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All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Another Twitter Suspension

The tech media giants started with easy high-profile targets, either genuine white supremacists, à la Red Ice, or sensationalist purveyors of American Exceptionalism and half-truths à la Infowars. They knew blocking these channels would only annoy a small subset of their customers. Few politicians would dare speak up in defence of these fringe outlets. Next, they targeted the likes of Stefan Molyneux, with nearly 1 million Youtube subscribers, former President Trump with over 50 million followers and last week the Corbett Report. I find this unsurprising, but also rather perverse. I never subscribed to Stefan Molyneux, but YouTube algorithms would keep suggesting his videos. Before I figured out how to disable auto-play, his videos would often follow other videos on the free speech theme by the likes of Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad. I long suspected Stefan was controlled opposition. His philosophical videos targeted a huge reservoir of dissent among the disenfranchised working classes. If you were not paying attention, you may have dismissed the core precept of his belief system: the fundamental importance of genetics in determining intelligence and success, both within and between racial groups. Such opinions have been rather unfashionable in the public discourse since the end of WW2. However, it’s now becoming glaringly obvious that the elites have public and private opinions on many controversies. Superficially, they pretend to side with the people but behind the scenes, they work to sow the seeds of new divisions and prepare the public psyche for future policy shifts.

Now the likes of Twitter are targeting anyone who challenges the official covid narrative, even those of us with a modest following in the lower thousands responding to someone with fewer than 30 followers. It seems you may hurl all sorts of gratuitous insults and spout some of the wildest scientifically illiterate theories on Twitter, as long as you do not challenge narratives of strategic importance. I’ve read messages supportive of paedophilia. Indeed, one message contained a preview image of a pornographic scene involving a child. I blocked its sender immediately. I admit this represents a grey area in the debate on the bounds of free speech, but I always stress intellectual freedom rather than absolute freedom of expression. I’ve lost count of the number of flat earthers and moon landing deniers active on social media, but their accounts never seem to get blocked.

The usual excuse is to protect community guidelines. You may naïvely think this is just about good social etiquette in the digital space. Some may have worried that such guidelines prevented open debate on issues such as unsustainable migratory flows or the promotion of transgenderism in schools for fear of offending vocal lobbies or vulnerable individuals. Now the assault on free speech has extended to anyone critical of the biotech industrial complex. The covid scare has unmasked our ruling classes, who still hide behind the façade of saving lives. Big Pharma lobbyists have been very active for many decades. Since the advent of social media, they’ve employed people to counteract any claims they do not like. I recall a long thread about the massive over-prescription of antidepressants. This could potentially offend people dependent on such psychoactive meds. By the same warped logic vegans may not highlight the horrors of slaughterhouses for fear of offending meat eaters. Initially the thread involved genuine users with a range of views. The next morning, I received a deluge of unfavourable replies with all the hallmarks of professional copywriters and was stupid enough to waste valuable time interacting with someone who could almost immediately respond to any first-hand evidence I gave with peer-reviewed reports on the safety and benefits of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (such as Prozac). These people always claim to be mental healthcare professionals. None of these tweets were flagged as abusive. I first encountered the Twitter thought police in 2019 about a misinterpreted sarcastic reply with the trigger word “kill” I had forgotten about. My comment paraphrased someone’s illogical statement (Do you want us to kill ourselves?). I gladly deleted it to restore my access. Lesson learned: avoid certain trigger words unless you make the context abundantly clear. Now what kind of gratuitous offence could earn me a one-week suspension? Threatening to kill someone? Overt racism? Denying that anyone has ever died as a result of covid-19? Nope. I merely claimed that numerous trials have proven ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are safe and effective treatments for the kind of respiratory illnesses associated with sars-cov-2. Whom exactly is this offending? I can only suspect that my interlocutor, going by the handle of Justin Time, works for the social media monitoring arm of the biotech industrial complex. They want to suppress any suggestion that the new experimental gene-therapy injections, marketed as covid-19 vaccines, do more harm than good. If alternative treatments are proven to be safe and effective, then the new injections will lose their emergency use authorisation and the whole case for authoritarian bio-security measures, with its lockdowns, mandatory masking, antisocial policing and digital health certificates, collapses.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Managing Public Opinion

The Strange Case of Twelve Islamophobic Cartoons

Over the last week the publication of a cartoon portraying the prophet Mohamed as a terrorist has dominated the Western European media sparking a phoney debate about freedom of expression from the very people who misled us about the recent invasion of Iraq. On one side we have the ultra-PC brigade preaching the virtues of tolerance and feigning sympathy with the Islamic community. On the other we have a motley crew of Guardian-reading libertarians, a few even prepared to support the publication of the offending cartoon, others just defending the theoretical right to do so. While it may be reasonably argued that propaganda and disinformation can have murderous consequences, static cartoons hardly constitute the main causes of ethno-religious intolerance. Long before the appearance of this sketch Fox News, Sky News, the BBC and CNN had through slightly more subtle means persuaded millions that we face a growing terrorist threat from Islamic extremists. The Danish cartoon, assuming its author hailed from that land, merely caricatured mainstream US and UK propaganda, daring to portray graphically what journalists had refrained from stating explicitly.

As rights cannot exist without responsibilities, freedom of expression cannot thrive without a culture of mutual respect devoid of intimidation and emotional blackmail. It is quite possible to challenge orthodoxy on any subject in a cool, calm and collected way. If we believe either moral or scientific right is on our side, then surely any position is intellectually admissible. Whether sexual orientation is genetically determined is a matter of science. Whether some sexual orientations may be deemed immoral are matters of ethics that tend to evolve gradually and belong to a set of shared values. The trouble is sometimes scientific truth can alter our ethical worldview and our moral outlook can prejudice our interpretation of science. If it could be proven that genes more common in one ethnic group were responsible for antisocial behaviour, racists could cite science to justify discrimination, while others may seize on such data to redefine antisocial behaviour.

Sadly we don't live in a hypothetical Voltairean debating society where all personal perspectives are afforded equal opportunities of expression. Never has so much psychosocial power been vested in so few media organisations, controlled inevitably by a handful of corporate and state entities. They have the power to set the agenda, swing moods and whip up fear, almost unparalleled in history. One can give a totally misleading account of a situation simply by omitting or circumventing a few key facts, e.g. journalists may discuss the Iraqi election results without considering how much, if any, control the winning candidates will have over their country's resources. Broadcasters may also suggest the culpability of a whole ethno-religious group simply by showing scenes of jubilation in the aftermath of a brutal terrorist attack. Pundits may set the limits of permissible debate by misrepresenting unacceptable views and defining them as extremist, fundamentalist, dangerous or hateful.

Thus we are faced with a false debate. Should we support the publication of undeniably offensive picture and denounce Islamic fundamentalists burning the embassies of Scandinavian countries or should we join the chorus of media pundits urging further restrictions on free speech to protect our tolerant multiracial society? British politicians and newspapers can then be portrayed as beacons of common sense and moderation by their refusal to bow to either concocted extreme.

Intellectual freedom has never been the same as abstract freedom of expression. All viable societies have some form of social etiquette. A Finn would do well to cover himself appropriately when bathing at a public pool on holiday in Egypt. Likewise an Egyptian tourist should not complain if confronted with mixed gender nudity in a Finnish sauna. When in Rome... The Danish cartoon may incite little more than a chuckle from a reader sympathetic with the official UK/US line. Most are exposed to countless hours of gore, soft porn and slapstick comedy on TV, most of which is either fallacious or deeply prejudiced. Few British teenagers have seen the offending images, but millions have been exposed to countless hours of gratuitous interactive violence and a constant diet of self-righteous pro-war propaganda. Many may believe US and UK troops represent a force for progress in the Middle East, but prefer not to reconcile their rulers' military strategy with hard economic facts. Overt expressions of hatred usually backfire. They convince nobody, but those who have already been thoroughly brainwashed through years of insidious conditioning. Suppose I wanted to spoil the reputation of a colleague. Merely engaging in childish pranks that others could easily discover would only work in a climate of contempt for the targeted person. A more rational, and dare I say, common approach would be to discretely spread rumours or set a bait for your rival to rise to, while pretending all along to be his friend.

A widespread misconception is that power elites hate specific subsets of the population, whether ethnic groups, religions, classes, genders or followers of alternative lifestyles. In truth their sole concern is the maintenance of power and the stability of the infrastructure that keeps it in place. Historically ruling classes have engendered loyalty through nationalism and religion, affording privileges to sections of the working class whose affiliation suits their medium-term needs best. While many in the armed forces may have been conditioned to believe they are fighting for God, Queen and Country, the real elite owes no allegiance to an omnipresent deity or the citizens of their land and only rely on heads of states as temporary figureheads often representing long-superseded notional entities whose emotive importance lives on in the collective psyche. The emergence of supranationalism, often called globalisation, has changed the rules. While millions of ordinary British citizens perished in the industrial revolution and conquest of new lands, they were nonetheless afforded privileged status over rival ethnicities. As the British population grew rapidly, their rulers could offer them plenty of new terrain to exploit and tap resources from the colonies. Subgroups with an incomplete allegiance to the great imperial project, such as the Irish, were often disadvantaged, but the ruling class merely exploited their subjects as vanguard forces in a long-term project of global domination.

So why should the elite care if we subscribe to traditional Islamic values or the liberal values of 1970s Western Europe? Do they mind if we worship pop idols or Mohamed or if we believe homosexuality is a positively cool genetic trait or a deviant behaviour? The truth is they don't care, but are quite happy to manipulate our strongly held views on these subjects to destabilise society and frighten us into accepting yet more control over our lives. The same forces that have consistently destabilised the Middle East to secure control of oil there, also manipulate our attitude to Islam, by promoting migration and pendantic political correctness, and simultaneously incite anti-Western feeling in much of Islamic world. The dark forces of the military-industrial complex that would dearly like to seize control of Iranian oil and gas reserves before China gets its greedy hands on too much of it must be rejoicing at scenes of enraged Middle Easterners burning the embassies of Scandinavian countries. First it deflects attention from the true centres of imperial power and second it focuses attention on a peripheral issue of purely emotional significance. Would you rather your neighbour make the odd rude joke about your lifestyle or greet you politely every day while plotting to have you evicted, made redundant and tortured?

People throughout the Islamic world have every right to boycott Western good to express their anger about Western imperialism, but why target Danish, Norwegian and French goods? Why not target US and UK banks?

This whole debacle is above all a media event. The original series of a dozen cartoons appeared in September 2005, but the story only exploded onto the international scene in January 2006. Surely some Muslims living in Denmark would have been alerted to its existence, but apparently initial reactions were muted. Just as Jack Straw can claim the moral high ground by voicing his disapproval of the cartoons, other pundits can join the chorus condemning flag-burning Islamic fundamentalists, with apparently nobody caring who controls resources in their countries. Presumably it's okay for London's Metropolitan Police to shoot dead a Brazilian electrician suspected of being an Islamic terrorist. It's fine to detain without evidence British citizens suspected of sympathising with alleged terrorists. It's also perfectly normal to spend hours every day immersed in a virtual world of gun battles. But if one breaks absurd rules of political correctness, whether defined as Islamophobia or homophobia, then one can only expect instant police action and mass demonstrations orchestrated by media barons.

Categories
All in the Mind

We Care about those who disagree

Samantha Stasy is a loyal Labour MP who genuinely cares about the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of her constituents. Every week she holds a surgery providing local electors with a forum in which to air their grievances. "I believe it is essential to stay in touch with our electors, listen carefully and help them overcome their problems or refer them to professionals who can."

Samantha: "Hello, Mrs Contrary, I've read your e-mail, taken on board all your comments and fully sympathise with your predicament."

Mary Contrary: "Let me explain my disagreements with your government and your voting record."

Samantha: "I'd love to discuss the hard decisions that we as politicians have to take and fully respect your opinions, but I think I know where you're coming from. I joined CND as a student myself back in the 1980s, attended a few SWP meetings and went on my fair share of demos. At the time I genuinely believed in the righteousness of the cause, but with help and support over the years I've begun to see the error of my ways."

Mary Contrary: "Don't you think that voting for an invasion that has caused at least 100,000 deaths and was as any rational analyst would conclude motivated by oil is one mistake too far?"

Samantha: "I must say conspiracy theories are getting wilder these days. I voted to end a brutal dictatorship and allow the Iraqi people to benefit from the democracy we take for granted."

Mary Contrary: "What about oil?"

Samantha: "This seems to be a common theme among the antiwar brigade. Yes, we hope that the Iraqi oil industry can return to its previous levels of efficiency in line with international environmental regulations, and are putting in place an economic framework in which ordinary Iraqis can benefit from resources in their own land."

Mary Contrary: "Ms Stasy. I don't need to hear this nonsense. You know all oil proceeds pay off debts that Iraq built up in the 1980s and in practice go straight into the coffers of US and Israeli multinationals with lucrative reconstruction contracts."

Samantha pauses to take notes 'Patient may suffer from mild form of antisemitism, consider holocaust awarenesss training'.

Samantha: "The mind boggles. I'll have to check out the exact facts about which contractors are responsible for the reconstruction of Iraq, but I'd compare the current situation with post-war Germany. There we had to temporarily take over some German institutions in a process of denazification, essential in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Only last week a constituent whose grandparents perished in this genocide lamented the lack of awareness in the young population today of these unspeakable crimes against humanity."

Mary Contrary: "Don't you think it's cheap to use the Nazi holocaust to justify crimes committed by your government today? We oppose all tyrannical regimes!"

Samantha: "Oh well, that's what the pacifists said in the run-up to the Second World War. Had we listened to them, we'd enjoy none of the freedoms we take for granted today and you and I might not be talking in this surgery today!".

Mary Contrary: "Look if anyone is appeasing tyranny and genocide, it's not us! It's you guys who support the Bush Junta."

Samantha: "Mary, you seem to be getting paranoid about tyranny in this country. All we want is to work closely with our international partners, NGOs and businesses to bring about a fairer more caring society. We know it's tough and there's a lot of disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate speech on the Internet. Listen there's a group that meets locally for people like yourself who suffer from paranoid delusions. A good friend of mine, Dr Hamish Thotpol, runs the group. Members are encouraged to air their grievances and take part in constructive acts of benevolence, e.g. they organised a bus to the Make Poverty History concert in conjunction with Nokia. They also offer help and support with various therapeutic solutions to make you feel better about yourself!"

Mary Contrary: "Are you suggesting anyone who disagrees with your party line is mentally ill?"

Samantha: "No not at all, just that when we feel depressed about society and paranoid about all these hidden agendas from the likes of John Pilger, we might benefit from talking with professionals who can help us refocus our minds on the things that really matter, like our families, jobs and independent life."

Mary Contrary: "Stalinist b###h!"

Samantha: "I'm terribly sorry I couldn't help you."

Ms Stasy takes a note of Samantha's contact details and calls the local mental health monitoring unit. "Hello, one of my constituents is suffering from an acute form of Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Disorder and I feel she may benefit from a visit from a community psychiatric counsellor. I've recorded our conversation and will forward all correspondence."

"Oh, PCTD. Any hint of antisemitism" asked the friendly helpdesk assistant.

"She did mention Israel in a negative light" the Member of Parliament warned.

"Sounds ominous. And what about oil?" enquired the youthful psychiatric services support consultant, readjusting her headset in a Delhi-based call centre.

"Yes, she seems obsessed with the subject!" remarked Ms Stasy.

The call centre operator confidently uttered her well-rehearsed line "Thank you for passing on this information, Ms Stasy, we'll see what we can do to help."