Amazon, “Economic Terrorism” and the Destruction of Competition and Livelihoods

By Colin Todhunter

Source: Off-Guardian

Global corporations are colonising India’s retail space through e-commerce and destroying small-scale physical retail and millions of livelihoods.

Walmart entered into India in 2016 with a US$3.3 billion take-over of the online retail start-up Jet.com. This was followed in 2018 with a US$16 billion take-over of India’s largest online retail platform, Flipkart. Today, Walmart and Amazon control almost two thirds of India’s digital retail sector.

Amazon and Walmart have a record of using predatory pricing, deep discounts and other unfair business practices to attract customers to their online platforms. A couple of years ago, those two companies generated sales of over US$3 billion in just six days during Diwali. India’s small retailers reacted by calling for a boycott of online shopping.

If you want to know the eventual fate of India’s local markets and small retailers, look no further than what US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in 2019. He stated that Amazon had “destroyed the retail industry across the United States.”

AMAZON’S CORPORATE PRACTICES

In the US, an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee concluded that Amazon exerts monopoly power over many small- and medium-size businesses. It called for breaking up the company and regulating its online marketplace to ensure that sellers are treated fairly.

Amazon has spied on sellers and appropriated data about their sales, costs and suppliers. It has then used this information to create its own competing versions of their products, often giving its versions superior placement in the search results on its platform.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) published a revealing document on Amazon in June 2021 that discussed these issues. It also notes that Amazon has been caught using its venture capital fund to invest in start-ups only to steal their ideas and create rival products and services.

Moreover, Amazon’s dominance allows it to function as a gatekeeper: retailers and brands must sell on its site to reach much of the online market and changes to Amazon’s search algorithms or selling terms can cause their sales to evaporate overnight.

Amazon also makes it hard for sellers to reduce their dependence on its platform by making their brand identity almost invisible to shoppers and preventing them from building relationships with their customers. The company strictly limits contact between sellers and customers.

According to the ILSR, Amazon compels sellers to buy its warehousing and shipping services, even though many would get a better deal from other providers, and it blocks independent businesses from offering lower prices on other sites. The company also routinely suspends sellers’ accounts and seizes inventories and cash balances.

The Joint Action Committee against Foreign Retail and E-commerce (JACAFRE) was formed to resist the entry of foreign corporations like Walmart and Amazon into India’s e-commerce market. Its members represent more than 100 national groups, including major trade, workers’ and farmers’ organisations.

JACAFRE issued a statement in 2018 on Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart, arguing that it undermines India’s economic and digital sovereignty and the livelihoods of millions in India. The committee said the deal would lead to Walmart and Amazon dominating India’s e-retail sector. It would also allow them to own India’s key consumer and other economic data, making them the country’s digital overlords, joining the ranks of Google and Facebook.

In January 2021, JACAFRE published an open letter saying that the three new farm laws, passed by parliament in September 2020, centre on enabling and facilitating the unregulated corporatisation of agriculture value chains. This will effectively make farmers and small traders of agricultural produce become subservient to the interests of a few agrifood and e-commerce giants or will eradicate them completely.

Although there was strong resistance to Walmart entering India with its physical stores, online and offline worlds are now merged: e-commerce companies not only control data about consumption but also control data on production and logistics. Through this control, e-commerce platforms can shape much of the physical economy.

What we are witnessing is the deliberate eradication of markets in favour of monopolistic platforms.

BEZOS NOT WELCOME

Amazon’s move into India encapsulates the unfair fight for space between local and global markets. There is a relative handful of multi-billionaires who own the corporations and platforms. And there are the interests of hundreds of millions of vendors and various small-scale enterprises who are regarded by these rich individuals as mere collateral damage to be displaced in their quest for ever-greater profit.

Thanks to the helping hand of various COVID-related lockdowns, which devastated small businesses, the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by $3.9tn (trillion) between 18 March and 31 December 2020.

In September 2020, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s executive chairman, could have paid all 876,000 Amazon employees a $105,000 bonus and still be as wealthy as he was before COVID. Jeff Bezos – his fortune constructed on unprincipled methods that have been well documented in recent years – increased his net wealth by $78.2bn during this period.

Bezos’s plan is clear: the plunder of India and the eradication of millions of small traders and retailers and neighbourhood mom and pop shops.

This is a man with few scruples. After returning from a brief flight to space in July, in a rocket built by his private space company, Bezos said during a news conference:

I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

In response, US congresswoman Nydia Velazquez wrote on Twitter:

While Jeff Bezos is all over the news for paying to go to space, let’s not forget the reality he has created here on Earth.”

She added the hashtag #WealthTaxNow in reference to Amazon’s tax dodging, revealed in numerous reports, not least the May 2021 study ‘The Amazon Method: How to take advantage of the international state system to avoid paying tax’ by Richard Phillips, Senior Research Fellow, Jenaline Pyle, PhD Candidate, and Ronen Palan, Professor of International Political Economy, all based at the University of London.

Little wonder that when Bezos visited India in January 2020, he was hardly welcomed with open arms.

Bezos praised India on Twitter by posting:

Dynamism. Energy. Democracy. #IndianCentury.”

The ruling party’s top man in the BJP foreign affairs department hit back with:

Please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise, your charm offensive is likely to be waste of time and money.”

A fitting response, albeit perplexing given the current administration’s proposed sanctioning of the foreign takeover of the economy, not least by the unscrupulous interests that will benefit from the recent farm legislation.

Bezos landed in India on the back of the country’s antitrust regulator initiating a formal investigation of Amazon and with small store owners demonstrating in the streets. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) announced that members of its affiliate bodies across the country would stage sit-ins and public rallies in 300 cities in protest.

In a letter to PM Modi, prior to the visit of Bezos, the secretary of the CAIT, General Praveen Khandelwal, claimed that Amazon, like Walmart-owned Flipkart, was an “economic terrorist” due to its predatory pricing that “compelled the closure of thousands of small traders.”

In 2020, Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DVM) filed a complaint against Amazon and Flipkart alleging that they favoured certain sellers over others on their platforms by offering them discounted fees and preferential listing. The DVM lobbies to promote the interests of small traders. It also raised concerns about Amazon and Flipkart entering into tie-ups with mobile phone manufacturers to sell phones exclusively on their platforms.

It was argued by DVM that this was anti-competitive behaviour as smaller traders could not purchase and sell these devices. Concerns were also raised over the flash sales and deep discounts offered by e-commerce companies, which could not be matched by small traders.

