It’s been a century since Edward Bernays wrote his seminal “Propaganda,” unveiling a PR industry that had previously operated only behind the scenes and triggering its growth into an industrial behemoth that now reaches the far corners of the earth. Wars are fought on the level of “hearts and minds” as much as bombs and guns, and huge swathes of the population won’t make a move unless they believe it’s approved by Public Opinion. In the past few decades, technology has allowed PR to consolidate its hold on the human mind in a way that was not previously possible. The end goal is to divorce us from everything that makes us human, methodically alienating us from nature, from self-sufficiency, from community, family, and finally from self, creating hollowed-out automata eager to receive their marching orders. Far from the days in which advertising was a resented intrusion, we now line up overnight to receive our personal propaganda-delivery devices, and for too many of us, received propaganda has supplanted the development of the individual.

Where is this headed, and can it be stopped?

(This was recorded on 19 January, a week before the Coronavirus Epidemic™ was announced, striking terror into the obedient hearts of everyone who consumes their daily propaganda rations with their morning coffee. Now that the WHO has declared an emergency, those pulling the strings are imposing the same controls on our physical movement as they have on our thoughts. What's next? Read the scenario "LockStep" in this report, but spoiler alert: if you thought we lived in a police state now...)

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Wikipedia represents the vanguard of the new propaganda model. An astroturfed "people's encyclopedia" that is treated with reverence as a nearly-infallible Fountain of Truth even as it is said to emanate from the fingertips of so many ordinary people, its reputation as the place to find any morsel of information the reader desires has made it the fifth-most popular website on earth. 

Wikipedia deliberately fosters the image of the sad-sack editor who despite an unappealing exterior possesses a heart of gold, a desire to share his or her (on Wikipedia, it's almost always "his," but the site is almost comically desperate to draw more women and thus ride the wave of Gender Politics) esoteric knowledge on whatever subject with the benighted populace. But the site’s hard core of full-time editors are not sweaty-palmed hobbyists, unemployed geniuses, or any of the other stereotypes perpetuated by media profiles of Wikipedians. The “people’s encyclopedia” is lousy with PR flacks, intelligence agents, and other professional disinformation merchants. Whether they’re working for multinational corporations or government agencies, the site’s most prolific editors are working to bring Wikipedia’s millions of articles into line with their particular agenda. They can be found memory-holing Monsanto scandals, inventing justifications for massacres of Palestinian civilians by Israel, and sliming anti-war politicians in the US and UK alike as apologists for the Syrian government.

The Wiki-propagandists are not held to the limits of truth - Wikipedia does not pretend to aspire to higher ideals like truth, instead settling for the lower bar of “verifiability.” This merely means if a “reliable source” says something, it can be included in a Wikipedia article. It is child’s play for the CIA, Merck, or Qorvis to have an article published in a reputable outlet; even easier for a Wikipedia editor in their employ to extract the relevant facts from the article and slip them into Wikipedia, where they immediately take on the sheen of established fact. Lazy journalists cement the new facts in reality when they scan Wikipedia articles for background in their work; this process is so common it has a name - citogenesis - and can play havoc with its victims. 

Indeed, there are as many ways to smear someone on Wikipedia as there are smears. Beyond merely inventing facts, editors can delete positive information, add negative information, exaggerate, minimize, even add quotes about a person or company from a third party as long as they present the commentator as a relevant expert. More and more often, editors are subjecting sources themselves to this process, banning the sources of “wrongthink” from the encyclopedia while throwing the door wide open to journalists who play the game.

As Dirk Pohlmann and Markus Fiedler of Wikihausen have discovered in their exhaustive research on the German Wikipedia, this problem is not limited to the English language site. Wikipedia has built a scarily effective global propaganda organ, to be controlled by the highest bidders. The site has tentacles in nearly 300 languages, and its parent entity the Wikimedia Foundation has insinuated itself into some of the foundational structures of the internet itself. Artificial intelligence “voice assistants” like Amazon Alexa and Google Home often spout Wikipedia entries in response to users’ queries; condensed Wikipedia entries called Wikidata are used to program other AIs; Wikipedia discussion sections have been used to create “anti-hate” algorithms that censor-happy groups like the ADL hope to use to police speech on the web; and the Foundation was involved in drafting World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract for the Web, a set of rules laying out a roadmap toward “fixing” the internet itself.

A better tool for influencing the minds of hundreds of millions of people would be hard to find. Unfortunately, this would-be Oracle of Delphi is more of a pit of Hades, where knowledge goes to die.

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If you had the opportunity to interview a whistleblower from one of the world's most powerful companies after he'd leaked nearly 1,000 pages of internal company documents revealing the company is not only manipulating US politics, but working hard to alter the very fabric of society and mold humanity in its preferred image, surely you would take it. We all would. Unless that whistleblower is Zach Vorhies, whom the Daily Beast - which the media has apparently declared the arbiter of who can and cannot be taken seriously - smeared in a comprehensive hit-job, cobbling together out-of-context tweets to portray the eight-year Google vet as an unhinged conspiracy theorist talking to himself and smearing (rhetorical) feces on the walls. Somehow, the media was convinced of the reality of this portrayal - even many of the outlets that had gleefully reported on Vorhies' leaks when the first tranche was dumped anonymously via conservative muckraking outlet Project Veritas chose to pass on an interview. Perhaps there was a threat from Google behind their reluctance, and the Beast smear was only a cover. Regardless, society can't pick and choose its whistleblowers. A software engineer who worked at Google for eight years is going to have a lot of interesting things to say about what goes on at that company, and we would be fools not to listen. Besides - as Vorhies himself said - his supposedly "fringe" views are held by many more people than the media would like us to believe, and we'd be wise to consult before dismissing them as unhinged tinfoil hattery.

I interviewed Vorhies for Progressive Radio Network, because Google already blacklists my site, so I haven't got far to fall. Google is not a search company, not an email company, not even an ad sales company. It is a surveillance and social engineering project. No one knows that better than the people who work there. Reading the internal documents a massive behavioral-control matrix starts to take shape, complete with "nudges" in the proper direction and Orwellian linguistic gymnastics ("machine learning fairness," "badness vector") to frame this social control scheme as a bloodless, AI-directed utopia. We must never forget that there are people who program the algorithms we've entrusted with our data, and those people do not work for us. Google's origins are intertwined with the CIA and DARPA. Google is Big Brother.

(this interview originally aired on Gary Null's Progressive Commentary Hour on August 27)

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I was interviewed recently by Dack Rouleau about the decline of the American empire. We discuss the tyranny of low expectations, the war machine's mass production of ersatz patriotism, universities as adult daycare, the democracy prevention industry, journalistic integrity through adversity, the #Resistance's destruction of the actual Left, and the need for solidarity against the technocratic police state. 

How do you confront an enemy whose name you cannot speak? I spoke with Adam Green of Know More News about the Zionist influence in American politics and culture and the increasingly strict prohibitions on calling out the crimes of Israel and its agents in the US. With so much of the population cowed, quivering in fear of being denounced as an antisemite under the false redefinition of the word equating Zionists to Jews, Zio-fascists are cheerily dismantling the remnants of American society, slurping up $10 million per day of US tax dollars to fund their war machine as Americans struggle to make ends meet. What Israel is doing to the Palestinians it will eventually do to Americans - already US cops travel to Israel for training to learn how to destroy the will of an inconvenient native population. The sooner Americans understand the destructive nature of Zionism - including its habit of using ordinary Jews as a human shield for its malevolent activities, the better to smear its critics as antisemites - the sooner they can regain control of their country.

Most Americans understand that their vote in a presidential election matters very little. However, the ruling class that actually picks who occupies the Oval Office on any given year is telegraphing their intentions through that selection. Ignore the policy platforms and campaign promises - the candidates rarely even intend to follow through on any of those, and the few they do attempt to implement are usually shot down by a bought and paid for Congress. But the personal idiosyncrasies - the "interstitial spaces," unnamed actions one can usually only discern meeting the candidates in person - tell a lot about what kind of figurehead they will be. Obama's promises of hope & change meant nothing - but his fake-sounding voice revealed he would govern as a ruling class puppet without an authentic bone in his body. Trump's pledges to end the wars have come to naught, but his blustering bloviation suggested he would wipe the lipstick off the Empire's pig, leaving the ruling class shrieking obscenities at him for daring to ruin their illusion. Who's next?

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It's time to sit the United States down for a family meeting. You've seen the type - friends and family lure their unsuspecting loved one into a room and unload their worries and fears upon the person all at once in the hope of guilting them into "seeking help" via emotional "shock and awe," whether for an addiction, an eating disorder, or any other destructive behavior that has progressed beyond hurting the person to hurting their loved ones. It's long past time for an American Intervention. The US is the geopolitical equivalent of the rock-bottom alcoholic on a rip-roaring binge that has destroyed its community (the world), disappointed its family (its allies), and allowed itself to be turned out and exploited by the local pimp (Israel) in exchange for...what exactly? the strip-mining of Americans' civil rights? This is mass psychogenic illness.

Dear America, it's Time for an Intervention

Waking Up from the American Nightmare, with guest the Last American Vagabond

Patriotic Americans are at something of an impasse, wanting to support their country and everything it stands for but no longer sure what, exactly, it does stand for. Their confusion is understandable - there's nothing wrong with patriotism, but it's impossible to defend a country's principles when its only principle is that it will abandon all principles in pursuit of material reward.

As its economic fortunes began to decline in the latter half of the 20th century, the US government threw its considerable weight behind keeping up appearances, prioritizing maintaining the facade of a prosperous nation ahead of fixing the problems keeping prosperity at bay. Disciples of Milton Friedman’s neoliberal economics convinced the government that their only hope was to keep cutting taxes on the rich and hope they would eventually trickle a little down on everyone else. Admitting that this system had failed would betray weakness that would surely be leveraged into a full-fledged communist takeover. As a result, Americans have become shockingly adept at lying to themselves, and even the Trump era’s trendy antipatriots are defiantly setting off their fireworks, convinced that everything will be just fine once they get rid of that nasty old president. But the US' decline has been a long time coming, and truly Making America Great Again requires dismantling the Potemkin village erected to hide the rot. 

[from 'Denial is America's National Pastime,' written for Independence Day 2019]

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