The political representatives of the American ruling class are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress free speech. Under the guise of combating “trolls” and “fake news” supposedly controlled by Russia, the most basic constitutional rights enumerated in the First Amendment are under direct attack.
The leading political force in this campaign is the Democratic Party, working in collaboration with sections of the Republican Party, the mass media and the military-intelligence establishment.
The Trump administration is threatening nuclear war against North Korea, escalating the assault on health care, demanding new tax cuts for the rich, waging war on immigrant workers, and eviscerating corporate and environmental regulations. This reactionary agenda is not, however, the focus of the Democratic Party. It is concentrating instead on increasingly hysterical claims that Russia is “sowing divisions” within the United States.
In the media, one report follows another, each more ludicrous than the last. The claim that Russia shifted the US election by means of $100,000 in advertisements on Facebook and Twitter has been followed by breathless reports of the Putin government’s manipulation of other forms of communication.
An “exclusive” report from CNN last week proclaimed that one organization, “Don’t Shoot Us,” which it alleges without substantiation is connected to Russia, sought to “exploit racial tensions and sow discord” on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and even Pokémon Go, a reality game played on cell phones.
Another report in CNN on Monday asserted that a Russian “troll factory” was involved in posting comments critical of Hillary Clinton as “part of President Vladimir Putin’s campaign to influence the 2016 election.” All of the negative commentary in news media and other publications directed at Clinton, it implied, were the product of Russian agents or people duped by Russian agents.
As during the period of Cold War McCarthyism, the absurdity of the charges goes unchallenged. They are picked up and repeated by other media outlets and by politicians to demonstrate just how far-reaching the actions of the nefarious “foreign enemy” really are.
While one aim has been to continue and escalate an anti-Russia foreign policy, the more basic purpose is emerging ever more clearly: to criminalize political dissent within the United States.
The most direct expression to date of this conspiracy against free speech was given by the anticommunist ideologue Anne Applebaum in a column published Monday in the Washington Post, “If Russia can create fake ‘Black Lives Matter’ accounts, who will next?”
Her answer: the American people. “I can imagine multiple groups, many of them proudly American, who might well want to manipulate a range of fake accounts during a riot or disaster to increase anxiety or fear,” she writes. She warns that “political groups—on the left, the right, you name it—will quickly figure out” how to use social media to spread “disinformation” and “demoralization.”
Applebaum rails against all those who seek to hide their identity online. “There is a better case than ever against anonymity, at least against anonymity in the public forums of social media and comment sections,” she writes. She continues: “The right to free speech is something that is granted to humans, not bits of computer code.” Her target, however, is not “bots” operating “fake accounts,” but anyone who seeks, fearing state repression or unjust punishment by his or her employer, to make an anonymous statement online. And that is only the opening shot in a drive to silence political dissent.
Applebaum is closely connected to the highest echelons of the capitalist state. She is a member of key foreign policy think tanks and sits on the board of directors of the CIA-linked National Endowment for Democracy. Married to the former foreign minister of Poland, she is a ferocious war hawk. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea, she authored a column in the Washington Post in which she called for “total war” against nuclear-armed Russia. She embodies the connection between militarism and political repression.
The implications of Applebaum’s arguments are made clear in an extraordinary article published on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, “As US Confronts Internet’s Disruptions, China Feels Vindicated,” which takes a favorable view of China’s aggressive censorship of the Internet and implies that the United States is moving toward just such a regime.
“For years, the United States and others saw” China’s “heavy-handed censorship as a sign of political vulnerability and a barrier to China’s economic development,” the Times writes. “But as countries in the West discuss potential Internet restrictions and wring their hands over fake news, hacking and foreign meddling, some in China see a powerful affirmation of the country’s vision for the internet.”
The article goes on to assert that while “few would argue that China’s Internet control serves as a model for democratic societies… At the same time, China anticipated many of the questions now flummoxing governments from the United States to Germany to Indonesia.”
Glaringly absent from the Times article, Applebaum’s commentary and all of the endless demands for a crackdown on social media is any reference to democratic rights, free speech or the First Amendment.
The First Amendment, which asserts that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” is the broadest amendment in the US Constitution. Contrary to Applebaum, there is no caveat exempting anonymous speech from Constitutional protection. It is a historical fact that leaders of the American Revolution and drafters of the Constitution wrote articles under pseudonyms to avoid repression by the British authorities.
The Constitution does not give the government or powerful corporations the right to proclaim what is “fake” and what is not, what is a “conspiracy theory” and what is “authoritative.” The same arguments now being employed to crack down on social media could just as well have been used to suppress books and mass circulation newspapers that emerged with the development of the printing press.
The drive toward Internet censorship in the United States is already far advanced. Since Google announced plans to bury “alternative viewpoints” in search results earlier this year, leading left-wing sites have seen their search traffic plunge by more than 50 percent. The World Socialist Web Site’s search traffic from Google has fallen by 75 percent.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have introduced similar measures. The campaign being whipped up over Russian online activity will be used to justify even more far-reaching measures.
This is taking place as universities implement policies to give police the authority to vet campus events. There are ongoing efforts to abolish “net neutrality” so as to give giant corporations the ability to regulate Internet traffic. The intelligence agencies have demanded the ability to circumvent encryption after having been exposed for illegally monitoring the phone communications and Internet activity of the entire population.
In one “democratic” country after another governments are turning to police-state forms of rule, from France, with its permanent state of emergency, to Germany, which last month shut down a subsidiary of the left-wing political site Indymedia, to Spain, with its violent crackdown on the separatist referendum in Catalonia and arrest of separatist leaders.
The destruction of democratic rights is the political response of the corporate and financial aristocracy to the growth of working-class discontent bound up with record levels of social inequality. It is intimately linked to preparations for a major escalation of imperialist violence around the world. The greatest concern of the ruling elite is the emergence of an independent movement of the working class, and the state is taking actions to prevent it.
YouTube’s curation team are able to promote even non-trending videos on the platform by “using some kind of intervention” into algorithms controlling the website. This allows specific news organizations to be favored, Project Veritas revealed.
Investigative group Project Veritas secretly filmed Earnest Pettie, the Brand and Diversity Curation Lead at YouTube, who said he works “on a team that does provide some human inputs into a lot of the machinery of YouTube.” This would mean that videos from specific news sources could be made to appear at the top of search results.
Petite explained how YouTube’s so-called news carousel is formed: “It’s above the search results, so at the very least, we can say this shelf of videos from news partners is legitimate news because we know that these are legitimate news organizations.”
“People are searching for a topic that our systems know is a ‘newsy’ topic, so let’s give them videos that we know to be newsy because we know we have these news partnerships.”
“In very rare cases we will try to make up to the fact that something isn’t in the trending tab,” he admitted. “Use some kind of intervention to… encourage the thing to be there, basically.”
In the recording Pettie also says Nick Dudich, audience strategy editor for the New York Times, is “one of the people I think who has more knowledge about YouTube as a platform than probably anyone else that I know.”
Speaking with a member of Project Veritas, Dudich said that he placed a negative report about Facebook in a spot where he knew it wouldn’t draw much attention, while bragging about using his Silicon Valley friendships to make videos trend.
“We actually just did a video about Facebook negatively, and I chose to put it in a spot that I knew wouldn’t do well,” Dudich said in the secretly filmed conversation.
Dudich claimed that his friends in Silicon Valley helped NYT videos trend, while saying he doesn’t want the NYT to know about his connections, according to Project Veritas.
“Let’s say something ends up on the YouTube front page, the New York Times freaks out about it, but they don’t know it’s just because my friends curate the front page. So, it’s like, a little bit of mystery you need in any type of job to make it look like what you do is harder than what it is,” Dudich says in the recording.
The video released Wednesday is the latest in a Project Veritas series called “American Pravda,” aimed at the US mainstream media. The installment released Tuesday also featured recordings of Dudich, in which he claims he worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to counter the “threat” of Trump and that he did not join the Times to “be objective.”
It is impossible to assess the credibility of Dudich’s claims, however, as he also claimed that former FBI Director James Comey was his godfather, and that he used to participate in Antifa activities on behalf of the FBI.
Dudich admitted this was not true after Project Veritas interviewed his father, who said he didn’t even know Comey. It was “a good story,” Dudich said when asked why he lied.
In response to the Tuesday video, a New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said that Dudich was a “recent hire in a junior position” who appeared to have “violated [the newspaper’s] ethical standards and misrepresented his role.”
“In his role at The Times, he was responsible for posting already published video on other platforms and was never involved in the creation or editing of Times videos. We are reviewing the situation now,” Rhoades Ha said.
James O’Keefe, who founded Project Veritas in 2010, has released a number of controversial undercover videos, including one with CNN political commentator Van Jones this summer. Jones accused O’Keefe of editing the video in such a way as to take his words out of context and create a “hoax.”
In the Veritas video Jones was recorded saying the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election was “a big nothing-burger.” Jones said the missing context was that he said Democrats couldn’t use it to impeach Trump, even if the allegations were true.
Owing to the US campaign to have RT registered as a foreign agent, the channel will “in the worst-case scenario” be forced to stop broadcasting in America, which will trigger reciprocal measures towards US media in Russia, RT’s editor-in-chief has said.
“What they [Washington] have been doing in regard to us is tantamount to driving us out of the country. They put us in conditions in which we cannot work,” Margarita Simonyan said in interview with Russia’s NTV channel. “This is their renowned freedom of speech,” she added, saying that RT has been under pressure for showing the American audience “a different point of view,” allegedly affecting the 2016 US election.
This month, the US Department of Justice has warned the company that supplies all services for the RT America channel that it is obligated to register as a foreign agent. The demand came under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), adopted in 1938 to counter Nazi Germany’s activities on US soil.
In the current situation, “if worst comes to worst” the channel “will leave the US and no longer broadcast there.”
“In the worst-case scenario, Russia would respond in kind as to American media,” Simonyan said, adding that as a journalist she would not like such a situation to occur. “We have been taught that freedom of speech is sacred,” she told NTV’s host Irada Zeynalova.
The channel has no choice but to comply with the demand under the FARA act, Simonyan said, citing lawyers who have warned that otherwise its “staff will be put in prison and property will be seized.”
The pressure on RT has become “avalanche-like.” The US Congress is currently hearing a separate bill on the channel which seeks ways for its distributors in America to stop broadcasting RT. If approved, US cable networks might refuse to provide services for the channel.
Saying that RT’s partners in the US have endured “pressure and intimidation,” Simonyan also pointed out that Congress recently “interrogated” Twitter representatives and forced them to reveal details of contracts between the social network and RT.
The channel has faced pressure from American media before, such as the “endless fake reports” on RT. Journalists have been scared off working with RT, the editor-in-chief said, adding that officials have also been warned not to cooperate with nor give interviews to the channel.
“Various scandals have been orchestrated, with people planted in the channel who then quit and tell everyone that we drink the blood of Christian infants.
“However, our audience has only been growing. What [the US authorities] fail to understand is just how much the people of the US distrust their own media. Trump’s win is a case in point, as he has been elected despite almost all the American media launching campaigns against him.”
The situation with RT in particular only shows a “deep political crisis” within the US, Simonyan said, suggesting that internal conflicts in Washington have made a “mess” of the country’s foreign policy. “There is no longer a single Washington; there are several discrete little Washingtons working against one another,” she said.
The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of “fake news.”
No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument.
The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits. So instead the elites, including the Democratic Party leadership, have decided to quash public debate. The tactic they are using is as old as the nation-state—smearing critics as traitors who are in the service of a hostile foreign power. Tens of thousands of people of conscience were blacklisted in this way during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s. The current hyperbolic and relentless focus on Russia, embraced with gusto by “liberal” media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC, has unleashed what some have called a virulent “New McCarthyism.”
The corporate elites do not fear Russia. There is no publicly disclosed evidence that Russia swung the election to Donald Trump. Nor does Russia appear to be intent on a military confrontation with the United States. I am certain Russia tries to meddle in U.S. affairs to its advantage, as we do and did in Russia—including our clandestine bankrolling of Boris Yeltsin, whose successful 1996 campaign for re-election as president is estimated to have cost up to $2.5 billion, much of that money coming indirectly from the American government. In today’s media environment Russia is the foil. The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism, including the network RT America.
My show on RT America, “On Contact,” like my columns at Truthdig, amplifies the voices of these dissidents—Tariq Ali, Kshama Sawant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Baraka, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rania Khalek, Amira Hass, Miko Peled, Abby Martin, Glen Ford, Max Blumenthal, Pam Africa, Linh Dinh, Ben Norton, Eugene Puryear, Allan Nairn, Jill Stein, Kevin Zeese and others. These dissidents, if we had a functioning public broadcasting system or a commercial press free of corporate control, would be included in the mainstream discourse. They are not bought and paid for. They have integrity, courage and often brilliance. They are honest. For these reasons, in the eyes of the corporate state, they are very dangerous.
The first and deadliest salvo in the war on dissent came in 1971 when Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney and later a Supreme Court justice, wrote and circulated a memo among business leaders called “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” It became the blueprint for the corporate coup d’état. Corporations, as Powell recommended in the document, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the assault, financing pro-business political candidates, mounting campaigns against the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the press and creating institutions such as the Business Roundtable, The Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Federalist Society and Accuracy in Academia. The memo argued that corporations had to fund sustained campaigns to marginalize or silence those who in “the college campus, the pulpit, the media, and the intellectual and literary journals” were hostile to corporate interests.
Powell attacked Ralph Nader by name. Lobbyists flooded Washington and state capitals. Regulatory controls were abolished. Massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy were implemented, culminating in a de facto tax boycott. Trade barriers were lifted and the country’s manufacturing base was destroyed. Social programs were slashed and funds for infrastructure, from roads and bridges to public libraries and schools, were cut. Protections for workers were gutted. Wages declined or stagnated. The military budget, along with the organs of internal security, became ever more bloated. A de facto blacklist, especially in universities and the press, was used to discredit intellectuals, radicals and activists who decried the idea of the nation prostrating itself before the dictates of the marketplace and condemned the crimes of imperialism, some of the best known being Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Sheldon Wolin, Ward Churchill, Nader, Angela Davis and Edward Said. These critics were permitted to exist only on the margins of society, often outside of institutions, and many had trouble making a living.
The financial meltdown of 2008 not only devastated the global economy, it exposed the lies propagated by those advocating globalization. Among these lies: that salaries of workers would rise, democracy would spread across the globe, the tech industry would replace manufacturing as a source of worker income, the middle class would flourish, and global communities would prosper. After 2008 it became clear that the “free market” is a scam, a zombie ideology by which workers and communities are ravaged by predatory capitalists and assets are funneled upward into the hands of the global 1 percent. The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests. Deindustrialization and austerity programs have impoverished the working class and fatally damaged the economy.
The establishment politicians in the two leading parties, each in service to corporate power and responsible for the assault on civil liberties and impoverishment of the country, are no longer able to use identity politics and the culture wars to whip up support. This led in the last presidential campaign to an insurgency by Bernie Sanders, which the Democratic Party crushed, and the election of Donald Trump.
Barack Obama rode a wave of bipartisan resentment into office in 2008, then spent eight years betraying the public. Obama’s assault on civil liberties, including his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush. He accelerated the war on public education by privatizing schools, expanded the wars in the Middle East, including the use of militarized drone attacks, provided little meaningful environmental reform, ignored the plight of the working class, deported more undocumented people than any other president, imposed a corporate-sponsored health care program that was the brainchild of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and prohibited the Justice Department from prosecuting the bankers and financial firms that carried out derivatives scams and inflated the housing and real estate market, a condition that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. He epitomized, like Bill Clinton, the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. Clinton, outdoing Obama’s later actions, gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the dismantling of the welfare system, the deregulation of the financial services industry and the huge expansion of mass incarceration. Clinton also oversaw deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission, a change that allowed a handful of corporations to buy up the airwaves.
The corporate state was in crisis at the end of the Obama presidency. It was widely hated. It became vulnerable to attacks by the critics it had pushed to the fringes. Most vulnerable was the Democratic Party establishment, which claims to defend the rights of working men and women and protect civil liberties. This is why the Democratic Party is so zealous in its efforts to discredit its critics as stooges for Moscow and to charge that Russian interference caused its election defeat.
In January there was a report on Russia by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report devoted seven of its 25 pages to RT America and its influence on the presidential election. It claimed “Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton.” This might seem true if you did not watch my RT broadcasts, which relentlessly attacked Trump as well as Clinton, or watch Ed Schultz, who now has a program on RT after having been the host of an MSNBC commentary program. The report also attempted to present RT America as having a vast media footprint and influence it does not possess.
“In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates,” the report read, correctly summing up themes on my show.
“The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’ ”
It went on:
RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a ‘surveillance state’ and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.
RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT’s hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and “corporate greed” will lead to US financial collapse.
Is the corporate state so obtuse it thinks the American public has not, on its own, reached these conclusions about the condition of the nation? Is this what it defines as “fake news”? But most important, isn’t this the truth that the courtiers in the mainstream press and public broadcasting, dependent on their funding from sources such as the Koch brothers, refuse to present? And isn’t it, in the end, the truth that frightens them the most? Abby Martin and Ben Norton ripped apart the mendacity of the report and the complicity of the corporate media in my “On Contact” show titled “Real purpose of intel report on Russian hacking with Abby Martin & Ben Norton.”
In November 2016, The Washington Post reported on a blacklist published by the shadowy and anonymous site PropOrNot. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major left-wing outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. The blacklist and the spurious accusations that these sites disseminated “fake news” on behalf of Russia were given prominent play in the Post in a story headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during the election, experts say.” The reporter, Craig Timberg, wrote that the goal of the Russian propaganda effort, according to “independent researchers who have tracked the operation,” was “punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.” Last December, Truthdig columnist Bill Boyarsky wrote a good piece about PropOrNot, which to this day remains essentially a secret organization.
The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, also the founder and CEO of Amazon, has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Google, likewise, is deeply embedded within the security and surveillance state and aligned with the ruling elites. Amazon recently purged over 1,000 negative reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened.” The effect was that the book’s Amazon rating jumped from 2 1/2 stars to five stars. Do corporations such as Google and Amazon carry out such censorship on behalf of the U.S. government? Or is this censorship their independent contribution to protect the corporate state?
In the name of combating Russia-inspired “fake news,” Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN in April imposed algorithms or filters, overseen by “evaluators,” that hunt for key words such as “U.S. military,” “inequality” and “socialism,” along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker. Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 “evaluators” to determine the “quality” and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.
The World Socialist Web Site reported in July that its aggregate volume, or “impressions”—links displayed by Google in response to search requests—fell dramatically over a short period after the new algorithms were imposed. It also wrote that a number of sites “declared to be ‘fake news’ by the Washington Post’s discredited [PropOrNot] blacklist … had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent. …”
Another article, “Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site,” by the same website that month said:
During the month of May, Google searches including the word “war” produced 61,795 WSWS impressions. In July, WSWS impressions fell by approximately 90 percent, to 6,613.
Searches for the term “Korean war” produced 20,392 impressions in May. In July, searches using the same words produced zero WSWS impressions. Searches for “North Korea war” produced 4,626 impressions in May. In July, the result of the same search produced zero WSWS impressions. “India Pakistan war” produced 4,394 impressions in May. In July, the result, again, was zero. And “Nuclear war 2017” produced 2,319 impressions in May, and zero in July.
To cite some other searches: “WikiLeaks,” fell from 6,576 impressions to zero, “Julian Assange” fell from 3,701 impressions to zero, and “Laura Poitras” fell from 4,499 impressions to zero. A search for “Michael Hastings”—the reporter who died in 2013 under suspicious circumstances—produced 33,464 impressions in May, but only 5,227 impressions in July.
In addition to geopolitics, the WSWS regularly covers a broad range of social issues, many of which have seen precipitous drops in search results. Searches for “food stamps,” “Ford layoffs,” “Amazon warehouse,” and “secretary of education” all went down from more than 5,000 impressions in May to zero impressions in July.
The accusation that left-wing sites collude with Russia has made them theoretically subject, along with those who write for them, to the Espionage Act and the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires Americans who work on behalf of a foreign party to register as foreign agents.
The latest salvo came last week. It is the most ominous. The Department of Justice called on RT America and its “associates”—which may mean people like me—to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. No doubt, the corporate state knows that most of us will not register as foreign agents, meaning we will be banished from the airwaves. This, I expect, is the intent. The government will not stop with RT. The FBI has been handed the authority to determine who is a “legitimate” journalist and who is not. It will use this authority to decimate the left.
This is a war of ideas.
The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do – govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.
I’ve written about the dangers of monopolies within the drug and agricultural industries on numerous occasions, but Google is perhaps one of the greatest monopolies that ever existed on the planet. The reason why I’ve decided to address Google here is because the technology giant is injecting itself ever deeper into our day-to-day lives, from childhood education to patented meat substitutes1,2 and health care, and with its internet monopoly and personal information tracking and sharing,
Google poses a very unique threat. Anyone concerned about their health and food and their ability to obtain truthful information about both needs to understand the role Google plays, and whose side Google is really on.
Starting with the issue of health care, the company recently partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and is getting deeper into the drug promotion business with its launch of a depression self-assessment quiz.3,4 Just like WebMD before it, this test funnels you toward a drug solution. No matter how you answered WebMD’s questions, you were diagnosed as being at risk for major depression and urged to discuss treatment with your doctor.
That test, it turns out, was sponsored by drugmaker Eli Lilly, maker of the antidepressant Cymbalta. Now, any time you use the search term “clinical depression” in the Google mobile search engine, you will find a link to a page to “check if you’re clinically depressed.” The quiz is part of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHG-9), “a clinically validated screening questionnaire” according to MedicalXpress.5
Beware of ‘Patient’s Rights Groups’ Working on Behalf of Drug Makers
While it may seem like an altruistic ideal to raise awareness about mental illness, the “stop the stigma” campaign is actually funded and driven by the drug industry itself, under the guise of various front groups, of which NAMI is one. As noted by PsychCentral, nearly 75 percent of the organization’s funding comes from drug companies.6 Evidence also shows that drug companies have instructed NAMI to “resist state efforts to limit access to mental health drugs” and “how to advocate forcefully for issues that affect industry profits.”
As noted by CCHR International,7 the “next time you see an ad promoting ‘stop the stigma’ see it for what it is, a pharmaceutical marketing campaign.” While CCHR was started by the Church of Scientology, which does not believe in conventional psychiatry to begin with, the group has some valid points. What they forgot or failed to include is the fact that the insurance industry has also played a significant role in creating the trend of over-prescriptions by favoring reimbursement for drug treatment over other forms of treatment.
The article goes on to discuss how the drug industry created “patient’s rights groups” for the mentally ill. In reality, these so-called advocacy groups are part of the drug industry’s marketing and lobbying machine. According to CCHR, front groups like NAMI and Children and Adults With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) “have consistently lobbied for legislation that benefits the mental health and pharmaceutical industries which fund them, and not patients they claim to represent,” adding:
“A patients’ rights group for the mentally ill would never endorse something as absurd and obviously dangerous as giving electroshock to pregnant women, nor condone schools being able to require children to take a psychiatric drug as a condition of attending school.
Furthermore, they would never be opposed to the FDA actually doing its job and finally issuing long overdue warnings that antidepressants can cause children to commit suicide, or issue warnings that ADHD drugs have serious and even deadly side effects. Yet these are just some of the actions condoned and promoted by these so-called patients’ rights groups.
To put it simply, these groups are not what they appear to be. Yet their influence over legislation, lobbying, drug regulation (or lack thereof), and public relations campaigns is substantial and effects the entire nation,” CCHR warns. “[T]hese groups … frenetically lobby Congress and state governments to channel billions more taxpayers’ dollars into mental health programs that benefit the industry that funds them — not the patients they claim to represent.”
Tech-Driven Mental Health Diagnostics
In 2015, Google hired former National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director8 Dr. Tom Insel as senior researcher for the Google Life Sciences (GLS) unit.9 (GLS was later rebranded as Verily, partially owned by Alphabet, the parent company that now also owns Google.) At the time, Insel told The Register his job at GLS would entail identifying technology to “help with earlier detection, better prevention and more effective management of serious health conditions.”
Insel served as director for NIMH between 2002 and 2015.10 In 2010, Insel — who led efforts to tighten ethics rules — got caught up in a conflicts of interest scandal and was accused of having a longstanding “quid pro quo” relationship with Charles B. Nemeroff, a psychiatrist and researcher at Emory University found guilty of failing to disclose pharmaceutical funds totaling $1.2 million.11 According to The Chronicle of Higher Education:12
“In 2003, the journal Nature toughened its policies for author disclosures after Dr. Nemeroff used an article in Nature Neuroscience to praise treatments for depression in which he had an unreported financial interest. In 2004, Emory issued a report citing him for multiple “serious” violations of its conflict-of-interest policies for protecting patients.
He quit as editor of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in 2006 after he was reported to have endorsed an implantable device for treating depression without disclosing payments from its manufacturer. And he finally left Emory … after U.S. Senate investigators found he received $2.8 million from GlaxoSmithKline and other pharmaceutical companies between 2000 and 2007 and failed to disclose at least $1.2 million of it.”
Insel initially denied the charge outright,13 but weeks later expressed regret in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, admitting that helping Nemeroff get a job at the University of Miami was inappropriate.14 In May of this year, Insel left Verily (formerly GLS) to join another technology startup called Mindstrong. Interestingly, Mindstrong is doing more or less exactly what Verily is doing — creating smartphone and computer app technologies to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. According to Wired:15
“[A]combination of your medical records … and how you use your gadgets … could be a Big Data bonanza for predicting and treating health issues … In fact, mood is one of the things that Verily’s $100 million Baseline study will track among its 10,000 eventual participants. At Mindstrong, one of the first tests of the concept will be a study of how 600 people use their mobile phones, attempting to correlate keyboard use patterns with outcomes like depression, psychosis, or mania.”
I don’t know about you, but the idea that your electronic medical records might eventually be linked to your use of the internet and social media to assess your risk of mental health problems and/or other health issues does not make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Google has repeatedly been caught infringing on privacy rights and misrepresenting the type and amount of data it collects on its users.
It’s now become clear that Google catches every single thing you do online if you’re using a Google-based feature. It’s also clear that capturing user data is Google’s primary business.16 The fact that it provides services while doing so is really beside the point and serves as a convenient distraction from the fact that obnoxious privacy violations are taking place. As reported by Gawker:17
“Every word of every email sent through Gmail and every click made on a Chrome browser is watched by the company. ‘We don’t need you to type at all,’ [Google co-founder Eric] Schmidt once said. ‘We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.’”
Today’s youth, and their parents, need to be particularly vigilant and aware of what Google is doing. Over the past five years, Google has taken over classrooms across the U.S. As noted by The New York Times,18 more than 30 million American children now use Google-based education apps such as Gmail, Google docs, Google classroom apps and Google-powered Chromebooks.
Once out of school, these youngsters are encouraged to convert their school accounts into personal accounts, allowing Google to build exceptionally powerful personality profiles of them as they grow into young adults. If these profiles are used for marketing purposes only, that would be bad enough. But what if they’re used for other types of profiling? Google’s data harvesting is particularly concerning in light of its military connections.19
A recent Activist Post article reveals how YouTube is censoring Ron Paul, former congressman and 2011 Republican GOP presidential candidate, for promoting peace.20 Paul has also been a tireless defender of health freedom throughout his long career. In other words, Google is now actively controlling the public narrative — also known as social engineering — and, as noted in the article:
“When standing up against an illegal war with a message of peace and liberty becomes a censorable ‘offense’ it’s time to start paying attention … Make no mistake, what we are witnessing on YouTube and Facebook right now is a move to silence the peaceful opposition …
[T]his crackdown is also coinciding with a massive push by the mainstream media to stoke divide among the people … [D]ivisive identity politics are shoved down the collective throats of the masses in order to create an atmosphere so divided that people never look up at who’s controlling them. Disagreeing with the status quo is the new hate speech — speak out and you will be mowed down.”
Google’s catchphrase used to be “Don’t be evil,” but that’s exactly what it is. When Google became Alphabet, it dropped the “don’t be evil” slogan for a more comprehensive motto, which begins with doing “the right thing — follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect.”21 Yet the company continues to act as if it’s above the law and really struggles when it comes to doing what’s right. In fact, Google seems to think its actions are righteous and justifiable simply by the fact that they’re doing them.
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
All of this brings us to the issue of monopolization and the corruption that inevitably follows. At this point, I cannot think of any company operating in breach of antitrust rules as blatantly as Google. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this adage certainly fits when describing Google. As reported by The Washington Post:22
“Google has established a pattern of lobbying and threatening to acquire power. It has reached a dangerous point … The moment where it no longer wants to allow dissent … Once you reach a pinnacle of power, you start to believe that any threats to your authority are themselves villainous and that you are entitled to shut down dissent. As Lord Acton famously said, ‘Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.’ Those with too much power cannot help but be evil.
Google, the company dedicated to free expression, has chosen to silence opposition, apparently without any sense of irony… [I]n recent years, Google has become greedy about owning not just search capacities, video and maps, but also the shape of public discourse. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Google has recruited and cultivated law professors who support its views.”
According to a recent Campaign for Accountability (CfA) report,23 Google has paid academics in both the U.S. and Europe millions of dollars to influence public opinion and policymakers alike.24,25
This includes funding research papers “that appear to support the technology company’s business interests and defend against regulatory challenges such as antitrust and anti-piracy.” Some of these academics have not declared the source of their funding, even though payments have reached as high as $400,000. As noted by The Times:26
“On one occasion Eric Schmidt, Google’s former chief executive, cited a Google-funded author in written answers to Congress to back his claim that his company was not a monopoly — without mentioning that it had paid for the paper …”
Europe Fines Google Nearly $3 Billion for Antitrust Violations
Power can be assessed by looking at lobbying expenditures and, so far this year, Google is leading the pack when it comes to corporate spending on lobbying — efforts primarily aimed at eliminating competitors and gaining power over others. Google also appears to take full advantage of its power over organizations that it helps fund.
A recent example of this was when the Open Markets team at the New America think tank published a statement praising the EU’s decision to levy a $2.7 billion fine against Google for antitrust violations. In summary, Google gave preference to its own shopping subsidiaries over competitors in its search results, which the EU deemed to be a violation of antitrust rules (see the featured video above).
The Open Markets team also called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice (DOJ) and state attorneys general to apply American monopoly law to Google’s business in the U.S. Google’s response to the Open Markets statement was swift, and within three days, the New America think tank — which has received more than $21 million from Google over the years — ousted the entire Open Markets team.27
Zephyr Teachout, associate professor of law at Fordham University, writes in her Washington Post article, “Google Is Coming After Critics in Academia and Journalism. It’s Time to Stop Them:”‘ 28
“The imperial overreach of Google in trying to shut down a group of five researchers proves the point that the initial release from Open Markets was trying to make: When companies get too much power, they become a threat to democratic free speech and to the liberty of citizens at large …
Google is forming into a government of itself, and it seems incapable of even seeing its own overreach. We, as citizens, must respond in two ways. First, support the brave researchers and journalists who stand up to overreaching power; and second, support traditional antimonopoly laws that will allow us to have great, innovative companies — but not allow them to govern us.
Google’s actions forced the Open Markets team to leave New America. But, thankfully, it did not succeed in silencing them entirely. Open Markets will continue on as a separate organization, which I will chair. Their work exposing corporate monopolies and advocating for regulation is more important than ever. Google shows us why.”
New America Faces Backlash
The fact that New America was coddling Google and doing the company’s bidding did not go unnoticed, however, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the Google-funded think tank is now accused of jeopardizing New America’s reputation with her decision to kick Open Markets out.
Scholars affiliated with New America have also been “quietly comparing notes on past instances in which they contend she placed donors’ interests over ideology.” According to The New York Times,29 Slaughter has “pledged to re-examine her group’s policies for dealing with donors while defending the organization’s intellectual integrity.” Whatever might come of that “re-examination” remains to be seen.
Former business journalist Barry Lynn, director of Open Markets, who spent over a decade with the New America Foundation before being ousted by Slaughter, has been a longtime advocate against monopolies such as Google, and his work is now gaining traction in what some have called an “antitrust revival.”30 As noted by The Daily Beast:31
“For years, Lynn has been warning about the pernicious effect monopolies have on all facets of American life: from the food one eats, to the financial system one uses, to the forms of communications on which one depends. And for years, his work has been restricted to the usual confines of advocacy and academia …
On [July 24, 2017], that changed. [Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)] … outlined an agenda that put heavy emphasis on cracking down on corporate monopolies.
The topic occupies the first four pages of a 10-page document and includes placing new standards on the consolidation of corporate power, giving new tools to regulators to confirm and review mergers, and creating a new consumer competition advocate to tackle ‘anti-competitive behavior.’ Lynn, who estimates that he has been working on this stuff for 15 years, called the new agenda ‘fantastic.’”
Monopolies Threaten Public Liberties and Democracy
In a recent interview by The Verge,32 Lynn discusses his plans to continue fighting monopolies in America. Open Markets still has most of its funders and the organization is “already up and running” as an independent institution. They also have new funding sources lined up. When asked why it’s so important to dialogue about monopoly power, Lynn replies:
“[M]onopolies are a threat to our democracy and to our basic liberties and to our communities. Monopolization, this concentration of wealth and power, is a threat to everything that is America … So, Open Markets is built to fight the environment of law and regulation that currently promotes unrestrained monopoly. America today has a monopoly problem.
We’re seeing basically a second wave of consolidation and monopolization because of the digital revolution. These companies are just as bad as Newscorp or Walmart or Citibank was in 2005. Google, Facebook, and Amazon: the danger they pose is on a vastly different level.The first issue is consumer protection and potential consumer harm. We created antitrust laws originally to protect our liberties, often as producers of stuff …
My liberty to bring my wheat, my ideas, the product of my labor to market. That’s liberty. The second purpose was to protect our democracy against huge concentrations of wealth and power. To protect our democratic institutions. And the third purpose [was] to protect your community.
If I’m living out in Peoria, do I want the city of Peoria to be run by a couple corporations based on Wall Street, or do I want it to be run by the citizens of Peoria? So you use anti-monopoly law to ensure that.”
Tech Monopolies Merge to Create Ultimate AI World
Last year, The Register33 published an article pointing out the revolving door between Google and EU policy advisers; 16 Google employees have joined the government ranks in the EU while 64 policy advisers left to join Google. We see this revolving door phenomenon so often these days, it’s become quite cliché. Unfortunately, it is highly effective, which is why industry abuses it. Google is running such a clear monopoly, it’s quite astounding the U.S. has not nailed it on antitrust charges similar to those raised in the EU.
Then again, Music Technology Policy published a long article34 last year describing how Google managed to install one of its own lawyers in the DOJ antitrust division, thereby protecting its own interests. These revolving doors between government and corporations exist for a reason, and it is not to benefit the public in any way.
As we look to the future, we also have Google’s sights on artificial intelligence (AI) to contend with. Already, two large monopolies have joined forces to bring about the ultimate AI world. As reported by The New York Times,35 Amazon and Microsoft are now working together, merging their voice-controlled digital assistants — Alexa and Cortana — in order to enlarge the capabilities of both by building on each other’s strengths and abilities.