The CAIT estimates that in 2019 upwards of 50,000 mobile phone retailers were forced out of business by large e-commerce firms.

Amazon’s internal documents, as revealed by Reuters, indicated that Amazon had an indirect ownership stake in a handful of sellers who made up most of the sales on its Indian platform. This is an issue because in India Amazon and Flipkart are legally allowed to function only as neutral platforms that facilitate transactions between third-party sellers and buyers for a fee.

UNDER INVESTIGATION

The upshot is that India’s Supreme Court recently ruled that Amazon must face investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for alleged anti-competitive business practices. The CCI said it would probe the deep discounts, preferential listings and exclusionary tactics that Amazon and Flipkart are alleged to have used to destroy competition.

However, there are powerful forces that have been sitting on their hands as these companies have been running amok.

In August 2021, the CAIT attacked the NITI Aayog (the influential policy commission think tank of the Government of India) for interfering in e-commerce rules proposed by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.

The CAIT said that the think tank clearly seems to be under the pressure and influence of the foreign e-commerce giants.

The president of CAIT, BC Bhartia, stated that it is deeply shocking to see such a callous and indifferent attitude of the NITI Aayog whch have remained a silent spectator for so many years when:

…the foreign e-commerce giants have circumvented every rule of the FDI policy and blatantly violated and destroyed the retail and e-commerce landscape of the country but have suddenly decided to open their mouth at a time when the proposed e-commerce rules will potentially end the malpractices of the e-commerce companies.”

Of course, money talks and buys influence. In addition to tens of billions of US dollars invested in India by Walmart and Amazon, Facebook invested US$5.5 billion last year in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms (e-commerce retail). Google has also invested US$4.5 billion.

Since the early 1990s, when India opened up to neoliberal economics, the country has become increasingly dependent on inflows of foreign capital. Policies are being governed by the drive to attract and retain foreign investment and maintain ‘market confidence’ by ceding to the demands of international capital which ride roughshod over democratic principles and the needs of hundreds of millions of ordinary people. ‘Foreign direct investment’ has thus become the holy grail of the Modi-led administration and the NITI Aayog.

The CAIT has urged the Consumer Affairs Ministry to implement the draft consumer protection e-commerce rules at the earliest as they are in the best interest of the consumers as well as the traders of the country.

Meanwhile, the CCI probably will complete its investigation within two months.

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Two for Tuesday

I Like Trains

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Did the US Support the Growth of ISIS-K in Afghanistan?

Regional players have long accused the US of supporting the group with midnight helicopter transport into Afghanistan.

By Alexander Rubinstein

Source: Mint Press News

The list of governments, former government officials, and organizations in the region that have accused the US of supporting ISIS-K is expansive and includes the Russian government, the Iranian government, Syrian government media, Hezbollah, an Iraqi state-sponsored military outfit and even former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who called the group a “tool” of the United States as journalist Ben Norton recently noted, characterizing Karzai as “a former US puppet who later turned against the US, and knows many of its secrets.”

So what exactly is ISIS-K and what is it’s history? After ISIS’s Afghanistan variant became a household name overnight following a suicide bombing at Kabul’s airport that killed more than 170 people and wounded more than 200, the group’s history demands renewed scrutiny.

Back in May, I tweeted that “I must not be the only one expecting a so-called ‘rise of ISIS’ in Afghanistan in the near future…”

I wrote this because mass-casualty terrorist attacks are repeatedly used as justification by the United States for continuing its occupations of foreign countries: the “counterterrorism mission,” or the “terrorist threat.” And it has been a long time since the Taliban has taken credit for any such acts.

In fact, all the way back in August 2016 — a little over five years ago — Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Iranian media that “In cooperation with the nation, [the Taliban] has prevented the terrorist group from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan.”

The strongest argument in favor of a US withdrawal put forward by the Biden Administration is that the United States completed its counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan. The attack by “ISIS-K” on the Kabul airport collapses this argument, and so it benefits those who would prefer to see Afghanistan permanently occupied by the US.

It’s also not the actions of a calculating terrorist group: why commit mass violence at such a critical juncture? Why do it when all eyes are on Afghanistan and many in the Pentagon, in NATO, are looking for any excuse to invade again?

CNN’s Clarissa Ward was even able to interview a “senior ISIS-K commander” two weeks before the attack who made these points. The “commander” told CNN that the group was “lying low and waiting for its moment to strike.”

While the US-backed government was still in power in Kabul, the ISIS-K “commander” told Ward that “it’s no problem for him to get through checkpoints and come right into the capital.” He even let the CNN crew film his entrance into the city.

In the absurd interview, CNN sat in a hotel room with the supposed ISIS-K leader and protected his identity. Ward asked him comically upfront questions like “are you interested, ultimately, in carrying out international attacks?”

In response to a question about their plans for expansion in Afghanistan following a US withdrawal, the “commander” said “instead of currently operating, we have turned to recruiting only, to utilize the opportunity and to do our recruitment. But when the foreigners and people of the world leave Afghanistan, we can restart our operations.”

What changed?

This is not to say definitively that the ISIS-K attack was a false flag, but there are many holes in the narrative that demand scrutiny. It is worth noting here that the US is in charge of security at the airport until August 31, while the Taliban controls the surrounding area.

Moreover, the United States had advanced knowledge of the attack. “Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time,” read an August 25 security alert on the US Embassy in Afghanistan website. “US citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”

Britain and Australia issued similar warnings of a “high threat of a terrorist attack” and a “very high threat of a terrorist attack” respectively.

The following day, a suicide bomber blew himself up and killed scores of people. Additionally, US forces reportedly gunned down a large number of people as well. “Many we spoke to, including eyewitnesses, said significant numbers of those killed were shot dead by US forces in the panic after the blast,” tweeted BBC correspondent Secunder Kermani, who reported from the area.

The very next day after the attack, the United State Central Command announced that “US military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner. The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan.”

In short, the US knew an attack was coming, the attack happened, and then within 24 hours the US announced that they killed the perpetrator, saying “initial indications are that we killed the target.”

Then on Saturday, US forces demolished a CIA base in the country.

These facts give us more questions than answers. Why was the US unable to prevent the attack? Giving the military and intelligence community the benefit of doubt that they didn’t know who was going to attack and therefore could not have prevented it, how did they figure it out so quickly after the attack? If it was the CIA, which is more than likely, who provided this information, why is the military destroying CIA infrastructure that could plausibly play a role in helping to figure such things out? This is an especially troubling question considering that less than a few hours before the New York Times reported that US troops destroyed a CIA base, President Biden said that military commanders informed him that another attack on the airport is “highly likely” in the next 24-26 hours.

Long Running Accusations of Support

Researcher and commentator Hadi Nasrallah noted on Friday that the leader of the Middle East resistance group Hezbollah “said that the US have been using helicopters to save ISIS terrorists from complete annihilation in Iraq and transporting them to Afghanistan to keep them as insurgents in Central Asia against Russia, China and Iran.”

Hezbollah is not the first player in the area to make the accusation of the US setting up a ratline via helicopter flights to Afghanistan for ISIS: Russia and Iran, which borders Afghanistan, have been for some time.

As Hadi Nasrallah noted, Syra and Iraq have said more or less the same, with Syrian state media SANA saying in 2017 reporting that “US helicopters transported between 40 and 75 ISIS militants from Hasakah, North Syria to an ‘unknown area.’”

As Hadi Nasrallah pointed out, “the same thing was reported for years in Iraq by the [Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces] along with reports that US helicopters dropped aid for ISIS.”

Back in 2017 and 2018, Iranian and Russian officials had questions of their own. Chief of Iranian General Staff Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri accused the US of “relocating members of the Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group to Afghanistan after their defeats in Iraq and Syria” in early February of 2018.

“The Americans point to (the existence) of tensions in the southwest Asia region as an excuse for their presence in the region,” Major General Baqeri told reporters.

The following month, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the longtime foreign minister of Iran who departed from the post earlier this year, said “we see intelligence, as well as eyewitness accounts, that Daesh fighters, terrorists, were airlifted from battle zones, rescued from battle zones, including recently from the prison of Haska [Meyna].”

Iran and Russia have “consistently allege[d]” that unmarked helicopters were flying into regions of Afghanistan where ISIS had a foothold. But as Javad Zarif pointed out in March 2018, “this time, it wasn’t unmarked helicopters. They were American helicopters, taking Daesh out of Haska prison. Where did they take them? Now, we don’t know where they took them, but we see the outcome. We see more and more violence in Pakistan, more and more violence in Afghanistan, taking a sectarian flavor.”

As the US government propaganda outlet Voice of America wrote at the time in 2018, “the terrorist group uses Nangarhar as its main base to launch attacks elsewhere in Afghanistan.” This is the same province the US struck with an unmanned drone the day following the attack on the airport.

As Voice of America noted, the National Security Advisor of the recently-collapsed Afghanistan government offered Russian and Iranian delegates “joint investigations into allegations of unmarked helicopters flying IS[IS] fighters to battle zones in the country.”

In February 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov implored the US to answer the question.

“We still expecting from our American colleagues an answer to the repeatedly raised questions, questions that arose on the basis of public statements made by the leaders of some Afghan provinces, that unidentified helicopters, most likely helicopters to which NATO in one way or another is related, fly to the areas where the insurgents are based, and no one has been able to explain the reasons for these flights yet,” Lavrov said. “In general [the United States] tries to avoid answers to these legitimate questions.”

Later that month, Lavrov had more to say on the issue: “According to our data, the IS[IS] presence in northern and eastern Afghanistan is rather serious. There are already thousands of gunmen.”

“We are alarmed as, unfortunately, the US and NATO military in Afghanistan makes every effort to silence and deny [ISIS’s presence in Afghanistan],” he added.

These mysterious dead-of-night helicopter flights even raised the eyebrows of the fallen US puppet government. All the way back in May 2017, a local official in the Sar-e-Pul province said two military helicopters landed in the dead of night.

“According to the report we have received from the 2nd Battalion of the Afghan National Army, which fights on the first line of the battle in Sar-e-Pul, two military helicopters landed in a stronghold of the enemy at 8pm last Thursday,” Mohammad Zahir Wahdat, the governor of the province, told Afghan media.

Following Lavrov’s comments in 2018, General John Nicholson, the commander of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, said that Russia was exaggerating the threat of ISIS in Afghanistan. “We see a narrative that’s being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Isis [Islamic State group] fighters here,” Gen. Nicholson told the BBC. “This narrative then is used as a justification for the Russians to legitimize the actions of the Taliban.

This talking point was reinforced by Navy Captain Tom Gresbeck, the public affairs director of NATO’s Afghanistan mission, who said that US forces have “no evidence of any significant migration of IS-K foreign fighters. We see local fighters who switch allegiances to join ISIS for various reasons, but the Russian narrative grossly exaggerates the numbers of ISIS fighters that are in the country.”

It appears that this week, the United States may be forced to eat its words.

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, CIA, Deep State, Empire, False Flag, Geopolitics, imperialism, news, Oligarchy, Social Control, Social Engineering, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Australia Continues Its Plunge Into Authoritarianism And Military Brinkmanship

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

Australia has joined the US and UK in an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” called AUKUS with the unspoken-yet-obvious goal of coordinating escalations against China. Antiwar reports:

President Biden and the leaders of Australia and the UK announced a new military agreement on Wednesday aimed at countering China. The pact, known as AUKUS, will focus on the sharing of sensitive military technologies, and the first initiative will focus on getting Australia nuclear-powered submarines.

US officials speaking to CNN described the effort to share nuclear propulsion with another country as an “exceedingly rare step” due to the sensitivity of the technology. “This technology is extremely sensitive. This is, frankly, an exception to our policy in many respects,” one unnamed official said.

This deal will replace a planned $90 billion program to obtain twelve submarines designed by France, an obnoxious expenditure either way when a quarter of Australians are struggling to make ends meet during a pandemic that is four times more likely to kill Australians who are struggling financially. This is just the latest in Canberra’s continually expanding policy of feeding vast fortunes into Washington’s standoff with Beijing at the expense of its own people.

If readers are curious why Australia would simultaneously subvert its own economic interests by turning against its primary trading partner and its own security interests by feeding into dangerous and unnecessary provocations, I will refer them once again to the jarringly honest explanation by American political analyst John Mearsheimer at a debate hosted by the Australian think tank Center for Independent Studies in 2019. Mearsheimer told his audience that the US is going to do everything it can to halt China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the regional hegemon in the East, and that Australia should align with the US in that battle or else it would face the wrath of Washington.

“The question that’s on the table is what should Australia’s foreign policy be in light of the rise of China,” Mearsheimer said. “I’ll tell you what I would suggest if I were an Australian.”

Mearsheimer claimed that China is going to continue to grow economically and will convert this economic power into military power to dominate Asia “the way the US dominates the Western Hemisphere”, and explained why he thinks the US and its allies have every ability to prevent that from happening.

“Now the question is what does this all mean for Australia?” Mearsheimer said. “Well, you’re in a quandary for sure. Everybody knows what the quandary is. And by the way you’re not the only country in East Asia that’s in this quandary. You trade a lot with China, and that trade is very important for your prosperity, no question about that. Security-wise you really want to go with us. It makes just a lot more sense, right? And you understand that security is more important than prosperity, because if you don’t survive, you’re not gonna prosper.”

“Now some people say there’s an alternative: you can go with China,” said Mearsheimer. “Right you have a choice here: you can go with China rather the United States. There’s two things I’ll say about that. Number one, if you go with China you want to understand you are our enemy. You are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States. Because again, we’re talking about an intense security competition.”

“You’re either with us or against us,” he continued. “And if you’re trading extensively with China, and you’re friendly with China, you’re undermining the United States in this security competition. You’re feeding the beast, from our perspective. And that is not going to make us happy. And when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can be. Just ask Fidel Castro.”

Nervous laughter from the Australian think tank audience punctuated Mearsheimer’s more incendiary observations. The CIA is known to have made numerous attempts to assassinate Castro.

So there you have it. Australia is not aligned with the US to protect itself from China. Australia is aligned with the US to protect itself from the US.

This new move happens as Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner announces his government’s policy for Covid-19 restrictions once the territory’s population is 80 percent vaccinated which will include “lockouts” during outbreaks wherein people will only be allowed to work and move freely in society if they verify that they are vaccinated using check-in measures which Gunner literally calls a “freedom pass”.

“I’ll say it again and again. If you want your life to continue close to normal, get your jab,” Gunner said. “For vaccinated people, the check-in app will basically be your freedom pass. For people who make the choice to not get vaccinated, no vax means no freedom pass. We’re working with other governments now to get this technology ready.”

This is in alignment with what we’ve been told to expect as the rest of Australia prepares to roll out the use of vaccine passports.

And we continue to see other authoritarian escalations in Australia which have nothing to do with Covid as well. Authorities have been proposing new legal provisions which will allow Australian visas to be cancelled and citizenship revoked in entirely secret proceedings based on information provided by secretive government agencies. The horrifying Identify and Disrupt bill which allows Australian police to hack people’s devices, collect, delete and alter their information and log onto their social media was passed through Parliament at jaw-dropping speed last month. Neither of these escalations are Covid-related.

People who just started paying attention to Australian authoritarianism during Covid often get the impression that it’s entirely about the virus, but as we discussed previously the actual fundamental problem is that Australia is the only so-called democracy without any kind of statute or bill of rights to protect the citizenry from these kinds of abuses. This is why Australia is looked upon as so freakish by the rest of the western world right now: because, in this sense, it is. People call it a “free country”, but there has never been any reason to do so.

Covid has certainly played a major role in the exacerbation of Australian authoritarianism, but it’s a problem that was well underway long before the outbreak. Back in 2019 the CIVICUS Monitor had already downgraded Australia from an “open” country to one where civil space has “narrowed”, citing new laws to expand government surveillanceprosecution of whistleblowers, and raids on media organizations.

This slide into military brinkmanship and authoritarian dystopia shows no signs of stopping. The abuses of the powerful will continue to grow more egregious until the people open their eyes to what’s going on and begin taking action to steer us away from the existential dangers we are hurtling toward on multiple fronts. If there is any good news to be had here, it’s that if such a miracle ever occurs it will then be possible to immediately course correct and start building a healthy society together.

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THEY ARE CREATING THE BIGGEST WITCH HUNT IN AMERICAN HISTORY

By Michael Snyder

Source: Waking Times

Prior to this pandemic, if you wanted to weed out all of the “troublemakers”, “independent thinkers” and “non-conformists” from our society, how would you have done it?

I suppose that sending everyone a questionnaire asking them what they believe would be one way to do it, but of course a lot of people would give false answers and many others would simply ignore the questionnaire.  Social media profiles contain a wealth of information, but many “non-conformists” are not even on social media and digging through all of that data would take an extraordinary amount of time, money and energy.  Up until just recently, there just hasn’t been an easy and efficient way to identify those that are not eager servants of the system.

But now the COVID vaccines have changed everything.  These injections are the perfect litmus test, because “troublemakers”, “independent thinkers” and “non-conformists” are pretty much the only ones that are refusing the shots at this point.  This makes it exceptionally easy to divide American citizens into two categories, and it also gives authorities a perfect excuse to push all of those “troublemakers”, “independent thinkers” and “non-conformists” to the fringes of society.

As I discussed yesterday, I was literally sick to my stomach as I pondered the implications of Biden’s tyrannical new decrees.  Originally, Biden and other Democratic leaders were against any sort of vaccine mandates, but now I think that they have realized that mandates are a tool that they can use to fundamentally reshape our society.

If you don’t understand where I am going with this, just keep reading, because it will become extremely clear by the end of this article.

Biden’s new decrees cover almost every major institution in our society.  Just think about it.  Any “major institution” is almost certainly going to be employing more than 100 people, and all such organizations are covered by Biden’s mandates.

In addition to businesses of various sizes, we are also talking about colleges, schools, churches, non-profits, political entities, sports teams and charitable organizations.

Millions of Americans that are employed by such institutions could be forced to leave their positions if they refuse to comply with what Biden is demanding.

And the rules that the Biden administration is coming up with will require the institutions to be the enforcers of these draconian new measures.

Your bosses will be forced to make sure that you are submitting to the new rules, because if not they could be hit with massive fines.

In my last article I used the word “sickening” to describe what Biden is trying to do to all of us, but the truth is that word is not nearly strong enough.

What we are facing is a complete and total national nightmare, and it isn’t going to end any time soon.

Biden’s new mandates are even stricter for employees of the federal government.  Previously, employees of the federal government were at least given the option to undergo regular testing if they didn’t want to be vaccinated, but now that option is being taken away.

So now millions of federal employees will have to choose between their principles and their careers.

And considering the fact that so many of these people are barely providing for their families right now, a lot of really heartbreaking choices are going to have to be made.

