“How long can we allow convenience, safety, and security to enable centralized authoritarian systems to shut down communication and free speech?
“What is the nature of this new centralizing authoritarian system?”
“What is the misanthropy that lies at the heart of a discourse that believes our speech needs to be controlled?”
“Where is the moral authority that is entitled to make those decisions on our behalf?”
That is what Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger have been brave enough to dare to ask and even braver, to answer, in the following videos of the pair joining Russell Brand in London for a live discussion of The Censorship-Industrial-Complex (joined by Tim Robbins and Stella Assange).
Shellenberger began by laying out the many governments enacting previously unthinkable laws encroaching on your free speech rights (and more) driven by ‘The Elites’ desire “to censor the authentic voice of the people.”
As he ended his initial thoughts, emotions began to well up as Shellenberger explained:
“The most painful thing – and there’s a lot of painful things that one goes through – is losing almost all of your friends as a consequence of using your speech.”
Something many on the right can empathize with.
But there is hope, as he noted: “The only positive thing to come out of this is to make new friends. It is not the most obvious thing you expect to lose all of your friends in your late 40s, but the ones you keep are so dear.”
Shellenberger turned to his ‘new’ friend Matt Taibbi, they embraced, and the legendary investigative reporter began… by noting that he had written 1000s of words for his opening statement but would instead cherry pick the most notable (since his friend Michael had done such a good job) – you can read Taibbii’s full note here.
Several points stood out from Taibbi’s summary including the day – during their Twitter Files discovery – that:
it became “clear that the idea behind the sweeping system of digital surveillance combined with thousands or even millions of subtle rewards and punishments built into the online experience, is to condition people to censor themselves…
…What Michael and I were looking at was something new, an Internet-age approach to political control that uses brute digital force to alter reality itself.”
In fact, he went on to warn ominously:
“…after enough time online, users will lose both the knowledge and the vocabulary they would need to even have politically dangerous thoughts.
What Michael calls the Censorship-Industrial Complex is really just the institutionalization of orthodoxy, a vast, organized effort to narrow our intellectual horizons.”
Citing a company called Graphika, Taibbi explains the causation:
“This continual process of seeding doubt and uncertainty in authoritative voices leads to a society that finds it too challenging to identify what’s true or false.”
The point he makes is if there is no ‘middle’ – you are either defined as ‘approved’ or ‘unapproved, or as Orwell put it ‘good’ or ‘ungood’ – individuals will naturally self-sort and self-homogenize, “and this is happening all across society.”
What happens to a society that doesn’t square its mental books when it comes to facts, truth, errors, propaganda and so on?
There are only a few options.
Some people will do what some of us in this room have done: grow frustrated and angry, mostly in private.
Others have tried to protest by frantically cataloging the past.
Most however do what’s easiest for mental survival. They learn to forget.
This means living in the present only. Whatever we’re freaking out about today, let’s all do it together. Then when things change tomorrow, let’s not pause to think about the change, let’s just freak out about that new thing. The facts are dead! Long live the new facts!
We’re building a global mass culture that sees everything in black and white, fears difference, and abhors memory.
Sadly, Brand notes that the framing of ‘free speech’ as only being an enabler of hate speech continues to dominate the narratives, and both Shellenberger and Taibbi reflected on the disappointing realization that despite all the ‘truths’ exposed by The Twitter Files, it has done little to shift the mainstream (in fact, it has done the opposite with the MSM directly targeting the reporters, and downplaying/normalizing the censorship (self-defined or imposed) we all live with every day. (Read more: Zero Hedge, 7/07/2023) (Archive)