‘Fake news’ has been everywhere recently so everybody might have an idea about it by now. I am developing on the fact that fake news isn’t just an honest crusade against hoaxes, but a deliberate and dangerous attempt at censorship.
A false dichotomy
Things you hear like ‘fake news’, ‘conspiracy theories’, ‘Corbyn unelectable’, ‘anti-Semitism in Labour’ etc are concepts that come out of nowhere and get quickly espoused by many. They seem to become dogma and carry moral weight, and must be obeyed unquestionably. The logic trick they use is impose adherence lest you get branded a: sexist, racist, anti-Semite, transphobic, anti patriotic, tinfoil hat wearer etc.
They include a false dichotomy; an authoritarian binary choice. You either agree that Infowars or The Canary are fake news, or you are a deluded tinfoil wearer. No room for nuance. You must concur that criticism of Israel (a government) is anti-Semitism (hatred of a supposed ethnicity) or you are an anti-Semite. Pariah status follows. Logical predicament bondage based on a fundamental fallacy. Language coercion. But it works, because people don’t generally stop to think, and their moral indignation and desire to be appear honest and caring are usually manipulated. For example: Trump’s unexpected victory was brought on by fake news websites and if you don’t believe this then you’re an enemy of US and you side with the Russians.
This is too brilliant and bears too much trace of bias to be accidental. Of course there are those who think this is an accident or imbedded in society… but for somebody who’s stumbled across Edward Bernays’ Propaganda, things become clear: the manipulation of opinion with intellectual coercion exploiting liberal aspirations is a business, and a policy. Professionals in the field of PR have developed the art of using people’s good intent against them.
Propaganda. Pure and simple
Often used for division (a subject for another time); but in the case of fake news, for deflection:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
– Propaganda (1928), Edward Bernays
Does the above paragraph sound like he’s talking about free press and opinion, or… manipulation? The book then goes on to show how to manipulate the masses. Bernays, a close relative of Freud, applied the latter’s ideas of the unconscious to the manipulation of public opinion. He saw nothing wrong with it, and his ideas and him personally were co-opted by the US government. The concepts and slogans churned out by US culture, media and advertising nowadays are based on his ideas.
The public is told what to think, and the layered functioning of the brain applied, for images and catchy script to insert ideas, non-consensually, in the subconscious, that lead to decisions. If you present an idea rationally, to the conscious mind, it has to be to subjected to critical thought. If the idea is fed straight into the unconscious by the methods described by Bernays, they bypass critical analysis and gain a certainty status that’s almost unshakeable. It becomes instinctual, animal, with all the accompanying force.
Regimenting public support
Example: patriotism. An emotional force developed by propaganda that is very useful politically, to regiment public support for useless wars, and even motivate US citizens to give their lives for something they or their families never benefit from. This is so deep as to elicit official punishment and public rage if contested. But there is really no reason for the individual to give his life and money into unpopular wars (you don’t need a list, do you?) that benefit the rich; it had to be artificially cooked in PR agencies and Hollywood films.
A New Age, highly successful form of control. This is US propaganda, and it seeped into the rest of the world dressed innocuously as “entertainment”. It’s why people like me, from Eastern Europe, long before meeting the West first hand, grew as hardcore USophiles based on the gloss of US cinema and TV. There isn’t anybody on the planet who hasn’t heard of Terminator and the films of Spielberg. How many stopped to think what ideas this culture implants in their heads? American exceptionalism, with the sanction of CIA and FBI, who don’t even hide the fact they give a hand and control what movies say.
This is why the governments employing it, the US and the rest of the West, are stable, and give the illusion of freedom and plurality; when in fact it’s sophisticated mind control.
All art is propaganda… sometimes unconsciously, often deliberately.
– Upton Sinclair.
