On censorship in Australia and elsewhere

What do you do as an Australian parliament when a foreign company censors mainstream media content in Australia, undermining free speech? Do you organise an inquiry to hold those foreign companies to account and to see how you might prevent foreign meddling? Or do you fall into line and organise McCarthy-like hearings to intimidate those whose opinions have fallen into (foreign) disfavour?

We now know the answer: Labour and the Greens have fallen into line with foreign internet companies censoring Alan Jones and Sky news. It is not the foreign companies that are asked to defend themselves but Alan Jones. And the BBC article linked to above very nicely says that a big reason for the censorship was that Alan Jones was “questioning public health orders”. Might I quietly say ‘Wow’? Questioning policy, how dare he! Where is our democracy going to when people can question policies in the media?

It is a pity that things are taking this turn in Australia. Up till now, free speech on the covid issue has been one of the positives in Australia. It has often been acrimonious but at least open airing of different views has occurred. Among the newspapers, the Australian has been lockdown-sceptic from day one, with the Financial Review increasingly sceptical too. Several other newspapers have been pro-lockdown but still frequently running sceptical pieces. This diversity of views was also present on television, with Sky News running a sceptical line from the beginning. On radio too, there has been diversity of views, with Gigi Foster co-hosting the sceptical ‘Economists’ program on the ABC.

Whilst state governments have spared no expense in propaganda and the vast majority of the media is fully in line with covid-mania, there hence has been a sceptical mainstream media presence in Australia since the very beginning. It is something to be proud of, certainly compared to most of Europe, the UK, or the US!

Yet, the censorship that the internet giants have engaged in from early on (Amazon for instance censored Jeffrey Tucker’s early book on covid madness in mid 2020, and of course there was the saga around the attempt of Google and others to hide the Great Barrington Declaration) is a new factor in the media landscape. Several friends and co-authors of mine have personally been censored by internet giants the last 18 months (facebook, google, microsoft, linkedin, twitter, youtube). The reality is that much of Australian media and commentary takes place on the platforms of the Big Tech giants, giving Big Tech enormous power over what gets air time and what does not. They have used that power to push the pro-lockdown line that benefits their shareholders. Whatever one’s view of the truth, what else can one expect from commercial companies but that they use their clout to support the views good for their bottom line?

It is simply the reality that we live in an age of unprecedented censorship conceived of and enforced by a handful of international companies. The last international entity to do this for any time with some success was the Catholic Church that kept whole populations ignorant via book burning, lists of forbidden books, burning of heretics reading the wrong books, etc. The invention of the printing press made the Church’s task difficult as cheap books could be smuggled in, so the intellectual elites could no longer be censored. Since around 1600 AD only national governments in the West have been truly successful at complete censorship, if only for a while. Yet, their efforts were increasingly undermined by the advent of radio and television. Censorship became near impossible in the 1990s due to the emerging internet and mobile phone technology. Governments found counter-measures but they could be circumvented by the technologically literate, meaning that once again the intellectual elites were ‘sort of’ free whilst only the majority within countries could be effectively censored. Censorship was one of degrees the last 30 years.

Late 2021, censorship is still not total and one of degrees, but censorship by international entities is back. The vast majority of the population in many countries can now be directed to total nonsense by international commercial interests. This has happened to stunning effect during covid times, such as the attempt by Facebook and other Big Tech companies to suppress the China lab-leak theory, probably to please a befriended government. Let us consider likely dynamics.

One main question is whether competition will solve the situation eventually, independent of governments. Will gap, rumble, duckduckgo, bitchute, Odysee, and many other new media platforms divide the media space currently dominated by a few internet giants? Will they break the current censorship?

In the short-run, I think the answer is ‘yes’: the Covistance and others are turning to alternative platforms to build their own media networks. There is a whole ecosystem emerging of citizen media platforms, which should be expected the next few years to lead to real diversity in mainstream choice, most certainly when it comes to covid and political correctness. You see this perhaps most clearly in the UK where GB news, intended as counterweight to the incessant propaganda and abysmal news quality of the BBC, is making inroads, building on smaller initiatives like Talkradio.

In the medium run, the answer is not so clear because there are such obvious returns to scale involved in running internet platforms. It is simply cheaper to bundle the technology needed to run videos, newspapers, internet search, or whatever in one place. Duplication of the effort into constantly updating all the protection, personally-optimised search, program-compatibility, etc., is a huge cost and the existing Big Tech companies will try to squeeze the life out of those getting traction outside their influence. So the fear is that the internet giants will buy up the more successful new media kids on the block, adding it to their overall internet umbrella, whilst using various dirty tactics (court cases, making links difficult, sabotaging search algorithms, platform incompatibility, etc.) to kill independent small firms. Some idealists might hold out for a while, but the internet giants can offer them an awful lot of money so resistance should not be expected to last. Since the underlying technology has a lot of returns to scale, it is hard to see how internet-related media diversity can thrive long-term in a commercial environment.

In the longer run things look different again because of the eventual response of communities that want to retain their own control independent of international internet companies, simply taking the cost hit. Some countries, like China, have already done this. Other countries seem likely to follow in setting up their national internet space, not merely to do their own news-production but also for tax, security, and democratic purposes. Competition between countries, rather than between companies, has another likely dynamic: countries can start to offer the basic technology of their internet platforms to other countries for a fee, such as China offering small countries in Asia and Africa a whole internet package that comes with local government control. With national platforms come a release from the censorship of Big Tech, so countries can allow diversity on their own platforms. In turn, countries can allow citizens of other countries on their platforms, allowing some seepage of censorship by other countries. This is likely to happen, if only for reasons of strategic competition between blocks of countries, ie to undermine the other countries. So then we’re back in the 1980s news landscape when it comes to censorship: something that exists somewhat at the national level but with high international leakage.

There are many other developments that might change the balance, but at present trends it looks to me like the ability of internet giants to censor what people get to read is likely to diminish in both the short and the longer run even in the presence of those returns to scale. For mainstream national audiences my main scenario is then that diversity offerings will depend on what is allowed to run on a national internet platform. Diversity of content will then need a nationalism that wants diversity of content.

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12 Responses to On censorship in Australia and elsewhere

  1. conrad says:

    At least for media, I don’t consider these companies a monopoly and hence I don’t see the problem with them censoring stuff — they’re private companies not public institutions, and what companies don’t have at least implicit guidelines about how people can act and what they can say?

    The interesting thing here is that this sort of behavior is at least in part demonopolising them — You can already see the movement away from Facebook, for example, which does censor things to other platforms that don’t. However, the effect of that seems to me to promote echo chambers and polarisation, so you end up with social media for specific groups (as already happens with ‘news’ like from CNN vs. Fox).

    • paul frijters says:

      I have heard the argument that private companies should be allowed to censor in any way they want. It doesn’t matter too much for the points in the post, but I disagree with that argument for two main reasons. The first is that these internet companies used to run on a promise that they would not censor, and as such are breaking a long-term promise that helped them get big. A second one is that these companies have taken on a semi-public role, something Nick used to celebrate when he talked about how they were creating large public goods (google maps and such). With a public role comes great power and great responsibility. It is then not unreasonable to expect them to be scrupulously neutral when it comes to public debates held on their platforms. If ‘saying something’ now means ‘saying it via a Big Tech platform’ 90% of the time, then ‘your right to say something’ is intimately related to ‘your right to say it on a Big Tech platform’.

      You might like how they censor today, but as Angela Merkel remarked when Trump got kicked off Twitter, these developments are deeply worrying from a health-of-democracy point of view because they will almost surely censor something close to your heart at some point. In effect, Big Tech has attained the power of large countries but are somewhat situated inside many countries. The question of what rules they should live by when it comes to free speech is then highly relevant.

      They might not be monopolies indeed, but they have so much clout that they have major political power. And indeed, what you call demonopolising is discussed in the post too under the term ‘will competition solve this?’

      It seems to me that these debates are exactly the ones they should be having in the parliaments of Australia, but instead they go after the people censored BY these private companies.

  2. ianl says:

    … they [Aus Parliaments] go after the people censored BY these private companies”

    Yes, but why might that be ? Perhaps because as a quid pro quo, Big Tech can smash dissent that Big Gov dislikes in return (as an example) for maintaining the legal fiction that Big Tech are only platforms for expression, not publishers, freeing them from the threat of defamation litigation.

    Lucky Zucky, Facebook King, had several private one-on-one’s with Merkel after being sinuously threatened with legislation addressing the platform/publisher issue, and each of these little tetes ended with Zucky going on his way unhindered, no comment from Merkel …some time later Facebook heave-ho’ed dissenters Merkel had found peculiarly irritating. The fact of these meetings was reported but not the results; cause and effect needed observation. Doubtless, ye olde Conspiracy Ideation will be levelled here; the Aus Parliaments are demonstrating the untruth of that, and even pf notices the effect.

    • paul frijters says:

      “even pf notices the effect”. Nice :-)
      In this case, no offense taken because it is sort of true. I dont notice this kind of thing quickly and I am much slower to jump to conclusions on them because of my extensive prior training on issues of causality and the trustworthiness of authority. I will even go so far as to say that this is exactly the kind of quick pattern search and preliminary conclusion that comes from outside normal academia/officialdom and is vitally needed when governments BS to the degree they do now: your inference is very much in the possibility space and one that may well become mainstream too at some time. Indeed, do have a read of the Great Covid Panic when it comes out….

  3. KT2 says:

    Censorship! “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan. Plus vigilance.

    All videos are still online Paul.

    Gizmodo link below has Sky censored videos linked – as in – even if you have one eye and one finger, you may still view them. Claytons Censorship. 

    Any reference Paul for “these internet companies used to run on a promise that they would not censor, and as such are breaking a long-term promise that helped them get big.”. You believed them?!

    You said in reply to Conrad “will competition solve this?’. No, but almost frictionless technology has.

    ianl says:
    “…. each of these little tetes ended with Zucky going on his way unhindered, no comment from Merkel …some time later Facebook heave-ho’ed dissenters Merkel had found peculiarly irritating.”
    Paul replied “even pf notices the effect”. Nice :-)”
    I think you need to up your search knowlege.

    I searched “dissenters Merkel removed from facebook after meeting Zuckerberg”.

    “Angela Merkel Confronts Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Hate-Post Policy
    YouTube · Bloomberg Quicktake
    29 Sept 2015
    3:43:23

    “Facebook, Twitter, Google CEOs Testify At Senate Hearing | NBC News
    YouTube · NBC News
    29 Oct 2020
    In this video In this video
    10 key moments
    1:29:52

    “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Meeting with European Parliament
    C-SPAN
    22 May 2018
    *

    Lord Beaverbrook, exemplar of bait and both ways censorship.

    1952 LORD OAKSEY said “but there is no legal sanction for publishing low newspapers”

    “The Spectator
    “LORD BEAVERBROOK—THE CENSOR
    7 May 1924, Page 5

    ”  The whole thing is a mare’s nest, as Lord Beaverbrook would have soon found out if he had taken the trouble to verify his references and to study his documents. Instead, however, of looking up the matter, he let the desire to injure a man with whom he was angry and wanted to ” down ” lead him! ”
    http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/17th-may-1924/5/lord-beaverbrookthe-censor
    *

    Paul, you contexturalise this as 
    “McCarthy-like hearings to intimidate those whose opinions have fallen into (foreign) disfavour?”. Lord Beaverbrook would hire you.

    Hmmm… it has a ring to it – Senate Estimates & Intimidate. Yes, ol Rupe, Sky, Rowan, Andrew, Rita, Bitchute (I’ll get to them) etc can be seen cowering in the corner.

    Or is it an “editorial decision” 
    Or how about a corporate maneuver “ahead of a grilling by the Senate on Friday.” – BBC link.

    “Sky News Australia executives are due to face a parliamentary inquiry on Friday, afterYouTube on 1 August penalised the channel’s Covid coverage.”

    Business Insuder says “Facebook posts from their Page had more total interactions last month than the ABC News, SBS News, 7News Australia, 9 News and 10 News First Pages – and they’ve had more shares than all of them combined”. This is a CENSORSHIP beat up and marketing ploy “In August the company announced new partnerships with YouTube and Facebook.”

    “We do allow for videos that have sufficient countervailing context, which the violative videos did not provide” says YouTube.

    Crikey says “Google is actually paying Sky News to promote content.”

    Gizmodo says “Take A Look At Some Of The Sky News Videos YouTube Removed”, and, “”YouTube May Have Banned Sky News, But It Still Launched A New Free-To-Air Channel”.
    *

    A media hacks trick so they may use it to write more “Alan & Clive are so hard done by” culture war hit stories. Ozfail newscorpse’s fave ink and angst generation method. 

    Paul, context. Your OP is all your way yet…”the day after the Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’s regular column amid controversy about his Covid-19 commentary which included calling the New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program.”

    Or maybe because the sky nite heads were naughty on numerous occasions over a lifetime, and paused posting for SEVEN WHOLE DAYS out of 550 days. Oh woe is me. 
    *

    Alan Jones has a long history of faux censorship…

    “Sky News Australia has declined to comment. “But its parent company, News Corp Australia, told local media the network had taken an “editorial decision” to remove the videos.”

    I’ve been censored here at club pony for less.

    Paul, anyone – would you let your kids listen to Alan Jones for ever?
    *

    “Sky News Australia removes Covid misinformation clips

    “Murdoch is quietly scrubbing incriminating Covid-19 misinformation videos from websites ahead of a grilling by the Senate on Friday. Dozens of videos have vanished with no correction or apology for spreading dangerous lies. But don’t worry; we have copies. #MurdochRoyalCommissionpic.twitter.com/4oYXB4mV3t— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) August 8, 2021

    “One video showed Mr Jones questioning the legitimacy of the pandemic, erroneously claiming it wasn’t worse than the “common cold”.”
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-58168048
    *

    “Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube 

    for seven days 

    after violating its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos which denied the existence of Covid-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin.

    “The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’s regular column amid controversy about his Covid-19 commentary which included calling the New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/aug/01/sky-news-australia-banned-from-youtube-for-seven-days-over-covid-misinformation
    *

    Alan Jones has a reputation. And media watch defends A Jones!

    Media Watch – “Alan Jones’s chaff bag is filling up fast”

    “Alan Jones: It is absolutely laughable. The woman’s off her tree and quite frankly they should shove her and Bob Brown in a chaff bag and take them as far out to sea as they can and tell them to swim home.”
    — 2GB, Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 6th July, 2012

    “… they made formal complaints to ACMA. It took until May this year for the regulator to decide that Alan Jones didn’t…
    “… incite, encourage or present for its own sake violence or brutality…
    — ACMA Investigations Reports 2674 & 2717, 17th May, 2012

    “And nor did he
    …offend generally accepted standards of decency…
    — ACMA Investigations Reports 2674 & 2717, 17th May, 2012

    “For what it’s worth, I agree with both decisions. For the regulator to censure political comment, the bar needs to be set very high indeed.”

    (Then Alan cried and played his violin in a few interviews to ‘atone’. And started with the chaff bag again)

    Back to Media Watch;
    “And just in case you think Alan is a one-trick pony, he makes plenty of other little jokes at the Prime Minister’s expense. This one, I think, is my current favourite…
        “Alan Jones: We’re being warned that Sydney is being invaded by a new breed of super rats that are immune to poison, a bit like Julia Gillard & Co. Immune to poison, too smart to get caught in the traps …”
    — 2GB, Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 31st May, 2012
    https://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/episodes/alan-joness-chaff-bag-is-filling-up-fast/9973982
    *

    “2GB suspends ads on Alan Jones breakfast show and accuses opponents of cyber bullying advertisers [lol – oh the irony!]

    “The move follows the continuing backlash to Jones’ comments in a speech that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father died of shame.

    “The announcement was accompanied by a lengthy statement from Macquarie Radio Network boss Russell Tate accusing opponents of Jones of “21st Century censorship, via cyber bullying”.

    Tate’s comments:

    “What we are seeing here is 21st Century censorship, via cyber-bullying.”
    https://mumbrella.com.au/2gb-suspends-ads-on-alan-jones-breakfast-show-and-accuses-opponents-of-cyber-bullying-advertisers-120581
    *

    CENSORED – ( in this context the word censored is as loose a term as ‘lockdowns’):

    “Media watchdog looks at fewer than one in 10 complaints about Sky News
    “The Australian Communications and Media Authority admits that of 77 complaints over 18 months, only six were assessed.
    https://www.crikey.com.au/2021/08/18/acma-looks-fewer-one-in-10-complaints-sky-news/

    https://mumbrella.com.au/sky-news-posts-best-half-yearly-results-on-record-ahead-of-alan-jones-shows-debut-633574

    https://mumbrella.com.au/alan-jones-to-host-new-weeknight-primetime-program-on-sky-news-631852

    https://mumbrella.com.au/alan-jones-highly-offensive-jacinda-ardern-comments-breached-broadcasting-rules-acma-628733

    https://mumbrella.com.au/nine-admits-alan-jones-boycott-hurt-macquarie-media-denies-editorial-interference-on-bushfires-coverage-606340

    https://www.health.gov.au/news/chief-medical-officers-interview-with-alan-jones-on-2gb-about-coronavirus-covid-19

    “ALAN JONES: 
    The Prime Minister’s on the line. Prime Minister, good morning.
    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan.”…
    https://www.pm.gov.au/media/interview-alan-jones-2gb-6
    *

    “Don’t thank YouTube for suspending Sky News. It’s a monster of its own making.
    ….
    “Beyond the obvious ramifications for Sky News, this decision should be seen as an example of an unaccountable global behemoth with more control over the spread of information than anyone — yes, even more than Rupert Murdoch — which has only now decided to act on a problem that is of its own making.

    “Sky News Australia’s hard-to-comprehend scale is possible because tech giants have been willing to let it get this big. In 2019, Sky News signed partnerships with YouTube and Facebook (where it is also enormous) which gave it “increased reach” and allowed it to “monetise their trusted news content”, according to new CEO Paul Whittaker.

    “Sky News is now a member of YouTube Partner Program, along with outlets like ABC News, which allows it to earn directly from the ads running on its videos.

    “A 2019 algorithm change designed to curb misinformation by limiting fringe channels that supercharged fellow News Corp channel Fox News also benefited Sky News, promoting its fringe opinion content as it would with high quality news from other sources.

    “Google is actually paying Sky News to promote content.

    “Sky News’ stumble may feel like a win for those who abhor the fringe views of its nighttime hosts, but it’s actually another reminder that control over what kind of information is allowed rests in the hands of unelected Silicon Valley tech types. And needless to say, they’re not motivated by concern for the health of Australia’s media ecosystem.”
    https://www.crikey.com.au/2021/08/02/youtube-sky-news-pandemic-misinformation/
    *

    “Take A Look At Some Of The Sky News Videos YouTube Removed

    “Five of the six videos that The Guardian Australia found were from the Outsiders programme, which is hosted by Dean and Panahi.

    “YouTube May Have Banned Sky News, But It Still Launched A New Free-To-Air Channel

    “The Guardian Australia also found at least five videos that were deleted were promoting either hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as effective treatments for COVID-19, despite the fact that neither have been approved.

    Paul says “that a big reason for the censorship was that Alan Jones was “questioning public health orders”. Might I quietly say ‘Wow’?” 

    * Here is the missing context Paul *

    “One of which was a video in which Alan Jones interviewed Clive Palmer after he purchased nearly 33 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for Australians.”…
    https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2021/08/sky-news-australia-youtube-removed-videos/
    *

    ‘In digital, the right-wing material is 24/7’: How Sky News quietly became Australia’s biggest news channel on social media

    “It was hoped that Jones would bring his massive radio audience with him.

    “He didn’t. Only a week into his tenure, “Alan Jones” had fewer than 60,000 viewers. By comparison, the ABC’s flagship news program “7.30” gets more than ten times that and both Seven and Nine’s evening news bulletins regularly reach more than a million viewers.

    “But the coverage of Jones and Sky News ratings was missing a much more interesting story.

    “Sky News Australia had successfully built a Fox News-like online operation in Australia, making it one of Australian media’s digital leaders with a reach that dwarfs its terrestrial audience numbers.

    “Remarkably, it has taken just over a year to cement its place as one of the nation’s loudest online voices, despite having a significantly smaller operation than its competitors.

    “On YouTube, their videos have been viewed 500 million times, more than any other Australian media organisation.

    “Facebook posts from their Page had more total interactions last month than the ABC News, SBS News, 7News Australia, 9 News and 10 News First Pages – and they’ve had more shares than all of them combined.”
    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/sky-news-australia-biggest-social-media-channel-culture-wars-2020-11
    *

    HOUSE OF LORDS
    KEMSLEY, APPELLANT; 
    AND 
    FOOT AND OTHERS, RESPONDENTS
    See authoritative, annnotated version at [1952] A.C. 345
    1952 Feb. 25

    “Is there, then, in this case sufficient subject-matter upon which to make comment? In an article which is concerned with what has been described as “the Beaverbrook Press” and which is violently critical of Lord Beaverbrook’s newspapers, it is, I think, a reasonable construction of the words “Lower than Kemsley” that the allegation which is made is that the conduct of the Kemsley Press was similar to but not quite so bad as that of the press controlled by Lord Beaverbrook, i.e., it is possibly dishonest, but in any case low. The exact meaning, however, is not, in my opinion, for your Lordships but for the jury.”

    LORD OAKSEY
    “It may be a statement of fact to say that a man is fraudulent, for there is a legal sanction for fraud, but there is no legal sanction for publishing low newspapers. I think, therefore, that the words “lower than” are words of comment and that the particulars which are sought to be struck out were alleged for the purpose of supporting the comment; and if it is proved to the satisfaction of the jury that an honest man might have made such a comment on Lord Kemsley’s newspapers, the defence of fair comment will have been established. It is one thing to publish a defamatory statement of fact; it is quite another to allege a defamatory statement of fact in a pleading in order to show that a published comment was fair.” …
    http://www.uniset.ca/other/cs3/1952AC345.html
    *

    Thanks. 
    Apologies I couldn’t make this shorter. 

  4. Chris Lloyd says:

    What a stimulating read, as usual.

    For this consumer, there are no feasible alternatives to FB, Google and Twitter that have appeared within my vision window. When I argue that FB has near monopoly power, some friends rightly point to MySpace’s and Netscape’s demise. My single data point is that I have not heard of ANY of the alternatives you mentioned apart from duckduckgo – which I find rather unsatisfactory.

    Is your view that the existence of these alternatives is suppressed and then they are quickly bought out? I do not see how the marke solves any of this, any more than it did when General Electric was forcibly separated from General Motors.

    I must confess that I also did not really understand your long term argument that national governments will allow access to their networks and this will somehow be a solution to the big-Tech hegemony.

    And what is your solution to communications platforms becoming completely partisan. This is one likely equilibrium of the market mechanism you describe. And while it satisfied the diversity requirement it destroys society.

    • paul frijters says:

      Hi Chris,

      thanks.
      Yes, the competition is treated by the big ones like competition. Hence they try to make their life difficult or buy them out. With those strong returns to scale, competition between profit maximisers will indeed no solve it.

      My long-term argument is that communities will build their own internet, or at least a place with some key functions on it. Could be countries, but also big cities or regions or religious communities. If countries or cities have their own platform, they could encourage diversity on it.

      Partisan but diverse media is an entirely acceptable solution as far as I am concerned. That was the equilibrium in the Netherlands for over a century: different communities had their own church, their own media, their own jobs, their own political party, their own truth, their own schools, etc. There was a small group in the middle of the communities and a joint project in terms of the central government that was there for the rule of law, defence, and such. Worked pretty good. No wars between the communities, but plenty of verbal jousting. We cannot go back to all of that diversity, but partisan (yet diverse) media is way preferable over what we have now (which is media that is inherently loss making and thus only viable as outright propaganda instrument).

      • Chris Lloyd says:

        Thanks Paul. Well, I cannot agree with you that breaking media up into completely partisan islands of alternative truth is stable, let alone desirable. My solution was outlined in my post earlier this year on FB where I recommended government forcibly altering thei algorithm to establish links between otherwise unlinked users.

        I do not know anythign of the history of Dutch politics obviously. I look the the US example of where balkanisation of information leads. And I reckon Australia might have 20 years to avoid the same.

        I do indeed get my alternative news from various sources like Coleman Hughes and Tom Switzer. But I also listen to Ezra Klein and the NYT Daily. I even listen to Ben Shapiro about once a month when I have not eaten recently. But most people will not go to this trouble.

        • paul frijters says:

          Hi Chris,

          two years ago I would have agreed with you, so this is one area in which I have changed my mind. The question is whether it is actually good or not to be united by a single truth. I definitely used to think the answer was ‘yes’, but no longer. Better to be united by common interests whilst having quite a few truths at the same time. There is danger in having any truth dominate, at least ‘truth’ in particular spheres (like religion and society).

          I have come to agree with the insight of Adam Smith that you actually do not want a single religion in any large territory because it then becomes intolerant. What you want is several competing ones so that members can vote with their feet and thus keep all of the individual ‘truths’ in check, united by common interests and some sense of shared identity not depending on that truth. He was thinking about Europe as having the problem of too few religions whilst he thought the diversity of religions in the US kept the system as a whole there more stable. In hindsight, I think he had an important point.

          The problem with having radical diversity in truth might seem that one still needs some way to recognise mutual interests and a shared identity at that level, but I have come to think it might be the other way round: having a strong sense of own community and truth makes it easier to recognise the mutual interests shared with other communities in the same country, and to have a degree of oneness around those common interests.

          Its a tough issue though, illuminated more by history and examples than introspection or ‘principle’.

  5. Jerry Roberts says:

    I think it is about the vaccines, Paul, although Jones and Sky have been going to town on the lock-downs. Sky Channel has been on free-to-air in outback Australia and disappeared soon after the Jones interview with Peter McCullough. It is ironic for reporters of my vintage. In my newspaper days, professionals, especially doctors, were reluctant to speak on the record. Their professional associations discouraged them and they were often conservative by nature and shy of the media. Now such leading clinicians as McCullough are prepared to stand up and they are being censored.

    • paul frijters says:

      Hi Jerry,

      you may well be right that this is about vaccines. Hard to know in the current climate what bit offended which censors.

      And yes, I agree with you, many professionals have stood up in this saga, though the mainstream has been shielded from that realisation. Everywhere in the West groups of doctors, scientists, teachers, policemen and others have stood up to be counted. The kernel of renewal is there.

      Part of the problem in organisation has been that the Covistance is only united around what it is against. The many subgroups are otherwise extremely diverse and not in favour of the same thing. I am in favour of a ‘Relightenment’ but I am not sure how many that appeals to.

  6. I agree with you that we live in an age of unprecedented censorship conceived of and enforced by a handful of international companies.

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