Diversity is a strength, refugees welcome!
…unless they get anywhere near wealthy, elitist, leftist-run luxury islands.
Then they’re swiftly deported within 48 hours.
Diversity is a strength, refugees welcome!
…unless they get anywhere near wealthy, elitist, leftist-run luxury islands.
Then they’re swiftly deported within 48 hours.
Amid the mind-numbing eulogies to Queen Elizabeth II, it is frequently asserted that she was “one of us” and “everyone’s grandmother”.
Commentator Andrew Marr, a pillar of the media establishment, wrote a fawning comment in the Times, headlined, “Queen Elizabeth II: the majestic enigma who was one of us”. He went as far as to declare, “During the rawest, roughest years of the Thatcherite experiment, the Queen even seemed dryly oppositionist.”
This claim has been made throughout the media and parroted in ruling circles everywhere. Nothing was ever further from the truth. The queen heads a family of billionaires and lived a life of fabulous and unearned wealth and privilege. She ended her reign at Balmoral Castle, her £140 million private residence, as over 14 million of her “subjects”, including over 4 million children, live in poverty.
As well as Balmoral, the Sandringham House estate, valued at £600 million, was also privately owned by the queen.
Everything she and her family and relatives possesses is thanks to centuries of pillage and plunder by her forebears. Moreover, most of this staggering wealth is assiduously protected from taxation by the state.
The fortune of the monarch is shrouded in secrecy, but it runs into the many billions of pounds.
According to the Sunday Times Rich List, the queen was personally worth around £370 million. But this was only identifiable wealth. The Paradise Papers, leaked in 2017, show that among the queen’s hidden dealings, via the Duchy of Lancaster estate she owned, was the parking of millions of pounds in a Cayman Islands fund. Part of that fund went to a retailer, BrightHouse, cited for exploiting poor UK families through its hire-to-own scheme.
The queen’s will must now remain under lock and key for 90 years, stemming from a protocol established in 1910. As Reuters noted the monarch’s “will is one of more than 30 kept in a safe in an undisclosed location in London, under the care of a judge. By convention, after a senior royal dies, the executor of their will applies to the head of the London High Court’s Family Division for the will to be sealed. Successive judges in that position have always agreed.”
Sealing the will of the queen’s husband Prince Philip in 2021, the judge declared, “The degree of publicity that publication would be likely to attract would be very extensive and wholly contrary to the aim of maintaining the dignity of the Sovereign.”
Due to a deal between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace in 1993, a vast amount of untaxed wealth cascaded down to Charles III and his successor, Prince William, upon the queen’s death.
Charles inherited from the queen the Duchy of Lancaster estate, established in 1351, which reported net assets of £651 million in the 2021-22 financial year and £24 million in profits.
The income of the Duchy of Cornwall estate, established in 1337 by King Edward III for his heir, was inherited by then Prince Charles upon his 21st birthday. In the 50 years since, Charles piled up staggering wealth through the Duchy now passed to Prince William inheritance tax-free. In the 2021-22 financial year its net assets were valued at £1 billion, with £25 million in profits going into Charles’s pocket.
These revenue sources are dwarfed by the major entity funding the royals, the Crown Estate. Established in 1760, its net assets were valued at £17 billion in 2021/22, with profits of £313 million.
It would take volumes to fully document the resources contained in these estates. The Duchy of Lancaster owns more than 18,000 hectares of land in England and Wales, including farms, homes, and commercial properties. This includes 70 square miles of farmland, 10 castles, a private airfield, and two acres of prime London real estate, including the land beneath the Savoy Hotel.
The Duchy of Cornwall, notes the Financial Times, “owns almost 130,000 acres of land, including the Isles of Scilly, large parts of Dartmoor and 260 farms, and holds £92mn of financial investments. But the bulk of its income comes from its commercial property portfolio, investing in assets such as offices and retail parks.” It adds, “The Duchy owns some of Charles’s residences, such as Highgrove House in Gloucestershire and Llwynywermod, the Carmarthenshire former home of a relative of [queen] Anne Boleyn bought for a reported £1.2mn in 2006.” None of the profits of the dutchy are liable for corporation or capital gains tax.
