The First Amendment Vs the US Ministry of Truth

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The Final of the Four Part Ministry of Truth Series

“America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success.”

Sigmund Freud

“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale! And I won’t have it! Is that clear?! You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal? That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations, there are no peoples, there are no Russians, there are no Arabs, there are no third worlds, there is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and sub-atomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature! And you will atone. Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little 21 screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state. Karl Marx?  They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.”

Media mogul Arthur Jensen preaching to the hopelessly naïve news anchor Howard Beale in the extraordinary film “Network”.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First amendment to the Constitution of the United States (of America)

Well, there you have it. The final instalment in the ministry of truth series ought to be a short one. Apparently, the United States has this very important legal clause guaranteeing (media inclusive) free speech. Indeed, it’s of first importance, backed up by a 9th which reads…

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

That is to say, a document signed 233 years ago anticipates the unknown and myriad threats such as might arise in the digital age.

In lieu of changing the constitution, the question for the antagonist is how to overcome these and other amendments and bring the American experiment to an illiberal end. Questions for the erstwhile “free” citizen include a) have the antagonists already succeeded? If so, b) how did they do it? Thirdly, c) how can a seeker of truth know alternate media is any better or freer? Herein I assume an answer to the first, suggesting they did indeed pull off the crime, mostly in broad daylight under the nose and hubris of those reifying the first amendment as inviolate. I’ll offer only aspects of an answer to how they did it. Some of my answers are speculative and conceptual. Most I plant on firmer soil. Both come from the perspective what I would do if I were the villain against free speech when free speech gets in the way. Unless otherwise identified, I’ll call the villain “they” and “them”. They are real.

Private Property

One way free speech was stolen was by turning liberalism back upon itself. In the United States there are public parks and squares where no prerogative of a given citizen supervenes over the collective liberal will. Notionally, a subject of the US can go into a national park or the public square. There they can say whatever they want, to whomever will join them. Short of inciting violence, the first amendment remains the rules of the house.

But what of private property? Persons themselves can be prohibited from entering a private residence without the owner being compelled to provide reason. If an individual is excluded, so is their tongue and what it might say to the owner and invited guests. Ergo, free speech is not absolute, a man’s home is his libertarian castle, and the private property value of the owner’s prerogative exceeds the free speech of the individual. The only thing not permitted at home are crimes.  Free speech is not a crime. It is seen as a liberal virtue.

But what of businesses, these being private properties on one hand, albeit serving a public good on the other. From this the horns of a dilemma materialize. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits businesses from excluding people on the basis of race, colour, religion or national origin. Yet these businesses remain private property and invited guests (i.e. customers) don’t have carte blanche freedom of speech about these and other politicized themes. Depending on their biases, privately owned businesses can even exclude patrons wearing MAGA caps and similar “merch” of capitalized populist politics. Likewise, the anti-Trump trumpet can’t simply drop a soapbox and advertise in privately owned red strongholds. Customers cannot exploit the civil rights act, using the business as a public forum to broadcast views discordant with that of the owner. Whilst the business might be skating on thin ice if they exclude the drag queen, this does not allow her/him/it/they/zem to just enter a bookstore and start reading to the kids.

The Masterpiece Bakery vs Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a case in point. The conservative Christian owner refused bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. As the argument goes, this would have been a speech act (the message on the cake) or a performative act (contextually bound baking) endorsing gay marriage, in both cases a forced violation of the first amendment. The bakers case went back and forth and all the way to the Supreme court. Eventually freedom of speech won the day. But this is a negative freedom. It is the freedom of the baker not to say that which s/he does not wish to say, even if compensated the price of a cake. They own the private property that is their tongue, hand, business, and raw materials into which they will place their labor. Both the gay couple and the baker alike can alight to the public square and state their respective case, this a place too where the first amendment is upheld.  

