Censorship by Google and Facebook is a reality that should be of great concern to lovers of freedom of expression and of freedom of choice. It made me glad to see that Tucker Carlson (an American conservative political commentator for Fox News) and Mark Steyn (a Canadian author and political commentator) joined to discuss the social-media cartel’s increasing control of the Internet, and of ideas.
Justice needs to be done in describing the combined influence of Google and FB. It is not merely deliberate censorship that rules all. Some of it happens by accident or perhaps on account of opportunities, an unavoidable consequence of a society that transformed itself, from having conversations via full sentences by talking face-to-face, to communicating in sound bites, images, icons and abbreviations by means of wagging thumbs instead of tongues.
In 1936 I was born into a totalitarian regime and became eventually educated by it, as well as that I came to experience its liberalization and gradual conversion to liberal totalitarianism that began during the late 1940s and early 1950s. I developed an interest in how censorship works under the symbiosis or interplay of the three major forces that drive censorship: Government, business, and the propaganda machine. Let there be no mistake. Political parties no longer play dominating key roles but now have only supporting roles. They are now just opportunists who run along or come along for the ride. They come and go. The three main players – government, business, and the propaganda machine – always are; they just adjust and develop the rules and the tools they use in shaping the circumstances to their liking.
The respective influences by the three players may vary a little with the progress of social evolution in a given country and now the world, but those are the three player positions filled by conglomerates of individuals and interest groups. It somewhat matters who has the ball at a given time, but the most important aspect of the game that they play – against those who don’t even have a copy of the rule book – is that the three players are a team that makes the masses react according to the script that the team uses for steering and controlling the masses.
During the Hitler era, propaganda was an art, but Hitler, as well as his Minister of Propaganda, Goebbels, had on their book shelves copies of the book, “Propaganda” by Edward Bernays. They proudly showed that book to (especially) visitors from the United States, a book that they used as the instruction manual for forging the rise to power of the Nazi regime. That book laid the foundation for what propaganda has since become, a science. Edward Bernays would not have been able to make the good living he did make from promoting the tools of propaganda if Hitler and Goebbels would have been the only ones who bought into his ideas. Bernays had a large, world-wide market in which to sell his ideas, but the good, old U. S. of A. were his home base.
The censorship rule-book changes, as social evolution moves, say, from a dictatorship to a “free” society, but the actors imposing censorship that helps to move society into the direction desired by the movers and shakers of society bring their expertise to bear in a “free” society as much as they do under a dictatorship. They march under a different tune, but they still march. If given enough leeway and profit incentives, they essentially play the role of a military junta in a totalitarian regime of sort. They themselves get to determine what the tune is according to which a propaganda machine marches. The propagandists are then no longer the tools of a totalitarian ruler but become themselves the rulers of the masses and of its “leaders” who, ideally, labour under the illusion that they have “freedom of choice” in a “free” society.
More realistically, the leaders in the know will ask or beg the propaganda machine to help them out. Elected legislatures are thereby relegated to playing by the script designed by the team, having been “elected” by voters who chose them according to the same script.
It matters little from where the journey of a given country in the social evolution toward the desired end began. It does matter a lot that all sectors of the masses – countries, regions, factions, social institutions, and the whole population of the world – move into the desired direction.
In about 1989 I came to be one of the increasing numbers of members of the masses who rejoiced in being able to express themselves via the Internet, without any political constraints other than common sense and decency. I soon began to construct a website to give my urge to be able to express myself focus, that of a pro-family- and pro-father-rights activist. The website became popular and by 2007 experienced 1.5 million page views per year. Then, in the space of a little more than a year, and in leaps and bounds, the popularity of the website declined and caused the website to receive no more than about ten percent of the annual volume of traffic it had received in 2007.
Of course, I would have been a fool if I would not have tried to determine what the nature and causes of the massive decline in popularity were (even though the website was free of advertising and of any profit motivation). I described my experiences and what I had learned in a number of commentaries (some of which can – including corroborating evidence – be looked up at here: http://blog.fathersforlife.org/?s=censorship ), but it is not my intention here to draw attention to them.
I witnessed the gradual usurpation of the freedom of expression made available by the Internet and saw how that was done, first by Google, and then I saw Facebook join Google’s effort to usurp the Internet and to increasingly impose their joint-junta-style of dictatorial rule. The effects and consequences of that and what they mean to freedom of expression and our gradually losing it are summarized in Mark Steyn’s and Tucker Carlson’s discussion of the information monopoly. We all now have to worry a lot about the information monopoly, but old codgers like I will soon be relieved from that duty. I wish I could stick around to see how things will turn out in the end.
One thing is certain. Compared to what is happening now (and it is still happening ever more, ever faster), as far as applied censorship and propaganda go, Hitler, Goebbels, Stalin and Mao Zedong were mere pikers. They got their way using brute force. Today’s team brought about far greater social reconstruction and changes using nothing more than gentle persuasion under the cloak of freedom of choice. With apologies to Boss Tweed, the team does not care what the masses choose, as long as the team can decide what there is to choose from.