What Would YOU do with Twitter?

Suppose that instead of Elon Musk being about to take control of Twitter, it was YOU.

Your mission…

–you want to establish Twitter as a true free-speech ‘town square’

–you need to make enough money to repay the substantial debt that you are incurring for the acquisition

–you would LIKE to make a lot more money than that necessary minimum, just for scorekeeping purposes if nothing else

What would be the best path to follow in terms both of information flow (who sees what posts), revenue sources, and other attributes of the platform ?

The Rage of the Prince-Electors

During the Middle Ages, in the time of the Holy Roman Empire, there was a small group of men known as the Prince-Electors.  They, and only they, got to choose the next Emperor.

We have something kind of similar in America today.  There is a cluster of influential and would-be-influential people who fervently believe that–while they might not get to actually selected the next President–they should have the authority to decide who may and who may not be considered for the Presidential role.  These Prince-Electors include national journalists, Ivy League professors and administrators, and high-level government officials.  Their primary means of action is via the control of communications channels.

The sense of entitlement is clearly displayed in an article by Robert Reich, in which he basically asserts that speech-control by social media is necessary to protect democracy.  Reich clearly believes that he, and those he considers to be his peers, should have the right to decide what Americans can read, see, and hear.

Many years ago, I was talking to a wise executive, who said something has that stayed with me:

When you’re running a large organization, you’re not seeing reality.  It’s like you’re watching a movie in which you get to see maybe one out of every thousand frames, and from that, you have to figure out what’s really going on.

This is very true in business, and it’s even more true in politics.  The control of what Frames people get to see, and in what sequence, is a source of enormous power.

This power reaches its zenith, of course, in totalitarian societies, where people are prevented from sharing unapproved Frames via threats of arrest, long prison sentences, and even execution. China under Xi and Russia under Putin are pretty close to this condition.  Vitaliy Katsenelson, in one of his essays on Russia and Ukraine, remarked that many of his friends back in Russia seem like they are living in the Truman show…ie, a totally controlled and imaginary environment.

We are not presently in that situation in the US, and Reich’s analogizing of Trump’s tweets with Putin’s information control is obscene.  (The whole piece is very 1984-ish…to ‘war is peace’ and ‘freedom is slavery’, add ‘censorship is democracy’.)  There are still enough independent sources of information in the US that people who make an effort can still break out of the walled gardens (complete with serpent) and formulate their own impressions of what is going on.  But momentum is powerful, and people are busy.  The frame selection role is very powerful.

There is real anger, on the part of the Prince-Electors, that anyone would dare to challenge their control of information flow…note the long-standing fury at the very existence of Fox News and talk radio.  I am sure the rage today is raised to a higher level, in the wake of Musk’s plan to acquire Twitter outright as opposed to merely taking a Board seat.

See my related posts Comm CheckDo the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?,  and this book review.

Woke Democrats and Environmentalists will scare off our allies.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has set off radical changes in international relationships. The US and other (not all) European nations have imposed severe sanctions on Russia designed to destroy its economy. The precedents set are not all positive. First Ukraine has defined corruption for years. The Biden family and even Mitt Romney’s family got positions on a Ukrainian gas company’s Board for lots of money and no work except influence. The “Maiden Revolution” in 2014 was engineered by the Obama CIA. It expelled a pro-Russian president duly elected in an election probably more honest than the US 2020 election. Not all agree that it was an honest process.

As Ukraine’s political crisis deepened, [Victoria] Nuland and her subordinates became more brazen in favoring the anti-Yanukovych demonstrators. Nuland noted in a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation on December 13, 2013, that she had traveled to Ukraine three times in the weeks following the start of the demonstrations. Visiting the Maidan on December 5, she handed out cookies to demonstrators and expressed support for their cause.

The extent of the Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s politics was breathtaking. Russian intelligence intercepted and leaked to the international media a Nuland telephone call in which she and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffey Pyatt discussed in detail their preferences for specific personnel in a post-Yanukovych government.

Ukraine has remained an economic basket case in spite of the change to a pro-western government.

The furious reaction to the invasion by US officials has alarmed some nations that have remained neutral. Some of them have been our allies, or at least friendly.

In a development that suggests trouble ahead, China’s basic approach—not endorsing Moscow’s aggression but resisting Western efforts to punish Russia—has garnered global support. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa blamed the war on NATO. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to condemn Russia. India and Vietnam, essential partners for any American strategy in the Indo-Pacific, are closer to China than the U.S. in their approach to the war.

Western arm-twisting and the powerful effect of bank sanctions ensure a certain degree of sanctions compliance and support for symbolic U.N. resolutions condemning Russian aggression. But the lack of non-Western enthusiasm for America’s approach to Mr. Putin’s war is a phenomenon that U.S. policy makers ignore at their peril.

The dominant role played by the “Woke” left and the Green New Deal enthusiasts in the Democrat Party has concerned many of them. Right now, Democrats hold all three branches of government, although narrowly.

Read more

Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

When I met Putin as a young colonel in the KGB.

Thoughts on Russia and Ukraine, by Vitaliy Katsenelson, an American investment manager who was born in Russia.  Registration may be required–this is the first post of a three-part series.

A historian specializing in Russia has some thoughts.

A proposal to undermine Putin by stealing technical talent.

Don’t Be Preedy…a CB post from 2009 that I ran across while searching for something entirely different.

The Rise of Hot Capital, at Quillette.

And a video on Free Speech and Innovation, from Claire Lehmann and David Perell.


The Odessa Steps

The early Soviet propaganda movie, The Battleship Potemkin, culminates in a prolonged and shocking sequence of local citizens – men, women and children – gunned down by remorseless Czarist soldiers on Odessa’s famed harbor-to-town staircase. The sequence remains a shocker. (And is still studied in film schools, apparently, for being ground-breaking effective and technologically ahead of the time.) Historically, there was never such a massacre on the Steps, but the sequence served as a kind of cinematic shorthand for State brutality aimed at essentially harmless, unarmed, unthreatening civilians in a public place; civilians who were seen to be defying the authority of the State. And so the armed minions of the State acted – because even the mildest defiance of Authority on the part of ordinary workers and their families is a stab at the heart of those Authorities. They cannot brook defiance, and so out come the armed police, just as they have this week in the streets of Ottawa with regard to the truckers protesting vaccine mandates. All the forces of the law, with the cheerful approval of the Canadian established media, the intellectual and ruling class – it’s really rather breathtaking, this concentrated venom and enthusiasm for breaking heads and bones, all aimed at the workers participating in a civil and well-organized street protest. (It would seem that as far as the RCMP are concerned, Dudley Do-Right and Constable Benton Fraser both have left the building – so much for Canadian ‘polite.’)

What will happen now that the ordinary working stiffs of Canada have been so casually abused by their native ruling class; threatened with having bank accounts frozen, their means of earning a living confiscated, themselves arrested, while their pets and children given over to the tender care of animal shelters and the child “protection” authorities? How far will this protest go now, bouncing down the Odessa Steps like a runaway baby carriage? It could be that Canadians, with the ethos of being polite, courteous, and truthful, may be truly shocked, shocked to the point of open rebellion over being consistently lied about and bullied by their ruling elite. In America, our own flyover country residents are perfectly accustomed to being abused as stupid, red-necked rubes by our own elite class. It’s what we have come to expect of NPR, the political ruling class, the New York/Hollywood cultural axis and the inside-the-Beltway-Washington DC denizens; what we have come to expect of them anyway. It may be a new and shocking development to ordinary, working-class Canadians, this contempt for the working class, though. Comment as you wish.