Earlier today, I posted a video from a woman that works for the U.S. Treasury Department.  After all these years, she publicly announced on social media that she is going to leave her job because of Biden’s new mandates.

And countless others will follow her out the door.

Biden’s new decrees will also force nearly everyone in the entire healthcare industry to either get vaccinated or give up their careers.

What a horribly cruel thing to do.

Biden is essentially putting a gun to the heads of these people.  So many of them spent an enormous amount of time, energy and money to get their educations, and now Biden is telling them that they have to sacrifice everything that they have worked for if they will not comply with his demands.

As I pointed out yesterday, healthcare workers won’t just be forced out of their current jobs.  Because virtually every health care provider in the entire country accepts Medicaid and Medicare, those that refuse to comply will essentially be banned from the entire industry.

At a time when a shortage of qualified workers is causing chaos throughout our economy, Biden’s tyrannical orders could force millions of Americans to suddenly lose their jobs.  This is an incredibly foolish thing to do, and it could have very serious ramifications in the years ahead.

Sadly, it won’t just be a few people quitting their jobs.  A poll that was just conducted discovered that 72 percent of unvaccinated Americans said that they would quit their current jobs rather than be vaccinated…

Many making this argument have cited a Washington Post-ABC News poll released over the weekend. It showed that just 18 percent unvaccinated people whose employers don’t currently have mandates said they would likely get vaccinated if their employer required it. About 7 in 10 (72 percent) said that, if they couldn’t get a medical or religious exemption, they would probably quit rather than submit to the requirement.

I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, but it is my opinion that Kamala Harris has had a lot of influence in the recent decisions that Biden has been making.

She has always had authoritarian tendencies, and if she ever becomes president that will truly be a catastrophic scenario.

Needless to say, Biden’s new mandates are going to cause great anxiety for millions upon millions of people, and a recent CNN poll found that the mood of the country was already heading in a very negative direction

The new poll finds 69% of Americans say things in the country today are going badly, below the pandemic-era high of 77% reached in January just before President Joe Biden took office but well above the 60% who felt that way in a March CNN poll.

And 62% say that economic conditions in the US are poor, up from 45% in April and nearly as high as the pandemic-era peak of 65% reached in May 2020.

My hope is that Republican governors will fight Biden’s new decrees with everything that they have got.

Because the truth is that this is one of the most critical moments in U.S. history.

Our most basic liberties and freedoms are under full assault, and we really are descending into full-blown tyranny.

If Biden’s new mandates are not overturned by the courts, millions of Americans that love liberty and freedom could be forced from their jobs.

It would truly be a witch hunt of unprecedented size and scope, and it would represent the greatest purge of “troublemakers”, “independent thinkers” and “non-conformists” that any of us have ever witnessed.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, elites, Empire, Health, Labor, Law, news, police state, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saturday Matinee: Cops vs. Thugs

Cops Vs. Thugs — No Honour Among Thieves (or Cops)

By Ben Warnock

Source: Ben Warnock Blog

“Yakuza and cops are just the same. We respect the law instead of a code. We’re the dropouts who couldn’t get good jobs.”

“We too are the dropouts of society. We all are!”

Kinji Fukasaku’s yakuza films are perhaps best described as being surrounded by an almost impenetrable, bleak aura of despair and nihilism. The cops who are supposed to be the protectors of the people are corrupt to the core, Fukasaku basically presents them as a mercenary force — one that can be bought if the bid is high enough. Government officials often use the police to do their bidding and much like their underlings are as corrupt as they come. This damning indictment of these systems does not mean that the director sides with the yakuza — often portraying them as morally reprehensible criminals — whilst their code may be one of honour, post-war Japan has created a society that allows for greedy capitalists to gain power simply at the expense of sullying their morals and code. Those who stick to a code of honour become the dead that litters the senseless gang wars that follow. Corruption is a recurring theme throughout Fukasaku’s yakuza films and Cops Vs. Thugs is perhaps his most interesting example of this outside of his famous Battles Without Honour and Humanity series.

Much like the aforementioned series of films, Fukasaku looks to highlight the corrupting nature of power and that those who seek power are often those who are corrupted the easiest. The police of the film are split between those who are corrupt but perhaps honourable in their own, twisted way — as characterised by Bunta Sugawara’s Kuno whose corruption is described as a way of keeping the peace — and the new faction led by Kaida who is vehemently against collaboration with the yakuza. However, Kaida’s allegiances should not be mistaken as honourability as Fukasaku is certain to illustrate. Kaida’s behaviour humiliates his co-workers in public spectacles — including repeatedly using his judo skills on an elderly police officer — where his power is cemented amongst the other police officers. This damning indictment of the police is nothing new to the films of Fukasaku but here, the director highlights that those who seek the position of a police officer are those who are power-hungry and susceptible to corruption from many outside forces. As Sugawara’s Kuno states when asked why he became a cop:

“I wanted to carry a gun. After the war only cops and narcotic agents could carry guns….we were short of food…every time we tried to buy rice on the black market, the cops snatched it away. So I decided to be a snatcher”.

Unlike the famous notion that power corrupts, Fukasaku’s films prove that it is not power that corrupts but it is in the nature of those who seek positions of power in a patriarchal, capitalist system to become corrupt. It is the damaged system’s cyclical nature that corrupts individuals.

The fates of those characters who have a shred of honour — Kuno and Kawamoto — ultimately end in tragedy. Kuno’s honour and trust in his friend Hirotani ultimately leads to his escape attempt and forces Kuno’s hand in killing Hirotani. Violence begets violence and Kuno — after being demoted and transferred as a reward for saving Kaida’s life — is killed by the remaining members of Hirotani’s gang. The yakuza honour forces them to avenge the death of their leader. Kawamoto, on the other hand, attempts to save his friend’s life by getting them to surrender and is gunned down by the very friend he tried to save. The honour and trust showcased have no place within the world of the police and the yakuza. Corrupt institutions whose original purposes have become eroded and replaced by pawns of the capitalist society they inherit. This ever-changing, impermeable alliance between characters is highlighted by Fukasaku’s camera. Battles devolve into a sweeping landscape of betrayal with snitches followed by the judging eye of the camera and gunfights where the action can barely be contained within the confines of the screen. Fukasaku’s frantic kineticism within these scenes is indicative of the disorientating landscape of unknown allegiances which these characters inhabit and thrive.

