Sunday, October 18, 2020

Please Save Us From "Disinformation"!!!


The brilliant Caitlin Johnstone eloquently condemns the tendency towards mass censorship on giant online media platforms:

The problem came in when the corporations which were elevated to the top of this new paradigm began collaborating more and more brazenly with ruling power structures, to the point where they’re now just openly working with US government agencies to determine what information to censor. They have every incentive to do this as talk of antitrust cases and reinterpreting Section 230 heats up; they know the odds of their monopolies being torn apart go down the more favorable they make themselves to the government powers that would enforce them.

This is a major, major problem for humanity as a species, because we will never be able to make real changes to the systemic problems which are driving us toward disaster as long as establishment power is controlling our ability to interact with each other.

Establishment power will keep advancing its own interests at all cost, even if it means pushing us into nuclear war or climate collapse. The only way to end their destructive rule is for a critical mass of the public to rise up and use the power of their numbers to force real change. People will not rise up and use the power of their numbers to force real change as long as they are being successfully propagandized not to by the ruling power establishment. People will continue to be successfully propagandized as long as a critical mass are prevented from viewing ideas and information which contradict establishment-friendly narratives.

Lately, racist authoritarian anti-democratic thug Joe Biden's crackhead, corrupt, man-child Hunter dropped off his laptop at a repair shop and then forgot about it. Along with home-made porn, there were also incriminating emails on it. The repair-shop guy turns out to be a Trump fan (and therefore a complete shit-head) and he copies the files and gives them to Rudy Giuliani who gives them to the New York Post. Democrats and other foolish people are screaming that this is all a Russia psy-ops campaign. Rather than an abandoned laptop, Giuliani got the files (the veracity of which the Democrats/Biden/Hunter haven't challenged) from VLADIMIR PUTIN!!! And therefore, reporting on them makes you a "Kremlin idiot." And therefore "Twitter" prevented people from re-tweeting the NYPost link.

For some reason, the last time I was at working on this post I started talking about "hate speech." I don't know why but I'm going to leave it here:

Personally I have always had a problem with criminalizing "hate speech." Leftists (and other anti-racists) have said that it is foolish to defend the rights of racists because they won't defend your rights and freedoms and neither will the authorities. But I respond to that by saying that willfully allowing one of your own rights to be disregarded by the state is self-defeating. Furthermore, "anti-Hate" laws have been used against us. When a rapper makes a song about wanting to kill cops (for their murderous institutional racism) and he's threatened with violating hate-speech laws. Women of colour condemning cases of patriarchal racists are threatened with propagating "hatred" of white males. 

Anyhoo, the right-wing conspiracy community "Q-Anon" has also been de-platformed. Again, to save us from "dis-information." Because it's this "dis-information" that is dividing US-Americans like never before

Sigh. This is part of a long process of trying to marginalize alternative voices and artificially inflate the (already vast) reach of approved media. Remember the moronic, oligarchic mind-control initiative "Prop or Not?" When anyone who didn't see the world the same way as the Democratic Leadership Council was a "useful idiot" for the Kremlin?

One of the core functions of PropOrNot appears to be its compilation of a lengthy blacklist of news and political websites that it smears as peddlers of “Russian propaganda.” Included on this blacklist of supposed propaganda outlets are prominent independent left-wing news sites such as Truthout, Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News, and Truthdig.

Also included are popular libertarian hubs such as Zero Hedge,, and the Ron Paul Institute, along with the hugely influential right-wing website the Drudge Report and the publishing site WikiLeaks. Far-right, virulently anti-Muslim blogs such as Bare Naked Islam are likewise dubbed Kremlin mouthpieces. Basically, everyone who isn’t comfortably within the centrist Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush spectrum is guilty. On its Twitter account, the group announced a new “plugin” that automatically alerts the user that a visited website has been designated by the group to be a Russian propaganda outlet.

We are not more divided than we've ever been. Many of us are angry because the system has failed us. Not because social media has manipulated our emotions. Which article have I already read? This one? Or this one? Here's a quote from the first one:

The Social Dilemma is right to highlight the power that is at stake here. And when it draws attention, with palpable horror, to the exponential growth in computer processing power, it clearly apprehends that processing power is political power. However, it’s extraordinary that it doesn’t occur to anyone to think of it as class power. For what is being automated most efficiently in the cybernetic offensive on living labor are the imperatives of capital.

The absence of capital from the film’s imagination results in some very strange and telling formulations. We are told that AI runs the world. That “as humans, we’ve almost lost control over these systems.” That a “checkmate on humanity” is afoot. That the machines are “overpowering human nature,” whose operating systems and processing power evolves much more slowly. The only sense in which any of this is true is the sense in which AI is just the programmatic expression of capital.

And here's one from the second one.

Yet this techno-deterministic narrative vastly inflates the capabilities of data capture and algorithms, and, in so doing, blames a whole range of problems on technology that have their root in more fundamental social and economic conditions of modern society. It is important to understand what effects these technologies are having on us, both personally and collectively, but failing to recognize the longer history of these problems and the broader structures that contribute to them will lead us to solutions that don’t actually get to the root causes.


What all of this tells us is that reducing growing social problems to new technologies is simply not accurate. Framing the problem in that way makes it seem as though if we create better platforms, our problems will be solved — but if the platforms are responding to the economic incentives of the capitalist system, maybe that should get more scrutiny.

Are we to believe that social polarization is the product of Facebook, and not the fact that income inequality has returned to pre–Great Depression levels (and is likely much worse due to the pandemic)?

Are we to believe that a distrust of elites and politicians is the result of Google’s search results, and not the fact that the political system is unresponsive to the needs of the vast majority of the population, while the government lets industry regulate itself, leading to tragedies like the Boeing 737 MAX?

Fine. T'was the second one that I'd read. Anyhow, the point is that falling for this elite agenda of censorship is going to GET US all KILLED.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

How To Change Things


Does voting change anything? Sort of. While all Canadian politicians are incapable of resisting the status-quo, there are differences between them, with some being devotees to it while others attempt timid ameliorations of its worst effects. Consistently voting for the least rabid option ("lesser evilism") does have its benefits, in practice it seems to only encourage a continued slide towards right-wing, klepto-capitalist insanity.

Voting should be much more consequential than it is. What are the material conditions that have rendered our options to be so limited? The answers to that are all over this blog. The decline in profitability due to the increases in competition; financialization; neo-liberalism.

The oligarchy has built a massive propaganda network using money that they extracted from the society they are brainwashing. Psychological manipulation through public relations, advertising and marketing, "pro-business" "think-tanks," propaganda outlets like FOX News; and "grass-roots" travesties like Breitbart, Rebel News, and abuses of religion that fund right-wing and racist websites and organizations.

This whole vast apparatus is necessary because the message that they impart is unpopular due to its proven negative impact on ordinary people's lives and because of its overall stupidity. Leftist viewpoints of economic fairness, responsible individual freedom (not: "It's my god-given right to fire assault rifles on target ranges or to shoot my wife in the head in a fit of rage, and weekly mass-shootings at primary schools should not be used as an excuse to remove this simple pleasure from my list of options.") and ecological sanity are far more popular in a fair contest.

What forces stand in the way of genuine change? Status-quo politicians sure. But look towards their pay-masters. The financial sector. Fossil fuels. Selfish, greedy employers. Authoritarians of all stripes and at all levels of society.

It would help if the Left had a clear vision of what it wants and some sort of coherent narrative for getting from here to there. Delivered in language that ordinary people can understand. But it doesn't.

I wanted to say something today. Without putting too much work into it. So there you go.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

That Whole Amygdala Thing Again

 Remember this guy?

That's a still from a video taken outside a Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona in 2016. The big guy's name is Zack Fisher. Some of his tattoos contain symbols that white supremacists use to communicate with each other.

If you pause the video 55 seconds in, you can spot a tattooed number “43” under the arm of the muscular fellow, later identified as Zack Fisher;  this just happens to be a favorite symbol of a small but spirited organization called the Supreme White Alliance. You can probably guess what sort of group it is.

My reason for bringing him up today is to discuss a topic I've been mentioning here recently; which is that we need to stop and ponder the significance of how self-identifying conservatives have apparently been found to have larger amygdala than other people. And the amygdala is the part of the brain that is activated by emotions, such as fear.

When you sense danger is present, your amygdala wants to automatically activate the fight-or-flight response immediately. However, at the same time, your frontal lobes are processing the information to determine if danger really is present and the most logical response to it.

When the threat is mild or moderate, the frontal lobes override the amygdala, and you respond in the most rational, appropriate way. However, when the threat is strong, the amygdala acts quickly. It may overpower the frontal lobes, automatically triggering the fight-or-flight response.

The fight-or-flight response was appropriate for early humans because of threats of physical harm. Today, there are far fewer physical threats, but there are a lot of psychological threats caused by the pressures and stresses of modern life.

When stress makes you feel strong anger, aggression, or fear, the fight-or-flight response is activated. It often results in a sudden, illogical, and irrational overreaction to the situation. You may even regret your reaction later.

This explains a lot of right-wing, or "conservative" behaviour. I don't think that crime is out of control. I'm a left-winger. I'm a socialist. That's how I self-identify. If you call me a "pinko" I'd have to agree with you. So, again, I don't think we need more and more cops and prisons and "hard-time" for convicted criminals. That's just the way I roll. I'm not afraid of alternative sexualities. I'm not worried that I'll succumb to the "gay agenda" because I don't care about this alleged agenda. I'm not afraid of other cultures. I'm interested in them. 

So let me bring back this Zack Fisher character. He's a Trump supporter. He's a white supremacist. He (laughably) feels that only white people can be made fun of in the "libtard"-dominated culture that he believes he's fighting against:

He apparently spends a lot of time thinking about White Chicks, a Wayans Brothers “comedy” from 2004 in which two of the Wayanses play rogue FBI agents who go undercover as, well, white chicks.

People make movies about us and do we get mad? Like White Chicks? If there was a movie called Black Chicks, it would be a huge race thing. … We couldn’t do that, no way, they’d be like, “this is so racist.” And yet they can make a movie making fun of white people.

And what a widely celebrated film it is! Richard Roeper declared it “the worst movie of the year,” while Roger Ebert informed his readers that “it took an act of the will to keep me in the theater.” It’s got a Rotten Tomatoes score of 13%, ranking it lower than Wild Hogs, The Love Guru, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

I just wish people could get over what happened back in the day, to Mexico or Blacks. That was back in the past, people don’t get over it and it sucks. I forgive and forget. A lot of people don’t.

Dude, you haven’t even gotten over “White Chicks!”

Again, look at the guy: He's a big, strong, good-looking guy. But (as a "conservative") he probably has a larger "fight-or-flight" section of his brain than regular people and political lefties have. So while he's big enough and strong enough not to feel terrified when he encounters a couple of Latinos coming towards him on the sidewalk in the middle of the day, he probably is mistrustful of them. 

And he spends all day, every day, like this. He's afraid of people who are "different" from him. He's afraid of losing what he imagines is his "culture." Perhaps he was a victim of some childhood trauma. Sufferings in childhood (and, supposedly, sufferings experienced by recent ancestors) can have physical effects on brain structure. So Mr. Fisher might look strong and badass now, but his brain wiring might have been altered by something in his past. (Or, he was just born that way.)

Before continuing on in that vein, I also want to point out that it might be the case that he's also stupid. People of normal intelligence and with greater control over their "fight or flight" instincts learn the rules of the society they've been born into and figure out how to get along fairly easily. Fearful, stupid individuals, ... well, it's a different story with them:

A self-described conservative will (in general) labour mightily to try to understand the world they've been dropped into. This will be tend to be more difficult for them than for normal people because (as I said) conservatives tend to be less intelligent, have less ability to empathize (and thereby read the signals for proper behaviour) and (for whatever reasons) will be more fearful and defensive towards the outside world. Once they have achieved a grasp of the rules of the game they will hold fast to these rules with all their might. Capitalism is the dominant paradigm? Then capitalism it is. No matter what. And everyone who questions or rejects it is an enemy. They've been brought up in a particular religion? Then that religion is the truth and that's the end of the story. (Such devotion can provide a lot of comfort to such people.) And on it goes; they adhere to traditional gender stereotypes and sexual mores. With cultural pursuits, they'll tend to flock in large numbers to things that represent this most crude understanding of the society they live in. Things such as professional wrestling wherein cartoonish representations of gender ideals, the conflict between "good" and "evil," and etc., portray conventional values but with an acknowledgement of the overall stupidity of its fan base.

So you see, to understand the Trump phenomenon, you have to understand the mass psychology of his supporters. They have a shaky grasp of reality. Which is always under threat. They're afraid of new things. The unknown. They see the world as a more threatening place than bleeding-hear leftists see it. So, when there's great social change, they feel threatened. When their simplistic and error-filled philosophies are challenged, it's traumatizing. And when neo-liberal economic policies make life more stressful and competitive, they respond by punching down.

This is the raw material of fascism. Such people are always with us. In the 1960's and 1970's they were doing well enough so that they even tolerated Women's Liberation or Affirmative Action. It takes grim economic conditions to make fascism politically viable. Sadly, liberal dipshits who grovel at the feet of the Democratic Party leadership, or the Liberal Party of Canada, who refuse to see the reality of what their stupid political choices produces will continue to drag us into the abyss. And they will blame occasional cries for sanity and human decency from genuine leftists as being divisive, and deride us for being selfish "purists."

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Canadians' Racism Towards First Nations Peoples

 I don't know what it's going to take to change this putridly racist country. Government policy towards the First Nations is informed by an attitude of Malign Neglect. Our politicians want to make things so terrible for the First Nations that they give up on their reserves (and their natural resources) and join the settler society. Towards that end, their cultures (especially their languages) are being erased as past efforts of suppression continue to have their ill effects in the present day, and poverty and neglect conduct a war of attrition. They are to be assimilated and their claims on the wealth within the borders of Canada, and their abilities to disrupt capitalist exploitation of those resources is erased.

