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How the U.S. Used Disinformation and the 'Jakarta Method' to Change the World (insideedition.com)
182 points by AndrewBissell 62 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 138 comments



What surprises me is that when these propaganda programs become more well known, people are still hesitant to believe that in some form they are still happening, we just only might find out in another 30 years. This article even mentions pressuring the New York Times, a newspaper most people would say is very authoritative and trustworthy (whether it is or not). What is being published now that was coerced?


Unfortunately the U.S. has done a really good job at convincing it’s citizens that there is freedom of the press in their country even though time and time again we’ve seen the mass media in the U.S. severely comprised by corporate interests and/or politics. When is the last time you’ve turned on the news and seen a balanced view given on Russia-U.S. relations? In the last three years the New York Times hasn’t reported a single positive story on Russia or written an unbiased one that would present a counterviewpoint. If we jump back two decades ago the American people were lead to believe that weapons of mass destruction were present in Afghanistan and Iraq and it was the cornerstone of the war initiative there. The U.S. ended up violating not only international law and the sovereignty of the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan but killing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people there on a baseless claim. Today we see the same propaganda being used against countries like Iran, Russia and China. Countries in attempt to defend themselves from U.S. aggression are building nuclear arsenals and the world has become a much more dangerous place to live in as a result. In my opinion this all goes back to freedom of the press, or lack of it.


> Unfortunately the U.S. has done a really good job at convincing it’s citizens that there is freedom of the press in their country even though time and time again we’ve seen the mass media in the U.S. severely comprised by corporate interests and/or politics.

I think the trick isn't in making people believe the press is free - the trick is in misleading people about what it means.

The press is mostly free in the US, meaning the government isn't going to explicitly censor or micromanage it. By the same token, the press is also free to do whatever it wants - like, optimize for profits, like a good private sector entity does. Some good ways for an ad-funded news publisher to optimize profits are:

- writing things that get people to read/watch the content (and thus, ads), regardless of whether these things are true, accurate, or appropriate in a civilized society;

- getting paid for delivering more ads, e.g. as sponsored (officially or not) content;

- ensuring ongoing access to freshest news by not burning the sources, particularly government or corporate ones, by e.g. publishing things said sources don't want to see published

This way, a fully free press walks into censorship and bias anyway, of its own volition[0].

Freedom of press is important, but I think we talk too much about ideas and principles, and too little about actual system dynamics in play.

--

[0] - Well, as much volition as you can have in a highly competitive industry, where if you don't sacrifice your values, your competitor will, and then you'll run out of money and die.


Chomsky did a lot of work to show that it's not optimizing for profits or some subconscious biases of people influencing press, but very deliberate power structure pushing specific censorship, propaganda, it's all very conscious effort. Private ownership here helps a lot of course, not because of profits, but because owners are able to push policies and narratives top down.


I don't buy conscious effort all that much. It's reassuring to believe there are some evil actors in control over the narrative. Such people could be identified, and eventually removed from their positions of influence. It's much scarier, and much closer to the truth, that we're dealing with a system of incentives that's stronger than any individual or group. We're not being led astray by the few with an agenda; we're all just flowing down the optimization gradient.


This guy read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky


Actually I haven't, though I probably have ingested his ideas by osmosis at this point.


> when was the last time you've [...] seen a balanced view given on Russia-U.S. relations?

All the time. It's fucked and Russia fucked it.

The wonderful thing about being in a free nation is the access to the news of other countries. It helps you see which ones are the outliers. It's not yours.

> In the last three years the New York Times hasn’t reported a single positive story on Russia

Gee, I wonder why that might be? Nobody is going to write anything positive when a nation has expelled independent journalists, assassinated people in foreign nations, caused wars in others, been aggressively attacking fishing vessels, attempted assassinations of their own politicans, attacking their own citizens for their religion.

Who is going to care about human interest stories from such a nation?

What would be a positive story you'd like to see printed in that time frame? Name one.


But do you realize that everything you're damning Russia for, the US is doing exactly the same right now ? Case in point: Assange persecution, war in Afghanistan, Irak, Libya; "targeted assassination" of various people, more recently an Iranian general, waged coups around the world, most recently Bolivia, Brazil, etc. "Who is going to care about human interest stories from such a nation"?

Man it's time that you grow up out of "manifest destiny".


Russian hostility only really began in 2008, prior to that Russia really tried to have good relations with the U.S. They even wanted to join NATO and offered to help in Iraq. It's the U.S. that soured the relations, not Russia.

EDIT: I am distinguishing Russia from the Soviet Union here.


Actually, you will do much better at understanding Russia if you understand all of it, including the positive sides. In fact, here, go read the Moscow Times:

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/

They're seriously critical of the government, but they don't make the mistake of thinking all there is to report is misery.

Context: I'm not pro-Russia, I think Putin is a wholesale scumbag, for all their faults I greatly prefer the US and the West to any of the alternatives, and I deeply distrust knee-jerk anti-Western leftists.


> All the time. It's fucked and Russia fucked it.

hahahah case in point right here folks


Freedom of press is not the same as unbiased press. For example, US citizens can watch Chinese news media in the US, but Chinese people cannot watch US news in China.


I betcha there are more people in China who watch CNN, Fox News etc. than there are people in America who watch CGTN etc.

It is trivial for the US to allow foreign media on US grounds if noone watches it.

If the foreign media becomes popular, the pipe will soon play a different tune.

Case in point: TikTok.


There is no independent media in China, your comparison is invalid. They can cry all they want about it - it's their own fault.


If there's no independent media in China, how do you explain that a Chinese magazine's interview with Dr. Ai Fen was censored on social media? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/coronavirus-wu... Surely if they're not independent they'd just not have published it in the first place.


Different outlets are controlled by different people some are more loyal to Xi, but ultimately none of them can go wild. Even in this case the news have been removed quickly and Dr. Ai Fen disappeared as well:

https://rsf.org/en/news/whistleblowing-doctor-missing-after-...


> Different outlets are controlled by different people some are more loyal to Xi, but ultimately none of them can go wild.

This is how "independent media" work in most countries that have such a thing: different outlets are controlled by different people, resulting in some diversity of opinion, but not every idea gets the same airtime. Of course the definition of "going wild" is different in a Chinese context.

Also, from the article you linked:

> 04/13/2020 UPDATE RSF has taken note of the video published on the Weibo account of the whistleblower Ai Fen, which suggests that she is free to move, and hopes that it was not staged by the Chinese regime.


A bit of experience from the former Eastern block. Censorship is not always perfect. Sometimes the censor in charge of the magazine/public house is dumb, sometimes the staff sneaks it around them, sometimes it is not yet communicated that some person or topic is in the blacklist.


Exactly. Censorship is never airtight, there are always some gaps that independent thought can slip through.


You do realize they literally tried to shut up the original scientist who first announced the existence of Covid to his other Dr pals right? I lived in 3 provinces in China during school, they have no freedom of anything over there. Their government is attempting to govern their lives with a mandatory government issued social media account. The freedom of speech often means the freedom to deceive and be deceived.


> they have no freedom of anything over there

That depends on what you mean by "freedom of anything". Are people allowed to do everything they want to? No. Are they doing it anyway? Yes.

More concretely with regards to freedom of speech: Are independent media allowed? No. Do they exist anyway? Yes.

> Their government is attempting to govern their lives with a mandatory government issued social media account.

What? That part makes me wonder whether all my knowledge is outdated because I haven't been to China this year and nobody told me about this or whether it's you who's been away for too long.


If I am following you, you are saying it’s not so bad because there is a black market and people are able to successfully break the nations laws. Successful crime in a nation does not equate to being a free country in any way, it just means there are some nooses that havent tightened yet


> I betcha there are more people in China who watch CNN, Fox News etc. than there are people in America who watch CGTN etc.

Likely true, but irrelevant.

(FWIW, there are more English speakers in China than America. Also, historically, at one time there were more Christians in Asia than in Europe. There was a Bishop of Beijing. I read up on the history of the old Silk Road a while back.)

The point is that you don't get thrown in jail if the authorities notice you watching the other fellow's broadcasts.

No one in the West is going to jail for watching TikTok, eh?


> US citizens can watch Chinese news media in the US

They could, but they don't, because they wouldn't understand a thing. So in practice, I think the situation is reversed: there are more people in China who watch US news than people in the US who watch Chinese news.


I know quite a few people in the U.S. who watch RT, a Russian state-controlled media operation. The pivot from backing the left fringe to the Trumpist right has been quite interesting.

Not affiliated with the bug tracker RT, in case you were wondering.


Russia Today was created as a child company of RIA Novosti. RIA Novosti itself was created as Sovinformbureau in July 1941 so the propaganda is in it's core.


Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the UK's far-left Labour party was quite a fan of Russia Today.


Please, the Labour Party is centre-left not far-left by U.K. standards.

Corbyn himself is far-left (again by U.K. standards), but the Parliamentary Labour Party itself gave him 172-40 against in a vote of no confidence in 2016, only for the public members to vote for him 313,209-193,229 in the subsequent leadership contest.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Labour_Party_leadership...


When you watch FoxNews they call everything that’s not in line with them “far left”. It’s a cool trick to mark anybody only slightly left from them as extremist. And judging from conversations with FoxNews viewers it works like a charm.


A tactic that's backfiring on them now, as they get accused by the President of "pandering to the left".

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/11/trump-nuclear-agains...


Allying with Trump is a dangerous path because his only ideology is himself.


A similar phenomenon is the mainstream media (and its believers) with the term "conspiracy theory".


I would argue that there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there at the moment that should be labeled as such.

A better example would be the tendency of the left to mark anyone they disagree with as “racist”. Same strategy. Mark your opponents as something that’s so bad that no further discussion can be allowed.


> I would argue that there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there at the moment that should be labeled as such.

You can attach whatever label you would like to something, it has no effect on whether it is objectively true (in shared, physical reality), it only affects people's perceptions of its truth (virtual reality). This applies both to conspiracy theories, as well as mainstream news theories. There is surely a difference between which class of theories has larger epistemic variance between physical and virtual reality, but this variance exists on a per story basis, and should therefore be analyzed at that level. No one has ever done such a comparative analysis (as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong), despite what mainstream news theorists would have the public believe.

> A better example would be the tendency of the left to mark anyone they disagree with as “racist”. Same strategy. Mark your opponents as something that’s so bad that no further discussion can be allowed.

An excellent example indeed.


Cory Doctorow's written a lot about conspiracy theories. Or you could look at https://www.everythingisaremix.info/.


"CONSTANTLY WRONG: THE CASE AGAINST CONSPIRACY THEORIES"

This seems like a less than promising title for those of us who are interested in what is objectively true. A quick skim of the first three strawman-filled minutes of the video does not make me feel any better.

It's true, one can indeed find plenty of batshit insane ideas within the conspiracy world. Similarly, one can find plenty of dark-complexioned people engaged in fisticuffs on /r/fightporn. What speculative conclusions one should form based on these two facts is a matter of opinion.


Sorry; I linked the blog. You can watch it here: https://www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series


Corbyn is on the left of most Labour MPs for sure, but I don't know if it'd be fair to call him "far left" when there are groups to his left.

There is an actual far left in the UK though, primarily represented by the Communist Party of Britain. There are other smaller groups too, mostly linked to the wider trade union movement.



Their US equivalents would be

https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/

https://www.voachinese.com/

Those are government-sponsored, explicitly foreign-facing (the language is a big hint) mouthpieces that are about as representative of "US news" as the sites you link are representative of "Chinese news" (i.e. barely).


All those sites are blocked in China. Even hackersnews is blocked.

Check: http://www.chinafirewalltest.com


I know, just like https://cn.ft.com/ and https://cn.nytimes.com/ (which are more likely to be worth reading, although not at the same level as the English originals), but the blocks can be circumvented by sufficiently motivated individuals. And I think there are more of those in China than there are sufficiently motivated individuals in the US circumventing the language barrier to read https://www.caixin.com/ or any of the magazines published by http://boyamedia.com/ . (Of course those aren't representative of "Chinese news" either, most of which probably consists of clickbait blogspam.)


So Chinese people can watch foreign news, if they are willing to break Chinese law?


> ...but the blocks can be circumvented by sufficiently motivated individuals.

As I understand it, using a VPN to get past the firewall is a crime for Chinese nationals. And the govt is constantly blocking them anyway as they find them.


Marijuana is illegal as well, that doesn't change the fact that lots of people are smoking it anyway.


Sure, the web sites are blocked, but radio waves couldn't be. And traditionally there were always enough radio stations carefully built and sufficiently financed to cover the target areas.

RFA:

https://www.rfa.org/about/info/frequencies.html

VOA:

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https...

A nice example of what one U.S. journalist knew regarding the coverage of North Korea in 2013:

https://www.northkoreatech.org/2013/04/11/us-wants-voa-rfa-t...


> Those are government-sponsored, explicitly foreign-facing (the language is a big hint) mouthpieces

Of course they are. Can you point to any mainland Chinese news outlets which are not effectively controlled by the CCP?

If not, it follows that a foreigner reading or watching this stuff gets a pretty good idea of what mainland Chinese are being fed by their news media.


RFA is the mouthpiece of the CIA.


i'm pretty sure the contrary is true.


The lower bound on civilian casualties is in the hundreds of thousands and the upper bound is a little over a million. A million innocent people murdered by the enlightened, modern, and most definitely civilized west.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War


"If we jump back two decades ago the American people were lead to believe that weapons of mass destruction were present in Afghanistan and Iraq and it was the cornerstone of the war initiative there."

Nope, most news outlets were very critical about the iraqi WMD story with some notable exceptions like the aforementioned NYT and there never was one with afghanistan. Just because there are no/few positive stories about russia does not necessarily mean that the media is biased.


You may or may not realize how truly frightening that is.

A military in a democratic, sovereign nation should have oversight from civilian authority. If people knew that their sons and daughters were effectively raiding another country as a belligerent force - why did they not stop it. The fear comes not in that they didn't, but that they couldn't

Human nature should be feared, especially when you have a loose cannon firing at will, and only grateful that the barrel is facing away from you. If it were to turn towards you, how do would you stop it?

We never truly learn from history as much as we think we do.


> A military in a democratic, sovereign nation should have oversight from civilian authority

Would it not be fair to say that in a representative government those elected representatives are the civilian authority? The US Congress approved using military force in Iraq, by quite large majorities in both bodies.

That is not to say the war was good or the reasons true, just that the second paragraph of your critique seems unfounded as there was oversight by the republic’s civilian authority.


> Would it not be fair to say that in a representative government those elected representatives are the civilian authority?

Absolutely. But those office bearers have constituencies I presume? If office bearer xan make their own decisions regardless of what the people who put them in power say - we would be stretching the idea of a democratic republic to the extreme, don't you think? The taxpayers should have the ability to veto decisions if in large enough numbers.


>Nope, most news outlets were very critical about the iraqi WMD story

This isn't really accurate. Most news outlets repeatedly published the government's agenda without much critical examination of what they meant. This study on the issue details events well.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268330903_Media_Cov...


The study mostly shows that the media let the administration frame how the situation was reported.

"This study supports four major findings about the media’s coverage of WMD during the three periods: 1. Most media outlets represented WMD as a monolithic menace, failing to adequately distinguish between weapons programs and actual weapons or to address the real differences among chemi-cal, biological, nuclear, and radiological weapons. 2. Most journalists accepted the Bush administration’s formulation of the “War on Terror” as a campaign against WMD, in contrast to coverage during the Clinton era, when many journalists made careful distinctions between acts of terrorism and the acquisition and use of WMD. 3. Many stories stenographically reported the incumbent administration’s perspective on WMD, giving too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats, and policy options. 4. Too few stories proffered alternative perspectives to official line, a problem exacerbated by the journalistic prioritizing of breaking-news stories and the “inverted pyramid” style of storytelling. "

Which is fair, I guess. But still, most news outlets internationally were doubtful that Iraq had WMDs and were vindicated after the war.


I don’t remember allegations of WMDs being a significant driver of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Almost all the justifications I remember reading about or seeing in the news and in government statements involved the 9/11 attacks.


We invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban were in direct support of Al Qaeda. Agents of whom brought down the twin towers on 9/11.

Iraq probably was a mistake, now that we look back on it through clearer lens of history.


As I recall, the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden and disavow Al Qaeda, which is why they were invaded. Al Qaeda openly bragged about attacking the Great Shaytan (Satan). I don't recall much opposition to that invasion.

The Iraq War was a definite mistake. The only argument that might stand, which is completely absurd if actually analyzed, is that of humanitarian intervention (against Saddam and his Ba'athist party). Even that humanitarian intervention angle, however, is very suspect due to the human cost of severe sanctions imposed on on Iraq after the first Gulf War, which the US maintained and pressured allies to do as well.

As we saw, once no WMDs were found, the US government switched to a different argument - the humanitarian one. And when that was shown to be BS due to thousands of civilians dying monthly at the hands of The Coalition of the Willing, they switched the argument to "bringing Democracy" to the country. It's the biggest fuck up and biggest moral stain on this country since I have been living here (mid 90s).

Ultimately, the worldwide opposition was palpable. The WMD inspectors from the UN were kicked out by the US. Scott Ritter, the head of the UN group, decried the invasion and did in fact predict the US would achieve nothing and leave "with their tail between their legs". It should have never happened.


> As I recall, the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden and disavow Al Qaeda, which is why they were invaded.

My recollection was that the Taliban asked for evidence of Osama Bin Laden's involvement in the September 11th attacks. The US didn't provide it and subsequently invaded.


While that may be true (don't recall specifically), the Taliban were not in a position to be asking for anything, since they were essentially a group of mujahideen who won over other rival groups and took violent control of the country post the Afghan-Soviet conflict, and immediately instituted the most severe form of Wahhabism and Sharia law of that time period. A few steps away from ISIS.

Not arguing you, to be clear. I appreciate the clarification.


> Taliban were not in a position to be asking for anything

If they weren't, then the US military wouldn't still be in Afghanistan dealing with them nearly 20 years later.


Entrenchment, local support against invaders/foreigners (despite opposition to the Taliban), further radicalization and funding that occurs during a conflict by proxy parties, is why the US is still there - the Taliban were never in a position to be asking for anything.

EDIT: I'm not defending the US and any coalition troops staying there. I'm interpreting the current situation. Best thing we can do at this point (and 10 years ago) is to cut our losses and GTFO.


Iraq being an aggressive war for conquest was obvious at the time, if one wasn't hopped up on propaganda goofballs - motte and bailey "support our troops" etc.

It's not enough to claim the enlightened viewpoint in hindsight. You have to be on the right side of history while it's happening.


Very much agreed. One of the smartest people I know, a Frenchman called Phillippe Lemoine, published 50k words in Quillette [1] on China's role in the COVID pandemic, comprehensively addressing the cover-up charges, accusations of data fudging, etc, countering the NYT/Wapo narrative, but to this day, people are still talking about "Chinese cover-up" as if it's an uncontroversial fact, not even bothering to answer any of his arguments. Many people are even still repeating the "China closed Wuhan but sent citizens everywhere" accusation that has already been debunked and retracted by its original promulgator [2,3], and even people who know it's debunked don't bother to correct it when others bring it up. When I originally came to the US, I was attracted by its high-minded ideals, but the behavior of the press and most politicians (and, I have to say, most of the tweeting public) changed my perception forever.

━━

[1] https://quillette.com/category/covid-19/china-syndrome-serie...

[2] https://www.factcheck.org/2020/05/trumps-flawed-china-travel...

[3] https://danielabell.com/?s=Ferguson&submit=Search


Whenever humans are involved, keep your expectations low, and you wont be disappointed.


I still get disappointed.


your expectations are not low enough.


The linked Quillette article series is pretty dang good, and offers convincing refutations of things I believed before reading it (most of which are described in porpoise's comment).


6 corporations control 90% of all US media https://techstartups.com/2020/09/18/6-corporations-control-9...

If they don't want something published, it will never be seen by most people.


Yesterday I heard a report from the BBC talking (in very oblique terms, of course) about the possibility Germany will replace the U.S. as the main military opponent to Russia. The German people's opposition to the vastly increased defense budgets this would require was described a quixotic insistence on "moral purity."


Unfortunately, the CIA has its tendrils deeply planted within the American publics' minds ..

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/a-long-forgotten-cia-docume...

Obama was used to sell war to the American public - and Western Europe. That is going to take a lot of work to undo.


That may explain the way the media is framing the trip withdrawals from Afghanistan but not asking why we still have trips stationed there after nearly 20 years.


> What surprises me is that when these propaganda programs become more well known, people are still hesitant to believe that in some form they are still happening,

the single most important thing that defines good propaganda is that it's invisible to those under its influence.. It used to be a lot "worse" back in the pre-Internet days when people generally watched a couple of channels and more or less got their info from news-papers. In a sense all these information bubbles are illustrating how much we are being targeted because we realize that we're not actually agreeing on anything - but again we only see how the targeting works on "the other camp" rarely on us.

the rift going across (Western) society can largely be attributed to how propaganda has changed (forced to be more targeted and aggressive) and how the old forms of white/black info-ops which had massive reach no longer do their job. companies can now play too - no need to be a nation state to get disrupted by a guy in a Max Headroom mask. everyone can be both actor and spectator

It's so strange to me as a non-American when I see a flag wielding citizen somewhere in the news, or normal people display their pride for their home country by talking about "taking a knee", or when they say "he/she is un-American" etc ... or somebody on LinkedIn who considers themselves "patriot" and mentions this in their profile. This "pride" is unheard of where I come from and if such a person would be transported into my home country suddenly speaking my language but with that behavior they would look very out of place.

various names of great thinkers on propaganda float around but Jacques Ellul is by far the most articulate. He also has a section on Propaganda in his other (earlier) "The Technological Society"[2] which is his magnun opus IMO. Both the most underrated books I've had the pleasure to read in this past decade. (I think it was reading Ellul what ultimately radicalized Ted Kaczinsky e.g. helped him come to the conclusion that society is borked beyond repair).

[1] Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes https://archive.org/details/Propaganda_201512

[2] https://archive.org/details/JacquesEllulTheTechnologicalSoci...


My experience with The New York Times was abysmal, I have never encountered a more unscrupulous journalist than the one they sent to me.


The reason is because the techniques noted have transcended 'propaganda' and just become 'argumentation'.

c.f.: socialism as a blanket assertion of something being bad without evidence.

edit because I forgot this story...not long ago I ended up in an online argument with someone that I really shouldn't have been about what communism is and isn't (yeah...). Their literal claim was that 'communism is a form of socialism' and they claimed that was evidence that communism is bad, because socialism is inherently bad.


They don't even need to coerce anything, these days. The likes of Judith Miller will gladly sell themselves for the promise of favours from the elite.


I see the word "elite" used a lot in 2020 to define a certain type of person, what defines an "elite"?


This is tangential, but it mildly irks me how commonly "elite" is now used by most people to refer to a single person. "Elite" is a collective noun and refers to a group, not an individual.

An elite is a group of people who are distinguished from their peers in some way. In common parlance "some way" usually means influence, power, seniority, respect from peers, performance, or wealth.


I can't answer for others, but I personally use it like Pareto did [0], i.e. the class currently owning or controlling the bulk of resources and wealth in a given population.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilfredo_Pareto#Fascism_and_po...


"Ruling class" is a better term. Currently that class is the bourgeoisie (owners of capital).


Considering only the ownership of capital is too restrictive. Control of capital (and therefore power) has shifted from its owners to a managerial elite over the past century.


Is that true? Have the Koch/Walton/Rockefeller families ceded control to their management employees? Seems unlikely to me, and unsupported by evidence.


Capitalists in the old style (more-or-less) certainly still exist, they just aren't the majority anymore. This is a sociological phenomenon first noticed in the 1940s. The bourgeoisie capitalist class largely turned over the reins to managers and set themselves on other pursuits.

Even in large organizations where the owners still do play a semi-active role, most of the day-to-day decision making is (necessarily) is made by the managers. And frequently, even when there is an active disagreement between management and ownership, management wins out.

As a suggestive example, who benefits from mergers? Upper management usually becomes much wealthier, but 50-80% of mergers fail to add value to the company. [1] That is, capitalists lose out 50-80% of the time, but they still happen anyway. Consider the increasing complaints about skyrocketing executive management pay divorced from company performance, golden parachutes, or companies being almost seemingly deliberately run into the ground while the people responsible walk off richer and with a new job.

The power of the managerial class does not just extend to the corporate world either - government has been largely infiltrated by managerialists. Conservatives talk about the Deep State, liberals talk about the revolving door. Both are talking about the same phenomenon.

[1] https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-do-so-many-m...


You’re describing a superficial side-effect of the monopoly stage of capitalism, otherwise known as imperialism. The bourgeoisie make the bulk of their money from exporting capital at extortionate interest rates to poor countries, not so much from actual production. The fact that they let their managers take a cut doesn’t change the power dynamic. Lenin throughly described this phenomenon a century ago, it’s in no way new https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/

Nothing is changed by the bourgeoisie holding state power despite the veneer of democracy, that’s also part of how capitalism works. Just because the haute bourgeoisie don’t risk personal involvement doesn’t mean they aren’t in control. Lenin’s slightly less scientific work talks about that too https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/


One of the people who extensively documented the features of the managerial revolution was a communist completely familiar with the writings of Lenin, James Burnham. See the book by that name.

> The fact that they let their managers take a cut doesn’t change the power dynamic.

The managers are not simply taking a cut, they are exerting power over capitalists and winning.


The managers are also part of the bourgeoisie, though. It’s not like CEOs are working class, they’re capitalists too.

While it’s true that within the bounds of national markets the old haute bourgeoisie is no longer as dominant, imperialist exploitation is the main source of profits for the bourgeoisie as a whole. This American national bourgeoisie (which might be called “managers”) benefit from imperialism too, even though they may not be its primary instigators.


[flagged]


Of course. Why wouldn't it happen under his either?


Certainly not on the same scale but Suharto tactics continued well past 1965.

In _1991_, Suharto's troops commanded an attack on peaceful demonstrators who were protesting the killing of a man, Sebastiao Gomes, at point blank range inside a church. Some of these demonstrators ran away into a cemetery and where trapped taking cover from bullets behind gravestones. At least 250 People were confirmed dead in this massacre at Santa Cruz cemetery. [0] Literally exterminated like sitting ducks.

If it wasn't for the massacre footage from people like Max Stahl and other journalists it is likely that by now most of Timór Lorosa'e would have been slowly replaced out of existence.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_massacre


A better read about what happened in Jakarta on 30 September 1965: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_September_Movement

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_mass_killings_of_19...

It remains quite unclear what exactly triggered the events, but Suharto at the very least exploited the hell out of them.


Unclear is an understatement. The Suharto-government produced "G30S/PKI" is still broadcasted every September 30th to sustain the propaganda/story that justified the mass killings.

What recently (a few years ago) came up was the US had a diplomatic wire that had a list of the dated a few days/weeks before the incident. It is suspected that this list was initial "hit-list".

"The US Embassy supplied the army with a list of thousands of PKI cadres for targeting."

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/news-events/all-stories/indone...

For a modern documentary that's definitely very chilling about the "killers" of those mass killings, check out The Act of Killing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Act_of_Killing


“The act of killing“ is a truely impressive and disturbing movie!


This happened just 3 years after the US handed West Papua over to Indonesia on a silver platter. Today, in 2020, the genocide of the West Papuan people continues.

https://international.ucla.edu/institute/event/1786

https://twitter.com/FreeWestPapua

https://twitter.com/VeronicaKoman


"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the USA; They don't care" --Nelson Mandela https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11700110


An amazing documentary on the subject is “The Act of Killing” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Act_of_Killing) which challenges former death-squad leaders to reenact their mass killings (of supposed communists...)


Let’s all keep this in mind, please, when we read poignant columns about the incredible danger posed by TikTok or other Chinese apps and services to “National Security”.


I'm a globalist but I'll give some reasons to treat China different.

When you buy or use a computer product from China, you also gave a medical company in China money. When businesses are majority owned by the CCP, you are buying from a mega corporation.

I am reluctant to give FAANG my business due to their size, I am just as concerned with a company in China.

Now the US government I rarely interface with outside taxes. I get spam mail from the USPS. I can't think of any other government I work with.


Chances are you interacted with companies where singapore's GIC or Temasek has shares. If not them perhaps something by the norwegian wealth fund. I think the combined funds of singapore are about similar to to the China Investment Corporation and norway outstrips both but also has a bit more domestic focus.


Stepping back, purges are a bleak aspect of statecraft - and executive management. As a leader, what do you reasonably do about an insurgent movement? Once they seize power, they will need to purge you and your supporters, so there is a zero-sum aspect to this.

Develop mature democratic processes? Those will take decades, and imposing them just means Potemkin structures that keep you in power.


There's a bit of a stark difference between killing a few generals or public figureheads looking to overthrow one as a dictator, and killing many hundreds of thousands of civilians that don't like you.

It's just extra gross that the US helped it happen.


This doesn't just describe a purge where maybe the leaders of the Communist party are imprisoned by a military dictatorship. This is mass murder of millions. It is never necessary. Do what the king of France did and just abdicate and leave if you have lost power rather than engage in mass murder. Sure if there is a militia planning to attempt to overthrow you then have them arrested but don't kill everyone with views to the left/right.


What's the difference between disinformation and lying?


Here’s another interesting article about this: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-jakarta...


to: @redis_mlc – not sure if you realise, but all your comments are marked [dead]


That's what happens when someone's account gets banned: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25011268


The article is badly written and edited, and whatever facts presented are either cherry-picked or irrelevant.

- Japan, who were occupying Indonesia, as they realized that WW2 was lost, met with Sukarno and Hatta and offered Indonesian independence

- then the Dutch, colonizers for 350 years, attempted to re-take Indonesia

- the US told the Dutch to get lost after almost 400 years, and Indonesia was able to proclaim independence.

So first off, the US is primarily to thank for Indonesia's early post-WW2 self-determination.

- after WW2, communism was being promoted by both Russia and China world-wide. The US encouraged the Indonesian leaders to avoid that. Part of the problem was ethnic politics and loyalty - Chinese businessmen control finance in SE Asia, and the native Indonesian leaders decided to do something about that under the guise of "communism bad"

- the US until today is the primary military supporter of Indonesia, training virtually all of their air force pilots. The C-130 and F-16 are their main aircraft.

So when people criticize US involvement in Indonesia, I remind them that the US is their biggest friend, from 1945 until today. In return, the US has never colonized that country in any way.

For those who haven't visited Indonesia, the country made huge economic strides from 2000 to 2019, and if not for corona, would be doing very well economically. Central Jakarta, the capital, is very nice.

Regarding the South American anti-communist actions, that is what it took to prevent it taking root. You can see what the alternative is in Venezuela, a former oil exporter, essentially a destroyed country because of it.

Or closer to home, the burning of our downtowns by Marxists.


>whatever facts presented are either cherry-picked or irrelevant.

>Look what japan did.

>Look what the dutch did.

>Look, the US was altruistic enough to give them indipendence.

>Look, the US even trains their military.

You responeded with a bunch of whatabout and called the US an ally.

Would you call the US an ally of south america too? (And ignore all the horrible hegemonic involvement.)

Why do you only cherry-pick Venezuela as an example and not Cuba, where mixed races living peacefully, side by side?

How does rioting promote marxism or socialism?

(>Look at all this right-wing brainfuck.)


Since we are in the realm of fairy dust, I'd like to point out the two bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as retaliation for Pearl Habour.

1. We may say what we like, killing and injuring severely 150K people in indiscriminate nuclear bombing is a war crime. They knew it was. Otherwise they would have bombed Tokyo. Im aware that The targets were were active military bases, but civilians lived there. better yet, they could have bombed Germany too but thats another story.

2. You misunderstand the subtlety of modern conquest. Much of SE Asia, JPN, SKOR are countries under pretty much protectorates of US government and it's lauaghable to call them sovereign nations. They are in name only.

> Regarding the South American anti-communist actions, that is what it took to prevent it taking root.

This is a can of worms I'm sure the US Gov makes sure is fuzzy as hell. No idea why an economic system of another country is of such personal significance to US citizens that they will readily send their sons to die for it. I'm willing to bet a hairy unicorn that a majority of people in the US have no idea why their country spends so much energy fighting and starting wars in the last few decades other than some basic platitude of "Terrorism" and "communism". Ever heard of the Panama Canal? The term "Banana republic"? Read a book by the author John Hopkins, an American author.

> You can see what the alternative is in Venezuela.

Perhaps Maduro's mustache rubs Washington the wrong way. They've spent a lot of money and lives fighting mustached enemies the last few decades. He looks like a dictator who abuses his people to no end. A flash replica of Saddam giving the older politicians nightmares. I can only postulate.

The real reason Venezuela is failing is because it does not have money (Resource curse schurse.). UAE and Venezuela differ only in one aspect. UAE isn't a bastion of Democracy but is filthy rich. The difference is sanctions. And who do you suppose imposes those sanctions at the UN NA? Why? Why do they care? Has Caracas ever declared war on Washington? Does the American taxpayer even know where Caracas is?

So many questions. So many simple answers. Not easy answers but simple.


> better yet, they could have bombed Germany too but thats another story.

The atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945. Germany surrendered in May of 1945, before the Trinity test (first test of a nuclear device) in July!

> I'd like to point out the two bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as retaliation for Pearl Habour.

This is far too simple - it's widely accepted that there were multiple reasons for using the bombs that do not include simple revenge. Most notable were the estimates of allied casualties to invade mainland Japan after the experience of clearing islands during the Pacific campaign.

It's also worth noting that consent to use the bombs was required and given by the British per the Quebec Agreement of 1943.


> The atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945. Germany surrendered in May of 1945, before the Trinity test (first test of a nuclear device) in July!

True.

> This is far too simple - it's widely accepted that there were multiple reasons for using the bombs that do not include simple revenge.

Simple motivations are most powerful. Japan was teetering and no longer a credible threat. Air raids and the pamphlets had already weakened support for the war against US within the JPN government, considerjng most people did not agree with it initially. It was just a matter of time.


During the second half of the XXth century, the US did more bad than good. Again recently the intervention of the CIA in Yemen is unjustifiable. There is a tragic irony into thinking a libertarian country so violently interfered with others people affairs, and with so many of them on all continents. Most of the time favoring the establishment of a dictatorship.

It is also funny to think that Trump, to my knowledge, did not engage in undercover or open military operations, whereas Obama, who passed for a dove certainly was not one.

Anyway this is an era coming to an end. Let see what China will do with its superpowers when it is the 1st world economy. For sure it is already quite rough with its neighbors. Will its thirst for commerce refrain it to bomb other countries? Will it be technological bombs instead?


>did not engage in undercover or open military operations

He had an Iranian general assassinated.


>It is also funny to think that Trump, to my knowledge, did not engage in undercover or open military operations, whereas Obama, who passed for a dove certainly was not one.

Though he has yet to start a new war, he had drastically increased bombing and drone strikes leading to far more civilian deaths than Obama.


>Though he has yet to start a new war, he had drastically increased bombing and drone strikes leading to far more civilian deaths than Obama.

Got some source data that backs up this claim?


I found this to be the source of data for articles that make that claim.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-01/dro...


Strangely omits Obama's first 4 years. I wonder why that is.


https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/explainers/our-methodo...

   The US government started publishing its own estimates of how many people it has killed in counter-terrorism strikes “outside areas of active hostilities”. This phrase was presumed to refer to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya (not including the NATO bombing campaign in 2011 and the US strikes against ISIS around Sirte in 2016) though no US government official would confirm specifically where was outside active hostilities.

   The US data release was part of an executive order that included a commitment that the US would continue to publish such figures annually. However it remains to be seen if this executive order will survive into the Trump administration.

   Unfortunately the first data release, on July 1 2016 comprised of the total number US counter-terrorism strikes in all countries outside of areas of active hostilities for all years between January 2009 and December 2015, as well as the minimum and maximum estimates for the total number of combatants and non-combatants killed."
Here's their article on Obama's presidency which includes data on the first 4 years.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2016-07-01/oba...


A quick look at TBIJ raw data (https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-01/dro...), under Trump, air strikes:

- went on in Afghanistan on +/- the same pace

- scaled down in Pakistan and Yemen to almost zero

- scaled up in Somalia, although they were already intensive in 2016

So it is a bit of a mixed answer although overall it appeared to go down compared to Obama presidency. Now of course there is the question whether a war can be won from the sky, and whether the CIA is pursuing its own goal or Trump administration's goals. My opinion is that air strikes alone do more bad than good in the long term, because basically there is no way it could put an end a conflict.


Obama LITERALLY changed the definition of enemy combatant so that he did not have to report such high civilian casualty rates, as part of the CIA's program to use his popularity to sell endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.

The definition was changed, essentially, to this: if they were killed by drone, they were enemies.

Didn't matter if they were standing there in the market that day, lined up to buy bread. Didn't matter if they were responding in between the double taps to help their fellow citizens locate their limbs, recover their loved ones from under the rubble, etc.

"If they were drone-striked, its because they were combatants."

Thus, 'Obama killed less civilians' can be sold.

That this was also abused under Trump is not in question.

Comparing these two war criminals to each other to find out which was the nicer is an utterly ludicrous exercise.


The official civilian casualty numbers have always been pure bullshit, we know from the Manning leaks that Bush had hidden 15,000 civilian deaths in Iraq. Obamas change did not drastically alter how the deaths were reported.


Actually, they did. Obama started counting everyone in the drone sights as enemy combatants.

They were bullshit reports before Obama. They became even more bullshit during Obama. And the bullshit is out of control now.


Both numbers are made up, but do you have any source showing Obama started the military age male policy? All I can find is a government source agent said he "embraced it" in regard to drone strikes while the practice was used in several other areas during the Bush administration, such as who could face "enhanced interrogation." Further, some of the earlier sources I found retracted the statement to clarify that Obama embraced the Bush designation.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/opinion/2012-05-29/ana...


https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/under-o...

From:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_from_U.S._...

"However during that period, the Obama Administration did count all military-age males in strike zones as combatants unless explicit intelligence exonerated them posthumously."

Obama's policy: kill them first, find out if they were enemy combatants - or not - afterwards.


That is reporting on the same Times source my link referenced, which doesn't actually say Obama started the practice.


Says it right here:

"A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of his presidency, providing martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.

What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes. "

And indeed, the loophole was, Obama changed the definition of enemy combatant to mean 'if its a military aged male in the drone crosshairs, its a combatant (EKIA) - until proven otherwise'. i.e. the exact opposite of 'innocent until proven guilty'.

I suggest you catch up by reading "The Drone Papers", in case you haven't already:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_Papers

https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/the-assassination-comp...

Pay particular attention to the definition of the term "EKIA".

https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/manhunting-in-the-hind...

This happened under Obama's watch.

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/opinion/2012-05-29/ana...


There is no reason to assume those loopholes mentioned were the definition of combatant found much later in the article, and it doesn't even say that they were new loopholes. Plus, your last link is the one I brought up that shows the policy started under Bush.

I am well aware of the horrors of Obama's drone strikes, I am not defending him or his actions. Maintaining the definition is equally bad from my perspective, but it began under Bush.


>So it is a bit of a mixed answer although overall it appeared to go down compared to Obama presidency.

It's an incomplete picture though, as it does not include Syria and Iraq where the majority of bombing took place.


Sure. Finding easy to read statistics is fairly difficult though, particularly with Trump ending some of the previous US reports on the subjects.

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/02/trump-impeachment-civili...

https://www.mintpressnews.com/trumps-drone-kill-rate-80-time...

https://airwars.org/news-and-investigations/airwars-annual-r...


Obama was the one who changed the rules about reporting civilian casualties.

And none of these articles include any detail about Obama's track record. They seem to be ignoring his stats in an effort to pitch their story against Trump.


>Obama was the one who changed the rules about reporting civilian casualties.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-signs-executive-order-can...

>And none of these articles include any detail about Obama's track record.

The first one is a bit lacking on Obama. The second compares the two numbers, and the third is an annual report. Some of the reports data goes back for years, others are in previous reports.


Good story but today the problem a china. Not USA any more. They did internal first now spread out. Wake up. Humanity enemy is not USA. (Not to say USA has not supported very strange fellow now and in the past and likely in the future. Just not the main conflicts.)


I presume this comment was a demonstration of the Jakarta method.


If you believe this, then I hate to tell you, but you've fallen victim to the propaganda yourself.

Just because China is bad, doesn't mean the US isn't.

Just look at how willingly the US public voted in Trump who is demonstrably a horrible, spiteful, selfish person, a compulsive liar who constantly contradicts himself, and he's not even a good businessman, he's an even worse christian for all those who care about that.

And yet there's a neverending propaganda machine convincing people that he's the kind of person that should be running a country.


China: Get disappeared, racist reeducation or mowed over like shit pancakes

Both sides are the same!


I did not in any way say they're the same. But you can't act like the US is some utopia just because they're not the bottom of the barrel


To a minority but highly influential group of Christians, it doesn't matter that Trump is all these things. He's still the Anointed who does Gods work, perhaps without knowing it himself. You just can't win with arguments. (They even draw parallels to David.)


> Just because China is bad, doesn't mean the US isn't.

This is true, but I more often see the opposite implied: Because the US is bad, Russia, China, and Iran shouldn’t be criticised.

It’s often goes:

A: “China did a bad thing.”

B: “Yeah well, America did a bad thing too, you propaganda-addled fool.”

A: “Yes, but all these people in China...”

B: “Hypocrite! Dupe! Racist!”




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