Last week a site called PropOrNot invoked Russian propaganda as a major disruptive source of disinformation in the US, seeking to pervert what is otherwise a plural, democratic free press. LOL. The list provides no evidence whatsoever of Russian interference, but worryingly, includes most of what thinking people peruse as unbiased alternative media: CorbettReport, RonPaulInstitute, PaulCraigRoberts, Infowars, GlobalResearch.ca, zerohedge etc. Breitbart and even astoundingly WikiLeaks. They all discuss the abuses of the government.
The Wikipedia definition of fake news is different: clickbait sites of satirical or obviously false information designed to draw income through social media. Very remote from WikiLeaks which is a reputable, groundbreaking whistleblowing organisation that revealed government lies at a high personal cost for those involved like Manning and Assange. The attempt to conflate the two is an obviously puerile attempt at deceit. Distortion of a definition to shut down opponents, and deflection through scapegoating a third party.
I think, like the idea of Corbyn being unelectable and ‘conspiracy theory’, the phrase ‘fake news’ was also cooked in a PR or government agency, or other. I strongly believe the intention to deceive is very deliberate and leading on to censorship. I have friends from college who went down this path, who celebrate Bernays techniques as wonderful, oblivious that what they’re paid to do is lie using the new parlance of political correctness. And steal people’s informed consent.
Where have I seen this tactic before?
This isn’t unlike what I saw in Ceausescu’s Romania. Lies on TV doubled by accusations of treason, being antidemocratic and an enemy of the people, addressed to dissidents and independent writers/voices who somehow slipped through the cracks. It’s shocking how similar the terminology is, even. The emotional manipulation with patriotic concepts and the thin evidence used, they illustrate perfectly the authoritarian nature of the regime. And so did Ceausescu’s.
This technique is used because you can’t just tell people outright “hey, we’re censoring you so you can’t find out what we’re really doing to you!”; so they have to pretend there’s an outside threat.
When the Podesta leaks happened it cost Clinton the presidency. And again this was put down to the Russians. It’s easier for the mainstream media (MSM) to blame someone else than confront the horrible things that came to light about her; compromise of the pseudo left, non democratic processes, corruption and bribes from Saudis.
Julian Assange has a complete and verifiable trajectory as a Western journalist and whistleblower. What journalists used to do before is called whistleblowing. Mainstream journalists, however, are routinely caught with the big lies. Take a moment to look at this: http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-is-behind-fake-news-mainstream-media-use-fake-videos-and-images/5557580
The accusation Assange works for Russia doesn’t hold water but people bought it, nevertheless. What logical process informs the mind of a citizen who comes upon evidence of state corruption but is alarmed by where this may have come from instead? It’s the mental process of someone systematically duped by the Western press, ie, the real ‘fake news’. So will the real fake news please stand up.
Lingo like ‘fighting misinformation’ and ‘saving democracy’ hides something very hideous indeed. An euphemistic talk to allow the exact opposite being done by our own governments.
I wouldn’t be discussing this here with this had it not crossed the ocean.
Fake news, now in Blighty
During this summer’s Labour leadership challenge, a site has provided inside info to people who had to put up with brash lies about Corbyn under attack for the most innocent things (his clothes, or the mantra “unelectable”), when real crimes of the establishment are presented as facts of life. This site is The Canary.
When their idea that the coup against Corbyn was cooked by a PR firm, Portland communications, made headlines, voices complained that such ‘conspiracy theories’ are presented as facts. It seems the word conspiracy theory is enough to discredit a very well presented article, but lies about WMDs and Libya that lead to the destruction of countries and deaths of millions are perfectly fine being aired on mainstream channels at all times. The hypocrisy is stupefying but scarier when you realise how tight the financial red thread behind it.
Worryingly Buzzfeed’s Jim Waterson reports that Tom Watson, deputy leader of Labour, said there is a British infestation of fake news, and he quoted The Canary to illustrate this. He appointed Michael Dugher to deal with this issue. He writes in the Sun. The reason? The Canary has exposed many of the plottings over their failed coup and since. Waterson said:
Watson will seek to challenge the government in parliament on the issue, while also trying to work with the likes of Facebook and Twitter to find a solution rather than attacking them directly for the problem of fake news going viral.