I always hesitate to discuss the social problems suffered by First Nations communities and individuals, because I worry about sounding like a patronizing colonialist. But the suicide epidemic, and the other ailments are real and, for the most part, they are the legacy of our destructive policies. This being the case, many settler Canadians' interactions with First Nations peoples will often reinforce negative perceptions. Especially for those racists who will see what they want to see. (I'll also note that when we have a neutral encounter with a First Nations person, who does not exhibit any trauma, many of us simply ignore it, and only remember the times when we saw something that matched our preconceptions.)

Regardless of any of that, what Joyce Echaquan had to endure in her last moments on this earth was inexcusable. That attitudes like those of those hospital workers are so poisoned by racism and hate is an indictment of this country. Is it any wonder the idea of "Canada" could be hated by many First Nations people? We abuse them. We steal from them. We insult them. And when they're forced to come to us for help we abuse them even more. 

Look at the self-reinforcing racist stupidity described by First Nations witness Alland Flamand, from workers at that same hospital. When he went there complaining about excruciating back pain they simply gave him pain killers and sent him home. His repeated visits to the hospital were then viewed as an attempt by him to obtain narcotics! When he finally went to a different hospital, farther away, an actual examination revealed a herniated disc in his spine. 

That's why I mentioned the very real social problems that the First Nations struggle with. Perhaps those people at that hospital had encountered some First Nations peoples with problems and now generalize that they're all drug addicts. What they should instead do is to accept the fact that many of these pathologies are the direct results of our abuse of the First Nations, and that we should refrain from colonialist arrogance. Canadian racists should always remember that the First Nations are human beings with the same rights to decent treatment as anyone else. All the cops, social workers, government bureaucrats, nurses, doctors, orderlies, ... all of us, ... we should recognize that it is WE who are the root of the problem. And to take the actions necessary to fix ourselves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

I Hope Biden Wins


It's still the case that if I wuz a US-American I would never vote for Joseph Biden. Because he's a stupid, pompous, right-wing asshole who helped build the culture that eventually produced a Trump [Electoral College] victory. Him and his scumbag buddies in the Democratic Party leadership stole the primary from Bernie Sanders and they should all be hanged. Still, I hope he wins. Because he's obviously not as stupid and repulsive and insane as Trump. Trump is deliberately eviscerating environmental legislation (because he's stupid and insane) and his presidency empowers white supremacists. Biden is the lesser evil. But I wouldn't feel like voting for evil were I a US-American.

The main reason I want Biden to win is because MAYBE after the betrayals of the Clintons, Pelosi, Schumer, Reid, Obama, ... the betrayals that perpetuated neoliberalism and brought us Trump, it will be the case that Biden's betrayals will penetrate the thick skulls (short memories?) of privileged, comfortable liberals, ... and/or "progressives" and they'll put their considerable resources to coming up with an alternative to "lesser evil" voting. 

It's possible that general revulsion towards the detestable Republican Party is so prevalent in the USA that there could be a sweep of the House, the Senate and the White House. And then Biden (the racist airhead) and Pelosi (the lazy, entitled, arrogant and stupid matriarch) and Schumer (the snivelling Wall Street toady) will so piss-off the population with their continuation of the oligarchy's inhuman demands, that there will be some genuine change.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Trump Gets Sick

 Some wonder if, after his disastrous "debate" performance, Trump saw the writing on the wall and is faking COVID-19 for sympathy purposes and to avoid the next scheduled meet-up between hisself and Biden.

But I think that even Trump could see that claiming to be sick from the virus he's spend the better part of a year downplaying (producing 100,000 excess deaths) would be damaging to his reputation in the eyes of those diseased minds that still revere him. Having COVID-19 tearing through the Whitehouse's inner circle shows even greater weakness.

No, Trump has the virus. And he's deliberately exposed dozens of people to it. Because he's insane and an idiot. And it appears that we can't expect much forthrightness from his medical staff. COVID-19 is long-term. Many have said there are periods when a person seems to improve before spiraling back down (sometimes to death). Any and all talk about Trump (despite needing heavy-duty steroids at time) being well enough to leave the hospital today should be taken with a grain of salt. This could even kill him and I can't say that I'd mind.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Michaels' York n' Caine

 Mike Myers (Caine & York!) invented the character Austin Powers. When I saw the original commercials for "International Man of Mystery" they resonated with me as a fellow white Canadians male who grew up in the late-1960'sm early-1970's. The colour, the lighting, the definition, the camera angles, ... this is the shit I pay attention too ... , Anyway, Michael York was perfectly cast for Powers' boss as was Michael Caine as Austin's Father. Brilliant.