by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:
You’re probably familiar with George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; (it’s often published as 1984). It was written in 1948; the title comes from reversing the last two digits in 1948.
The novel describes a world of three global empires, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, in a constant state of war.
Orwell created an original vocabulary for his book, much of which is in common, if sardonic, usage today. Terms such as Thought Police, Big Brother, doublethink, Newspeak and memory hole all come from Nineteen Eight-Four.
Orwell intended it as a warning about how certain countries might evolve in the aftermath of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. He was certainly concerned about Stalinism, but his warnings applied to Western democracies also.
When the calendar year 1984 came and went, many breathed a sigh of relief that Orwell’s prophesy had not come true. But that sigh of relief was premature. Orwell’s nightmare society is here today in the form of Communist China…
China has most of the apparatus of the totalitarian societies described in Orwell’s book. China uses facial recognition software and ubiquitous digital surveillance to keep track of its citizens. The internet is censored and monitored. Real-life thought police will arrest you for expressing opinions opposed to the government or its policies.
Millions of Chinese have been arrested and sent to “reeducation” camps for brainwashing (the lucky ones) or involuntary organ removal without anesthetic (the unlucky ones who die in excruciating pain and are swiftly cremated as a result).
While these atrocities are not going to happen in the U.S. or what passes for the West these days, the less extreme aspects of China’s surveillance state could well be. And while you might not be arrested for expressing unpopular opinions or challenging prevailing dogmas (at least not yet), you could face other sanctions. You could even lose your job and find it nearly impossible to find another.
You can certainly be banned from social media…
Anything seems to go on social media (primarily Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and a few other platforms) — unless you’re a conservative personality or politico. That’s where the censorship begins.
Many conservative social media participants have had their accounts closed or suspended, not for threats or vulgarity but for criticism of “progressive” views (albeit criticism with some sharp edges).
Meanwhile, those with progressive views can say almost anything on social media, including the implicit endorsement of violence. But nothing happens.
Other conservatives report being the targets of “shadow banning.” That’s where your account is open and seems to operate normally, but unbeknownst to you, much of the network is being blocked from seeing your posts and popular features such as “likes” and “retweets” are being truncated and not distributed.
It’s like being a pro athlete who finds out the stadium is empty and no tickets are being sold. That’s bad enough. But Twitter took the war on conservatives a step further.
Well, one of the most widely followed accounts on Twitter is none other than Donald J. Trump’s, with 68 million followers. President Trump uses Twitter to announce policy initiatives and personnel changes and to offer pointed criticism of political opponents. It’s a major platform for him.
Last month Trump issued a tweet that identified the so-called “whistleblower” of the Ukraine phone call that led to his impeachment. That’s not as big a deal as it sounds because everyone in Washington knew who the whistleblower was (you can look his name up on the web), and he wasn’t even a real whistleblower because he didn’t meet statutory requirements.
Still, Twitter blocked Trump’s tweet. Twitter blamed a temporary system “outage,” but that claim was highly suspicious. Later, Trump’s tweet was restored, but the original account that Trump linked to had been deleted. No one ever said that politics was fair.
But Twitter’s blatant interference in the election could have adverse consequences for the company in Trump’s second term.
And a few social media companies are now de facto censors, taking over the job from the government. Given their massive media footprint, they wield extraordinary influence over the American public.
They’re in essence becoming propaganda outfits.
It’s not just here of course. Canada, for example, is actively pursuing digital surveillance to track the activities of law-abiding citizens.
A report for the Bank of Canada says that financial information gathered from digital transaction records could be used for “sharing information with police and tax authorities.”
If all transactions are digital (including credit and debit cards), authorities can track your whereabouts, buying habits, restaurant choices and much more. They could also reveal your political orientation and personal associations.