Tag Archives: civil disobedience

The New York Times and the criminalization of dissent!

14 Oct

 

The unsubstantiated charges of Russian interference in the US elections have developed into an increasingly frenzied campaign to ascribe all opposition within the United States to the actions of a “foreign enemy.”

The campaign within the American media and political establishment over allegations of Russian “hacking” and manipulation of the US elections is being transformed into an increasingly frenzied demand for the criminalization of dissent.

During the first months of the Trump administration, the charges of Russian interference in US politics were primarily used to prosecute a struggle within the American ruling class centered on issues of foreign policy. The anti-Russian campaign has now developed into an effort to ascribe all opposition within the United States to the actions of a “foreign enemy.”

A series of increasingly ludicrous articles have appeared in the US press, channeling information supposedly gathered by the Senate Intelligence Committee from social media companies. The latest appeared on Tuesday in the New York Times, which has played the central role in the media campaign. The front-page article (“Russians Spun American Rage Into a Weapon: Facebook Posts in US Fueled Propaganda”) is a piece of pure political propaganda, filled with unsubstantiated statements, wild speculation and unsupported conclusions.

Social media posts from Americans, the Times asserts, have become “grist for a network of Facebook pages linked to a shadowy Russian company that carried out propaganda campaigns for the Kremlin.” The newspaper claims to have reviewed hundreds of these posts, concluding, “One of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.”

The article names several Facebook pages that it baldly asserts, without proof, were owned and controlled by the unnamed Russian company, including United Muslims of America, Being Patriotic, Secured Borders, and Blacktivist.

The entire premise of the Times article is absurd. Pages associated with Russia, it is claimed, are reporting and sharing expressions of anger, sowing discontent and divisions. United Muslims of America, for example, “frequently posted content highlighting discrimination against Muslims.” This, somehow, is criminal activity. Those who originally produced the content or shared the posts are acting, at best, as Russian patsies, and, at worst, as co-conspirators. The Times cites one Trump supporter who shared a post from the Being Patriotic group, characterizing him as “not bothered…by becoming an unwitting cog in the Russian propaganda machine.”

The claims of Russian manipulation read like the ravings of individuals suffering from paranoid delusions. According to an earlier statement from Republican Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russian “trolls” are responsible for pushing the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence. Russian “troll farms,” he claimed, were working to “raise the noise level in America.”

Clint Watts, a former top FBI agent who has testified at Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russian intervention in the elections and has been frequently quoted in the media, replied to Lankford’s comments by declaring, “The Russians can just sit back and say: ‘Amplify on both sides. Make people angry.’ And it works, man, God, it works.”

Such claims reproduce the worst tactics used during the period of McCarthyite redbaiting. What used to be called “Commie dupes” are now “Russian dupes.” (Unconcerned by the fact that the Soviet Union was dissolved over a quarter century ago, GQ magazine recently posted an article that featured a graphic replacing the “G” in “Google” with a hammer and sickle). Dissent and opposition, according to this line, are to be interpreted not as the product of internal divisions and social tensions, but the nefarious workings of a foreign power.

The Times article includes lines that read like they came straight from the proclamations of Senator Joe McCarthy or the files of J. Edgar Hoover. “The Russians,” it states, “appear to have insinuated themselves across American social media platforms and used the same promotional tools that people employ to share cat videos, airline complaints, and personal rants.” The article speaks of the need to “purge social media networks of foreign influence.”

And what was supposedly involved in this major “covert propaganda campaign?” According to US Senate investigators, Russian companies spent a total of $100,000 on Facebook advertisements to promote messages like those cited by the Times.

Another article appearing in the Times on Tuesday (“Google Inquiry Connects Election Ads to Russians”) asserts that “accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government” purchased a grand total of $4,700 worth of ads, while “a separate $53,000 worth of ads with political material…were purchased from Russian internet addresses, building addresses or with Russian currency…”

This is an infinitesimal fraction of what is spent by political campaigns awash in money from corporate executives and American plutocrats. Some $2.65 billion was spent by the Clinton and Trump campaigns and organizations supporting them during the presidential race. Nearly $7 billion was spent on all US federal elections last year. Yet the Russian government’s supposedly massive campaign of subversion and propaganda amounts to a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook, Twitter and Google!

 

 

The conclusions would be laughable if the consequence were not so serious.

The New York Times, in close coordination with the Democratic Party and the US intelligence agencies, is engaged in a campaign that is nothing less than criminal. It is engaged in a political conspiracy to outlaw dissent in the United States and justify state efforts to prohibit, blacklist and suppress speech, particularly on the Internet. If the Russian government is merely amplifying content produced by others—including videos depicting police violence and other crimes—then the logical conclusion is that this original content must be proscribed.

Any content or article, including from the Times itself, that examines social discontent in the United States is susceptible to being picked up by the Russians and promoted. Halting such “foreign intervention” requires a regime of censorship and self-censorship of and by all media outlets—precisely what exists in a dictatorship.

The basic target of the lying campaign over Russian manipulation of US public opinion is not Russia, but the American population. The state institutions and the two parties, Democratic and Republican, are deeply discredited and broadly hated. The working class does not need the Russian or Chinese governments to know that American society is massively unequal, that the political system is controlled by the rich, and that the police engage in brutal acts of violence on a daily basis.

Control of the Internet and the suppression of free speech online is a basic strategic issue for the American ruling class. The emergence of online communication and Internet platforms broke the control of the major media conglomerates over the distribution of information. Under conditions of growing popular opposition to social inequality and war, and deepening political crisis, establishing state control over the Internet is seen as a matter of the greatest urgency.

This is what Google has already begun to do. As the World Socialist Web Sitehas documented, changes to Google’s search algorithm in April, introduced under the pretext of combating “fake news” and promoting “authoritative content,” have resulted in a fall in referrals from Google to the WSWS by nearly 70 percent, and to 13 other left-wing sites by between 19 and 63 percent.

The actions of Google are only the beginning. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are preparing or have already begun to implement similar measures. The US Justice Department has demanded that staff at the American branch of Russian news agency RT register as foreign agents by October 17 or face possible arrest. This action will be used as a precedent for targeting left-wing and antiwar websites and organizations as agencies of a “foreign enemy” that must be shut down or censored.

It is necessary to organize the working class and youth against this neo-McCarthyite assault on free speech and the Internet, connecting the defense of democratic rights to opposition to social inequality, war, dictatorship and the capitalist system. Meetings must be organized throughout the country and internationally to expose what is taking place and mobilize opposition. The WSWS urges all its readers to sign the petition against Internet censorship and contact the Socialist Equality Party today.

Joseph Kishore

 

Order, Compliance, Obedience these are not Liberties – but unobstructed Civil Disobedience Is! All Oppression is connected! All Oppression is Violence!

Source: The New York Times and the criminalization of dissent – World Socialist Web Site

Advertisements

No War but Class War; This is what happens when you outlaw peaceful protest. The banning of peaceful protest from Egypt to Spain leaves citizens with no other way to express their opposition but through violence.

16 Dec

 

HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT

 TO DEMONSTRATE, TO PROTEST ARE OUR RIGHT

 

When the conservative government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy proposed a new law that would effectively ban protests near state buildings and impose hefty fines of up to 600,000 euros and even jail time on those trying to organize “unlawful” demonstrations via social media, they probably thought they were being clever. Now that the massive street protests that rocked Spain through 2011-’12 appear to have subsided, those in power probably expected the people to just take their Orwellian Citizens’ Security Law and suck it up.

But the people will have none of it. Instead of being cowered into submission, the decentralized coordinating platform of Spain’s powerful social movements immediately coalesced back into action, organizing a major demonstration in front of Congress last night. What happened next may well be a sign of what lies ahead for governments the world over as they seek to slam shut all doors — both institutional and non-institutional — to legitimate opposition and democratic participation. Thousands of protesters descended upon Congress and, as the cops tried to break up the demonstration, attacked them with bricks and bottles and smashed up their police cars.

1395173_10200379352121142_25301070_n[1]

Last night’s clashes in Madrid are only the latest in a long line of actions and reactions, uprisings and crackdowns, rebellions and repressions. All around the world, a nefarious process is afoot. In many of the countries that experienced dramatic social mobilizations from 2011 onward, terrified elites are now drawing up laws banning the type of street demonstrations that kick-started the Age of the Protester, desperately trying to institutionalize their Thermidorian counter-revolution now that the movements appear to be on the retreat. But everywhere these type of anti-protest legislations are being passed, the attempted closure is only drawing people back into the streets.

In Egypt, when the revolutionary movement suddenly resurfaced last month, the military-controlled government moved swiftly to implement a new law that would effectively ban all unauthorized gatherings of over 10 people. The day after the law was passed activists took to the streets of Cairo to denounce it and the regime responded by attacking and arresting the protesters, subjecting them to torture and sexual assault before dumping a number of them in the desert. Still, activists in Cairo warned that “we will not protest at the whim and convenience of a counter-revolutionary regime,” declaring that “the January 25 Revolution has returned to the streets.”

 

 

Apart from Egypt and Spain, similar anti-protest laws have been drafted up elsewhere as well. During the student uprising in Québec last year, politicians tried to deal with the outburst of popular indignation by pushing through emergency legislation banning the demonstrations. In Japan, the government is trying to do the same following the massive anti-nuclear demos after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. And wherever protest has not yet been made illegal by law, police forces are trying to do everything within their power to treat it as such — just take a look at the way cops treat students in the UK, or the coordinated fashion in which the federal government cracked down on the Occupy movement in the US.

The worldwide repression of popular protest should be seen as part of a general evolution in the nature of the capitalist state: away from a modicum of democratic accountability under the Keynesian social welfare state towards an ever more authoritarian neoliberal form. In this respect, the protest bans are indicative of a contradictory rearrangement of power relations. On the one hand, the movements have clearly left an impression: apparently the massive street demonstrations of recent years have terrified governments so much that they now consider such draconian measures necessary to maintain their grip on power. This reveals something about the ideological fragility of the dominant order, whose legitimacy was shaken to its very core by the uprisings of 2011-’13.

But when ideological power can no longer serve to restrain the masses within their straitjacket of “democratic” consent and complacency, pure physical force must make up for that lack of legitimacy. Machiavelli once conceptualized political power as a centaur — half man, half beast — both sides of which must be mobilized by the astute statesman in order to subdue his enemies; not least the rebellious multitude that in a state of discontent marches upon the palace gates. In his words, “there are two methods of fighting, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second.” And so we find ourselves at a historical crossroads: now that the ruling elite can no longer command the voluntary consent of the ruled, they will increasingly resort to the use of force in order to retain their position of privilege. This leaves the movements in a frightening predicament. If the state’s inner bestiality is taking over from its limited human capacity to dialogue and reason, can we really keep fighting it through the same means? Does it really make sense to reproach a rabid and murderous beast with the cunning reason of man? What is the point in peaceful protest if the state simply outlaws it and arrests us for disagreeing in public? What future is there for us if we are to be mercilessly jailed or bankrupted, our lives destroyed, simply for calling on our fellow human beings to peacefully speak out against injustice? What direction is the state driving us into? And can the movements be held responsible for what comes next?

These are questions we may not yet be able to answer, but as Machiavelli also crucially observed, we need to remind ourselves that no political authority can ever rule through force alone. Violence breeds violence, and perpetual cycles of retribution will even cost the victor dearly. It is not in the interest of the capitalist state to run its affairs purely on the basis of violence and terror. Sooner or later, the Leviathan will either have to make some serious compromises — or face the consequences. For those of us who desire peace, the future may not look pretty. A hungry beast is staring us in the eye. What do we do now? by Jerome Roos on December 15, 2013 http://roarmag.org

1455940_10200379368881561_1634079676_n[1]

 

 

 

 

Occupied London issue #5: ‘Disorder of the Day’ The last issue of the anarchist journal.

17 Nov

As the frames of revolt reach a dazzling speed, this last issue of the anarchist journal takes a step back to reflect on the uprisings of recent years.

OccupiedLondon[1]

Editorial by the Occupied London collective:

This is the last issue of Occupied London, a journal that started in the political freeze-frame that was London in the mid 00s. In December 2008, at the continent’s other end, the frames started moving again; as they sped up, new movements, revolts, ripples of transformation appeared. We changed our shape to respond to this unfolding condition. For a few years, we focused on regular blog updates from the streets in Greece; then, taking a few steps back and a deep breath, we put a book together, trying to understand the state of the antagonist movement in Greece with our comrades. And now? The frames have reached a dazzling speed; the consensus of democracy’s good ol’ times has broken and sheds its glass all over the continent, and beyond: the old world is in crisis, and along with it is its previously imposed global consensus on what counts as “progress”, “democracy” or “development”. Are these the creaks and sighs of a new global order settling, are they the early days of global economic fascism, or, could they be the cracks and moaning of its collapse?

Earth First News / We Resist!
Progressives readers & Revolutionary minds

The change in everything that we live through is dramatic — and the only way to respond to this new landscape is by changing the format through which we act, communicate, the way we do and spread our politics. If there is a lesson that we should have learned by now in this prolonged moment of crisis, it is that political action that isn’t versatile is doomed to be paralysed in a radical milieu that becomes rapidly outpaced, superseded by the anger of peoples the world over. What has it ever meant to be underground or radical? Whatever the answer, it had already mattered less and less so in, say, struggles over gender, race, or sexuality — now, with revolts becoming the (dis)order of the day, old identifications become obsolete in street politics, too. And so, this issue is an end and a beginning. It is the end of Occupied London as it existed so far: as irregular journal issues and as a single blog. From now on, we want to be able to respond faster and more acutely to what is playing out around us. Over the coming months, we will be working on both an expanded version of our “From the Greek Streets” blog and on a web platform that will allow for in-depth analysis of our time of global revolt. And then, on much more… We will not reveal much more about the full future format of Occupied London; suffice to say, we will continue updating the blog while we work on the shape of things to come. Around four years since our last print issue, we have decided to end this phase of the Occupied London project with one final tribute to our journal format. This, our last issue, features reflections from many recent sites of mass revolts from the past few years: it is reminiscent and eagerly awaiting the times to come…

1185656_618433904868145_32361403_n[1]

Download a PDF version of Occupied London #5 here.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

EDITORIAL
Occupied London

CRISIS, CITY AND DEMOCRACY
Ali B.

REPRESSIVE MEMORIES
Dawn Paley

A MOVEMENT OF ANTAGONISM IN THE CITY
Alessio Lunghi

HEROES OF THE STREET
Tucker Landesman

ONE MESSAGE LEADS TO ANOTHER
John Berger

ONE REVOLT LEADS TO ANOTHER
Occupied London

ON CONTOURS OF URBAN REVOLTS IN MARIBOR
Gal Kirn

STRATEGIC EMBELLISHMENT AND CIVIL WAR
Andy Merrifield

HELLO DR. STRANGELOVE
Dimitris Dalakoglou

MOMENTS OF CRISIS
Jacken Waters

STATEMENT ON THE ‘DISMANTLING’ OF GOLDEN DAWN
Occupied London

Illustrations kindly provided by the legendary Leandros from Greece and the incredible Painsugar Designworks from Indonesia.

Fonts: AmazingBasic, Straw Hat, old style smallcaps and Chapparal pro.

This journal exists because of Dawn, Andy, Gal, Alessio, Painsugar, Anna, Leandros, John, Dimitris, Hara, Ali, Tucker, Magpie, Jacken, Antonis, Smokey, Elena, Idris, Jaya, Matt, Ross and Krümel.

At the editors’ seat:
Antonis, Jaya and Dimitris.

At the designer’s seat:
Jaya.

The crew can be reached at: editorial@occupiedlondon.org

%d bloggers like this: