By Jeff Mackler
The world noticed when two billionaires, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, pushed a button and de-platformed then president Donald Trump from their social media empires. “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the content around them,” Twitter wrote, “we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” That was before Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for “incitement to insurrection.” Whether he will be convicted with the required two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate remains to be seen. As we go to press a divided and embarrassed Republican Party appears more concerned with debating whether the Senate has the “Constitutional” right to convict an ex-President on any charge than with adjudicating whether Trump incited a mob to violently negate a presidential election. Such are the exigencies of capitalist parties and politics, today plagued with internal divisions regarding whether to pander to the most racist, reactionary elements it encouraged under Trump’s leadership or to split the party and look elsewhere for support in the electoral arena. On these matters, we have no advice to offer the twin parties of war, racism and reaction. Our orientation is to the working class masses, the only force capable of effectively challenging the rule of the billionaire elite.
Corporate “free speech” monopoly
With Trump’s ban, eighty million Twitter followers and another 35 million from Facebook had to look elsewhere to follow his daily rants. But there is no comparable “elsewhere” in this largely monopolized private-for-profit – not free speech – industry, whose unprecedented reach covers the globe. With Twitter’s generous algorithm assistance Trump’s magnified tweets boosted Twitter’s corporate profits big time. No doubt, Twitter or Facebook accounts that challenge capitalist politics are accorded the reverse end of the algorithm spectrum, if not banned outright. The latter is the growing experience of activists concerned with social justice, antiwar, anti-racist and Palestinian freedom issues. Many of their websites and/or posts are removed outright.
Kevin Roose’s Jan. 11, 2021 New York Times Interpreter column is explicit in telling us that in the capitalist world of privately-owned social media the rich have every right to ban any ideas that counter their interests. Says Roose, “No serious thinker believes that Twitter and Facebook, as private companies, are obligated to give any user a platform, just as no one doubts that a restaurant owner can boot an unruly diner for causing a scene.” True enough! Under capitalist rule, the billionaire elite’s privately-owned social media and/or their government can “legally” boot us out at their discretion, decreeing our “unruly” views as threats to their “national security” – the same pretext they employ to justify their Patriot Act surveillance state wherein the entire population is subjected to their ever prying-spying devises.
The same exclusion of dissenting views applies to the entire spectrum of corporate media, from television to radio and print.
Need we add that the capitalist monopoly on “democratic” elections resides in two “competing” multi-billionaire parties with their corporate media dominating the discourse?
Socialist vision of free speech
In the society that we seek to establish, an egalitarian socialist society aimed at the emancipation of humanity from capitalist exploitation and oppression in all its manifestations, the working class through its own democratically-chosen representatives will preside over a nationalized social media complex aimed at social enlightenment and the free expression of ideas. The democracy that we fight for consists in the rule of the vast majority – socialism – not the rule of the one percent! In the meantime, we fight against all manifestations of corporate and government censorship knowing full well that success is directly proportional to our power in the streets as opposed to necessary but subordinate engagement in “legal” battles for free speech for everyone.
Trump’s worldwide soapbox
Trump’s unimpeded soapbox allowed him to saturate the internet with endless waves of racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQI hatemongering, war threatening mendacious fabrications on the subject of his choice while pillorying his enemies and basking in the adoration of his ever misinformed followers. He had a direct line to every newsroom in the country. “Without the tweets,” Trump told the Financial Times in 2017, “I wouldn’t be here.”
Before the Jan. 6 Trump-encouraged mob attack on the Capitol no Twitter or Facebook executive seriously challenged his “right” to lie, cheat and steal, to threaten nations with “obliteration,” to openly advocate and initiate military coups, threaten nuclear war, orchestrate regime change wars, officially order assassinations (Qassem Soleimani in Iraq), impose deadly economic sanctions on 39 nations, order the bombing of Iranian nuclear research facilities and assassinate Iranian scientists. It was only when Trump moved to challenge the sanctity of capitalist elections that the top echelons of the ruling elite pulled the plug.
Today, free speech applies with full force only to the private corporate media. They are the Manufacturing Consent purveyors of the Orwellian, Truman Show/Potemkin Village world of lies, distortions and half truths. Media magnate multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch (family wealth at $16.9 billion) presides over the News Corp empire that includes The New York Post, The Times of London, The Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Murdoch’s “free speech” monopoly allowed him to simultaneously call for Trump’s impeachment via one outlet and to denounce the 2020 election results on the other! In sharp contrast social movement activists are allowed to utter a modicum of ideas to the precious few until the thought control czars consider that we present a threat to the status quo. Then the full force of state repression is set into motion, limited only by our power to resist with mass forces in the streets.
Exposing corporate media censorship
A glimpse of the operational guidelines of today’s print media was provided by a Jan. 2021 Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) survey of the major media’s reportage on recent events in Venezuela.
|Over a three-month period analyzing some 78 articles (1/15/19–4/15/19) FAIR found that “Not a single commentator in the Washington Post, New York Times or on the big three Sunday morning talk shows or PBS NewsHour… challenged the Trump administration’s coup and sanction actions aimed at forcing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to step down.” “Race-baiting, xenophobic bigot” That Trump, the unexpected 2016 presidential winner, is and has been a lying, whacked out, egomaniacal narcissist is common knowledge among most everyone in the Washington, D.C. political community. A sampling of assessments from leading Republicans prior to Trump’s emerging as their 2016 candidate is instructive. Florida Senator Ted Cruz stated that: Trump is “utterly amoral,” a “serial philanderer” and “a narcissist at a level that I don’t think this country has ever seen.” Cruz again: “This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham declared: “He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. … He’s the ISIL [ISIS] man of the year.” And from Florida Senator Marco Rubio: “We’re on the verge of having someone take over the conservative movement who is a con artist.” Trump is the most “vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency.” Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State, predicted in March 2016 that Trump would become “an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution.” But Trump won and immediately became a tolerable embarrassment to the ruling rich, which tried without much success to “civilize” their unexpected monster. But generally, Trump satisfied their overall needs. Their system remained intact, albeit tarnished. Today, and immediately following Trump’s 2016 election, most of these same Republican buffoons ape Trump’s every lying, hate-filled word and deed, each vying for the post-election loyalty of his “base,” eyeing an easy future ride to fame and fortune. Capitalism’s “free speech” media monopoly and its $14.3 billion in 2020 election campaign expenditures aim at shifting the blame for its inherent failings onto society’s most oppressed and exploited, the Black, Brown and Native American communities, women, immigrants and LGBTQI people. It’s mind-bending propaganda machine demonized Black Lives Matter activists as violent property destroyers along with “socialism,” capitalism’s increasingly less effective red-baiting resort to discredit all who challenge its minority rule. Building a working class opposition The corporate media notwithstanding, working people have their own vehicles to defend and advance their interests, beginning with their basic solidarity and capacity to unite in building powerful, democratic organizations that champion their interests in the streets, at the point of production, in their own communities and in schools and universities everywhere. In this framework, independent of and against the corporate parties and their kept media, they are rapidly discovering, as evidenced last summer by the 20 million Black Lives Matter protestors and their supporters in 2000 cities across the nation, countless ways to communicate with their sisters and brothers to challenge the heavens and bring into being a new society cleansed of the horrors attendant to a capitalist system in deep decay.|