When the Russian Supreme Court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses and ordered the confiscation of the denomination’s property on Thursday, it wasn’t the first time. The faithful were outlaws in the Soviet Union, too, until that country’s final year. The stubborn group will fight on — but the court has delivered another chilling reminder that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is even less free than the USSR was.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a U.S.-based global religious organization, and they often are targeted by authoritarian and belligerent governments because members don’t believe in government authority. They don’t vote, serve in the military, salute flags or hail leaders. When the Nazis came to power in Germany, the Witnesses wouldn’t use the Nazi salute because, according to their beliefs, it amounted to idolatry. Hitler responded by sending more than 10,000 “Bible Students,” as they called themselves then, to prisons and concentration camps, where their pacifism particularly inspired torturers.
In the Soviet Union directly after World War II, Witnesses were mostly concentrated in western Ukraine and Transcarpathia, and they had the bad luck to trade Nazi persecution for the equally harsh Stalinist kind. In two secret operations in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Witnesses were removed to Siberian labor camps. There were only about 10,000 of them then. But adherents of the denomination didn’t stop practicing and preaching in exile and in the camps, and when, after Stalin’s death, the state stopped systematically imprisoning them and switched to a harassment tactic, the flock started growing.
- Russia bans Jehovah’s Witnesses and labels group as extremists
- US, EU Denounce Russian Ruling Against Jehovah’s Witnesses
- British Government ‘alarmed’ at Russian ban on ‘extremist’ Jehovah’s Witnesses
The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.
Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?
While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.
Ancient stone carvings confirm that a comet struck the Earth around 11,000BC, a devastating event which wiped out woolly mammoths and sparked the rise of civilisations.
Experts at the University of Edinburgh analysed mysterious symbols carved onto stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey, to find out if they could be linked to constellations.
The markings suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit Earth at the exact same time that a mini-ice age struck, changing the entire course of human history.
Scientists have speculated for decades that a comet could be behind the sudden fall in temperature during a period known as the Younger Dryas. But recently the theory appeared to have been debunked by new dating of meteor craters in North America where the comet is thought to have struck.
However, when engineers studied animal carvings made on a pillar – known as the vulture stone – at Gobekli Tepe they discovered that the creatures were actually astronomical symbols which represented constellations and the comet.
The idea had been originally put forward by author Graham Hancock in his book Magicians of the Gods.
- Ancient stone confirms date of comet strike
- Ancient carvings show comet hit Earth and triggered mini ice age
- Study examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents
- Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling
- Graham Hancock on Gobekli Tepe and Ancient Egypt
- Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?
Political propaganda works by programming intellectually lazy people with very simple tropes that they can rote learn and regurgitate instead of doing the hard work of actually researching and thinking about the issues for themselves.
Two of the most ubiquitous of these glib political propaganda tropes are the “Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable” one and the “Theresa May is a strong leader one”.
I’ve already written an article ripping the ludicrously counterfactual right-wing “Theresa May is a strong leader” trope to shreds (see here) and this article exists to confront the “Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable” one.
If every Labour Party supporter uses this as a reply every single time they see the “unelectable” trope being wheeled out, maybe it might eradicate this vacuous right-wing propaganda nonsense by getting people actually talking about Labour’s actual policies, rather than just blibber-blabbering their rote-learned political propaganda tropes all over the place.
- How many of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies do you actually disagree with?
- Election 2017: Can Labour win under Jeremy Corbyn?
- The Labour voters who could back Theresa May
- Contrasting the Tory propaganda with the actual reality
- Sturgeon predicts Tory victory over “unelectable” Labour in June
- Team Corbyn are daring to dream big…
- UK Elections Called Before Full Impact of Austerity Kicks In
- The mainstream media propaganda war against Jeremy Corbyn
- People’s first impressions of Jeremy Corbyn
The following documentary examines far-right radio host Alex Jones, and the affect his fear-mongering and conspiracy theories have had on the American public. Also explored is the relationship between him and Donald Trump, and the numerous contradictions of Alex Jones. (Reich Wing Watch)
- Meet Alex Jones
- The Invisible Empire of Alex Jones
- Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones’ War on Your Mind
- Alex Jones: Father Knows Best, Updated for the Apocalypse
- A Visit to the Infowars Studios to Meet Donald Trump’s Propagandist
- In Travis County custody case, jury will search for real Alex Jones
- Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Backs Off ‘Pizzagate’ Claims
- Joe Rogan Experience with Alex Jones and Eddie Bravo
- Alex Jones says he’s “ready to die for Trump”
- Jesse Ventura Challenges Alex Jones on His Support for Trump
- Inside the Dangerous Convergence of Men’s-Rights Activists and the Extreme Alt-Right
- How Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, got Donald Trump’s ear
[…] WikiLeaks has published documents without redacting personal information of ordinary people. As an organization, it has frequently behaved irresponsibly and, some have argued, despicably. It has also exposed corruption and criminality by state powers. The quality, morality, necessity, and overall prudence of its editorial choices are beside the point. What matters is that it appears that the Trump administration has decided that it is going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information.
There were warning signs that this was coming. CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” during a speech last week, and bizarrely insisted that Assange does not have First Amendment protection as a non-U.S. citizen. (That is not how the First Amendment works; if Assange were to be prosecuted on U.S. soil, he would enjoy the same Constitutional protections as a citizen. To insist otherwise is a radical reinterpretation deeply at odds with how the Bill of Rights has been applied.) Attorney General Jeff Sessionscalled Assange’s arrest a “priority” at a press conference Thursday. However, seeking his arrest would demonstrate a remarkable about-face from President Trump, as he repeatedly and effusively praised WikiLeaks during his campaign. “WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks!” he told a crowd at an October rally.
- The US Charging Julian Assange Could Put Press Freedom on Trial
- A WikiLeaks prosecution would endanger the future of US journalism
- US Preparing Charges Against Julian Assange
- Justice Dept. debating charges against WikiLeaks members in revelations of diplomatic, CIA materials
- Trump administration seeks Julian Assange’s arrest, despite WikiLeaks’ anti-Clinton efforts
- As US prioritises Julian Assange arrest, UK hints Sweden comes first
- If the US Could Prosecute Assange, It Would Have Already Done So
- Michael Weiss: The Trumpkins Turn on Assange
Since last November’s election, the former British politician Louise Mensch has transformed herself into the leader of a wide-ranging internet investigation into Russian espionage and influence in American politics, media, and business. Every day, Mensch and her network of online detectives unravel what they claim is a massive conspiracy linking the Kremlin, the Republican Party, armies of internet trolls, and moneyed puppet masters around the world.
Mensch, who sometimes tweets hundreds of times a day, has claimed or implied that targets ranging from top government officials to journalists to teenagers to anonymous Twitter users are in thrall to Vladimir Putin.
Just since Inauguration Day, according to an extensive review of her tweets, the New York–based Mensch has accused at least 210 people and organizations of being under Russian government influence.