Bloomberg pundit Noah Smith had a very revealing interaction on Twitter the other day that I’ve been meaning to write about ever since.

It began with Smith sharing a screenshot of an article by journalist Yasha Levine which condemns US imperialist escalations against China and ties them to the sudden spike in anti-Asian hate crimes we’ve been seeing. Smith shared his screenshot with the caption, “I hold by my prediction that the American Left is going to split into A) social democrats, and B) foreign-policy-obsessed pseudo-tankies.”

“How do we stop the B group from driving the narrative?” one of Smith’s followers asked him.

“Well, first we teach everyone the word ‘tankie’!” Smith replied, with a Substack article he authored explaining that any leftist who opposes western imperialist agendas against China should be branded with that label and dismissed.

Which is just so refreshing in its honesty, really. It’s been obvious for ages that such pejoratives are being used by imperialists to control the narrative in a way that benefits ruling power structures, but it’s not often you’ll have a mainstream narrative manager come right out and say that this is exactly what they are trying to do.

Smith’s admission that he is training his audience to bleat the word “tankie” at any leftist who is “obsessed” with a tiny trivial matter like US foreign policy in order to control the dominant foreign policy narrative is born out by the rest of his Twitter activity, which sees him repeating that word constantly and weaponizing it against anyone who expresses skepticism of the empire’s official foreign policy narratives.

“Tankie” used to be a term which referred specifically to British communists who supported the Soviet Union, but under the facilitation of narrative managers like Smith it’s enjoying a mainstream resurrection in which it is commonly weaponized against anyone to the left of Bernie Sanders who opposes US imperialist agendas. I wrote against imperialism for years without anyone ever applying that pejorative to me, but now it comes up on a near-daily basis. I haven’t changed the basics of my beliefs or my approach to anti-imperialism, but the widespread use of “tankie” as a pejorative against people like me most certainly has changed.

It joins the ranks of famous weaponized pejoratives like “Russian bot”, “CCP propagandist”, “Assadist”, and the one size fits all perennial favorite “conspiracy theorist” in labels which can be applied to ensure the dismissal of anyone who voices skepticism of narratives that are being promoted by known liars to facilitate the agendas of murderous psychopaths. Another new crowd favorite is “genocide denier”, a label that gets applied to anyone who points out the glaring plot holes in the imperial Uyghur narrative which narrative managers are overjoyed about being able to use because it lets them equate skepticism of a geostrategically significant US narrative with Nazism.

What these pejoratives accomplish, as Noah Smith is well aware, is the ability to inoculate the mainstream herd from the wrongthink of anyone to whom that label has been applied. That way they never have to engage the argument or the evidence that gets laid out contradicting the official imperial line; as long as they can convince enough people to accept their pejorative as legitimate, they have a magical phrase they can utter to dispel any anti-imperialist argument which appears anywhere in the information ecosystem.

This is a major part of an imperial narrative manager’s job these days: smearing anti-imperialists and critical thinkers as untrustworthy. The debate is never to be engaged and counter-arguments are never to be made; why engage in a debate you will probably lose when you can simply explain to everyone why nobody should listen to the other side?

A perfect example of this would be the recent smear piece the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) put out on The Grayzone with the title “Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: The CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms“.

As explained in a thread by Grayzone‘s Aaron Maté, the government-funded and arms industry-funded think tank ASPI makes no effort in its report to dispute or debunk any of the reporting that The Grayzone has been putting out on China or on anything else. Rather, they simply work to associate the outlet with the Chinese government by citing incidents in which Chinese officials shared Grayzone articles on social media. By fallaciously associating The Grayzone with the Chinese government, narrative managers now have a weapon which enables them to dismiss the outlet as “CCP propaganda”.

As anyone who has been active in anti-imperialist online discourse knows, this is an extremely common tactic which narrative managers and their indoctrinated herd use to dismiss questions, criticisms and evidence which is inconvenient to the US-centralized imperial war machine. Try countering their claims with a well-sourced article full of robust argumentation and solid evidence, and they’ll dismiss you with a “Ha ha, THAT outlet? That outlet is propaganda!” Because it came from an anti-imperialist outlet like The Grayzone or Consortium News instead of an outlet which never fails to support US military agendas like The New York Times.

But it’s a completely ridiculous tactic if you think about it. All they’re really saying is “You can’t use that anti-imperialist outlet to substantiate your anti-imperialist position! You can only use the pro-US outlets which have helped deceive westerners into backing every US war!” It’s also logically fallacious; attacking the source instead of the argument is what people do when they can’t attack the argument.

Citing an empire-targeted government sharing an anti-imperialist article as evidence that that government is tied to that outlet in some way is an equally absurd argument; obviously governments are going to cite evidence and arguments which favor them, and the imperialist western media isn’t going to be publishing such evidence or arguments. The fact that western anti-imperialists and nations like Russia and China both oppose western imperialism doesn’t mean western anti-imperialists work for Russ or China, it means those groups all oppose western imperialism for their own reasons. Since western imperialism is the most murderous and oppressive force on this planet, it’s to be expected that multiple different groups will oppose it.

Pay attention to the way imperial narrative managers try to use smears and pejoratives to file away anti-imperialists into a “don’t listen to the things this person says” box, and help others pay attention to it too. This is no more legitimate an argument than the Wizard of Oz yelling “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” and it should be treated with no more respect than that.


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53 responses to “Tankie, Conspiracy Theorist, And Other Pejorative Tools Of Narrative Control”

  1. Caitlin,
    Is there a way to let your backend developer know that commenting format here is atrocious?
    As one replies further and further, it’s gonna look like this.


  2. Use of such derogatory names serves one and only one true purpose. It is a clear statement that “I have no reasonable rational logical argument against what you say”. The unfortunate byproduct is that the masses who succumbed to the training provided by public education think that the application of such derogatory names IS an argument. Some of Caitlin’s commenters have fallen into this false “argument”. “I would rather call you a fascist/socialist than debate you.”

  3. The problem Caitlin, is that I am seeing right-wing-Libertarian style narrative manipulation tactics from the most vocal people defending China in social media discussion (I don’t include journalists in this, just anonymous commenters) – people who claim 50% of the planet is a ‘US Colony’ simply to obstruct debate, people who claim the complexes Uighur’s are allegedly placed in are ‘just schools’ and they are there voluntarily (despite barbed wire, watchtowers etc..), people who dismiss every source put to them as US propaganda to justify exclusively citing sources they KNOW are propaganda.

    You do not find such a level of deliberate deceit and manipulation in argument like that every day. It’s on the same level as pro-Israeli-government shills during the times that Israel was slaughtering dozens/hundreds of Palestinian’s a day back in 2008. On the same level as right-wing Libertarian shills etc..

    It’s on another level of deceit and propaganda that has no normal/innocent explanation. It is ORGANIZED as well, just like the Libertarians pre-Trump were – these people come in to storm and take control over discussion as a team.

    The term ‘tankie’ is relatively new to me, but it is the above propaganda tactics which is what I’ve seen it be deployed to describe.

    I follow the writes of Yves etc. at Naked Capitalism, of Grayzone when it’s linked/referenced, and I know all about the US propaganda, Zenz etc. regarding Uighur’s and China, and I generally agree there is a LOT that is dubious and outright racist propaganda. I am also well on the left, an MMT and JG supporter etc., in Ireland.

    However. I think it is a certainty that China are guilty of mass mistreatment/discrimination/collective-punishment of Uighur’s, even if I agree that the extent to which they are guilty is still in dispute (e.g. I would not rush to apply the label ‘genocide’). Even when we exclude Zenz and related sources, we have the China Cables which already verify that the camps in Xinjiang are prisons, and that people are imprisoned without trial or justification. We have the people today who claim to have been mistreated at these camps, and their accounts can NOT be discredited by reference to discreditable NGO’s – because these people have no links to such NGO’s, they have only given interviews the same as they would to any journalist/newspaper – the smear tactics used against these people are extreme.

    I am from Ireland presently living in Northern Ireland, and the parallels between Xinjiang and ‘The Troubles’ era Northern Ireland – while of a much bigger scale in Xinjiang – are very worrying, because NI was used as a template by the UK, for their suppression of populations elsewhere.

    That is what Xinjiang looks like to me. On paper, it doesn’t look like China needs to be doing any of what they are doing (or alleged to be doing) in Xinjiang – because it actually doesn’t make any sense when you look at Xinjiang on its own, it’d be way excessive.

    So what it looks like to me, like Troubles-era NI, is that China are testing-out/trialing a modernized system of mass suppression of a population/ethnicity in Xinjiang – in preparation for using it elsewhere. I don’t know where exactly they’d want to deploy that (Taiwan seems a possible bet), but it seems like a big red-alert warning sign of impending Chinese expansionism – that should not be ignored.

    I’d like to see all the rhetoric between the west and China calm down and normalize, and see resolutions to what is happening in Xinjiang brought about through diplomatic/economic carrot/stick means etc. rather than dangerous confrontational rhetoric – BUT, what I’m seeing so far with China (and remember: I’ve already excluded all of the genocide etc. rhetoric due to much of the stuff that e.g. Grayzone writes about regularly), it already is looking Very. Bad. and like we need to be really careful about appeasing them, and need to start preparing for the possibility that multiple countries in SE Asia might soon need defending militarily if China starts invading other countries (including Taiwan).

    1. do you think it is reasonable to assume that a proponent of empire could write such a comment as yours or would that be too paranoid?

    2. You think that there is a legitimate concern about China’s treatment of the Uighurs. So how should that concern be addressed? Let us begin to answer that question by making it clear that the way to NOT address that concern (leaving aside the obvious point that it is a very bad joke to think that the U.S. has any concern for Muslims or any other category of human beings given the mass murder it has committed, and continues to commit in the Middle East and elsewhere) is how Biden’s clown team of “diplomats” addressed this “concern” in the recent disastrous meeting with the Chinese diplomats. I will not bother summarizing the disrespect and insults hurled by that group of amateurs at the professional Chinese team. I assume that anyone reading this column is well aware of that foolishness. If the U.S. had a legitimate diplomatic team, the concern would have been addressed in a private meeting with the Chinese representatives and the case against China, assuming there is one, would have been laid out and a full and honest discussion would have ensued. But no, the hegemon must dictate to all nations the “world order” (meaning that all nations must follow U.S. orders. Gee, I wonder why that did not go down well with the Chinese representatives.

      So since the U.S. does not “do diplomacy”, what is the alternative? A nation which respects and follows international law would go the United Nations and present its case against China. But, no, the U.S. does not respect or follow international law. Once again, the U.S. “world order” means total dictatorial power over the entire world. Therefore, we see the constant barrage of disrespect and insults hurled at China and the churning out by the MSM, government agencies and dozens of “think tanks” (paid for by U.S. taxpayers) declaring the U.S. position to be correct. As Putin recently observed, the U.S. is not “agreement capable”.

      I do not claim to know the merits, or lack thereof, of the myriad charges made by the U.S. against China with regard to the Uighurs. I do know that this Country has no credibility whatsoever. The same is true with regard to both of the major political parties. Our electoral/political system is so corrupt that we cannot assume that anything said by the government or the politicians is true. I am an old guy and have observed my Country lying to the people for over a half century about matters of the greatest importance, e.g. war. I think it is the duty of every one of us to question and challenge everything this lying government and the subservient MSM tell us, including its claims against China (for which this Country has an obvious motive to lie).

      Once a country rejects diplomacy and the rule of law, the options are certainly limited. One of the favorite “remedies” the U.S. applies to address its unverified, and often completely false, charges against another nation is the use of “sanctions”, which are illegal under international law. So the hegemon acts as the universal sheriff, unelected and rogue, to “police” the world. This Country is therefore feared. However, it is not respected and has no claim to any respect. Therefore, your wish for the application of diplomacy will not be heeded. You seem to suggest that the fault for the bad relations between the West and China lies equally with both parties. That is certainly not the case. The U.S. (and its obedient allies) is the aggressor. The proper solution is for the U.S. to change its position and begin to follow the rule of law. Convince our great leaders to do that and the problem will be solved. Just don’t bet any money on that happening.

      You close your comment with the startling nation that this Country should entertain the possibility of “defending militarily” multiple countries in SE Asia if China starts invading them. My, my, get a grip. Let’s sit back and observe that it is this Country, not China, which routinely invades other countries. Your alarmist rhetoric is based solely on your speculation as to what China might do at sometime in the future. Your use of the word “appeasement” suggests to me that you may endorse the U.S.’s view of what is called the “world order”. I certainly hope that that is not the case. I will close by observing that the tumult in Taiwan is due in large part to the U.S.’s usual dirty tactics of interfering in the affairs of other nations. This might be a good time to remind everyone that the official U.S. policy on Taiwan is the “One China” policy. Please cease suggesting that it would be a good idea to prepare for war with China. There may be worse ideas in the world, but at the moment I cannot think of one.

      1. I know about all of the problems/dangers with the approach from the US and the propaganda from them which must be discarded. My focus is on getting a more grounded sense of how to view China, without getting trapped into Us vs Them narratives (I’m from Ireland, not the US, btw).

        End result is if my cynicism/worries end up being justified by China invading another country or countries, then there’s a lot to be afraid of about how far that might go. A War of Aggression (be that from the US or China) is still the ultimate crime among nations, and must not go unchallenged.

        We have people in one breath coming close to tacitly justifying an invasion of Taiwan, and in the other breath pretending that the rest of SE Asia has nothing to worry about. I don’t believe that one bit, and it’s close to the type of narrative pushing described in my post.

        1. I suggest that all of us to worry about the ongoing mass murder being committed by the U.S. (by means of illegal sanctions as well as military operations) rather than worrying about what may or may not ever happen. China has not invaded any country. The “threat” of China is that it is using its resources legally to improve the lives of its people, including the building of state of the art infrastructure. It is also building legitimate alliances with other nations, built on good faith and honorable conduct. This is in stark contrast to the bullying by the U.S. of the rest of the world. We have enough to worry about right here at home. The best thing this Country could do, but will not do, is mind its own business and quit meddling in the affairs of other nations. It would also be a real plus if “our” government would stop violating what is left, post 9/11, of our civil liberties.

        2. maybe the us plan is to entice taiwan to declare independence so china will invade? this will be enough to re-isolate china from the world market.

          1. China will not be isolated from the world market. If that happened, the U.S. economy would crash like the Hindenburg.

            1. makes one wonder what’s holding china back if they really wanted to invade taiwan. and where john’s worry comes from.

        3. Focus harder. Your sense of how to view China is full of wildly dubious speculation. Experiments in mass suppression with an itch to invade and conquer. And a “certainty” about Chinese government guilt (not calling it genocide, the extent is in dispute) that, oh my, we should be very wary of.
          The U.S. propaganda you claim to discard seems to have gone the way of a boomerang.
          We are 20 years into a more or less unchallenged Aggression. It’s time to cease the Aggression. Economically and militarily, the anti-imperial bloc is now on firm footing and the U.S. would do well to challenge ourselves to “submit” to win-win partnerships and general cooperation.
          But the loonies want to bomb, lie, cheat, steal, bomb and bomb some more till the bitter end.

    3. Germann Arlington Avatar
      Germann Arlington

      Why do you “think it is a certainty that China are guilty of mass mistreatment/discrimination/collective-punishment of Uighurs”
      if you “agree that the extent to which they are guilty is still in dispute”?
      What do you know about what is actually going on and where do you know it from?

      Not all American propaganda is true.

  4. zbigniew dzwonkowski Avatar
    zbigniew dzwonkowski

    Hi Caitlin , about American great headache : All ETs are Communists … by any definition of that so hated word … and what more and more people are able to perceive consciously…

  5. The Conspiracy to Misinform, as I refer to the media that labels Obama as Left, should be known as Tankies for Obama’s extension of the 1033 program, which does in fact put tanks and other surplus military grade weapons on the streets of US cities.

  6. I do not follow your implied rule, Cait. I immediately question the source of an argument. If the source is a bullshitter, there is indeed nothing to hear. The lawyers have a better principle about this; “the fruit of the poisoned tree.” I say that “ad hominem” is not a fallacy. It is legitimate and important principle.

    So the bullshitter is not going to debate me but just smear me? Good! I don’t want to waste my limited time and energy on him/her/it. I will call he/she/it out as a bullshitter, show whoever has the sense to do the same exactly what the bullshitter is, and where he/she/it is really coming from, and be done with it.

    No, in doing so I am not being “just like the…whatever term they use.” It is the exact opposite of what the propagandist and fanatic does, the same way truth is the opposite of lies. Further, there is no sense in wasting limited time and mental energy to talk to crazies and charlatans who you are not going to convince.

    Let me put it this way. I do not say, “Do not listen to this charlatan!” I say, “This character is a charlatan. You can listen to it if you choose, I will not waste my time. If you want, we can move away from it and we can discuss authentically.” tr

    1. are tankies bullshitters?

  7. Stephen Morrell Avatar
    Stephen Morrell

    Actually, the term ‘tankie’ was first coined to refer anyone in the left who supported the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which was one of the few progressive things ever to have happened to that benighted part of the world. i supported it and am proud to be called a ‘tankie’ for that.

    Through censorship and smearing, the imperialists and their mouthpieces admit that they’ve lost the argument. This needs to be emphasised and repeated ad nauseam.

  8. The United States has little to offer a world whose underdevelopment has everything to do with Americas choice to reject its own Constitutional traditions.
    As the USA continues its lunge into the abyss of obsolescence, under the new Don Quixote-modelled leadership of Joe Biden, Russia and China have accelerated the next phase of Middle East reconstruction and stabilization this week with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yis March 24-30th Middle East tour resulting in the finalization of the long-awaited Five Point Initiative for Security in Southwest Asia on March 30th and $400 billion Iran deal on March 27th. These milestones were accompanied by a powerful Chinese-Iran joint declaration on Syrian reconstruction standing in total unified opposition to the regime change fanatics of the west.
    The truth is however that the bankrupt United States empire has little to offer a world whose poverty and underdevelopment has everything to do with a choice made generations ago to reject its own Constitutional traditions and sink into the cesspool of empire over the dead body of John F Kennedy.
    This great article can be read here:
    The Chinese-Russian-Iranian Alliance Ushers in a New Hope for the Middle East by Matthew Ehret!

    1. “over the dead body of John F Kennedy.”
      Which the CIA invented the term “conspiracy theorist” to quell any exposure of its involvement.

  9. I don’t watch mainstream media, but it reminds me of the Conan O’brien news compilations that were going around for a while. He edited clips of news anchors from dozens of different stations and networks, all parroting the exact same lines about some nonsense, fluff stories. I don’t think he did it with any hard news, though. He knew he couldn’t get away with it.
    It would be funny if it wasn’t so creepy and pathetic.
    There’s no doubt the MSM receives their marching orders from the same places, though. It has to be from the think tanks like the Australian ASPI that Caitlin mentioned.
    I did a quick search of the think tanks in the U.S. Five of the largest are: Brookings, the Heritage Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Cato Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
    I found some information on their funding. It looks like they all receive receive funding from different large foundations like Gates and Rockefeller, from various billionaires and from huge corporations from almost every sector.
    One wikipedia article cited a NYT article “investigating” why many think tanks receive funding from foreign countries.
    The Council on Foreign relations seems to be the most secretive and, I suspect, is the most powerful.
    According wikipedia the Australian ASPI (mentioned in the article) was started by the Australian government and partly funded (by their?) department of defence. Other funders include: ” Embassy of Japan and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, as well as from state governments and defence companies, such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Thales Group, and Raytheon Technologies.[9][2]”
    I suspect this network of deep state think tanks is largely responsible for the brainwashing, propaganda, horse dung being vomited out of the MSM.
    I would like to see someone do a Conan O’brien style compilation on something like this “tankie” garbage or some serious issue like Julian Assange’s persecution.

  10. By 2025 China will be the undisputed world hegemon, so you can rest easy, Caitlin, knowing that the wonderful country of China will have the United States completely subdued, which will usher in a new era of freedom and prosperity around the world.

    Right now the United States is rolling out programs almost identical to those that are used in China to maintain social order. That should be good news to your readers

    The following is perhaps the most important video any of us will ever watch and perhaps that last video we will ever be able to watch that criticizes the status quo.

    1. I wanted to add that we need to distinguish the difference between the Chinese government and the Chinese people. I find the Chinese people to be wonderful people, many of my friends are from China and others of Chinese descent.

      1. don’t worry about the chinese people and your friends from china and of chinese descent. the drones are very precise.

      2. I don’t believe a single word that you said.
        If you find Chinese people to be wonderful people, why don’t you believe all Chinese people are saying that they believe in their government?

        It’s a copout response. “I love Chinese people, I just don’t love the Chinese government.”, in a way it’s saying that you hate Chinese people.

        Majority of Chinese people love their government. There’s a poll that says overwhelming percentage of Chinese population believe they live in democratic country and believe in their government. Chinese democracy begins from rural town. It took 20 years for Xi to become President, not like the US.

        Even with those evidence, you would still say “Well, those Chinese people would be pointed guns at their head and made to say they love their government.”

        Or you’d say like we need the actual proof that Chinese people love their government.

        Those polls are independent international polls and Chinese government has no say over what statistics they would get.

        Guess what, in recent WHO meeting where the policy to end racism around the world was proposed. You know which countries abstain from voting?

        Yes, US and all NATO countries. That’s how the hypocrisy the US has spreading.

    2. Don’t intentionally misrepresent people’s positions on the internet. It’s obnoxious.

  11. The correct application of the word ‘Tankie’ is when it s applied to the bottom feeders living in Think Tank aquaria.

  12. I like the currently popular trend of building a collage using the symbolic representations of various corporate and ideologic entities, etc. as included in the above article. Such art very effectively defines the spectrum of any particular subject matter being referred to. The fact these snippets used are for the most part easily recognized individually by so many people also tells much regarding the success of such images in commercialism as well as with quickly recognizing our basic choices for sources of propaganda. It doesn’t take very long, however, for anyone with even a modicum of cognitive ability to recognize what can only politely be be described as a large collection of alternate universes out there. I say this because surely it is beyond mankind’s ability to generate so many outright lies that manifest when comparing one entity’s “news” reports (or lack thereof) with another’s if we assume they both exist in the same universe. I suppose one must keep a mental ink blotter handy to quickly blot out those reports which obviously originated from a universe other than one’s own. Better yet, simply blot out the offending corporate symbols conveniently displayed at the top of their articles and ignore the accompanying lies altogether… It’s much quicker and we know those are nothing but lies and too often second hand lies anyway. More people are discovering this every day! IMHO God Bless variety and freedom of choice.

  13. ….honest ‘democracy’ is built on the premise of an honestly informed electorate…tmk, the us, nor any other country, does not enjoy honest democracy…we all suffer under plutocracy, plutocratic propaganda, etc…

    …here in the us, if i’m to believe what i’m told, some 160,000,000! of my fellow americans are so uninformed, craven, desperate, fearful, etc., that they most recently affirmed either puppet biden or puppet trump!…ugh…

    …the biden/trump republicrat-level fools have [largely] been CONvinced that what’s good for ‘murka is good for the world because ‘everybody knows ‘murkans know best’…ugh…

    …and anyone who doesn’t understand that is a tankie… 😉

  14. I learned something from this article. Thank you, Caitlin.

  15. Joseph Mirzoeff Avatar
    Joseph Mirzoeff

    I like to use Toney Baloney, but it is just for one special person

  16. Thom Prentice Avatar
    Thom Prentice

    The only insult term left out is the TERF bomb, hurled by the Transgender Imperial Industrial Complex at anyone who merely asks questions about what the explosion in transgender messaging memes might mean to kids and born-that-way women … let alone hard-won gay, lesbian and feminist rights.

    This creep is using off-the-shelf whisper and insult strategery pioneered by GOP operatives Karl Rove and Lee Atwater … and effectively used by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy to totally trash Jeremy Corbyn and Left Labour with fake news antiSemitism charges.

    And of course mention should be made of fake news Russiagate 2016 twinned with *no* interest in investigating, say, Saudi and Israeli meddling in US politics, legislation, moulding US public opinion with bogus narratives and involvement in US elections …

  17. USA-ma Bin Laden Avatar
    USA-ma Bin Laden

    First, there was Islamophobia.

    Then, there was Russophobia.

    Now, there is Sinophobia.

    These are all just examples of American-led Two Minutes of Hate campaigns, which are designed to push the War on Terrorism and now the New Cold War.

    The fact that the American media like Bloomberg’s Noah Smith are attacking opponents of the USA’s latest Orwellian Hate campaign (this time against China) is a sign that these opponents are having a *significant impact* and exposing the deceptions that these campaigns are based.

    In short, America’s ruling class and its narrative managers/”journalists” are getting very nervous.

    The Sheeple thus must be trained to regurgitate meaningless propaganda phrases like “Tankie,” “Conspiracy Theorist,” “Russiabot,” or “CCP shill” like well-behaved parrots.

    Moreover, there is a US government push for greater censorship of social media by US tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    Of course, this America media censorship is not “authoritarianism.”

    It’s “defending Freedom and Democracy.”

    Welcome to the United States of Oceania….

  18. “Tankie” is a pretty confusing insult. When I first saw it used (recently on the internet) I thought they were liberal veterans!

  19. Michel Bélisle Avatar
    Michel Bélisle

    It seems that when something is very very difficult to believe, even tools of narrative control do not work very well:

    “…everything about the Covid vaccine is wrong, just like everything about Covid-mania is wrong. It’s all unprecedented, suspicious and, frankly, weird. None of it passes the smell test, none of it. When have we ever locked down the entire country to slow the spread of a virus? When have we ever quarantined 300 million healthy people, ordered everyone to wear masks, shut down businesses, bars and schools, and pushed the economy off a cliff?”

    Times of Noah and the flood all over again. If people believe the actual narrative, it is that the end of the world is near.

    Keeping my Rosary on hand!

  20. I would really love to see more people counter these arguments by immediately saying “you just attacked the source, and did not respond! That is pure ad hominem. You just lost.”

    Just started a SubStack thread called “Blob Watch”, which should be fun.

  21. New motto for the US:
    “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

  22. Ms Johnstone, you can always ” jerk the knees ” of a human beings ” hate them other people box ” with simple name calling! What is a ” socialist” is never explained; it is a term you are supposed to hate and that is the end of it. Logical and intelligent people fall for these ” hate them labels ” their entire lives and never question any of it. It is always a ” very wide open door ” to every human beings ” hate them other people box “!! Race, gender, religion, etc., etc., are all used to incite the ” hate them other people box ” that trait is a massive flaw within our entire species! It is the main reason why we are a ” dysfunctional species “!!

  23. Several years ago, on his blog Noahpinion, Smith offered the analysis that the US could have won the Vietnam war with ease and at any time. The military was essentially just scoping out the situation and got out when they determined it wasn’t worth it. Yes, after 10 years, the destruction of the South — which we were “defending” — and using every tactic short of nuclear war. The guy’s an idiot.

  24. Almost inspires one to put together a piece called “Everything You Need To Know About People Who Think Capitalist Empires Are Awesome”. That would be fun to write.

    1) Generally, they’re a pack of know-nothing asshats

    etc. from there.

  25. First, no one will convince me, nor stop e commenting against, my country’s imperialistic agenda to not only control the narrative, but to also to base it, in great part, on how much this country wishes to take ownership of another country’s resources.
    Second, it’s not too difficult to be left of Bernie Sanders these day, in articular since he took ownership of – and still espouses – the farcical Russiagate fraud. Still, however, one need not be left of Sanders in all regards. That’s the problem with assigning emotion-charged labels to people than to actually investigate and understand, in depth, their points on a great any issues. or example, without indicating any particular view, I am left of Sanders on somethings. However, there are other things on which I tend toward the middle of the road and even a few where my views may be considered conservative. Overall, I consider myself a progressive, because that label describes the vast majority of my positions, but does not indicate how i would respond on some other, generally, personal matters.
    Third, the unforced portion of my government’s behavior has destroyed any sense of patriotism that I may have – meaning patriotism in a general sense of liking and being proud of my country, not as meaning my country can do no wrong. My government – an often time conceived as a synonym for the U.S. – takes actions in my name, of which I do not approve. I don’t want our mostly young people sent elsewhere to be slaughtered in order to maintain and expand the wealth and power of a limited few. The personnel are viewed, by those oligarchic psychopaths, as disposable, replaceable items indistinguishable from the helmets that they wear. My government is also guilty of talking about climate change, but doing the opposite of what is needed to stop that danger if, indeed, it is not already too late. I could go on, but I think there are many reasons to detest the actions of our government. As a citizen, it is not only our right to criticize, but also our responsibility to object, loudly, in both voice and deed. If that makes me a ‘tankie,’ that would be a label that I would proudly bear.

    1. Sorry for the typos. Since I type faster than my keyboard can respond, I normally do proofread, in order to catch any mistakes. Hopefully, however, the meanings, where those appear in the comment above, should be obvious to the reader.

  26. Oh how it drives my crazy – EVERYONE in the West gets the name wrong and insults the Chinese people and government.

    There is no CCP!!! There is the Communist Party of China the CPC as it is the United States of America USA not UAS.

    It just makes the authors seem dumb and racist to deliberately use an incorrect name.

  27. “But it’s a completely ridiculous tactic if you think about it. All they’re really saying is “You can’t use that anti-imperialist outlet to substantiate your anti-imperialist position! ”

    It is actually a sensible tactic. Check cartoon “We will not win by brains alone” where presenter displays a slide “our brain” “beaver’ brain” “brain of the competitors” (in that order of size). If an appeal to facts cannot help you, you go for a tribal type of solidarity, complete in shibboleths, rallying cries and invectives — that is actually effective. Of course, it is repulsive… so well, you will not convince everyone,

  28. Lack of nuance is the hallmark of ignorance and a tool of oppression.

    I can’t believe “tankie” is making it to the mainstream capitalist world. What tankie means to me is someone from the left who also believes in authoritarianism. It derives from Stalin sending out the tanks.

    To consider it simply as a person from the left is to perpetuate ignorance about forms of government. I abhor authoritarianism entirely, including but not limited to how capitalism uses it.

    One of the things that dismays me about the masses general understanding is that communism entails authoritarianism. With the general masses, using the words communism, socialism or anarchy as descriptions is completely synonymous with totalitarianism. The public is completely ignorant about what those forms of government are. They are especially ignorant of how authoritarian our capitalism is.

    We haven’t seen proper communism, socialism or better yet true anarchy. Yet the general public holds both those political structures as the dirtiest of words. The way the general public holds those words are literally as negative as any other expletives. Meanwhile in reality they are well thought out structures of organization of society.

    There are several true “tankies” out there, ie. people who believe we need to use force to achieve a world where the whole of society is considered in political/economic contexts. That is NOT synonymous with “left” or “communism”. A world of individual freedom AND global economic health are not mutually exclusive and indeed should be the goal for all of us.

    What’s ironic is that it’s only a very few people who would be negatively impacted by that world. I love Caitlin’s writing so much because she describes how those few have so much power they’re able to drive the public narrative so entirely and completely as to have the names of structures of that world be synonymous with authoritarianism while themselves driving authoritarianism on a large and ugly scale.

    1. there are many ways to entice people to use force.

    1. Julius Skoolafish Avatar
      Julius Skoolafish


  29. Another great article Caitlin. Thank you. As you have repeatedly and correctly pointed out, the Western propaganda machine constantly churns away at its central purpose, which is to deceive the people into supporting, or at least failing to object to, the crimes of the Empire. What is more infuriating is that we, the people, pay the “think tanks” who churn out this garbage used to deceive us, just as we pay for the multi-million dollar cost of the advertising campaigns of the military to recruit our children to serve as cannon fodder for the illegal wars waged by the Empire. Added to the problem, of course, is that so many of the people are unwilling to do the minimal amount of research which is necessary to overcome the massive propaganda campaigns waged against us.

    1. I don’t think it’s a case of being unwilling Jim, the implication being that they suspect something may not be true, but are unwilling to do the research to determine whether it IS untrue. The point being that they believe whatever IS true, so have no reason to research the matter. And if something is coming at them from all directions so to speak – ie on the TV news and in their newspaper or newspapers and on the radio, then it must be the actuality. And as the propagandists know of course, the bigger the lie the more effective. In the final analysis it’s down to conceivability, or I should say inconceivability, and there are two possibilities regarding inconceivability, one being that it’s so inconceivable to someone that such and such is a falsehood that they don’t even for one instant doubt that it is, and the other is that someone considers the possibility that something is untrue, but it is then just inconceivable to them that it could be.

      Anyway, what I find interesting is why there are those of us that DO see through the propaganda, and are able to, and there are those that don’t, or can’t, and it’s interesting how any particular individual is one or the other – ie how one person ended up at some point becoming a critical thinker, and another didn’t. Fortunately for the PTB, the latter is in the majority, and quite a large majority, and the PTB aim to keep it that way!

      1. Correction: ….. that they don’t even for one instant consider the possibility that it is a falsehood, or that it could be a falsehood…

      2. Allan, perhaps my expectations are too high. That may, at least in part, due to the fact that I am an old guy and, therefore, have observed that our government constantly lies into wars (shooting wars, illegal sanctions wars, propaganda wars). I therefore believe that people should at least suspect current narratives which demonizes another country, other entity or person. It is well known (finally) that our government lied us into the illegal invasion of Iraq. It does seem that that disaster (perhaps the biggest, so far, in the history of this Country) would give people cause to question the current propaganda campaigns being waged against Russia and China. On the other hand, I do recognize that there are some (I fear their number is more than I even think) who are deeply committed to the false U.S. Exceptionalism narrative. After all, the New York Times, home of the Judith Miller School of Journalism, is still in business.

        1. Yes, you would think that after all the Big Lies about WMD etc and the fake ‘Uranium’ document that people would know better, but the PTB just leave it for a few years before they try to dupe the masses again and, having learnt their lesson, concoct and contrive falsehoods that are more believable, as with Gaddafi and Libya. The thing about propaganda – both black and white – is that it is for the most part directed at the emotions (as opposed to the intellect and Reason), and once people are ’emotionalised’ their reasoning goes out the window. The Salisbury (alleged) Poisonings is a good example, which I have no doubt whatsoever was all staged, and for a number of very good reasons (which I won’t go into now), but one only has to think in terms of Cui Bono, and THAT should do it! I mean it’s just the sort of thing you WOULD think to do just three months or so prior to hosting the World Cup Football Tournament for the very first time (or any time in fact).

          Anyway, I was just about to post a link to a Sun Article from a few years ago when I saw your reply. At the time Junior Doctors were taking industrial action and in conflict with the Government, so the propagandists at the Sun concocted a fake poll designed to have their four or five million readers at the time believe that they were hypocrites. And my point in doing so is that to the vast majority of people who AREN’T Sun readers – if they were to read it – they would think it laughable that anyone could have taken it seriously and not realised it was a hoax, BUT – and this is the point – the jokers at the Sun who concocted it – and no doubt had a good laugh doing so – know that for just about ALL their readers, it would be inconceivable to them that the Sun – their newspaper – could have concocted a fake poll designed to have them believe that the Junior Doctors are hypocrites, and it comes down to what I mentioned in my initial post about inconceivability. Anyway, here it is:

          Survey shows 93% of junior doctors would back a fully privatised health service if it meant a pay increase

          1. Or the granddaddy of all attempts to smear anyone with questions: the 1967 memo the CIA sent to its offices around the world suggesting they scream “conspiracy theorist” at anyone who challenged the Warren Report, which, it turns out, contains nothing but holes. With its media allies as gatekeepers, they succeeded in weaponizing the term for now many other uses. And they mostly succeeded keeping the lid on the Kennedy murder and all the other political assassinations of the ’60s despite all we have learned since then.

            Ask yourself why the CIA and the war machine was so desperately interested in having people accept the WR fairy tale, and the answer is obvious. After the coups in Iran and Guatemala and the murder of Patrice Lumumba securing African resources for the empire, they came home to the US to get rid of Kennedy who had begun challenging their plans for the empire we now see.

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