Technology × Freedom

Google, Shill of the Establishment

August 21, 2017 invisiblehand

In case you missed it, nitsuj offers a list of tech companies and sites that have abandoned content neutrality in the wake of the Charlottesville event - including Airbnb, Facebook, Reddit, Spotify, Apple, PayPal - and, oh yeah, Google.

Speaking of which, Renegade Inc. has published a thought-provoking piece on Google's ongoing adjustments to its search algorithms, revealing that many independent media sites have experienced diminished search traffic, and suggesting that this is intentional. In a unique twist, the Renegade article points to Google's victims on the left:

New data released by World Socialist Websites (WSWS) revealed that sites such as Wikileaks, The Intercept, Electronic Frontiers Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Organisation, CounterPunch and many other organisations with the audacity to provide context about the activities of federal governments not reported in mainstream publications have experienced a significant drop in traffic after Google altered its algorithm.

The data released by WSWS shows that since Google altered its algorithm, Wikileaks experienced a 30% decline in traffic from Google searches. Democracy Now fell by 36%. Truthout dropped by 25%. Its own traffic dropped by 67% percent over the same period. Alternet saw a 63% decline in traffic. Media Matters saw a 36% drop in traffic. Counterpunch.org fell by 21%. The Intercept fell by 19%.

But wait, you say, I thought Google was a leftist tech company! What are they doing shunning progressive sites from their search results? I pose that the problem lies in the fact that not every political ideology falls neatly in line with the left-to-right spectrum with which we've come to categorize them. In fact, if you were to compare the political right and left of the early 20th century with today's "right" and "left," you'd be hard-pressed to find many similarities. What we've witnessed over the last 100 years is the slow-boiling frog of America's political spectrum that has resulted in the unnoticed death of fundamental principles on both sides. For example, conservatives of the old days were hardline anti-war. Compare that to the Bushes and McCains of today's "conservatism." Likewise, the progressives of the old days were highly distrustful of corporate power and big believers in economic equality. Compare that to former President Obama, who backed Wall Street and bailed out the big banks - or Hillary Clinton, who with her husband has raked in $153 million in speaking fees from large corporations and banks since 2001, and whose foundation appears to be more of a racketeering front than a charitable organization.

Of course, you can't judge the right or the left by its figureheads, which is my point. The genuine political left and right still exist in great numbers and in many varieties among the American population. But the establishment, the "State" - and the official narrative that it tries to peddle through its fourth organ, the media - wants to destroy the genuine right and left with fabricated, effigial versions. Why? Because it becomes easier to contain and control dissenting political views that challenge the status quo when you control people's perceptions about them. Case in point: today's right is now an "alt-right" that is increasingly associated with racism, neo-Nazism, and neo-fascism, while the left is increasingly associated with anarcho-communism, Antifa, and Black Lives Matter. In reality, these extremist factions are relatively small and not representative of most people's views or values. But the media obsesses over these groups' activities, creating a false perception of their prevalence and relevance. By straw-manning anti-authoritarian sentiments on both the right and the left and pitting these sides against one another, the State essentially deflects growing discontent away from itself and creates a political gridlock that allows the status quo - and thus its own power - to continue.

It's true in one sense that Google is left-leaning. But I think it's more helpful to think of Google as establishment-leaning - it wants to preserve the official narrative that benefits, above anyone else, the State. In this way, you can just as easily call Google a neoconservative company, since the neoconservatives that presently control the GOP and the centrist liberals who control the Democratic Party have uncannily similar platforms. Both want perpetual overseas wars, a monopoly central bank cartel, a corporate-government revolving door, a national healthcare and welfare system, and unchecked foreign and domestic surveillance programs. Meanwhile, the neo-Nazi/Antifa narrative is a useful - and some might say deliberately orchestrated - distraction from, and distortion of, the principled, old-school right and left, both of which are pro-freedom, anti-war, and anti-authoritarian. (I disagree with what I call the "principled left" on most economic and some social issues, but that is another matter.)

What I'm describing is what some have rightly called the process of Cultural Marxism, although I prefer the term that blogger Bionic Mosquito uses: Cultural Gramsci-ism. Antonio Gramsci was an Italian communist and dialectical materialist (Hegelian) who believed a utopian society could only be created by destroying traditional Western culture and Christianity in particular. Bionic quotes Gary North:

While firmly committed to global Communism, [Gramsci] knew that that violence would fail to win the West. American workers (proletariat) would never declare war on their middle class neighbors as long as they shared common Christian values. So the Italian communist – a contemporary of Lenin – wrote an alternative plan for a silent revolution. The main weapons would be deception, manipulation and infiltration. Hiding their Marxist ideology, the new Communist warriors would seek positions of influence in seminaries, government, communities, and the media.

Gramsci himself rejected Christianity and all its transcendent claims. Nevertheless, he knew Christian culture existed…. For that was the force binding all the classes… into a single, homogeneous culture. It was a specifically Christian culture, in which individual men and women understood that the most important things about human life transcended the material conditions in which they lived out their mortal lives.

Here's my point. Regardless of what you think about Christianity or "traditional culture," it has remained one of the few forces that has called individuals to a higher allegiance than to the State. Thus, if the State were to seek to destroy anything that stood in the way of centralizing power, then Christianity - or any system that teaches the primacy of one's spiritual over one's material condition - would be Enemy Number One. Why do you think Chinese communists uprooted confucianism, or the Soviets tried to suppress the Russian Orthodoxy?

It's not impossible to suppose that the State has co-opted Gramsci's strategy, knowing what Gramsci was too naive to know: once a unifying culture and value system is destroyed, people do not suddenly become enlightened and selfless, making any need for authority obsolete. They only transfer their allegiance to the State to ensure they get their fair share of the egalitarian utopia they were promised (and maybe a little more).

There's no good reason for Google to politicize its algorithms. That it does speaks to one of two possibilities. Either Google has lost touch with the market and is trying to cater to what it believes to be consumer demand, or else Google is being influenced by the State to facilitate its Gramsci-ist strategy.