“In an interview … [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos predicted that over time people would turn to different digital assistants … the same way they turn to one friend for advice about hiking and another for restaurant recommendations. ‘I want them to have access to as many of those A.I.s as possible.’ Mr. Bezossaid.”36
Ultimately, the goal is to create self-learning AIs capable of imitating human thought processes. Meanwhile, Vanity Fair reports that Elon Musk is raising a “billion-dollar crusade” to prevent the AI apocalypse, calling for regulations on the technology “before it’s too late.” According to Musk, AIs are improving at a far greater pace than most people realize, and there’s no telling what they might ultimately be used for. Vanity Fair writes:37
“In a startling public reproach to his friends and fellow techies, Musk warned that they could be creating the means of their own destruction. He told Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance … that he was afraid that his friend Larry Page, a co-founder of Google and now the C.E.O. of its parent company, Alphabet, could have perfectly good intentions but still ‘produce something evil by accident’ — including, possibly, ‘a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind.’
It’s in Larry Page’s blood and Google’s DNA to believe that A.I. is the company’s inevitable destiny — think of that destiny as you will. (‘If evil A.I. lights up,’ Ashlee Vance told me, ‘it will light up first at Google.’)”
Take Action — Here’s What You Can Do
As you can see, Google (or more accurately, Alphabet, the rebranded parent company that houses all of the various divisions) is turning into a gigantic octopus-like super entity, the tentacles of which reach into government, food production, health care, education, military applications and the creation of AIs that may run more or less independently.
A key component of many of these enterprises is data — your personal usage data; the tracking of every webpage you’ve ever visited and every single thought you’ve ever written on a Google-enabled device, along with geo tracking tracing your every move.
Ultimately, what can be done with that kind of information, besides personalized advertising? How might it be used in combination with military AI-equipped robots? How might it be used to influence your health care decisions? How might it be used to influence your lifestyle decisions? How might (or is) it used to shape politics and society at large?
Today, being a conscious consumer includes making wise, informed decisions about technology. Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time pondering the ramifications of Google’s ever-growing monopoly over our day-to-day lives is likely to shudder at the possibilities and agree that we cannot allow this to continue. To be part of the solution, I encourage you to take the following actions:
Avoid any and all Google products. If you have a Gmail account, close it and open an account with a non-Google affiliated email service. Stop using Google docs. Digital Trends recently published an article suggesting a number of alternatives.38 If you’re a high school student, do not convert the Google accounts you created as a student into personal accounts
Don’t use Google search engine. So far, one of the best alternatives I’ve found is DuckDuckGo.39 It is now my primary search engine and I avoid Gmail and all of Google products whenever possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to Dmitry Kiselyov, Russia’s #1 news anchor, and simultaneously, the head of one of the biggest government media conglomerates, Rossiya Segodnya, which owns, among other things, RT.
He has been roundly demonized by the western media, and put on the sanctions list, a strong hint that he probably talks a lot of good sense and is worth listening to.
Kiselyov is an excellent wordsmith, and his carefully crafted video essays pack a punch. This time he’s found an excellent translator to convey a hint at his style. Some choice chops:
I can’t say that we are always happy with our turbulent history, but at least unlike America, Poland or Ukraine, we don’t destroy monuments and don’t ban films.
Otherwise, we would have to stop showing, for example, “And Quiet Flows the Don” or “Battleship Potemkin,” to ban the “The White Guard” or “Lenin in October.” Then, we would begin to destroy the monuments.
And then, we would get indignant because Chekhov romanticizes the old landlord life in the play “Three Sisters.” And then we would ask if we needed Chekhov at all?
And did you know? Pushkin was a landowner himself. He received 200 servants as a wedding gift from his father. Is it possible to give living people as a gift? And hundreds of them at that?
And what should we do with Pushkin now?
For starters, the intellectual fare served to the broad masses in Russia is substantially higher than in the US.
Well worth listening to his take on the PC plague gripping America: (video and full text follows below)
Last week, stunning news came out of America even though to the unobservant eye, what happened could seem trifling at first glance.
At the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennessee, it was officially announced that from now on the movie “Gone with the Wind” would be banned. Although until now, the same Orpheum Theater in Memphis has traditionally shown “Gone with the Wind” in August during the Film Classics days…for 34 years in a row. There won’t be a 35th season.
What happened, in my opinion, is a national catastrophe for America.
I’ll try to explain why. To assess the scale of the disaster, it’s worth recalling something that everyone knows. The great movie of the great director Fleming, “Gone with the Wind,” which premiered in 1939, is the most popular film in the US in the history of American cinema. It’s the absolute champion in tickets sales. Taking into account inflation, nearly $3.5 billion was collected. Modern-day Hollywood blockbusters can’t even get close to that kind of runaway success.
Vivien Leigh was cast in the lead role, an English actress, she was selected out of 1,500 candidates. “Gone with the Wind” immediately brought her world fame. Vivien Leigh is also remembered as an all-time symbol of British cinema. However, she received her first Oscar for the American movie “Gone with the Wind.”
Them damned Yankee, SPLC lovin’, boney-ass globalists up to their monkeyshines again darlin’
In total, this film has received 10 Oscar awards. One of them was given to a black actor for the first time in history. The highest award of the American Film Academy for the Best Supporting Actress was given to Hattie McDaniel, who played the maid, Mammy, in “Gone with the Wind. Now, the film is accused of racism, an insult to the black population of America, and the romanticization of the South during the slavery period.
The love story of this film is told against the background of the Civil War between the South and the North in the 19th century. And, they say, the movie is painful for a portion of America’s modern day population.
The representative for the distribution company states the following: “As an organization whose stated mission is to entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves, the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of the local population.”
In order to understand the context, I should add that the Negroes – this word is fine in Russian – are about two-thirds of the population of Memphis. It’s them who are offended by the classics of American cinema. However, banning one film in only one city is only a part of a general process, which was kicked into high gear during the Obama presidency.
Racial tensions are at an all-time high in the United States. It was during Obama’s presidency that the first monument in a larger campaign to remove monuments to White heroes was taken down, the statue of the hero of the South, General Lee, in New Orleans. The decision was finally executed last May during Trump’s administration. But this was only done by labeling the General Lee monument a symbol of the superiority of the White race or, to translate it into PC-speak, a symbol to “White Supremacy.”
However, it is impossible to speak today in the United States about the atrocities of the northerners, in particular, about the “scorched earth” tactics of General Sherman during the American Civil War. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the monument to the president of the Southern Confederation, Jefferson Davis, has already fallen, followed by a monument to the fighters for the freedom of the South.
Another general for the South, Pierre de Beauregard, was taken down as well. Later, the monument to General Lee was slated for demolishing in Charlottesville. This is similar to the mass toppling of Lenin statues, only done in the American way and it quickly spread to Baltimore. There, they brought down the monuments to four generals of the Confederation and other figures of the South of the Civil War period. A monument to the soldiers of the South was removed in North Carolina.
The fervor is so contagious that desecration operations are now planned for monuments all over the US. Moreover, not only memorials and monuments to the Southerners will be removed, of which there are more than 1,500 in the country, but their names will also be erased from the names of streets, schools, and public institutions.
With a red-hot iron against history.
The cinema’s turn has now come. Now, the brilliant movie “Gone with the Wind” runs the risk of disappearing from all American screens. The Memphis precedent will work. And they will certainly never ever show one of the first US full-length films, “The Birth of a Nation,” directed by David Griffith, who, by the way, is considered the father of American cinema.
It was he who laid the foundations for sensible editing and even special effects. “Birth of a Nation.” 1915. Three hours. The historical period the movie was set in was the Civil War in the US and the events immediately after.
The film had unprecedented battle scenes for cinema of that time. The drama lay in a gripping account of a fratricidal war and the drama of the defeated where “the White South was crushed by the Black heel of the North.” Without regard to rules of war and decency. The North unleashed Black brutality on the Southern Whites in the name of revenge for the past.
How can this film be shown now, especially since the birth of the awful Ku Klux Klan is also realistically depicted in the movie as well? It emerged as a necessary organization for the self-defense of Whites. And, the cavalry charges while “Ride of the Valkyries” by Wagner is playing as the score. All of this is unacceptable now, so this picture will be permanently banned from American cinemas. All of this even though the US President, Woodrow Wilson, who was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, but who was also considered an authoritative historian, called the film “Birth of a Nation” a “terrible truth.”
President Wilson made this statement right after he organized a review of Griffith’s new movie in the White House, where he invited both his ministers and foreign ambassadors.
Surprisingly, it turns out that a hundred years ago America coped with its past and was ready to comprehend it and accept it as it is. Now, this ability has been lost, and a war has been declared on the past. And so far it proceeds in a very primitive fashion, through the destruction of monuments and censorship. And no one knows where it will stop.
Why not then take a new look at the American Westerns? Are they next on the chopping block? There are many films where the Indians are depicted as stupid and bloodthirsty, and they are killed by the White man in great numbers.
It seems that the fight against the Westerns hasn’t started just yet. But monuments to Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America, are already being defiled all over the US. They say that he is to blame for initiating the genocide of the indigenous population of the country. Last Wednesday, in the State of New York, a statue of Columbus was knocked down from the pedestal, and then smashed to pieces.
There are new heroes in America now. American cinema does its best to create a new cast of heroes, infused with modern sensibility. The last Oscar for Best Picture is characteristic of a larger trend. The film “Moonlight”, has the main character be the son of a drug-addicted mother, a gay Black man, a brutal gangster with gold teeth. But look at his wounded soul, and his difficult childhood. It’s now beyond “Gone with the Wind.”
This is also an example of how America can’t cope with the real history of its own country. The conflicts of the past, the wounds of which they never managed to heal, have reopened. History seems to be coming to life and creating serious tension.
We lived through something similar in our Soviet experience, when all of society was ideologically balkanized and forced to take up the position of one of the parties in the conflicts of the past. We all supported the red and not the bourgeoisie. We were for the rebels of Pugachev and StepanRazin. We were against the landlords. We were for the insurgent officers, the Decembrists, and not for the Tsar. We were for the Narodnik terrorists and not for the tsarist police.
And we were all as one against those enemies as if they were still alive today.
The same thing is happening in the US now. The Confederates of a century and a half ago are turned into the living enemies of today. And, the relationship between the Negroes and the Whites in those days can’t be shown as it really was back then.
Political correctness is the instrument of American censorship. Under its banner, they forbid films and demolish monuments. Under its banner, you can destroy White history to your heart’s content.
In Russia, we are already so fed up with all that nonsense and thank God, we can now quietly write, publish, read, film and show our history. We can allow ourselves to look at events from different sides. I can’t say that we are always happy with our turbulent history, but at least unlike America, Poland or Ukraine, we don’t destroy monuments and don’t ban films. Otherwise, we would have to stop showing, for example, “And Quiet Flows the Don” or “Battleship Potemkin,” to ban the “The White Guard” or “Lenin in October.” Then, we would begin to destroy the monuments.
And then, we would get indignant because Chekhov romanticizes the old landlord life in the play “Three Sisters.” And then we would ask if we needed Chekhov at all? And did you know? Pushkin was a landowner himself. He received 200 servants as a wedding gift from his father. Is it possible to give living people as a gift? And hundreds of them at that? And what should we do with Pushkin now?
But this would mean applying today’s norms to the past. We have already spilt so much blood over the past, that we don’t want to reopen those wounds again. We want to heal our past divisions, to learn and accept everything as it was, and to learn from the experience. We don’t want new civil conflicts.
Meanwhile, America still has the energy to reopen old wounds and stoke the flames of resentment. Political Correctness only worked as a band-aid it seems, it masked the old tensions under a superficial layer of civility, meanwhile the old racial hostility and enmity smoldered in the deep like a simmering, submerged peat fire.
Now, the tongues of flame are already peeping out of the ground, licking the turf on top. And the scale of the fire when it finally breaks out is difficult to predict.
When a society is split, when politics are saturated with hatred, and the rule of law no longer exists, what will hold keep the whole thing from collapsing?