Censorship Chris Hedges Media

Hedges: American Commissars

Social media platforms are aggressively censoring all who challenge the dominant narrative on Ukraine, the ruling Democratic Party, the wars in the Middle East and the corporate state.
“Enough Said.” [Original illustration by Mr. Fish]

By Chris Hedges | Original to ScheerPost

The ruling class, made up of the traditional elites that run the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, is employing draconian forms of censorship on its right-wing and left-wing critics in a desperate effort to cling to power. The traditional elites were discredited for pushing through a series of corporate assaults on workers, from deindustrialization to trade deals. They were unable to stem rising inflation, the looming economic crisis and the ecological emergency. They were incapable of carrying out significant social and political reform to ameliorate widespread suffering and refused to accept responsibility for two decades of military fiascos in the Middle East. And now they have launched a new and sophisticated McCarthyism. Character assassination. Algorithms. Shadow banning. De-platforming.

Censorship is the last resort of desperate and unpopular regimes. It magically appears to make a crisis go away. It comforts the powerful with the narrative they want to hear, one fed back to them by courtiers in the media, government agencies, think tanks and academia. The problem of Donald Trump is solved by censoring Donald Trump. The problem of left-wing critics, such as myself, is solved by censoring us. The result is a world of make-believe.

YouTube disappeared six years of my RT show, “On Contact,” although not one episode dealt with Russia. It is not a secret as to why my show vanished. It gave a voice to writers and dissidents, including Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, as well as activists from Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, third parties and the prison abolitionist movement. It called out the Democratic Party for its subservience to corporate power. It excoriated the crimes of the apartheid state of Israel. It covered Julian Assange in numerous episodes. It gave a voice to military critics, many of them combat veterans, who condemned US war crimes.

It no longer matters how prominent you are or how big a following you have. If you challenge power, you are at risk of being censored. Former British MP George Galloway detailed a similar experience during an April 15 panel organized by Consortium News in which I took part:

I have been threatened with travel restrictions were I to continue the television broadcast I had been doing for almost an entire decade. I have been stamped by the false label ‘Russian State Media,’ which I never had, by the way, when I was presenting a show on Russian state media. It was only given after I ceased to have a show on Russian state media, ceased because the government made it a crime for me to do so.

My 417,000 Twitter followers had been gaining a thousand a day, going like a runaway train, then suddenly it hit the buffers when the Elon Musk story emerged. I expressed the view that oligarch that he no doubt is, I prefer Elon Musk to the kings of Saudi Arabia, who it turns out are presently major shareholders in the Twitter company. As soon as I joined that fight, my numbers literally crashed to a halt, with shadow bans and all the rest of it…

All of this is happening before the consequences of the economic crash brought about by western policy and our misnamed leaders has really hit yet. When economies begin to not just slow down, not just hiccup, not just experience levels of inflation not seen for years, or decades, but becomes a crash, as well it might, there will be even more for the state to suppress, especially any alternative analysis as to how we got here and what we must do to get out of it.

Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq and Marine Corp intelligence officer, called out the lie about weapons of mass destruction prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Recently, he was banned from Twitter for offering a counter narrative about dozens of killings in the Kyiv western suburb of Bucha. Many of the victims in Bucha were found with gunshot wounds to the head and with their hands tied behind their back. International observers and eyewitnesses have blamed Russia for the killings. Ritter’s alternative analysis, right or wrong, saw him silenced.

Ritter lamented the Twitter ban at the forum: 

It took me three years to get 4,000 followers on Twitter. I thought that was a big deal. Then this Ukraine thing comes up. It exploded. When I got suspended for the first time for questioning the narrative in Bucha my account had just gotten over 14,000. By the time my suspension was lifted I was up to 60,000. By the time they suspended me again I was close to 100,000. It was out of control, which is why I am convinced the algorithm said: You must delete. You must delete. And they did. The excuse they gave was absurd. I was abusive and I was harassing by telling what I thought was the truth. 

I don’t have the same insight in the Ukraine I had in Iraq. Iraq, I was on the ground doing the job. But the techniques of observation and evaluation that you are trained as an intelligence officer to apply to any given set apply to Ukraine today. Simply looking at the available data set, you cannot help but draw the conclusion that it was Ukrainian national police, mainly because you have all the elements. You have motive. They don’t like Russian collaborators. How do I know? They said so on their website. You have the commander of the national police ordering his people to shoot people in Bucha on the day in question. You have the evidence. The dead bodies on the street with white armbands carrying Russian food packets. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Could there be data out there I am not aware of? Absolutely. But it is not there. As an intelligence officer I take the available data. I access the available data. I provide assessments based on that available data. And Twitter found that objectionable.

Two pivotal incidents  contributed to this censorship. The first was the publication of classified documents by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The second was the election of Donald Trump. The ruling class was unprepared. The exposure of their war crimes, corruption, callous indifference to the plight of those they ruled and extreme concentration of wealth shredded their credibility. The election of Trump, which they did not expect, made them afraid they would be supplanted. The Republican Party establishment and the Democratic Party establishment joined forces to demand greater and greater censorship from social media.

Even marginal critics suddenly became dangerous. They had to be silenced. Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate in 2016, lost about half her social media following after mysteriously going offline for 12 hours during the campaign. The discredited Steele dossier, paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, charged Stein, along with Trump, with being a Russian asset. The Senate Intelligence Committee spent three years investigating Stein, issuing five different reports before exonerating her.

Stein spoke of the threat to freedom of speech during the forum: 

We are in an incredibly perilous moment.It’s not only freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but it is really democracy in all its dimensions that is under threat. There are all these draconian laws now against protest. There are 36 that have been passed that are as bad as a 10-year prison sentence for demonstrating on a sidewalk without a permit. They differ state by state. You need to know the laws in your state if you protest. Drivers have been given license to kill you if you are out in the street in some states as part of a protest.

The first indication that we were not only being marginalized – one accepts that if you defy established power and practice independent journalism, you will be marginalized – but censored came in November 2016. Craig Timberg, a technology reporter for the Washington Post, published a story headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.”  It referred to some 200 websites, including Truthdig where I wrote a weekly column, as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”

Unnamed analysts, described as “a collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds” from the anonymous “organization” PropOrNot, made the charges in the story. PropOrNot’s report drew up “the list” of 200 offending sites that included WikiLeaks, Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Naked Capitalism, Counterpunch, AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute. All these sites, they said, either wittingly or unwittingly functioned as Russian assets. No evidence was offered for the charges, since of course there was none. The only common denominator was that all were critics of the Democratic Party leadership.

When we challenged the story, PropOrNot tweeted out: “Awww, wook at all the angwy Putinists, trying to change the subject – they’re so vewwy angwy!!”

We were blacklisted by anonymous trolls who sent out Twitter messages, later deleted, that sounded as if they were written by a gamer living in his parent’s basement.

Timberg did not contact any of us beforehand. He and the paper refused to reveal the identity of those behind PropOrNot. I taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. If one of my students had turned in Timberg’s story as a class assignment, he or she would have failed.  

The established elites desperately needed a narrative to explain the defeat of Hillary Clinton and their own growing unpopularity. Russia fit. Fake news stories, they said, had been planted by Russians in social media to elect Trump. All critics, on the left and the right, became Russian Assets. Then the  fun began.

The outliers many of us find repugnant began to disappear. In 2018, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify deleted  the podcasts, pages and channels of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website from their platforms. The precedent was set. Once they could do it to Jones, they could do it to anyone.

Twitter, Google, Facebook and Youtube used the charge of foreign influence to start employing algorithms and shadow banning to silence critics. Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, chair of the  Kingdom Holding Company, which dismissed Elon Musk’s recent offer to buy the social media platform, has a large stake in Twitter. It is hard to find a more despotic regime than Saudi Arabia, or one more hostile to the press, but I digress.

Sites that once attracted tens or hundreds of thousands of followers suddenly saw their numbers nosedive. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content” and downgrade “offensive” material. Traffic fell for sites such as Alternet by 63%, Democracy Now by 36 %, Common Dreams by 37 %, Truthout by 25 %, The Intercept by 19% and Counterpunch by 21%. The World Socialist Web site saw its traffic fall by two-thirds. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were all but erased. Mother Jones editors in 2019 wrote that they suffered a sharp decline in its Facebook audience, which translated to an estimated loss of $600,000 over 18 months.

The IT people at Truthdig, where I had a weekly column at the time, found that impressions – specific words such as “imperialism” typed into Google that  bring up recent stories including mine – now did not include my stories. Referrals to the site from impressions for my stories fell from over 700,000 to below 200,000 in a 12-month period.

But pushing us to the sidelines was not enough, especially with Democrats’ looming loss of Congress in the midterm elections and Joe Biden’s abysmal poll numbers. Now we must be erased. Dozens of lesser-known sites, writers and videographers are disappearing. Facebook, for example, removed a “No Unite The Right 2-DC” event connected to a page called “Resisters,” appearing to advertise a counter-rally on the anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Paul Jay, who runs a site called The Analysis, ran a video essay on February 7, 2021 called, “A Failed Coup Inside a Failed Coup.” YouTube banned the piece, saying it was “content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S presidential election is not allowed on YouTube.” Tulsi Gabbard, after posting on March 13 that the US funded bio labs in Ukraine and blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Biden’s foreign policy, said she was shadowbanned on Twitter. The “Russians with Attitude” podcast account was suspended on Twitter. It covered the information war in Ukraine and “cried foul” on the Ghost of Kiev. Social media platforms have been especially harsh on those questioning Covid policy, blocking websites and forcing users, social media platforms, or online outlets to delete posts. 

These sites make billions of dollars by selling our personal information to corporations, advertising agencies and political public relations firms. They know everything about us. We know nothing about them. They cater to our proclivities, fears, habits and prejudices. And they will silence our voices if we do not conform. 

Censorship will not halt America’s march towards Christian fascism. Weimar Germany attempted to thwart Nazi fascism by enforcing rigorous hate-speech laws. In the 1920s, it banned the Nazi party. Nazi leaders, including Joseph Goebbels, were prosecuted for hate speech. Julius Streicher, who ran the virulently anti-Semetic tabloid The Stormer (Der Stürmer), was fired from his teaching post, repeatedly fined and had his newspapers confiscated. He was taken to court numerous times for libel and served a series of jail sentences. 

But like those serving sentences for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, or like Trump, the persecution of Nazi leaders only enhanced their stature the longer the German ruling class failed to  address the economic and social misery. 

There are many similarities to the 1930s, including the power of predatory international banks to consolidate wealth into the hands of a few oligarchs and impose punishing austerity measures on the global working class. 

“More than anything else, the Nazis were a nationalist protest movement against globalization,” notes Benjamin Carter Hett in “The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and The Downfall of the Weimar Republic.”

Shutting down critics in a decayed and corrupt society is equivalent to turning off the oxygen on a seriously ill patient. It hastens mortality rather than delaying or preventing it. The convergence of a looming economic crisis, fear by a bankrupt ruling class that they will soon be banished from power, the growing ecological catastrophe and the inability to thwart self-destructive military adventurism against Russia and China, have set the stage for an American implosion.

Those of us who see it coming, and who desperately seek to prevent it, have become the enemy.


NOTE TO SCHEERPOST READERS : There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

Copyright 2022 Chris Hedges

48 comments

  1. The more the Corporate Fascists censor us, their stupidity results in alienating a huge portion of the population, which then are viewed by the rest of the world as having their rights trampled upon. The net result being the termination of the ruling elite, because they are seen as anti-humanity, and a boycott or withdrawal, or denial of their power will result, with the masses learning that they hold all of the power to change ANYTHING. The People should control the NEWS, and Legal and Prison REFORM, not corporations or politicians who are paid off and owned by these corporations. This will happen swiftly and with little notice to these Fascists, and they will be caught with their pants down, with all of their lies and truth being exposed at the same time. It will be tough for many to handle. But in the end the meek shall inherit the Earth.

    1. The only problem with this analysis is that the Masses do not possess a political theory sufficient to exploit their power because of decades of censorship, alienation and destruction of the Left, and misinformation by the government media.

      1. @Ted+Tripp
        All that means is that we have our work cut out for us. Never give up hope!

    2. While I do agree with your “Corporate Fascism” as the problem, much more than “Christian Fascism” as Hedges always defaults to (US Government does not seem religious, maybe Satanic!), the CIA (State Department) was given the legal right to control domestic propaganda by abolition/”modernization” of Smith Mundt almost a decade ago. There are only six owners of the major State Media, all stenographers/ mouthpieces for what the CIA demands, they are our rulers. The huge packed DC clowncar is just a distraction.

    3. Great article as always! I just had one question and it’s the second time I’ve seen this confusing term in pieces written by Mr. Hedges. He’s used the label “Christian fascism.” I see others here have mentioned it too. I have no idea as to what that actually is (Christian Zionism?) and it applies to an entire segment of the country and the world that may not be related to fascism at all, quite the opposite actually.

      When I read news and opinion articles, even many things mentioned above and on this web site in terms of our military industrial complex, Big Finance, mainstream media, Silicon Valley, Ukraine, oligarchs, social media, social media company owners, and censorship among other things I see that it’s a very diverse manifestation of fascism and Christians are not the only ones involved by a long shot!

      In terms of our recent “cancel culture” and growing attacks on free speech using censorship one of the major playbooks for that type of restriction on free speech has been going on for decades. It’s an easily seen and documented censorship of speech, opinions, and news that pro-Israel people do not like. That being said now even this comment on Scheerpost may have to be censored as an example of what I mention. It’s also not a comment that should be censored since I’ve said nothing wrong.

      Mr. Hedges alludes to the free speech troubles brought on by supporting Palestine in his articles and interviews. Now this evil, effective and original model to attack free speech and silence the public has been applied to any and all speech elites, their pawns, and the powerful deem unfit for public discussion including many other topics Mr. Hedges previously could discuss freely. That censorship was never fully challenged and allowed to proliferate and now it’s spread to a multitude of very important topics that do need to be discussed by the public without censorship, period.

      1. @Norman
        What Chris Hedges means by “Christian fascism” is the resulting ideology of Christians who have perverted what Jesus said into their own ideologies that are diametrically opposed to what Jesus preached. Christians who support any war for any reason, Christians who are hypocrites as we seen in the U.S. regarding the war in Ukraine, to list just two examples.

      2. Chris’ book “American Fascists” explains Christian Fascism. Read that book and you’ll start to recognize it in politics, industry, and on bumper stickers.

      3. You can read about Hedges’ concept of Christian Fascism in his book: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America.

  2. Much truth in what you write. But, too much evidence about Russian atrocities in Ukraine to ignore. And, as difficult as life is here for working people, it is better than in Russia and China with the state silencing critics and prohibiting assembly.

    1. Theres nothing stopping America from spiraling into a state like Russia, or even worse. Actually it looks likely to happen. And free speech in America doesnt exist, look at what they’ve done to Juilian Assange. They will keep on removing our ability to transmit information until we are trapped.

    2. The other side of censorship is disinformation, i.e. propaganda. The reports of Russian atrocities are convenient representations produced by the Kyiv information mill, assisted by and supported by the US, especially CIA.
      Most of the accounts of rape, killing civilians, murders have been committed by the Ukrainian Nazi forces.
      Take Bucha. There would be no benefit at all for Russians to kill civilians, unless of course, they were Nazis masquerading as civilians, usually accounted for by fascist tattoos. There would be great propaganda benefit for Kyiv, however, especially as the truth will come out that these dead civilians were killed because they were believed to be Russian collaborators. So, Bucha is a two-for–get rid of Russian sympathizers among the population and score a propaganda win in Kyiv’s fight for Western intervention in the war. At any rate, that account makes more sense than Chechen or Chinese soldiers killed civilians for no reason.
      As far as rights for working people, the neoliberal assault favored by the West is far harsher on workers than anything existing in China or Russia, although reports about China especially are tainted by the media.

  3. Only one point of disagreement: I don’t for a second think that protecting the speech rights of Alex Jones would stop the government from going after us. If the capitalists crush people like him, if they erased QAnon from the planet, that would be a plus. It’s the same as if Russian forces exterminate the Azov Battalion: good.

    If our enemies occasionally kill each other — like Napoleon said.

    In any case, the fragility of American free speech has been evident since the Alien and Sedition Acts.

    The pattern has been: crush now, apologize later.

    Sorry for the Red Scares, Mccarthy and the virtual destruction of the left. Can we move on?

    An Irony of the attempt to limit discussion and rouse public support for ever “stronger” measures to assist Ukraine and validating the absurd “genocide” charge is that MSNBC and other corporate outlets are helping to send Biden’s numbers into the sub-basement.

    The Democratic Party cannot be pleased.

    Examples: Nicolle Wallace, who worked in the administration of war criminal George W. Bush, alternately blubbers over the spectacle of “people just like us” i.e. white people — being massacred — and badgering officials and even the Times Pentagon reporter on why the US isn’t sending even more weapons into the conflict, musing about no-fly zones and more dangerously aggressive acts.

    She mumbled past the Times’ journalist, who tried to inform her about the risk of a nuclear conflict.

    She seems oblivious that the US has steadfastly refused to recognize the ICC, or, that as a self-identified “Mom” — she and her children will be vaporized if this goes major-nuclear.

    Ali Velshi: once presented as a competent journalist, has voiced demands that Putin be removed and seconded Biden’s gaffe on the subject — and has repeatedly denied that NATO has anything to do with the conflict. He’s also called for no-fly zones. He made a passing reference to his support for the Palestinians, who would be killed with the rest of us in the event of a nuclear exchange.

    One exception: Ari Melber, strong and dogged in his opposition to mass incarceration, police shootings of Black people and immigration hypocrisy — reduced two spokespersons to evasine embarrassment by pointing out that the US rejects the authority of the ICC, even while asking it to probe Russian crimes.

    I hope he survives.

    1. A really smart discussion about free speech. Thank-you to everyone who contributes to discussions like this, as it makes the comments worth reading.

      Free speech doesn’t exist in isolation, but depends on other facets of a healthy society: good, broad educations, a leadership committed to and accepting of critical thought, the sharing of power throughout the community or society, rather than concentrated power.

      How do we ensure truth and integrity are elevated or determined, and lies or deceit uncovered and rejected? That is a big part of what journalism, especially investigative journalism or the scientific process is all about. Ultimately the Law of Consequences (intentional or not) will punish society, so that if we deny truth, we can still be impacted by our denial.

      I would rather have the approach that lies and deceit are vetted by having a highly educated democracy, capable of weighing information and applying critical thought, than giving any one authority the power to silence the “idiots”.

      Right now, there is a critical mass of money pushing for censorship, propaganda and disinformation if it leads to power and profit. If there is no other critical mass, say from the political left or society as a whole, this drive for profit leads to a death spiral, as we seem to be in now.

      1. @Cynical Rex
        So true. While I strongly oppose censorship, free speech doesn’t do much if any good if people don’t know what they’re talking about.

  4. @BabaYaga
    Eliminating the right to speak for people who are generally reviled is how it starts. I get your point about letting enemies eliminate each other, but if enough people had risen up against the censorship of Alex Jones and Donald Trump, the establishment may not have tried to censor anyone else. At the very least, censorship of others would have been more difficult.

    Free speech doesn’t work if you make exceptions for speech you don’t like. In fact, that’s what free speech protections are for (“you” meaning anyone looking at it subjectively). Elimination of free speech protections for some will mean elimination of it for all; that’s how it works, and that’s why people like Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, and Jimmy Dore opposed censorship of Jones and Trump, as did I for the same reason. Free speech for some isn’t free speech, only free speech for all is.

    1. I agree. Freedom of speech must be absolute or there is no freedom of speech as it is based on fundamental humanistic moral stand namely total equality and full reciprocity that by default excludes any limitations of content of speech. If I can say something anybody can say the same or something else and heard by me. That’s it.

      Those who want limitations of free speech are nothing but usurpers of power and mental control as they reject basic notion of equality and reciprocity of any moral stand of human being and effectively impose apartheid of ideas among people as some ideas are promoted others suppressed, prohibited.

      That’s why free Speech relates not only to content but most of all to access to people to proliferate free speech namely right to address people and promote ideas and bring to attention to facts in equal and equitable equatable manner.

      What to do?
      In real democracy… but we don’t have one. So, In the world ruled by private capital no corporatist willingly wants to share his platform and promote other people’s ideas but price for exercising such power must be obligation to open up the same platform access to same viewership to all those who were criticized or simply characterized or addressed while discussing specifically promoted ideas on the platform.

      It is imperative that the same reach and access to platform and viewership is given to those who respond to smear and attack contained in promoted articles or posts. Otherwise there can be no free speech. Paraphrasing it should be free speech, all the free Speech and nothing but free speech or three is no free speech. Is that not a test of fundamental fairness alien to capitalist system thriving amid exploitation unfair advantage.

      And of course people should not buy sheepish anti free speech (like exemption) arguments of “fire in the theatre” or supposed moral injury inflicted by words as reciprocity of access to the same venue and milieu from which attack came and reasonable libel laws can handle that.

      There cannot be free speech or democracy of any kind without deep discourse or harsh debate as people must be ready to be offended, outraged even emotionally hurt as there is price to pay for any freedom. Otherwise they are slaves protected by masters on the way to.. a metaphorical slaughterhouse.

      1. @Kalen
        The way to open up platform access, as you put it, is to regulate social media platforms as utilities, like phone companies. The phone company can’t cut off your service if it doesn’t like what you say, and that’s how it should be for all social media platforms.

        The other side of this coin is recognizing that some lies cause substantial harms when they are published, and publishing them must be adequately punished in order to deter this conduct. For example, the weapons of mass destruction lies caused people to support the illegal and immoral U.S. attack of Iraq, which killed about a million people. Global warming/climate change denial and industry and “medical” denial of the fact that cigarette smoking is harmful to health. In order to strongly incentivize people NOT to publish harmful lies, there should be a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of 1) publishing a provable lie that 2) causes substantial harm. (This would basically be criminalization of defamation (slander and libel) laws). This law would have to be strict liability, which means no excuses; it wouldn’t matter WHY someone did this, only THAT they did it. Otherwise, the rich & powerful would be able to weasel their way out of convictions. The law would have to apply to everyone, including presidents, CEOs, etc. I’d say that a few convictions and resulting prison terms should be enough to deter these jerks from continuing to publish these lies. This law would not prohibit any speech, it would just punish people for using it for nefarious and harmful purposes.

    2. That certainly has been the ACLU’s position for decades. I like the idea of open, unrestricted free speech, but that assumes that the speakers are honestly expressing an idea. In fact, the only way to arrive at consensus is to have the kinds of debates we all wish for.
      On the other hand, speech can be a weapon, in which case it is not honest. For example, Russia got rid of many NGOs and media outlets, not because it wanted to limit speech, but because it needed to curtail the weaponization of lies and mis- and dis-information. I am sure that if the Russian Federation were not under constant attack by Western intelligence services it would have no need to limit speech.

      1. I suggest you have never been under attack by malicious speech of the “Have you stopped beating your wife” nature. Of course in an ideal liberal world, unrestricted debate would be the norm, but we fail to come up with venues where that can happen. Slander laws exist, but are difficult to apply. Of course we should seek the ideal, but we must also be aware of the reality.

      2. @Ted+Tripp
        I agree with you that the idea of free speech is for honestly expressing ideas, not for lying or propagandizing people. However, censorship is not the way to deal with that problem.

        As I’ve proposed on this site before, the way to solve that problem is a law that punishes publishing a provable lie that causes substantial harm with a 10-year minimum prison sentence. Let people say whatever they want, but don’t let them get away with harming others and/or the Earth by lying about things like global warming/climate change or weapons of mass destruction. This would basically be criminalization of defamation. The law would have to apply to everyone, including presidents and CEOs, and it would have to be strict liability in order to prevent the rich and their slimy lawyers from weaseling out of convictions with their BS excuses. A few convictions and prison sentences for that and I’d bet that you wouldn’t see these lies being published any longer. That would be infinitely better than censorship for multiple reasons.

    3. I hate the nonsense spread by Alex Jones and his kind as much as anyone else with a conscience, but I don’t see the problem as being what Jones says as much as why so many people believe him. If people didn’t give credence to his outlandish claims, he’d disappear overnight.

      So the question for me is what’s going on in people’s lives and minds that they would believe the preposterous claim, among others, by Jones that the slaughter of children in a grade school massacre didn’t really happen, or that the grieving parents were paid crisis actors?

      That the answer to that question may raise uncomfortable truths about our society, and that genuine, lasting solutions would require more self-reflection and hard work than we can muster is what results in the powers that be taking the easy way out and simply shutting down the voices of the outliers. The problem with that, beyond the loss of free speech, is that the mentality of the people prone to believe the most outlandish claims is still with them, regardless of whether or not Jones is. They’ll simply move on to the next Alex Jones.

      1. IMO you’re right. And the left all too often seems to make the same assumptions as the Ivy Dem elite–that the anonymous masses are too ignorant to bother with except as objects of derision from their superiors.

        What is it about our system that produces absurdities like Alex Jones? Why do so many people, fellow citizens, find something relevant in bizarre conspiracy theories? Does it come from the deep insecurity of being economic cannon fodder? Is it related to living in a culture where materialism, consumption, fame, and power seem to be the only values? Do they feel that their lives have no meaning? What is it they feel is missing; what do they need?

        The best way to find out is to ask! People trained in interviewing, conducting objective polls, investigative reporting should be able to find out answers from the point of view of the people in question. Perhaps then we can talk with them in ways they find significant.

        Forego the jargon. If we on the left cannot speak in ways intelligible to the working class, what are we doing? Perhaps the problem isn’t just “those people.”

      2. @Randy S.
        When the government and the establishment/corporate media lie about everything important, some or many people start latching onto conspiracy nonsense. Those people know instinctively that what they’re being told is BS, and without being given any true facts, they make up their own. Of course it would be much better to just realize that they don’t know, but I guess that would be against their nature. If people were told the truth, meaning the whole truth in context, hardly anyone would pay attention to people like Alex Jones. But average people are getting beaten down more by the day, and they’re looking for answers. They can see that the mainstream/establishment isn’t providing them, so they turn to people like Jones who make them feel a little better because they think that they’ve gotten some answers.

  5. The American political class and their handlers have been attempting to degrade the morals of the American people for decades, and now that we’re all narcissist, ego inflamed goons who spend all of our waking life on vain pursuits, they have begun the upward transfer of wealth (well, nearly finished at this point). America is no different than a company who is hostily taken over, and all wealth and value has been sucked out by the satanic vampires who then bankrupt them and watch them burn alive. It’s literally happening to this country in slow-motion. Theres no turning this ship around either, because for some reason, the morons that vote in this country don’t mind voting for evil people who enact evil policies, they simply believe their flavor of evil is a little less than their opponents flavor of evil.

    Free Assange, and imprisson the war criminals. Journalism is dead, and will never come back in this country thanks to all the coward journalist who remain in their positions and don’t stand up against this blatant misuse of “justice”. We get what we deserve, as always.

  6. I have to hand it to Hedges. He was scolded by nominal left when he defended rights of not only Assange smeared as rapist but narcissistic Trump or often outrageous Alex Johns and warned all of us that we had to defend free speech especially speech we we hate because those tyrants who attack free speech and censor it, government or not, would surely come for us next.

    And they did big time. Torture and slow or fast killing of journalists like in case of Assange is coming to all independents having media impact as what we are witnessing in Ukraine is not a local conflict but a prelude or preface to nuclear WWIII as exponential escalation of US hostilities against Russia continues unabated. CIA and its wicked western sisters and neocon/progressive brew of desperados turned Fascists are behind this.

    What’s worse that diplomacy on western side ceased, and is considered treasonous and hence there is no de-escalation mechanism that existed in Cold War.

    Sadly almost all progressive anti war left showed themselves as phony corporatist appendage and refused to call for de escalation, peace via diplomacy and negotiations about collective security arrangements in Europe as the only peaceful solution Russia called for a decade. In their psychotic delusions they want to wipe out entire ancient nation.

    What Russians heard instead was a dictate, intimidation, WWIII suicidal ranting full of genocidal hatred and vicious Russophobia spewed by western elites apparently taught by Ukrainian Nazis’ hysterical foaming for revenge for Banderites defeat in WWII and recently slaughter of hundreds of Nazi battalions by LDPR militia in 2014-15.

