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The US and EU Have Lost the Information War
on the forced demise of RT America
(more detailed analysis to come later, but things are moving very quickly right now so I need to get this out before it becomes outdated yet again)
The western world has declared war on Russian state media, going so far as to wipe RT America off the air and even target individual social media users who share its material. The importance of this move is difficult to understate. It is a tacit admission by the West that we cannot compete with Russia in the marketplace of ideas, an acknowledgement of not only our intellectual bankruptcy as a nation but also our moral and spiritual bankruptcy on the geopolitical stage with regard to this conflict (which, let’s face it, is wholly of NATO and the US’ own devising - when you make a promise not to gobble up half a continent and then not only break that promise but position your nuclear missiles within sneezing range of your treaty partner, you are to blame for what happens when they get sick of being bullied).
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced last weekend that the continental alliance was “developing tools to ban [Russia's] toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe,” proclaiming that no longer would RT and Sputnik “be able to spread their lies to justify Putin's war and to sow division in our union.'“ Since then, social media has piled on to the point that Twitter bots with Ukrainian flags in their profiles are running around reporting anyone who may once have written an article for RT or Sputnik, whipping up a jingoistic frenzy not seen since the days following 9/11 (anyone else remember on September 12 seeing cars with bumper stickers showing Mickey Mouse, middle finger in the air, with a speech bubble reading “Osama can kiss my ass,” and wondering how they managed to get those stickers to market less than 24 hours after the totally unexpected incident?).
Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have banned RT to varying degrees, and the US has leaned on its television providers to shut RT America out of the conversation entirely. Even Telegram, the encrypted chat app founded by the Russian developer of VKontakte, has cut RT’s American and European audiences off from its channel.
We are deep into the Sorcerer's Apprentice Effect at this point - von der Leyen signaled the entire western world would enact the equivalent of sticking one's fingers in one's ears and shouting LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, and this has largely come to pass. “Ban the other guy's news as propaganda” is acknowledging that one's own propaganda is on life support at best (with a ventilator tube down its throat, perhaps), incapable of standing up to even the slightest scrutiny. The guardians of the narrative will tie themselves in knots to ensure it is not challenged, because merely looking at it funny is enough to cause it to collapse in an avalanche of pungent bullshit. Orwell is rolling over in his grave, though to be fair he's been on a constant rotisserie motion for the last two years (or two decades).
hidden camera footage from CNN in 2021
This is, of course, the main difference between the last time we whipped up such a jingoistic frenzy. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq, and the US’ other targets in the Middle East back in 2001, Russia has a sophisticated media apparatus handily capable of dismantling American slopaganda, the abysmal quality of which is the result of never having had to fight someone its own size. All the Middle East had in 2001 was al-Jazeera, which the average American hadn’t even heard of until it was demonized in the mainstream press (which one might recall was the only press available at the time, aside from a handful of early-adopter websites whose proprietors had taken it upon themselves to call out the crimes of their own country). Everyone’s heard of RT, thanks ironically to the Russiagate-industrial complex that seized control of the media narrative following the 2016 election. Therefore it couldn’t simply be demonized - it had to be shut down completely.
Those Europeans (and Americans) who think von der Leyen’s call to arms is merely a problem for the Russians to deal with should take a moment to ask what exactly are these “tools” being developed to ban the “bad guys’” disinformation, how exactly they're supposed to distinguish from “our” disinformation (even the fact-checking industrial complex has run aground repeatedly in the last week on pro-western slopaganda from the “Ghost of Kyiv” - aka “a flight simulator video plus wishful thinking” - to dozens of clips of US atrocities from Libya, Iraq, Syria, etc repurposed as “Russian war crimes”), and so on.
Is this the Revenge of Article 13? (All together now: “What's Article 13?” Yes, that piece was originally written for RT and yes, its original URL is not currently accessible via my internet connection, handily proving my point. As I said in that article (written March 26 2019), “this is not just a European problem”:
“It’s almost surprising that the EU isn’t trying to sell this law as the killer weapon in the ongoing War on Fake News, given its member countries’ use of that trendy adversary to justify increasingly draconian speech restrictions – from the proposed end of anonymity in France to criminal charges for platforms that don’t take down “problematic” speech quickly enough in the UK. But then, EU leaders aren’t actually elected, so they don’t have to sell the people anything.”
Article 13, which passed under a different name, requires platforms to pre-filter user-generated content in order to avoid running afoul of existing copyrights. This ‘copyright filter’ can easily be swapped out with an ideological filter, as the last two years of experimentation with Covid-19-related content has made abundantly clear and von der Leyen appears to hint will now go even further. This guarantees no thoughtcrime is committed even for a moment. Did you really think the EU (really Germany is the tip of the spear on this front, threatening social media executives with massive fines if their users' thoughts veer into the no-no zone) was going to settle for merely removing naughty content after the fact? Never let a good crisis go to waste, as the saying goes.
Welcome to the Great Deplatforming 3.0. if you think this is just about RT, or Russian state media, or OMFGUKRAINE, you are sorely mistaken. The EC's golden girl is wiping her ass with your freedom of thought. Are you going to take that sitting down?
What we are witnessing is a pandemic of cowardice unfolding across the western world, the supposed champions of free speech dutifully stitching their own mouths shut (it’s not for nothing that Ukrainian flag face-masks are flying off the shelves). That my country (despite the mumblings of would-be Twitter Torquemadas, I was born and raised in the US) is so criminally inept at propaganda that it must categorically shut down all alternative sources of information is beyond an insult, it’s an embarrassment. To think that with all the money the Fed can pull out of its ass “we” still cannot craft a compelling narrative that doesn't rely on footage yanked (probably without even paying royalties) from a video game, or worse, repurposed from film of “our” own atrocities in half a dozen wars conducted over the previous two decades, is proof of the catastrophic failure of the western system. I do not say this lightly, but the ideas on which this country was founded are completely incompatible with what it has become, and the nation’s collapse will only accelerate from here. Whether or not it feels compelled to take the rest of the world with it remains to be seen. I truly hope this is not the case, for reasons which should be obvious.
It's one thing to lose an information war fair and square. It's another thing entirely to throw a tantrum, knock the pieces off the board, and stalk away, declaring your victory to the sycophants who are only listening because you're paying them. But it’s a whole other level of psychopathy to plunge half the world into darkness just because you’re afraid the light of day reveals your sheer craven incompetence. We already know. There’s nothing to gain by continuing this charade.