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Elon and Twitter

The Duke of Steiermark was laughing over WhatsApp. “I cant believe it. Twitter is three things: a website, an interface for IOS and an interface for Apple. That’s it. And this took 7,500 people? It could be overmanned at 500. Elon told them they all had to work and they quit. He will have the place running like a well oiled sewing machine in a few months”.

In the meantime, the Babylon Bee outdoes itself.

Asabiya

Peter Turchin reintroduced me to the concept of asabiya in his War and Peace and War. 

Asabiya is a term borrowed from the Arabic philosopher of history Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406). Asabiya is the power of a society to accomplish things collectively, such as build an empire, a cathedral or a bridge, or fight a war. If you want to experience the power of asabiya, just consider how the entire British nation and its institutions buried their monarch. mourned her loss, televized the funerals, held complex ceremonies in centuries-old churches, organized 4000 soldiers, sailors and airmen and the the top ranks of the governing classes into parades, solemn processions, and ceremonies of the state church, as the people organized themselves into disciplined throngs of hundreds of thousands enduring hours of patient waiting in order to flow past the coffin of the dead Queen.

 

Says Turchin:

“Different groups have different degrees of cooperation among their members, and therefore different degrees of cohesiveness and solidarity…. Asabiya refers to the capacity of a social group for concerted collective action. Asabiya is a dynamic  quantity; it can increase or decrease with time. Like many theoretical constructs, such as force in Newtonian physics, the capacity for collective action cannot be observed directly, but can be measured from observable consequences”.

Great Britain manifestly has huge asabiya. So does the United States or Japan. Canada had asabiya. It demonstrated this in two world wars. Whether it still has asabiya is doubtful. It is rent by too many ethnic fissures, and the group most asabiya-endowed,  English Canada, is constantly denigrated and weakened by the governing Liberals as a matter of multicultural policy. “Diversity is our strength.”  The French Canadians fear English Canada’s asabiya and seek always to diminish it. For that matter, all of woke ideology is an attempt of the political left and their black allies to weaken the asabiya of the American people – “white fragility”, “systemic racism”. So is the attack on organic sexual divisions in the species a different form of attack on asabiya, as the idea of fixed sex roles, indeed fixed anything, goes against the idea of personal choice.

Life is not a matter of expressing our puny selves. It is a matter of belonging  to something great. Think if the political left as being in a permanent war against every other kind of asabiya but their own, when theirs is a weak and hate-filled search for enemies.

Asabiya is real, though not material.

 

 

 

 

 

A monarchical rant

I came across this socialist rant against the monarchy and the idea of monarchy, which stimulated the creative juices. I thought it was worth responding to.  First the case against monarchy, from the World Socialist Website, which I am  sure you will enjoy for its over-the-top-ness..

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/09/17/pers-s17.html?pk_campaign=newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

 

“The capitalist class buried the ghosts of its republican ancestors long ago. Confronting social and political crises of unprecedented magnitude, they turn to autocracy and authoritarianism as bulwarks in defense of their privileges and recognize in monarchy an institutional form of their class aspirations.

Monarchy is an institution of colossal stupidity, a barbarous vestige of the feudal past; its persistence is an embarrassment to humanity. Founded on heredity, shored up with inbreeding, intermarriage and claims of divine right, the monarchic principle enshrines inequality as the fundamental and unalterable lot of humanity and maintains this lot with the force of autocratic power.

The kings and queens enthroned by this principle are stunted by more than just hemophilia and the Habsburg jaw. Their social function distills in their lineage the most concentrated reaction. Elizabeth II was cousin to the Tsarist Romanovs; her Nazi-sympathizing uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 and headed off to Germany with his Nazi-sympathizing wife to salute Adolf Hitler.

The royal family is marked by the sorts of scandals that develop among those with a great deal of unearned money and unspent time. Her son, Prince Andrew, sold arms to autocratic regimes and paid £12 million to cover up his role in sex trafficking underaged girls with Jeffrey Epstein. Her grandson, Prince Harry, used to dress up in full Nazi regalia.

It was in defiance of the monarchic principle that the American Declaration of Independence stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This conception fueled the American Revolution. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, which historian Gordon Wood termed “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era,” directly attacked not just George III but the very existence of monarchy, writing:

In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshiped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution codified this principle for the new nation: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.”

Immense concentrated private wealth, founded on exploitation and inequality, and the unending expansion of empire have stamped out any trace of such democratic sentiments in the American ruling elite. They no longer, in the phrase of Milton, prefer “hard liberty before the easy yoke of servile pomp.” They seek to defend their interests through autocratic rule and look with welcome upon the principle of monarchy.

On the order of President Biden, US flags were deferentially lowered for the dead queen, placed at half-staff for 12 days. Elizabeth II is separated from George III by generations; Biden is separated from Jefferson by an unbridgeable historical chasm.

Over the past six years we have witnessed a turn among the ruling elite around the globe to openly autocratic and dictatorial forms of rule as social and political crisis have sharpened and turned deadly. It is this that fuels the unrestrained adulation in the American media for the dead queen and the crown she wore. An unprecedented political crisis grips the United States. The idea of a monarchical system, of an autocratic head of state who stands above the conflict, has a powerful appeal to the embattled bourgeoisie.

The media give voice to these longings and package them for popular consumption. The phrase of J.A. Hobson, writing of imperialism at the opening of the 20th century, is apt: “snobbish subservience, the admiration of wealth and rank, the corrupt survivals of the inequalities of feudalism.” The deferential and servile talking heads of television news cultivate these traits. Often dressed up as progressive by identity politics, the monarchic principle is everywhere glorified, from Wakanda to Beyoncé to Downton Abbey.

The relentless adulation for the dead queen is mind-numbing. It is tempting to hunker down and weather the storm of stupidity. It must, however, be taken seriously, for it is a warning.”

To which I responded as follows:

I always love these rants against constitutional monarchies. The same way I enjoy Richard Dawkins railing against God with his materialist conception of reality. Both conflate a shallow form of instrumental reasoning with great depth of insight. Both misunderstand critically what makes people tick. Both are suffused with an obvious condescension to the large proportion of humanity that believes in the institution of constitutional monarchy and believes in God. Both think that an atheistic republic of means and ends would be better (by what criteria I ask?) for humans. Both fail to understand that God and kings are adaptive, in a Darwinian sense, in that they  promote group cohesion and cooperation.

 

When we say ‘God save our gracious King’, we ask one imaginary friend, power and ruler of the universe to help another imagined ruler fulfil his much less important earthly-scale job. Otherwise we have to swear allegiance to an abstraction like the Constitution and the flag. You do not escape imaginary political and emotional constructs by de-feudalizing them.

 

Quote: “the monarchic principle enshrines inequality as the fundamental and unalterable lot of humanity -yes it does, and suck it up, because it is the truth of the human condition – and maintains this lot with the force of autocratic power.” No, but by the force of allegiance to something greater than ourselves and the persons who embody that greatness. The Crown is all of us. We participate ina greatness which is not ours. We have elected politicians for the actual exercise of power, but they are in a real way restrained by having to be polite and subordinate to the monarch.

None of which prevents me from thinking Charles III is an eco-babbler, and saying so.

In short, my God is greater than your god, and much more powerful than your rational association of self interested actors seeking maximum personal autonomy, or whatever it is that socialists do in their miserable little lives.

 

Someone should read Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War, on the subject of asabiya, the power of societies to cooperate for collective purposes. The term is taken from the Arabic philosopher of history, Ibn Khaldun. Then we might have a meaningful exchange about monarchies that dealt with what they actually do, rather than what socialists think they do.

A better anti-monarchical argument is presented by the barbarian Ygritte presenting the casefor equality in this excerpt from Game of Thrones: “You know nothing, John Snow”.

 

 

 

 

 

Fascists, fascists everywhere

You recall the de Adder cartoon about the truckers?

Terribly clever wasn’t it? Yeah, right.

I have seen people who ought to know better asserting the truckers were attempting the overthrow of the government of Canada, that they were or were led by “fascists”, and other absurdities. Rebel Yell, the other author on this site, visited Wellington Street most days of the trucker protest. What he found were Canadians having a party: whites, French and English, Dene, Innu, Cree-Ojibway, Sikh, and so on, all being gracious and polite. And having a good time, apologizing if they bumped into one another.

