Spotify Purges Dissident Voices In Latest Censorship Escalation
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Multiple American podcasters who speak critically of the political status quo in their country are reporting that their channels have been shut down as the censorship campaign against Russia-backed media continues to escalate. These include Moment of Clarity with Lee Camp, The Politics of Survival with Tara Reade, and By Any Means Necessary on Radio Sputnik.
"My podcast 'Moment of Clarity' has been removed from Spotify," Camp tweeted Wednesday. "Let it be known - you can do anti-women, anti-trans or racist content on Spotify but you can’t be anti-war. That’s not allowed."
"Without explanation or notice, Spotify has removed By Any Means Necessary from their platform, but we're not going anywhere!" said the program's Twitter account. "There's a clear effort in motion to suppress anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist voices, join us in the fight by spreading the word!"
"You can still find my podcast on other platforms even though Spotify inexplicably removed it," tweeted Reade.
This comes as Spotify closes its office in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
It is true that these podcasters have been platformed by Russian state-sponsored media. It is also true that their grievances against their government are authentic, legitimate, and frequently excellent, as you can easily ascertain by listening to them for yourself. It's easy to tell that these are nothing other than Americans who know about the malfeasance of their government and its allies and want to talk about it, and accepted a platform from the only place that would let them speak.
There's this bizarre, stupid notion people have accepted that socialist and antiwar voices should never allow Russian media to platform them, and should instead wait until they are given a large platform by western mainstream media, and keep waiting, and waiting, and just keep on waiting until we all die in a nuclear holocaust. Like it's your job to help the oligarchic empire marginalize and silence you, even when you know you're right and you're speaking the truth. Like you're obligated to collaborate with their narrative management.
If you have something important to say and you know it's a true and helpful message, then it doesn't matter if it's the Russian government who's giving you your platform or anyone else, because the message itself is intrinsically valuable. Lee Camp did a great bit on this back in 2017 when people were beginning to shriek about the fact that his show Redacted Tonight is on RT America, mocking the idea that an American in America sharing his own ideas about America could somehow be a horrifying psychological weapon of the Russians.
Unfortunately the link I have for it is on YouTube, which means that since it's on RT's channel you won't be able to watch it if you're in Europe and don't have a VPN because the Google-owned video sharing platform is censoring it there. Here it is for everyone else:
"It’s so backwards that I’m at the only network in all of US media that allows me to be anti-war. And for doing that, I’m called a war apologist," Camp told me. "It’s being used to eliminate the tiny bit of remaining left wing voices."
"It is another sign of the Western government failing when they have to silence voices with suppression and censorship," Reade said of her de-platforming from Spotify.
Russia doesn't write the scripts for what these dissident voices say on their platforms, it just gives them a platform to say it. The kind of platform that has been bolted shut to them in western media, where only voices which support the capitalist imperialist status quo are permitted to have a seat. As Noam Chomsky famously told the BBC's Andrew Marr, "I'm sure you believe everything you're saying. But what I'm saying is that if you believed something different, you wouldn't been sitting where you're sitting."
Does Russia benefit in some way by amplifying western critics of oligarchy and empire? Sure, to an extent. It benefits from a greater awareness in the west of the horrific nature of western imperialism, of the lies we're fed daily to hold the oligarchic empire together and feed its war machine, of the dangers of NATO expansionism and nuclear brinkmanship. But you know what? So does the rest of the world. The amplification of western voices who draw attention to those things is therefore an objectively good thing.
But they're being banned, while bloodthirsty psychopaths like Sean Hannity get to maintain immensely influential platforms while calling for a direct NATO military attack on Russian forces in Ukraine. That's perfectly fine. It's not like he did something unforgivable, like criticize the Pentagon.
If they were telling the truth about Russia they wouldn't be censoring Russia-backed media. One is reminded of the words of George RR Martin, “When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
It's funny that such a big deal is being made about "Russian propaganda" hijacking people's minds and manipulating them, because the institutions doing so are so close to admitting to one of the most underappreciated and overlooked aspects of western society: that we're all being aggressively propagandized constantly by the mainstream news media, by Hollywood, and by Silicon Valley, and that it greatly influences the way we think, act, and vote. And the amount of wealth and energy going into brainwashing us in this way is many orders of magnitude greater than Russia's, done with billions of dollars worth of immensely sophisticated perception management instead of just letting someone who hates war have a podcast.
Really these escalations in censorship have never been about countering Russian propaganda, or fighting Covid misinformation, or any of the other excuses they've been churning out. It's because the democratization of information poses a direct threat to ruling power structures, and their very existence depends on their ability to gain control.
The "liberal democracies" of the western empire found a loophole in their own freedom of expression laws (the same laws they claim make them superior to overtly authoritarian regimes) in that they can outsource their censorship to government-tied monopolistic megacorporations. This allows the oligarchic empire to control the dominant narratives about what's going on, thereby controlling how people think, act, and vote.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. The powerful understand this. The people, for the most part, do not. Humanity's immensely exploded ability to share ideas and information could have been a tool of the people to advance positive change, but because of censorship, it's just becoming a tool for the powerful to propagandize us faster and leaving us no ability to counter their propaganda.
The story of humanity's future (if humanity does indeed have a future beyond this tense standoff between nuclear superpowers) is a struggle between the impulse to see and to know and to make things conscious, against the impulse to keep things dark and unconscious and secret and distorted. The former desires free communication, free thought, and truth come what may, while the latter desires censorship, government secrecy, unconsciousness and control. One of those impulses will win out, and will ultimately result in either our extinction or the dawn of a healthy Earth.
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One of the most disheartening aspects of this is the collection of Boomers (many personally known to me) who stringently opposed and marched against Vietnam in '68/'69, but who are now beating the drums of war against Russia, with precious little thought about poking the hornet's nest of a nuclear power and even less understanding of the last 30 years of history in that region. The worst aspect of that historical amnesia is missing — or willfully ignoring — the connection between 21st and 20th-Century US imperialism. While I once called these folks brothers and sisters of the left, they have since succumbed to the barrage of propaganda; degraded themselves into the seemingly huge community of otherwise decent people rendered warmongers by the narcissist nerve gas of American exceptionalism. This feels like the stamp of the demon of impending demise because the irrationality augurs poorly for a clear-headed approach to the "other existential crisis" facing the planet. Anger and grief mix together in my gut with gratitude that I'm old and might luckily be dead by the time such this other cataclysm reaches full expression, but I now have anxiety thrown into that mix. It's mostly anxiety that the biosphere will be so completely devastated by nuclear holocaust that even should the offending species (Homo) go away, this most beautiful complex adaptive system known to us could be too pauperized to recover. As far as I'm concerned, Earth First is the sanest path because were we to follow the principles of ecological economics, war would also be treated as an impossibly destructive insult, eco-economically ridiculous to pursue. Quite frankly, the theater of hand-wringing for the Ukrainian people makes me even angrier because it entirely misses the larger context — that war is implicit in the anti-human and anti-ecological postures of Capitalism.
During the Obama terms of office, the politicians overturned the Smith/Mundt Act of 1948 which had been in place to outlaw US propaganda in US newsmedia. Many changes over the years in other areas followed of what we the people no longer get from journalism.