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Deconstructing Marianna in Conspiracyland: - Part 3
In this continuing investigation of the BBC's "Marianna in Conspiracyland" podcast series, we now turn our attention to Episode 2, titled "Down the Rabbit Hole." I hope you have read the introduction to this series and both Part 1 and Part 2, as some key points outlined in those articles are important for our ongoing exploration of "Marianna in Conspiracyland."
The start of every BBC Conspiracyland episode comes with the following introduction from Marianna:
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I'm Marianna Spring, the BBC disinformation and social media correspondent, and in this podcast series I'm venturing into "Conspiracyland." A reality that gets curiouser and curiouser and has infected towns, like Totnes, across the UK. I'm investigating the conspiracy theory media here in Britain and the radicalisation that appears to come with it. Its followers hold a range of different beliefs, which many would never act on. But there are others whose views seem to be becoming more radical.
Assuming Marianna has written most of the podcast series herself, she appears to be a Lewis Carrol fan. The poorly constructed phrase "curiouser and curiouser" originates from Carrol's 1865 children's novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." It means increasingly strange.
Marianna is using deceptive language. There is nothing strange about people holding ant-Establishment opinions (AEO) or questioning power in a so-called democracy. On the contrary, it is practically the foundation of the UK's current political system which, though technically a constitutional monarchy, is called a "representative democracy."
Just like Carrol's "Wonderland," Marianna Spring's "Conspiracyland" is not a "reality." There is nothing for Marianna to venture into.
There is no plausible definition of a "conspiracy theorist." It is simply a propaganda label applied to people who question the Establishment's "epistemic authorities." The Establishment sticks the label on those who question its power in order to marginalise and ultimately censor their opinions. The label itself is constructed from propaganda and junk science.
Consequently, there is no such thing as a "conspiracy theory movement." No demographic grouping of people with "strange" views can be identified anywhere. Instead, all the research shows that anyone, from any demographic, social or political group, can hold AEOs. This appears to be the majority view in all "representative democracies."
Political science explains why AEO is so common. We live in biased pluralist societies corrupted by an economic-elite. Challenging the Establishment that represents and defends the interests of said "economic-elite" is both a necessity, if we hope to live as free human beings, and an indispensable component of discourse in an alleged democracy.
This means that there is no "conspiracy theory media" either. The Light newspaper in the UK—Marianna's initial focus—merely promotes AEO and questions power. In other words, it serves the vital function of news media in a "democracy."
The emergence of this type of so-called "alternative media"—something we'll explore later in this series—has taken on greater significance as the mainstream media (MSM) has largely abandoned journalism’s social function of questioning power. The BBC, for example, is state media controlled by the government and is compelled by regulation only to report whatever the government and the "epistemic authorities" tell it to report.
The radicalisation process is complex and consists of "push, pull and personal factors." While the consumption of propaganda plays a small part in this process, it is far from a determining factor. There is no evidence that the media we consume is capable of "radicalising" anyone.
Marianna adds the following statement to her episode introduction:
At the extreme end we have seen conspiracy theory driven riots at the US capital and a coup attempt foiled in Germany. But what was happening in the UK? I have plenty of time to look about and wonder what is going to happen next. For BBC Radio 4, this is Marianna in Conspiracyland.
We will explore these claims as we progress but, suffice to say, Marianna's assertions here are highly dubious.
Marianna's introduction consists of nothing but alleged truisms which, upon closer scrutiny, are all canards. There is no evidence to support anything she says. All the evidence thoroughly contradicts her opinions.
Therefore, while Marianna has time to construct a model of what she and the BBC think will happen next, that model is based upon nothing but baseless opinion and, it is reasonable to suppose, disinformation and propaganda. As we shall see, this "opinion" strongly favours and defends the biased pluralism of an Establishment led by an "economic-elite."
In Episode 2—Down the Rabbit Hole—Marianna introduces the BBC audience to Jason Liosatos. Jason is a well travelled autodidact, author, video and radio content creator and artist. He has committed his adult life to studying "mind and spirit." Jason holds and promotes a very clear anti-Establishment opinion (AEO).
