Friday, March 30, 2018
Monday, March 26, 2018
The years-long drawing out of the American empire’s propaganda runup to a world war makes perfect sense. For a conflict as big as the one being planned by neoconservatives, including Trump’s new national security advisor John Bolton, the American people need a large buffer time between when the “threat” is first hinted at, and when the bombs start dropping. I falsely expected this runup to reach its destination by the end of last year, but 2018 seems a near-certain year for it to happen in.
Just look at the ever bigger geopolitical disruptions that are being normalized right now. In the last two months, the U.S. has committed to Syria involvement indefinitely, backed Kurdish troops so that an illegal massacre of Syrians could take place, bombed Russian troops in Syria, increased aggressions toward Russia’s ally Iran under false pretenses, and stood by as Israel has escalated its attacks on Syria while planning a broader war with Iran.
You could say World War III is already happening, if only on a scale that’s limited to the middle east. And every factor shows the U.S, in its desperate moment of imperial collapse, will let this spill over into worldwide catastrophe. John Bolton’s promise last year that Iran’s government will be overthrown “by 2019” shows how close we are to it.
“Prior to the end of 2016 the average American rarely even thought about Russia, almost never thought about Vladimir Putin, and had no idea what a Kremlin was,” writes Caitlin Johnstone in her article We Are One False Flag Event Away From World War 3. “Now hatred for Russia is at the forefront of consciousness in mainstream America, and now infected the UK as well and is quickly metastasizing throughout Australia and Europe. The wood has been slowly dried for some major future event, and a false flag event will be like a lit match on the kindling. The media will pick it up and run with it full-throttle, and people will be herded by fear toward the war door.”
NATO’s military actions towards Russia aren’t just in response to Russia’s colonialist takeover in Ukraine. The American empire sees Russia as a threat to its control over Syria and other regions, so it’s using all the old cold war tactics to bully Russia into submission: intensive demonization of Putin and Russia in American media. Pressuring NATO allies into joining in the fight. Preparing the Pentagon for a bogus threat of a “preemptive strike” from Russia. Blacklistings of anti-imperialists as Russian agents. It’s a march to disaster that only makes sense when you’re in the bubble of Washington DC groupthink.
To make the absurdity of it obvious, wild McCarthyite conspiracy theories come from even top U.S. officials while they pitch this cold war. Last month the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats charged at a senate hearing that Russia and China were conspiring to sow “subversion,” and that visiting Chinese students are potential spies. All without any attempt at substantiation. When will Americans stop taking their leaders’ war commands seriously? History and basic psychology show the war propagandists don’t have much to worry about; when you’ve got a person angry and fearful, there’s no limit to what you can make them believe or do.
Alternative media journalists, marginalized as “fake news” and heavily censored by online platforms, cannot even name the culprits of this war campaign without being called conspiracy cranks. This culprit cabal, properly known as the “deep state,” is the unelected series of military and intelligence operatives whose influence goes deep into media, the Democratic and Republican parties, and now the policies of the formerly rogue Trump administration. Ignoring the deep state makes the whole problem invisible.
“Absolutely, there is a deep state, because the deep state is the intelligence agencies that do not have oversight,” said senator Rand Paul last week. “Only eight people in Congress know what they’re doing, and traditionally, those eight people have been a rubber stamp to let the intelligence communities do whatever they want. There is no skeptic among the eight people that are supposedly overseeing the intelligence community.”
This hidden reigning caste, along with their partners in corporate America, have no problem with letting society deteriorate as the country’s leaders carry out these grandiose military adventures. Amid a new annual military budget of $700 billion, the U.S. national debt is now at $21 trillion, showing the fragility and incompetence that empires fall into during their late stages. America, warned MIT economist Peter Temin last year, is regressing into a third world country for most of the population. Neoliberal capitalism, rampant governmental corruption, an erosion of civil liberties and democratic institutions, and a permanent state of war have battered and confused the population.
A society like this is vulnerable to war campaigns, as long as the deep state can manage to make their campaign all-encompassing and dramatic. Otherwise the people might see the misery this system has forced them into, and refuse to go along with the establishment’s deceptions.
So the fear is constantly being ratcheted up: media scares about Russia’s nukes and demands for the president to “do something about Russia;” claims from intelligence officials that Russia is targeting American power grids; headlines complaining about how much the U.S. needs to expand its unparalleled military stash to compete with Russia. So is the case for Iran and North Korea, two other clearly non-threatening nations which Bolton is still well on the path to starting wars with.
