Saturday 16 April 2022

The wise monkeys of media: reaching behind the iron curtain

Why do "ordinary Russians" not know what is being carried out in their name, and protest? 

V 1.1 27APR22

The wise monkeys of media: reaching behind the iron curtain

Life is about the organisation of many conflicting priorities, and keeping it simple. Every decision making process starts with a need for reliable news and information.

Version 1.0 of this post didn't last long before it has been overtaken by events again... 10 days to be precise. Twitter goes headless chicken, Ukraine nuclear threats getting louder as the West rallies to support what no longer appears to be a lost cause - as Russia's limited military  competence is exposed by resourceful Ukrainians,  inflation balloons, food shortage forecasts.  The need for a single trustable source of authoritative, cohorent and fact-based news to reach beyond the censors and to override the number of dangerously subjective commentaries that are proliferating, is more crucial by the day. The cacophony or conflicting opinions grows louder. What a pity, the  BBC World Service has been compromised over the past 20 years as most attention has been diverted into online projects.

Just how significant is it that the people of Russia do not know what atrocities are being carried out in their name? It's fundamental! makes the case well in The Conversation: Shortwave radio in Ukraine: why revisiting old-school technology makes sense in a war

Former KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov describes how Marxism has been eating western democracy from the inside - especially the USA - and how Russia has quite brilliantly played the long subversion game. It turns out that "leftists" are useful idiots who serve only to destabilize the society.  Bezmenov is a KGB trained subverter, and in this video he tells about the influence of the Soviet Union on Western media and describes the stages of communist takeovers. This interview was conducted by G. Edward Griffin in 1984. Complete interview


Orwell's 1984 made the point about the crucial importance of controlling the messages delivered by Big Brother. The lesson learned by totalitarians and tyrants during WW2 was that news by radio is a powerful influence, and that oppressed populations would go out of their way to try to access it when they realized their own country's big-brother was trying to conceal awkward and inconvenient truths.

When the internet became ubiquitous in the 80s, most of the world's broadcasters abandoned shortwave radio as a means of communicating with their overseas audiences. Finally switching off in 2011. But while the Russians and Chinese did not demolish their transmission capabilities, the UK and US completely abandoned them,  and even demolished the transmission sites that could once deliver radio signals directly into the homes of all 8 billion of the planet's inhabitants.

Effective news broadcasting requires that there is a degree of trust between broadcaster and listener - something the BBC had established over many years to the envy of the world.

While there has been endless talk of the influence on politics and elections by foreign intervention, and endless talk of "fake news", the loss of access to trusted news radio that could not be cancelled or doctored by "psyops" was not taken into consideration. However, it was a lot simpler for Russia (and China?) to target regimes/countries and arrange for "useful fools" to be in charge of overlooked strategic resources to ensure that the west lost its ability to reach behind despot firewalls in times of emergency. The BBC and Voice of America were once able to reach just about everyone on the planet who had access to a £10 portable radio. And the broadcasters took it for granted, and then allowed internet and cellular to shatter and dissipate that audience over >50000 alternative delivery routes - all potentially controlled by a tyrant with a firewall switch.

“It’s often said truth is the first casualty of war,” Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, said in a statement. “In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda is rife, there is a clear need for factual and independent news people can trust.”

It's a pity the BBC has lost so much of the respect and trust of its UK licence payers over the past couple of years by promoting a "liberal metrolectual narrative" that fuels the divide that crystallized around the surprise election of Donald Trump in 2016. It is not so much about the traditional politics of left and right as it about the chattering classes and establishment elites, versus populism and the silent majority: globalists versus nationalists- "remainers" versus leavers. 

Globalism encompasses most liberal elites - and also the interests of big businesses. It is the mantra of those who support the aims of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the clubs of elite economies at Davos and Bildeberg, and there is substantial and growing populist opposition who have been shocked by the WEF proposition that "we will soon own nothing - and be happy".

The BBC seems to believe that its audience reflects its view of the world, where half are (younger) enlightened liberals, rejoicing in and promoting the BBC's woke metrolectual globalist philosophy  ... and the other half are (older) "populists"; dismissed as dangerous right wing conspiracy theorists who require constant re-education, and that need to be kept away from polite liberal society until they repent and accept that Aunty Knows Best. The view that they are mostly retired and due to expire soon enough anyway, so not worthy of inclusion, is widely held in "progressive" media and politics. These same unenlightened conservative folks are also actively cancelling the BBC licence fee in their thousands, and finding their news and entertainment amongst the other 5000 channels. The Facebook Group "I hate the BBC" is the largest of several online groups where dissidents gather to express their outrage at the BBC.

This creates a problem for a government that needs to have a way to communicate en masse to convey important messages in real time. Awkward things like pandemics, natural disasters and wars happen, when the need to send the same message to everyone at the same time can be a matter of life and death. The UK government is presently mismanaging the evolution of public service broadcasting and the future of the BBC - by managing to conflate and distil the worst of all worlds. 

The UK government has been overtaken by inexperienced advisers who have eagerly bet - based on their own experience - that the smartphone will be the fulcrum of all future lifestyles. Including establishing a means of enabling a universal tracked identity, which is required as a cornerstone of the shift towards a cashless society controlled by politicians and civil servants.

All your communication will be carried out online and "branded" with your tracked digital ID - because it's "good for you" - remember, own nothing and be happy.

Yes, there will be those who object, loudly. But as long as the means of communicating dissent are controlled by the same politicians, these objections can be diverted and dissipated across 5000 channels of anodyne online mush.  And if you don't like it, the same politicians hold the key to your entire digital existence - the central digital identity, without which you simply cannot exist. You can see how this already plays out in China and other totalitarian regimes.

The BBC has also been on a tireless mission of inclusive social engineering, eagerly seeking out, recognizing and celebrating all of society's marginalized waifs and strays.  This process has made robust humour nearly impossible, given that (funny!) humour almost inevitably plays off the unconventional and misfit aspects of society. And when there is not an "off the shelf" example of a suitable oppressed and marginalized group for the "narrative", then the BBC (and Channel 4) would eagerly probe and agitate to help create one.

The social media platform operators - especially those that notionally facilitate discussion and debate,  such Facebook and Twitter, have been hugely influential in creating a cancel culture that limits the scope of the language by reference to community standards. On threat of "cancellation", users are obliged to accept frequently absurd and contradictory limitations on the range of "acceptable" expression and discussion that are mostly established and controlled by vociferous minorities. 

In a country like Russia and China, cancellations are performed by government under the umbrella excuse of state security. It amounts to policing thought by intimidation, so any attempt to express a thought that strays beyond the "party line" is an invitation to cancel. So how can dissent be expressed and shared? The answer is disarmingly simple - once again broadcasting news, knowledge and debate using radio that bypasses state censorship.

Some of us have been trying to point out the folly of abandoning the BBC's respected World Service short wave radio services for years. The UK government departments responsible for this policy were not listening. The original Cold War propaganda rationale had morphed and changed - but not gone away. Never mind that the sulking hulk of Russian resentment has been an ongoing factor that has made occasional appearances that should have reminded us. The brazen nature of these clues was actually breathtaking in a civilized society: Winchester Novichok attacks, Polonium tea, Civilian aircraft targeted over Ukraine, Annexation of Crimea, the increasingly bold propaganda from RT. 

Who is asking how did Russia get away with it? How many useful fools has Bezmenov's KGB placed in western politics and media? RT is an interesting case, it easily picked up on the growing dissatisfaction with BBC News, and made efforts to identify call out the absurdly woke elephants in the populist room - and in doing so become the friend of many BBC listeners who felt they had been abandoned as the BBC relentlessly focussed on issues that are barely relevant to maybe 20% of licence payers.

The cost of building and deploying a new SW broadcast  network to reach all 8 billion of the planet's inhabitants using the latest SW transmission technology would be a fraction of the cost of one fast jet - or a few cruise missiles.

Russia latterly adopted less subtle tactics for controlling the media, when Russian projectiles struck the main radio and television tower in Kyiv. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister, wrote on Twitter that Russia’s goal was “to break the resistance of the Ukrainian people and army,” starting with “a breakdown of connection” and “the spread of massive FAKE messages that the Ukrainian country leadership has agreed to give up.”

I have a suggestion, Boris and Liz...

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