Marianna claims that she wants to interview Jason because someone told her that Jason is "key to Totnes's conspiracy theory movement." Marianna adds that she wants "to understand the ideas that some in the movement subscribe to, and the ways the conspiracy theory media spread them."
This should be relatively straightforward. AEOs are very easy to understand, as are the reasons why people hold them. The AEO media—the Light in this instance—simply reflects those views and reports the evidence which purports to expose the wrongdoing of an economic-elite in a biased pluralist society. Volunteers distribute the Light because it reports stories of interest to them that they want others to be aware of. It isn't rocket science and isn't difficult to "understand."
The soundtrack to "Marianna in Conspiracyland" relies heavily upon spooky, ominous incidental music to psychologically manipulate the BBC audience into perceiving AEO as some sort of threat, rather than the basic democratic prerequisite that it is. As her segment with Jason unfolds Marianna says:
Jason has all the hallmarks of a political activist, but he doesn't see it that way.
Jason reportedly replies:
I'm a political atheist. [. . .] I've never thought that whoever you vote for makes much difference [. . .] like different wings on the same bird. [. . .] That's not to be conspiratorial thing, it just seems to be true.
Jason appears to be correct. He is describing biased pluralism. So what are the "hallmarks of a political activist" that Marianna suggests? The definition of activism is:
The process of campaigning in public or working for an organization in order to bring about political or social change.
Marianna expands upon her reported opinion:
At this point Jason seems to me to be someone who is politically frustrated and concerned with issues like the cost of living crisis, which are affecting the lives of those around him.
From everything Jason reportedly says, Marianna's appraisal seems fair. He could be described as a political activist in so far as he evidently wants to see political and social change and is willing to try to make that change come about. His primary concern appears to be for the welfare of his fellow citizens.
Marianna tells the BBC's listeners:
... but then it [Jason’s AEO] starts to become more extreme. [. . .] It is about sinister plots that are trying to control our way of life and cause us harm.
This is Marianna's edited, post interview, prelude to the following recorded statement from Jason:
To be honest with you, I think they are using it [the pseudopandemic] as a Trojan Horse. To bring in the great digital cashless reset which is coming now, and it seems to be coming in fast. [. . .] I hate to talk about this like I'm a "conspiracy theorist, I'm not. I'm a realist, I look at facts.
It is perhaps a sad reflection of the state of our current public discourse that Jason needs to stress that he is not a "conspiracy theorist." He evidently understand that the label is used by people like Marianna Spring to dismiss anti-Establishment opinions. Jason is referring to the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) Great Reset and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
According to the WEF's website, the Great Reset is an initiative, led by multinational corporations, which saw the so-called pandemic as a "unique window of opportunity" to determine:
The future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons.
This is based upon the WEF's "stakeholder capitalism" concept which asserts that global corporations should be the "trustees of society." Essentially, the Great Reset advocates a world run by a global public-private partnership with policy agenda's set at the global governance level by well funded private think-tanks. Stakeholder capitalism sees elected governments relegated to "enabling partners" whose role it is to create the financial and fiscal environment for the roll-out of the global policy initiatives.
Central Bank Digital Currency is programmable money, issued by central banks, that enables all transactions to be tracked and controlled, at the point of sale, through programs such as "smart contracts." Currently 114 governments, and their central bank partners, representing 95% of global GDP, are actively developing CBDC with 11 national CBDC's already launched.
Announcing the proposal for the UK's CBDC—the "digital pound"—Jon Cunliffe, Bank of England Deputy Governor for Financial Stability, said:
We propose a limit of between £10,000 and £20,000 per individual as the appropriate balance between managing risks and supporting wide usability of the digital pound. A limit of £10,000 would mean that three quarters of people could receive their pay in digital pounds, while a £20,000 limit would allow almost everyone to receive their pay in digital pounds.
If nearly all workers' salaries are paid in CBDC—digital money—that can be programmed via "smart contracts" and tracked and traced by the central banks and their commercial bank partners, then, following its launch, the UK is highly likely to become a cashless society. Unless CBDC can be withdrawn as cash, and none of the central banks have suggested that possibility, most people simply won't have any other form of "money" at there disposal.
