July 20, 2024

The European Commission president‘s campaign features an unprecedented preventive crackdown on wrongthink.

One of the hallmarks of the European Union is that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In fact, it often means the exact opposite.

Take, for instance, the idea that Ursula Von der Leyen, the European Commission president, is running for re-election when in reality she’s just publicly squabbling with a few other establishment hacks to be handpicked and confirmed by the establishment itself, not by popular vote. But that hasn’t stopped her from cosplaying as an actual democratic candidate. It’s not like she didn’t have the opportunity to actually be one rather than just play one, but when her German colleagues asked her to run for an elected EU seat in Germany to establish some democratic credibility, she reportedly declined the inconvenience.

But that hasn’t stopped her from posting “campaign” ads on social media, as though she’s actually trying to appeal to voters. In one such video, she promises that if she’s re-coronated, er, “re-elected,” she’ll defend Europe with a “Democracy Shield.” The whole idea, she says, is to “detect disinformation and malign interference… remove content, including [artificial intelligence] deepfakes, [and] to make our societies more resilient.” Nothing about defending Europe’s democracy from unelected bureaucrats wielding excessive power though, I guess?

Ever since billionaire tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, took over Twitter, renamed the social media platform ‘X’, and publicly shamed all the Western government authorities that tried to exploit the platform directly for their own propaganda purposes, his “community notes” feature has allowed users to react directly and in real time to content, including deep fake videos, and has proven that the antidote to inaccuracy is more free and democratic speech, not less.

“Democracy,” in the case of this “Democracy Shield” is really just a euphemism for censorship. Because what does this “shield” really protect Europe from, that more free speech can’t achieve, other than inconvenient facts? Or from Queen Ursula and the rest of the European establishment having to defend their own ideological lunacy and explain to citizens why the narratives they peddle often don’t jibe with reality.

Read more Von der Leyen facing growing discontent in EU capitals – media

Apparently, they figure that democracy would be better off if everything and everyone that didn’t fit their top agenda narratives could just be whacked over the head and dragged off into the shadows by the online Gestapo serving von der Leyen’s online “Democracy Shield.” 

But maybe characterizing the Democracy Shield as little more than a “propaganda shield” is unfair. After all, it’s not like the EU or Ursula actually say that they’re interested in doing propaganda. No, instead she says that she just wants to do a little “pre-bunking,” which totally doesn’t sound like propaganda at all. 

Speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit earlier this month, von der Leyen explained that “research has shown that pre-bunking is more successful than de-bunking. Pre-bunking is the opposite of de-bunking. In short, prevention is preferable to cure. Think of information manipulation as a virus. Instead of treating an infection once it has taken hold, that’s the de-bunking, it is better to vaccinate, so that our body is inoculated. Pre-bunking is the same approach.”

Yeah, folks, just think of free debate and discussion as a nasty virus that could get really messy. May provoke verbal diarrhea. Ugly stuff. Wouldn’t it just be better if the EU could inject its narratives like a vaccine straight into the minds of citizens to eliminate any risk of messy opposing views or information?

What if the pre-bunk narrative IS the disinformation, though? Of course that never happens, right? Everything that the EU and Western governments say is always the total and complete objective truth and anyone questioning it is some kind of foreign agent.

By the way, von der Leyen’s “societal resilience” here really just means compliance – that everyone piles into the clown car on command so these bozos can take everyone on a joyride down Dystopian Highway towards wherever fresh Hell their hidden special interests dictate at any given time.

Read more Fyodor Lukyanov: This is the question that could ultimately destroy EU-US unity

But perhaps Queen Ursula should be given the benefit of the doubt here, though. Maybe she really does just want to deploy her Democracy Shield against armies of annoying online bots and not on the political playing field to quash dissent?

“It’s not just fakes or fabricated content,” von der Leyen argued in announcing the Shield. “It’s also buying influence and causing chaos. We have seen far-right politicians and lead candidates from AfD in Germany in the pockets of Russia. They are selling their souls on Russian propaganda outlets and videos.” 

Well, if she puts it that way… doubt benefit erased.

Want to smear a political opponent because they happen to enjoy free speech on a variety of platforms? Sounds like a job for Queen Ursula’s Democracy Shield, which, like NATO, is totally defensive and does not ever do offensive operations and actively snuff out opponents on the political landscape. The EU already tried to pick off entire media outlets that it didn’t like, censoring Russian platforms like RT and Sputnik at the supranational level and imposing that ban on all member states of the entire bloc in the absence of sovereign and democratic due process. The justification? That they were spreading “distortion of facts” that threatened the EU democratic order. Nothing better for credible journalism than governments arguing that they’re the ultimate arbiters of truthful information.

It turns out that blanket censorship didn’t quite knock everyone into line, so von der Leyen says in her ad that the Democracy Shield will “track down information manipulation and coordinate with national agencies.” Hunting down wrong-speakers on the informational landscape? Sounds super democratic. So does the idea of “national agencies”deciding what qualifies as news.

Is this authoritarian Democracy Shield going to require any independent oversight? Because von der Leyen, back when she was German defense minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel, wasn’t really into that kind of thing. Western press reports were rife with details of her underwhelming performance, with the Washington Post, for instance, citing a shortage of military equipment and promises to rectify the situation that were never fulfilled. They also said that the troops used broomsticks instead of machine guns for NATO exercises. Guess she had lots of those at her disposal.

We know from her stonewalling of the committee demanding to see her text messages with Pfizer brass over her vaccine deals that Queen Ursula really isn’t into transparency, either. Who needs actual democratic values though, when you have a Democracy Shield? Maybe we can see it deployed in real time in a sort of test. If it was truly doing its job of shielding democracy, it would mow down von der Leyen’s propaganda first, then just blow itself up.

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