Washington (16/1). A brief introduction from the editorial board. The below opinion piece by Leonid Bershidsky is a worthwhile read out of the following reasons. Democracy is in crisis. The Soya tea drinking Sillicon valley oligarchs crossed the Rubicon. Zuckerberg (36), Jack Dorsey (44), Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (49) in particular him, Larry Page (47), were at the time 17, 19, 14, and 6 years of age. The date I have in mind is 12/13 August 1991. The day the Soviet Union, and its mammoth machine the KGB was thrown on the heaps of history, by the Russian citizens, who had enough.
I like a few others was in the midst of an amazing mass of people who revolted and had enough of the decades of oppression, no liberties, food shortages and bitter cold winters. Sergey Brin should know. He left the Soviet Union and made his riches in the United States. Not in Russia. One can guess but the point can not be missed. If a group of now tech billionaires determine censorship without consent of the majority, for political reasons or even personal reasons that we just don’t like the ‘orange men’ for his views what is holding you back to censor the rest of the American people?
A recent survey by a political consultancy said that 74% percent of Americans feel too much power is in the hands of a Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Dorsey and the lot. Yes you hold that responsibility that determines what is democracy and what is a dictatorship.
And why, I may ask? Because you all panicked. Not thinking the problem in depth but in reacting to the fluster of the political whims of the far left. The same narratives that promote Marx, Engels, Stalin, the KGB, the food line, bad housing and shortages of well, everything. That’s what my socialism was like.
We have lost the faith in democracy. The faith that the institutions are working as it should be. An election, a bitter, hard fought battle that leads to an outcome. We may not like it but that’s the name of the game. That is after all, democracy at its finest. And that’s why censoring Donald Trump is a bad idea.
America, as a foreigner, like the Leonid Bershidsky, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and billions of immigrants before is built on the debate. The Nazis weren’t defeated by censorship, they were defeated by the freedom to voice disagreement over the bomb, the demonstrations over Vietnam and MLK walking the bridge. If we forget these fundamental rights that I am afraid, America has become a dictatorship and the likes of Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Fidel Castro and any other tin pot dictator would have won.
The icon of the digital revolution fail to see the significance of 6-year Zuckerberg, 14-year old Dorsey, and the rest are fast becoming the oligarchs of Russia, dictators of Iran and North Korea, and the oppressors in China. But here is the chance for rejuvenation.
One thing should be clear to the readers. The Democratic party has not convinced the American public that it won fairly, won accurately and won with the acceptance of the defeated. The Democrats despite the rhetoric are the Party of Ugly (POU) which is politically correct, equal opportunity, racial diverse and far left. The Clintonian world vision has been rejected, the far left socialism of Barrack Obama has neither solved the blue collar family struggling to put food on the table.
Not everyone makes Yale and Oxford and lives in the Ivory towers of America, plenty of hard working folks who drink black coffee, swear like a sailor, and don’t agree with some of things that are forced down our collective throats. And they are not despicable, some farm animal that the elites frown their noses because they wear jeans and not the latest black, tribal hip-hop clothing line that most of us just not like.
President Biden, soon to be, announcement for the first time in history have more minorities and woman in the cabinet made me gulp. Since when is color a determination of skill? And here is where the Democratic message gets lost with the Republican base switches off, tunes out. Americans cant hear it anymore of political correctness. It racisms in its finest form, its the reversed Aryan perspective to say, here we are better than the white folks. Good intention but…hell is paved with it. Americans need to return on the middle way. Ban racisms to the history books.
As a foreigner, married to a foreigner, with kids who are mixed, I was exposed to racist sniping every day. Until I become better than the rest. Not based on my color but based on my skill. This is the American dream.
Many American and foreigners alike view the summer of violence with a cynical view. The violence and destruction by Antifa/Black Block and the Marxist Black Live Matter were gone unchallenged, even endorsed. The far right equal isolated minority now suddenly becomes the insurrectionists? Well, they are both wrong.
Watching the video of a reporter being threatened by Black Block/BLM activists in front of police is disturbing. It means the police was ignorant as can be seen in the video, and free speech is threatened. America is in a precarious situation. Democracy is at risk.
Playing politics for the sole purpose to get the men out of the chair by any means will not lead to reconciliation unless the Democrats accept the despicable as their fellow brothers and sister citizens. This is hard to see how Biden and Harris will convince the politburo of Schumer, Pelosi and others.
The lies and counter lies just to undermine Donald J. Trump was a Caesarian political knifing of the first order. Trump the outlier has been deposed. The snuff dossier or American kompromat was effective but has damaged the relation between the people and the rulers deeply.
Pundits betting on reconciliation this will not happen. Pelosi second impeachment aims to destroys the men, a expunging of the tin pot Mussolini and his naïve interpretation of U.S. politics of the Pax American empire. But the democrats have not covered themselves in glory either. Hillary Clinton lost. The outlier has won.
The outlier is dethroned however censorship will create the martyr, Trump. After Obama underestimated the outgoing president, lets don’t repeat the mistake of the past.
America must heal.
Alexey Navalny, the opposition leader whom the Russian secret police nearly killed with military-grade poison last year, is worried about Twitter’s decision to shut down Donald Trump’s account. Navalny is no Trump fan; he is far to the left of the outgoing U.S. president. The reason he is worried is that the way U.S. tech has ganged up on Trump and his most radical supporters can lead to his own deplatforming in Russia, where he has no access to state-controlled media and relies on mostly U.S.-based social networks — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter — to spread his message. That’s a valid concern.
Navalny laid out his logic in an English-language Twitter thread. “In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences,” he wrote. “Don’t tell me he was banned for violating Twitter rules. I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone (not that I ask for it).”
I can’t say I was surprised to see American commentators jump in with condescending retorts telling Navalny that he doesn’t get it, that he doesn’t understand the importance of cracking down on insurrection or the right of private companies to police their platforms. The thing is, he nearly died defending Russians’ right to protest, and, as a corruption fighter, he’s spent more than a decade delving into the shadowy relationships between private companies and the state. If he hasn’t earned the right to be heard as an expert on such matters, I don’t know who has.
I don’t know which of the two was the actual deciding factor in the tech giants’ Trump crackdown. But look at it from the point of view of someone fighting an authoritarian regime in Russia, Turkey, Belarus or elsewhere. What you’ll see is the U.S. president-elect declaring protesters who broke into a government building “domestic terrorists” — and an immediate response from the tech companies, which fall all over themselves trying to prove they aren’t providing “terrorists” with a platform. Are they suddenly outraged because a Democratic administration, in control of the House and Senate, can quickly regulate them in all kinds of painful ways? Seen from Russia, or Turkey or China, where concerns about politically motivated regulatory moves by single-party governments are top of mind for every business owner, this picture is familiar.
Where would a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube ban leave people like Navalny? They’d be confined to any start-up platforms that emerge to pick up the slack, and to Telegram, the Dubai-based platform created by Russian libertarian Pavel Durov, which the Russian government tried to block but failed, as Telegram fought back by ingenious technical means. But even for Telegram, which isn’t U.S.-based, running uncensored content is dangerous these days — like Parler, it could be thrown out of app stores, for example (although Telegram has been working on a full-featured mobile browser-based version for just such an eventuality).
The U.S. tech platforms, of course, weren’t set up to enable political opposition to authoritarian regimes. They are commercial enterprises that exist to make money by selling ads. It’s probably a strategic mistake for any opposition figure in any country to put their eggs in this basket. But given the platforms’ oligopolistic nature, there hasn’t been much choice.
In today’s world, if a platform is to enable free speech, it needs to be technologically extraterritorial — free from reliance on any providers sensitive to pressure from nation states. Both legally and financially, building such a platform is an enormous challenge. But then, I remember a time when authoritarian rulers failed despite banning private copy machines, let alone content platforms. Political opposition to flawed, unfree regimes will survive under any conditions, with or without Silicon Valley help; but it has likely suffered a setback. That, and not the unsuccessful riot at the Capitol, is the lasting gift to Putin. He won’t fail to cash this check.