The BBC has promoted CBDC, unquestioningly reporting it as "safe money that is easy to use in the digital age." Arguing that the large volume of transaction data held by private corporations risks monetary destabilisation in the future, the BBC suggests CBDC as a viable solution:
Companies that control the data on everything someone spends, when and where they spend it, will sit on a priceless asset. Unregulated digital currencies could offer those companies incentives to create walled gardens, fragmenting the pound system. It would make controlling the economy more difficult, because £1 might not be worth £1 everywhere. [. . .] This is where today's ideas [CBDCs] come in. Neither the Bank of England nor Government would have access to the data on transactions with a digital pound.
Either the BBC hasn't read the Bank of England's Technical Specification for its proposed CBDC, or it is spreading disinformation. The "priceless asset" of visible and tradable transaction data is a notable feature of the "digital pound."
As the BBC reports, the Bank of England (BoE) claims "neither the Government nor the Bank would have access to users’ personal data." Had the BBC done any investigative journalism it could have pointed out that there is no reason to believe the BoE.
The BoE also states:
CBDC would not be anonymous because the ability to identify and verify users is needed to prevent financial crime and to meet applicable legal and regulatory obligations.
So personal transaction data will be gathered. If neither the government nor the BoE are going to have access to the personal transaction data, as claimed, who will?
In its technical specification the BoE addresses this issue:
The platform model is currently the preferred model for offering a UK CBDC. In this model, the Bank hosts the core ledger and an application programming interface (API) layer. The API layer would allow private sector firms, known as Payment Interface Providers (PIPs) and External Service Interface Providers (ESIPs), access to the core ledger functionality in order to provide user services. [. . .] PIPs and ESIPs need identity and payments data[.]
Yet, with regard to analysis of the "core ledger" the BoE adds:
The Bank may need to collect operational metadata for analysis of system status and performance. This would allow the Bank to maintain the core ledger and the API layer. The Bank could also collect aggregate data, subject to effective anonymisation and privacy protections, in order to undertake economic and policy analysis.
It seems, then, that the BoE is proposing to harvest transaction data despite claiming that it isn’t. The public will have to access their CBDC wallets via the PIPs and the ESIPs. In the BoE model "PIPs and ESIPs would carry out user authentication" and "user balances would be recorded on the core ledger." At the same time the core ledger will be a "centrally governed, distributed database."
It is very difficult to see where the alleged "anonymity" comes into the BoE's CBDC model. The ESIPs and PIPs will have complete oversight of all transaction data and our use of CBDC cannot be "anonymous," according to the BoE. At the same time the BoE intends to store "user balances"—data it can only gather from the PIPs and ESIPs—and use that data for "economic and policy analysis."
Contrary to the BBC's claims it seems the private payment service providers and commercial banks (PIPs and ESIPs) will have access to "data on everything someone spends" on a hitherto unimaginable scale, thanks entirely to CBDC. So where in the BoE's proposed model does the alleged "anonymisation" occur?
The BoE states that "any information accessed by the Bank [of England] would have to be effectively anonymised off-ledger." This is because the digital 'on-ledger' model it has proposed doesn't have any scope for "anonymisation."
To explain how this supposed "off-ledger" privacy protection will supposedly work, it cites the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). But the referenced document simply outlines the standards for anonymising data. It says nothing about how to achieve this or, crucially, who should have access to the raw data before they "anonymise" it.
The BoE talks about using privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) which the ICO lists as various models of algorithmic randomisation, encryption, etc. However, the BoE is not keen on PETs:
PETs are likely to introduce system complexity to varying degrees. This could create a tension with security, performance, resilience, interoperability and extensibility requirements, as well as with system build and operation costs. The Bank does not intend to receive or use personal data. [. . .] Further work is needed to assess the technology implications of such an arrangement.
There is absolutely no commitment from the BoE to "anonymise" any of the transaction data it hoovers up from the PIPs and ESIPs. Merely some vague intention.
As it stands, the CBDC model the BoE has proposed empowers a public-private banking and financial services partnership precisely because it enhances the partnership's access to private transaction data. This is definitely something the BBC should have reported to the public instead of deceiving them into thinking CBDC was “safe money.”
The WEF’s Digital Currency Governance Consortium is contributing to the global roll-out of CBDC. Convened in 2020, during the "pandemic," the WEF's Consortium fits precisely with its Great Reset ambitions to determine the direction of economies, the nature of all business and the priorities of our societies:
This consortium has built on our long history of public-private cooperation to accelerate necessary and timely conversations for responsible digital currency deployment. It has convened the world's leading policy-makers, payment providers, banks, civil society organizations and start-ups to identify and address critical gaps in research and policy guidance.
As yet, the public has not been asked if it wants CBDC. The public consultations that have been undertaken, which have not been widely advertised—either by governments or the MSM—asked people what CBDC functionality they world prefer. The option to reject CBDC outright wasn't offered.
With regard to the programmability of CBDC, Bo Li, the former Deputy Governor of the Bank of China and the current Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said:
CBDC can allow government agencies and private sector players to program, that is to create smart contracts. [. . .] By programming, CBDC money can be precisely targeted [to] what kind of [things] people can own, and what kind of use [for which] this money can be utilised. For example, [. . .] for food.
Inline with the IMF's approach to programmability, in the BoE's technical specifications for the "digital pound," it states:
The Bank and HM Treasury’s public policy objectives determine CBDC functionality and technology choices. The design of a UK CBDC must deliver the Government and Bank’s policy objectives.
Central bank-initiated programmable use cases are not currently relevant to the Bank and HM Treasury’s policy objectives for CBDC. Further, this functionality could damage the uniformity of the CBDC and cause user distrust. For these reasons, the Bank will not pursue central bank-initiated programmable functions.
The ability to run units of functionality (programs) that can effect a change on the core ledger, and can be triggered when predetermined conditions are met or initiated directly. The Bank could enable locking mechanisms that allow PIPs and ESIPs to implement certain programmability features, including smart contracts, by earmarking funds on the core ledger.
The purpose of the UK CBDC, through its functional and technological design, is to deliver the BoE's and the government's policy objectives. In order to maintain "trust," the BoE and the government are not "currently" going to program CBDC directly, but they may do so in the future. Instead they are "currently" giving their "partners"—commercial banks and private payment provider—the power to program all transactions to meet the state's policy objectives. Just to be on the safe side, the BoE "could" lock funds—it won't issue the required CBDC—if the programmed transaction doesn't meet the state's policy objectives.
Government's and their corporate and industry partners have repeatedly stressed how the pseudopandemic was an opportunity to "build back better" or "reset." The analogy of a "Trojan Horse" is a credible interpretation of their actions set within the context of the alleged pandemic. One, at least, that should not be easily dismissed.
CBDC is intended as a cashless system, certainly if the Bank of England are to be believed. It is programmable and it is designed to control the transactions of its users to meet "policy objectives." We are the intended users of CBDC.
Jason's statement was evidence based and, to that extent, accurate. He is clearly appraised of the "facts."
If Marianna Spring seriously wants to "understand the ideas" of people like Jason and other like him, this was an opportunity for her to do so. She could have done a modicum of investigative journalism and would have been able to both appreciate and, more importantly, report the evidence underpinning Jason's concerns to the BBC audience.
This does not mean that Marianna, or anyone else, would necessarily agree with Jason's conclusions. The Great Reset and CBDC may bring all the benefits that its architects suggest. Although that seems unlikely in a biased pluralists society suffering from economic-elite domination.
Yet, in the edit, Marianna Spring chose to prelude Jason's words with an accusation that his evidence based, factual opinion was "extreme." By framing his statement as allusion to "sinister plots that are trying to control our way of life and cause us harm," Spring's obvious intention was to convince the BBC audience that his views are unworthy of serious consideration.
Unless Marianna is simply incapable of conducting any research, she is deliberately deceiving the public. Marianna is spreading disinformation to dissuade her listeners from investigating Jason's claims.
Based upon everything we have discussed in this series to this point, the evident purpose of "Marianna in Conspiracyland" is to protect and defend the biased pluralism of an economic-elite Establishment. Marianna Spring has all the hallmarks of a state propagandist.
Following on from Jason's reference to the Great Reset and CBDC, Marianna tells Conspiracyland listeners:
The digital cashless reset conspiracy theory that he's referring to here is one that suggests governments and banks are plotting to control access to your money and therefore, also, you. I'm reminded how frequently conspiracy is muddled up with a range of views and hides in the most unsuspecting corners of communities like this one. There's no prototype for a conspiracy theorist. They can be a doctor , a teacher or an artist.
Mixing fact with disinformation and deceiving by omission, this is remarkable propaganda from Spring. Her purpose here is to further convince her audience to ignore Jason by casting him as a fool, and she deploys the "conspiracy theory" label to that end.
She studiously avoids any specific mention of either the Great Reset or CBDC and obfuscates their existence behind the "conspiracy theory" label. This will leave her listeners uninformed and ensure they don't pick up on anything Jason is talking about.
Whether "governments and banks are plotting to control access to your money and therefore, also, you," as Jason and millions of others like him suspect, is a matter for urgent public attention. The evidence strongly suggests that this is a tenable suspicion. Marianna Spring and the BBC are seemingly determined that this crucial public debate will never happen.
Jason, the Light newspaper, and many other people with AEOs, in their efforts to bring this information to wider public attention, are not "hiding." Marianna introduced Jason by acknowledging the reach that his videos and podcasts have achieved. He has made himself a public figure and couldn't be more open and transparent about his AEOs. Contrary to her own reporting, Spring evidently wants the BBC audience to believe there is something furtive, even secretive, about people who question power.
Spring then adds some "truth" to lend credibility to her disinformation based propaganda. She acknowledges that a so-called "conspiracy theorist" could be anyone. This is because there is no such thing as a conspiracy theorist. Just ordinary people who hold anti-Establishment opinions.
Unsatisfied with the level of disinformation she spread to illegitimately discredit Jason's opinions, Spring then decides to ramp things up a notch. To a foreboding soundtrack, the BBC's disinformation expert says of Jason:
While he says he's an advocate for peaceful change, I find frequently that hate and antisemitism in particular come hand-in-hand with the conspiracy theories he talks about. Hateful tropes are woven into their fabric and, more often than not, it's the powerful Jewish globalists, who they believe play an instrumental role in what's happening.
Thus far, Jason has spoken about the Great Reset, CBDC and his hopes for a peaceful utopia where individual take responsibility for their actions. He hasn't mentioned "Jewish globalists" once. Spring calls all of this "conspiracy theory" and therefore implies that Jason's opinion have "hateful tropes woven into their fabric."
To emphasise her point Spring then quotes one of Jason's tweets:
The Jewish chosen ones, superior to all other races, especially blacks, let's send some of the boats with migrants to the shores of Israel to make some nice mixed race to dilute the Israeli arrogance.
To most people this sounds like an obvious example of antisemitism. It transgresses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism because, in his tweet, Jason has seemingly accused "Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group."
While not excusing Jason's tweet in any way, there is a context that Marianna Spring chose not to report. His comment came in a re-tweet of an original share by the British rapper Lowkey.
Lowkey posted footage from a video titled Israel's New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land. The short documentary catalogues the Israeli anti-African immigrant protests that took place between 2010 and 2013, including the comments of some right-wing Israeli politicians.
We cannot and must not ignore the darker side of human nature. I make no apology for reporting the content that Jason was responding to. All of which comes from footage contained in the short documentary.
At one rally a women protesting in support of the African migrants is accosted by an older Israeli man who says:
You're married to a nigger! Get out!
Another Israeli man tells the women that he hopes she is raped.
In another documented incident, an Israeli anti-African immigrant protester announces to a cheering crowd that she is proud to be a racist. Calling African people "infiltrators," another Israeli man shouts, presumably to an African migrant, "I'll stick a pole up your ass. You disgust me! Infiltrators go home!"
It is not unusual for African migrants to Israel to be refused work permits. Consequently many can't afford essentials, such as food. The footage of the anti-African rallies showed that they were often led by serving members of the Knesset. At one large rally, Michael Ben-Ari said:
You want to help Africans. Go to Africa! You want to give them food? Give them food in Africa. This is the only Jewish State we have.
Speaking at another large anti-African rally, the current Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, said:
This is not Eritrea or Sudan. This is our home! This is our country!
Israel's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations and current chair of the World Likud—the Likud Party's internationalist arm—Danny Danon, said:
The most important thing is to expel the infiltrators [African people] from the country to protect Israel as a Jewish State.
The present Israeli Transport Minister, Miri Regev told the cheering Israeli crowd:
The Sudanese are a cancer in our body.
The documentary reported that the Israeli government amendments to its anti-Infiltration Act, which then allowed non-Jewish immigrants to be detained for up to three years, prior to deportation, had led to the creation of the enormous Saharonim Prison in the Negev Desert that can hold up to 8,000 Africans without trial.
Eager to cast Jason as an antisemite, Marianna Spring certainly does not want the BBC audience to have any appreciation of the context of his tweet. There is no excuse for any kind of bigotry, including racism and antisemitism. While Jason's tweet was perhaps injudicious, wrongly accusing Jews of collective responsibility, it was made in response to the grotesque racism exhibited by some Israeli's during those protests.
Two wrongs do not make a right, but we have all said stupid things in the heat of the moment. What Jason's ill-judged tweet does not demonstrate is that he is "antisemitic," as Marianna is clearly insinuating. If she gave any context, which she didn't, all she would have demonstrated is that disgusting acts of racism make Jason very angry.
Marianna, as is the norm, does not provide any evidence to support her claim that AEOs are woven with "hateful tropes." She says that this is what she "often finds" but we have no reason to accept her findings.
Jason maintains that he does not believe his re-tweet was antisemitic, we might disagree because it did appear to cast all Jews as guilty of the racist obscenities of a small minority. However, Marianna Spring is using exactly the same form of bigotry.
While one foolish tweet in no way proves that Jason is antisemitic, Marianna is using it to make that allegation. Therefore, her argument runs, all people who share his AEOs are prone to "hateful tropes." She is accusing Jason of that which she is herself guilty.
All Marianna Spring has provided to the BBC's "Conspiracyland" audience thus far are unfounded epithets she has persistently tried to attach to people with AEOs. In her attempt to make these seem plausible, she then enters into the realms of absurdity.
As Jason strongly denies that he is antisemitic, Spring next asks him to define what would constitute antisemitism in his view. He replies that getting a knife and stabbing a Jewish person while shouting "I hate Jews and Israeli's" would be antisemitic. Which is obviously correct.
Determined to make the "hateful tropes" allegation credible, Marianna says "the extremity and violence of his answer" really shocks her. Comically, she adds, "as he speaks Jason makes a stabbing motion with his hands." It seems, in the weird world of Marianna Spring, Jason's gestures are antisemitic too.
Spring is exploiting the logical fallacy of appeal to emotion. By reporting her supposed shock and distress, Spring is attempting to convey that emotion to her audience to convince them to believe her completely unfounded claim that AEOs are “woven with hateful tropes."
Imbuing her listeners with moral outrage invites them to perceive themselves as morally superior. It is a powerful propaganda technique, sometimes called appeal to prejudice.
Despite Marianna's farcical attempts to apply prejudicial meaning to the kind of hand gestures we all commonly use, this exchange reveals something more than her propaganda strategies. Jason appears to know that free speech in a "representative democracy" is judged in relation to the harm principle first outlined by Sir John Stuart Mill.
There is a significant and extremely important difference between saying, or tweeting, something stupid in anger, even if it causes considerable offence, and saying or doing something that puts someone in real physical danger. Hence his 'on the spot' analogy in reply to Marianna's question.
While Jason's answer may have been a bit too graphic for Marianna's extremely delicate sensibilities, he wasn't actually wrong. As Marianna is apparently a fan of “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” she should perhaps spend some time reflecting upon its meaning:
"I wish creatures wouldn't be so easily offended!", "You'll get used to it in time," said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.
[Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland]
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