(Article by Glenn Greenwald republished from Greenwald.Substack.com)
There has been some reporting — by me and others — on the new and utterly fraudulent “disinformation” industry. This newly minted, self-proclaimed expertise, grounded in little more than crude political ideology, claims the right to officially decree what is “true” and "false” for purposes of, among other things, justifying state and corporate censorship of what its “experts” decree to be "disinformation.” The industry is funded by a consortium of a small handful of neoliberal billionaires (George Soros and Pierre Omidyar) along with U.S., British and EU intelligence agencies. These government-and-billionaire-funded “anti-disinformation” groups often masquerade under benign-sounding names: The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Research Lab, Bellingcat, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. They are designed to cast the appearance of apolitical scholarship, but their only real purpose is to provide a justifying framework to stigmatize, repress and censor any thoughts, views and ideas that dissent from neoliberal establishment orthodoxy. It exists, in other words, to make censorship and other forms of repression appear scientific rather than ideological.
That these groups are funded by the West's security state, Big Tech, and other assorted politically active billionaires is not speculation or some fevered conspiracy theory. For various legal reasons, they are required to disclose their funders, and these facts about who finances them are therefore based on their own public admissions. So often the financing is funneled through well-established front groups for CIA, the State Department and the U.S. National Security State, such as “National Endowment for Democracy.”
As has always happened with censor-happy tyrants throughout history, the more centers of power inject themselves with the intoxicating rush of silencing their adversaries, the more intense the next hit has to be. Every movement that has wielded censorship as a political weapon tells itself the same story to justify it. In ordinary times, they will casually recite, free speech is a vital value. But these are no ordinary times in which we are living. Our enemies and their ideas are different. They are uniquely hateful, false, inflammatory, and dangerous. The ideas they espouse will destabilize society, cause direct harm to others, deceive people, and incite violence against institutions of authority and their followers. Thus, they reason, we are actually not censoring at all. We are simply preventing evil people from doing harm to society, the government, and to citizens.
Look to any government or society in which censorship prevailed — either today or throughout history. This narrative about why censorship is not just justified but morally necessary is always present. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a censorship supporter. They need to be supplied with a story about why they are something different, or at least why the censorship they are led to support is uniquely justified.
And it works because, in the most warped sense possible, it appeals to reason. If one really believes, as millions of American liberals do, that the U.S. faces two and only two choices — either (1) elect Democrats and ensure they rule or (2) live under a white nationalist fascist dictatorship — then of course such people will believe that media disinformation campaigns, censorship, and other forms of authoritarianism are necessary to ensure Democrats win and their opponents are vanquished. Once that self-glorifying rationale is embraced — our adversaries do not merely disagree with us but cause harm with the expression of their views — then the more suppression, the better. And that is exactly what is happening now.
Read more at: Greenwald.Substack.com