politics

Progressives and SJW-critics alike should be aware of Russian efforts to amplify extreme voices on the left.

As a starting point – check out the Wikipedia page for Foundations of Geopolitics .

The book is used in many Russian institutions and proposes various Russian geopolitical strategies.

Relating to the United States, there is this paragraph:

Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”[1]

It is generally accepted by the media and political establishments that Russia did indeed play a role in the 2016 US Election – with reports of paid trolls and bots.

For a progressive then – it is easy to dismiss or be wary online that some pro-Trump twitter person may infact be a bot or paid troll.

And pro-Trump talking points is part of the strategy – normalising an opinion by making it seem like many others hold it.

But the other side of the coin – that I think many progressives have a blindspot to – is the liberal agitation from Russia.

Reports are coming out that Russia paid for ads supporting Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump. There are reports that Russia paid for geographically targeted ads supporting Black Lives Matter. There’s also the now suspended @bostonantifa Twitter account that recently posted a tweet geotagged in Russia, whatever that means:

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This image shouldn’t be taken seriously. This Buzzfeed article has a pretty good summary. 

This highlights the need for two things:

  • Progressives need to apply critical reasoning to all political actions, and not blindly go along with, or tolerate any political activity just because it’s anti-Trump. For example, in the wake of Charlottesville there was a wave of doxxing coordinated by the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist,    that did end up doxxing someone innocent. 
  • There’s a brand of ideology I’ll call SJW-critical Trump apologism. While not explicitly #MAGA Trump supporters – these people tend to be critical of progressives (and often with well founded criticisms), but also turning a blind eye to Trumpism, or selectively applying different standards of proof or reasoning as needed.
    This ideology often points at anti-free speech or fascist tendencies among the left, with the unsaid

Now to be clear – this isn’t to say that every example of extreme behaviour on the left is the work of Russian agents. I don’t think that Zara Joshi of Hugh Mungus fame is a Russian agent, nor do I think the 2016 Dallas cop shooter  was. Similarly – I don’t think all the people who marched in Charlottesville were Russian agents.

But – we should all be aware that while some people genuinely do hold extreme views – often the prevalence of those views are being amplified by the internet, to make them seem like they are more prevalent than they really are. (I think too the media plays a role – as controversy sells while more moderate, and likely more common views do not).

In short:

  • Progressives shouldn’t be tempted to adopt anti-liberal tendencies, because the extreme political climate warrants it. They should be aware that a lot of the extremism is manufactured.
  • SJW-critical Trump apologists should be similarly aware that a lot of the liberal extremism is manufactured, and also that – just as Trump supporters can be duped – so can liberals.

 

 

 

 

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observation · politics

Why didn’t Obama tell everyone about the Russians before the election?

It’s become clear recently that the FBI was investigating both Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian attempts to interfere with the US election.

Comey has faced criticism – why did he come out about additional Hillary emails ten days before the election, but didn’t mention the Russian interference?

Surely Obama would have been briefed about this.

Why didn’t Obama hold a press conference and tell everyone what was going on?

Is it really that the extent of it hasn’t come to light until recently?

It feels like the Obama establishment really fucked up on this one – instead of fighting like the Russians are – by exposing information, they’re opted for a strategy of secrecy. Hardly does wonders for their credibility.

 

politics

Here’s how the western intelligence community should respond.

The western intelligence community should respond with their own wikileaks style dump of data they have on the matter.

One of the great appeals of the Russian propaganda outlet Wikileaks, is the open data nature of the documents.

For example, in regards to the DNC hack, the data surrounding how it was ascertained that Russian hackers were responsible, should be released.

Donald Trump’s entire tax history should be released.

The CIA etc wouldn’t necessarily have to publish the data themselves. Who knows what the level of direct collusion between Putin and Assange is, but the CIA could similarly leak data to a friendly hactivist type organisation. Or directly to the Washington Post I suppose.

 

It’s apparent that you can use data leaking and data manipulation (eg. Twitter bots, paid trolls) to quite an effect. The Western intelligence community should perhaps consider responding in kind. After all, intelligence warfare is quite a peaceful kind of warfare. If all conflicts were just releasing embarrassing data about each other, that could be awful in its own right, but apparently better than dying a bloody death.

 

 

politics

Who’s to blame? Russian paid trolls.

This part of a series where I hypothesise how Donald Trump came to be elected.

That Russia interfered with the US election is not an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.

The current understanding is that:

  • It was Russian hackers who hacked and released Hillary Clintons email server
  • Russian paid shills and bots congregated social media like Twitter and /r/the_donald to post and promote pro-Donald / anti-Hillary content.

Here’s Republican Paul Ryan agreeing that Russia interfered with the US election:

Here’s Mitch McConnell condemning the Russian interference:

What’s still in question is whether Donald Trump and his campaign were directly working on orders from Russia – there’s currently no concrete evidence for that. With every link between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia that comes out, it looks worse and worse.

observation · politics

Is Wikileaks in cahoots with Russia?

I consider myself a fairly objective and level headed person, and I’m cautious about subscribing to conspiratorial ‘seek out evidence that confirms your existing world view’ type thinking.

With that said – this post does do exactly that.

There is an already existing narrative that Wikileaks is working with either or both Russia and/or Trump’s campaign to get Trump elected.

We can see this with a list of Google’s search suggestions:

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Wikileaks deny that they’re partisan in their leaks.

This CBS news article summarises the recent Wikileaks Reddit AMA, where the Wikileaks staff were asked about colluding with the Trump campaign and Russia.

Q. Many people have suggested that WikiLeaks was brazenly partisan in this election and colluded with Team Trump (and by extension, Russia). Just today a top Russian ally to Putin is quoted as saying Russia did not interfere in the election but “maybe helped a bit with WikiLeaks”.1

A. The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false. We receive information anonymously, through an anonymous submission platform. We do not need to know the identity of the source, neither do we want to know it.

Q. Why do you only seem to have information on Democrats?

If you were as Noble as you say you would believe in government accountability at all levels, not just for one party.

A.  To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump’s campaign, or other campaigns. If it were to be submitted now we would happily publish it.

Wikileaks are making the argument that they’re simply publishing what leaked information they have, and that they only have information leaked from the Democratic party. Nothing partisan here.

But I think their Facebook page demonstrates posts that go beyond non-partisan leaking of the information that they purport to be doing.

The first thing you’ll notice that almost all of their posts in the months of November and December are to do with the Clintons or the Democrats.

A lot of their of their posts are neutral email dumps:

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Or they’re linking to articles that discuss the leaked emails:

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But here already, there’s a narrative being pushed. Is it really within the scope of Wikileaks to tell us what we should think of the emails?

Wikileaks also posts links to content that is plain opinon – for example:

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This has nothing to do with leaked data at all – but Wikileaks do appear to be publishing one particular narrative.

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This posts has nothing to do with leaking  data – it’s reporting on how Americans feel. Given that you can find polls that suggest ~50% of Americans don’t believe climate change is caused by humans, or that ~40% of Americans believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, this isn’t a particularly noteworthy report. It looks like a disingenuous ploy to push a narrative.

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This is commenting on politics. Why did Wikileaks feel the need to publish this?

It seems like an out and out partisan statement, that you’d expect from a Fox News pundit or a republican. It’s also not factually true- PRISM started in 2007 for example, before Obama was elected.

Now perhaps – there genuinely is some conspiracy by the Democratic political establishment, and Wikileaks is doing the honorable thing by exposing it. But that’s a different story.

I think it’s fair to say that Wikileaks has a axe to grind for the Democratic party – it’s not just a matter of neutrally exposing leaked data.

The comments on Wikileaks have also been interesting:

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There are a lot of ‘Thank you Wikileaks’ type comments. Given that there’s evidence that a lot of the support for Trump on social media is apparently bots, it’s plausible that the same thing is happening here too. But I don’t know enough about how we analyse whether an account is a bot or not, but it’s something to consider.

Wikileaks’ role in the 2016 Election does flip the script a little. From Wikileaks being the hero of the radical left or anarchists, it’s all of a sudden being cheered for by the radical right.

As a final note, here’s an John Pilger asking Julian Assange just about this – here it is: