How Corporatists and Progressives Censor Your Media
Strange bedfellows form an ironic union to censor mainstream, online, and social media.
When people on complain about censorship, it is increasingly leftists that come to its defense. This is somewhat surprising as it was the pre-2000’s left who did the most for free-expression in the US. But this wasn’t always the norm —leftist regimes, such as in the Soviet Union and Latin American countries, are historically known to undertake censorship campaigns to prop up their most bankrupt ideas.
In the US, the excuse for censorship is usually trotted out in the following form — “the 1st Amendment only protects free speech from censorship by the US Federal government.” This statement is then used to imply that if an act of censorship is not in violation of the 1st Amendment, it is then somehow not censorship. That is, because an act of censorship is undertaken by an entity other than the US government, then no censorship has actually occurred.
Of course, this is false. The above excuse is a fallacious because it is built on a circular definition of censorship. What we need is a useful definition of censorship. Fortunately, defining censorship is quite easy once you understand that it is a concept precedes the US Constitution. To put it in the simplest possible terms, censorship is the suppression of information and / or ideas. Given how our individual lives have been increasingly impacted by censorship in social media, nearly any layperson could tell you as much.
In this article, I hope to explain how censorship is being, and has been, affecting American society, especially in the context of social media. Taking as an example of how a group of advertisers have colluded to strip Youtube of their advertising revenue, I’ll discuss how such tactics are, for political reasons, being used against modern Youtube content and content producers.
First, let’s have an overview of the relationship between corporations and the information they wish to control.
In the dawn of the corporation, executives realized the financial cost of information that negatively impacted their business interests. The reality was obvious and immediate. In time, the same executives also realized the financial cost of ideas that negatively impacted their ‘cultural interests’. This was more subtle. But what is a ‘cultural interest’, and how could it be threatened by an idea?
For an example, consider how Lockheed Martin’s booming bottom line during an extended war is threatened by the libertarian idea of peace and non-intervention. Without wars, interventions, and endless occupations, one can’t easily justify the ongoing billion dollar capital flows into the Military-Industrial complex. But the libertarian idea of peace and non-intervention puts a stick into the spokes of the arguments that justify these policies.
Above all, Lockheed Martin needs libertarian statesmen like Ron Paul — and his ideas — to be looked at as pure crank by the general public. The mainstream media excelled in servicing this endeavor during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
When detrimental information and ideas get loosed on the public, panic ensues, stocks crash, and heads roll. Out of obvious self-interest, executives realize that, through certain act of informational and ideological chicanery, such disasters could be prevented. The key realization is that almost all information and ideas have to first flow through popular media in order to reach the public consciousness. It is then a simple matter of gaining leverage over popular media in order to choke off these threats. To this end, executives need merely withhold ad revenue from media companies that do not serve their interests.
Recent research reveals that corporations are spending hundreds of billions of dollars in yearly ad revenue. Modern corporations have learned to act in unison in order to protect their shared business and cultural interests. Using these collusive arrangements as a bargaining tool (as they are doing against Youtube), corporations have the power to pull the plug on any non-compliant internet platform.
Unconscionable? Of course! Were the public to get wind of such action they would be rightly upset! This is a serious problem, and no executive would be smart to act in such a way directly. To act in such a collusive and evil manner, one must be extremely careful to not upset the public conscience. All that is needed, however, is a pretext. Add one pretext with surface credibility to any act of collective evil, and you can whitewash away damn near anything.
The best pretext originates from a source different than the one whose action it justifies. In this case, the pretext needed is one provided by activist political groups that are separate from the corporatists who use them as justification. Activist political groups take an interest in censoring information and ideas that run counter to their own agenda and worldview. For a classic example, consider the fundamentalist Christian groups in the 90’s that engaged in collaborative letter writing campaigns and protests to the corporate advertisers associated with media they deemed ‘offensive’. In the 90’s it didn’t take much to offend a fundamentalist Christian! So all the executives had to do was log their complaints, cherry-pick only the letters that overlapped with their corporate interests, and then use that as a pretext for pulling ad revenue. In the 90’s, fundamentalist Christians were the perfect useful idiots for censorship.
In the modern era of $CURRENT_YEAR, a different group of people have taken up the role of being professionally offended. Just what group of people could possibly find more in which to take offense than a 90’s fundie, you ask? College Marxists and Radical Feminists, as it turns out. Instead of taking the time to hand-draft letters and send them via snail-mail, this new breed of offendatron spends its days pecking out e-mails and clicking ‘report for abuse’ buttons. Armed with these logs, our modern corporations have all the pretext needed to pull advertising from anything at all.
So now you see the ever-encircling shit-storm we live through today. Everyone is offended by everything, everything is used as an excuse to censor everyone, and everyone is getting more and more resentful of the status quo.
While the mediums are new, the game is old. Establishment leftists have become the fundamentalist Christians of the internet, and chaos is ensuing right on schedule. It is an environment ripe for censorship and control, and it’s playing quite nicely into the hands of the corporate elite.