The world which is represented in Cops Vs. Thugs is one that is inherently damaged from its systems of government to its criminals whose honour and code have become meaningless in the current political landscape. The real threat presented to the governing officials is not the yakuza who seek to exploit the corrupted system but a change in ideology that would bring the system crashing down. Fukasaku even highlights this own threat with the police officer whose entire character consists of his hatred of communists even ahead of the very criminals that are terrorising the streets he is meant to protect. Fukasaku’s (literal) red herring of communism here is one that rewards those who buy into the paranoia. The anti-communist officer is inexplicably a member of Kaida’s team and Fukasaku ensures that he is the first officer seen to be arresting the yakuza once they surrender. This perhaps explains that Kaida’s corruption does not lie with the yakuza but the capitalist government which seeks to strengthen its own resolve within society. The film’s epilogue showing the demotion and untimely fate of Kuno also highlights that Kaida is now a leading figure in Nikko Oil — a company that was mentioned to be corrupt as well. Hiding behind a facade of friendly exercising with his co-workers — Fukasaku pulls out from a close-up to a wide shot allowing the audience to realise that this corrupt institution is just one of many within the industrial landscape. Corruption does not just lie with the police working with the yakuza but also — and more dangerously so — lies with the police collaborating with the government.

Watch Cops vs. Thugs on Kanopy here: https://www.kanopy.com/product/cops-vs-thugs-0

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Generation of Vipers: The Original Sin and Continuous Crimes of America’s Involvement in Afghanistan

By Chris Floyd

Source: Empire Burlesque

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? – Matthew 12:34

I.
People need to understand something about Afghanistan, and the debacle we’re witnessing there. America’s involvement in Afghanistan didn’t begin in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks. It began in the last years of the Carter Administration, when he and his advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski set out to “give the Soviets their own Vietnam.” They did this by funding and arming an international cohort of violent fundamentalist extremists and training them in terror tactics. (Osama bin Laden was one of those who joined this jihad army supported by the US, Saudia Arabia and Pakistan.)

At that time, there was a modern, secular regime in Afghanistan. It wasn’t a paradise. It was ridden by internal factionalism, sometimes violent. It was supported by the Soviet Union. It was beset by fundamentalist extremists. It had repressive features. But it was a secular regime. Women were emancipated; many held high positions. Children, including girls, were educated. Science was honored and promoted. Religion was tolerated, albeit uneasily.

Carter and Brzezinski decided to empower the extremist militias attacking the regime, hoping to induce so much chaos that the Soviets would intervene militarily to help their client state. Again, as Brzezinski himself put it, they wanted to give the USSR “its own Vietnam.”

Think about this for a moment. What Carter and Brzezinski wanted was to subject the Afghan people to the years of suffering and death that the Vietnamese had experienced. They WANTED Afghanistan to suffer this fate, and they ACTED to make sure it happened. And it did. If you like, it was one of the great successes of US foreign policy in the post-war period. They deliberately plunged Afghanistan into blood-soaked chaos; and the Soviets – after fierce debate in the Politburo – did send in troops to try to stabilize the country. What followed was year after year after year of horror and death. Again, please note: this was the stated INTENTION of US policy: mass death, terrorism and suffering.

When Carter lost in 1980, Reagan took up his policy in Afghanistan and magnified it. More arms and money to religious extremists. More terrorist training, with CIA manuals. The US even produced textbooks for Afghan children lauding fundamentalist extremism and jihad terror. (All of this was reported in the Washington Post and other mainstream outlets.) Reagan invited the precursors of the Taliban to the White House, where he called them the “moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers” and “freedom fighters.” These men were dedicated to undoing the emancipation of women, destroying all vestiges of secular society and imposing the most harsh and hidebound fundamentalist strictures imaginable.

These were the people who were armed, trained, funded, lauded and supported by the United States government for years on end. The Taliban would not exist if not for these long-running, bipartisan policies of the United States.

II.
At last, the Soviets were bled dry, as Carter and Reagan intended, and pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving ruin and chaos behind. There followed years of civil war between atrocious warlords who tortured and looted the Afghan people. The Taliban arose from the midst of the extremists backed by the United States. They managed to take over the country in the early 1990s. They were then supported by the United States once again. Taliban members came to Texas seeking business deals under then-Governor George W. Bush. They sent representatives to Washington, meeting mostly with Republican leaders. When Bush was president, he hooked up with the Taliban in drug eradication efforts.

As noted, Osama bin Laden had been part of the US-backed extremist jihad against the secular regime. However, when the US stationed troops in his homeland of Saudi Arabia during the first Iraq War, he and other fundamentalists regarded this as a profanation of the holy land and vowed to drive American troops from Saudi Arabia. This was the main purpose behind al-Qaeda’s terror attacks, which culminated on 9/11: an attack carried out almost entirely by Saudi nationals, with no involvement of the Taliban or any Afghan citizens.

Bin Laden, a hero of the extremists’ triumph over the USSR, was by now back in Afghanistan. After the 9/11 attacks – which the US itself has said occurred without any foreknowledge by the Taliban – the Taliban offered several times to turn Bin Laden over to international justice in some accredited forum. Bush adamantly refused to even entertain the offer, and launched a full-scale military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

As is well known, just after the attack, the Bush Administration launched a frantic, extraordinary effort to spirit many top Saudi figures out of the United States. It could be noted here that the Bush family had long-standing business ties with the Saudis, including the Bin Laden family. (Indeed, Osama bin Laden’s father died in a plane crash in Texas while doing business there.)

In any case, the war was on. Although bin Laden and his forces were seemingly trapped in their mountain fortress early on, somehow they managed to escape to Pakistan, where bin Laden lived untroubled for many years.

By 2002, the Taliban regime had fallen. But the “nation-building” efforts of the United States very soon took a backseat to the goal that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (and Jeb Bush, among others) had publicly announced before Dubya’s election: war on Iraq. A Cheney-Rumsfeld group called “Project for the New American Century” laid out its plans before the 2000 election, calling for massive new military expenditures, extensive new military operations overseas and war on Iraq. The PNAC document clearly stated that they realized it would be very difficult to achieve this wholesale militarization of US society and policy, unless – their words, in 2000 – the American people were “catalyzed” by a “new Pearl Harbor.”

