May 6, 2017

There Was Never a Housing Bubble, and Beware the Fake News of Those Who Say There Was


1. “In the 17 years I’ve spent covering Silicon Valley, I’ve never seen anything shake the place like his victory. In the span of a few months, the Valley has been transformed from a politically disengaged company town into a center of anti-Trump resistance and fear.”
They can’t really fear Trump, a regular status quo neoliberal politician continuous with the Clinton-Bush-Obama lineage, this way. There’s no objective correlative, as a literary critic would say. Made-up fears like this are always a proxy for something else.
What does Silicon Valley fear, and why is Facebook’s proximate response to pay lip service to the old corporate media establishment? On the surface it sounds like agoraphobia. As the authority of the conventional mainstream media collapses, the techno-totalitarians may be feeling some fear over the prospect of really leaving the old establishment behind and having to take the lead in their own right. Where it comes to political Leadership, the technocratic instinct is to hide behind a conventional political and media facade. That’s part of why neoliberalism has been their preferred organizational and propaganda model.

During the U.S. election, propagandists — some working for money, others for potentially state-sponsored lulz — used the service to turn fake stories into viral sensations, like the one about Pope Francis’ endorsing Trump (he hadn’t). And fake news was only part of a larger conundrum. With its huge reach, Facebook has begun to act as the great disseminator of the larger cloud of misinformation and half-truths swirling about the rest of media. It sucks up lies from cable news and Twitter, then precisely targets each lie to the partisan bubble most receptive to it.

After studying how people shared 1.25 million stories during the campaign, a team of researchers at M.I.T. and Harvard implicated Facebook and Twitter in the larger failure of media in 2016. The researchers found that social media created a right-wing echo chamber: a “media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyperpartisan perspective to the world.” The findings partially echoed a long-held worry about social news: that people would use sites like Facebook to cocoon themselves into self-reinforcing bubbles of confirmatory ideas, to the detriment of civility and a shared factual basis from which to make collective, democratic decisions.

In other words, Facebook and social media are a more potent version of what the corporate media does. Crack to the NYT’s cocaine. Social media mostly transmits the same hyperpartisan perspective as the US government, the NYT, CNN: Pro-capitalist ideology, pro-corporate ideology, mainstreamed Randroid “wealth creator” ideology, Hobbesian lies about human nature and Malthusian lies about food and natural resources, the ideology that the problems of society and the environment are technical engineering problems rather than cultural and spiritual crises, and most of all the fundamentalist religion of civilization based on high-maintenance technology and extreme energy consumption.
But the conventional corporate media believes it was already performing its Goebbels Ministry role adequately, and its fear is that because Facebook and social media are so potent, they may give new and opposing ideas a way to wedge into the public consciousness. The mass hysteria among status quo cultists over “fake news” really means that the mainstream media’s fake news flock fears competition, in exactly the same way a big mainstream church will disparage a newer or more obscure, at any rate smaller, religion as a “cult”.
Therefore the Leaders among mainstream corporate media are attempting to impose their gatekeeper role upon Facebook, and according to Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony Facebook wants to become part of a propaganda continuity with the NYT model rather than any kind of break with it.

Scholars and critics have been warning of the solipsistic irresistibility of algorithmic news at least since 2001, when the constitutional-law professor Cass R. Sunstein warned, in his book “Republic.com,” of the urgent risks posed to democracy “by any situation in which thousands or perhaps millions or even tens of millions of people are mainly listening to louder echoes of their own voices.”

I’m sure Sunstein makes a point of reading the latest criticism of capitalism each day in order to ensure that his position remains correct.
But the rest of those in the media who propagated their consensus that there was no housing bubble and that housing prices literally would rise forever are now arguing among themselves about what constitutes “fake news”. These same commentators said Wall Street had to be bailed out, and today say there’s no stock bubble and no fracking bubble and that there never really was a housing bubble. In 1929 they all said there was no stock bubble. They all say climate change can be solved by emitting more greenhouse gases and destroying more carbon sinks. They say all currently deployed industrial poisons are safe for people and the environment. They say that the US government’s military presence in the Middle East is a normative law of nature and that Arab and Muslim resistance to this presence has some arcane, perverse basis. They say that the hundreds of times the US has interfered in foreign elections and overthrown elected governments is all normative and above discussion, while the thinnest rumor about Russia influencing a US election is a world-historical crime. They all said Iraq had WMDs and therefore had to be invaded. They still call the general US war around the world a “war on terror” and advertise this as necessary and indeed as a permanent law of nature. Most of them agree there is no US empire, and they all agree this empire is self-evidently good and at any rate a law of nature. They say globalization works for humanity and at any rate is a law of nature. They all agree that health care should be controlled by the profit motive and they all deny that the rest of the industrialized world does things differently and better. They all continue to insist with the strongest emphasis that young people should go into debt to get higher education and they continue to promise good, secure jobs to those who go into debt to obtain these degrees. They all deny that these are all political choices, they say that all these things are laws of nature, and most of all that there is no alternative to any of them.
There’s just a small sampling of Truth according to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Snopes, just to name some of the leading establishment media outlets who comment about Facebook and the news in this NYT piece. They call all this “good information”. Bad information is anything which questions or contradicts this corporate and militarist party line.
Therefore, much of this is the mainstream media’s angst over its imploding authority and its looking for racketeering-style ways to get it back. Here we have the sclerotic Mafia trying to intimidate the rising Colombian and Russian gangsters into some sort of deal.
4. And Zuckerberg says he agrees, in a new “manifesto”:

[Facebook’s] next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community – for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for the inclusion of all….

There are questions about whether we can make a global community that works for everyone…Giving everyone a voice has historically been a very positive force for public discourse because it increases the diversity of ideas shared. But the past year has also shown it may fragment our shared sense of reality.

This is nothing more or less than the standard authoritarian Volksgemeinschaft boilerplate which goes back thousands of years. Feel free to read it as par for the mainstream course and/or as portending incipient fascism. Either is correct. It all means reinforcing the corporate mainstream monoculture and suppressing diversity, alternatives, dissent.
The piece goes on to describe Facebook’s commitment to “news literacy” according to the corporate party line and Zuckerberg’s avowal that “a common understanding needs to exist.” To paraphrase Chicago’s mayor Chuck Daley, what Zuckerberg really means is that a common misunderstanding needs to exist. That’s the business of the mainstream media, including social media like Facebook.
5. All this is in the service of the same status quo insanity and evil.

“We’re getting to a point where the biggest opportunities I think in the world … problems like preventing pandemics from spreading or ending terrorism, all these things, they require a level of coordination and connection that I don’t think can only be solved by the current systems that we have,” Zuckerberg told me. What’s needed, he argues, is some global superstructure to advance humanity.

All this, it generally goes without saying in the mainstream media, must be done under corporate control and toward corporate profit goals, from which every other good allegedly will trickle down.
In truth, trickle-down, together with the infinity of fossil fuels and the infinite capacity of the environment to assimilate our assaults upon it, comprise the three core lies of modern civilization. Modern media is dedicated to propagating these three lies and suppressing all news of the reality which contradicts them.
More importantly, everyone knows that systemic risk is maximized by such “global coordination and connection”, and that the inevitable conclusion of globalized corporate civilization is general famine and chaos as industrial agriculture, and everything else which is 100% dependent upon finite fossil fuels, enters its predestined collapse. We also know that neither regional ecosystems nor the global ecology shall stably sustain much more of the destruction this mode of civilization inflicts upon them as its systematic policy. We know that the inevitable kinesis of all this destructive potential shall return the chaos and destruction a hundred-fold upon the head of the civilization which launched the campaign of waste and destruction.
There’s no doubt about the deliberate character of the campaign of destruction or the fact that waste and destruction as such are the intentional goals. For we also know that the only way to lower risks and vulnerability and to preserve stability is to decentralize power and control, build resiliency, build redundancy, build diversity, all in harmony with the natural decentralization, resiliency, redundancy, and diversity of ecology and evolution.
Thus Zuckerberg regurgitates the foundation lie of the extreme destruction model of “civilization”.
The NYT concludes with an approving nod: “This is not an especially controversial idea; Zuckerberg is arguing for a kind of digital-era version of the global institution-building that the Western world engaged in after World War II.”
All we need to change there to make it true is: What the Western world engaged in as its continuation of World War II.
And this globalization war has worked so well for humanity, as the “news” of the likes of the New York Times repeats every single day.
As for abolitionists and any other kind of true dissident, anyone who cares about the future of humanity and the Earth and hears the mission call to propagate the necessary ideas, we see how Big Propaganda, old and new, is trying to come together to suppress us. Part of our mission is to see to it that we exploit every tool social media affords us and seize every opportunity it opens up, but without being co-opted by it or succumbing to the many pathologies inherent to it.
We must do this in a disciplined, coordinated, cumulative, relentless way, according to a coherent strategic and tactical doctrine and always keeping the clear concrete abolition goal directly before our eyes.
Help propagate the necessary ideas.

1 Comment

  1. Right on! Great stuff!

    Comment by lafayettesennacherib — May 6, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

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