So far so good. But that’s the real world and we are speaking about the world wide web. Let us imagine the metaphor of the map and the territory (Baudrillard is present the mood in which I write this piece, though he was not the first to play with he analogy). The territory can be publicly owned whilst the map in your hand is your private property. What if the map replaces the territory, a map laid out as a giant blanket over all the world, or at least the world that is the United States in the online age. What if the predatory hyper-capitalist and the state both collude to game the system and dominate the market with privately owned online platforms mimicking the public squares of old – the digital becoming the new public square upon which you stand and place your digital soapbox? Now the map is the territory. You don’t own it. You can’t own it. Where once we lived under clouds no one owned, now we live in a “cloud” none of us own and all of us rent. Now the defender of liberty is stuck on the horns of another dilemma. On one horn is free speech. On the other the rights of an elite class of the property owners who own it all and want only their agenda heard. You don’t own Facebook/meta, Twitter/X, google, apple OS etc. You are guests on private property abiding by opaque “terms and conditions” and subject to arbitrary decisions of the owner class. When you or your media outlet are censored or cancelled you remain at liberty to go back out into Yosemite and cry from the mountain top. So what? No one is there with you under the higher clouds of the older Gods. A dissident screams in the non digital forest. No one is there to hear him. He does not make a sound. This is obvious.  

Divide and Conquer

Now the reflex answer from the mouth of American naivete is to say the free-market always allows for the creation of competitor free speech platforms. From demand what will emerge is supply within the assumed “level playing field” reestablishing liberal principle. Everyone’s free speech story can have a happy ending. Not so fast. Free markets do not run within a space occupied by political principle as if aspiration was a category of the real in the world. Aspiration is a category in your mind. The market operates within a world of cartels and class interests. The top owns the knowledge that keeps it running at the top and from which it can convert a win to another win. And at the bottom are consumers, moves made with consumer psychology in mind and knowledge that is regulated. Rest on your common sense intuitions. You know the statement “well just start your own twitter” is a level of optimistic delusion borne not from clear thinking. Its only when you realize that you are powerless that you can ever be motivated to acquire real power.  

Besides, by and large, consumers are exceedingly lazy. They seek novelty within the familiar, the reliable and the accessible. The game for the machine is not to close off all channels, including tickles and tokens keeping faith in free speech alive. Rather the game is to create just enough obstruction to capture the mass and hold the balance of influence. Here I provide one example of the dozens techniques available to the tech oligarchs.

In the wake of stolen/lost election and the so-called capital riots or insurrection (or invitations), twitter decided Trumps free speech was too hot to handle. Circa 8th January 2021 his account was suspended. Trump was by far and away the largest influencer taken down. That said, early 2021 was peak purge season on twitter and elsewhere. Twitter’s bar was set far lower than cancelling those who incite violence and hate (though hate itself is not an objective act of violence and poorly understood in the abstract). At least 70,000 accounts were nuked from twitter. Most were not literal Nazi’s or florid antisemites or the other usual suspects. Many have never been reinstated until the agit prop conveniences of the likes of philo-semite Tommy Robinson before UK armistice day 2023 and the absurdity of Alex Jones a month later.

In the wake of Trumps twitter ban, information consumers immediately surge into Parler, and less so Gab. At the time Parler was owned by its founders Aleksei Likhachev and Evgingy Marchenko. This was no game of 4D chess. Twitter was not working with the Russians. Neither has Trump been shown to be Putin’s guy. The move was semi-stochastic. Parler was simply the best of the twitter alternatives and any port in a storm. So, people moved to Parler. Some made the exodus as an insurance policy and some out of political principle.   

Alas and predictably, circa 11th January 2021 apple, google and amazon nuke Parler, the day before Twitter converts Trumps suspension to a permanent ban (though the only thing permanent is uncertainty). For weeks at least, consumers had nowhere to go. Divided between Parler and Gab, those who made their exodus to Parler were once bitten twice shy. Instead of looking for another port in the storm they simply lost energy and fell away. Not to be deterred, 21st February Trump launches Truth social. Truth social faced sabotage from app platforms from the first, yet somehow managed to stay aloft.

19th April Parler was reinstated on the apple app platform, yet not until September 2022 on google play. These months are eons in the attention span of consumers of digital media content. In any case, Parler would never be the same. Later acquired by the tragically self-defeating personality that is Kanye West, it flounders still. Consumers didn’t figure Parler was worth the risk. The choice was stay on a castrated Twitter, tiny gab, the incomparably worse telegram or nothing.

Not until way down 27th October 2022 did Musk acquire Twitter. 19th November 2022 Musk soon reinstates Trumps Twitter account. Whatever your take on the orange man, he has a higher IQ than the average consumer. Moreover, Trump has more than consumer convenience at stake. Trump knows that to return to Twitter is to place himself in a position of valuing it and Musk’s hospitality. His character risks terminal loss of face should he be rebuffed, and his account suspended again. Such an event would signal him to be beta to Musk’s alpha. And he cannot afford to play a game gamed by Musk’s ego and Musk’s erratic whim. To date Trump has only tweeted once since the door has been opened him. His political sensibilities detect a simple reality. Free speech has not been restored at Twitter HQ.    

More on Musk and Twitter later. The real lesson to be learned here is a strategy as old as warfare itself. Divide and conquer and take the enemy on a journey of attrition. Peak Trump had approx. 88 million followers on twitter, only eclipsed in political terms by Obama and Modi. With 1.5 billion Indians, Modi should be no surprise. Pound for pound in the world of western influencers, Trump still comes out on top. The 88-million-dollar question is this. Whether friend or foe, how many followed Trump across to truth social? In 2021 the numbers never exceeded approx. 5 million, to this day not much higher. That’s approx. a 95% drop off in notional followers, many of whom never really engage with truth social anyway! That’s the lesson for all influencers. Whether left or right, politician, celebrity, or minor vlogger. It makes no difference. The fans and masses will not follow you, especially to clunkier less convenient sites and services also at risk of being taken out of the game.

That’s what addiction is as consumerist behaviour, and what freedom is also in statistical terms. Not the abolition of free will in a hijacked brain. Nor is it the brute withdrawal of choices available. It’s a statistical reality of what most people will do. The masses are there for the drama of the colosseum more than any given gladiator playing about in a field far away. 

Law vs Law. Aspiration vs Reality. Abstraction vs Decision.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The mere pursuit of free speech too? Trump and his class have colossal social cache and can hire an army of lawyers. The Colorado homophobic bakers were fortunate to obtain backing. And besides, their case was not an analogue for online free speech. What of small dissident influencers and alt media outlets and their pursuit of free speech? Your high school civics teacher will say you have free speech under an egalitarian rule of law. But what if big tech deplatforms you? Law is nothing but ink on a page. How will you pursue rights that are only notionally guaranteed? The question is the conditionality under which your potential rights can be made concrete in the world when power decides against it. Do you have the millions in capital and an army of lawyers? Will you risk all the capital you have against Facebook/meta and Twitter/X or other platforms? You probably cannot even buy a seat at the table to purchase the opportunity for a counter decision by a supreme court judge. You can represent yourself. Then take stock of your resources. Likely you lack the vexatious personality and drive to finish your workday as a mortgage slave and stay up until midnight for years toiling over the paperwork to defend the rights you think you possess as birthright. Unless and until an American takes a case to the supreme court and wins a concrete outcome, the American has no rights. The American possesses only customs and the graces given from on high. The American only possesses the right to pursue rights, this being an idea and an opportunity no more real than a pursuit of happiness or wealth. But an opportunity is not reality, or at least only a conditional reality. People mistake the idea of freedom with the reality of unfreedom. This is double think American style. Surely this is obvious? 

We are Processing Your First Amendment

If big tech appl platforms, video compilers and the like cancel you, you can of course apply for re-instatement. You can even ground your complaint on the first amendment. Eventually – maybe — someday– the platforms may allow you back – or not. If not, the explanation may be a “violation of terms of conditions” without any explanatory content. If you are reinstated, they can claim they were simply processing a complaint against you or made temporary moves in line with terms and conditions you appeared to violate. In so doing, the tech monster maintains the appearance of respecting free speech whilst being the victim of their own unfortunate bureaucracy. What is your response to this when the punishment is the process and the road to your own reactionary self-censorship? You can make the Gladstonian claim that justice delayed is justice denied. Yet this denial has hardly yet found its remedy in the US criminal justice system, itself content with the reality that the process is the punishment. Why would anyone expect a faster justice in the tech world re your media vlog when many rot in literally brutal prisons doing serious time with cases unheard. Tech giants know they can leave you adrift in the process and you’ll probably give up, which you probably will. Meanwhile those who once consumed your information have left you, most not to return. The news cycle has ticked over and whatever influence you might have had at a moment in history is forever lost. The enemy consolidates, rinses and repeats.

I experienced something adjacent to this with my gmail (google email) account. One day I ceased receiving emails. Assuming the memory to be maxxed out I emptied the bin, deleted spam, deleted past emails with large files attached. No success. I searched online for answers, deleting, and reloading the app. No success. You name it I did it. How to get the email account repaired? In vain I searched for someone to speak with, only running around in circles from prefabricated troubleshooting sites and AI bots determined not to direct me to a human. One day I called up google themselves in Silicon Valley, managing to connect only with a number for the human resources department. After explaining my situation, the HR officer (who sounded like a biological human) informed me this was a technical matter. Can I be transferred to their technical department I politely asked? No was the answer, with an equally polite apology. Can I have their number and contact them myself? No was the reply again, polite a second time round. Can HR leave a message for technical to contact me? No once again. They were not permitted to do that. What followed was a brief pause as my mind struggled come up with a clever way round the obstacle. With none found, we mutually acknowledged I had come to the end of the line. Though google is everywhere, the humanity is nowhere. I would not come closer to a human being human than an HR officer herself reduced to a minimally functioning program in technique. I wondered if there was a glimmer of human insight in her that she was becoming an Ellulian machine. After all, a human would have detected the absurdity of the situation and offered some remedy. Or in lieu if a remedy at least some empathy. Even the telltale signs of an office sociopath delighting in thwarting me would have been better than the void of what she was programmed to be and to say. In the finality of that Kafkaesque moment my gmail account was pronounced dead. No one’s fault. No hard feelings. Same with online free speech. It not that the robot has denied you a platform and free speech. It’s not even that it is governed by the “ideology” of a human enemy the simulacrum of which was fired and fired several recruitment cycles ago. It’s that the machine cannot compute concepts it is not programmed to appreciate.  The problem is that when we go full AI Siri, we won’t really notice the difference.     

The American Empire

Another way of controlling US online free speech I’ve already hinted at in the pieces on the Australian (ACMA), UK (OfCom) and EU (Brussels) censorship apparatus. Given large platforms are global, these other regions can simply disallow large platform fragmentation and compel the US platforms play by Aus/UK/EU rules to limit free speech. From control and subversion of private property as a weapon against liberty, here the EU censors seek to capitalize on capitalism itself. For a privatized internet, the EU can make an offer to US tech giants. They can threaten the US must bend to Aus/UK/EU compliance as the cost of doing business. No greedy tech baron is going to give up a combined market of over a half a billion information consumers. So they will obey, even if behind the scenes. Here is the question. Are large US based tech platforms the potential victims of foreign rules, e.g. the legislation of the EU digital services act? Or is the US empire the architect of these alleged foreign rules, using foreign influence to kill off free speech both abroad and on US soil. Put another way, it is not the US vs the EU/UK/Aus bloc. It is the US vs its own citizens using foreign legislation as weapons against free speech. Tech giants can puff out their chest and feign unhappiness on the first amendments behalf. It’s all performative. If they pretend to put up a fight, the people will consume the information from a place of false sincerity.  

