stalin was right: the social fascists are worse than the honest fascists

The Witch-Hunters
Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, Nov 28 2016

No one outside of a few obsessed cranks would’ve noticed it if the WaPo hadn’t given it front page prominence last week: a formerly obscure web site, propornot.com, which purports to identify a “Russian active measures” campaign with some very specific goals in mind As WaPo “reporter” Craig Timberg put it:

The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Hillary Clinton, helping Donald Trump and undermining faith in Pindosi democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

While the WaPo piece doesn’t link directly to the propornot site, because doing so would’ve exposed its laughably amateurish “methodology” for all to see, Timberg does mention their list of online Boris Badenovs, including not only Antiwar.com, but also the Drudge Report, WikiLeaks, David Stockman’s Contra Corner, the Ron Paul Institute, LewRockwell.com, Counterpunch, Zero Hedge, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truth-out, and a host of others. These sites, according to the WaPo, not only promoted a barrage of “fake news” with the aim of defeating Hillary Clinton, but they did so at the behest of a “centrally-directed” (per propornot) intelligence operation undertaken by the Russians. So what did this “fake news” consist of? Timberg “reports”:

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery, including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human ‘trolls,’ and networks of websites and social-media accounts, echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

Never mind that it was Hillary Clinton herself who heightened international tensions by threatening military retaliation against the Russians for supposedly unleashing via WikiLeaks a flood of embarrassing emails. In a speech touted as outlining her foreign policy platform, she railed:

You’ve seen reports. Russia’s hacked into a lot of things. China’s hacked into a lot of things. Russia even hacked into the DNC, maybe even some state election systems, so we’ve got to step up our game, make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us. As President, I will make it clear that Pindostan will treat cyber-attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses.

According to the “experts” at propornot, granted anonymity by Timberg due to alleged fear of “Russian hackers,” to so much as note this clear threat is to brand oneself as a “Russian agent of influence.” And what about Hillary Clinton’s health problems? Was reporting on this driven by Russian spies embedded in the alternative media? Or was it occasioned by this video, which saw her falling to the ground after leaving the 9/11 ceremony early? Are the folks at propornot and their fans at the WaPo saying the amateur videographer who took that footage is a Russian secret agent? Were the television networks and other outlets that showed the footage “useful idiots,” to employ a favorite cold war smear revived by propornot? Given their criteria for labeling people agents of the Kremlin, the answer to these questions has to be yes, and now we are falling down the rabbit hole, in a free-fall descent into lunacy. Propornot’s “criteria” for inclusion on their blacklist is actually an ideological litmus test. If you hold certain views, you’re in the pay of the Kremlin, or else an “unwitting agent” as former DCI Morell said of Trump. If you say anything at all positive about Russia or Putin or a long list of entities, like China or “radical political parties in Pindostan or Eurostan,” it’s a dead giveaway. We’re told:

Investigate this by searching for mentions of for example ‘russia’ on their site, by Googling for ‘site:whateversite.com Russia’ and seeing what comes up.

If only Sherlock Holmes had had Google at his disposal, those detective stories would’ve been a lot shorter! The propornot site is filled with complex graphs and the text is riddled with scientific-sounding phrases, but when you get down to it, their methodology boils down to this: if you don’t fit within a very narrow range of allowable opinion, either falling off the left edge or the right edge, you’re either a paid Russian troll or else you’re being “manipulated” by forces you don’t understand and don’t want to understand. Did you cheer on Brexit? You’re Putin’s pawn! Are you worried about “WW3, nuclear devastation etc” instead of being content in the knowledge that their preferred policy of unmitigated hostility toward Russia would “just result in a Cold War 2 and Russia’s eventual peaceful defeat, like the last time.” Clearly you’re either on Putin’s payroll or else you’d like to be. Other proscribed opinions include “gold standard nuttery and attacks on the dollar … the mainstream media can’t be trusted … anti-‘globalism.'” And to underscore their complete lack of self-awareness, we’re told that additional warning signs of Putinism are “hyperbolic alarmism” and “generally ridiculous over-the-top assertions.” In their world, it isn’t hyperbolic alarmism to point to ramshackle Russia, with a GDP equal to Spain’s and a declining military budget that pales before our own, as an existential threat to the West. And if you’re a reporter for the WaPo, which has destroyed what reputation it had by effectively becoming the house organ of the DNC, generally ridiculous overt-the-top assertions such as those proffered by propornot are “news.”

