If you haven’t been living in a hole in a cave with both fingers plugged into your ears, you may have noticed that an awful lot of fuss gets made about Russian propaganda and disinformation these days. Mainstream media outlets are now speaking openly about the need for governments to fight an “information war” against Russia, with headlines containing that peculiar phrase now turning up on an almost daily basis.
Here’s one published today titled “Border guards detain Russian over ‘information war’ on Poland“, about a woman who is to be expelled from that country on the grounds that she “worked to consolidate pro-Russian groups in Poland in order to challenge Polish government policy on historical issues and replace it with a Russian narrative” in order to “destabilize Polish society and politics.”
Here’s one published yesterday titled “Marines get new information warfare leader“, about a US Major General’s appointment to a new leadership position created “to better compete in a 21st century world.”
Here’s one from the day before titled “Here’s how Sweden is preparing for an information war ahead of its general election“, about how the Swedish Security Service and Civil Contingencies Agency are “gearing up their efforts to prevent disinformation during the election campaigns.”
This notion that the US and its allies are fighting against Russian “hybrid warfare” (by which they typically mean hackers and disinformation campaigns) has taken such deep root among think tanks, DC elites and intelligence/defense circles that it often gets unquestioningly passed on as fact by mass media establishment stenographers who are immersed in and chummy with those groups. The notion that these things present a real threat to the public is taken for granted to such an extent that they seldom bother to even attempt to explain to their audiences why we’re meant to be so worried about this new threat and what makes it a threat in the first place.
Which is, to put it mildly, really weird. Normally when the establishment cooks up a new Official Bad Guy they spell out exactly why we’re meant to be afraid of them. Marijuana will give us reefer madness and ruin our communities. Terrorists will come to where we live and kill us because they hate our freedom. Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction which can be used to perpetrate another 9/11. Kim Jong Un might nuke Hawaii any second now.
With this new “Russian hybrid warfare” scare, we’re not getting any of that. This notion that Russians are scheming to give westerners the wrong kinds of political opinions is presented as though having those political opinions is an inherent, intrinsic threat all on its own. The closest they typically ever get to explaining to us what makes “Russian disinformation” so threatening is that it makes us “lose trust in our institutions,” as though distrusting the CIA or the US State Department is somehow harmful and not the most logical position anyone could possibly have toward historically untrustworthy institutions. Beyond that we’re never given a specific explanation as to why this “Russian disinformation” thing is so dangerous that we need our governments to rescue us from it.
Two weeks after the Atlantic Council explained to us that we need to be propagandized for our own good, Facebook announces a new partnership with the Atlantic Council to make sure we're getting the right kinds of information.https://t.co/aXwHvxdREXhttps://t.co/3CkVtvBs0s pic.twitter.com/sEz52VjNTe
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) May 17, 2018
The reason we are not given a straight answer as to why we’re meant to want our institutions fighting an information war on our behalf (instead of allowing us to sort out fact from fiction on our own like adults) is because the answer is ugly.
As we discussed last time, the only real power in this world is the ability to control the dominant narrative about what’s going on. The only reason government works the way it works, money operates the way it operates, and authority rests where it rests is because everyone has agreed to pretend that that’s how things are. In actuality, government, money and authority are all man-made conceptual constructs and the collective can choose to change them whenever it wants. The only reason this hasn’t happened in our deeply dysfunctional society yet is because the plutocrats who rule us have been successful in controlling the narrative.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. This has always been the case. In many societies throughout history a guy who made alliances with the biggest, baddest group of armed thugs could take control of the narrative by killing people until the dominant narrative was switched to “That guy is our leader now; whatever he says goes.” In modern western society, the real leaders are less obvious, and the narrative is controlled by propaganda.
Propaganda is what keeps Americans accepting things like the fake two-party system, growing wealth inequality, medicine money being spent on bombs to be dropped on strangers in stupid immoral wars, and a government which simultaneously creates steadily increasing secrecy privileges for itself and steadily decreasing privacy rights for its citizenry. It’s also what keeps people accepting that a dollar is worth what it’s worth, that personal property works the way it works, that the people on Capitol Hill write the rules, and that you need to behave a certain way around a police officer or he can legally kill you.
And therein lies the answer to the question. You are not being protected from “disinformation” by a compassionate government who is deeply troubled to see you believing erroneous beliefs, you are being herded back toward the official narrative by a power establishment which understands that losing control of the narrative means losing power. It has nothing to do with Russia, and it has nothing to do with truth. It’s about power, and the unexpected trouble that existing power structures are having dealing with the public’s newfound ability to network and share information about what is going on in the world.
Please, please, please do read this – the tip of a very sinister iceberg. I intend to write about it myself including the incredibly defensive, rude reaction of Jimmy Wales and @wikimediauk when "Philip Cross" is raised, and the bigging up of MSM figures. https://t.co/stR3wa8TQZ
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) May 17, 2018
Until recently I haven’t been closely following the controversy between Wikipedia and popular anti-imperialist activists like John Pilger, George Galloway, Craig Murray, Neil Clark, Media Lens, Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson. Wikipedia has always been biased in favor of mainstream CNN/CIA narratives, but until recently I hadn’t seen much evidence that this was due to anything other than the fact that Wikipedia is a crowdsourced project and most people believe establishment-friendly narratives. That all changed when I read this article by Craig Murray, which is primarily what I’m interested in directing people’s attention to here.
The article, and this one which prompted it by Five Filters, are definitely worth reading in their entirety, because their contents are jaw-dropping. In short there is an account which has been making edits to Wikipedia entries for many years called Philip Cross. In the last five years this account’s operator has not taken a single day off–no weekends, holidays, nothing–and according to their time log they work extremely long hours adhering to a very strict, clockwork schedule of edits throughout the day as an ostensibly unpaid volunteer.
This is bizarre enough, but the fact that this account is undeniably focusing with malicious intent on anti-imperialist activists who question establishment narratives and the fact that its behavior is being aggressively defended by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales means that there’s some serious fuckery afoot.
“Philip Cross”, whoever or whatever that is, is absolutely head-over-heels for depraved Blairite war whore Oliver Kamm, whom Cross mentioned as a voice of authority no fewer than twelve times in an entry about the media analysis duo known collectively as Media Lens. Cross harbors a special hatred for British politician and broadcaster George Galloway, who opposed the Iraq invasion as aggressively as Oliver Kamm cheered for it, and on whose Wikipedia entry Cross has made an astonishing 1,800 edits.
Updated: The Philip Cross Affair – UPDATE "Philip Cross" has not had one single day off from editing Wikipedia in almost five years. "He" has edited every single day from 29 August 2013 to 14 May 2018. Including five Christmas Days. That's 1,721 https://t.co/z5NRExlLon
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) May 19, 2018
Despite the overwhelming evidence of constant malicious editing, as well as outright admissions of bias by the Twitter account linked to Philip Cross, Jimmy Wales has been extremely and conspicuously defensive of the account’s legitimacy while ignoring evidence provided to him.
“Or, just maybe, you’re wrong,” Wales said to a Twitter user inquiring about the controversy the other day. “Show me the diffs or any evidence of any kind. The whole claim appears so far to be completely ludicrous.”
“Riiiiight,” said the totally not-triggered Wales in another response. “You are really very very far from the facts of reality here. You might start with even one tiny shred of some kind of evidence, rather than just making up allegations out of thin air. But you won’t because… trolling.”
“You clearly have very very little idea how it works,” Wales tweeted in another response. “If your worldview is shaped by idiotic conspiracy sites, you will have a hard time grasping reality.”
As outlined in the articles by Murray and Five Filters, the evidence is there in abundance. Five Filters lays out “diffs” (editing changes) in black and white showing clear bias by the Philip Cross account, a very slanted perspective is clearly and undeniably documented, and yet Wales denies and aggressively ridicules any suggestion that something shady could be afoot. This likely means that Wales is in on whatever game the Philip Cross account is playing. Which means the entire site is likely involved in some sort of psyop by a party which stands to benefit from keeping the dominant narrative slanted in a pro-establishment direction.
A 2016 Pew Research Center report found that Wikipedia was getting some 18 billion page views per month. Billion with a ‘b’. Youtube recently announced that it’s going to be showing text from Wikipedia articles on videos about conspiracy theories to help “curb fake news”. Plainly the site is extremely important in the battle for control of the narrative about what’s going on in the world. Plainly its leadership fights on one side of that battle, which happens to be the side that favors western oligarchs and intelligence agencies.
How many other “Philip Cross”-like accounts are there on Wikipedia? Has the site always functioned as an establishment psyop designed to manipulate public perception of existing power structures, or did that start later? I don’t know. Right now all I know is that an agenda very beneficial to the intelligence agencies, war profiteers and plutocrats of the western empire is clearly and undeniably being advanced on the site, and its founder is telling us it’s nothing. He is lying. Watch him closely.
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Comrade Axe / May 22, 2018
Information warfare is a crime against humanity under Article 7.k of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:
However, information wars of aggression are even more difficult to ascertain than the physical crypto-aggressions the hegemonsters practice licentiously. Still, they lead to depravity.
Janet Zampieri / May 21, 2018
Thanks, Caitlin! Another great article about how we’re all manipulated by propaganda that most people don’t understand. I just watched a 14 minute video about how Israel controls their message all over the internet –
ralph m / May 21, 2018
Thanks again Caitlin, for searching thru all the cow pies out there for small shards of truth! I’m not sure if dropping Wikipedia for info searches is a good idea without first having some clear non-commercial alternatives. But when I was called upon (online) to provide backing information for stuff I’ve read about the calamity in Gaza recently, NONE of my searches went to Wikipedia, because I know exactly what I would find there would range from spin to omissions to outright lies.
Right now, I take Wikipedia on a subject by subject basis. The more my search interacts with the interests of the American Empire, global banking and Transnational corporations, the more I expect to not find what I’m looking for and instead find garbage propaganda!
Rob Kall / May 21, 2018
There are major problems with Wikipedia, as this article and Craig Murray’s document. But we shouldn’t forget that there are tens of thousands of honest Wikipedians with integrity.
One right wing wikipedia troll had my website’s wikipedia page removed. Other wikipedians stood up to him and put it back, for no reason other than fairness. Unfortunately, that troll has had other peoples and organizations pages removed as well.
ralph m / May 21, 2018
Rob, I think it’s about time typical, average users of Wikipedia..as well as small, independent journalists such as yourself consider that powerful commercial and/or government interests control the information of everything they consider important on Wikipedia!
I have long wondered how and why Wikipedia has been able to function as a donation-based low budget non-profit in the midst of everything else that was good online being gobbled up by Facebook, Google, Apple or Amazon for commercial potential (squeezing more money out of us), and now, I guess I have my answer!
It’s not just that powerful special interests can hire people to edit and re-edit Wikipedia pages (have you ever tried finding honest information on Israel or the Mid-East?); it’s also because Wikipedia should be viewed as a similar scam to the tor browser!
rob kall / May 21, 2018
I mainly use Wikipedia to research people I’m going to interview for my radio show. Generally the info I am looking for is un or minimally tainted.
I’d never use it for politically tinged pages. One of my favorite examples are the pages related to Monsanto, Roundup and Glyphosate. Reading them, you’d think that Monsanto is saintly.
Others have cited other pages that are non-trustworthy because they’re tainted by people who control them.
Fiona Jenkins / May 21, 2018
Nice article, but there is a much better way of proving that Wikipedia=CIA. It’s true, everybody can edit Wikipedia, but not everyone gets to keep their edits. Here is an experiment that everyone can carry out:
If you edit well or create a new informative page on something of no interest to the FBI or CIA, say astronomy or physics, no problem, your contribution stays. But try to provide evidence–and there is plenty–that the government was involved in the assassinations of MLK, JFK, RFK or the demolitions of 9/11, and you’ll be “reverted” (their term) within FIVE minutes. Try to quote Russia’s version of the Crimeans’ overwhelming vote to join Russia, and you’ll be “reverted” lickety split. Provide evidence that Winston Churchill–lionized by our rulers–was an imperialist, a racist, a champion of inequality, and the contribution will disappear while you pause your honest labors for a cup of tea! Our rulers are masters of propaganda, and Wikipedia is just one of their brilliantly vicious outlets–created, controlled, and edited to brainwash us!
Peri Dwyer Worrell / May 21, 2018
It’s been obvious for quite some time that Wikipedia has moved from being an agglomerator of crowdsourced information to being a gatekeeper for “expert” opinion on everything from science to art to history to politics. The promise of the open internet is past; the boot is back on humanity’s throat.
Susan Siens / May 20, 2018
Wikipedia doesn’t even know what a female human being is — how would anyone expect them to be a reliable source for news or historical information? Just another tool of the empire.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé / May 20, 2018
Very disturbing and its a trend, every internet platform we come to rely on becomes taken over, or evolves into a neoliberal, neocon mouthpiece. George Orwell, right again.
Rob / May 21, 2018
One of my favorite Orwell quotations: Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
Guido Colacci / May 20, 2018
Let me make this as simple as possible. Wikipedia is as reliable and true as Snopes is… makes me cringe in disgust when I think how many people go to each site to verify ANYTHING!!!
edward anderson / May 20, 2018
Wikipedia by its success has become a public utility and should be monitored as such. Since it is being used as an international resource I think there are great difficulties in supervising the political neutrality of its content. The intentional biasing of the editing of its content to meet the prejudices of its owner/editor is unacceptable. It seems the owner of Wikipedia is unwilling to provide unbiased editing. the chore needs be given to another body capable of doing so.
Rob / May 21, 2018
And who will monitor the monitor?
Alexander Legault / May 20, 2018
Harry S Nydick / May 20, 2018
Wikipedia is excellent – for things like the filmography of Keira Knightly, or the discography of Glen Campbell (not that I ever intentionally listen to Glen Campbell music). Historically accurate things that cannot be disputed, nor subjected to distortion, are all that I ever use it for.
Wikipedia pages contain a disclaimer/request that people update the information, as it is offered up by the public. Given that the public is both weak-minded and self-serving, I disregard anything that even hints at distortion, fake news, or which is at odds with my personal deep research.
I was born with an inquisitive brain. No one – not the deep state nor those controlling it – will ever convince me that their numbing nonsensical narrative is even worthy of consideration.