LUMPENPROLETARIAT—The lack of public scientific and policy debate around COVID-19 science and policy responses is ever shocking to those of us paying attention to the unfolding viral outbreak. Glenn Greenwald articulates eloquently the very real dangers to our open society, of which many of us are ignoring or completely unaware. We have recklessly made sweeping sacrifices to civil liberties and handed over authoritarian powers to the state in the American slipshod state response to the viral outbreak. So, it’s a welcome discussion when Lockdown TV host Freddie Sayers engages in a healthy reality check with Glenn Greenwald. Lockdown TV can be viewed on the UnHerd YouTube channel.
Beyond COVID-19 debate censorship by big tech corporations in Silicon Valley, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, Sayers and Greenwald discussed their respective experiences with censorship in the recent past. Greenwald had to leave The Intercept, which he co-founded due to censorship issues. And Sayers mentioned how their viewers alerted UnHerd that some of their more controversial videos were being downgraded in the search results by the YouTube algorithm. One video was taken down completely. UnHerd was able to make enough noise due to having a large following of support to have their video put back up by YouTube. Similarly, Greenwald mentioned recently defending an African-American communist on Twitter with a following of about 30,000 people, who had his Twitter account arbitrarily suspended. Evidently, Twitter decided he didn’t deserve free speech because they disagreed with his politics. But Glenn Greenwald has a big enough platform/following that he was able to get his fellow Twitter colleague’s account restored. But this amounts to a system of patronage, a corrupt political patronage, where the only thing that matters is connections. If you have a connection to the ruling class, somehow, you get a pass. Both Sayers and Greenwald point out that it shouldn’t have to be this way.
Social media platforms, such as Twitter, are essential to journalism. Censoring users to stifle political diversity is antidemocratic. But big tech is doing just that, and by their own admission, explained Greenwald. Once monopolistic institutions reach a particular critical mass, it’s safe to say, for all intents and purposes, they have become a part of the commons.
How long will we allow the commons to be dominated antidemocratic forces?
[4 JAN 2021]
[Last modified on 4 JAN 2021 at 10:00 PST]