“From free speech to “spheres of influence” to our passion for endless war, we’ve become the doublethinkers 1984 predicted…A healthy person should be able to be horrified by what’s happening in Russia and also see a warning about the degradation that ensues from using “pre-emptive” force, or from trying to control discontent by erasing expressions of it…Russia also appears in the middle of a general crackdown on local media.
“This weekend I re-read 1984, a book I tend to reach for when I get Defcon-1 depressed about the state of the world. Deep in the novel, Winston ponders the intricacies of doublethink:
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them… To forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again… that was the ultimate subtlety.
In the last weeks, Russia took an already exacting speech environment to new extremes. A law was passed that would impose 15-year prison sentences for anyone spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine invasion; access was cut to Facebook and Twitter; stations like Echo Moskvi and TV Rain as well as BBC Russia, Radio Liberty, the New Times, Deutsche Welle, Doxa, and Latvia-based Meduza were effectively shut down; Wikipedia was threatened with a block over its invasion page; and national authorities have appeared to step in to prevent coverage of soldiers killed in the war, requiring local outlets to use terms like “special operation” instead. The latter development is connected to the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, issuing a remarkably desperate dictum requiring news outlets to “use information and data received by them only from official Russian sources.”
Russia also appears in the middle of a general crackdown on local media, not so much because those outlets are dissenting, but because they’re more likely to provide indirect evidence of war failures or the effect of sanctions. The desperation to control news has grown to the point where Russian diplomats in foreign countries are pressuring state outlets in countries like Iran to stop using the term “war” to describe what’s going on in Ukraine.
On the flip side, a slew of actions have been taken to crack down on “fake news” and “misinformation” in the West. The big one was the European Union banning RT and Sputnik:
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube also cut access to all Russian state media, because the EU sanctions also required that internet platforms delist any RT or Sputnik content, even from individuals. The statute reads, “As regards the posts made by individuals that reproduce the content of RT and Sputnik, those posts shall not be published, and if published, shall be deleted.”
Other governments across the West, from Australia to Canada, have taken similar actions. In the U.S., Google and YouTube disallowed Russian state media ads (following a request by Senator Mark Warner) and demonetized “a number of Russian channels,” including RT but also many non-Russian individuals, before proceeding to demonetize all individual Russian content creators, even the individuals opposing the invasion.
Even DuckDuckGo, the speechier, more pro-privacy alternative to Google, announced it was de-ranking “sites associated with Russian disinformation.” A growing list of Westerners have seen accounts frozen for supposed parroting of Russian talking points or “abusive” commentary.
YouTube banned Oliver Stone’s documentary Ukraine on Fire, while Netflix is going so far as to shelve a production of Anna Karenina.
In what might have been the craziest move of all, Meta reportedly followed up a decision to un-ban the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion with a mind-blowing decision to alter its hate speech policies to “allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion,” according to internal emails seen by Reuters.
One would hope there would be at least a few Americans left who’d hear about Russia barring the BBC and Voice of America and at least recognize the sameness of the issue involved with banning RT and Sputnik. Or, seeing how pathetic and manipulative it is for Russians to prevent reporting on war casualties, we’d recall the folly of the ban we had for nearly twenty years on photographs of military coffins, or the continuing pressure on embeds to avoid publishing images of American deaths from our own war zones.
We should be able to read that Twitter and Facebook are cracking down on the “fake accounts” spreading “misinformation” that “Ukraine isn’t doing well” and notice that Russia’s measures against “fake news” and “disinformation” about its own military failures — though far more draconian and carrying much more severe penalties — are rooted in the same concept.
We don’t, however, because we long ago reached the doublethink phase predicted by Orwell, where most of the population is conscious of double standards but ignores them effortlessly. A healthy person should be able to be horrified by what’s happening in Russia and also see a warning about the degradation that ensues from using “pre-emptive” force, or from trying to control discontent by erasing expressions of it. But years of relentless propaganda have trained Americans to doublethink their way out of such insights. Cornel West just laid all of this out in an interview with the New Yorker
Taibbi also writes, “The Media Campaign to Protect Joe Biden Passes the Point of Absurdity. A development in the infamous laptop story further proves the “Russian Disinformation” tale was itself dis- information, shaming a herd of craven media stenographers:
— Washington Accuses Russia of Committing War Crimes in Ukraine: Terrible and True, But US War Crimes?
— The Russia – Ukraine Tragedy
— Biden’s Draft Deferments During War Equal Cheney’s
— Interview With Tulsi Gabbard on war, Mitt Romney, accusations of treason, the intel community, and Ukraine
— Putin’s reported purge of ‘traitors’ scoops up pensioners, foodies and peaceniks
— BBC: No Way Out for Putin. Gabriel Gatehouse speaks to Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian parliament who is fighting in Ukraine – against Russia
— Ukraine disappointed in NATO. Expected More Bravery
— Trump showing himself “rudderless?”
— Buchanan, March 25: Is Victory for Ukraine Worth Risking Nuclear War? How Did We Get Here?
— John Allen, Crux: Pope to consecrate Russia by name to Immaculate Heart of Mary (says Francis is very traditional)
— Counterpunch: The CIA in Ukraine
— Trump too is toying with nuclear WWIII
–— Zelensky Bans Political Opposition, Nationalizes Media to Create ‘Unified’ Information by Kyle Anzalone
— Trent Horn and Michael Lofton. The Spiritual Battle for the Ukraine
— March 19: Looming Food Crisis From Ukraine War. A Report
— Mixed signals from Ukraine’s president and his aides leave West confused about his endgame. Concessions?
— National Catholic Register, March 18: “Make no mistake: Russia is the party that bears primary responsibility for initiating this fratricidal conflict. It’s Russia who is acting like Cain…
— Patrick Buchanan, March 18: US Vital Interests Dictate an End to This War
— March 18. Putin’s Turkish-Mediated Peace Plan?
— March 17: Putin reportedly “an unabashed admirer of Stalin and has worked — successfully, in Russia — to rehabilitate his image. And is beginning to sound like him“
— Ukraine Mounts Counteroffensive
— Ukrainian President Zelensky Addresses Congress and American Citizens.
— How Putin’s Oligarch’s Bought London
— Biden’s ‘war criminal’ accusation is ‘unforgivable,’ says Kremlin
— Russia, China Declare a New World Order
— Galloway digs in for Putin
— Putin’s Useful Idiots.
— Putin Arrests Military Chief
— The violin, “weapon of resistance” of Ukrainian musicians
— March 17: UN Reports 780 Civilian Deaths in Ukraine
— The strange case of George Galloway, unionism and Putin’s RT mouthpiece
— Glenn Greenwald: Romney’s “Treason” Smear of Tulsi Gabbard is False and Noxious, But Now Typifies U.S. Discourse
—March 15: Russia killing “countless” civilians –UN. “Orcs of Mordor“.
—- American who said he went to help Ukrainians fight Russians claims such idealistic brave efforts are a very dangerous “trap”
— March 15: Putin Nationalizes Western Assets
— March 15: U.S. warns China not to assist Russia
— The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF; Russian: is a communist political party in Russia that adheres to Marxist–Leninist philosophy. It is the second-largest political party in Russia after United Russia. The youth organisation of the party is the Leninist Young Communist League. — Wikipedia
—March 15: Patrick Buchanan: Is There a Peace Deal Putin and Zelensky Can Accept?
Curious Flashback: “Three years after Nikita Khrushchev sent Soviet tanks into Budapest to crush the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Soviet premier was riding up Pennsylvania Avenue in an open convertible with Dwight Eisenhower to spend the night at Blair House before a 12-day tour as the guest of the president of the United States.” — Buchanan
— Opinion. Archbishop Viganò: Globalists have fomented war in Ukraine to establish the tyranny of the New World Order
—March 15: Rubio warns that people should “be aware hard economic times are coming… Food shortages…”
— Pope to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to Immaculate Heart of Mary
Kremlin arrests FSB chiefs in fallout from Ukraine chaos
“The defenestration of several senior spies is a sign of Putin’s growing fury towards the intelligence services…”
— March 14: Putin warns U.S. Military Aid is a “Legitimate target,” playing with fire.
— Ukraine President Foresees ‘New Stage of Terror’ as Russia Steps Up Strikes Near Kyiv
— US weapons sector had a good day on Thursday, with Senator Rand Paul’s effort to block a $2 billion weapons sale to Egypt rejected in the upper chamber. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, vowed to grant Colombia a “non-NATO major ally designation” and made good on promises to hand Qatar the same status, setting the stage for future arms deals.
—Poland Warns Can No Longer Absorb Ukrainian Refugees
—New Front in War Drags Oligarch’s Into Spotlight
— BBC Report: Russia widens assault to hit military base near Poland
— If a nuclear war broke out between the West and Russia
— March 15- John Allen, Crux: Head of Russian Orthodox Church Backs Putin as Rift Erupts Within Worldwide Orthodoxy
— And then there was Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard