I am sure readers of this column are intently aware of the nefarious actions of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in harvesting personal information from 87 million people in order to apply the power of computer algorithms to search out bits of information/prejudices that could be taylour made to manipulate persons on as fine a level as one on one personal perceptions. Based on this massive, minutely analyized information base the Trump campaign was able to micro-target potentially persuadable voters both for Trump and against Hillary Clinton. In typical rightwing strategy this information was also used to discourage voting by those who couldn’t be manipulated to vote Trump.
Of course, the same tactics were employed in the Brexit campaign to promote resentments and fear/hatred of the other.
But it wasn’t just about elections and referendums. Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of this massive ability to manipulate perception has been around issues like climate change where there is a nearly bottomless pit of money available for data mining and tactics on how to defend the interests of the world’s massive petrochemical industry. Recently I was shocked to read posts on a once progressive Comox Valley list serve (an email posting service distributing a received message to a list of subscribers) that had been entirely overrun by the climate change denial bots.
The interesting thing about this turnaround is that I have met the moderator a number of times and know just enough of how s/he looks at the world to be able to take a fairly informed guess about the path a petrochemical bot might take in finding the link/perspective that could turn his/er perceptions.
I know from our conversations that s/he has for a long time been concerned about the attempt by financial giants to entirely take over/own all of nature and its processes. So, voila, the bots start feeding taylour made articles to the listserve on how the hidden/nefarious intention of the “climate change industry” is to ensure the complete financialization of nature.
Seem far fetched? Well, here is the argument in a nutshell, as posted on the list serve, climate change activists “serve as an instrumental vehicle to propel the Green New Deal as the catalyst to unlock the 100 trillion dollars required to unleash the “fourth industrial revolution”. This project, of unparalleled magnitude, is the vehicle to save the flailing global capitalist economic system and bring in the financialization of nature.”
Yikes, this is real, this is the way it works. From this bit of botized info the rest follows like a mighty river from its source.
The next botized info links climate change activism to the colonial repression of the Third World. “Economic growth and CO2 emissions are tightly correlated. This means that if you want to reduce those emissions, you need to fight against economic growth. And where do you find most of the economic growth? In the developing countries and emerging markets, of course. How is it fair for the developed West to stifle economic development of those countries just starting out? Should those people not be connected to the grid, construct houses and factories and water systems – all of which lead to more CO2 emissions? How dare you?”
Having begun with a hook the arguments get ever more vitriolic and Al Gore becomes the devil himself: “Al Gore and the Planet’s most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements exploited by groups like the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF), This is Zero Hour, The Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal.”
Always digging for a sore spot into which it can scratch out ever more resentment the attack goes on: “Until now participating in a Climate Extinction performance has been a risk-free activity. Unlike real protests which always incur serious risks, this week’s performance is unlikely to costs the performance very much. The cost will be borne by an increasingly fed-up public who was never asked whether or not they wanted their life to be turned upside-down.”
And the conspiracy has no bottom, “it must be made clear that the Ocasio-Cortez and Green New Deal frenzy, is part and parcel of the strategy of ‘leading the public into emergency mode’ launched in 2018. In reality, the Green New Deal is window dressing for what is in store. All decisions regarding all “new deals” will not be made by Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrats or any other party. Rather they will be made (and already have been made) by those that comprise the absolute ruling class.” Environmental “organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.”
Of course, Al Gore and the Planet’s most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements where today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite who are intent on “The commodification of almost everything sacred, the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure, will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”
If you have ever wondered about what the resentments CA milks look like here is a perfect example from the listserve ”But ‘doing something about climate change’ is very costly indeed. This means that every cent you put into the ‘fight against climate change’ you cannot put elsewhere. So if you had the choice between, let’s say, investing $1000 in the fight against climate change, or using the same money to save a dying child in Africa, what would you do? Or would you rather ramp up public support for the elderly instead of doling out subventions for rich, ‘green tech’ companies?” And it goes on nearly endlessly digging up possible resentments: “the green energy industry is worth $1.5 trillion dollars. You would be naïve to think that, in this context, it’s all about bleeding heart environmentalism and the truth.” Carbon taxes… “simply make essential products like food, electricity or fuel more expensive, which disproportionately hurts the poor and disadvantaged. The rich don’t care about meat and fuel prices, but those struggling from pay check to pay check certainly do.”
It really doesn’t matter what you come to resent as long as the manipulators can see that handle and move you by it, for instance while on one hand climate change is a capitalist conspiracy, on the other “The media made the hysterical climate propaganda for Marxist proposes, now are trying to control what they sow.” Or it could be the UN, “The UN loves the ingenious “climate refugees” concept. So all productive nations must pay for a new global welfare system.” Or maybe you could be manipulated by blaming the Zionists, “Man made global warming comes from The Club of Rome, and is part of Agenda 21/30, which is part of The New World Order Zionist agenda for global control.”
There is even room for a little humour laced resentment, “You don’t have to be a brilliant physicist to know that Man-Made Global Warming would be a joke if they did not want $25 Trillion to fix it.” If you aren’t terrified yet imagine a world controlled by climate change activists where “meat will become illegal? And then, what’s next? Wake up folks, this is scary stuff!”
But if you think the posts are scary, you likely don’t have the stomach for the comments!
“Yes Al Gore must be a Nazi they like creating mass hysteria.”
“Totalitarian globalists like the UN don’t care about the science. They only care about the politics. That being communism.”
“As the population of the Earth continues to increase it seems that CO2 and food sources are being fashioned by God to meet those needs for and through man. I believe it is extremely arrogant of man to think is can change God’s plan.”
“CO2 has so many benefits for the earth one would have to be crazy to want to reduce it!”
And on it goes. But it starts with a little string of info gleaned by a tiny bit of software. And if we don’t find a way to control this the very idea of information will have, Orwellianly style, become an oxymoron.