[FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW] "The single most—I would say—significant whole-of-society initiative carried out by the counter-disinformation enterprise was the 2020 Election Integrity Partnership."
In part two of my interview with Jacob Siegel, senior editor at Tablet Magazine, we dive deeper into technocratic information control, exploring how the Election Integrity Partnership and U.S. agencies colluded with media and Big Tech to socially engineer the populace—using anti-democratic means.
"We need to permanently end the relationship between the federal government and the technology sector as it exists now," says Mr. Siegel, who argues that the censorship enterprise is operating on the China model, having adopted the Chinese Communist Party's methods of surveillance and social control.
"The danger is that in competing with China, we’d become like China. And that's what has been happening so far," says Mr. Siegel.
If you enjoyed this episode, check out Mike Benz (Part 1): The West’s Burgeoning Censorship Industry and the Government Funds Pouring In–From DHS to DARPA to National Science Foundation
That's an expression of your freedom. Without that, you're an automaton.
You said wildly wrong, but you also have a right to be loudly wrong.
Yes, absolutely. Wrong in public, and not only in your home.
Loud in public is where more than one person hears it, but there is the ability to algorithmically dial back inconvenient topics. We're in a brave new world here.
We are indeed in a brave new world here. The other part of this that relates to counterinsurgency is, again, a topic for another day, but the invention of the internet in the United States, which grew out of a number of different military projects that converged. Some of them were dealing with how to automate radar systems.
A problem that emerged out of World War II was to have effective anti-aircraft systems. The old analog system had it so that when radar pinged the location of an enemy aircraft, there were human beings who transcribed that location, marked the grid coordinates, and then had to continually update that to keep track of where all these different aircraft were in the sky so that they could then be targeted. The effort to automate that radar system is one of the precursors of the internet.
Another precursor was an effort to create a decentralized communications network that would survive nuclear war. Finally, and crucially, in a history that's largely been lost or buried, there was a counterinsurgency dimension really beginning in the Vietnam War that fueled the creation of the internet and was absolutely present and explicit from the beginning. You can get this in books like, The Pentagon's Brain, by Annie Jacobsen, which is a history of DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], and in a book called, Surveillance Valley, by journalist Yasha Levine, that excavates some of this history.
Counterinsurgency is an approach to warfare that attempts to manage human populations toward a political goal of some sort. In doing so, it presumes that the key to victory is ultimate knowledge of a form, and that ultimate information control and ultimate knowledge yields ultimate control.
That's quite different from conventional views of warfare which typically see the destruction of the enemy or the seizure of a particular piece of land as the path to victory. But counterinsurgency is not like that. Counterinsurgency attempts to understand a population to win over hearts and minds, to bend them toward the will of the counterinsurgency. The internet automated that function and it automated a grand project of social engineering. Counterinsurgency and social engineering are essentially two sides of the same coin.
The effort at information control and the effort at big data-driven governance are two sides of the same coin as well. I fear that what is occurring now is that as we enter the next stage of the information war, the big attention-getting, headline-grabbing incidents like the suppression of Hunter Biden's laptop are going to quickly become relics of a bygone age.
We won't even have the brazen violations of the Constitution to contend with. Instead, we'll have a far more cryptic effort and information suppression and control that is embedded in the infrastructural layer of the internet through artificial intelligence algorithms that are constantly tweaking and recalibrating the information that is reaching us.
Who's to say that outward messages can't be censored before they reach their intended recipients? That kind of all-pervasive, much more subtle, but ultimately, perhaps far more destructive information system, is the one that we're entering.
One of the few ways you could deal with this is to figure out how to inoculate oneself. It's hard to deal with the censorship, but at least you could figure out a way to inoculate yourself from the information manipulation, from the persuasion, or even algorithmic persuasion somehow. What are your thoughts on that? How does an average person deal with this?
At the risk of putting us out of business, one of the ways to inoculate oneself is to consume less news. Much of the national news is just a hair off from being hysterical propaganda or pure entertainment. Much of what fills the national news cycle is essentially emotional manipulation of one form or another.
I'm not suggesting that people should cultivate ignorance. But the total immersion in news as a primary form of identity seems pretty unhealthy and directly lends itself to manipulation and to making oneself susceptible to these wild swings in the news. I take very seriously the warnings from the American historian Daniel Boorstin about the manufacture of what he called pseudo-events.
There are a lot of pseudo-events these days. There's a temptation to try and get to the bottom of every pseudo-event and expose the truth of this or that hoax. Maybe there are cases where that's critical. Obviously, I think there are. I just wrote this long piece exposing the hoax of disinformation.
But in many cases, you would be better off just detaching and going to shoot a game of pool or taking a walk with a friend or whatever suits your fancy, but not attempting to delve ever deeper into the mystery and the puzzle to unlock the ultimate secret. There is a false hope in that, and the ultimate secret is never to be found in the news.
The ultimate secret is to be found in our own lives, our families, and the people we love. I have a lot of respect for reporters who do the real job of reporting, but they are not the people who you love, nor do they love you. Part of it is to break that cycle.
The other part of it is that we need to permanently end the relationship between the federal government and the technology sector as it now exists. The injunction on July 4th to ban the Biden administration from directly communicating with the social media companies is a good start, but it is only the first shot in what needs to be a much longer, more comprehensive effort to break this relationship, to break the alliance between the tech companies and the federal government.
Ultimately, that will require a restructuring of both the government and the tech sector. The restructuring of the government is going to have to deal with the out of control power of both the intelligence agencies, which have, to my mind, forfeited their jurisdiction and authority based on their actions over the last six years, these federal agencies created to be the thought police for Americans.
CISA [Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency] doesn't need to exist. This is an organization that was founded on a lie and on a hoax about the threat to infrastructure from disinformation. It doesn't need to exist. There are enough federal security agencies.
On the other side, the way in which the tech companies could be so easily co-opted is not only just a function of certain political sympathies among tech executives for the anti-Trump resistance or the neoliberal establishment. It also has to do with the fact that they are operating private surveillance firms. These companies collect information that would put most military surveillance operations throughout the world to shame.
The only way we're going to effectively deal with that is to grant property rights for data. In the same way that we understand property rights to be essential to the American conception of liberty, we need to extend that to data. Until people have real rights over their own data and some proprietary relationship to their data, it's always going to be possible for companies to rip it off of them and use it against them.
We have the Chinese Communist Party across the Pacific Ocean pursuing incredibly effective infiltration operations here in the U.S. and Canada and the West. They very much have a whole of society approach and an extensive social credit system. It's a very real, serious threat to this nation and the free world. I imagine, again, that the folks that are in the American ruling class are looking at that and saying, "We need something.
We need to have some kind of consensus on our end to face that." We do have to face that somehow.
Absolutely, we have to face it. I'll tell you what the danger is and then I'll tell you what we ought to do. The danger is that in competing with China, we become like China. That's what has been happening so far. Everything that I have just described could be simply placed in a single basket that says, “America is becoming more like China.”
The approach to the internet from the American ruling class, which was to enforce an official uniparty ideology over the whole country to demand that corporations obey that party ideology to break down the barriers between war and peace, and between public and private, all of that is operating on the Chinese model.
It doesn't matter whether we become more like China because we're competing with China or because we're explicitly emulating China. If we're becoming more like China, we're doing something wrong. If the result of that competition is that we are adopting the Chinese methods of governance and social control, it would be better off not competing with China in that way.
This is only going to become more of a challenge as Chinese advances in artificial intelligence pull ahead, as it seems likely that they're going to do. China is taking AI more seriously than the U.S. is in some ways. There will become even more of a temptation to emulate the Chinese model.
You get quotes from people like the head of CISA, Jen Easterly, who famously talked about policing the cognitive infrastructure of the U.S., how the Chinese have already sort of shaped their internet to their national priorities, and that we need to do the same. There is an explicit model for the emulation of China along these lines that will only become more powerful as the AI competition gets more intense, which is going to happen.
I'm not a policy expert, and I don't even do it as a hobby. I am much more interested in describing the reality in front of me than in making recommendations. Insofar as I have a recommendation to offer, it's that America should go the American way. The nation's strength lies in its uniqueness and in its innovative spirit, in its independence, in its ability to absorb different kinds of people with different kinds of ideas and synthesize new things out of that, out that new world mentality.
If the Chinese pursue a uniform, industrial, nationalized approach to AI, for instance, there will be people here who say, "We need to do the same, but even better." But the thing we need to do is to run in the other direction, not to not develop our own AI, but to develop it in the American way, which is through American gumption and ingenuity and freedom, and to trust in that. The American people still trust in that. America's leaders have to regain their trust in the American way.
Jacob Siegel, it's such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Jan, thank you for having me.
Thank you all for joining Jacob Siegel and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I'm your host, Jan Jekielek.
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