Caitlin Johnstone: Freedom & Democracy Via Censorship

You’d think a free society would have no objection to people trying to learn about the other side of  a war in which NATO powers very plainly had a hand in starting.

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

Kremlin-backed media outlets have been banned throughout the European Union, both on television and on apps and online platforms. RT has lost its Sky TV slot in the U.K., where the outlet is also blocked on YouTube. Australian TV providers SBS and Foxtel have dropped RT, and the federal government is putting pressure on social media platforms to block Russian media in Australia.

In the Czech RepublicSlovakia and Latvia, speaking in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will get you years in prison.

Twitter, historically the last of the major online platforms to jump on any new internet censorship escalation, is now actively minimizing the number of people who see Russian media content, saying that it is “reducing the content’s visibility” and “taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter.” This is exactly what I speculated might emerge after former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey resigned in November, due to previous comments supporting the tactic of censorship-by-algorithm by his successor Parag Agrawal.

Twitter is also placing warnings labels on all Russia-backed media and delivering a pop-up message informing you that you are committing wrongthink if you try to share or even “like” a post linking to such outlets on the platform. It has also placed the label “Russia state-affiliated media” on every tweet made by the personal accounts of employees of those platforms, baselessly giving the impression that the dissident opinions tweeted by those accounts are paid Kremlin content and not simply their own legitimate perspectives. Some are complaining that this new label has led to online harassment amid the post-9/11-like anti-Russia hysteria that’s currently turning western brains into clam chowder.

This is all on top of all the other drastic escalations in censorship which came roaring in at the beginning of the Ukraine war, and I personally find it a bit scary how fast it’s all happening, how fine people are with it, and how much worse it seems likely to get.

Others agree.

“The purge of RT and other Russian media outlets in the US and Europe is 100% censorship,” tweets journalist Michael Tracey. “Go ahead and argue it’s justified, but at least don’t be a coward and admit you are advocating censorship.”

“The western world believes that it has a monopoly on what constitutes ‘political truth’ and that their ideological worldview is the only correct, valid and authoritative one,” writer and analyst Tom Fowdy observed. “They preach freedom of speech and the press to other countries, but exempt themselves from it.”

And I can’t help but find it odd that the fight for freedom and democracy should require such copious amounts of censorship. You’d think a free society would have no objection to people trying to learn the other side of the debate about a war which NATO powers very plainly had a hand in starting, rather than being forced to consume only Western mass media narratives which tell us this is happening exclusively because Russian President Vladimir Putin is evil and Hitlery and hates freedom.

You’d think a society devoted to truth and freedom, the kind of society Western powers purport to be trying to defend in Ukraine, would not require a Ministry of Truth to protect us from “disinformation” about a government long targeted by the U.S.-centralized empire, or from trying to seek out alternative perspectives beyond the homogeneous blanket of authorized mainstream narratives.

You’d think the truth would be more robust than that. You’d think freedom would extend farther than that. You’d think democracy would be more tolerant of dissent than that.

It’s almost like this has nothing to do with freedom, or truth or democracy. Almost like it never has.

It makes you wonder if we have foolishly consented to a reality where the most powerful people in the world get to control the information people consume in order to shut down dissent against a murderous and oppressive globe-spanning oligarchic empire.

And it kind of makes you wonder, as we watch the same empire that just destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen being entrusted to carefully navigate extremely delicate nuclear brinkmanship escalations without ending the world, if we might perhaps be better off with a lot more dissent, rather than a lot less.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

30 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Freedom & Democracy Via Censorship

  1. Sam F
    March 7, 2022 at 08:39

    Yes, the US would be “better off with a lot more dissent, rather than a lot less.” Democracy allows both citizens and their representatives to “seek out alternative perspectives” and the US fails there because it is not a democracy.
    The US failure to conduct honest policy debate is a failure of government structure. See CongressOfDebate dot org for the solution to this problem. That requires reforms to eliminate economic influence upon all branches of the US government and mass media, which has destroyed democracy.

  2. John Kennard
    March 4, 2022 at 21:54

    I don’t think it’s pedantic to point out that we, the US, are and have always been a _plutocracy_.

    The wealthy rule America through their “two” “Parties”, their Bar, their collectivized MSM (Clinton) and gatekeepung Internet monopolies (Obama), and post-9/11 the DHS with its fusion of local, State and Federal police-forces spending whatever is needed against any real dissent, all making it clear that the only objection the rulers of America ever had to the USSR was their not getting a cut: Notice what dear friends they are to the Chinese Communist regime, after transferring American manufacturing there (slave-labor and no labor, consumer or environmental safety regulation, a plutocratic paradise).

    We strangled anything else at birth by Constitutionally legislating pay-for-play political and justice systems (the British model, sans only formal aristocracy):

    Guess who that has never favored.

    We’re in great shape for America’s 250th birthday, huh?

  3. Billwil
    March 4, 2022 at 21:33

    Wrongthink? Is yhat term directly from 1984?

  4. John Kennard
    March 4, 2022 at 21:31

    We need people to learn and apply simple logic.

    “Critical thinking”–our post-moral, post-rational and post-biological academe’s substitute for logic–is whatever authority says it is.

  5. CNfan
    March 4, 2022 at 18:59

    We know who the oligarchs are. But nobody wants to end up like JFK, Dorothy Kilgallen, Gary Webb, Julian Assange, etc.

  6. paul
    March 4, 2022 at 18:58

    Ah, but RT is a state controlled propaganda medium because it receives $200 million in state funding.

    Totally different from the completely free and independent and impartial BBC which receives £6,000 million in state funding.

    • Glen Hedlay
      March 7, 2022 at 08:08

      Does anyone know how much US goverment funds go to finance Radio Free Europe or similar propaganda outlets that paint a mythical view of the USA that never was, never will be, but it sure looks good. I have never seen the horrers of war being shown on CNN during any of the recent USA /NATO ventures over the last 30 or 40 years. PS: What was the cause of the”Cuban Crises”?

  7. Rex Williams
    March 4, 2022 at 16:54

    The West is now more extreme than any other country I can recall in my lifetime, other than Chile under Pinochet and Russia under Stalin.
    Every day closer to the actions of Nazi Germany. Every day we see all the lemmings following on behind the lemming leader, the failed USA, heading obediently for the big jump. No one can have a single opinion that in any way deviates from the tripe dished out by Washington and its controllers in Israel, rubbing their hands with glee.

    Nothing in the media is believable any more. Keep up the good work Consortium and Caitlin. We need some contact with reality

  8. Rob Juneau
    March 4, 2022 at 15:32

    Ukraine’s room in the global house is burning from their own sloppy fire and they’re asking for more weapons. I’d have more respect for them if they let their horses make all the “manly” decisions. And a lot more respect for the rest of us if we stopped trying to short-term profit from their long-term fear and pain.

    Thank you, Caitlin. Not much difference between a Nasty and a Ziobot, after all.

    Free Assange, peace to us all!

  9. Dav
    March 4, 2022 at 13:05

    I would also like to report that if searching “RT News”, “RT”, or “Russia Today” on Google, not a single result will link to RT’s English language website. I checked the first 10 pages of results.

    RT’s website is the first result on DuckDuckGo, Bing, and Yahoo.

  10. Sadeeq
    March 4, 2022 at 12:30

    Well, “freedom of speech” in the “free world”…
    As my history teacher told us, “In a free country everyone can freely say what is allowed.”

  11. Aaron
    March 3, 2022 at 20:57

    This censorship could be a cause for nuclear annihilation. Carl Sagan explained about the horror of a nuclear winter and Mutually Assured Destruction a long time ago. I heard something that sent a chill down my spine the other day. That 42% of Americans now support MILITARY action against Russia. How do they not understand that there will be no America left, or any Ukraine left after a nuclear war? It is truly game over for the human species. They seem to have a death wish in a way, like they just seem to have no clue what will happen if we attack Russia. And these are the same forces that are censoring anybody that even just simply wants to be fucking neutral in this war. I’m afraid that we are in the beginning of WWIII, Holy Mother of God, this could be the big one.

  12. March 3, 2022 at 20:24

    Keep up the great writing CJ, you’re a shining star in a darkening sky.

  13. jesika
    March 3, 2022 at 19:45

    Truth about killing of Donbas Ukrainian ethnic Russians by Azov Battalion and far right others is kept out of Western media except for Consortium News and Ron Paul. I can’t help but think this is part of The Great Reset, and I have read that Soros funded Zelensky, who is lying about Putin’s claims while the West is thinking Z is so great. I think the WEF is watching this, and Schwab and Soros are partners in Davos. This must be by design because the so-called elitists are getting what they want, chaos. Putin was baited by the horrors in Donetsk and Luhansk and though war is abominable, I hope truth comes out and people will learn what Zelensky has been hiding.

  14. Malcolm Powell
    March 3, 2022 at 19:44

    I recollect many people saying that we only ever really get one side of history which is often written by winners. Banning the voices of another side of a story means their is only one story and it is the official version and here it is. Anything outside of that is conspiracy theory, unhinged, propaganda, lies or disinformation. It is not democratic or autocratic but it is totalitarian.

  15. Mark Vari
    March 3, 2022 at 19:23

    RT is gone from New Zealand TV as well. So far I can still access it online, but I’m not confident that will continue. Everything in the news is either “covid” or “Russia evil, Ukraine good.” I do think people are waking up to the dishonesty of our leaders and their media, but it is very gradual and only in small numbers so far. I’m more worried about the future of the free world than that of Ukraine. There is/will be short term bloodshed in Ukraine, but what our leaders in the free west are cooking up for us, will be far worse, if they get what they want.

  16. Marie-France Germain
    March 3, 2022 at 19:03

    Obviously, the PTB believe shutting down non-western media will have us towing the USA and its sock puppet allies line about what is happening. Unfortunately, when one hears only one side of an argument, one tends to think propaganda and censorship, not truth. Our leaders are scared of us. That’s the only reason for the censorship.

    • Sadeeq
      March 4, 2022 at 12:44

      Very accurate observation indeed.

  17. Ray Peterson
    March 3, 2022 at 18:46

    Guess the year Cait: “Political language is designed to make lies sound
    truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity
    to pure wind” (George Orwell, Why I Write). Any argument from the enemy,
    no matter how accurate, must get the “boot to the face.” Keeping some truth
    alive I suspect, is why you write too! Thanks.

  18. Downside Dan
    March 3, 2022 at 18:23

    Are post-modern Westerners feeling insecure about optimistic Enlightenment mantras foundational for freedom of expression/communication–“Every story has [at least} two sides”; “Truth will win out in the marketplace [of ideas]”; and “Truth, if crushed to earth, will rise again”? Bill of rights includes freedom of speech/press not merely so individuals can “let off steam” in a chain-link free speech cage or some obscure corner of the internet, but implies mainstream should listen seriously to minority views–so citizens (when electing) and policy-makers (when deciding) will both have best information available.

    Almost everyone now claims to want power-point presented “data-driven debate,” but since we no longer can be sure “my/our side’s facts are truer than yours,” many resort to cancel culture–de-platforming, or name calling their opponents as guilty of virtue signaling, whataboutism, or some kind of privilege. All too often, winners are those with most money and/or loudest megaphone.

  19. KiwiAntz
    March 3, 2022 at 17:51

    Isn’t it amazing how America & the West have totally swapped idealogies, like the Magnetic poles flipping places from Nth pole to Sth pole? America, Canada & the other Wester Nations are becoming more Fascist, Totalitarian & Authoritarianism, like the former Soviet Union & Nth Korea! In effect, they are becoming Communist in their mindset with its centralised power structure, spewing propaganda & control of all aspects of peoples lives & their thinking processes! Control of the Media is very much out of the Communist playbook & this deplaforming & censorship of RT is a prime example of this?

  20. Sam F
    March 3, 2022 at 17:30

    The US failure to conduct honest policy debate is a failure of government structure. See CongressOfDebate dot org for the solution to this problem. Of course that awaits reforms to eliminate economic influence upon all branches of the US government and mass media, which has destroyed democracy.

    If democracy can be restored in the US, it must be stabilized by amendments to protect elections and mass media debate from economic power, better checks and balances within the government branches, purging the corrupt judiciary and Congress, monitoring of government officials for corruption, and regulation of business so that oligarchic bullies and scammers do not rise to control economic power. Only then can literature, media, education, and public interaction encourage moral community, and only then can public debate find the policies that honor the rights of all.

  21. Drew Hunkins
    March 3, 2022 at 17:25

    The frenzied Russophobic groupthink throughout the entire West and its militarist-corporate media is stunning to witness. I stand back in awe at the indoctrination that’s running non-stop 24/7. Never seen anything like this in my life, disturbing beyond belief.

    Also, the cavalier manner liberals and neo-cons are essentially dismissing the MAD doctrine as it comes to nuclear war is astonishingly dismaying.

  22. Adam Barber
    March 3, 2022 at 17:15

    Great article. Thank you.

  23. Moi
    March 3, 2022 at 15:50

    The West are engaging in rampant censorship while blatantly persecuting Russians and expropriating Russian assets (think Jews in WW2). They are even prosecuting “thought crimes”, threatening to gaol people for what they think.

    Western support for Ukrainian Nazis is morphing into worldwide Naziism in the name of freedom.

  24. Teresa Variano
    March 3, 2022 at 15:10

    Thanks , stay strong please! They are shutting down our ability to even research Lavrov s speech!

  25. Stephen Sivonda
    March 3, 2022 at 14:46

    I knew about Germany taking action on RT , and wondered why given that in 1991 Russia let East Germany reunite with the Western side. Two days ago the satellite supplier ( AT&T) for my T V pulled RT-America off the air. RT-America was my go-to news station for several years. I only watch CBS for local news…This censoring of news channels is tantamount to the Nazi book burning prior to WW2. I’m 78 y/o Navy vet…..Vietnam era. ….and we’re not a Democracy now.

    • joey_n
      March 3, 2022 at 18:33

      The USA’s NATO forces are still on German soil 30 years after the Soviets peacefully left. Maybe that explains it?

    • Sadeeq
      March 4, 2022 at 12:40

      As the saying goes: What are the aims the American politicians in Europe?
      Keep Russia out, keep themselves in and keep Germany down.

  26. jack flanigan
    March 3, 2022 at 14:03

    Another great article!
    I think you have articulated questions that need to be discussed.
    We desperately need people to become critical thinkers.
    The establishment tries to degrade “critical thinking” through censorship, propaganda, lies, threats, laws, violence, exclusion and personal denigration.
    Underpinning this is an institutional nastiness and an intent to divide society through class hatred.
    This is not what the world needs now.


Comments are closed.