Worrying, as Mark Zuckerberg has already said “Facebook will also look to third parties for help with verifying news sources.” May I remind you:
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who used Facebook in 2014 to promote genocide against Palestinians, is leading her government’s successful efforts to press Facebook and Google to censor content that her government deems “Palestinian incitement.
Shaked recently claimed that Facebook has agreed to 95 percent of her requests for deletions.
Ayelet Shaked collaborates with Facebook to monitor Palestinian incitement, meaning censoring Palestinians saying the truth about the hell they live in. While her incitement to kill all of them, mother and daughters included, was perfectly fine and allowed on social media. So we know which way Facebook floats.
Also, this brings me to a point about abuse in clinical psychology. It is accepted as an abusive behaviour to provoke and harm someone and then use their reaction as evidence of aggression. This is a tactic employed by abusive people that can be extrapolated to abusive governments. To take people’s response to violence, poverty, systematic bank fraud, privatisation of public services, loss of freedoms, and frame that natural survivalist response to abuse as evidence of them being ‘bad’? This is the media’s master skill.
It wouldn’t stand up in a court of law
People complaining that coup Labour MPs wasted everyone’s time from important matters, that shutting down their local meetings is preventing democracy, and being purged from the party so that they don’t vote Corbyn? This is presented in the MSM as evidence that they’re… unruly. That they don’t want Labour to be in government. That they don’t care about unity. When they, in fact, call attention to unlawful abuses inside what is supposed to be a democratic party. People trying to solve these abuses of democratic institutions in the party is presented as ‘hanging on to the past’. Imagine if this was said in a court of law!
Some of the abuses of power have been unlawful. When challenged on these locally, some party staff and MPs said ‘let bygones be bygones’. Does that happen to petty criminals who go to court? Can we all know smoke pot and in court invoke ‘bygones be bygones’? Will it work? No. It’s a transparent and cheap manipulation trick that to my huge awe works with many otherwise well-meaning Corbynistas.
It’s like poking someone with a knife and then complaining that their cries of pain are impolite. It’s abusive. And it breaks the rules. If you don’t have rules, what do you have? Tyranny. This is the type of information presented by news media like The Canary, Scisco Media, The Word and Novara Media. Watson wants to shut this down with parliament and Facebook’s help? Appalling.
Chipping away at democracy
Attacking free press no matter what the pretext because they expose your machinations is not what a democratic, free society is supposed to do. It’s what tyrannies do. If you fuck people you have to hide it. You own the press and then some independent media sprout through like weeds through cement; and of course these, the elite want squashed. Conflating the issue of actual satirical sites and obvious hoaxes with real journalism exposing the status quo? That’s very transparent, very dangerous censorship.
What makes this all the more alarming is the timing. This happened in Britain the same week as the IP Bill (Snooper’s Charter). I’m not going to discuss it here, but hopefully you all heard by now of this grave violation of freedoms and rights that has us all spied on unabashedly. The simple arithmetics between the two things is this. They tell you what you may and may not read, throwing in a pretext (the Russians) and then make it obvious you are being watched so as to not go and find out.
All the while the pretense on both sides that this is about national defense, democracy and other abstract concepts. What definition of democracy includes shutting down free speech because of unproven third party, alleged involvement? At the same time as watching your every move online lest you go and research?
This is censorship.
What to do? There are petitions. There are motions in the Labour Party you can move to this purpose. Do I trust the democratic mechanisms left to solve the problem? Hardly. But I strongly believe that each of us knowing the unseen machinations of propaganda can restore our informed consent. And therefore, potentially, our democracy.
And to end on a funny note, here’s a blog satirising MSM misinformation related to Corbyn: