In the last three months, tech giants have censored political speech and journalism to manipulate U.S. politics, while liberals, with virtual unanimity, have cheered.
Thank you. Eloquently put.
The zeal with which my Ivy League educated friends are endorsing this move against Parler and/or calling for the outright persecution of anyone who was legally at a political rally in DC or even just voted for Trump is frightening. They seem incapable of realizing that this power will be turned around on them and are treating it as a zero sum game where they will emerge victorious over the forces of evil. Those that disagree with them, even if it's simply over their means, are racists, troglodytes, or worse. The lessons of 2001 and unchecked power in the name of security are lost on them.
I fear we're headed for even darker times as these totalitarian measures will certainly inspire a reactionary wave that will then be used as justification to crack down even harder. It is an eminently foreseeable consequence, and therefore must be intended. Stay well everyone and stay safe, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
What we have is fascism and the melding of corporations and government is the very defining characteristic of fascism. Read Mussolini's chief theoretician's (Alfredo Rocco) works if you need more convincing. Great work again Glenn, and we civil libertarians are in deep trouble as I see it. They are going to make us pay and pay dearly.
The deplatforming of Parler, mass calls to excommunicate those who basically supported a political opponent while being cheered by neoliberal zealots backed by an opportunistic corrupt class is the latest manifestation of the establishment authoritarians intent on burning dissent at the stake in the guise of protecting “Democracy. It’s the kind of thing that happened during the Spanish Inquisition where a corrupt Catholic Church backed by moneyed classes defined what were allowable views or not with dire penalties for those who blasphemed. (Today that could mean not just being robbed of the ability to speak freely on social media, but loss of livelihood, ability to shop, bank, travel...and even subject to violence.)
What the US Empire in the throes of its latest orgy of hysteria against its never ending enemies - now fully turned inwards, in a blowback of historic proportions - may be missing is the reaction this is having in the rest of the World where US Big Tech is already viewed with deep suspicion due to their monopoly on data and information. What is especially disquieting is the knowledge that the CIA/NSA have their hooks in these companies which operate under US laws and jurisdictions and increasingly not even that. Amazon brazenly broke its contract with Parler without even a chance of a stay order. Lawyers even quit representing Parler with erstwhile civil libertarians like ACLU - which had once defended the rights of actual Nazis to march as part of their First Amendment Rights - joining in on the feeding frenzy. Even a serial killer has right of representation but ironically a serial killer will have a better chance of justice in the US than having a view that the 2020 election was unfair (which incidentally was the exact same thing Dems yammered on to cheers for 4 years with Clinton repeatedly calling Trump “illegitimate” and the 2016 election “stolen”.
If a sitting POTUS and tens of millions of his followers could be hounded in the US by tech monopolies and corporations clearly allied with a party that has gained power, ignoring US laws and precedent, what protection is there for other countries where US laws don’t even nominally apply?
Countries such as China and Russia have actively started building out their own verticals - hardware, networks, domain nodes, data centers, operating systems, social media applications - that don’t rely on the latest whims and politics of an Empire in the midst of a civil war between Establishment and anti-Establishment ideologies. Turkey is already accelerating its move away from WhatsApp into a home grown app. There are active calls in India - with its giant population and ubiquitous use of digital services even among the poor - which is almost entirely reliant on US technology, that these latest shenanigans in the US - against around half its *own* people - are the wake up call for digital independence. (This is akin to the increasing call for independence from the dollar by various countries - including China, Russia, India which are parts of RIC, SCO, BRICS organizations - since basically the dollar under the Obama and accelerated during the Trump admin has become a tool of raw US power to dictate who sovereign nations may trade with and who not.)
" leading left-wing politicians" There are no such animals in DC. They are liberals and DemocRATS, not remotely of the left. It would help if very smart writers like Glenn Greenwald and Caitlin Johnstone would stop using "left" in their descriptions of these hacks.... unless in quotes... please.... otherwise, great article, as usual.
Where would we be without journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi? But I fear for their future in this current environment, so hostile to truth and justice.
Some of you old-time readers of Glenn's work might recall these words:
"the war ALWAYS comes home."
Now you get to experience what your government has been inflicting on three-quarters of the world for decades.
The constitutional issue is whether censorship practiced by a publicly held monopoly that exhibits the attributes of a communications utility can qualify as state action sufficient to implicate the First and Fifth Amendments when it proceeds from thinly veiled warnings from Congress, voiced in public hearings, that if censorship is not practiced legislation will follow. The answer is unclear, but I think the question is sufficiently meritorious and close that litigation should be initiated and pursued.
Otherwise, we are left with a situation in which billionaires control social and political discourse, regulated only by the very politicians they have purchased wholesale. That is a recipe for authoritarian disaster. The primary goal of neoliberalism is to privatize the public realm, ultimately political speech and discourse. Neoliberalism's defeat begins with the redefining of what is public and what is private.
I've worked in Silicon Valley and these companies do coordinate. Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Ebay, Intuit, Pixar/Lucas were sued for coordinating to prevent "poaching" and thus keep worker salary down. This was in the early 2010's with the suit coming about in 2013 or so.