In January, President Trump said: “I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity. Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.” Trump being an unmoderated version of the rest of the United States warmongers, this could be a hint at a coming false flag that’s used to set off these conflicts. The U.S. government has an extensive history of false flags, and has used them several times in recent years to justify Syrian military involvement. So Johnstone is most certainly right that at some point, when the public is fully acclimated to war, a “major event” will conveniently materialize.
When will the event come? If this March 17 statement from Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergey Rudskoy is reliable, it’s being planned already: “We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria.” He continued: “The provocations will be used as a pretext by the United States and its allies to launch strikes on military and government infrastructure in Syria.” This when the Russian government has clearly threatened retaliation if U.S. attacks on Syria are expanded.
Johnstone’s prescription is to expose the deep state’s lies so that Americans will reject the calls to war when the provocation comes. But the empire is determined to do as much damage as possible, and I think we need to fight this war effort more directly. We need to build a nationwide resistance to militarism, involving antiwar strikes, protests, mass boycotts of the war tax, and disobedience from armed service members. We need to create a Vietnam-level antiwar movement, and fast. Millions of Americans are willing to take these actions. All we need to do is tell them how urgently they need to mobilize.
Friday, March 23, 2018
The secret about the massive takeovers that the corporatocracy has recently made is that they’re all a reaction to the threats the establishment is now under. It’s telling that the deep state’s Russia fearmongering campaign, which has been used to stigmatize and censor dissenting voices, began in mid 2016-right after the popular opposition to establishment politics had proven itself through events like the success of the Sanders campaign.
The ultimate goal of the Russia campaign is to keep enough people from venturing out of the establishment propaganda echo chambers, and from accessing the information they’ll need for revolt. Despotism, especially the faux-democracy that America’s oligarchy represents, depends on the population being kept in intellectual poverty. When people can’t recognize when the media is lying to them into wars, don’t know enough about their preferred politicians and parties to hold them accountable, and have a dim understanding about the history and workings of their government, they can’t fight tyranny even if they know they’re being oppressed. This is the dynamic that’s started to disappear with the rise of online alternative media, and that the ruling elite are trying to recapture.
The war on dissent has worked in some ways. Since late 2016, when the Washington Post published an unsubstantiated list from PropOrNot which accused the top twenty leftwing alternative news sites of being “Russian propaganda,” many Americans have been quickly dismissing any non-mainstream articles as Russian “fake news.” RT, in particular, is now seen as utterly unreliable among followers of corporate media.
This Fahrenheit 451 shift in thinking has brought what Chris Hedges calls the “Iron Wall,” a barrier that’s being built against ideas that challenge the ruling oligarchy. Its emergence has been frightening, as Hedges illustrates: mainly at the direction of “liberal” leaders, an Orwellian dictatorship has been taking shape, with the steps towards it being too small for most to become aware of the takeover in time. This despotic system may have the military resources and technology to snuff out dissent like has never been done before. But if we continue the actions that drove the system to fortify itself in this way, the system will soon have to give in.
If we keep supporting candidates that go against establishment politics-and if we work to expose the future electoral fraud those candidates will be attacked with, which can be done by shedding light on the coming rigging of the 2020 Democratic primary-the establishment will keep being under siege by the voters. Especially, as Caitlin Johnstone advocates, if we do all we can to sabotage the campaign of the 2020 Democratic candidate if that candidate doesn’t represent our interests. And this is all aside from the mass protest movements we’ll need to start outside of electoral politics.
If we keep spreading information which counters the lies of the establishment, the old propaganda systems won’t be able to hold sway. Neoliberalism and globalization are discredited in the minds of an impoverished population. The corporate media and the government it serves are distrusted and hated. Too many cracks are appearing in the system for pro-establishment narratives to be effective, so the power centers are frantically making up media distractions. If we keep speaking truth to power, especially through the blacklisted online alternative media outlets, we’ll be able to keep an informed public alive.
If we keep working to topple the corporate state, it will be toppled. The history of revolutions has shown it; when unrest comes, for a time the establishment will try to stifle it, but the power dynamic ultimately shifts around if the revolutionaries can sustain their action.
We need to act now though; the system, in its reaction to our showings of dissent, is turning more repressive every day. Hopefully we’ll be able to dismantle it in time.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
With the realignment that’s happened since neoconservatives defected towards the Democratic Party in response to candidate Trump’s relative isolationism, there are now two main factions of ruling class politics. One is the arch-nationalistic strain that’s taken over the Republican Party. The other is the class of traditional neocons and neoliberals that make up the Democratic Party, “moderate” Republicans, the military and intelligence establishments, and their media branches in networks like MSNBC. The latter is more established and coherent in its goals, which makes it the more dangerous one.
This faction-loosely called the deep state-is naturally ignored by the media it controls, so those in the alternative media need to constantly remind people of it. I’ve already done several deep analyses of it and its workings. But its actions in recent months have been unprecedented, and frightening on an urgent level. There are hundreds of pages’ worth of working parts to this subject. But here’s the best analysis I can do of it at the moment, starting with the nature of its intentions.
The deep state, for which the Democratic Party is just the current main extension of, has been reaching its present form for decades. It’s existed in some form since the U.S. government began, because “deep state” is simply the definition of an unelected power structure. But since the middle of the twentieth century, it’s been setting up massive circles of control over society.
There’s been the creation of the CIA, an organization that’s unaccountable to congress and has helped the U.S. carry out global psyops, spying, and coups; the reign of the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO, which have imposed brutal pro-corporate reforms on much of the world; the rise of neoliberalism, which has made it so that Jeff Bezos and the other eight richest men in the world now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population. And the changes that have correlated with it are Orwellian without hyperbole.
It’s no longer enough for the NSA to be processing all of Americans’ digital information, or for American police to be more militarized than ever, or for intelligence agencies and large corporations to be in direct partnership through the Domestic Security Alliance Council. Per the censorship rules of the last year from online companies, anyone who challenges the establishment must become a target for state retribution. The apparently all-encompassing threats of Russian “subversion” have made it clear: if you think outside the CNN mainstream, you’re posing risk of undermining American society.
Restrictions to posting on Facebook, suppressed search results for dissenting websites, and systematic reductions of Twitter followers are just the mildest weapons the deep state is using to correct thoughtcrime. A step up from that is when Google starts de-ranking RT and Sputnik, as it did in November. Up from that is the Justice Department’s forcing RT America’s leadership last year, under threat of arrest, to register as foreign agents.
Up from that is law enforcement prosecuting any disfavored people as Russian agents, which is already being done in its early stages with the federal investigations into Jill Stein’s nonexistent Russia ties. When the state can define you as a traitor, as Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange have learned, they can torture or even kill you. The latter penalties are exceptional, but they have already been used on some dissidents. And the advanced police/surveillance state that’s emerging will soon make dissent easier to crush in these ways.
The direction of public discourse is also helping in this crackdown against free thought. For the last year or so, a habit has been seen from many liberals of quickly accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being a “Russian troll” or a “Russian bot.” The fact that the corporate media would condition this McCarthyite view into its followers is vastly ominous. When Americans see their fellow citizens as traitors for opposing the establishment narratives, the government will eagerly fulfill Americans’ demands to have those dissenters punished.
The two ruling class factions share many of the same goals, and promote many of the same lies-just look at how Democrats have made the crucial number of votes in passing President Trump’s repeal of Dodd-Frank, expansions of presidential spying powers, 2017 NDAA bill, and budget bill that will destroy DACA. But at least Trump’s lies are regularly exposed by the mainstream media. When establishment politics produces lies, the lies are propagated without scrutiny, passing quietly into the mainstream consciousness.
Joy Ann Reid can tweet last August that “All candidates raise money from corporate donors,” despite that being demonstrably untrue; corporate Democrats can base their campaign against the Sanders insurgency around claims that most Americans oppose universal health care and free college, even though polling shows that to be false; Democratic pundits can uniformly try to bury the evidence that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged. Then there’s the salacious campaign from many Democratic propagandists to portray Bernie Sanders as a Russian agent, a tax cheat, and a closet sexist. These revisions go virtually unchallenged, orienting discourse towards a worldview that makes the ruling class impervious to opposition.
All this is expected though. Deception is inevitable from despotic power centers. What’s unprecedented are the technological tools this oligarchy has to manipulate the population. Since January, for instance, Facebook has been making its search algorithms promote “reliable” news sources like The New York Times, while Facebook’s numerous pro-establishment censorship measures, including ones based in artificial intelligence, marginalize dissenting voices.
This is also happening in different forms with what the journalist Daniel Herman has described as Google’s “algorithmic fake news” regarding search results for subjects like Russian hacking. And the media outlets these actions help are themselves becoming even more establishment-oriented; many former intelligence officials have been getting positions in networks like MSNBC in the last year, which chillingly correlates with the dozens of 2018 Democratic candidates who have backgrounds in the CIA. Appropriately, the intelligence agencies have become newly trusted by Democrats after the media’s intensive anti-Russia propaganda campaign, which stems from those agencies.
In his latest column, Chris Hedges has described this purge of dissent as “building the Iron Wall.” “Before the algorithms were put in place last April, searches for terms such as ‘imperialism’ or ‘inequality’ directed internet users mostly to left-wing, progressive and anti-war sites,” writes Hedges. “Now they are directed primarily to mainstream sites such as The Washington Post. If you type in ‘World Socialist Web Site,’ which has been hit especially hard by the algorithms, you will be directed to the site — but you have to ask for it by name. Searches for associated words such as ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ are unlikely to bring up a list in which the World Socialist Web Site appears near the top.”
What the political establishment is doing with these reality revision powers is truly terrifying.
The consequences of these propaganda and censorship expansions hasn’t just been a dangerous liberal faith in intelligence agencies, or the new McCarthyite dynamics mentioned. Partly because of the embrace of Russia-related fearmongering from the Democratic Party and its allies, we are closer than ever to World War III. The international zeal to attack Russia for the recent UK spy poisoning, for which there’s still no evidence Russia is behind, shows just how perilous things have gotten.
NATO has troops, tanks, and nuclear bases surrounding Russia, amounting to an armed mob threatening this country that’s been such a nuisance to the western empire. The media’s two-year war campaign against Russia has no doubt acclimated much of the American public to any potential armed conflict, as is true in many of the other NATO countries. Stephen Cohen statedlast month that we’re in a new cold war, one that’s more dangerous than the last because of the new players in Syria, Ukraine, and China.
The neocons, meanwhile, are doing everything possible to exacerbate the situation by escalating in Syria; if recent statements from Russian officials are true, the U.S. and its ally Al-Nusra are about to stage false flag chemical attacks so that Syria can be struck again. The Trump administration’s relative unwillingness to escalate with Russia and Syria have made “Russiagate” necessary, working as a tool to pressure Trump to take more hawkish actions lest he be labeled a “Russian agent.”
This is apparent with the complains from many establishment Democrats that Trump’s Syria strikes last year didn’t go far enough. Along with the outrage from establishment liberals last month that Trump didn’t respond to Putin’s nuclear posturing aggressively enough. Then there are the objections from pundits like Rachel Maddow to Trump’s agreeing to peace talks with North Korea. Somehow, Democrats are now more militaristic than their opponents.
The supporters of the new cold war effort, meanwhile, can rarely be persuaded to see the baselesness of all of the deep state’s charges against Russia. I’ve found this from talking with them. They always insist, almost reluctantly, that Putin’s corruption and abhorrent human rights policies must mean that the intelligence agencies are telling the truth this time, Iraqi WMDs disregarded. What other response could one get after so much abusive Russiaphobic fear-drillings from media and government? What might follow, despite the good intentions of these Americans, is the thermonuclear destruction of all life on earth.
“The US-centralized empire is rapidly approaching post-primacy and needs to act fast to move some major chess pieces into place so it can prevent the rise of a multipolar world,” wrote Caitlin Johnstone today. “The goal is to quickly manufacture a global coalition to cut Russia out of the global stage, and this new dance with the UK and the EU is just the latest step toward that direction. Not even the most psychopathic imperialists want a hot conflict with Russia if they can avoid it, but they will gamble with all our lives very close to the edge in an extremely dangerous cold war, because that’s what the empire needs to do to survive.”
I urge Trump supporters, Libertarians, and others who acknowledge the deep state’s existence to work with me towards its defeat. Despite the ideological differences I have with these groups, our most urgent task is to disable the propaganda and authority systems of this force for potentially omnicidal war. Our first step in this task will be to counter the deep state’s deceptions through alternative media; from there we can mobilize Americans towards dismantling the power structure.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
With the repeal of Dodd-Frank-a decision that couldn’t have happened without seventeen senate Democrats-the American people have one more reason to want to destroy the political establishment. This comes after decades of slashed social benefits, tax increases onto the poor and middle class, shipped out jobs, destroyed worker benefits, privatizing of essential services, manufactured endless war, and legalized corporate crime as despotism has taken over society. So we already have more than enough reasons.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
When a drive to war gets manufactured, reason leaves the conversation. History gets forgotten. Nuance is not tolerated, and opponents of the official narrative are demonized. All that matters is destroying the enemy that the state and its media have put in front of us, an enemy so terrible that war is the only option. But this doesn’t mean resisting war will never work; it’s (rarely) worked before, and it has a chance of working during the establishment’s current effort to escalate with Syria and Russia.