I’ve got a new piece up at Compact about the shocking facts that recent lawsuits and FOIAs are bringing to light about the extent of the collaboration between the US government and Big Tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to police so-called disinformation. What’s apparent is that the aim of this strategy wasn’t to protect the public from inaccurate and potentially dangerous information (which was certainly widespread), but simply to censor any voice or opinion that didn’t confirm the official narrative, even at the cost of exposing the public to officially sanctioned misinformation and disinformation. The relationship between free speech and social media is an important issue — so the debate that’s been reignited by Musk’s takeover of Twitter should be welcomed. Progressives may have a point about the dangers of “free speech absolutism” in the age of social media, yet this debate must necessarily start from acknowledging the destructive effects that government-sponsored censorship has had on democracy and public health over the past three years.
I’ve also written for UnHerd about the impossible mission facing Rishi Sunak, the new British prime minister. On the one hand, he is expected to address the numerous economic problems afflicting Britain — the highest inflation rate in 40 years, an energy and cost-of-living crisis, a slow-motion housing market crash, strained public services, and growing industrial and civil unrest — while simultaneously boosting investment and economic growth. On the other, he’s expected to do all this while “restoring the confidence of the markets” by “fixing the country’s finances” — that is, reducing the government deficit and debt through higher taxes and/or spending. These two objectives can’t be reconciled. The problem for Sunak is that by feeding the myths that ultimately brought down his predecessor, Liz Truss, he’s boxed himself in.
Some days ago I also wrote about the cracks opening up in the pro-war front in the US. Not only is public support for the war waning, but rifts are emerging within the American establishment as well. The list of high-profile media and policy figures who are starting to question the wisdom of the US strategy in the conflict grows longer every day. More and more people are asking: why is the US administration continuing to pour tens of billions into a war that is ravaging Ukraine and causing thousands of deaths (and triggering massive collateral damage globally) when, according to the Washington Post, “privately, US officials say neither Russia nor Ukraine is capable of winning the war outright”? If so, why is the US prolonging the bloodshed and destruction, pledging to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, rather than working towards a diplomatic solution that, barring nuclear war, is the only possible outcome anyway?