Western civilization has a problem – well, it has many problems – but it has a big problem when it comes to the treatment of ‘truth’.
The Ukraine-Russia war has sent social media into a frenzy of ‘fake news’ and censorship. Silicon Valley’s dominance over ‘truth’ was birthed by ‘Climate Change’, cultivated during Covid, and is now being trialed in its first hot war scenario.
Have corporate oligarchs been experimenting with human behavior for the past two years, manipulating the flow of information in pursuit of both business and political interests? Almost certainly. The increasing degree with which they have to rely on algorithms to disrupt information shows that they are losing the information war, one post at a time.
While humanity waits for social media to bend the knee to free speech, social media has a significant role to play in the next global conflict.
Whether by accident or design, social media’s ability to spread information at speed – far greater than the radios, TVs, and pamphlets of previous wars – has become a weapon; loaded, cocked, and aimed. Its ammunition comes in the dissemination of truth where ‘truth’ is whatever it needs to be in order to win a very real war.
The Ukraine-Russia conflict has seen a tide of content enter social media. Historically, content is created primarily by ordinary users, but what we are seeing is an influx of posts from official government sources and extensive bot farms run as a military operation. This is standard practice in times of conflict, particularly at the hands of a collectivist regime that already uses mass propaganda to deceive and placate their domestic population. Instead of posters and radio broadcasts, we get tweets and thirty-second Facebook clips that may (or may not) be real.
This manipulation of truth by governments and state-run media is widely held in a negative light.
While it is true that all political regimes meddle in our understanding of truth, the West has recently been able to exist with the relatively free flow of information – at least, until ten years ago when the distrust of MSM and Silicon Valley oligarchs began to mimic their communist brethren.
The point being, those alive in the West have become aware of a drastic increase in the politicization of information. It has caused some people, particularly conservatives and libertarians, to distrust all media while those on the left have entered a form of ‘media worship’ for left-wing publications and violent hatred of anything else which they want to see cancelled and silenced for ‘safety’.
Of course, the ‘truth’ is important.
In a world of lies, there is an understandable desire to dig through to the absolute truth of the conflicts stirring up around us. In previous ages of humanity, ordinary people were either on the frontline or waiting for weeks to hear the state-approved version of the battle.
Normally, truth is crucial but in the midst of war, propaganda can save lives, prevent chaos, and – in some cases – turn a guaranteed defeat into an historic victory.
Imagine how many times in the past a small castle or town was surrounded by a more powerful army. There is no diplomatic way out of the conflict. The aggressor does not accept terms – they are a force that murders its way across the continent. Those doomed humans inside the town have no choice but to fight. A smart leader – a leader that wants to give those people the best possible chance of survival – will stand in front of them and lie about their chances of victory.
Building moral in pre-war speeches as the soldiers gather in the mud is propaganda identical to the Ukraine government flooding social media with memes, reports, and stories of Ukraine victories over the Russian aggressors. By exaggerating the positives and under-reporting negatives, the surviving Ukrainian people feel as if there is hope and fight with considerably more strength and determination than if they were drowned in tweets about Russian superiority.
After the war is over, by all means, pick through the mess of social media and weed out the truth from the lies. During war? The current generation in the West must acclimatize itself to the oddities of war, where the rules of life exist like a twilight reality.
To save humans – to save their civilizations – often you have to lie to them.
There’s a reason the most successful empires in history idolized heroes, gods, and kings. The point was not to paint an accurate picture of these identities, it was to give the people something to aspire to that sat above the imperfections and failures of their current state. Watching the West tear down its historical statues and rewrite history with an emphasis on its failures is an indication of an empire nearing collapse. When civilizations no longer idolize themselves, they quickly fall prey to self-assured conquerors (who likely have more bloodthirsty pasts).
To break it down further, propaganda during war is essential for the same reason we lie to children to protect them from horror. Governments know that, if they survive, the truth they concealed will be revealed. Think of propaganda as a temporary suspension of truth.
It is here that the West has a major flaw in its psyche.
When explained, it is easy enough to understand the need for misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda – but the West is in the middle of a Marxist conquest. The nuances of ‘truth’ used to be understood. Events had absolute truths and opinions that surrounded them. Those opinions had to bow to immutable facts where ‘feelings’ – while interesting – were not supreme to reality.
Postmodernism (which is Marxism in disguise) filtered into American universities from France where it worked its way into every academic subject insisting that there was ‘no such thing as absolute truth’. Removing absolute truth was the key mechanism by which the West’s history could be torn down. ‘Truth’ has become the obsession of revisionists looking to color history to corrupt modern politics.
The point being, ‘truth’ is a powerful political tool, even if it is a lie.
Once ‘truth’ is devalued in this matter, the philosophy of ‘my truth’ quickly mutated into ‘approved truth’. That is, the truth agreed on by a cabal of social media giants, politicians, and corporations.
Propaganda during war is not a lingering problem for survival, but allowing the population to become dependent on this mechanism as its only source of ‘truth’ is cataclysmic. The greatest concern is that while the open forum of free speech allows propaganda and reality to co-exist, social media as the supreme enforcer of dogma is extremely dangerous.
It is easier to see the danger of this through the prism of Covid. Social media considers it a ‘threat to public health’ for a citizen to report on or complain about suffering serious injury at the hands of a government health mandate. If citizens remain free to discuss their personal experience, no amount of propaganda – however powerful – can survive. The government will eventually be held to account.
Before criticizing Ukraine for its social media presence, remember that they are those ill-fated soldiers assembled in the mud, staring down certain death. For them, to see a tweet and believe that there is hope, not only makes their terrifying fate more bearable, it might actually change the outcome of the war.
Alexandra Marshall (@ellymelly on Twitter) is editor of the The Spectator Australia, and a political opinion commentator for Rebel News Australia, The Good Sauce, Penthouse Australia, Caldron Pool, and is a Sky News Australia contributor. She is also an AI database designer for the retail industry and a Young Ambassador with the ACM.ALL AUTHOR POSTS