Today, we are witnessing the nudging (manipulation) of the population to accept a ‘new normal’ based on a climate emergency narrative, restrictions on movement and travel, programmable digital money, ‘pandemic preparedness’ courtesy of the World Health Organization’s tyrannical pandemic treaty, unaccountable AI and synthetic ‘food’.
Whether it involves a ‘food transition’, an ‘energy transition’, 15-minute cities or some other benign-sounding term, all this is to be determined by a supranational ‘stakeholder’ elite with ordinary people sidelined in the process. An undemocratic agenda designed to place restrictions on individual liberty, marking a dramatic shift towards authoritarianism.
In the 1980s, to help legitimise the deregulation-privatisation neoliberal globalisation agenda, government and media instigated an ideological onslaught, driving home the primacy of ‘free enterprise’, individual rights and responsibility and emphasising a shift away from the role of the state, trade unions and the collective in society.
We are currently seeing another ideological shift:
individual rights and freedoms are said to undermine the wider needs of society and the planet – in a stark turnaround – personal freedom is now said to pose a threat to national security, public health or the climate.
As in the 1980s, this messaging is being driven by an economic impulse. This time, the collapsing neoliberal project.
In the UK, poverty is increasing in two-thirds of communities, food banks are now a necessary part of life for millions of people and living standards are plummeting. Indeed, the poorest families are enduring a ‘frightening’ collapse in living standards, resulting in life-changing and life-limiting poverty).
In the US, around 30 million low-income people are on the edge of a ‘hunger cliff’ as a portion of their federal food assistance is taken away.
In 2021, it was estimated that one in eight children were going hungry in the US. Small businesses are filing for bankruptcy in the US at a record rate.
The Bank of England’s chief economist, Huw Pill, says that people should ‘accept’ being poorer. This is similar to the response of Rob Kapito, co-founder of the world’s biggest asset management firm, BlackRock. In 2022, the unimaginably rich and entitled Kapito said that a “very entitled” generation of (ordinary working) people who have never had to sacrifice would soon have to face shortages for the first time in their lives.
While business as usual prevails in Kapito’s world of privilege and that of major arms, energy, pharmaceuticals and food companies, whose megarich owners continue to rake in massive profits, Kapito and Pill tell ordinary people to get used to poverty and the ‘new normal’ as if we are ‘all in it together’ – billionaires and working class alike. They conveniently use COVID and the situation in Ukraine as cover for the collapsing neoliberalism.
But this is part of the hegemonic agenda that seeks to ensure that the establishment’s world view is the accepted cultural norm. And anyone who challenges this world view – whether it involves, for instance, questioning climate alarmism, the ‘new normal’, the nature of the economic crisis, the mainstream COVID narrative or the official stance on Ukraine and Russia – is regarded as a spreader of misinformation and the ‘enemy within’.
Although the term ‘enemy within’ was popularised by Margaret Thatcher during the miners’ strike in 1984-85 to describe the striking miners, it is a notion with which Britain’s rulers have regarded protest movements and uprisings down the centuries. From the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 to the Levellers and Diggers in the 17th century, it is a concept associated with anyone or any group that challenges the existing social order and the interests of the ruling class.
John Ball, a radical priest, addressed the Peasants’ Revolt rebels with the following words:
“Good friends, matters cannot go well in England until all things be held in common; when there shall be neither vassals nor lords; when the lords shall be no more masters than ourselves.”
The revolt was suppressed. John Ball was captured and hung, drawn and quartered. Part of the blood-soaked history of the British ruling class.
Later on, the 17th-century Diggers movement wanted to create small, egalitarian rural communities and farm on common land that had been privatised by enclosures.
The 1975 song ‘The world Turned Upside Down’ by Leon Rosselson commemorates the Diggers. His lyrics describe the aims and plight of the movement. In Rosselson’s words, the Diggers were dispossessed via theft and murder but reclaimed what was theirs only to be violently put down.