Also happening in the 2010's was influx of politics into Silicon Valley. The Obama administration hired a lot of tech to work in Washington. These were not engineers, they were well connected "people that know people". I believe many of those people have come back to the Valley in recent years. Additionally there has been an influx of political types into Silicon Valley, particularly in social media companies. I think there have also been Board appointees that are "think tank" types
Next, there is a phenomenon of company encouraged employee activist groups. I believe the intent was for these groups to help people of similar race, gender, sexual preference, etc, work through challenges in tech. However, these people are often politically volatile and constantly interject political or social justice into large company meetings. An example of this a group within Spotify throwing a fit over Joe Rogan having Alex Jones on. Additionally I've former colleagues have heard of activists at left leaning offices imposing their will on other offices for things as petty as what food or food providers are used to cater events.
Finally, tools like Slack further encourage virtue signalling. Any political or social event has people clamoring to get visibility by raising issues in large company wide channels.
It's sad what it's becoming. Years ago it felt like everything was made by an eclectic group of misfits. The main requirement was talent and passion for what you were working on, pay may or may not come. The first group I worked with was more diverse than anything I've been a part of recently. I don't know what's to blame for that, it may have been the social media / smart phone revolution funneling more of the elite graduates into the system in search of $$$.
For those on the left who are celebrating this, I give you a cautionary tale. A friend of mine - lifelong Democrat - supported Tulsi Gabbard in the primaries. She used her Twitter account solely for the purpose of talking up her favored candidate in a civil and polite manner. Nothing in her posts would even move the needle even on today's oh-so-sensitive "offend-o-meter".
When she received an email soliciting donations from the DNC, she replied that she did not support them because of how they had treated Tulsi. Within 24 hours, her Twitter account was deleted. She had not violated a single term of service, though that's what they purported, and was told that she could not appeal the decision. So in a heartbeat, she was silenced. If you think you're safe, just wait until you disagree with them.
I literally wept for this country as the stake was driven into the heart of freedom this week. No one should be celebrating this.
Excellent work, Glenn. Also notable is the absence of media reporting on or political class concern about Merkel commentary. It appears leadership on this issue must come from outside the U.S.
Once again, great work! Something to add is this is just another avenue where nearly half of the country can be written off as deplorable Nazis that do not deserve to be in the conversation. The actions since the January 6th have been breathtaking despite universal agreement that the perpetrators should be charged and punished. First, in unison all media termed the rioters has insurrectionist, a term that is technically accurate for a group attempting to overpower civil authority. It is noteworthy that term was not used when a city block was seized in Seattle. Next, people that were in DC at the Rally but not committing crimes started to get fired as their employers found out they were there. Third, the tech purge that Glenn lays out here. Next, large corporations announced they will not contribute to the GOP as Biden compares two sitting Senators to Nazi propogandists. Finally, 25th Amendment is floated but ultimately Articles of Impeachment are drawn up.
If you were one of the peaceful 100K in DC or even one of the 74 million that voted for Trump, where do you think this is headed for you? It sure isn’t unity and coming together! To some degree, half the country is looking over their shoulder. They see the MSM reporting as if 9-11 happened again, liberals’ politicians plotting a course of revenge, and giant companies preparing to impose their power on all areas of their life. Nobody is working to tamp down the temperature. All the ingredients for disaster are in place and it doesn't look like anyone is concerned about stirring up the recipe.
The insidiousness of this monopoly on information is actually frightening. There’s YouTube videos I watched a number of years ago on various issues, conflicts etc that have now disappeared. These weren’t conspiratorial videos but would’ve challenged some mainstream narratives with alternative viewpoints. It’s ironic that sections of the left have been crying fascism during the Trump years whilst big tech have literally followed through on actual fascistic behaviours right under their noses, too blind, righteous, and dumb to see what is problematic about this.
Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are the Woodward and Bernsteins of the modern age since both Woodward and Bernstein have become mostly toothless.
Thanks for all of this honest reporting. I am a new subscriber and I feel like your level-headed investigations and quest for truth-telling have kept me sane the last few weeks. What is happening concurrently with the tech/government policing of political speech, is, in my opinion, a terrifying silencing of anyone who attempts to question the prevailing science narrative. Is it a coincidence that this pandemic has enabled our government to illegally grant itself the authority to shut down small businesses, private schools, etc, eroding basic civil liberties of its citizens all in the name of "protecting them" whilst Amazon, FB, Google, Zoom, Twitter, Apple, et al become massively more powerful and rich? I think not. From the early days of the pandemic, there have been respected virologists, epidemiologists, doctors and statisticians who have argued that all of the restrictive measures were/are unnecessary and in fact, more harmful than the virus itself. They're routinely silenced on social media for spreading "misinformation" as the corporate media delights in daily death counts, ginning up paranoia and fear and promoting never-ending lockdowns and universal mask-use, without ever questioning the effectiveness of these measures or the dangers/damage that has been done to children, small business owners, our economy. I'm sure that none of the election irregularities were due to unprecedented, last-minute changes to election laws or just outright disregard for them - all in the name of "emergency powers" governors granted themselves.
So, how long until they deplatform substack?
"Something like that could never happen in the US." Umm, it just did...