    And I must say it would be a great strategic blunder of Russian leadership if they continued to deny it and continue its kid glove approach and containment of special operation to however strictly justified from Russian strategic national security doctrine, (as national defense strategy was quoted to justified US act of war namely blockade of Cuba and if unsuccessful planned invasion of Cuba), Denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.

    One of positive development is that pentagon shockingly remains the only beacon of sanity in the west as they continuously refuse to succumb to CIA and Ukrainian provocations concocted to justify direct involvement of NATO in the war as it refuses to send to Ukraine any reserve or active duty military equipment of NATO not to weaken alliance capabilities as only decommissioned stuff owned by MIC is allowed.

    Pentagon officials already a month ago in their report declared Ukrainian military was defeated all its offensive capabilities needed to expel Russian military from Ukraine were destroyed and due to Russian air supremacy no shipments of new weapons to Ukraine can change the predetermined by combat capabilities strategic assessments of Ukrainian war theater. As Scott Ritter said there is no plan for Ukrainian military at all only kill as many Russian soldiers and ethnic Russian civilians, hide criminally behind human shields and .. die.

  7. Hedges is to me the most principled voice of commentary I read these days.

    Yet many of these arguments fall flat.

    What do people expect regarding “censorship” and private communications companies selling views for money.

    The horrifying thing is American press sells al its views for money. And everyone who operates using any other preference cries about lack of money.

    Reasoned opinion and moral and ethical integrity are no longer sufficient precepts to freedom, because the information systems by which we live are no longer comprehensible.

    Maybe they never were.

    Access to money and corresponding supply chains define freedom today, and no one including the state has any coherent story about money.

    Today we hope that someone with a lot will help us break free from the chains of our ignorance while we ignore that those with money are incapable of explaining their own wealth, which largely was accrued though privileged exploitation of general ignorance — this dynamic is to be the hallmark of capitalism: the selection and control of knowledge. So commentaries bleating about the unfairness of centrally mediated tyrannical corporate social media concerns that investors trade on speculation of future submission of minds to content streams.

    We are past the end of a dialectic, but Hedges can’t see it.

    I truly admire his experience, values and principles. And he is powerless to improve the situation of his laments because there’s no clear connection between his way of thinking and how the world works.

    It’s a huge problem. One of the ways it can be overcome is by changing the rules of democratic federation. But money and the State are now a Rat King. Our plight transcends all common sense about value and community.

    If you hate Twitter and YT don’t use them. If you are beholden to a company town, obviously the only way out is to move out. Just ask Democratic Senator Manchin.

    Elon Musk taking over Twitter will only make things worse, as the American oligarchs would prefer to conquer the last vestiges a national political dialog that’s already been smothered by the likes of the banks and cats like Trump in the 80s.

    1. @AReply
      How would Musk taking over Twitter and removing speech restrictions make things worse? It would actually make things much better, except for the establishment, which wants and likes censorship.

      The problem is that we shouldn’t have to count on billionaires to fix these problems. In this case, social media platforms should be regulated as utilities to prevent them from censoring. The fact that they aren’t is the problem here, not Elon Musk.

  8. “The ruling class… is employing draconian forms of censorship on its right-wing and left-wing critics in a desperate effort to cling to power… now they have launched a new and sophisticated McCarthyism. Character assassination. Algorithms. Shadow banning. De-platforming. Censorship…Shutting down critics in a decayed and corrupt society…”

    Those who seek to silence and marginalize (or worse) all those who do not agree with Them are simply juveniles who never graduated from pre-school who yell and pound the table and steal all the toys when They don’t get Their way. About everything. All the time.

    They never grew up. They never became functional adults. They never learned that other people have value, not just themselves. They stay as infantized babies who grew older but not wiser and who found ways to get their tiny hands on the controls of the big, shaky jetliner of State (or the spinning steering wheel of the World Titanic).

    They have not wisdom or maturity or temperance or quality of simple honest caring or having any empathy for other human beings. These are mature, adult qualities… beyond Them and incomprehensible to Them.

    As immature juveniles, These Pre-School Elitists do not want any true Adults correcting Them or advising Them or instructing Them that They are acting like little damn fools or that They are actually dumb as stumps . They yell and scream back at any ‘Parents’ who might be around and then They work to shut the Parents down. Or worse.

    They may have lots and lots of money. They may control the levers of immense power. They may run countries and corporations and think-tanks and World Bodies and Economic Forums and World Banks and ‘The Science!’ and State Corporate Media and Anti-Social Media and everything else. And still… they are just babies who did not and will not ever grow up.

    ‘The Ruling Class’ does not rule anything well and They have no class. But They are rich beyond measure and power-mad kiddie bullies acting as if They were adults but having no useful or mature adult qualities. And They never will. Maturity means NOT to be anything like what these kiddie brat deviants are.

    Pout. Yell. Threaten. Cancel. Erase. Lie. Steal. Coerce. Pound the table. Scream for more. Want it all. Cry when you don’t get your way. That’s what these ‘Ruling Elite’ Crybaby Elitist False gods Among Us are.

    All They really need is a visit to the Principal’s Office and a change of diapers. And no more allowance.

    1. Right! I often think that US hegemony would not be so unacceptable except that the hegemons are so bad at ruling, where incompetence seems to be the main criterion for advancement.

  9. Chris:

    As you have eluded to, even if the Democratic Party leaders succeed in their censorship, they are only delaying consequences. The Christian Right and right-wing militias that support Trump are the most organized political force, judging by your writings, outside of the US gov’t itself, and are poised to take advantage of any crises (including large support in police forces and the military). Ukraine may in some ways be an analogy of America’s future, as the far-right essentially runs the gov’t through fear, and they have threatened President Zelensky’s life, the goal being to oppose peace with Russia (if my understanding is correct).

    The American Dream, tied to material success and freedom of speech, looks to be coming to an end. However, as long as most people have enough material comfort, just like with Ancient Rome’s Bread and Circuses, there won’t be reason enough for people to leave those comforts and rebel. Further, social welfare can be used to appease inequality by the far-right, which is one way Hitler won the support of the average German .
    (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_People's_Welfare).

    I suspect that within the next few generations, the shocks due to America’s economic decline and ravages of climate change, will see the upper classes withdraw further into some form of gated communities, leaving the rest of us behind. For all of history the wealthy have needed the working classes to plant and harvest or produce goods, but with advancing technology such as robotics, eventually they won’t need the rest of the population, at all.

    1. “The only organized political force…” The horrific irony being that the hordes have allied themselves with their oppressors because R pols are the only ones who speak to them. Their sense of loss, fear of the future. Sure, the Rs deflect blame and offer dog whistles instead. Yet the Ds offer nothing substantial, nothing that could actually change the deeply unfair econ system which considers natural and human resources mere things to use up.

      It’s not as simple as “as long as people have enough material comfort” though. The New Deal is long dead, and all left of neoliberalism are faint whispers difficult to hear above the noise. The Ds abandoned labor–the majority working class is on its own. Cheers for the occasional win, but young working people know unions have been prevented by law from doing much to help them.

      For the last 3 decades, the most popular major is business, even at U Cal Berkeley. The college young may not want to waste their educations; most do see the insanity of the system. They also see where employment is. Say no, you face poverty; conform or die. I said no repeatedly, but I didn’t have a family to support. For me now as a very low income elder, there are still some social supports, meager as they are. The young likely will not even have those when they’re my age.

      When I worked as ship engine room crew some 40 years ago, I had a watch partner who had once married into an old money very wealthy family. He spoke of their ease with power and privilege, how very different their world was from the reality the rest of us live in. He predicted the intensified econ trickle-up and the escape of the uber-weathy to gated communities and mega yachts. But, he said, there will always be work as cooks, maids, and guards. For those who can say “yes sir, yes ma’am” without choking in properly obsequious tones with eyes cast down.

    2. Even behind their gated communities, the elites will still need service workers, they will still need food, supplies, water, and other materials. I imagine one day when they lock themselves inside their fortified communities, they will just starve to death.

    3. It’s not in the next few generations that the upper class will retreat into gated communities. They’re doing it now. I have access to these worlds and spend time in them on a fairly regular basis. Some will stay where they’re at, behind high gates with private security forces, while others will be forced to relocate due to coastal flooding.

      I’m not sure what happens when the ultra wealthy become climate migrants/refugees, but I’m in process of getting ready best I can. In my experience pariahs become the ones people run to in times of foretold emergencies coming to fruition. At least when they’re friends and family. Pariah’s prepare.

  10. Sorry to Mr Hedges, Julian Assange, and many other “left” wing journalists who have been censored nearly out of existence. However, the worst part hasn’t been your disappearing, as that was all too predictable. No, the worst part is that nobody noticed. Nobody noticed because the combined following of all progressive journalists added up together wouldn’t equal half the nightly viewership of a Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity.
    The truth is a pretty stark and depressing one. The world is now equally divided into three groups. The bad people, the good people, and the ones that just don’t give a shit any more.

  11. Re “How do I know? They said so on their website. You have the commander of the national police ordering his people to shoot people in Bucha on the day in question.

    OK – Website address of the Ukrainian National Police where this was said / written please?

  12. I did not want to leave my earlier comment as it was, but to try to discuss solutions, which is the most difficult part of any discussion like this. Even if Chris is correct in his writings, and a dystopia of some form is the future, what can be done to make a better future for our young and their children’s children, today? I’ll preface by saying the odds are terrible: as it obvious to many, the wealthy have the resources and muscle to make life better for themselves, at the expense of the rest of us. I talk about climate change so often, because it is a tsunami, like a slow motion nuclear war, that is set to upend everything: creating famine, and the resultant social breakdown and wars.

    *Even if you have no prior experience or connection with them, we still need to network with diverse groups that have experience doing social change: connecting to leaders of the BLM, the Native water and land protectors, the people of Extinction rebellion, among others. Robert Scheer interviewed a founder of BLM. and I remember hearing that constant pressure is needed, not just a single protest, until our leaders move us in a better direction or are replaced by humane leadership.

    *Those among the wealthy that are sympathetic or understand the dangers of militarism, climate change, far-fight or authoritarian rule need to be supported and partnered with to help create critical mass for change. Those among the police and military that have a conscience also need our connection and support.

    *A clear understanding of who our adversaries are is needed: the security state, CIA, FBI, MI5, whatever form they take have the resources of gov’t and seek to undermine progressive change. The charge of conspiracy theory aside, these forces are trying to ensure the status quo and will side with a far-right dictatorship rather than see a more just world emerge.

    A few more thoughts, understood to be pure speculation as this point:

    *It would be a mistake to say that humans will be the only intelligent life to evolve on Earth. There is something like 1 billion+ years of habitable life left (given that our Sun ages and gets hotter). What would a new species think when they uncover the signs of our existence (or disappearance)?

    *Our descendants can be as much technological as biological: the advent of AI and androids can lead to intelligent life that is not biological, but is resistant to climate change, unaffected by thirst or hunger. Robotics and androids could also help humans to survive, heal the planet and create abundance that can be shared, not just serve the wealthy.

    *I am thankful for the optimism of someone like Carl Sagan, who offered that their are billions upon billions of galaxies, meaning billions upon billions of potentially habitable worlds where intelligent life can evolve. Our technological society is maybe a hundred years old or so: set that against the 4.5 billion year estimated age of earth and 14 billion year age of the universe, and what are the odds that other civilizations have risen or perished in that time, or exist alongside us now?

    1. Those are big thoughts and I think them, but in terms of what I can do…

      I’m working on my property to create indoor/outdoor growing capacity, putting in a solar generator to keep the a/c running during rolling power outages during extreme fire weather (think wet bulb temperatures and 80+ yr old parents) and reconnecting with community. Turns out there are a lot of us around here, including government agencies, who are all aware of what’s happening and preparing as best we can to do what needs to be done to stay connected.

      Our enclave felt like it was disintegrating with politics, but climate catastrophes (we’re in a constant climate crisis cycle at this point) are bringing us back together.

  13. Before censorship becomes an event targeting individuals and groups, like press professionals who fail to comply with dutiful performance as presstitutes, thought control and perception management already have been a social condition for the general population, and a precondition for acts of censorship. From earliest age, industrial schooling programs docile student subjects within narrow ranges of learning based on systematic censorship that passes for knowledge. And so-called adults typically hold jobs with employers exercising private property rights of the ‘free market’ preempting even the slightest symptoms on our part of free speech and any other exercise of the Bill of Rights, constantly observed in the breach by ‘legally’ governing powers presuming to grant us rights, as privileges. Accordingly, we may go through life having a textbook notion of such standardized episodes of (ruling class) history as ‘McCarthyism’, particularly as an aberration within the mythology of representative democracy, and never realize censorship as the air we breathe in an always ongoing (class) war upon us.

    Having again been affected by the latest national (in)security crackdown on dissent in relation to the war propaganda in Ukraine (continuing that proud Amerikkkan tradition of war as the health-of-the-state’s apparatuses of repression), Hedges and other pundits are wanting us to take notice again of censorship, particularly as if this has gotten aggressive only now, when actually what’s taking place now is a continuation of a coup and permanent crackdown on dissent which began with the new 9/11 war of bioterror and covid-1984, with which many of these pundits have been complicit.

    Anyone who’s done one’s due diligence of critical investigation into the plandemic knows that the censorship has been off the charts with this psyop, and that Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth have been extending full spectrum dominance over means of social engineering to make McCarthyism look Stone Age. And that’s because the infrastructure, particularly the digital control grid that’s grown out of the belly of the beast of empire in the MIC, has been laid in place, especially since the old 9/11 coup, with what even Hedges has supposedly recognized as a slow motion coup (creeping fascism) by the corporate state, extending by means of transnational ownership of the means of production absolute claim to the planetary commons, from food and resource sovereignty to patents on all life, in order to finally lay to rest representative and any other semblance of democracy for us proles. (Hedges’ own previous legal grievances with the NDAA could serve as a case in point.)

    The current catchall enemy of the state is ‘domestic terrorism’, rolled into public view with the January 6th false flag ‘insurrection’ – at the invitation of Capitol police and supervised by undercover agents – which Hedges effectively lumps with Trump’s minions, Christian fascists, and other usual suspects of the right (while the right, for instance, carries on with cold-war, anti-communist caricatures of the left, all recalling Jay Gould’s claim to be able to have one half of the working class killing off the other half).

    Of course, such lines of investigative journalism are ruled out of bounds for Hedges, associated with conspiracy theory and the likes of Alex Jones (whose freedom must be affirmed despite the obligatory ‘repugnance’). As if info wars and virtually all other fronts of class war are not planned within the same commanding heights of class rule (yes, like the Davos WEF with its Great Reset) as has come to be concentrated and centralized in a global power matrix of Orwellian or “inverted totalitarianism” Sheldon Wolin), which again many of these same pundits claim to recognize. It’s the progressive police state of Ingsoc (from DHS fusion centers to Big Harma’s biolabs, don’t you know it’s all for our protection) which is now implementing its final solution in strategic campaigns of a world war against humanity to bring class war to dystopian conclusion under technocratic tyranny and biodigital slavery (Neuralink, anyone?), a true end of history that will make censorship obsolete.

    The War in Ukraine: Understanding and Resisting the Global Elite’s Deeper Agenda
    https://www.globalresearch.ca/war-ukraine-understanding-resisting-global-elite-deeper-agenda/5776506

  14. My complaint with the piece and the comments is that the vision seems locked on America, while according to my reading and understanding the free speech versus censorship and silencing – by any means necessary – is nation-by-nation worldwide.

    None of this is new. The Nazis as well as the Soviet Union were far worse than where we are at present… but of course, if you’re here, and on the receiving end, it’s a shock and an outrage and damned near incredible.
    What is new is the technology, which is fundamentally organization and science. Jacques Ellul argued that the first nation to engage in “Propaganda” (title of his book, highly recommended), made it incumbent on others to follow suit. Others quickly became all, of necessity. It seems that this necessity applies as well to censorship and silencing – which perhaps shares coin faces with propaganda.

    Freedom of speech and human rights are held in universal contempt, except when it comes to their utility in making the enemy look bad. But then this means that our existence carries on in an environment of full-blown, suffocating, gray matter-melting hypocrisy.

  15. On April 20, 2022, “a British magistrates court ordered the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.” It’s a crime. The criminals are US and England. Assange is a hero. Help Assange! Punish US and England!

  16. Most of the alternative news sources mentioned are garbage, bullshit, and heresy. Hedges has been the only decent writer working for Scheer for 20 years.

    1. @Neoliberalism Forever
      Wikileaks was by far the best publican on the planet. They’ve never had to retract one story because they’ve never gotten one wrong, and they exposed major problems like U.S. war crimes that no one else dared and/or knew how to expose.

      Truthout, the Black Agenda Report, and antiwar.com are also excellent sources of news that are not corrupted by corporate money and that do very good investigative work. Common Dreams isn’t great, but it’s OK and is not at all the horrible platform that you describe.

      So exactly which platforms do you claim are “garbage, bullshit, and heresy”?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: