The War on Dissent



Just when you thought the corporatocracy couldn’t possibly get more creepily Orwellian, the Twitter Corporation starts sending out emails advising that they “have reason to believe” we have “followed, retweeted,” or “liked the content of” an account “connected to a propaganda effort by a Russia government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.” While it’s not as dramatic as the Thought Police watching you on your telescreen, or posters reminding you “Big Brother Is Watching,” the effect is more or less the same.

And if that’s not creepily Orwellian enough for you, Facebook has established a Ministry of Counterspeech, manned by “a dedicated counterterrorism team” of “former intelligence and law-enforcement officials,” to “disrupt ideologies underlying extremism” (see Chris Hedges’ recent essay for details). The Google Corporation is systematically disappearingderanking, and maliciously misrepresenting non-corporate news and opinion sources, and the “thought criminals” who contribute to them. Meanwhile, the corporate media continues to pump out Russia paranoia propaganda like this Maddow segment on MSNBC about “the remarkable number of Russian financiers who’ll be rubbing elbows with the Trump team in Davos.”

These are just the latest salvos in the corporate establishment’s War on Dissent, an expanded version of the War on Terror, which they’ve been relentlessly waging for over a year now. As you may have noticed, the ruling classes have been using virtually every propaganda organ at their disposal to whip up mass hysteria over a host of extremely dubious threats to “the future of democracy” and “democratic values,” Russia being foremost among them, followed closely by white supremacy, then a laundry list of other “threats,” from Julian Assange to Bernie Bros to other, lesser “sowers of division.”

This propaganda campaign is part and parcel of the roll-out of a new “official narrative.” If it wasn’t so completely depressing, I would say it is awe-inspiring to watch. This full-spectrum type of mass indoctrination, or “reality adjustment,” doesn’t happen that often. It used to only happen on the national level, typically during times of war, when the ruling classes of nation states needed to temporarily unite their populaces and demonize their enemy. It is happening now on a global level, for the second time in the 21st Century.

The first time it happened on a global level was 2001-2002, when the War on Terror narrative was launched to supplant the defunct Cold War narrative that had functioned since the end of World War II. The End of History/New World Order narrative, which had served as a kind of ideological stop-gap from 1990 to 2001, never really sold that well. It was far too vague, and there was no clear enemy. The global capitalist ruling classes (which now reigned unopposed over the entire planet) needed a new official narrative to unite, not just a nation, or region, but everyone within the new global market. This narrative needed a convincing enemy that would function on a global level. “Terrorism” is that enemy.

In the official War on Terror narrative, the term “terrorism” does not refer to any type of actual terrorism (although of course such terrorism does take place) as much as to “terrorism” as a general concept, an essentially meaningless pejorative concept, one which can be expanded to include almost anything and anyone the ruling classes need it to … which is what is taking place at the moment. It is being expanded, rather dramatically, to include virtually any type of dissent from global capitalist ideology. In order to understand what’s happening, we need to understand how terms like “terrorism” and “extremism” function ideologically, not just as terms to dehumanize “bad guys” but to designate a type of ur-antagonist, one that conforms to the official narrative. So let’s take a few minutes and try to do that.

The key to understanding both the original War on Terror official narrative and the expanded variation we are being sold currently is the fact that terrorism is an insurgent tactic employed by weaker militant forces against a ruling government or occupation force. This makes it the perfect bogeyman (in essence, the only bogeyman) for our brave new global capitalist world, where global capitalism takes the place of that “ruling government or occupation force.”

I’ve written a number of essays about this, so I won’t reiterate all that here. The short version is, we no longer live in a world where nation-against-nation conflict is driving the course of political events. We live in a world where global capitalism is driving the course of political events. The economies of virtually every nation on the planet are hopelessly interdependent. Capitalist ideology pervades all cultures, despite their superficial differences. It is a globally hegemonic system, so it has no external enemies. None. The only threats it faces are internal. Its “enemies” are, by definition, insurgent … in other words, “extremist” or “terrorist.”

This even holds true for the Russia paranoia the ruling classes are pumping out currently … it’s all just part of the “reality adjustment,” and the launch of a new official narrative, not a prelude to war with Russia. The USA is not going to war with Russia. The notion is beyond ridiculous. Have you noticed, despite all their warlike verbiage, that no one has put forth a single scenario in which war between Russia and the West makes sense? That’s because it doesn’t make sense. Not for Russia, the USA, or anyone else. This is why “the Russian threat” is being marketed as an “attack on democratic values” and “an attempt to sow division,” and so on. Because the war the corporatocracy is waging is not a war against Russia, the nation. The war they are fighting is a counter-insurgency, an ideological counter-insurgency. “Russia” has just been added to the list of “terrorists” and “extremists” who “hate us for our freedom.”

Thus, our new official narrative is actually just a minor variation on the original War on Terror narrative we’ve been indoctrinated with since 2001. A minor yet essential variation. From 2001 to 2016, the constant “terrorist threat” we were facing was strictly limited to Islamic terrorism, which made sense as long as the corporatocracy was focused on restructuring the Middle East. White supremacist terrorism was not part of the narrative, nor was any other form of terrorism, as that would have just confused the audience.

That changed, dramatically, in 2016.

The Brexit referendum and the election of Trump alerted the global capitalist ruling classes to the existence of another dangerous insurgency that had nothing to do with the Greater Middle East. While they were off merrily destabilizing, restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving, resentment of global capitalism had grown into a widespread neo-nationalist backlash against globalization, the loss of sovereignty, fiscal austerity, and the soulless, smiley-face, corporate culture being implemented throughout the West and beyond. That this backlash is reactionary in nature does not change the fact that it is an insurgency … just as Islamic fundamentalism is. Both insurgencies are doomed attempts to revert to despotic social systems (nationalist in one case, religious in the other) and so reverse the forward march of global capitalism. The global capitalist ruling classes are not about to let that happen.

The corporatocracy wasted no time in dealing with this new insurgency. They demonized and hamstrung Trump, as they’ll continue to do until he’s well out of office. But Trump was never the significant threat. The significant threat is the people who elected him, and who voted for Brexit, and the AfD, and Sanders, and Mélenchon, and Corbyn, and who just stayed home on election day and refused to vote for Hillary Clinton. The threat is the attitude of these people. The insubordinate attitude of these people. The childish attitude of these people (who naively thought they could challenge the most powerful empire in the annals of human history … one that controls, not just the most fearsome military force that has ever existed, but the means to control “reality” itself).

The corporatocracy is going to change that attitude, or it is going to make it disappear. It is in the process of doing this now, using every ideological weapon in its arsenal. The news media. Publishing. Hollywood. The Internet. Intelligence agencies. Congressional inquiries. Protests. Marches. Twitter’s “advisory emails.” Google’s manipulation of its search results. Facebook’s “counterspeech” initiative. Russiagate. Shitholegate. Pornstargate. The ruling class is sending us a message. The message is, “you’re either with us or against us.” The message is, “we will tolerate no dissent, except for officially sanctioned dissent.” The message is, “try to fuck with us, and we will marginalize you, and demonize you, and demonetize you, and disappear you.”

The message is, “we control reality, so reality is whatever the fuck we say it is, regardless of whether it is based in fact or just some totally made-up story we got The Washington Post to publish and then had the corporate media repeat, over and over, for fourteen months.” If that doesn’t qualify as full-blown Orwellian, I’m not sure what, exactly, would.

I wish I had some rallying cry to end this depressing assessment with, but I have no interest in being one of these Twitter-based guerrilla leaders who tell you we can beat the corporatocracy by tweeting and donating to them on Patreon, and then going about our lives as “normal.” It’s probably going to take a little more than that, and the obvious truth is, the odds are against us. That said, I plan to make as much noise about The War on Dissent as humanly possible, until they marginalize me out of existence … or the corporate-mediated simulation that so many of us take for existence these days. What do you say, want to join me?

 C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at or  

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Parting shot—a word from the editors

The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 

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9 thoughts on “The War on Dissent

  1. It figures that the civilisation (anglo-american) that gave rise to the most hyper-developed machinery of consciousness manipulation in history through marketing wiles and advertising should now be the most advanced part of the global system bamboozling umanity—or else. The US government, for one, is a wholly p.r. show and has been for decades. Now the imposture is being taken to the transnational level, its natural endpoint.

    Brilliant analysis by Hopkins, as usual.

  2. I stand to be corrected, it was Casey at CIA that said: We will not have done our job until the only thing people believe is what we tell them.

    It follows, if one does not accept the ‘official’ message, they will be labeled TROLLS. Seems like a bad business model for FB, Twitter, YouTube …etc as 90% of their users are essentially at this point …common trolls! The other 10% are ‘official’ trolls desiring to kick the other 90% off the media.

  3. Brilliant, to be redundant to Patrice’s comment; the word is fitting. The parameters of what can be discussed in civil discourse are shrinking rapidly, not only from the external forces of the Korporatocracy, but even from within what is left of the resistance to it.

    Try to mention that Bernie voted to fund every war, after making lip-service against it. Try and mention that Tulsi is absolutely hawkish in her Islamophobia and voted to block regugees from coming to the US, and the left will eat you alive. Within the narrative, even the most nominally moderate people are a breath of fresh air against the neo-cons they fear, they scream, “Let me breathe that hopium!” They don’t want truth. They don’t want due-diligence in journalism. They want, like Mulder, something to believe in.

    The “war on terror” nodding and drooling towards Russia is not so much a direct confrontation with them, which would be mutually destructive, but an excuse to invade all her trading partners who operate outside the US petro-dollar and banking hegemony. The South American hemisphere as “Russian Stooges” will have former anti-war leftists clapping in approval. Clinton’s tacit approval of the Honduran Coup is one. But mark my words, any remnant of the Chavismo movement to our south is about to be erased with extreme prejudice. Iran, China, Brazil all will see more sanctions as well.

    The sanctions, the covert ops, color revolutions and assassinations will continue. The globalist capitalist class need our tacit approval. This is how they get it.


  4. Do you think that the average US citizen ever thinks about how America can be such a ‘good’ country and yet have so many enemies to worry about protecting itself from? Russia wants to do us in– every minute of every day; the Middle East is full of demons that want to terrorize us because they hate our freedoms; and, just to make sure that we Americans are safe, we need to end China’s and North Korea’s sinister plans for us. If a person has one ounce of reasoning power left in his macerated mind, he must be able to notice that he is being hoodwinked. Yes? No?

    1. You tap lucidly on a great mystery that baffles intelligent (and politically sophisticated) people. How can Americans remain so passive and indifferent to truth when, as you point out, some very obvious contradictions jump out of the paper practically every day? I have a few theories about this, but, basically we can sum them up here thusly: (1) Americans have been lied for so long, they are literally born in a culture of myths and self-serving lies, that from infancy they lose much of their political reasoning power and imagination; (2) they are propagandised literally around the clock, thereby reinforcing the big lie which comes at them from every news medium, politician, religious figures, authority figure and finally their own friends and family. It’s what some call “a vicious circle”, albeit this one is in the hundreds of millions, and globally in the billions. (3) Those who have somehow (like you) figured out there’s a fly in the ointment feel isolated because the media make sure that those who doubt or dissent are never allowed to enter the mainstream consciousness. They say for successful revolts slaves have to first realise their own numbers. (4) Consumerism and an idiotic culture have infantilised the public and condition them to evasion of truths and instant gratification, two very bad qualities if you want to confront the unpleasantness of rising against a well entrenched criminal system. There are obviously more points but you get the picture.

  5. It ties in nicely with the pioneer spirit of the establishment of the colonializing European immigrants who fled Europe and hated its feudal class systems and religious discriminations. Even now foreigners are taboo and feared. And thus the world is constantly at the poor decent US’s breast.

  6. And of course, Trump is hated, the reality star who rips off the mask of official hypocrisy. The outside world does no longer have to face the sanctimoniousness of such as Obama and Clinton. It causes the unremitting bourgeois backstabbing of the US media, to get rid of the ‘enfant terrible’. Trump scatters the American Dream, forcing the demonstrating masses to face the reality of the Janus face of US society, where the cost of the whole system is rolled over onto the backs of the powerless while the remunerations increase exponentially upwards. The national self-hypnosis is becoming a nightmare and Trump is its prophet.

  7. It is extraordinary how tolerant or rather disinterested the US public appears to be about the utterly absurd and venal actions of its government. Not only the sub-standard media announcers but even the various representatives and senators that are interviewed on the cable television ‘news’ shows, all are involved in politicking, lies and distortions of the truth. The commentary programs that are so much part of the media in contrast to what is available outside the country are pure propaganda to delude the public and none are in the least interested in a balanced and straightforward reporting. How this has come about is probably a result of the advertising industry whereby people are conditioned to desire goods they do not really need or want. As such the public is imprisoned in a false reality, preventing a clear insight in what is done in their name or what is being done to them. The disconnect between the events in Washington and the average citizen is remarkable and always has been as if decisions ‘over there’ could be trusted to be in the best interest of the public that votes for those who decide and rule. It is apparently a matter of faith in the system that has been inculcated at a very young age as part of the myth that this is the best of all possible worlds and it may well be for the classes that are protected but which is very deleterious for all beyond those classes and to the outside world. The best example of self-hypnosis is Abraham Lincoln: “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth”, thereby forgetting that America encompasses also Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, etc. Such blind hubris….!

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