Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Push To 'Fight Foreign Propaganda' Is The Same As Government Book Burning

By Caitlin Johnstone - September 28, 2017 at 02:12PM

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As with all the over-hyped and under-substantiated claims that have been shown to the public over the last year about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, the latest forced effort by America’s unelected power establishment to show Russian meddling via Facebook ads has been getting ripped to shreds by critical thinkers everywhere.

These arguments and essays have been very effective in further exposing how utterly fact-free the neoconservative establishment’s campaign to manufacture support for escalating tensions with Russia has been, but in my opinion there’s one extremely important and intensely creepy aspect of this whole thing that needs a bit more attention.

Is it not disturbing, in and of itself, that your government is concerning itself with attempting to “fight foreign propaganda” on your behalf? Even if all their allegations were true about Russian Facebook ads and Twitter bots targeting key US demographics to try and manipulate voter turnout in Donald Trump’s favor, is not the underlying assumption in those allegations the notion that there are some ideas that the American people should not have been exposed to? That Americans are too stupid to show up to the polls and vote in their best interest unless they’re kept isolated from the narratives being promulgated by other governments?

How creepy is that?? How creepy is it that the US government kept sending Facebook back again and again to search for evidence of Russian meddling via propagandistic advertisements and then used the non-evidence they finally returned with to support their argument that more needs to be done to fight foreign propaganda on behalf of the public? How creepy is it that the US Senate is trying to label WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” to expand the US government’s authority to stamp out the outlet’s ability to share authentic, factual documents with the world? How creepy is it that the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” successfully allocated a portion of this year’s NDAA budget toward policing what outside ideas Americans are exposed to?

Here is the Intelligence Report released to the public in January by James Clapper’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence. I still to this day run into proponents of the establishment Russian hacking narrative who cite this report as indisputable evidence in favor of their position, despite its complete lack of any shred of verifiable proof of any hacking whatsoever. The release was eagerly awaited by both sides of the Russiagate debate at the time in the naive hope that it might settle our dispute once and for all, but what surprised us all about the report was how little it focused on hacking compared to its extensive discussion of the behaviors of the Kremlin-financed outlet RT.

I encourage you not to take my word for it and check the report out for yourself, but here are some of the “offenses” it alleges the Russian government committed using RT’s American franchise:

  • Airing two new shows that were critical of the US government.
  • Running reports on the vulnerabilities of US election machines.
  • Broadcasting, hosting and advertising debates between third-party candidates and calling the two-party system “a sham”.
  • Covering the Occupy Wall Street movement.
  • Criticizing the US surveillance state and alleging widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.
  • Criticizing “the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt” and comparing the United States to Imperial Rome.
  • Running anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.
  • Opposing Western intervention in the Syrian conflict and blaming the West for waging “information wars” against the Syrian Government.
  • Trying to expand RT America in the US.

I swear I’m not making these allegations up. Go and check for yourself — this is the ODNI’s official report on RT’s evil, heinous, horrible propaganda campaign to corrupt the minds of the poor American people. This is the kind of information that the US intelligence community and the rest of America’s leadership is attempting to protect you from. Not lies, not “fake news”, but factual information which runs counter to America’s oligarchic interests.

This is not different from book burning. The notion that people need to be sheltered from ideas and information is what’s fueling this campaign against “foreign propaganda”, and it’s what has fueled book burnings throughout history as well. Whether driven by the urge to protect people from heresy, obscenity, political ideologies, fake news or propaganda, the premise is the same: the common people need to have their thoughts and information access controlled for their own good.

And people are playing right along with it. People sincerely picked up and ran with the “Russia meddled via Facebook ads” story and the Twitter bots story. To this day I, an Australian who has never had anything to do with the Russian government, am routinely labeled a Kremlin propagandist by establishment loyalists frantically trying to warn my readers away from my dangerous ideas. Mainstream Democrats are currently pleading with their government, “Help! We need you to protect us from Russian propaganda!”

There’s a common misconception that Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was about an oppressive dictatorship which burned books to suppress political dissent. In actuality, it’s a story about a society getting exactly what it wants. The people wanted the books burned for the sake of their cognitive comfort.

Don’t go that way, please. The only reason the US power establishment cares about foreign propaganda is because it interferes with their own propaganda. They want to become the sole arbiters of truth for all Americans because that will give them full control over you.

As powerful people get more and more adept at manipulating us, we’re going to have to evolve the ability to stand firmly on our own two feet and insist on our intellectual sovereignty. Powerful people all around the globe have a vested interest in being the first to get their rapey fingers in our minds and control the way we think, act and vote, and we need to insist on our right to interpret our reality for ourselves. They will fight us in this at every turn, because our ability to interpret our own reality free from the manipulations of ruling elites sits squarely at odds with their interests, but if we can win this battle we can win the whole war and turn this world around for the better.

Reprinted with author's permission from Medium.com. Support the writer here.



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