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The Pendulum of Internet Censorship Swings Leftward Again

“They’re only banning fascists,” they told me. “Why are you defending fascists?”

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There has been a purge of left-wing accounts from social media, with socialist organizations being targeted on Facebook and multiple Antifa-associated accounts suspended from Twitter.

“We have just confirmed that Facebook has disabled the page of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at the University of Michigan, as well as the accounts of all admins,” World Socialist Website editor tweeted today. “This is an unprecedented attack on the speech rights of an official campus student group.”

World Socialist Website also reports the following:

On Friday, Facebook carried out a purge of left-wing, antiwar and progressive pages and accounts, including leading members of the Socialist Equality Party. Facebook gave no explanation why the accounts were disabled or even a public acknowledgement that the deletions had occurred.

At least a half dozen leading members of the Socialist Equality Party had their Facebook accounts permanently disabled. This included the public account of Genevieve Leigh, the national secretary of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, and the personal account of Niles Niemuth, the US managing editor of the World Socialist Web Site. In 2016, Niemuth was the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US Vice President.

Facebook also disabled the London Bus Drivers Rank-and-File Committee Facebook page, which was set up with the support of the Socialist Equality Party (UK) to organize opposition among bus drivers. This follows a widely discussed call for a walkout by bus drivers to demand elementary protections against the COVID-19 pandemic.

None of the individuals whose accounts were disabled had violated Facebook’s policies. Upon attempting to appeal the deletion of their account, they received an error message stating, “We cannot review the decision to disable your account.”

The New York Post reports the following:

Twitter has suspended several popular accounts with alleged ties to Antifa — which have more than 71,000 followers combined — following the Inauguration Day riots.

At least four accounts tied with the militant group have been yanked offline — including @TheBaseBK, the account for the anarchist center in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Archived web pages of the accounts show they shared more than 71,000 followers and dated as far back as 2012.

Their pages now read “Account suspended” for violating Twitter rules.

This follows a mass purge of right-wing accounts in the wake of the Capitol riot earlier this month, a swing-back of the censorship pendulum that surprises nobody who knows anything about anything. That purge was broadly supported by shitlibs and a surprisingly large percentage of the true left, despite the overwhelming and growing pile of evidence that it is impossible to consent to internet censorship for other ideologies without consenting to censorship for your own.

I encountered many arguments in support of the right-wing purge from the online left while it was happening, and none of them were good.

“They’re only banning fascists,” they told me. “Why are you defending fascists?”

Well first of all there was never any evidence that these social media corporations were only purging fascists. We know for example that included in the sweep were tens of thousands of basic QAnon posters, who while ignorant and wrong would not in most cases meet most people’s definition of “fascist”. We don’t know who else was eliminated in the purge, but believing on blind faith that Facebook and Twitter were only targeting fascists who want to violently overthrow the US government is silly. 

In reality these social media giants have never claimed to be “banning fascists”, and there’s no reason to believe that’s their policy; white nationalists like Richard Spencer are still there. And even if these outlets did have a policy of “banning fascists”, what definition of “fascist” are they using? Do proponents of Silicon Valley censorship believe they’ll be using their personal definition of fascism to determine whose political speech is off limits? Do you think they’ll be calling you personally to consult you on whom to ban? How do you imagine this works exactly?

And of course opposing the normalization of government-tied monopolistic Silicon Valley oligarchs controlling worldwide political speech on the platforms an increasing number of people use to communicate important ideas is not “defending fascists”. Opposing oligarchic authoritarian control is the exact opposite of defending fascism.

“They always censor the left,” they told me. “We’re just happy that now they’re censoring fascists too.” 

So you imagine it can’t get worse? We just saw a major escalation against leftist accounts these past few days; do you think that’s the end of it? What do you imagine will happen if the left ever gets close to actually threatening the interests of the powerful after you’ve helped manufacture consent for the normalization of internet censorship every step of the way?

It can always get worse. The online left has not yet experienced mass-scale censorship of political speech yet; it’s experienced losing a few accounts here and there. You haven’t seen anything yet. Some Twitter leftists really seem to think that getting suspended because Kamala Harris supporters mass-reported them over a mean tweet is as ugly as this thing will get. If your goal is to threaten power at some point (and if you’re a real leftist it should be), then you need to oppose the normalization of any policies that can be used to silence those who threaten the powerful.

“Well it’s not like leftist revolution will be planned on social media anyway,” they told me.

You don’t use social media to plan the leftist revolution, you use it to create more leftists. You use it to bring consciousness and understanding to your ideas and your causes. Consenting to the institutionalization of the censorship of political speech is consenting to your own silence on this front, which will mean the only people who will be able to quickly share ideas and information online with the mainstream population will be those who support the very power structures you oppose.

And make no mistake, the imperial narrative managers most certainly do need the public’s consent for internet censorship. They don’t pour vast fortunes into manufacturing consent for evil agendas because it’s fun, they do it because they require the public’s consent. The empire’s inverted totalitarianism only holds together because they’re able to maintain the illusion of freedom and democracy; the iron-fisted silencing of wholesome political speech can only happen if the public has been paced into believing it’s a good thing. Every step of the tightening of the censorship noose is a part of this pacing, and if you consent to it, you’re helping them.

“Ultimately this content moderation movement will restore a system where the only allowable route to a mass audience is through a major institutional partner,” journalist Matt Taibbi recently observed

That is it. That is the goal. They tried allowing free speech online while simply hammering us with propaganda to keep us asleep, but people still just wanted to use the democratization of information that the internet afforded them to talk about about how horrible the status quo is. So now they’re working to reinstate the supremacy of mainstream gatekeepers.

When you realize that corporations are America’s real government, the whole “it isn’t censorship if it’s a private company doing it” argument is seen for the joke that it is. When you learn that this censorship is being actively coordinated with the official government, it’s even more of a joke.

To support the censorship of online speech is to support the authority of monopolistic tech oligarchs to exert more and more global control over human communication. Regardless of your attitude toward whoever happens to be getting deplatformed on any given day, supporting this can only be self-destructive.

Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission

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Opinion

You Counter Trumpism By Ending The Conditions Which Created It, Not With Authoritarian Policies

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The US political/media class have been pushing hard for more authoritarian policies to stave off the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the Capitol riot. President Biden, who was already working on rolling out new domestic terror policies well before January sixth, confirmed after the riot that he is making these new measures a priority. Political internet censorship is becoming increasingly normalized, anti-protest bills are being passed, and now we’re seeing liberals encouraged to form “digital armies” to spy on Trump supporters to report them to the authorities.

And an amazingly large percentage of the US population seems to have no problem with any of this, even in sectors of the political spectrum that should really know better by now.

“What else can we do?” they reason. “What other solution could there possibly be to the threat of dangerous fascists and conspiracy theorists continuing to gain power and influence?”

Well there’s a whole lot that can be done, and none of it includes consenting to sweeping new Patriot Act-like authoritarian measures or encouraging monopolistic Silicon Valley plutocrats to censor worldwide political speech. There’s just a whole lot of mass-scale narrative manipulation going on to keep it from being obvious to everyone.

The way to stem the tide of Trumpism (or fascism, or white supremacism, or Trump cultism, or whatever term you use for what you’re worried about here) is to eliminate the conditions which created it.

Trump was only able to launch his successful faux-populist campaign in the first place by exploiting the widespread pre-existing opinion that there was a swamp that needed draining, a corrupt political system whose leadership does not promote the interests of the people.

Conspiracy theories only exist because the government often does evil things and lies about them with the help of the mass media, forcing people to just guess what’s happening behind the opaque wall of government secrecy.

People only get it in their heads that they need a trustworthy strongman to overhaul the system if the system has failed them.

People who are actually interested in ending Trumpism would be promoting an end to the corruption in the political system, an end to the opacity of their government, an end to their uniquely awful electoral system, and an end to the neoliberal policies which have been making Americans poorer and poorer with less and less support from the government which purports to protect them.

But these changes are not being promoted by the US political/media class, because the US political/media class speaks for an empire that depends on these things.

Without corruption, the plutocratic class couldn’t use campaign donations and corporate lobbying to install and maintain politicians who will advance their interests.

Without government secrecy, the oligarchic empire could not conspire in secret to advance the military and economic agendas which form the glue that holds the empire together.

Without a lying mass media, people’s consent could not be manufactured for wars and a system which does not serve their interests.

Without widespread poverty and domestic austerity, people could not be kept too busy and politically impotent to challenge the massive political influence of the plutocrats.

So the option of stopping the rise of Trumpism by changing the system is taken off the table, which is why you never hear it discussed as a possibility in mainstream circles. The only option people are being offered to debate the pros and cons of is giving more powers to that same corrupt system which created Trump, powers which will be under the control of the next Trumpian figure who is elevated by that very system.

You’re not going to prevent fascism by creating a big authoritarian monster to stomp it into silence, and even if you could you would only be stopping the fascism by becoming the fascism. To stop the rise of fascism you need to actually change. Drastically. Believing you can just make it go away without changing your situation is like believing you can avert an oncoming train by putting your hands over your eyes.

There is no valid argument against what I am saying here. Saying the powerful won’t allow any positive change is just confirming everything I’m saying and confirming the need to remove the powerful from power. Saying that ending corruption, government secrecy and injustice would just be giving the terrorists what they want would be turning yourself into a bootlicker of such cartoonish obsequiousness there aren’t words in the English language adequate to mock you.

Yes, change is desperately needed. Yes, the powerful will resist that change with everything they have. But the alternative is letting them plunge the world into darkness and destruction. We’re going to have to find a way to win this thing.

Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission

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The Next Two Years Will Be The Democratic Party At Its Most Transparent

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Joe Biden is now the president of the United States of America. His day one executive orders should have prioritized ending the single worst crisis in the world in Yemen, a war he campaigned on ending US involvement in, but they did not.

Ending US participation in the Yemen genocide could and should have begun on day one. In These Times reported the following back in November (emphasis added):

One thing Biden can do, starting on day one, is end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war — involvement that he helped initiate. ​“By executive order, Biden could get the Pentagon to end intelligence sharing for the Saudi coalition airstrikes, end logistical support, and end spare parts transfers that keep Saudi warplanes in the air,” Hassan El-Tayyab, lead Middle East policy lobbyist for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a progressive organization, tells In These Times. ​“He could restore humanitarian assistance to northern Yemen. He could use his power as president to put pressure on other nations that are supporting the Saudi coalition — like France, the United Kingdom and Canada — and get them to follow suit. He could have the State Department put a stop on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless they meet certain benchmarks.” 

Biden did none of these things, which while unsurprising is still inexcusable. This isn’t some ten-year infrastructure plan we’re talking about, this is the worst mass atrocity on our entire planet and it should be treated with proportionate urgency. This administration consciously chose not to end US participation in that atrocity as swiftly as possible, which will remain an inexcusable decision even if the Yemen war is eventually ended later.

Instead of grilling Biden about his decision not to prioritize his promise to end the Yemen war, which is what any real journalist would do, the press are asking him stupid nonsense questions about whether he can “unite the country”.

In the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration we were treated to some Senate hearings on his cabinet picks, in which we learned that this administration will continue Trump’s murderous coupmongering in Venezuela, that it will maintain Trump’s incendiary decision to have the US embassy in Jerusalem, that reviving the Iran nuclear deal is a long ways off from happening and will first require consultation with Israel, and that it will be continuing Trump’s cold war escalations against China. 

In one of the more bizarre displays in the Senate hearings, Biden’s nominee to lead the State Department Tony Blinken defended his support for the disastrous Libya intervention during his time in the Obama administration by blaming its aftermath on Muammar Gaddafi, the leader who was mutilated to death in the streets after a US-led intervention to oust him.

“Here’s what I think we misjudged,” Blinken said. “We didn’t fully appreciate the fact that one of the things Gaddafi had done over the years was to make sure that there was no possible rival to his power, and as a result there was no effective bureaucracy, no effective administration in Libya with which to work when he was gone.”

