The corporate online censorship, governmental efforts to police information, and black propaganda that we’ve recently seen are just the start of the establishment’s campaign to destroy free speech. We can get a hint of the future that these events are leading towards by reading these words from the article We Need a NATO for Infowar, published on May 3rd this year by the Atlantic Council’s Elisabeth Braw:
While combating propaganda sounds dirty, it’s crucial defense. By pinning the Novichok nerve agent on Sweden or the Czech Republic, or blaming the UK for the nerve gas attack in Syria, the Kremlin sows confusion among our populations and makes us lose trust in our institutions. What if Russia suddenly announced that its Baltic Fleet had dispatched an armada towards Britain? Would most people greet the news with steely resolve in the knowledge that their governments would know what to do, or would constant Kremlin-influenced reports about the incompetence of British institutions make them conclude that any resistance was pointless?
Anyone who cares about state control should be alarmed by this paragraph. While offering a supposed way to keep us informed, Braw makes two false implications here; the first being that Russia poisoned the Skripals, an idea that the events in the Skripal case have discredited, and the second being that Assad committed a chemical attack this April, which all evidence goes against. Braw’s strange warning about an unprovoked Russian invasion of the West further shows that this article’s purpose is to scare readers into supporting the agenda of the U.S.-NATO empire.
In response to this theoretical threat from Russia, Braw writes, we need to create a “Communications NATO” whose job is to aggressively put pro-Western propaganda into people’s lives. This would logically be the end point of what the global oligarchs are building with their war on dissent: a vast system of messaging and censorship that buries any information which conflicts with ruling class ideas.
A setup like this is already appearing. We’re seeing it in things like YouTube’s attaching provocative warnings to videos from foreign media, like the State Department’s attempts to systematically police information with an agency called the Global Engagement Center, and like Facebook’s algorithmic promotion of “trustworthy” outlets like The New York Times. The elite’s goal to thoroughly stamp out independent media was revealed last week, when Senator Chris Murphy tweeted in response to tech companies’ censorship of InfoWars that “These companies must do more than take down one website.”
This campaign is being branded as an effort to “defend democracy.” But a glance at it tells us that it’s deeply totalitarian. Does society become more liberal when public figures who disagree with the political establishment are regularly accused of being Russian agents? Or when a four-person, NATO-funded special committee is advising Facebook on which content to flag as “propaganda?” Or when the FBI has set up a task force this year to monitor social media?
Like the other totalitarian takeovers in history, this chipping away of free discourse is both all-encompassing and easy to miss for ordinary people. It’s happening in small chunks, with the media either ignoring the censorship policies or reporting them as efforts to fight “fake news.” If you haven’t regularly read sites like the World Socialist Website and Counterpunch in the last year, you probably haven’t heard about this issue. And Defense One is a site that’s mainly read by the powerful class that it’s meant for, with most people being unaware when figures like Braw draw out their plans for censorship. The purge of dissenting voices is going on largely without the public’s knowledge, and the end goal seems to be to make even a complete removal of dissent look trivial in most people’s eyes.
We’ve reached a point where the ruling institutions want to cut off all the information that makes people question how their governments are acting. This is essentially what Braw’s statements above convey, and it equates to this line of reasoning from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that the people worry over it.”
Right now capitalism is collapsing in on itself, the American empire is expanding its bombing and drone warfare while escalating with the other nuclear superpowers, and we’re in the early stages of an ecological breakdown. Do you want to let our institutions keep us happy, or do you want to face these harsh realities so that we can join the fight for a better world?