The Curious Case of Disinformation
Since the American Godzilla came down the escalator in 2015 our liberal friends have been obsessed with disinformation coming from the Far Right.
Did you know that “disinformation” was originally dezinformatsiya as practiced by the Soviet era KGB? But then other governments got in on the action. Wikipedia nobly asserts that,
After the Soviet term became widely known in the 1980s, native speakers of English broadened the term as "any government communication (either overt or covert) containing intentionally false and misleading material, often combined selectively with true information, which seeks to mislead and manipulate either elites or a mass audience."
So, in the 1980s, experts agreed that disinformation was a government thing.
But now all the best people at the Atlantic are worried about Substack, which is “unwilling to remove avowed Nazis from its platform.”
But are the avowed Nazis committing “misinformation” or “disinformation” or “malinformation?” How would we know? How could we tell?
Fortunately, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has the whole thing covered and defined with comprehensive and mandatory definitions of “misinformation” and “disinformation” and “malinformation.” And naturally, our liberal friends and their miasma of NGOs -- led by the noble ADL and the SPLC -- are doing their bit to winkle out the bad guys. The SPLC recently helped the FBI horn in on dangerous radical Catholics practicing the Tridentine Mass.
Back in the day, of course, our liberal friends were all worried about government propaganda, what with Joe McCarthy’s lies about Communists in the State Department and the U.S. government’s lies about Vietnam. Now they are worried about nongovernmental liars.
I call that a “tell.”
Back in the day our liberal friends knew that the United States was the great implacable force in the world that was the main obstacle to the Left’s fight for justice and peace. Back then the left saw itself fighting against government power. Today the tables are turned. Now it is “avowed Nazis” on Substack that are standing in the way of the progressive government’s multicultural movement for justice.
In other words, back then the Left experienced itself gazing up helplessly at the battlements of imperialist America. Today it is standing on the battlements of Working Class America looking out at the threatening swarm of annoying deplorables down below.
How dare those peasants appropriate the means of communication that, all good people know, should be reserved for the use of educated and evolved people! The idea of “avowed Nazis” polluting the means of communication with their racist-sexist-homophobia is simply “unsafe.”
In other words, the world has changed, and our liberal friends can’t stand it.
But what exactly has gotten our liberal friends into such a panic? I have an idea.
Back in the day only the best and brightest got to publish ideas -- in books, and newspapers, and magazines -- and there were gatekeepers all along the line to keep things under control.
But now it’s a complete free-for-all. Any local yokel can start up a Substack site. As the Substack About page says,
Substack is something new: a subscription network… A few hundred paid subscribers can support a livelihood. A few thousand makes it lucrative.
And there are no gatekeepers. You can be up and running on Substack in minutes. It’s a complete free-for-all. For the first time in history. Just ask Bari Weiss.
So let us tell the three ages of the History of Communication.
Age of Parchment: Writers write, monks in monasteries create illuminated manuscripts by hand in their monastic cells. Gatekeeper: The Abbot.
Age of Gutenberg: Writers write, printer’s devils convert the written word into print. Gatekeeper: The Editor.
Age of Free-for-all: Writers write, and press Publish. Gatekeeper: The… (oh no!)
Informed by my History of Communication, we now know what our liberal friends are feverishly working on today.
We need new gatekeepers! To keep the Narrative pure! To stop Disinformation before it destroys Our Democracy! To head off “avowed Nazis” at the pass! To prevent “harm” to traditionally marginalized peoples! To stop the Latin Mass before it destroys America! To call out “climate deniers!” To banish TERFs from the university!
I get it. How are we going to send the doughboys to Europe unless President Wilson can control the Narrative about German attacks on “passenger and merchant ships in 1917?” How can the U.S. prevail in Vietnam if left-wing and anti-war protesters get to disrupt the 1968 Democratic convention? How are we going to fight World War COVID if anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers spread distrust of government medical experts? And how are we going to save the world from runaway climate change unless “climate deniers” are well and truly deplatformed for their denial of The Science?
There is nothing more urgent, as the nation goes to the polls this year, than to stop the out-of-control Disinformation produced by far-right extremists and influencers on the free-for-all internet with licensed and bonded and DEI-approved Gatekeepers.