By “when he was gone” Blinken means when he was dead, because the United States helped kill him after staging an intervention based on lies. He is defending his push for an intervention which led to a failed state where people are sold as slaves by saying that if Gaddafi had run his country better it would not have collapsed into violence and chaos when the Obama administration murdered him.

This is like an axe murderer blaming his actions on his victim’s bad housekeeping. The brazenness with which imperialist goons can shrug off all responsibility for their actions will never cease to astonish.

The next two years will be the Democratic Party at its most transparent. After two years they are statistically likely to lose control of the House and/or Senate, after which time they’ll be able to pawn off all imperialist bloodshed and lack of progress on an “obstructionist congress” like they did for the last six years of the Obama administration. But until then the Democrats are going to have to own all of their reactionary depravity and mass murder on their own.

This will set a sharp contrast from the past four years, where every mundane part of the US empire’s institutionalized abuse was portrayed as an anomaly unique to the Trump administration. Unable to blame their refusal to advance progressive policies and basic human decency on Trump and Vladimir Putin these next two years, they’ll be forced to kill any leftward movement all on their own. Which is why we are now already seeing mass media articles with headlines like “Under Biden, it’s time for Democrats to let go of Medicare for All“.

And this period will provide ample opportunities to highlight the fact that that’s exactly what the Democratic Party exists to do: kill all leftward movement in the most powerful government on earth. As the US continues its soul-crushing neoliberal policies at home and its murderous neoconservative policies abroad with the same degree of psychopathy it displayed in previous administrations, we must draw attention to the fact that it is the Democratic Party which bears responsibility for these things.

The sooner Americans can discredit the Democratic Party as a legitimate vehicle for progressive change, the sooner they can start looking for other tools. The first step to escape is to stop pushing against the fake door falsely labeled “exit”.

Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission

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Cops TV Series Cancelled After 33 Seasons Amid Police Brutality Protests

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(TMU) Op ed – In most mainstream television shows, movies, or books, the police are almost always the heroes of the story, and much of the real-life experiences that people have with police are often let out of the picture entirely.

This has helped to maintain the prevailing narrative that the police are the good guys and that they spend their days dealing with the worst elements of society, and protecting the world from thieves, rapists, and murders.

In many ways, Hollywood has acted as a propaganda agency for both law enforcement and the military, by always deferring to authority in their depictions of people in these roles.

These types of shows aren’t a small phenomenon either, cable and streaming services are flooded with them and they have had a profound impact on the public’s perception of the police.

This has slowly started to change, as cell phone cameras have allowed for widespread documentation of police brutality.

However, the death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed have accelerated the conversation about police reform to the point where it is becoming less and less socially acceptable to be affiliated with the police.

This shift in the global consciousness will undoubtedly push networks to reconsider airing shows that glorify the police. In fact, this has already started to happen. Cops, one of the longest running shows on TV, was canceled by the Paramount network amid the growing protests.

“Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a Paramount Network spokesperson said, according to Entertainment Weekly.

There are over 1,100 episodes of Cops, and the show was preparing for its 33rd season.

The footage presented on Cops has actually been controversial long before this recent interest in police brutality. As far back as the 1990’s, the show was accused of propagating harmful racial stereotypes.

A 1994 study from Old Dominion University found that viewers of the show were more likely to associate crime with people of color because the suspects depicted in the show were overwhelmingly black or latino, and the police officers were mostly white.

Again in 2004, additional research showed that the content on the show was so biased that it could be used to justify racial profiling.

The show’s creators John and Morgan Langley responded to these criticisms during a 2018 interview, saying that they have long since corrected this problem, but the efforts seem to be too little too late, and the format itself is quickly becoming offensive to most people.

If the sentiment to bring extreme reforms to policing continues to grow, this style of cop show may become a thing of the past.

The future is also uncertain for the show Live PD, a successor to Cops which appears on A&E. According to THR, A&E pulled last week’s episodes of Live PD and there is no clear indication when or if the next episode will air, although the network is promising that it will be back at some point.

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