Obama for Commissar—to Save People from Dying

“What does still nag at me though was my failure to fully appreciate at the time just how susceptible we had become to lies and conspiracy theories, despite having spent years being a target of disinformation myself,” Obama said during a speech at Stanford University on the dangers of disinformation.

It is not the role of executives to determine the truth of information or theories. These are determined over time in the open dialectically or in courts of law where people adjudicate facts. Consider Alex Jones and his theory concerning the role of inter-dimensional demons in world affairs. Is this false? I think it is. Is it crazy? No more crazy than thinking a man hung on a cross rose from the death and will save all those who declare their faith in him from eternal torment. I think that theory is false, too. But do we really want the government to declare Christianity disinformation or a conspiracy theory and remove it from social media platforms?

This desire to combat disinformation is troubled by a very basic truth that Freud noted a century ago. When one person believes something that can’t be true, he is delusional. If he alone believes he talks to an entity no one else can see or hear, then he is crazy. But if millions of people believe something that can’t be true, that the man who talks to an entity they cannot see is really communicating with a spirit, then they are experiencing an illusion. The individually real, which is subjective (and sometimes disordered), becomes collectively real with others and orders things. It becomes what French sociologist Emile Durkheim called a “social fact.”

Shortly after losing his podcast, Obama addresses Stanford University

Obama, would like for particular illusions—Christianity, Islam, Judaism—to prevail (even if he believes in none of them) over other illusions. Those illusions are useful to power. Other illusions not so much. And so these constitute disinformation and conspiracy theories. But it is a conflict of interests to allow the very real entities who wield cultural, economic, political, and social power, i.e., the state and the corporation, to decide for us which illusions we are allowed to have and which are to be censored and cancelled.

Obama said, “You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage. You just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plant enough conspiracy theorizing, that citizens no longer know what to believe.” But what is sewage or dirt to Obama may not be sewage or dirt at all. It is Obama’s opinion that the things with which he disagrees are sewage or dirt. His concern that citizens no longer know what to believe is that they may come to believe as he wished they would not. His example is COVID-19 vaccination. “Around one in five Americans is still willing to put themselves at risk and put their families at risk rather than get vaccinated,” Obama said. People are dying because of “disinformation.” Indeed, individuals submit to vaccination after being told they are safe and effective and then suffer death or injury caused by the vaccine or contract and spread the virus on the basis of a false believe the vaccine confers immunity.

“In recent years, we’ve seen how quickly disinformation spreads, especially on social media,” Obama tweeted. “This has created real challenges for our democracy.” What Obama is channeling is the spirit of technocracy. He is not defending democracy. He does not believe in democracy for the masses. He is an elitist. It’s not that elitists believe the masses are too stupid to choose for themselves the illusions that will guide them. They do. But more importantly, they believe that, left to their own devices, the masses will choose the illusions that threaten the power of the class he represents, the corporate class. For the illusion may in fact be truth. And truth can be very dangerous for those whose power and privilege depends on lies.

Freedom means that people are allowed to manufacture and believe illusions that they desire as long as they do not impose these illusions on those who do not or cannot consent to them. Mature consenting adults can be furries together. To compel others to believe with them that they are what they say they are, which is the work of the state and corporate power, is tyranny. Let furries be furries. Let others disbelieve in spirit animals and admit this without fear of consequence—and freely share their thoughts on social media.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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