Silicon Valley is Ushering in Technocratic Fascism, Replacing the Deep State
The Deep State and Silicon Valley: is it a match made in heaven or hell? It depends on your perspective. Those who spy from the Deep State will find web sites like Facebook or Google ever more useful tools through which to pursue “research” and spread propaganda. But if you’re one of billions of Internet users, discovering that your favorite search engines, social media applications, and information sources are influencing content and monitoring its use might be hell. Or at least that might be one form of it. Silicon Valley has become the handmaiden of what might be called “technocratic fascism.” It’s the latest reiteration of the Deep State, or the Inquisitions of past centuries.
Some constituencies, lobbies, pressure groups, and government agencies, many of which pursuing agendas—often surrounding national security—unknown to most Americans, make up the Deep State, according to former CIA analyst and well-known commentator Philip Giraldi. The Deep State implies that the elected officials are not really in charge. It makes sense. (Source: “How America’s Deep State Operates to Control the Message,” Strategic Culture Foundation, November 17, 2017.)
A Deep State provides continuity from one elected official to the next in the interest of stability. Giraldi suggests that a country perpetually being, “at war,” despite the evidence that wars produce only failure and do nothing to advance national security, is a sign of the Deep State. President Dwight Eisenhower suggested as much in his famous “industrial military complex” speech.
The ever-more-active propaganda machine has been working overtime to chill relations between Russia and the United States—or Russia and the West—to temperatures experienced only at the Earth’s poles in their respective winter seasons. Social media has done more to advance this cause than the Deep State could ever have imagined or conceived. There’s even tangible evidence that this is working.
Trump and Congress have passed a $700.0-billion defense budget. The higher the degree of tension between Washington and Moscow, the higher Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) stock flies. Indeed, if there’s any benefit to American citizens from the “fake news” hysteria and Silicon Valley’s ambitions to supplant the Deep State itself, it’s that as investors, you can count on a handful of stocks to outperform all others: defense and tech/social media.
Russiagate and How Social Media is Replacing the Deep State
There can be no clearer example of the censorship that Facebook and Google are planning than the latest “initiatives” to combat “fake news.” Fake news in itself has become an abused phrase, whose terms of reference are totally unhinged from any reality. Of course, to nobody’s surprise, the target and scope of the propaganda is Russia. Russia is the Marcia Brady to Facebook’s Jan Brady. Whatever happens that contradicts the Silicon Valley narrative or imagination, blame it on Russia, Russia, Russia!
Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), whose ambitious boss Mark Zuckerberg is no lazy slouch, has taken the bull by the proverbial horns. As irritating as “the Zuck’s” zeal can be, this latest Facebook feature is sure to trump it, no pun intended. Facebook will soon introduce a new and apparently much-needed feature, straight out of the Mao Cultural Revolution playbook.
This feature or “resource” will help users identify which “Russian propaganda” outlets they’ve fallen victim to. It’s pure censorship, straight and simple. (Source: “Facebook to Show Users Which Russian Propaganda They Followed,” Bloomberg, November 22, 2017.)
Indeed, it is as sinister as it sounds. Witch hunts and inquisitions were once led by a handful of well-placed individuals. They were among humanity’s most inhuman trials. The church’s trial against Giordano Bruno comes to mind; he was burned alive for his ideas about the nature of God and the universe.
Now, the exalted in lofty positions won’t be the only ones with the power to have an executive role in the modern-day version of the witch hunt. Facebook users will feel as if they have the same power as the inquisitors, being able to find out the “propaganda” crimes and their perpetrators. Of course, at no point will these newly minted arbitrators of truth and dogma question the fact they will be judging solely based on what Facebook, Google, etc. have told them.
They won’t question it. So if you like the independent and alternative views and opinions that news outlets like Russia Today (RT) offer, Zuckerberg and the fine folks at Google would like to steer you away from such ideas—and for your own good. The best part is that they’ll censor your access to all kinds of information and then make you thank them for it. (Source: “The Plutocrats Are Pursuing Internet Censorship And They’re Barely Even Hiding It,” Medium, November 22, 2017.)
They have taken the responsibility to decide how to formulate your opinions for you. The next step, evidently, is that they will literally vote for you–or through you–as well. The process is about to start. Google’s Eric Schmidt said the world’s most popular search engine will start hiding articles by RT and Sputnik to shield them from “misinformation,” all the while reiterating his aversion to “censorship.” (Source: Ibid.)
Frankly, what need is there for the ‘deep state’ to intervene in guiding collective thought when in America–and the rest of the so-called “free world”–the richest corporations, led by the richest individuals have literally replaced the State? There’s an ever-hazier border between the actions and ideas of the major social media outlets and the censorship of the ideological dictatorships such as Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia, or present day North Korea. The difference might be that the Facebooks of this world can operate in an even more sinister way. They penetrate directly into the home and have a better idea of your “mind” than any State apparatus could ever achieve. Social media is becoming the Deep State.
People should not make decisions based on Facebook. Part of being an adult is staying informed and critically evaluating information. That’s the only way to combat “fake news” or what in saner days used to be called propaganda. I don’t blame the internet for Trump. After all, Trump is the only reason we’re talking about fake news. There are so many examples of fake news/propaganda that nobody is immune, and it has nothing to do with Russia. The fake news alarmists have borrowed many a page from Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl.
Some Are Starting to Strip Silicon Valley’s Pristine Veneer
Early investors and promoters of social media giants have started to call out the information/propaganda control or “Deep State” pretensions of social media. Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor, has accused the web site of being addictive. Even more significant is McNamee’s comparison of Facebook to the Nazi propaganda machine. He accuses Facebook of excelling in misinformation and brainwashing. This is what McNamee, an early investor in the company, denounced in several interviews and an article in The Guardian. (Source: “How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy,” The Guardian, November 11, 2017.)
McNamee suggests, echoing Facebook’s original president and Napster guru Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in the Hollywood movie “The Social Network”), that Facebook has adopted insidious practices intended to misinform and brainwash. Thus, they can lead to people believing things that aren’t true. McNamee raises the issue of “Russiagate.” However, a better example might be the Arab Spring.
In Tunisia and Egypt, social revolts erupted in January 2011. They both led to the overthrow of established and well-rooted regimes. To explain the sudden and remarkable phenomenon, many analysts cited the use of Twitter, Facebook and social media. As an analyst and commentator of what came to be known as the “Arab Spring,” this explanation always rang hollow. Sure, social media can be useful in advising people, even like-minded ones, to gather at a given place and time, but does it also infuse the “social media” users with the courage needed to stage a revolution in highly politically repressed environments? Apparently, it can, if we go by McNamee and Parker’s accusations. Facebook’s Zuckerberg and others in the actual and metaphorical “Silicon Valley” love to portray themselves as the promoters of democracy and freedom against fascism and backward thinking.
They dress down in public, wearing cheap and ugly outfits to look like some version of the common man, even if they have billions of dollars to deliver a message of humility. It’s a fake humility, of course, that’s part of the carefully cultivated image of libertarian disruption that Silicon Valley believes it represents. Its slogan of choice is “change the world.” The technology of Silicon Valley presents itself with utopian ambitions; it promises to make the world a better and more democratic place, which challenges special interests and conservative privileges. (Source: “Change the World,” The New Yorker, May 27, 2013.)
Of course, neither Facebook nor Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) built their platforms to serve democracy, libertarian ideals, or social progress. Rather, they did it for that oldest and most classic of purposes: to make money. That’s more than fair; it’s natural. However, what might be less than fair are the Goebbels-like “algorithms” that McNamee and Parker accuse Facebook of using.
Facebook has “altered” the people’s minds using disinformation according to McNamee. Parker made it clearer, saying that social media takes advantage of people’s innate psychological vulnerabilities, using an algorithm that encourages the setting in of addiction, just like cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. Facebook, moreover, uses the techniques used by the pioneer of advertising and public relations, Edward Bernays. He used these techniques to create veritable social phenomena, like smoking for women. Even Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda boss has found a way to advance his”‘legacy” through Facebook, suggested McNamee. (Source: “Facebook ‘uses techniques of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels’, former investor says,” The Telegraph, November 10, 2017.)
Propaganda is Not New, But Technology Makes it More Insidious than Ever
Of course, the Facebook critics have not really revealed anything especially groundbreaking. Propaganda is a word that goes back to the Reformation (16th century). Moreover, one of the true strategists of political propaganda is Gustave Le Bon. His The Psychology of Crowds, which I have reviewed here, is a veritable manual on generating popular consensus. No wonder it is said to have been one of Benito Mussolini’s favorite books.
Indeed, you don’t need Facebook’s first investors and company officers to tell you the business exploits propaganda techniques. That should have been obvious. Mass communication can fuel mass consensus or mass dissent, depending on the manipulator’s goals. Mass communication even existed in ancient Rome, where populist politics as practiced by the Graccus brothers existed in the second century before Christ. Mass communication, in the form of iconography as depicted in the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, helped advance the Church’s message and control 11th century society. But even a group of friends can influence each other; it’s up to the receiver of the information to determine what is or isn’t fact. And in political terms, it’s up to the receiver of the information to determine whether the latter is part of a wider agenda or project.
The real vulnerability is that not everybody is able to discern truth form fact in conversation, let alone in a context of hundreds of “data points” and opinions hammering them at Facebook-level intensity. Social media like Facebook, Google, and others have magnified the effects of information and propaganda. They may have even replaced “phony relationships for real relationships” while not being accountable for their actions, as McNamee accuses. (Source: Ibid.)
Facebook has become a distillate of all the techniques of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels, the ad agencies, the media, television, and all of other forms of communication. It’s bound to addict anyone. It changes everyone’s relationship with society, as Parker said.