The WaPo piece also cites an article published on the “War On The Rocks” web site, which is exactly what it sounds like. The authors, a triumvirate of neocons, avers that they’ve been “tracking” “Russian propaganda” efforts since 2014 and they’ve concluded that the Grand Goal of the Russkies is to “Erode trust between citizens and elected officials and democratic institutions,” as if this process isn’t occurring naturally due to the depredations of a corrupt and arrogant political class. Another insidious theme of Russian “active measures” as identified by these geniuses is: “stoking fears over the national debt, attacking institutions such as the Federal Reserve, and attempts to discredit Western financial experts and business leaders.” So we mustn’t talk about the national debt, because to do so brands one as a cog in Putin’s propaganda machine. Based on these criteria, we can only conclude that every vaguely conservative politician running for office in the last decade or so is part of the Vast Russian Conspiracy, not to mention numerous economists. And that’s not all, not by a long shot. Here’s a list of more Forbidden Topics we’re not supposed to discuss, except maybe in whispers in the privacy of our own homes: “Police brutality, racial tensions, protests, anti-government standoffs, online privacy concerns and alleged government misconduct” are all emphasized by the Vast Russian Conspiracists to magnify their scale and leveraged to undermine the fabric of society. After all, Russia Today is “emphasizing” these issues, so mum’s the word! Yes, these people are serious, but why should anyone take them seriously? Why is the WaPo “reporting” this nonsense, and putting it on the front page, no less? In short, what’s the purpose of this virulent propaganda campaign? After all, Hillary Clinton has been defeated, along with her campaign theme of “A vote for Trump is a vote for Putin.” What does a continuation of this losing mantra hope to accomplish? The folks at propornot are explicit about their goal: they want the government to step in. They want to close down these “agents of influence.” In their own words, they want the FBI and the DoJ to launch “formal investigations” of the sites on their blacklist on these grounds:

The kind of folks who make propaganda for brutal oligarchies are often involved in a wide range of bad business.

They accuse the proprietors of the listed web sites, including us, by the way, of having “violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and other related laws,” but they say they want to “avoid McCarthyism”! They just want to shut us down and shut us up. These people are authoritarians, plain and simple: under the guise of fighting authoritarianism, they seek to ban dissenting views, jail the dissenters, and impose a narrow range of permissible debate on the public discourse. They are dangerous, and they need to be outed and publicly shamed. To be included on their list of “subversives” is really a badge of honor, and one we here at Antiwar.com wear proudly.

EU Votes For Citizens To Fund Their Own Brainwashing
Finian Cunningham, Russia Today, Nov 27 2016RT

A fledgling group set up by the European Commission to allegedly counteract “Russian propaganda” is to be expanded with more public cash and resources. European citizens will be funding mechanisms inducing their own ignorance and misinformation. This week, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted by a dubious majority for a cash injection to expand the work of a media watchdog aimed at “debunking Russian propaganda.” The little-known media group, reportedly comprising 11 “diplomats,” was established a year ago by the all-powerful but unelected European Commission. The media unit has therefore no electoral mandate. It is potentially holding sway over how 500 million EU citizens will be able in the future to access news and public information. In particular, it is evident the said EU media program is motivated by an extreme Russophobic bias. Working in tandem with this media watchdog is another coterie of seven parliamentarians headed by the rabidly anti-Russian Polish MEP Anna Fotyga. The 57-year-old member of the right-wing Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe within the EU Parliament has been regularly accusing Russia of “aggression” in Ukraine and toward Europe generally. Fotyga’s self-appointed media group, dominated by eastern European anti-Russian interests, produced a report earlier this year entitled “EU strategic communications with a view to counteracting propaganda.” It makes for hysterical reading accusing Russian news networks RT and Sputnik of being Kremlin propaganda tools for sowing division and discord among EU member states. The report states:

The Russian government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think-tanks, multilingual TV stations (eg Russia Today), pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services (eg Sputnik), social media and internet trolls, to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighborhood.

It was largely this tendentious “study” that formed the basis for the European Parliament’s resolution this week to expand funding for the media program to “debunk Russian propaganda.” How much new money is being disbursed to the media watchdog is not clear. But ultimately it will be funded by EU citizens whose taxes underwrite member governments’ financial contributions to the EU. The EU Parliament vote this week was far from convincing. Some 304 MEPs voted for extra funding to the “anti-Russian propaganda” group, while 179 MEPs voted against. A further 208 parliamentarians abstained. That suggests widespread apprehension among lawmakers about the function and credibility of “debunking Russian propaganda.” So here we have an outcome whereby a minuscule group of unelected faceless bureaucrats and ideologically driven politicians, who evidently have an ax to grind against Russia, are able to shape a vital area of foreign policy for the entire EU bloc and furthermore to significantly impinge on the public’s right to access information freely. The charges of “Russian state-sponsored propaganda” have been inflamed with recent claims by Western leaders like Obama and Merkel that “fake news” is undermining Western democracy. These claims have in turn followed months of reports from various NATO-linked think-tanks which have alleged that Russian news services are fronts for Kremlin-inspired disinformation. Political pressure is now being brought to bear on internet and social media providers such as Google and Facebook to ban “fake news” from their networks. Germany’s Merkel has even declared this week that she intends introducing legislation that will force internet service companies to “regulate fake news.”

It is not clear how far this development will go. Western-based internet companies may yield and impose blanket censorship. Another question is what are the limits on designating which information and sources are considered “fake”? The political atmosphere of Russophobia being whipped up by Western leaders, NATO-connected think-tanks and now EU parliamentarians, and the actual fingering of Russian news services like Russia Today and Sputnik as “illegitimate sources” is all setting the stage for the banning of Russian media. In reports this week, the EU media watchdog that is being expanded to “counter Russian propaganda” said that it would be employing ways of “alerting internet users to false information.” Presumably that involves hiring online commentators (trolls) who will add disparaging comments to news articles deemed to be Kremlin propaganda. Apparently there are no moves yet to demand that internet providers actually delete content, but full-blown censorship would seem to be only a short step away, given the relentless anti-Russian atmosphere and claims by Western leaders of “fake news” eroding democracy.

The insidious nature of what is unfolding is illustrated by the alleged incident of Belgian NATO fighter jets bombing Syria last month. On Oct 18, the village of Hassadjek in Aleppo was reportedly hit by air strikes that killed six civilians, according to local sources. Several news services including Reuters subsequently carried reports in which Russia’s Ministry of Defense accused Belgium of carrying out the strikes as part of the Pindo-led coalition purportedly bombing Syria to combat Jihadis. The Russian information appeared to be substantive, providing flight and radar data that identified the Belgian warplanes. Belgium’s ambassador was summoned in Moscow to explain why the Belgian government appeared to be stonewalling with denials that its air force was involved in the deadly attack. News reports of the alleged Belgian air strike on the Aleppo countryside last month are described as an example of “fake news” by the EU media watchdog during this week’s parliamentary vote to endorse more funding for the unit. This has huge sinister implications. Any news report or analysis, no matter how substantive or factual, that happens to offend the political sensibilities and reputation of EU governments are thus liable to be labeled “fake” and therefore subject to censorship. What about reports on Western governments supplying Jihadis with weapons? Or reports on how Western media are colluding with terrorist propaganda fronts like the White Helmets to fabricate allegations of Russian violations in the liberation of besieged Syrian city Aleppo? All such reports can be verified and documented. But because they happen to offend official Western claims about their involvement in Syria, then such “offending” reports can be merely dismissed as “Russian propaganda.” This marks an audacious license by Eurostan and Pindostan authorities to grant themselves immunity from media criticism and scrutiny, simply by invoking a subjective, politicized claim that Russian news is “fake” and “propagandistic.” Meanwhile, Poroshenko was being hosted this week in Brussels by EU leaders during which he warned:

The EU is under very severe attack from Russia.

There is no hint of awareness among European media outlets and the EU’s own media watchdogs that Poroshenko’s tedious tirades constitute a glaring case of “fake news.” A dystopian future beckons in which EU citizens are obligated to fund unelected media controllers who will deprive them of critical news and information, while at the same time sluicing citizens with the most gratuitous anti-Russian propaganda. The upshot is that EU citizens are gradually forced into paying for their own brainwashing. No wonder a growing number of citizens are becoming alienated from the EU’s oligarchic rule. It is acting like a tyranny that needs to be torn asunder.

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