24 April 2015

Russian trolls or truth-tellers?

The Blog


Unable to accept that the Internet has given rise to new, alternative media voices, the mainstream media resorts to new lows in smearing bloggers as "trolls" and proponents of "propaganda". Worst of all is the suggestion that everyone criticizing the media's anti-Russian lies is being paid by the Russians.


The Fox-owned (not Kremlin-owned) blog L'Ordre gave the following condemnation of this new narrative designed to salvage the credibility of mainstream media and government statements in the face of challenges emanating on the blogosphere:
Apparently, the solution to the truth and the bloggers who help to convey it against the tide of lies of the mainstream media is some dirty mound of money, and lots of it. Think of that paradox for a moment. On the side of the “dictator” Putin, there are grassroots bloggers all being rejected as “fake” by Western governments and “respected” journalists. Putin is called “plutocratic” by these liars, who came to office powered by corporate donors and who believe their dirty money is the “democratic” way to resist Putin “propaganda” emanating from (what looks like??) genuine, grassroots bloggers telling the truth about Ukraine. I guess that when you have no popular support on the blogosphere, all you can do is fabricate something or use the bullhorns of corporate media, and that’s where the billions of dollars spent on getting America’s message out to the world is going to go – towards countering the “propaganda” of millions of Internet users who are sick and tired of lies being stuffed down their throats and would prefer to examine the facts according to their own interests. 
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/04/russian-propaganda-and-paid-trolls-more-like-the-truth-and-the-blogosphere.html#ixzz3XluZj4N6 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/04/russian-propaganda-and-paid-trolls-more-like-the-truth-and-the-blogosphere.html#FTkpIZTYoQ53OYxP.99
The blog makes the observation that a "new McCarthyism" (a logical consequence of the "new Cold War") is motivating politicians and journalists to condemn any blogger opposing their anti-Russian partisanship as somehow paid or manipulated by Vladimir Putin. McCarthyism was a phenomenon during the original Cold War, in which artists and media figures were accused of being the direct agents of Joseph Stalin or later Soviet leaders due to their criticisms of US policy. McCarthyism is viewed by historians as a form of political persecution and censorship at best, and a witch-hunt at worst.

While claims are being made that Russia is winning an "information war", using propaganda, the reality is simply that the Russians are right and the Americans are wrong.

Not only is the US itself supporting foreign rebel groups as it accuses Russia of doing in Ukraine, but it is still waging a war of aggression against five countries. These are listed at the L'Ordre blog as Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Iran - the latter being subjected to threats of aggression that are prohibited under international law by the same article outlawing unprovoked military attack on other UN member states.

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The Mont Order's latest evolution

The Blog


The Mont Order, once thought of as a group described only in urban legend, seeks to turn its newest iteration towards a more public and collective form.


The prototype of a new blog that may be collectively controlled by the Mont Order's associates is in the works, on the condition that it obtains some guarantee of participation. Simply titled The Mont Order, a version of the new website is already public via Blogger at lordredelamontagne.blogspot.co.uk. Meanwhile, a recruitment drive to bring a new wave of around fifty new advisers into the Order's lists is ongoing.
If sufficient approval is gained, the new blog may be elevated to be based at the domain name lordre.net (currently the Fox-owned L'Ordre blog of Harry J. Bentham), to serve as the Mont Order's first official website. However, there is also emphasis on a "distributed" form for the Mont Order's online presence.

Such a revision might serve to decrease any potential vulnerabilities such a catastrophic loss of data, hacking, takeover by an authoritarian personality, or other potential threats to the club's dissident purposes. In a post at the L'Ordre blog, the blog's own perceived centrality to the Mont Order is disavowed. Other blogs are encouraged to take up their own role as parts of the Mont Order's online presence or perceived infrastructure, deliberately breaking up the Mont Order's presence to extend its influence:
The similarity between this blog’s name, L’Ordre, and the name of the Mont Order, is purely a coincidence. I had no intention for this blog to be a central part of some kind of “infrastructure” of the Mont Order on the web. If we are to have any online infrastructure, it should be horizontal, distributed in form, with components at all members’ own blogs, social media accounts and websites. I believe control over the fate of this club should not be invested in an individual. The Wave Chronicle‘s own pages express this idea exactly, as Mike created a space dedicated to Mont Order resources at the Wave Chronicle. I am not asking for all our bloggers to make the same commitment (indeed it would look confusing if we all competed to offer the permier resources on the Mont Order), but to at least mention the Mont Order at members’ blogs is useful at contributing to our online infrastructure. 
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/04/lordre-de-la-montagne-a-blogging-societys-ascension.html#ixzz3Xlh7ozV8 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/04/lordre-de-la-montagne-a-blogging-societys-ascension.html#4g07Yj9x1vTdIveb.99
One idea advanced by a Mont Order adviser to secure this aim would consist of pinning badges and links at websites and blogs declaring their relationship with the Mont Order, much as other online solidarity networks like "Team Internet" have encouraged.

While much of the group's origins continue to be left a mystery shrouded in urban legend, the Mont Order's most recent form is "an exclusive elite club of writers and networks based in different countries who collaborate to broaden their influence".

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21 April 2015

Yemen War lies exposed

The Blog


Yemen, the Middle East's poorest country, is being reduced to rubble, creating a humanitarian catastrophe as civilians bear the costs of Saudi Arabia's anger after the country's pro-Saudi dictator was chased from the country.


Once again, American money is going towards financing the hideous war crimes of brutal regimes. Writing at his blog Free Association, Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) analyst Sheldon Richman offered an indictment of US support for Saudi Arabia's illegal war of aggression against the Yemeni people:
The Obama administration is assisting Saudi Arabia in its bombing of Yemen, creating — in concert with the Saudi embargo — a humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East’s poorest country. Civilians are dying, and what infrastructure the country has is being destroyed.
Calling US Secretary of State John Kerry "a liar and a demagogue", the antistatist slammed the false news reports that have attempted to justify the massacre by cynically vilifying embattled Yemeni tribes and political factions as "agents of Iran".

Iran is used by pro-war politicians in much the same way that the Soviet Union was once used, its name being invoked whenever one needs to justify heavy-handed involvement against nonexistent threats around the world. The Houthis, a popular movement in support of Yemeni sovereignty and stability, are vilified in the media as Iranian agents. However, Richman argues that their only crime in the eyes of the US and Saudis was to drive the pro-American dictatorship from power.

Noting that "U.S. intervention is no innocent mistake", Richman's virtuous assessment of the situation offers a compelling indictment of the US and their Saudi allies as aggressors. The US itself has its own history of aggression in Yemen, which continues to rage on despite the US's cynical rhetoric against alleged Iranian and Russian aggression (in the form of aiding rebels which, strictly, according to international law, is not actually aggression).

Richman's op-ed has also appeared at Counterpunch, while originally being posted to his antistatist blog Free Association and the C4SS website. Richman's anti-war ideas and statements have provoked the indignation of the US conservative blogosphere and professed pro-war "patriots" in the past, much to his enjoyment.

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Global transformation and nostalgia

The Blog


The end of the Cold War didn't bring peace, or the liberal democratic paradise promised by Reagan and Thatcher. Instead it brought ignorance, darkness, and doom. We are living in the "twilight period of democracy itself".


That is the assessment of Tariq Ali, in an op-ed fist published at the London Review of Books and later at Counterpunch. Ali went on to criticize what he termed as "declinism", the idea that America is an empire in terminal decline. This "declinism" has been presented in some depth here in the US coverage at The clubof.info Blog, usually revolving around the theories of hegemony authored by Immanuel Wallerstein about the US rise to nuclear superpower status in Europe in 1945 and its angry decline since those glory days.

Ali sees empires as more "unassailable" than the theorists of US decline will admit, and points out that they are able to take serious setbacks and continue to maintain their disproportionate strength and influence regardless of such developments. Ali argues:
Some of the declinist arguments are simplistic – that, for example, all empires have eventually collapsed. This is of course true, but there are contingent reasons for those collapses, and at the present moment the United States remains unassailable: it exerts its soft power all over the world, including in the heartlands of its economic rivals; its hard power is still dominant, enabling it to occupy countries it sees as its enemies; and its ideological power is still overwhelming in Europe and beyond.
The author, an ardent critic of the 2003 Iraq War, recapped how the US destroyed Iraq, eliminating what was essentially a far more tolerant and progressive society than currently exists in the sectarianism-racked state. He refers to this conduct as the "demodernisation" of Iraq, which aligns with the reality that despite pretending to be committed to the modernity of technology, the US is desperately afraid of any other country harnessing technology and constantly sabotages their efforts. Ali points out that Iran was a necessary ally for the US to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, and that encroaching on Iran and placing sanctions on Iran made little sense in view of the extent to which the US relied on Iranian political support to create any semblance of stability in the region.

On the art of predicting the future, Ali leans more towards the concept of uncertainty and heightened potential for personal agency by individual activists, much as Immanuel Wallerstein seemed to theorize in Utopistics (1998):
Where are we going to end up at the end of this century? Where is China going to be? Is Western democracy going to flourish? One thing that has become clear over the last decades is that nothing happens unless people want it to happen; and if people want it to happen, they start moving. You would have thought that the Europeans would have learned some lessons from the crash that created this recent recession, and would have acted, but they didn’t: they just put sticking plaster on the wounds and hoped that the blood would be stemmed. So where should we look for a solution? One of the more creative thinkers today is the German sociologist Wolfgang Streeck, who makes it clear that an alternative structure for the European Union is desperately needed and that it will necessitate more democracy at every stage – at a provincial and city level as well as a national and European level. There needs to be a concerted effort to find an alternative to the neoliberal system. We have seen the beginnings of such an attempt in Greece and in Spain, and it could spread.
Ali argues that people in the former East Bloc countries of Europe are nostalgic for the days of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, feeling that the sense of community and the effectiveness of social services were both better in that era.

In sum, Ali's analysis is more pessimistic or uncertain than most, concluding "it's a mixed and confused world". However, it deserves to be considered at least as one that stands in contradiction to the views of Immanuel Wallerstein on the decline of US power and the inevitability of a structural transition to an alternative form of world order.

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