WrestleMania and America

That brings us to another mechanism, the reality perception machine and the trust people place in media. Consider these two reflections.

Baudrillard gave us the analogy of the map overcoming the territory. Similarly, he provides a masterful formulation on the (unintended?) purpose of California’s Disneyland. The philosopher too postmodern to be postmodern remarks that the fakery that is Disneyland is designed to distract the average Californian. It is designed to distract from the fact that California itself isn’t real. It too is inhabited by costumed characters of inauthentic identities and false affectations. The question is this; when the real becomes so unreal that the boundary between inside and outside Disneyland becomes blurred, how can you know where you are? How do you even touch ground with the source of a genuine authenticity of prior realities when you lose access to it? You have lost access even to the conceptual ground of authenticity. Even your history is manufactured into a chosen field of competing narratives. Same with online media/current affairs/news.

As a young child I watched WrestleMania, convinced the fights were real and the heroes and heels truly were who they were dressed up to be. I cannot recall precisely what age it dawned on me the whole thing was a show (maybe 7?). But all the same the dawning came, just as it had re Santa Claus a few years before. Sorry to disappoint, but WrestleMania is a show. It is, for American adults, a self-conscious Disneyland of make believe. Donald Trump himself has featured in WrestleMania playing the character Donald Trump. But Trump has been described as a “reality” TV star. Same with Zelensky the vulgar comedian. He played a president in a TV show. And then he was elected to play president in a different show called reality. But in what sense is it reality? It’s unclear even if the production team changed.

Question is this. When one looks at American media content, how does the adult know it’s not as fake as and predetermined as the antics of Hulk Hogan and Andre the giant? WrestleMania too had its fair share of real injuries and almost real fights. It had its real grudges. Nonetheless it’s still a spectacle, a performance. Is the US online media landscape simply layers of spectacle all the way down? How would you know where the show ends and the truth begins? Was the one-time stand-up comedian Alex Jones any more real and sincere in his rants than Zelensky the comedian, much less the fawning Oscar winners who attend Zelensky’s court? Are you seeing realities or characters? Are they even aware they are playing a part? Alex Jones was once a comedian. Did the comedy act end when Jones the “truther” began? Theres even a conspiracy theory out there that suggests Jones the truther who was once a comedian was another comedian Bill Hicks pretending to be Jones. Truth and conspiracy aside, I have no idea. What I do know is that Americans are entertained by Jones. And an entertained American is a politically inactive American. To compound the absurdity, they are talking about the wrestler Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson one day making a run for president.

Back to Twitter

Once upon a time the CIA conducted “operation mockingbird”, the mission of which was deep state infiltration into media. And later the world’s largest social media platform was represented by a pretty little blue bird (melanotis caerulescens ?) and its oft mocking tweets. Coincidence theory aside, no one can deny that Twitter has loosened up since Musk’s acquisition. That said, his far from libertarian aspirations are hardly shadowed in conspiracy. It’s one app to rule them all, one app to find them. One app to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Apart from Musk’s on record support for centralization of carbon consumption, digital currency and his transhumanist agenda, Musk is also on record wanting Twitter to be the everything app. The everything app is a platform which integrates news media, social media (and social credit), banking and consumption. In combination with the location monitoring of the cyborg that is you and your device (plus/minus a smart vehicle) we have the building blocks of a functioning surveillance and social credit system. The perfect trap for a villain would be to champion free speech and talk up a good game against the excesses of woke (whatever woke is) and the trans hysteria. Hurray they all say as everyone all pours back into Twitter. But did anybody cast a jaundice eye on Musk’s May 11th 2023 appointment of establishment furniture piece Linda Yaccarino? Or why is it that some Twitterati can post completely opposing content, with the politically incorrect being shadow banned. Under Musk’s watch, one account named by OGRolandRat tweeted in quick succession the posts “Russia is winning” and “Ukraine is winning”. The experiment was replicated at least 3 times. On each occasion the ratio of people who could see the posts differed by a factor of at least 2.5 times, favouring the pro Ukraine side of the propaganda war. The same influencer later posted a similar comment post events Oct 7th 2023. I caught this experiment in real time, able to see the pro Zion message yet not the other. It was somewhere in the aether. In the end, even Musk donned the kippah. Don’t blame Musk too much for to little genuine independence. Surely you realised the subsidized EV car industry doesn’t get on the road without heavy state involvement and you paying twice. Same with starlink. Only players thoroughly in bed with the deep state get to throw 5000 half tonne hunks of surveillance 350 miles into the heavens. Quid pro quo!

