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Propaganda

What if the problem isn't limitation but abundance?

While in Istanbul, loudspeakers encouraged believers to pray every few hours. Walking outside during one such moment, one of our team members said something like, "Imagine if they'd be advertising us instead."

Indeed, the line between religion and business affiliation might, at times, be a thin one. After all, people have said that OpenAI employees do be tweeting like members of a cult, and I don't think it's a coincidence that there's talk of evangelists whose mission isn't as much Christian as it's Capitalist.

Back home, I've been confronted with countless posters telling me who to vote for in the upcoming European election. Some lantern posts carry as many as four different parties.

In terms of creativity, there's very little.

The conservative party, for example, simply picked a turquoise blue background and added one big noun, like "security" or "freedom." Sure, it's all things we can all agree are beneficial, but it tells me very little about their actual program.

Similarly, the right-wing party just put on their poster "Pick the original" without specifying who the copy or fake would be.

The liberal party said something about free markets, as usual. As if free markets actually existed.

The Social Democrats put stuff about how they'd be the strongest voice for Germany in the European Parliament (not sure about that one either), while the left party went all in on that we need more culture in times of coarsening.

There is also the Free Voters Party which limited itself to putting a photo of their nominee wearing a march jacket and earring on. And then there's an elongating life party that wants to cure aging.

You can't help but feel like it's all some sort of Propaganda. But it's vacuous—the posters are. It's all appearance with little content, something that Han describes in depth in his essay Psychopolitics. The shift to everything becoming like a purchase.

The real fight is probably not on the street. But on the Web. After all, many won't even see the posters as they walk blissfully absorbed in their screens.

Propaganda isn't the same anymore.

A few decades ago, the radio was the premier means used by the National Socialist Party to indoctrinate a country. Control the distribution and the information people can access, and you have a chance to enforce your terrible agenda.

Nowadays, though, things have shifted.

It's not about limiting information anymore.

"What if the powerful can use information abundance to find new ways of stifling you, flipping the ideals of freedom of speech to crush dissent, while always leaving enough anonymity to be able to claim deniability?"

Peter Pomerantsev in This is not Propaganda

Censorship through preventing citizens' access to information is one thing and the type of thing we're trying to address with public blockchains.

But what about censorship through noise?

Ironically, speech then becomes itself a weapon of censorship.


Isn't that a topic we need to discuss more in this industry that so often boasts about censorship resistance while being rife with spam?

Freedom of speech is a noble goal.

But how do we ensure we actually achieve what we want with it, a place where people can share their viewpoints without fear of being completely drowned out or discredited through an army fuelled by bots? A place where people have a chance to research and build their own opinion of things...

I have no answers. But I think about it a lot.


Highly recommend reading "This is not Propaganda". It couldn't be more relevant.

There is also a great chapter on how Goebbels used the Radio to indoctrinate a nation in "The Attention Merchants."

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