Now we see Putin justifying his invasion of Ukraine on the basis that he is fighting “fascists”. He proposes to “de-Nazify” the Ukraine.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked the Nazis on Thursday when he announced his decision to launch a large-scale military operation in Ukraine.

“The Russian leader said that one of the goals of the offensive was to “denazify” the country, part of a long-running effort by Putin to delegitimize Ukrainian nationalism and sell the incursion to his constituency at home.”

I am not insinuating that the Canadian left and its leftist Liberal establishment are morally equivalent to Putin. Not at all. But what I do say is this: eighty years after actual Nazi and fascist regimes collapsed in rubble, stricken down and crushed, their ideologies vanquished, people still find it convenient to label their opponents “fascists” when they cannot think of anything worse to insult them with.

Is it not time we acknowledged that the two winners of World War 2 were Communists and parliamentary democracies? And that Canadians tired of COVID compulsions were just that: Canadians? And that Ukrainians are seeking to maintain national independence and are willing to fight for it?

Fascism is dead. Statism is dead. White racial supremacism is dead.

Stop fighting ghosts. Fight the present enemy.

Anti-white racism is very much alive – consider Woke, and the legion of black supremacists and race hustlers in their fifteen minutes of money and fame.

Class condescension is thriving. Just read the Globe and Mail any day of the week. Our former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin is a case in point:

The Ottawa truck convoy has revealed the ugly side of freedom

Of course these people who shout “fascism” look at themselves in the mirror and do not know who they see: minions of Satan. I think they are in for a big surprise when the Last Judgment is rendered.

What the right gets right about the trucker revolt

A left-wing writer on the trucker rebellion is fascinating. She looks at the trucker revolt as “right wing”, though I am sure the organizers of the trucker blockade of Ottawa streets have no such conception of themselves, and would reject it if they were called it. It also has a strange flavour of a person who lives in a bubble peering out from it dimly to discern, as Bob Dylan said many years ago, “something happening here an’ you don’t know what it is, do you? Mr. Jones”

Emma Jackson writes:

“Whether we want to admit it or not, there’s a lot that the anti-mandate movement is getting right from an organizing and movement-building perspective.

“For starters, in stark contrast to the Left, the past few days have revealed how much better the Right is at meeting people where they’re at.

“Instead of building an insular movement restricted to people who agree with each other 93 per cent of the time, the Right has successfully tapped into widely held resentment and built a mass on-ramp for people with highly divergent views. It’s why the Freedom Convoy isn’t just being ardently defended by white supremacists on Rebel News, but also by anti-vaccine Green Party supporters in the inboxes of mainstream environmental organizations.”

<snip>

Imagine the power that comes from not insisting that everyone agree on everything before you agree to act together! Who knew?

“In the anti-mandate movement, everyone’s participation is welcome. Of course, this also extends to participants brandishing yellow star pins, thin blue line badges, and flags with swastikas—a level of acceptance that should never be tolerated.

“But the degree to which thousands are willing to come to the defense of the movement the second its racist and antisemitic elements are exposed—insisting that they’re just a “few bad apples”—is telling. It proves their commitment to building and defending the biggest possible “we,” against the smallest possible “them”—in this case, the liberal establishment, mainstream media, and those of us naïve enough to be under the spell of both.

It’s also evidence of their collective disdain for any whiff of social elitism—something that is likely only being exacerbated by the urban left’s impulse to wag our fingers at these “backward, selfish people.”

Translating from the wokish, they are open, and anti-snobbish and to borrow her phrase, committed to the biggest possible “we”.

“In order to actively and constantly be recruiting everyday working people into your base (i.e. build power), you actually have to talk to them and ground your recruitment in the everyday institutions and networks they belong to. It’s obvious that the anti-mandate and anti-vaccine crowd is doing just that by engaging in one-on-one conversations with their neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers, and listening to their collective grievances.

“But the anti-mandate movement isn’t just recruiting participants one-by-one, they’re also successfully bringing entire institutions into the movement and providing them with opportunities to visibly show their support. They’ve successfully recruited evangelical churches, private trucker associations, and far-right outlets like Rebel News, all of whom are fueling the movement—whether by distributing ham sandwiches at rest stops or amplifying their message to hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube.”

<snip>

They have genuine, broad based support. They build coalitions. Who knew?

Emma Jackson continues;

“Labour’s institutional heft is unparalleled, but those of us belonging to other movement threads—climate justice, anti-racism, Indigenous solidarity— must also reflect on how it is that the far-right is doing a better job of recruiting our own family, friends, and co-workers into their movements, than we are into our own.

“Insularity has prevented the left from reaching the mainstream. We have an opportunity to examine our tendency to build organizations that feel more like exclusive clubs for the “already woke,” than they do welcoming spaces for political education and transformation where people feel deeply valued and needed.”

Emma, Emma, listen to Uncle Dalwhinnie:

  1. There is no such thing as the “far right”. The “right” and “the far right” are left wing mental constructions. Those inside the Marxist thought prison imagine that everyone who opposes them is in their own, equally restrictive, thought-prison.  Not so. The only people inside the thought prison are the political left (in my experience) . Other people are quite free to disagree, argue, and have a beer together.  David Horowitz write about this sudden realization when he left the political Left, which he wrote about it “Radical Son”, which is a must-read for all evolving soon to be former Marxists.
  2. Precisely what makes the political left an exclusionary cult is its false but wholly sincere sense of its moral superiority. If you give up believing in your moral superiority, you realize you are a sinner like the rest of the sinners. Then yu are ready to build broad coalitions politically and even religiously.
  3. Living without moral superiority is really difficult. Millions do it every day. If the political Left tried it, they might find themselves being listened to.

Why you don’t get to vote on the woke revolution

From Zero Hedge:

In fairness, broad swaths of the culture always operate and evolve outside of politics. The world of ideas and entertainment – the books we read, movies we watch, groups we join – must never be subject to electoral will. But the woke revolution feels different. First, it is an explicitly political ideology that is, at bottom, about power. Second, it is remarkably ambitious: It seeks a wholesale transformation of America’s past, present and future. Third, while some of its ideas resonate with plenty of people, it is a top-down movement that seeks to impose aien ways of thinking and being on everyone – hence the rise of cancel culture and other illiberal mechanisms to silence and punish those who fail to conform.

One of the great paradoxes of the social justice movement is that even as it claims to fight inequality, it is itself a reflection of the growing inequality in America: both of wealth and culture. Like most revolutions, it is not led by the downtrodden but by the elites. It is not the person of color on the streets but the swells at the top (most of them white) who are imposing the new order.

Although it might seem that the woke revolution erupted in 2020 with George Floyd’s murder, or with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, its intellectual framework – which includes critical race theory, postmodernism, anti-colonialism, black power and queer/gender studies – emerged at America’s universities in the 1960s and 1970s. Heavily influenced by Marxism, leftist scholars suffered a crisis of confidence after communism was discredited 30 years ago as the Soviet Union collapsed. In response, activist academics essentially repackaged their old ideas. They still saw politics as a zero-sum battle between oppressors and the oppressed, with themselves in the moral vanguard, but they replaced the concept of class with new identity markers: racial and sexual identity. The struggle was no longer between capitalists and the proletariat, but privileged “cisgendered heteronormative” whites versus the rest of humanity.

____________________________

Communism is alive and well, it has just dropped the nonsense of Marxism which was its only link to reality, however wrong it was. – Dalwhinnie

Mass Psychosis now and forever

A friend came to use the swimming pool and on her way back to her house she commented on the fact – as she believes- that the world is burning up. There has been smoke in the air from distant forest fires. At church on Sunday in the prayers for the people, the speaker prayed for those not accepting vaccinations and for a respite from forest fires which were caused by out of control climate change. These are intelligent people, and the frame through which they perceive reality is that we are in an ongoing man-made  catastrophe. The alternative that I propose is that we are in a state of mass psychosis. It is equally man made, but one side is plugged into reality and the other is delusional. But who, you might ask?

 

If you can endure the reciter’s annoying voice and cadence, I recommend you work through this interesting video on mass psychosis, linked below.  Fear leads to menticide, menticide to totalitarian rule. The terror comes in waves. It is being generated and manipulated by elites. Does this sound to you like what you are experiencing? We live in an age which is at once technocratic, puritanical, and unforgiving. The obsession with power by today’s radicals is  the characteristic of the pagan world before Christianity. You will miss it when it its effects on people are gone. In truth you are experiencing a world which is increasingly de-Christianized. False gods abound.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09maaUaRT4M&ab_channel=AfterSkool

The video is based on the work of Joost Merloo’ s The Rape of the Mind, which is expensive, but worth considering buying.

 

 

 

 

Stalin’s War by Sean McMeekin

 

Even after reading two volumes of Steven Kotkin’s thorough and excellent  biography of Stalin, I am still surprised at the extent of Stalin’s evil. Take a passage from Sean McMeekin’s “Stalin’s War” for example. The USSR invaded portions of Romania in 1940, on no other grounds than Stalin could get away with it, Hitler was still his ally, and the British and French were powerless.

 

“In the first two weeks after the Soviet invasion, 51,391 ex-Romanian citizens were taken into custody by occupation authorities. By August 2, 1940 the total had surpassed two hundred thousand. By year’s end, three hundred thousand Romanians had been deported from Moldova SSR to Gulag camps in the Soviet interior.”

Can you imagine what it means in terms of repressive power, trains, track, locomotives and feeding, to arrest, process and deport 300,000 people? And for no reason other than they belonged to the wrong social and economic classes.

Okay so you get the point.

McMeekin has stood the usual recital of World War 2 on its head, and it is time that this was done.

Until recently we have been obsessed with Hitler, to the relative exclusion of the other villain, Stalin. There were several reasons for this. First Germany is nearer to the English speaking world and started off more civilized and fell faster into totalitarian makeover than Russia. Second, the Germans were defeated in 1945 and their records were opened since then, whereas Russian archives were only opened since the fall of Communism in 1990. By then the momentum to blame all of WW2 on Hitler had become unstoppable, even though Stalin  played a hugely important role in abetting Hitler in the early stages of the war and the Japanese operated their conquering empire in complete independence of either. And third, not to be underrated, there has always been granted to communism a free pass from criticism by most of the political Left, that operates to this day.

McMeekin’s thesis is to stand the usual accounts on their heads, to situate Stalin as the chief winner in WW2, as the chief villain, as the promulgator of much more extensive evil, and to see Hitler’s Germany as the tool of the USSR, up until it betrayed Stalin by invading the USSR in 1941. Who was the economic colony of whom, asks McMeekin? Who was utterly dependent on Soviet oil and raw materials for its war making?

I am not sure I will agree with all of McMeekin by the time I have finished Stalin’s War. Nevertheless I welcome the refreshingly new perspective that restores to us a vision that was present at the time, before the heroic narratives of Churchill and those of British and American historians came to predominate,  that between Hitler and Stalin there was only a choice of which kind of murderous tyranny would kill you.

McMeekin draws our attention to the oft-forgotten obvious fact, that Stalin killed millions more people than Hitler, was granted more time to do it in, and was convinced of the need to act this way to bring about a claptrap utopia of poverty and repression.

I am enjoying McMeekin’s Stalin’s War. I hope you will read it too.

 

I saw this thirty years ago and it is still relevant

Soviet life as seen by Yuri Bezmenov, a Novosti journalist – a KGB outfit – before the fall of Communism. His words still ring true about the system he served. But his comments about how western societies are being undermined are of particular relevance. Eventually he found work in Montreal as a broadcaster for CBC International. CBC management investigated him when the Russian ambassador complained about him.

Bezmenov’s discussion of Soviet cultural subversion is priceless. This starts after minute 27:00 of the interview. First rule was to keep Western journalists drunk for their entire stay. Select journalists by the extent to which they were pliable. His description of the journalists was that they were “useful idiots”. Why would they bring lies back to their own population, he asks? Fear of the Soviet Union. Fear for their jobs. The economic incentive to lie about Russia and earn money as “Sovietologists”.

The journalists visited a kindergarten in Siberia  that was actually the place where the children of political prisoners were being held. The internal passports for travel, which were criticized when applied to South African blacks, go unmentioned when they are shown to apply to all Soviet citizens. A photo of Bezmenov beside the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will make you wonder who was the better manipulator of opinion.

Part of his job in India was to compile lists of influencers (journalists, professors etc.)  who – as he later found out – would be slated for execution if the Soviets ever took over. He was told never to bother with leftists, but to concentrate on self important psychopaths, whose self importance drives them, as the real agents of destabilization. Leftists will turn into the worst enemies of the revolution. The moment the useful idiots have served their purpose, they are to be executed, exiled, or imprisoned. They will never come to power.

“There are no grass roots revolutions, period”.

He escaped in India from the KGB by disguising himself as a hippie. (Pronounced “kheepi”)

The discussion of ideological subversion starts at 1:07. The main work of the KGB was in intelligence; 85% of the work was psychological warfare to change the perception of reality so that no one is able to come to sensible conclusions as to their self interest and the interests of their society.

  • Demoralization, which takes place  over a period of 3 generations, begins at 1:20, Agents of demoralization are to be shot when the takeover is complete. “In future these people will be squashed like cockroaches”. The demoralization process is basically complete, said Bezmenov over 30 years ago. Exposure to true information has no effect any longer.
  • Destabilization takes two to five years. The influence of Marxist Leninist ideas is strong and takes years to turn around.
  • Crisis, which could take six months
  • Revolution
  • Normalization, the process of getting used to the new state of affairs, which takes forever.

 

As I may have said, I used to think that Bezmenov was a crank. Now I think he was describing, from a Soviet point of view, the fantasy of leftist takeover. The Soviet Union is gone now, but the disaster is still unfolding, more rapidly then ever. Bezmenov thought that the Soviet Union would bring about the revolution, but we are doing this to ourselves. “You have precious little time to save yourselves”.

“You don’t need espionage any more.”

I had thought with the evaporation of Soviet Union in 1990, that it was over, but the mutant virus of communism  spread even more rapidly.

 

 

 

 

The Internet is broadcasting, therefore let us regulate!

The new Broadcasting Act, Bill C10, may be stymied in the Senate of Canada, but the actual content of its policy objectives has just been released. Heritage Canada has published “Guiding Principles on Diversity of Content online”. The Guiding Principles have several advantages over the policy objectives of section 3 of the Broadcasting Act. They are not legislated, they can be revised and adapted according to the how the technologies or the societies that adopt them evolve, and they have no legally binding force. They have only the force of the large platforms to back them, if they sign on to the Guiding Principles.

It was Tim Wu in The Master Switch who pointed out that the structure of an industry mattered a lot more than any other factor in determining whether there could be censorship. Vertical integration of the movie-making business with distribution and movie theaters meant that the censors could govern the industry through the code of conduct, one that lasted from Mae West in the 1930s to Easy Rider in the 1960s.

The basic idea of the Guiding Principles is the achievement of diversity, equity and inclusion. It is a set of principles that its signatories are expected to work towards. The most important signatories will be the Internet platforms, because without their compliance, the Principles will be mere hot air.

The private sector companies to which the guiding principles are to apply particularly include “services operating online, whose primary purpose is to broadcast or distribute content or share user-generated content online.” Governments, media sector representatives, regulators and civil society organizations are likewise to be included as signatories.

The goal is to promote diversity on-line, understood as

  • Creation access and discoverability of diverse content online
  • Fair remuneration and economic viability of content creators
  • Promotion of diverse, pluralistic sources of news and information as well as resilience against disinformation and misinformation
  • Transparency of the impacts if algorithmic treatments of online content.

 

Signatories are to agree to implement these goals within the scope of their responsibilities and to develop specific commitments by December 2022 at the latest, to show concrete actions they will take to implement these guiding objectives”.

There follow a number of principles which assume, as a matter of fact, that

  1. There are “equity deserving groups” whose access is limited
  2. Hate, racial prejudice, disinformation and misinformation “can disproportionately affect indigenous people and equity deserving groups”.
  3. “Equity deserving individuals and groups” are defined as those facing significant barriers to participation in different facets of society, a marginalization that could be created by attitudinal, historic, social, economic, legal and environmental obstacles.

Having seen the cartoons of the kids of various heights standing on boxes of various heights to see the baseball game over a wooden fence, “equity” may reasonably be interpreted to mean active measures to overcome the consequences of inequalities, natural or artificial. The term ‘equity’ involves, in modern parlance, an ongoing governmental interference to achieve goals that might not otherwise be achieved in the absence of governmental actions.

The Principles are organized around themes:

  • Creation access and discoverability of content
  • Fair remuneration and economic viability of content creators
  • Promotion of diverse, pluralistic sources of news and information as well as resilience against disinformation and misinformation
  • Transparency of the impacts of algorithmic treatments of online content.

 

The last-mentioned goal says that “content recommendation algorithms and their developers should minimize potential systemic biases and discrimination in outcome, related to such things as race, sexual orientation, gender identity and ability.”

Content recommendation algorithms now seek to interest me in what is related to what I have previously expressed an interest in. If I have expressed interest in videos of Andrew Camarata fixing bulldozers, the algorithm is likely to recommend other machine-oriented males fixing tractors, chainsaws, and building log cabins. Inevitably the algorithms will direct me to things of interest to males, such as myself. I imagine the same happens with videos on golf, tastes in music, physics, flower gardens, or cooking, Japanese art or any taste whatever. How then, it may be asked, will an algorithm correct for systemic bias in male oriented videos if I am a male, and female oriented videos if I were female?

The Guiding Principles do not say, but they expect content recommendation systems to “respect freedom of expression in a way that allows for safe and diverse content.” In other words, safety and diversity, as defined by governments or the platforms, are to constrain freedom of expression.

The Guiding Principles are a kind of Broadcasting Act for the Internet, or a set of objectives that the platforms are expected to implement  By this I mean that the system it envisages is systemic, organized, comprehensive, global (as far as Canadians will see) and subject to government regulation, and that in Annex A to this document, the signatories are expected to develop by December 2022 at the latest “concrete actions they will take to complement the guiding principles.  These specific commitments will remain evergreen and continue to evolve”.

The great advantages for the government, in its efforts to regulate the Internet, are that the Principles utterly bypass legislation, need no Parliamentary approval, require the cooperation of the platforms but not of society, and subject large areas of private tastes to algorithmic manipulation.

The Guiding Principles are creepily totalitarian, and yet one imagines the authors of this document think of themselves as being great public benefactors. In order to explain what I mean, I ask you, as a thought experiment, to replace the content of the particular goals to be achieved by the guiding principles. Look at the whole thing, and ask yourself what the document, conceived as a whole, says. It says in short, that speech carried across the Internet is to serve particular purposes. All speech, everywhere, that is carried on the Internet.

Agreement or disagreement with the guiding principles as they are stated is less important than the whole purpose of the document. Take out the language about diversity, equity and inclusion (the new modern woke credo) and replace it, in this thought experiment, with any other set of goals to be achieved. These goals could be anything: the divinity of Christ, the supremacy of the Aryan race, the sanctity of the Roman Church, the triumph of scientific socialism, the grandeur of the Aztec Sky God Huitchilopotchtli, the preservation of the British Empire, or the values of the Enlightenment. So let [x] stand for the content of the Guiding Principles. Forget whether you agree with them or not. Just think of the Guiding Principles as a block of ideas that can be lifted out and replaced with some other set of desiderata. In effect, by calling the Principles an evergreen document, Heritage Canada virtually guarantees that they will be revised in time.

Then perhaps it becomes clearer that my point is not the DEI principles, though they are creepy enough. It is the idea that everything on-line should be aimed at any guiding principle at all.

Would you think it normal that the publishing industry in Canada be enjoined to publish books that exclusively promote a certain political agenda?

Would you think it right that speech across various telephone and voice applications be organized to conduce to the achievement of diversity, equity and inclusion?

To make the point even clearer, I recall the story of a Canadian diplomat who served in the Soviet Union, as it then was, in the Brezhnev era. I asked whether there was freedom of speech in the Soviet Union. He said ‘yes there was, absolute freedom of speech’. I was startled.

-What do you mean absolute freedom of speech?!!

– If you are out on the ice fishing in winter, and in your shelter, and out of range of prying microphones, and talking with people whom you have known all your life or from high school, and you have developed trust over decades, you can talk about anything. And they do. They talk about stuff no one talks about here, like whether Hitler was right to invade Stalin’s USSR, or whether Communism is a pile of crap, or whether the USA is actually imperialist. There is complete freedom of discussion. You just have to be careful with whom and where you share your ideas.

People need to look at the Guiding Principles from this perspective. Canada will have complete freedom of speech. Just not the kind we have been used to. Thank you, Peter Grant.