The main value of the Crown Estate’s assets is contained in a vast property portfolio. Included is a large part of central London comprising some 10 million square feet of land. This includes two entire main thoroughfares, Regents Street and St James Street, and Kensington Palace Gardens.
The rural holdings of the Crown Estate contain around 287,000 acres of agricultural land and forests. Huge mineral wealth is available to them with rights to extract them from 285,500 acres. As of 2018, the estate was extracting sand, gravel, limestone, granite, brick clay, slate, and dimension stone from 34 locations.
The Crown Estate owns virtually all the UK’s seabed up to the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) limit, with the Guardian noting this is “an asset that has become increasingly lucrative since the North Sea oil boom and, more recently, auctions of plots for offshore wind farms.”
An article published in the trade website Fish Farmer this month noted, “As well as a number of rural rents and salmon fishing rights on land, Crown Estate Scotland is responsible for the leasing of virtually all seabed out to 12 nautical miles, covering some 750 fish farming sites and agreements with cables & pipeline operators, and the rights to offshore renewable energy and gas and carbon dioxide storage out to 200 nautical miles from the shore.”
Most of the royal palaces are owned by the Crown Estate, including Buckingham Palace (775 rooms) and Windsor Castle (over 1,000 rooms and 300 grand fireplaces), and Charles’s official four-storey London residence, Clarence House. His main country retreat, Highgrove (four reception rooms, nine main bedrooms), is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, now belonging to Prince William.
The Royal Collection, containing over a million objects, including 7,000 paintings, 500,000 prints, and 30,000 drawings from most of art’s masters, is the largest private art collection in the world and is owned by the reigning monarch in the right of the Crown. Parts of it were privately owned by the queen. The Royal Philatelic Collection of stamps alone is valued at £100 million. Including the Crown Jewels, the Royal Collection is valued at an estimated £10 billion.
Ensuring that the wealth of the royal family remains largely hidden and untouched has been a major pre-occupation of successive governments. In 1993, following a fire a Windsor Castle, and with the monarchy mired in numerous scandals, the question of who would foot the massive bill for the fire damage achieved national prominence.
John Major’s Conservative government came to an arrangement with the queen that for the first time she would voluntarily pay income tax on the Dutchy of Lancaster revenues not used for official purposes. However, the monarch is still not legally obliged to pay any income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. Major told Parliament, “In the unique circumstances of a hereditary monarchy, special arrangements are needed for inheritance tax.” This was a far more lucrative outcome for the monarchy, dwarfing anything they would go on to pay in income tax.
The 1993 deal allowed that any inheritance passed from “sovereign to sovereign” would avoid the standard 40 percent levy applied to assets valued at more than £325,000. It also ensures that the inheritance of a consort of a former sovereign to a sovereign avoid tax. Within 10 years it ensured that the queen’s mother could pass to the queen an untaxed £70 million.
Since 1760, when George III surrendered control of the Estate’s revenues to the Treasury, the monarch was paid a generous annual grant running into millions, known as the Civil List. This arrangement was altered in 2012, with the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition agreeing with the queen the Civil List’s replacement by a “Sovereign Grant”. This is calculated as a percentage of the income of the Crown Estate, making the maximisation of such revenues of direct financial interest to the monarch. According to the formula, the amount paid out to the monarchy via the grant can never be reduced from the previous year.
The percentage paid back to the monarch as the Sovereign Grant was initially set at 15 percent. In 2016, this was increased for a 10-year period in order to pay for the £369 million refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. Just in the last decade around £600 million has been handed over to the monarchy via the grant, including last year’s £86.3 million.
These types are not journalists and are denigrating the integrity of real journalists, the very few that remain in North America. How can these types sit there and spew what they know is propaganda garbage from their masters? Paycheques, that’s all. It’s all mind control based on fear and doom if you do not submit to the elites’ plan. Lou
Why is it so hard to find our authenticity in this world? This is one explanation. What is your theory?
This article was originally published by Michael Snyder at The End of the American Dream.
Sep 8, 2022
The ultra-wealthy are some of the best preppers in the entire world. I realize that statement may sound strange to many of you, but it is actually true. The elite are very well aware that we are on the precipice of a full-blown societal meltdown, and many of them are spending enormous amounts of time, money, and energy to prepare themselves for the extremely difficult times that are rapidly approaching.
In some cases, ultra-wealthy individuals are forking out giant mountains of cash for luxurious underground bunkers in the middle of nowhere. In other cases, elitists are actually buying citizenship in far away foreign lands that they think will be safe. We are talking about some of the smartest and wealthiest people in our entire society, and they are so freaked out about what is coming that they have become absolutely obsessed with trying to save themselves.
Many of these individuals got to where they are today by staying one step ahead of everyone else. That is why it is so alarming that 2,150 corporate executives sold off shares in their own companies in the month August alone. Do they know something that the rest of us don’t?
Of course when things start getting really bad, many among the elite do not plan to stick around to see what happens. The following comes from a Guardian article entitled “The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse”…
Many of those seriously seeking a safe haven simply hire one of several prepper construction companies to bury a prefab steel-lined bunker somewhere on one of their existing properties. Rising S Company in Texas builds and installs bunkers and tornado shelters for as little as $40,000 for an 8ft by 12ft emergency hideout all the way up to the $8.3m luxury series “Aristocrat”, complete with pool and bowling lane. The enterprise originally catered to families seeking temporary storm shelters, before it went into the long-term apocalypse business. The company logo, complete with three crucifixes, suggests their services are geared more toward Christian evangelist preppers in red-state America than billionaire tech bros playing out sci-fi scenarios.
There’s something much more whimsical about the facilities in which most of the billionaires – or, more accurately, aspiring billionaires – actually invest. A company called Vivos is selling luxury underground apartments in converted cold war munitions storage facilities, missile silos, and other fortified locations around the world. Like miniature Club Med resorts, they offer private suites for individuals or families, and larger common areas with pools, games, movies and dining. Ultra-elite shelters such as the Oppidum in the Czech Republic claim to cater to the billionaire class, and pay more attention to the long-term psychological health of residents. They provide imitation of natural light, such as a pool with a simulated sunlit garden area, a wine vault, and other amenities to make the wealthy feel at home.
Of course, the vast majority of us don’t have lots of extra money to spend on a giant underground bunker.
But for those that can afford it, I certainly can’t blame them for wanting one.
Things are going to get really bad in the years ahead.
Other ultra-wealthy individuals are shelling out cash for “golden passports” that grant them citizenship in a second country…
Loaded liberals are forking out millions of dollars for ‘golden passports’ because they are scared of a Trump-led civil war in 2024, immigration lawyers have revealed.
The wealthy wokes are spending huge sums to bag visas that allow them escape to countries like Austria, Turkey, Jordan and the Caribbean, according to attorneys running the processes.
Consultants say they’ve seen a massive spike in interest for citizenships for second countries over the last few years.
In theory, such a plan sounds good.
If things get crazy in the United States, just hop on a private plane and head to a nice peaceful nation on the other side of the planet.
But what if we are facing emergencies that are truly global in nature?
In that case, such a plan may not work as well.
If you would like a “golden passport” in the future, you might want to start saving up your money, because they aren’t cheap…
The cost of acquired citizenship ranges from the low six-figures to many millions of dollars.
Some Atlantic islands are ultimately affordable, while chic-European countries will cost you a pretty-penny.
Sadly, the vast majority of the population simply cannot afford to do much at all to prepare for the hard times that are approaching because most people are just barely scraping by these days.
In fact, many Americans that are working as hard as they can “do not earn enough to cover a basic family budget”…
More than one-third of U.S. families that work full time year-round do not earn enough to cover a basic family budget, according to a recent report from researchers at Brandeis University’s diversitydatakids.org program at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy.
The situation is even more dire for Black and Hispanic families, according to the report. More than half cannot afford basic needs, compared to 25% of white families and 23% of Asian and Pacific Islander families. Inequities remain even when controlling for education and occupation.
I was stunned when I first came across those numbers.
And things are particularly bad for families that are considered to be “low income”…
For low-income families – those whose income falls below 200% of the supplemental poverty measure, or $52,492 for two adults and two related children in 2020 it’s – 77% who can’t pay the bills despite working full time.
In 2020, more than a quarter of the population, 89.7 million people, were considered low income per the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit that collects statistics for research on the health and structure of populations.
So many people out there are just trying to survive from month to month.
In an article that I posted a couple of days ago, I mentioned the fact that about 20 million households in the United States are currently behind on their utility bills.