My own experience with Twitter is biphasic. Pre Musk I had very little activity on an extremely small profile without much activity. Still, real verifiable humans sought me out and followed me. None were bots or spam. Post Musk, I experimented with an identified account and more activity over a longer time period. Every day a few onlyfans girls and bots follow me. Rarely a human. Is the lesson to try harder and become a hardcore influencer? Or perhaps it’s to close the experiment seeing twitter for what it is, a trap. Regardless Musk’s possible sincerity in some domains, the better realisation is that even the best social media is not real. As I stated in my pinned article “Talkin about a Revolution”, a million followers retweeting a million times cannot in and of itself alter a single event in the real world. Unless social media is deliberately connected to exciting concrete acts in the real world, then all social media is a trap. In engineering there is the concept of efficiency, wherein energy input is translated into useful energy output with minimal waste in heat etc. Twitter as an engine approaches solar level temperatures whilst creating glacial level movement in the real world. Potential revolutionary dissidents are reduced to whining children crying home to Musk if chunks of followers mysteriously vanish. It’s all very lame. One is left with the impression if twitter existed in times of Lenin or Marat that no revolutions would have gotten off the ground. But Lenin would have sure put out a mean tweet. 

Old School Control

Where bread and circuses fail, old fashioned censorship and control will succeed. Follow the copied link for the House of Representatives expose on the so called “Election Integrity Partnership” (EIP).

In essence, the EIP operated as and with a salad of other acronyms and agencies including its own Stanford University, the Dept of Homeland Security and State Department. Its mission was to control media and online discourse around the interpretation of the integrity of the 2016 that happened and the 2020 election that was upcoming. The target was misinformation, the real object of protection not being republican or democrat specific agenda so much as protection of the establishment machine as a whole, toe make the consumer believe they lived under democratic rule. As the executive summary states:

“The pseudoscience of disinformation is now—and has always been—nothing more than a political ruse most frequently targeted at communities and individuals holding views contrary to the prevailing narratives”

With recommendations 

“how the social media platforms should censor the posts, such as reducing the posts’ “discoverability,” “suspending [an account’s] ability to continue tweeting for 12 hours,” “monitoring if any of the tagged influencer accounts retweet” a particular user, and, of course, removing thousands of Americans’ posts.”

I refer the reader to the full linked document for detail. For here I’ll make just a few observations. Firstly, to censor you the state must know you. The state and its various organs of censorship have carefully collated a profile of you and your online political activity. From this it can know where you post from and when, your daily patterns and predictable responses based on the speed of your reaction and its emotional content. It knows if you respond to humour, data or both and how you like to represent your own persona to the world. It knows yours positions and confidence in commenting on themes ranging from economy, China, Russia, Israel, Islam, Christianity, war, sexuality, climate, immigration and so much more. It is getting to know you so that it can game against you in future. Expect its power to manipulate and seduce you to grow. Secondly, we have all heard the old trope that conspiracy cannot be real as too many people would need be involved. Inclusive of all connected to the centre of the wheel, a huge number of people were involved in the operation of the EIP and its symbiotic affiliates. And yet all are real. Thirdly, one may look at the list of alleged heroes censored by the EIP, names like Trump and some alt media players. Amongst consumers of dissident material, let’s at least be open to the idea the placement of these name is deliberate and their tongues thoroughly contained in the window of discourse (i.e. controlled opposition). Amongst a list including (inter alia) Babylon Bee and member of the Daily Wire, do we see the authentic far left and right? Obviously not. Finally, whatever intelligence was obtained and systems in place could be easily repurposed towards the establishments narrative around covid. That’s when the censorship really kicked into overdrive, about which much has already been said. The danger here lay in the sense to which covid too could be considered a preview.