Little surprise then that, in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher used the state machinery to defeat the country’s most powerful and trade union and the shock troops of the labour movement, the National Union of Mineworkers – ‘the enemy within’. She needed to do this to open the gates for capital to profit from the subsequent deindustrialisation of much of the UK and the dismantling of large parts of the welfare state.
And the result?
A hollowed-out, debt-bloated economy, the destruction of the social fabric of entire communities and the great financial Ponzi scheme – the ‘miracle’ of deregulated finance – that now teeters on the brink of collapse, leading the likes of Kapito and Pill to tell the public to get ready to become poor.
And now, in 2023, the latest version of the ‘enemy within’ disseminates ‘misinformation’ – anything that challenges the official state-corporate narrative. So, this time, one goal is to have a fully controlled (censored) internet.
For instance, US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) recently awarded Accrete a contract for Argus to detect disinformation threats from social media. Argus is AI software that analyses social media data to predict emergent narratives and generate intelligence reports at a speed and scale to help neutralise viral disinformation threats.
Image copyright guirong hao | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
In a recent press release, Prashant Bhuyan, founder and CEO of Accrete, boasts:
“Social media is widely recognised as an unregulated environment where adversaries routinely exploit reasoning vulnerabilities and manipulate behaviour through the intentional spread of disinformation. USSOCOM is at the tip of the spear in recognising the critical need to identify and analytically predict social media narratives at an embryonic stage before those narratives evolve and gain traction. Accrete is proud to support USSOCOM’s mission.”
This is about predicting wrong think on social media. But control over the internet is just part of a wider programme of establishment domination, surveillance and dealing with protest and dissent.
The recent online article ‘How the Government Weaponizes Surveillance to Silence Its Critics‘ notes that, on any given day, the average person in the US is monitored, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways.
The authors of the article ask us to consider some of the ways the US government is weaponizing its surveillance technologies to flag citizens as a threat to national security, whether or not they have done anything wrong – from flagging citizens as a danger based on their feelings, phone and movements to their spending activities, social media activities, political views and correspondence.
The elite has determined that the existential threat is you. The article ‘Costs of War: Peterloo’, written by UK Veterans for Peace member Aly Renwick, details the history of the brutal suppression of protesters by Britain’s rulers. He also strips away any notion that some may have of a benign, present-day ruling elite with democratic leanings. The leopard has not changed its spots.
As we saw during COVID, the thinking is that hard-won rights must be curtailed, freedom of association is reckless, free thinking is dangerous, dissent is to be stamped on, impartial science is a threat and free speech is deadly. Government is ‘the truth’, Fauci (or some similar figure) is ‘the science’ and censorship is for your own good.
None of this was justified. It only begins to make sense if we regard the COVID restrictions in terms of trying to deal with an economic crisis by closing down the global economy under cover of a public health crisis (see the online articles ‘What Was Covid Really About? Triggering a Multi-Trillion Dollar Global Debt Crisis’ and ‘Italy 2020: Inside Covid’s Ground Zero’ which outline how COVID policies can be explained by economic factors not health concerns).
The economic crisis is making many people poorer, so they must be controlled, monitored and subjugated.
The transitions mentioned at the start of this article along with the surveillance agenda (together known as the ‘Great Reset’) are being accelerated at this time of economic crisis when countless millions across the West are being impoverished. The collapsing financial system is resulting in an interrelated global debt, inflation and ‘austerity’ crisis and the biggest transfer of wealth to the rich in history.
As a result, the powers that be fear that the masses might once again pick up their pitchforks and revolt. They are adamant that the peasants must know their place.
But the flame of protest and dissent from centuries past still inspires and burns bright. So, with that in mind, let’s finish with Leon Rosselson’s lyrics in reference to the Diggers movement (Billy Bragg’s version of the song can be found on YouTube):
In sixteen forty-nine
To St. George’s Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs
We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste grounds grow
This earth divided
We will makе whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all
Thе sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command
They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor man starve
We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
Only the vision lingers on
You poor take courage
You rich take care
The earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The order came to cut them down
We come in peace
The order came to cut them down
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Renowned author Colin Todhunter specialises in development, food and agriculture. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).