If you can’t even pay your power bill, of course, you don’t have any money for prepping.
Survey after survey has shown that well over half of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, and that means that the majority of the population simply does not have the resources necessary to adequately prepare for what is ahead of us.
But the elites have more cash than they know what to do with, and they are spending big to try to ensure that they will survive whatever happens.
If you have the resources to do so, I would encourage you to also work feverishly to get prepared before the window of opportunity that we currently have closes completely.
“…how the world’s money-grubbing tech gurus are actively trying to build themselves survival bunkers to weather the coming apocalypse that they are helping engineer.”
Survival of the Richest author Douglas Rushkoff published an exposé the other day at The Guardian about how the world’s money-grubbing tech gurus are actively trying to build themselves survival bunkers to weather the coming apocalypse that they are helping engineer.
Rushkoff says he was recently invited to attend a secret gathering of five tech billionaires somewhere out in the desert, during which he was asked all kinds of questions about how to build the best and most secure underground bunkers.
These billionaires’ biggest concern seemed to be about how to ensure that the security forces they hire do not turn on them once everything hits the fan. Demonstrating their total lack of empathy – meaning these tech billionaires are sociopaths – they simply could not comprehend that treating people right now will serve them much better than trying to forcefully ensure their own survival at the expense of everyone else.
“How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?” asked the CEO of a brokerage house, recognizing that Rushkoff knows a thing or two about survival and the logistics surrounding its success. (Related: Ever since covid, the doomsday bunker business has been booming.)
“The event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down,” Rushkoff explains in his piece about the primary focus of these tech billionaires.
It turns out that the bulk of the private meeting was centered around the security issue and how to keep security forces paid, fed, and happy so that they continue to protect the very tech billionaires who destroyed the world in the first place.
While one of them suggested simply locking their food behind combinations that only they knew, at least one of the tech billionaires proposed forcing their security teams to wear disciplinary shock collars to ensure their compliance.
Another brought up the idea of building non-human robots to serve as guards and workers for their underground, dystopian “paradises” that they expect to survive in once society collapses.
Rushkoff, who describes himself as a “Marxist media theorist,” tried to reason with the men about how a more pro-social approach centered around partnership and solidarity is the most promising for preserving “our collective, long-term challenges.” It turns out that none of them wanted to hear any of this.
“The way to get your guards to exhibit loyalty in the future was to treat them like friends right now, I explained,” Rushkoff writes about what he said to the tech billionaires. “Don’t just invest in ammo and electric fences, invest in people and relationships. They rolled their eyes at what must have sounded to them like hippy philosophy.”
In the end, Rushkoff says he came to the realization that billionaire tech moguls “are actually the losers” in this whole scenario. They will likely be the first to go once all bets are off because We the People see them for who they are.
“The billionaires who called me out to the desert to evaluate their bunker strategies are not the victors of the economic game so much as the victims of its perversely limited rules,” Rushkoff says.
“More than anything, they have succumbed to a mindset where ‘winning’ means earning enough money to insulate themselves from the damage they are creating by earning money in that way. It’s as if they want to build a car that goes fast enough to escape from its own exhaust.”
“Yet this Silicon Valley escapism – let’s call it The Mindset – encourages its adherents to believe that the winners can somehow leave the rest of us behind.”
The latest news about the coming collapse can be found at Collapse.news.
Sources for this article include:
From the very beginning, human civilization has been built around serving the interests of the powerful, from religion to philosophy to the arts to law.
So mainstream culture presents a fraudulent image of reality. It’s written into the code of everything that’s mass-produced — not just in Prager University lectures on the evils of socialism or propagandistic news stories about weapons of mass destruction, but in sitcoms, in advertisements, in clothing brands, in pop music, in textbooks, in trends.
But mainly learn to take comfort in the fact that, just underneath the logos and screens and suburbs and Hollywood actors pretending to be people, reality is roaring.
You’re not jaded; everything really is just as phony and vapid as it looks.
I say this because if you are reading this it’s likely the result of a personal quest for truth which has led to a gradual peeling away of the lies our society is made of. Your eyes probably found this text because you’re the sort of person who’s been trying to make sense of the world in a sea of propaganda and deception, which often results in a growing disgust not just with the power structures which oppress and tyrannize humanity, but with our entire civilization.
This experience is very common for people like yourself, and it’s very common because it arises from a clear perception of reality. From the very beginning, human civilization has been built around serving the interests of the powerful, from religion to philosophy to the arts to law. As the world has gotten smaller and it’s become possible to artificially manufacture culture with mass-distributed media, this has only become more the case.
That’s why the more you learn about the world, the more fake and stupid our civilization looks. It’s because it is fake and stupid. Our news, our entertainment, our jobs, our legal systems, our political systems, our education systems, our financial, monetary, economic, and commercial systems; the way our entire civilization is structured and organized has nothing to do with what’s true and good and everything to do with keeping human organisms compliantly turning the gears of capitalism and empire.
Mainstream culture is one giant psyop geared toward keeping people fueling the oppression machine. Not because of some grand conspiracy (though there’s plenty of that too), but because the manufacturers of culture have a vested interest in preserving our unwholesome status quo. The media are owned by plutocrats who have an interest in making sure everything they’re putting out sustains the imperial status quo upon which their kingdoms are built. The Pentagon has more influence over Hollywood than people like you or I ever will.
Things get elevated to mainstream levels of attention and influence by the people with the wealth and power to elevate them, and they’re always going to elevate things which serve their interests by manufacturing consent for the status quo their wealth and power are premised upon, not things which harm their interests like material that expands class consciousness or highlights the depravity of the US-centralized empire.
So mainstream culture presents a fraudulent image of reality. It’s written into the code of everything that’s mass-produced — not just in Prager University lectures on the evils of socialism or propagandistic news stories about weapons of mass destruction, but in sitcoms, in advertisements, in clothing brands, in pop music, in textbooks, in trends. When it’s not constant messaging that capitalism is totally working and the world is ordered in a more or less sane and truth-based way, it’s manipulations designed to shape our values and measures of self-worth to make us into better gear-turners.
If you’re noticing this ubiquitous fraudulence, it’s not because you’re becoming distant from the rest of society, it’s because you’re becoming more intimate with it. You’re getting in real close, so close you can see the nuts and bolts of it, see how the sausage is made.
So if this is happening to you, don’t worry. You’re not turning into some kind of jaded hipster who’s too cool for what everyone else is into, you’re just seeing the bullshit for what it is. Sure a rejection of mainstream culture can just be pure ego-driven “look at me I’m so special” crap, but it’s also what happens when you sincerely move in for a closer look at the mass-scale psychological fabric of human civilization.
This is what Terence McKenna was talking about when he said “The cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.” And it’s what Jiddu Krishnamurti was pointing at when he said “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” A lucid perception of reality today will necessarily be accompanied by the ever-present smell of bullshit.
And that’s not your fault. It’s not your fault that you were born into this world where so much of everything is fake and stupid. So be gentle with yourself in your sense of alienation. And take comfort in knowing that others see what you’re seeing too.
But mainly learn to take comfort in the fact that, just underneath the logos and screens and suburbs and Hollywood actors pretending to be people, reality is roaring. There’s a whole world of wonder and authenticity shining ferociously from just beneath the surface. It’s just got nothing to do with the artificial culture that’s been mass-produced by the powerful and funneled into our minds.
Underneath all the social engineering and power-serving control mechanisms, there’s a whole life of raw terrestriality that is much, much older and much, much stronger than the lies of the machine. You can see it crackling everywhere, even in the densest parts of the matrix.
You can see it in the sky. You can see it in the bushes and the pigeons. But you can also see it in the bus billboards and skyscrapers, in the flashing signs and blaring screens. And you can see it in the giant-brained bipedal primates you’re surrounded by each day, hiding just behind the dance of imperial fraudulence in their heads. You can see it even in those who are most asleep at the wheel, the most enslaved to the mind viruses of the machine, if you look. Once you learn to see it, you can observe nature winking at you even from inside the most rage-faced pundits and most self-absorbed social natterers. It’s there.
In reality, this sense of alienation is just an awkward transition phase between buying into the imperial dreamworld and a deep, deep intimacy with humanity as it really is beneath all the obnoxious programming. Beyond the revulsion at the phony face puppets, something ancient, authentic, and exuberant is dancing. And it is more real and more true than our disgust with this civilization.
Look closer and you see the fraudulence. Look even closer and you see what’s real. Your sense of alienation is entirely valid and based in truth, but we’re not meant to stay there. Truth beckons us forward. Truth is beckoning us all forward. And these mind cages they have built for us aren’t real enough to hold us in for much longer.
The slow-motion coup is over. Corporations and the billionaire class have won. There are no institutions, including the press, an electoral system that is little more than legalized bribery, the imperial presidency, the courts or the penal system, that can be defined as democratic. Only the fiction of democracy remains.
Life expectancy in the U.S. fell in 2021, for the second year in a row. There have been over 300 mass shootings this year. Close to a million people have died from drug overdoses since 1999. There are an average of 132 suicides every day. Nearly 42 percent of the country is classified as obese, with one in 11 adults considered severely obese.
Write to your MP. This is ridiculous. Why are we paying for his groceries?
The rest of us are reducing our food expenditure because we cannot afford it. Oh, the life of privilege.
Someone is voting in these elitist dunces. The media, owned by elites, tells the common citizen who to vote for. The poor citizen votes for them out of fear and ignorance. Perfect formula. And we get a petulant fart for Premier.
“What was life like on Epstein Island?” – Epstein survivor Juliette Bryant talks to Gareth Icke on this week’s Right Now
April 18, 2022
Social media platforms are aggressively censoring challenges to the dominant narrative on Ukraine, the ruling Democratic Party, the wars in the Middle East and the corporate state.
The ruling class, made up of the traditional elites that run the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, is employing draconian forms of censorship on its right-wing and left-wing critics in a desperate effort to cling to power.
The traditional elites were discredited for pushing through a series of corporate assaults on workers, from deindustrialization to trade deals. They were unable to stem rising inflation, the looming economic crisis and the ecological emergency.
They were incapable of carrying out significant social and political reform to ameliorate widespread suffering and refused to accept responsibility for two decades of military fiascos in the Middle East.
And now they have launched a new and sophisticated McCarthyism. Character assassination. Algorithms. Shadow banning. De-platforming.
Censorship is the last resort of desperate and unpopular regimes. It magically appears to make a crisis go away. It comforts the powerful with the narrative they want to hear, one fed back to them by courtiers in the media, government agencies, think tanks and academia. The problem of Donald Trump is solved by censoring Donald Trump. The problem of left-wing critics, such as myself, is solved by censoring us. The result is a world of make-believe.
“A new and sophisticated McCarthyism. Character assassination. Algorithms. Shadow banning. De-platforming.”
YouTube disappeared six years of my RT show, “On Contact,” although not one episode dealt with Russia. It is not a secret as to why my show vanished. It gave a voice to writers and dissidents, including Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, as well as activists from Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, third parties and the prison abolitionist movement. It called out the Democratic Party for its subservience to corporate power. It excoriated the crimes of the apartheid state of Israel. It covered Julian Assange in numerous episodes. It gave a voice to military critics, many of them combat veterans, who condemned US war crimes.
It no longer matters how prominent you are or how big a following you have. If you challenge power, you are at risk of being censored. Former British MP George Galloway detailed a similar experience during an April 15 panel organized by Consortium News in which I took part:
“I have been threatened with travel restrictions were I to continue the television broadcast I had been doing for almost an entire decade. I have been stamped by the false label ‘Russian State Media,’ which I never had, by the way, when I was presenting a show on Russian state media. It was only given after I ceased to have a show on Russian state media, ceased because the government made it a crime for me to do so.”
My 417,000 Twitter followers had been gaining a thousand a day, going like a runaway train, then suddenly it hit the buffers when the Elon Musk story emerged. I expressed the view that oligarch that he no doubt is, I prefer Elon Musk to the kings of Saudi Arabia, who it turns out are presently major shareholders in the Twitter company. As soon as I joined that fight, my numbers literally crashed to a halt, with shadow bans and all the rest of it…
All of this is happening before the consequences of the economic crash brought about by Western policy and our misnamed leaders has really hit yet. When economies begin to not just slow down, not just hiccup, not just experience levels of inflation not seen for years, or decades, but becomes a crash, as well it might, there will be even more for the state to suppress, especially any alternative analysis as to how we got here and what we must do to get out of it.
Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq and Marine Corp intelligence officer, called out the lie about weapons of mass destruction prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Recently, he was banned from Twitter for offering a counter narrative about dozens of killings in the Kyiv western suburb of Bucha. Many of the victims in Bucha were found with gunshot wounds to the head and with their hands tied behind their back. International observers and eyewitnesses have blamed Russia for the killings. Ritter’s alternative analysis, right or wrong, saw him silenced.
Ritter lamented the Twitter ban at the forum:
“It took me three years to get 4,000 followers on Twitter. I thought that was a big deal. Then this Ukraine thing comes up. It exploded. When I got suspended for the first time for questioning the narrative in Bucha my account had just gotten over 14,000. By the time my suspension was lifted I was up to 60,000. By the time they suspended me again I was close to 100,000. It was out of control, which is why I am convinced the algorithm said: You must delete. You must delete. And they did. The excuse they gave was absurd. I was abusive and I was harassing by telling what I thought was the truth.
I don’t have the same insight in the Ukraine I had in Iraq. Iraq, I was on the ground doing the job. But the techniques of observation and evaluation that you are trained as an intelligence officer to apply to any given set apply to Ukraine today. Simply looking at the available data set, you cannot help but draw the conclusion that it was Ukrainian national police, mainly because you have all the elements. You have motive. They don’t like Russian collaborators. How do I know? They said so on their website. You have the commander of the national police ordering his people to shoot people in Bucha on the day in question. You have the evidence. The dead bodies on the street with white armbands carrying Russian food packets. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Could there be data out there I am not aware of? Absolutely. But it is not there. As an intelligence officer I take the available data. I access the available data. I provide assessments based on that available data. And Twitter found that objectionable.”
Two pivotal incidents contributed to this censorship. The first was the publication of classified documents by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The second was the presidential election of Donald Trump. The ruling class was unprepared. The exposure of their war crimes, corruption, callous indifference to the plight of those they ruled and extreme concentration of wealth shredded their credibility. The election of Trump, which they did not expect, made them afraid they would be supplanted. The Republican Party establishment and the Democratic Party establishment joined forces to demand greater and greater censorship from social media.
Even marginal critics suddenly became dangerous. They had to be silenced. Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate in 2016, lost about half her social media following after mysteriously going offline for 12 hours during the campaign. The discredited Steele dossier, paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, charged Stein, along with Trump, with being a Russian asset. The Senate Intelligence Committee spent three years investigating Stein, issuing five different reports before exonerating her.
Stein spoke of the threat to freedom of speech during the forum:
“We are in an incredibly perilous moment. It’s not only freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but it is really democracy in all its dimensions that is under threat. There are all these draconian laws now against protest. There are 36 that have been passed that are as bad as a 10-year prison sentence for demonstrating on a sidewalk without a permit. They differ state by state. You need to know the laws in your state if you protest. Drivers have been given license to kill you if you are out in the street in some states as part of a protest.”
The first indication that we were not only being marginalized – one accepts that if you defy established power and practice independent journalism, you will be marginalized – but censored came in November 2016.
Craig Timberg, a technology reporter for The Washington Post, published a story headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.”
It referred to some 200 websites, including Truthdig where I wrote a weekly column, as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”
Unnamed analysts, described as “a collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds” from the anonymous “organization” PropOrNot, made the charges in the story. PropOrNot’s report drew up “the list” of 200 offending sites that included WikiLeaks, Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Naked Capitalism, Counterpunch, AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com, ConsortiumNews and the Ron Paul Institute.
All these sites, they said, either wittingly or unwittingly functioned as Russian assets. No evidence was offered for the charges, since of course there was none. The only common denominator was that all were critics of the Democratic Party leadership.
When we challenged the story, PropOrNot tweeted out:
“Awww, wook at all the angwy Putinists, trying to change the subject – they’re so vewwy angwy!!”
We were blacklisted by anonymous trolls who sent out Twitter messages, later deleted, that sounded as if they were written by a gamer living in his parent’s basement.
Timberg did not contact any of us beforehand. He and the paper refused to reveal the identity of those behind PropOrNot. I taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. If one of my students had turned in Timberg’s story as a class assignment, he or she would have failed.
The established elites desperately needed a narrative to explain the defeat of Hillary Clinton and their own growing unpopularity. Russia fit. Fake news stories, they said, had been planted by Russians in social media to elect Trump. All critics, on the left and the right, became Russian Assets. Then the fun began.