In 2003, massive military resources and political attention were shifted from Afghanistan to the real war that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted: Iraq. It would be tedious to recite all the deceptions they practiced to perpetrate their deliberate, knowing lie about “Iraqi WMDs” or the collusion of Democrats like Biden in furthering the war fever. The war came and we all know what happened. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people died, the whole region became destablized, thousands became radicalized by the death and torture visited upon their lands, and vast, almost incomprehensible levels of corruption attended every aspect of the long, bloody American occupation.

Meanwhile, the “backwater” of Afghanistan became little more than a long exercise in war profiteering. The “government” installed by the Americans looted the country on an almost incomprehensible scale. American and Afghan officials colluded with the Taliban to ship drugs and money out of the country. At one point, US and NATO officials were actually paying the Taliban to allow shipments of supplies through their checkpoints. Bombings went on, drone strikes went on, civilians were slaughtered by both the occupiers and the Taliban: a long, pointless hell that so radicalized the populace that in the end, as we saw this week, there was no longer any resistance to the Taliban and the order they promised – however harsh and brutal it will be.

The “Afghanistan Papers” of official US documents leaked a few years ago showed that the top US military and political officials had no idea what they were doing in Afghanistan. There was no real mission, no focus, no goal; it was essentially just a perpetual motion machine of death, suffering, procurement, profiteering and corruption. The Taliban had long since regained control of most of the country. The Afghans, which down through the centuries had defeated Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Union has now defeated the United States as well.

III.
But again we must go back to the beginning of the current situation. It started when the United States and its allies created an army of Islamic extremists in order to impose years of Vietnam-style hell on the Afghan people – as part of the “Great Game” of geopolitics, which uses innocent lives, and whole nations, as dispensable pieces on a chessboard. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan WANTED to create vast, hellish civil war in Afghanistan to ensnare the Soviets; that was their stated goal, and they spent vast amounts of US taxpayer to money to make it happen. They WANTED thousands of people to die in horrific conditions – Afghan civilians, Soviet conscripts, anyone, they didn’t care – as long as the Soviets “got their own Vietnam.” To me, this is a monstrous crime of near-demonic proportions: to deliberately work to create such an outcome. But they did work at it. And they succeeded.

Later, George W. Bush decided to throw the lives of US soldiers into the mix by invading a country that nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, as he well knew. Obama, with the eternal anxiety of Democrats not to look “weak” in the eyes of the morally depraved “foreign policy establishment,” then launched a pointless “surge” in Afghanistan that killed many more thousands of people (including US and allied soldiers). Again, as the “Afghanistan Papers” showed, all this was done with no real plan or aim, and with rampant corruption at every turn.

After this, the US largely stepped back from direct actions on the ground, and let the Afghan army do the dying, while the US concentrated on bombing and droning. Yet still the war went on, year after year, as tens of thousands were radicalized by their suffering and joined or supported the Taliban, which controlled most of the country outside the major cities. Finally Trump decided to cut a hasty and ill-thought out deal with the Taliban that ensured they would take over the country the moment the Americans pulled out – which immediately leeched away any remaining support for the corrupt and inept American-installed government. (Of course, if that government had promised to build a big Trump hotel in Baghdad, he probably would’ve sent in 30 divisions to keep it in power until he got his loot.)

This was the deal Biden inherited. But instead of treating it as what it really was – the inevitable handover of Afghanistan to the only local force capable of forming a government – Biden pretended that the Potemkin state installed by the Americans could somehow survive after the American withdrawal … at least long enough to save some face. Instead of spending six months in a negotiated, orderly transfer of power, the US simply kept up the 20-year farce for a time then bugged out, literally in the dead of night, in most cases without even telling the Afghan forces what was happening.

The Afghan forces knew the jig was up last year when Trump freed the co-founder of the Taliban, who then duly appeared with Mike Pompeo for a cozy photo-op. The Afghan soldiers knew it was only a matter of time before the Taliban was in power again. So when the Americans bugged out, the Afghan army began negotiating with the Taliban to avoid needless destruction and bloodshed. Thus city after city was surrendered without a pointless fight: a grim but humane course taken by Afghan soldiers in these dire circumstances.

But Joe Biden, seeking to avoid blame for his vastly inept mishandling of the inevitable takeover by the Taliban, is now blaming the Afghan people themselves, and the Afghan military forces in particular, for not wanting to “fight for their country.” This is a moral obscenity. Although he, like Trump, was absolutely correct in saying that the woebegone US occupation of Afghanistan had to end, he would not acknowledge the truth of how we got to this point, or why the Taliban even exists in the first place: because of deliberate US policy choices going back more than 40 years, all the way to the “original sin” by Carter and Brzezinski of empowering a global network of religious extremists that has given rise to the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS and others.

In none of these policies – from Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden – has concern for the lives and welfare of the Afghan people played the slightest part. The good Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter WANTED to create hell on earth like Vietnam in Afghanistan. He WANTED thousands upon thousands of innocent people to die, so that the Soviet Union could be “bled dry” in a geopolitical game. I know it’s hard to get one’s head around this, that this gentle, soft-spoken old man, who lives frugally, built houses for the poor and fought for free elections in other countrie ,etc., made the deliberate choice to inflict unimaginable grief, pain and suffering on multitudes of innocent people. But he did. This is what actually happened in our history.

Ronald Reagan extended this policy (which he also practiced in Central America, aiding the mass slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people by the repressive regimes he supported and armed.) George W. Bush then plunged American forces directly into the fray, stupidly, callously and corruptly replicating “Russia’s own Vietnam” of endless warfare against an extremist insurgency, while tens of thousands innocent civilians died at the hands of all the forces involved.

Now this 40-year chapter of American involvement has come to an end. But unless we actually know how we got here – and the absolutely fundamental role the US has played in these decades of death, destruction and radicalization – we will simply be waiting for the next monstrous, long-running atrocity to arise, with the same horseshit rationalizations (“Liberty! Freedom! Emancipation!”) that our leaders – all of them, every one – have used to cover up their deliberate policies of mass murder, war profiteering and corruption.

Posted in black ops, CIA, Deep State, Empire, Geopolitics, History, imperialism, Militarization, military spending, Neocons, news, Oligarchy, propaganda, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Which Is Worse, the Tech Giant Censors or the Stuff You Want Censored?

By David Swanson

Source: War is a Crime

The communications system we live in is highly complex, mostly driven by greed and profit, in part semi-public, full of filth I know we’d be better off without, and increasingly openly censored and monitored by defenders of accepted good thinking.

