Controlling the Collapse Argument With

the Fakery of "Fake News", Or More Like

a Case of Plain Old (Unuseful) Idiocy?

As you may have read a couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post published an article entitled "Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread 'Fake News' During Election, Experts Say", in which it cited a report by a group calling itself PropOrNot. According to the Post,

PropOrNot’s monitoring report... identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.

In one way or another I'm familiar with about a quarter of the sites listed, perhaps one or two of which I occasionally visit. Two of them have actually published From Filmers to Farmers (FF2F) posts in the past (Truthout and OpEdNews) and a third called an FF2F post hyperbolic (!) while providing a link in its daily list of to-read articles (Naked Capitalism). That aside, what I was interested to see was whether or not there were any blogs or sites in PropOrNot's list that had a history of writing about peak oil and/or the collapse of industrial civilization. After a quick scan I didn't notice anything, but after doing a more thorough look while checking the Alexa rankings of some of PropOrNot's listed sites I did a double-take – "Oil Geopolitics? Say What!?" Scrolling back over to the Js, yup, (Journal of the) New Eastern Outlook was there as well. For those who don't know what I might be getting at, I'll try and explain.

New Eastern Outlook is a site publishing various writers on mostly Eastern issues, is headquartered in Moscow, and has as its leading author F. William Engdahl. Engdahl runs the site Oil Geopolitics, or at least did, as he hasn't posted there since mid-2013 and now regularly posts at another site of his, William Engdahl. But as the Washington Post stated, PropOrNot identified sites that were "peddlers of Russian Propaganda during the election" (emphasis mine), something that Oil Geopolitics hasn't done in over three years, but which William Engdahl has done steadily for the past year, much of whose content would certainly land it in PropOrNot's naughty books. That being so, why the discrepancy? I emailed PropOrNot asking for some clarification regarding this, but as I not very surprisingly didn't get a reply I was left to draw my own conclusions.

For starters, PropOrNot is an anonymous (not Anonymous) group of individuals whom the Washington Post describes as "a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds", and whose identity the kind folks at the Post have agreed to keep secret so that the group can "avoid being targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers." Okay.

After a Doomstead Diner article pointed out the idiocy behind PropOrNot's suggestion that Russia be excluded from SWIFT, its author, Palloy, then asked:

[W]hy would a news organisation with such an impeccable reputation for good journalism, choose to pick up this story from an anonymous bunch of idiots with a $10 web-site? Perhaps because they are not a bunch of idiots at all, but a secretive cabal of war-crazed neo-cons, and WaPo have been given the establishment nod of approval to promote them.

Which, if you ask me, makes complete sense, but still doesn't explain the Engdahl discrepancy.

Backtracking a bit, the closest that PropOrNot's list comes to covering the collapse of industrial civilization is The Economic Collapse Blog (TECB), a site that has nothing to do with the collapse of industrial civilization, but rather calls out every little vagary in the news as a sign that disaster is once again just around the corner. (No really, this time it really really is! So quick, like, buy something!) No doubt TECB sells a lot of trinkets thanks to its incessant innuendo, but like the saying goes, "a broken clock is right twice a day", and no doubt TECB will be proclaiming from the top of the rafters "I told you so!" when the inevitable economic downturn once again occurs.

Perpetually creamy on the inside (photo by Neal Fowler)

In regards to peak oil, the closest that PropOrNot's list comes in this respect is Oil Geopolitics, and this is where things get even more awry. While pretty much all of the sites on PropOrNot's list are out on the fringes of things, the fringes are by nature where not only the cutting edge can be found but also those out to lunch. Although I didn't so much mind Engdahl's first three books (although with a fair amount of reservations), his fourth book, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, is where he started to lose the plot in my eyes, culminating in Myths, Lies and Oil Wars, where things really went over the deep end. In case you didn't know, one of Engdahl's stakeouts on the fringes is as a strong proponent of the abiotic theory of oil, the (cornucopian) notion that oil is not an organic substance and instead supposedly originates from deep carbon deposits present since Earth's formation. As the theory goes (which comes courtesy of a bunch of Russian scientists actually), given enough time oil fields refill themselves with black gold.

Perpetually creamy on the inside (photo by Neal Fowler)

With that in mind, and as is stated on the back cover of Myths, Lies and Oil Wars,

As Henry Kissinger said, "If you control the oil you control entire nations." The converse is also true – If oil cannot be controlled the controlling powers lose their control over other nations and the wars that go with it. This is an entirely different account of the world's most important and most political commodity – oil.

In other words, since oil is such a plentiful resource the powers-that-be have little recourse but to maintain a false sense of scarcity in order that they can maintain control over the masses – masses that would otherwise be able to enjoy lives of abiotic cornucopian bliss.

With TECB and Oil Geopolitics in mind, and while there certainly is a McCarthyite tinge to PropOrNot and its list, one could also see the list as a bit of an exercise in controlling the peak oil / collapse of industrial civilization argument, baiting the anti-establishment types to hone in on these broken clock, out to lunch, not-quite peak oil / collapse of industrial civilization sites, which in effect diverts their attention from more worthwhile ones.

Sure, there's a few worthwhile sites on PropOrNot's list, but even though much of the criteria laid out by PropOrNot for inclusion on its list "are common themes here on Doomstead Diner" (as Palloy put it), and even though John Michael Greer was a bit cheekily "disappointed to find that The Archdruid Report didn't make the cut" – and then expressed in the comments to said post that he was surprised that (Russian-born) Dmitry Orlov's site (Club Orlov) wasn't included either – I wasn't too surprised to notice their exclusion from the list of malcontents (even as mere "useful idiots").

Supposing said (worthwhile) sites have large enough readerships to attract PropOrNot's attention in the first place, to include any of them in the list would have given them legitimacy and drawn attention to them. Might there then be a conspiracy abrew to bring attention to – and thus give quasi-legitimacy to – sites like TECB and Oil Geopolitics while ignoring sites like The Doomstead Diner, The Archdruid Report, Club Orlov, and (ahem) From Filmers to Farmers? Could such sites have been blacklisted from being blacklisted?

Well, I may have entertained such notions in the past, but after the recent U.S. elections I think it was quite clearly shown that this may not be so much of a conspiracy as opposed to idiocy reigning supreme. As just one example, and in case you hadn't heard, in the debate on climate and energy policy Trump's energy advisor did after all state that

It is complicated when you talk about the movement of electricity. You know, neurons go where neurons want to go once they're on the line, right?

Uhhh....

Anyway, according to Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept,

As is so often the case, those who mostly loudly warn of "fake news" from others are themselves the most aggressive disseminators of it.

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming – and the Iranians too! (image courtesy of Wayne Vermeire)

Quite true. But it should probably also be added that for those concerned about energy and collapse issues, the fake newsers have little to no grasp of the big picture here, never mind having much cognizance of our perch on what is essentially a fake monetary system.

So no, no conspiracy here. More like the blind leading the blind, the fakers leading the fakees, and another case of just plain old (unuseful) idiocy.

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming – and the Iranians too!
(image courtesy of Wayne Vermeire)
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Comments (10)

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vera
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20
Oct 2015
First Poster
vera

Hey. Glad you are writing again.

I discovered the abiotic theory about a year ago, and wrote to Bart on Resilience about it, since the Resilience folks keep up with this sort of stuff. He confirmed it.

Now, of course it does not follow that the Earth has plenty of oil for the taking at present or in the near future. But jeering at the theory itself (which seems to be confirmed by data from other planets, or their satellites, I forget which) does not show you off in a good light.

As for Palloy's claim, there is a simpler explanation. Maybe WaPo are the idiots and propagandists and purveyors of fake news, like the missing WMDs of yore?

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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Vera: I'm not sure what you mean by Bart "confirmed it" -- that he confirmed the theory exists? -- because I highly doubt Bart buys into the abiotic oil story. You can check out one Resilience article on it here:

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2004-10-06/%E2%80%9Cabiotic-oil%E2%80%9D-controversy

And yeah, WaPo should be taken with a whole sack of salt. They just did an amendment of sorts to their original article, thoroughly explained by the folk on the other side of the fence, RT:

https://www.rt.com/usa/369598-washington-post-fake-propaganda

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vera
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20
Oct 2015
First Poster
vera

Bart confirmed that some of what is called "fossil fuel" does appear to be abiotic. As indeed does the link you posted. It says, "Gold is right: there are hydrocarbons on other planets, even in deep space."

Bart thought that this does not help us in our earthly predicament, and I am inclined to agree.

A whole sack of salt is right. I am following things closely, and as far as I can see, the "Russian propaganda" claim was manufactured out of whole cloth first in response to the massive Wikileaks during the election campaign, only to intensify in the wake of Trump win. Nobody presents evidence; just hysterical assaults on other than status quo info. Used to be, accusing them of conspiracy theory was enough. Apparently though, that stopped working. :-)

Btw, if I remember correctly, you were going to write about the refugee situation. Is that still in the works?

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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Vera: The absurd thing is, what if the Russian thing turns out to be true? Are the Democrats seriously getting upset because "you're not supposed to expose our corruption!"? Forget the Dems and the GOP being good cop / bad cop, this is more like bad cop / badder cop.

And yeah, that/those piece(s) on refugees, which I said I should do at your suggestion, isn't really in the queue right now. On top of having other things to get out of the way, and that get in the way, I'm also super slow at writing. And the refugee stuff will take some work. As well, I'd first like to submit that four-parter on multiculturalism to Resilience to kind of set the stage. And for that I might wait until I integrate a new commenting system into this blog, Discourse. Can't say how soon that'll all happen though. (But at least this updated version of Commentics is now letting your comments through pre-approved!)

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vera
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20
Oct 2015
First Poster
vera

Well, ok, if we were to take the Russian claim seriously, there has to be evidence. After seeing their highjinks with the Malaysian flight 17, it would take more for me than just claiming it because it sounds better than "our ass wuz whipped by a collection of our own leakers/hackers who are sick of the lies and nonsense going on."

Now, I think it's pretty clear that the Russians are savoring their role of alternative news provider, after being vilified for so long (rightly) as propaganda spewers within the USSR. More power to them. I saw a news item go by yesterday that said the Eur. Parliament put forth some resolution about those horrible Russians who are waging propaganda war on the rest of Europe. I think it all boils down to the PTB losing control of the narrative to the plebs plus Russia.

They lost control just as they thought they had it all in their pocket. And instead of cleaning their own augean stable, they try to crack down. Only to out themselves as authoritarian idiots once more.

Will be looking forward to your take on the multicult when you get the chance. And thanks for remembering and fixing the comments! :-)

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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Vera: Yeah, I think you nailed it on the head regarding the Dems having lost control of the narrative -- and now they're in panic mode. But from what I can tell, the true believers are lapping up everything they say, even non-American true-Dem-believers here in Australia. One lady I know, who's been in total denial since Clinton lost, repeatedly calls Trump a "buffoon". Not that I'm a fan of his in the slightest, but I'm astounded at how brilliant the guy is that he can get people to think he's an idiot. So long as they continue thinking that they'll never see what's coming.

And no worries about the comment thing. I updated the script and thankfully it seems to have fixed itself.

Edit 5 minutes later: I just read that some are saying that the (alleged) Russian hacking can/should be weighed in the minds of those voting in the Electoral College. Wow. It would have been one thing if Trump lost the election, but if he has it taken away from him after winning... there's gonna be some very unhappy campers in the U.S.

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vera
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Oct 2015
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vera

I have been attempting to hang out with assorted Dems and Progs online, only to discover they largely live in the echo chamber they accuse the other side of living in. When information coming from other sources show up, they get abusive. But there is good coming out of it -- the argumentum ad Hitlerum has lost all its bite. :-)

And yes, there are various efforts to delegitimize Trump. One of them pressuring the electors to switch. Given the fact they received quite a few death threats after the election, I am not too worried. But it shows you the moral caliber of those people applying pressure... they don't wait to use the anti-Russian claims only if real evidence shows up.

Isn't it amusing how people in other countries have gotten vehemently anti or pro Trump? I have never seen anything like it before...

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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Vera: I don't know... From what I read even John McCain and Lindsey Graham are getting in on this Russia stuff now. In this zany election year who knows what might happen?

And almost as amusing as the overseas anti-and pro-Trumpers are the overseas bloggers blathering away about it all. I really gotta move on... :)

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Joe Clarkson
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Jan 2015
Joe Clarkson

One of the things that mystifies me is the number of generally good collapse monitoring sites that think the election of Trump is somehow a really positive event. The Archdruid Report, Automatic Earth, Peak Prosperity, 22 Billion Energy Slaves and ClubOrlov, among others, all promulgate the view that Trump is a bracing antidote to a corrupt and militaristic US national government. I completely disagree, but my reasons are unimportant.

What is puzzling is the fact that they care at all. The forces in play now will lead to the collapse of industrial civilization and those forces are so enormous and implacable that the election of the US President is a meaningless non-event. The only significant thing a US President can do is launch a batch of nuclear weapons. Other than that, he/she is powerless to keep energy and other resource limits from causing the collapse of the global market economy and the population that depends on it.

Greer, Meier, Martenson et al surely know this. Why would they waste their reader's time discussing something so trivial? Is it just the trashy spectacle of the thing?

Since even this fine site has succumbed to temptation, perhaps you can fill me in on why Trump v. Clinton was considered to be such a big deal in the collapse blogosphere.

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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Joe: Yeah, I'm with you 100% in regards to being stumped as to how any of those bloggers might see any kind of benefit to Trump. Sure, Trump may, say, pull out of the TPP (and so save some jobs from being lost), but, and supposing that he actually does so (of which I'd be stunned), what's the catch? Because there's no way there wouldn't be a catch. Besides that, and as far as I can tell, the only "good" thing that could come out of a Trump presidency is that if you've got white skin you aren't going to get the shaft quite as quickly as if you have non-white skin. Yay?

For those aware of the impending collapse of industrial civilization, has spending time writing (and reading) about these elections been a waste of time and breath? For the most part, yeah, I think you're mostly right about that as well. I do think though that Greer gave some excellent explanations (which were mostly absent from the mainstream media) on why Trump was about to be elected. Unfortunately, I nonetheless think that such explanations fell, and still fall, mostly on deaf ears. Even here in Australia I hear anti-Trumpers still stating, while whole-heartedly laughing, that Trump supporters "really are a bunch of deplorables". Even after losing to Trump they still have no clue as to how condescending they've been (and still are) and that that's exactly what got Trump elected. I see no evidence that they're going to clue in any time soon.

But even though I too "succumbed to temptation" (I had a good laugh at that one), I certainly can't speak for the others, and not just because I'm the pip-squeak in the collapse bloggosphere. If I can excuse myself a tad, I wasn't planning on writing on it at all until I got that WWE analogy in my head and so pointed out the uber-spectacle of it all (I'm talking about that three-parter on the WWE/WEE wrote). And what a dumb idea that was. As I stated to those on my email notification list upon writing part three, after the election:

Sick and tired of these U.S. elections as much as I am? I doubt it. Seeing how I said I was writing a trio of posts on the whole thing I kind of forced myself to have to write a part three.

Because boy was I not wanting to write on the whole thing anymore.

Regarding my writing about the PropOrNot list, I wouldn't have done so were it not for having noticed William Engdahl's site, for whatever worth that ended up being.

Otherwise, yeah, it kind of ticks me off that I've made such an utter waste of my time this past year or two paying any attention to this stuff and taking it seriously in the slightest. A mate of mine shut down his Facebook account, partly due to being fed up with the asinine spectacle. Good on him.

That all being said, there's a big Trump protest coming up here in Melbourne on January 21st. I tend to get a kick out of protesting protesters, so perhaps I'll go with a sign reading "Democrats are responsible for Trump's election - SHAME!" Then when people approach me and I try and waywardly talk about peak oil and/or the collapse of industrial civilization they'll be mostly be polite, walk away, and think that I'm a loony-tune.

I really gotta get out of this city.

/rant

p.s. To give one collapse blogger some credit, at least RE of the Doomstead Diner said yesterday that

As of now, 2017 looks like it will be a watershed year in the World of Collapse. The election of Trumpty-Dumpty and his installation of Billionaires, Corporatocracy CEOs and Military Generals as Cabinet members and his Advisory team speaks clearly to exactly what kind of "Populist" this jerk is. It boggles my mind that people are so foolish as to buy any of the nonsense he spouted out through the campaign. It's a fucking GUARANTEE he will eviscerate civil liberties, curtail free speech & freedom of assembly and increase the power of the Police State, all the stuff Libertarians say they are against! He's also obviously going to give away the store to fellow plutocrats and .01%ers, he's already stacked the whole fucking cabinet with them! Jamie Dimon and Carl Icahn are his economic advisors here for crying out loud! He's going to shrink the Military? Are you fucking NUTS? He's already appointed 3 Generals to his cabinet, one of whom worked for General Dynamics after leaving the military! He's up for a new Nuclear Arms Race! He's got Jamie fucking Dimon & Carl leveraged buyout Icahn as his leading advisors on the Economy! Can you get more status quo BAU Military-Industrial-Banking complex than this? This is "draining the swamp"? More like "swimming in the swamp".

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