Is There Room For Optimism?

Not really. But I’ll try manage something. Though the first amendment may be in peril, the so-called mainstream media is dying faster. And most news media is now consumed via very large online platforms rather than direct company to consumer websites. Gallup Knight tracked the beginning of the fall of MSM in 2017. By 2020 we had the inflection point where more people mistrusted media than trusted it. By 2022, 76% have wised up that America is essentially a business with an army and propaganda machine. In the same poll, half of news consumers believe the MSM not just gets it wrong, but intentionally misleads. In a separate study, half of all content creators in 2020 began their career that same year. In a sense then, the game has only now commenced in the post covid world. Now I’ll grant that many content creators are not engaged in the political and culture wars, much less alt media. Nonetheless it’s amazing the breadth of domains that influencers will influence.


Apart from the obvious plea to never ever think the mainstream media can be reformed, what ought the information consumer look for? The first criterion is as much as possible look for the funding sources of your favourite alt media personality or outlet. Being new and edgy does not equate with being trustworthy. Are they simply the establishment under another name and has their rise been too sudden and too easy? The second point perhaps more important than the first is to ask the following -What did they do and not do, say and not say in the first 18 months of the pandemic? Theis is the key criterion. Any siding with the establishment or eagerness to bend the knee in 2020 through 2021 suggests the information provider lacks the intellectual and moral acumen to inform you on the next big thing. And any outlet who appears to have woken up yet appears over conciliatory towards the establishment is too suspect to risk your time and your trust. Similarly know the lessons of history. Judas was not a one off. Many ostensive friends of truth are just 30 pieces of silver away from compromise. It does not pay to be a fan boy of a person, as opposed to a savvy consumer with trust always conditional subject to change.

Listen too to what the “opposition” is saying. If you are a supposed conservative critical of hyper capital you will likely get more truth on corporate greed from those far left sites providing they are fact focused. Similarly other points on the political and cultural spectrum need look for nuggets in unexpected places.

Know also what a VPN is. It is best that you engage sometimes with the low tech side of things such a blogs, substack, email newsletters and circulars. If the large platforms take you on the hard nudge, low tech networks will be hard to control. Similarly, you must be agile and prepared follow those whom you trust from twitter or YouTube to telegram and rumble, if not to new platforms or offline altogether. On a related point, try not to be a stranger to your information provider. It is often possible to know and trust someone who knows and trusts another who contributes content. And that individual can in turn know and trust the management to control their content creators and providers. Ultimately there is no greater way to know what is going on in Donbass or Gaza, Milano or Melbourne than knowing and trusting someone on the ground. And if you cannot know them directly then know them via low number degrees of separation from consumer to news provider. And finally, get offline and plant a real relationship with a real human being and a real world. Plant a real vegetable in real soil. Returning to Freud’s warning on America. Where America the experiment might fail, you and yours might succeed. Maybe out there in that frontier of possibility the real America is waiting to be found.  

This article was first published on Robert’s Substack, Robert Against The Machine.

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  • Robert Brennan

    Robert Brennan lectured in anatomy and several other biomedical sciences before medical school and a career as a public sector medical officer in psychiatry. Recognising from the start that government pandemic health policy was motivated more by power, profit and political peer pressure than science, ethics or reality he became an anti lockdown activist from April 2020, the first Queensland medical practitioner to publicly speak out and the second in Australia to be suspended by the regulator for thought/speech crime. Robert has spoken widely at rallies and in the independent media space. Today you can find him on TNT radio live and substack and with the organisation Australian Medical Network or AMN (previously known as Covid Medical Network or CMN, Australia's first, latest, hardest hit and hardest hitting dissident doctor network in the covid era).

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