The outliers many of us find repugnant began to disappear. In 2018, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify deleted the podcasts, pages and channels of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website from their platforms. The precedent was set. Once they could do it to Jones, they could do it to anyone.
“The outliers many of us find repugnant began to disappear.”
Twitter, Google, Facebook and Youtube used the charge of foreign influence to start employing algorithms and shadow banning to silence critics. Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, chair of the Kingdom Holding Company, which dismissed Elon Musk’s recent offer to buy the social media platform, has a large stake in Twitter. It is hard to find a more despotic regime than Saudi Arabia, or one more hostile to the press, but I digress.
Sites that once attracted tens or hundreds of thousands of followers suddenly saw their numbers nosedive. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content” and downgrade “offensive” material.
Traffic fell for sites such as Alternet by 63 percent, Democracy Now by 36 percent, Common Dreams by 37 percent, Truthout by 25 percent, The Intercept by 19 percent, and Counterpunch by 21 percent. The World Socialist Web site saw its traffic fall by two-thirds. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were all but erased. Mother Jones editors in 2019 wrote that they suffereda sharp decline in its Facebook audience, which translated to an estimated loss of $600,000 over 18 months.
The IT people at Truthdig, where I had a weekly column at the time, found that impressions – specific words such as “imperialism” typed into Google that bring up recent stories including mine – now did not include my stories. Referrals to the site from impressions for my stories fell from over 700,000 to below 200,000 in a 12-month period.
But pushing us to the sidelines was not enough, especially with Democrats’ looming loss of Congress in the midterm elections and Joe Biden’s abysmal poll numbers. Now we must be erased. Dozens of lesser-known sites, writers and videographers are disappearing. Facebook, for example, removed a “No Unite The Right 2-DC” event connected to a page called “Resisters,” appearing to advertise a counter-rally on the anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Paul Jay, who runs a site calledThe Analysis, ran a video essay on Feb. 7, 2021 called, “A Failed Coup Inside a Failed Coup.” YouTube banned the piece, saying it was “content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S presidential election is not allowed on YouTube.”
Tulsi Gabbard, after posting on March 13 that the U.S. funded bio labs in Ukraine and blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Biden’s foreign policy, said she was shadowbanned on Twitter.
The “Russians with Attitude” podcast account was suspended on Twitter. It covered the information war in Ukraine and “cried foul” on the Ghost of Kiev. Social media platforms have been especially harsh on those questioning Covid policy, blocking websites and forcing users, social media platforms, or online outlets to delete posts.
These sites make billions of dollars by selling our personal information to corporations, advertising agencies and political public relations firms. They know everything about us. We know nothing about them. They cater to our proclivities, fears, habits and prejudices. And they will silence our voices if we do not conform.
Censorship will not halt America’s march towards Christian fascism. Weimar Germany attempted to thwart Nazi fascism by enforcing rigorous hate-speech laws.
In the 1920s, it banned the Nazi party. Nazi leaders, including Joseph Goebbels, were prosecuted for hate speech. Julius Streicher, who ran the virulently anti-Semetic tabloid The Stormer (Der Stürmer), was fired from his teaching post, repeatedly fined and had his newspapers confiscated. He was taken to court numerous times for libel and served a series of jail sentences.
But like those serving sentences for the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, or like Trump, the persecution of Nazi leaders only enhanced their stature the longer the German ruling class failed to address the economic and social misery.
There are many similarities to the 1930s, including the power of predatory international banks to consolidate wealth into the hands of a few oligarchs and impose punishing austerity measures on the global working class.
“More than anything else, the Nazis were a nationalist protest movement against globalization,” notes Benjamin Carter Hett in The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and The Downfall of the Weimar Republic.
Shutting down critics in a decayed and corrupt society is equivalent to turning off the oxygen on a seriously ill patient. It hastens mortality rather than delaying or preventing it. The convergence of a looming economic crisis, fear by a bankrupt ruling class that they will soon be banished from power, the growing ecological catastrophe and the inability to thwart self-destructive military adventurism against Russia and China, have set the stage for an American implosion.
Those of us who see it coming, and who desperately seek to prevent it, have become the enemy.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.
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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.