The Chaos Before the Capture - Fascists Laid Bare
We are seeing history repeat - chaos events precede authoritarian capture. We have the power to stop it
“The GOP and Russia are One. And. The. Same.”-Jack Hopkins
Yesterday, I wanted to punch a wall. I didn’t, but I wanted to.
Instead, I texted Ruth and Marty the source of my agony - I sent them a story of a girl in Russia who was ripped from her father and is now in an orphanage. Her father, who was sentenced to prison, has disappeared.
Their crime? The girl drew a picture in support of Ukraine.
I do not want what Russia has. I have enjoyed the freedoms that come with being an American. I write every day in defense of freedom.
I watched tankies skulk out of the shadows last week to create false equivalencies about war. All war is shit. But America is not Russia.
The chaos events we are seeing and responding to myopically have historic precedents, and we better start responding differently.
Chaos and destabilization events are intended to keep us in a perpetual state of trauma so we miss the big play - fascists seizing power.
What we are watching right now is the chaos before the capture.
We have in this moment the ability to stop it. But it will take a lot of work. Democracy’s preservation requires labor.
We are being assaulted on multiple fronts and must narrow down the attack surface.
Begin with protecting your mind.
When you see single-purpose hate accounts targeting people like me and my podcast partners, and the brave independent journalists, historians, and OSINT investigative researchers who toil on the virtual frontlines, ask yourself: why care what anonymous accounts and their handlers have to say? If they were truly important, they would not spend all their waking hours harassing us. They’d be in the trenches with us fighting Putin, Trump, DeSantis, Fox, Orbán, and the Congressional chaos agents who are actively working to destroy liberal democracies.
Unless of course, they work on behalf of the Kremlin’s interests.
As I have been reporting for nearly seven years, we are a target nation of cognitive warfare, the human mind is the battlefield, and today’s report in the Washington Post - The Vulkan Files: Secret Trove offers rare look into Russian cyberwar ambitions’ is yet another example of the scale of the ongoing attacks.
According to the Post report:
“These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one and the same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight,” said John Hultquist, the vice president for intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which reviewed selections of the document at the request of The Post and its partners.
It echoes what I wrote here, in my parsing of Keir Giles NATO handbook on Russian information warfare:
What I and others are enduring is the constant attacks on our will to fight. What you are enduring on social media platforms is the exhaustion that comes with the perpetual trauma of such attacks.
Are we downhearted? A thousand times no.
With every letter of every word I type I expose their operations.
Cyberwarfare is cheap. Their are no rear areas. And entire countries offer services for hate terrorism, as I reported in Agent Provacateurs and the Hierarchy of Disinformation. A core tenet of that report is how malinformation - a partial reflection of reality - is used to twist people’s brains into a pretzel. It also shows that the hate terrorists in the online trenches are the lowest paid on the rung, which likely contributes to their vitriol.
Entire countries are being infected with the mind virus. Russia has launched a social media site in Africa exclusively to spread Kremlin influence operations. As my podcast partner, HiFi, has been reporting for two years: Russia has been infiltrating Africa through the Wagner Group, arms deals, troll operations, and economic and resources exploitation.
And as my supporters are aware, this global war for our minds is also fought on the virtual battlefield of Twitter, which I wrote in Unmusked: How Elon Musk is Using Twitter to Destroy the Concept of Objective Truth.
“Elon Musk is turning Twitter into VKontakte, the Russian information warfare outlet disguised as a social media platform”, explained Canadian academic and geopolitical analyst Michael McKay, a member of the Bette community.
This morning, I wrote a thread on Twitter for those who are willing to stay and not cede ground to the fascists:
‘Chaos IRL - Italy, Germany, Russia, America’
I have learned from the great historians, philosophers, and independent investigative reporters of our times that if we do not look back, we may not accurately gauge the future.
Everywhere that fascists seized power, chaos and destabilization events took place first.
In Italy, in early 1921, fascist paramilitary squads set out to cause chaos in a violent campaign of destruction and brutality that instilled fear and confusion in the Italian citizens. Beatings, murders, and raids against socialists and communists caused terror that led to the rise of Mussolini.
For a visual, picture paramilitary goons driving trucks with flags, which should sound familiar.
In Germany, chaos and destabilization events such as the failed Beerhall Putsch in 1923 - caused Hitler to try to seize power through legal channels, aligning with other far-right factions, infiltrating the police and giving party members enforcer status. By the time of the Reichstag fire a decade later, Hitler was not only able to seize power by harnassing people’s fears, he had already created his foundational network.
Do recall, how the apartment bombings in Russia - or ‘Russia’s 9-11’ - which were allegedly staged so Putin could play strongman and have an excuse to wage a brutal war on Chechnya. Before the apartment bombings, Putin was believed to have no chance to succeed Boris Yeltsin. Suddenly, he was everywhere, and the chaos of those events, paved the way for him to capture complete and total power in the Russian Federation.
So let’s now move to America.
The violent insurrection of January 6, the seizure of the Supreme Court by the authoritarian right, the 426 anti-gay bills in 2023 poisoning our country as of last count, a true fascist in Florida Ron DeSantis, a true fascist disgraced retired general Mike Flynn radicalizing people in churches, a twice impeached, disgraced Russian asset Trump - the first president* to be criminally indicted - now calling for more violence. The authoritarian right’s unwillingness to do anything about the continuous murder of our children.
“The GOP and Russia are One. And. The. Same.”-Jack Hopkins on Twitter.
The authoritarian right in America is working with the Russian Federation to savagely dismantle our democracy and replace it with authoritarianism. They are being assisted by ops on the left.
We must no longer view the bloodshed of American children in isolation, but part of the chaos and destabilization that leads to trauma and fear that leads to authoritarian capture of countries.
“Mass shootings normalize terror and create a traumatized population that views strangers with suspicion and fear,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat.
We don’t hand-wring anymore. We go on offense. Last year, I worked in the campaign trenches of community politics. You can, too. Canvassing, phone banking, volunteering, staffing - all that works.
You are among the global citizens who understand the impacts social media is having on our elections on our very existence.
When you see something, say something. You will find cabals of internet terrorists trying to hillary anyone legitimately doing the work of democracy who has influence. Call them out. Screenshot where you find it and show the harassment and techniques.
Abusers go after targets
Abusers plays victim when targets defend themselves from abuse
Abusers have no interest in the labor of democracy
Abusers are trying to silence the brave with ongoing hate terrorism
In my last campaign, one of the worst online hate terrorists was promised a win bonus from my candidate’s opponent. Because we worked our asses off under heavy abuse daily, he did not get it.
We can do this.
We can seize back our Congress and our communities, and ensure no traitors to America ever set foot back in our White House again.
We have that power in this moment.
We must become experts in the techniques of chaos and destabilization.
‘Acts of War’
In this 2018 report on Putin’s Strategy of Chaos, the authors noted:
Methods of spreading disinformation that are initially surreptitious become more recognizable with use, so new and more drastic ones must be invented. In addition, since they are ultimately acts of war, it is hard to know when disinformation campaigns are preludes to kinetic operations. And by provoking counter-moves by their targets, they can trigger tests of strength, which these tactics were designed to avoid in the first place. Despite these potential pitfalls, the Kremlin is gambling that the West won’t recognize its strategy of sowing chaos or organize a sufficient response. It may be right.
We must prove them wrong. We cannot waste time lurching from crisis to crisis as our statehouses are remade in the image of fascists.
Join me in saying:
I do not accept a fascist America.
I will never accept a fascist America.
I will never stop doing the labor of democracy.
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(Photo, protesting Iraq war)