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Re: <nettime> Troll factories in some shitty St Petersburg office?
Kevin Flanagan on Mon, 19 Mar 2018 00:26:14 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Troll factories in some shitty St Petersburg office?


My mail bounced so I'm trying again -

Part of the power ascribed to Neoliberalism is it's valorization in the theoretical abstractions of the left, which mirrors in many ways how capitalism is conceptualised as an all encompassing totality rather than a material process, historically and geographically located.

Terms like neoliberalism are a challenge but it is critical to locate it's intellectual developments and impacts in historical terms. The project of the Mont Pelerin Society, the works and influence of the Austrian school of economics are central intellectual pillars for the development of global networks of think tanks for the advocacy of 'free market' policy prescriptions.

In 'Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste' Phillip Mirowski uses data collected by Bernard Walpen on the growth of Mont Pelerin Affiliated Think Tanks which is outdated at this stage Fig. 2.1 https://imgur.com/a/aDoUj

You can also check out - The Atlas Network which boasts '475 free-market organizations in over 90 countries'

https://www.atlasnetwork.org/partners/global-directory
 
This is the result of concerted effort since the cold war to influence policy and it has had very real impacts. Heritage, Heartland, Cato have successfully influence policy in the US. Atlas is a broad church of free marketeers and includes neoliberals and libertarians. Some libertarian organisations maintain relationships with extreme right wing networks. It's hardly a coincidence that members of the Students for Liberty have repeatedly hosted 'alt right' speakers in universities in US and Europe in the name of 'free speech'. As Nancy MacLean puts it the neoliberal project is to put 'Democracy in chains' and I would say they are succeeding.

Mirowski defition of neoliberalism in his postface of the Road to Mont Pelerin was an eye opener for me.

https://www.google.com/search?q=mirowski+defining+neoliberalism+postface&ie=utf-8

Bernard Walpens work on MPS is here -

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=Bernhard+Walpen%3A+Die+offenen+Feinde+und+ihre+Gesellschaft&btnG=


On Sun, Mar 18, 2018 at 9:04 PM, Eric Beck <ersatzdog {AT} gmail.com> wrote:
On Sun, Mar 18, 2018 at 2:23 PM, Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

This is the endgame of the neoliberal program for the total makeover of society, which began in the early Seventies with the Powell memo and the Trilateral Commission declaration on "too much democracy." I

Naw. Neoliberalism is not really an institution-conceived and -directed thing like you seem to think. To the extent that the term usefully describes anything, it would apply to a more or less improvised set of policy and political responses to both the economic downturn of 1973-82 and worldwide resistance and refusal. I know apres Harvey the left thing to do is draw a straight line from the Chicago School to Chile et al., as if all 'ruling elites' had to do was devise a program and administer it on the world. But that's bad history as well as bad theory and is closer to rightwing conspiricizing ("inter-elite conflicts") than Marxist analysis.

Does this bad theory matter ultimately? Probably not, but only because people resisting the current world tend to not care when intellectuals (or is it soothsayers?) notify them that the endgame is here. Just as the intellectual/philosophical reasonings behind neoliberalism came only after their policy tenets were implemented, so left conjunctural analysis tails popular movement, but usually does it poorly and misses the point.

It is remarkable, though, that you can write mellifluously about Russia and Trump and psy-ops etc., but end up not having a single word to say about the fact that the fascist US president and his coterie are working on many fronts with the Russian state and its offshoots on reviving a pan-Western traditionalism that is racist, sexist, antiqueer, and eugenicist. That stuff is less sexy than brainwashing is, but it hits people where they live and comprises the actual content that's being whispered into people's ears.



On Sun, Mar 18, 2018 at 2:23 PM, Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com> wrote:
Kremlebots roll over:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-whistleblower-we-spent-1m-harvesting-millions-of-facebook-profiles-video

Voice of Christopher Wylie, the 28 year-old hipster data scientist:

"We spent a million dollars harvesting tens of millions of Facebook profiles, and those profiles were used as the basis of the algorithms that became the foundation of Cambridge Analytica itself...

"We would know what kinds of messaging you would be susceptible to, including the framing of it, the topics, the content, the tone, whether it's scary, that kind of thing.... what you would be susceptible to and where you're going to consume that, and how many times do we need to touch you in order to make you change how you think about something.

"In addition to having data scientists, and psychologists, and strategists, they also have an entire team of creatives, designers, videographers, photographers.

"They then create that content, that gets then sent to a targeting team, which then injects it into the internet. Websites will be created, blogs will be created. Whatever it is that we think this target profile will be receptive to, we will create content on the internet for them to find. And then they see that, they click, and they go down the rabbit hole - until they start to think something differently.

"Instead of standing in the public square and saying what you think, and letting people come and listen to you, and then having that shared experience as to what your narrative is,  you are whispering into the ear of each and every voter, and you may be whispering one thing to this voter and another thing to another voter. We risk fragmenting society in a way where we don't have any more shared experiences, and we don't have any more shared understanding. If we don't have any more shared understanding, how can we be a functioning society?

"If you want to fundamentally change society, you first have to break it. And it's only when you break it that you can remold the pieces into your vision of a new society. This was the weapon that Steve Bannon wanted to build to fight his culture war."

***

All this was done by a London firm, with money supplied by arch-conservative algotrading meister Robert Mercer. What's more it was done with data harvested from Facebook by a Cambridge-based Russian academic who actually does have an office at some shitty St Petersburg university, and it's not yet known whether the data or even the algorithms ended up there.

I am aware the above has been partially known for months, yes, I read all that. It is still not completely known but the above declarations by a core developer link the major dots and mark a turning point in global history. Either social media is regulated (see Allan Siegal's post) or we knowingly concede entry into a post-democracy of continuous psy-ops and civil information warfare. Where the biggest guns reap all the rewards.

The additional question of whether Trump, Nigel Farage and others can be directly linked to Russian psy-ops programs and/or prosecuted for the use of these techniques raises the specter of intense inter-elite conflicts spilling over into civil unrest, with the further possibility of the US president launching global-scale shooting wars as a diversionary excuse for state-of-emergency tactics.

This is the endgame of the neoliberal program for the total makeover of society, which began in the early Seventies with the Powell memo and the Trilateral Commission declaration on "too much democracy." I think it will be defeated and at least partially purged from both the state and civil society. But obviously nothing assures that outcome.


Also see: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1036 ("Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans")

And the articles:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/17/facebook-cambridge-analytica-kogan-data-algorithm?CMP=share_btn_tw

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christopher-wylie-faceook-nix-bannon-trump

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