Fascist nutcases are spreading dangerous nonsense, while billionaire monopolists are virtually disappearing critics and protesters. It’s easy to get confused about what ought to be done. It’s difficult to find any recommendation that isn’t confused. Different people want different outrages censored and censored by different entities; what they all have in common is a failure to think through the threats they are creating to the things they don’t want censored.

A 1975 Canadian government commission recommended censoring “libel, obscenity, breach of the Official Secrets Act, matters affecting the defense of Canada, treason, sedition, or promulgating information that leads to incitement of crime or violence.” This is a typical muddle. Half of those things were almost certainly already banned, as suggested by their identification through legal terminology. A few of those things probably should be banned, such as incitement of violence (though not promulgating information that “leads” to incitement of any crime or violence). Of course I would include as incitement of violence a speech by the Prime Minister advocating the shipping of Canadian “Peace Keepers” to Africa, but the Prime Minister (who would have more say than I) would no doubt have just identified me as commenting on a matter affecting the defense of Canada — plus, if he or she were in the mood, I’ve probably just promulgated something that will lead to inciting some crime or other, even if it’s just the crime of more people speaking on matters affecting the “defense” of Canada. (And it shouldn’t matter that I’m not Canadian, since Julian Assange is not from the United States.)

Well, what’s the solution? A simplistic and surprisingly popular one is to blame philosophers. Those idiot postmodernists said there was no such thing as truth, which allowed that great student of philosophy Donald Trump to declare news about him “fake” — which he never could have thought of doing without a bunch of leftist academics inspiring him; and the endless blatant lies about wars and economies and environmental collapse and straight-faced reporting of campaign promises can’t have anything at all to do with the ease people have in distrusting news reporting. So, now we need to swing the pendulum back in the direction of tattooing the Ten Commandments on our foreheads before morality perishes at the hands of the monster relativism. We can’t do that without censoring the numbskulls, regrettably of course.

This line of thinking is dependent on failing to appreciate the point of postmodern criticism. That the greater level of consensus that exists on chemistry or physics as opposed to on what should be banned as “obscenity” is a matter of degree, not of essential or metaphysical substance, is an interesting point for philosophy students, and a correct one, but not a guide to life for politicians or school teachers. That there is no possible basis for declaring some law of physics permanent and incapable of being replaced by a better one is not a reason for treating a law of physics as a matter of opinion or susceptible to alteration via fairy dust. If Isaac Newton not being God, and God also not being God, disturbs you and you’re mad at philosophers for saying it, you should notice what follows from it: the need for everyone to support your right to try to persuade them of their error. And what does not follow from it: the elimination of chemistry or physics because some nitwit claims he can fly or kill a hurricane with his gun. If that idiot has 100,000 followers on social media, your concern is not with philosophy but with stupidity.

The tech-giant censors’ concern is — in part — also with stupidity, but it’s not clear they have the tools to address it. For one thing, they just cannot help themselves. They have other concerns too. They are concerned with their profits. They are concerned with any challenges to power — their power and the power of those who empower them. They are concerned, therefore, with the demands and national bigotry of national governments. They are concerned — whether they know it or not — with creative thinking. Every time they censor an idea they believe crazy, they risk censoring one of those ideas that proves superior to existing ones. Their combination of interests appears to be self-defeating. Rather than persuade people of the benefits of their censorship, they persuade more and more people of the rightness of what was censored and of the arbitrary power-interests of those doing the censoring.

Our problem is not too many voices on the internet. It is too much concentration of wealth and power in too few media outlets that are too narrowly restricted to too few voices, relegating other voices to marginal and ghettoized corners of the internet. Nobody gets to find out they’re mistaken through respectful discourse. Nobody gets to show someone else they’re right. We need to prioritize that sort of exchange, before a flood of misguided good intentions drowns us all.

The “promulgating information that leads to incitement of crime or violence” bit of that proposed law seems to have had a surprisingly good intention, namely benevolent parental concern with all the “action-filled” (violence-filled) children’s entertainment on television, the violence-normalizing enter/info-tainment programming for all ages that studies and commonsense suggest increase violence. But can we ban all that garbage, or do we have to empower people who actually give a damn to produce and select programming, and empower families to turn it all off, and schools to be more engaging than cartoons?

The difficulty of censoring such content should be clear from the fact that discussions of it tend to stray into numerous unrelated topics, including the supposed need to censor wars for the protection of, not children, but weapons dealers. Once you allow a corporation to censor damaging news — poof! — there go all negative reports on its products. Once you tell it to put warning labels over recommendations to drink bleach as medicine, it starts putting warning labels on anything related to climate collapse or originating outside the United States of Goddamn Righteousness. You can imagine whether that ends up helping or hurting the supposed target, stupidity.

Censoring news, and labeling news as “factual,” seems to me a cheap fix that doesn’t fix. It’s a bit like legalizing bribery and gerrymandering and limited ballot access and corporate airwaves domination and then declaring that you’ll institute term limits so that every rotten candidate has to be quickly replaced by an even more rotten one. It’s a lovely sounding solution until you try it. Look at the “fact-checker” sections of corporate media outlets. They’re as wrong and inconsistent as any other sections; they’re just labeled differently.

The solutions that will work are not easy, and I’m no expert on them, but they’re not new or mysterious either. We should democratize and legitimize government. We should use government to break up media monopolies. We should publicly and privately facilitate and support numerous independent media outlets. We should invest in publicly funded but independent media dedicated to allowing a wide range of people to discuss issues without the overarching control of the profit interest or the immediate interests of the government.

We should not be simplistic about banning or allowing censorship, but highly wary of opening up any new types of censorship and imagining they won’t be abused. We should stick to what is already illegal outside of communications (such as violence) and censor communications only when it is actually directly a part of those crimes (such as instigating particular violence). We should be open to some limits on the forces empowered by our choice through our public dollars to shape our communications; I’d be happy to ban militaries from having any role in producing movies and video games (if they’re going to bomb children in the name of “democracy,” well, then, that’s my vote for the use of my dollars).

At the same time, we need — through schools and outside of them — radically better education that includes education in the skills of media consumption, BS-spotting, propaganda deciphering, fact-verification, respect, civility, decency, and honesty. I hardly think it’s entirely the fault of youtube that kids get less of their education from their classrooms — part of the fault lies with the classrooms. But I hardly think the eternal project of learning, and of learning how to learn, can be restricted to classrooms.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, elites, freedom of speech, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, news, Oligarchy, police state, propaganda, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment