Class-struggle tactics used by communist regimes are being legitimized in the free world.
In the first weeks of the new year, major U.S. tech corporations and media outlets close in on Donald Trump and his supporters, muzzling the maverick president while imposing a uniform narrative concerning the recent protest events in Washington D.C and the breach of the U.S. Capitol.
On Jan. 6, hundreds of thousands rallied near the White House to support Trump against alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Following an hour-long speech by the president, the crowd began marching to the U.S. Capitol, where the Joint Session of Congress to confirm Joe Biden as President-elect was in progress.
The procedure was interrupted when a small group of radicals broke into the Capitol, while the majority of demonstrators gathered outside. Police reactions to the unfolding events were uneven, with some offering resistance while others appeared to allow people into the building. Several people lost their lives during the confrontation inside the Capitol, including one woman who was shot in the neck.
Shortly after the intruders were cleared from the building and protesters began to leave the Capitol Hill area, Twitter temporarily suspended Trump’s account. Twitter also deleted one of the president’s tweets thanking the demonstrators and urging them to go home, an action it justified as violence prevention.
On Jan. 8, after Trump had condemned the riot inside the Capitol building and promised there would be a smooth transition to the next administration, Twitter permanently suspended Trump from its platform, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The bulk of major U.S. legacy media outlets, pundits, and left-leaning politicians roundly condemned not just the break-in of the Capitol, but also portrayed the entire day’s events as amounting to an attempted coup by President Trump and his supporters.
Reports locked onto the radical fraction of the demonstrators, painting them broadly as “insurrectionists.” However, the vast majority of the crowd—including thousands standing on the lawn just outside the Capitol—was peaceful and orderly.
Apart from Twitter, other social media sites including Facebook and Snapchat, as well as e-payment services, “deplatformed” the president, similarly accusing him of having incited the “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol.
On Jan. 7, a day after the break-in, YouTube announced that it would act more swiftly to shut down “false claims of election fraud.” Mozilla, the developer of popular internet browser Firefox, also called for more deplatforming.
The weekend following the Jan. 6 protests, Google, Amazon, and other services acted virtually in concert to shut down the free speech-oriented platform Parler. The platform’s CEO John Matze accused Big Tech of trying to kill off a competitor in a “coordinated attack.”
‘This isn’t the CCP’
Observers of Communist China will be familiar with the kind of propaganda and suppression tactics now being deployed by American tech firms and legacy media corporations.
In a Jan. 9 tweet, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the surge of censorship against the president and his supporters in the twilight of the Trump administration, saying, “We cannot let them silence 75M [million] Americans. This isn’t the CCP [Chinese Communist Party].”
Pompeo’s comments, which were echoed by several other conservative political figures, highlight a trend years in the making — the convergence of American Big Tech and the authoritarian censorship of the CCP regime.
Tech giants have long tried to curry favor with Beijing, angling for inroads with the vast and untapped mainland Chinese market. Critics of the Trump Twitter ban noted that while the president had been silenced, accounts belonging to the Chinese and Iranian regimes were free to spread disinformation and hate speech virtually without restriction.
Links between Big Tech and the CCP have been a growing undercurrent in recent reportage: in 2019, Twitter removed accounts belonging to Chinese dissidents ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen square massacre; in 2020, the company hired Fei-Fei Li, an AI expert with a background in the Communist Party establishment. Prior to that, episodes in which Mark Zuckerberg tried to befriend Xi Jinping gathered widespread attention — the Facebook CEO made a show of buying and reading the Chinese leader’s book, “The Governance of China”; took a high-profile jog in the infamously smoggy streets of Beijing; and even invited Xi to name his then-unborn child.
Reports suggest that in 2016, Facebook had developed a censorship engine to comply with the Party’s draconian regulation of free speech; a proposition echoed by the infamous “Project Dragonfly” that Google began work on, then claimed it shelved, in late 2018.
Such behavior points at the willingness of U.S. tech companies to use the CCP-style tools of censorship available to them, and, should it be profitable, even toe the Party line. However, their efforts may not be sufficient to grant access to the Chinese market — Big Tech’s willingness to blatantly shut down an American president could raise questions in Beijing.
‘Normalizing’ the informational environment
In an analysis we wrote following the Capitol break-in, we noted that the circumstances at the scene appeared similar to events that occurred in the evening of July 1, 2019, when a group of individuals broke into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. Both incidents broke with the overwhelmingly peaceful character of their respective protest movements, and provided the authorities with a pretext to launch greater crackdowns.
The swift and sharp censorship of a sitting U.S. president, his supporters, and alternative tech companies by Big Tech fits the “normalization” phase in the communist takeover of a country, as described in the 1980s by KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov.
Late last November, Chinese regime-linked professor Di Dongsheng bragged about Communist China’s elite capture of the United States in the decades prior to Trump’s election, and asserted that Beijing had enormous power to influence U.S. policy via Wall Street. With Trump safely out of office, the Party would, once again, be free to use its previous approach.
The deplatforming of Trump and Parler following the Jan. 6 protests in Washington and breach of the Capitol hints at an uncomfortable degree of coordination between Big Tech, Wall Street, and the left-leaning political establishment in America. Among Biden’s administration picks are multiple senior executives in Big Tech, “potentially conflating the policies of the large companies and the government,” as reported by the New York Post.
In our reading of Chinese elite politics, we have consistently taken into account the end aim of the Communist Party, as based on its ideological creed and structural imperatives: world domination.
Jan. 6 was a watershed moment from the United States and the rest of the world. The crisis at the Capitol effectively shut down the ability of American media to discuss claims of election fraud. Simultaneously, it cast a sitting president and the hundreds of thousands of peaceful rallygoers as “insurrectionists.” The class-struggle tactics used by communist regimes are being legitimized in the free world.
It is imperative that the American people and others around the world recognize the communist “normalization” occurring in the world’s most powerful country if they are to arrest the free world’s descent into authoritarianism. Failure to speak up at this crossroads of history means that the people of the United States and other nations may never enjoy genuine free speech again.