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, are in jail in Britain. That should not be surprising. You can measure the effectiveness of resistance by the fury of the response.

Julian courageously exposed the lies, deceit, war crimes and corruption of the ruling imperial elites. Roger has helped organized the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in British history, shutting down parts of London for weeks, in a bid to wrest power from a ruling class that has done nothing, and will do nothing, to halt the climate emergency and our death march to mass extinction.

The governing elites, when truly threatened, turn the rule of law into farce. Dissent becomes treason. They use the state mechanisms of control – intelligence agencies, police, courts, black propaganda and a compliant press that acts as their echo chamber, along with the jails and prisons, not only to marginalize and isolate rebels, but to psychologically and physically destroy them.

The list of rebels silenced or killed by ruling elites runs in a direct line from Socrates to the Haitian resistance leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the only successful slave revolt in human history and died in a frigid French prison cell of malnutrition and exhaustion, to the imprisonment of the socialist Eugene V. Debs, whose health was also broken in a federal prison.

Detroit, 2009. (CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Rebel leaders from the 1960s, including Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Kojo Bomani Sababu, Mutulu Shakur and Leonard Peltier, remain, decades later, in U.S. prisons. Muslim activists, including those who led the charity The Holy Land Foundation and Syed Fahad Hashmi, were arrested, often at the request of Israel, after the hysteria following 9/11, and given tawdry show trials. They also remain incarcerated.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights As Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights As Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Mnar Muhawesh, founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, speaks with journalist Daniel McAdams about being permanently banned from Twitter, social media censorship and more.

It’s an open secret. The deep state is working hand in hand with Silicon Valley social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google to control the flow of information. That includes suppressing, censoring and sometimes outright purging dissenting voices – all under the guise of fighting fake news and Russian propaganda.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York TimesCNNCNBCMSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following ’MintPress News’ extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

Amazon owner, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was paid $600 million by the CIA to develop software and media for the agency, that’s more than twice as much as Bezos bought the Washington Post for, and a move media critics warn spells the end of journalistic independence for the Post.

Meanwhile, Google has a very close relationship with the State Department, its former CEO Eric Schmidt’s book on technological imperialism was heartily endorsed by deep state warmongers like Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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