A Bigger Bang — How Facebook Kills Global Democracy

Facebook, as with British Justice, is open to all — just like the Ritz.

The Big Bang in the City of London Financial Sector happened in the Eighties and permitted US banks to massively expand their operations.

Stuffy old British banking gave way to a more openly money grabbing approach which meant people from varied backgrounds were allowed in to make their fortunes.

The Masons and the City establishment still ran the place but the lower orders were allowed in and, to a certain degree, their loyalty could be relied on.

This is what Thatcher, Blair, and Cameron represented.

A bizarre mingling of privilege and meritocracy.

In which a man like Jacob Rees-Mogg can praise Chancellor Sajid Javid as an inspirational Tory success story while also rightly claiming that the Queen is just a Constitutional Monarch (ie must know her place).

Rees-Mogg’s own father edited the Times and was only admitted to the Lords on a Life Peerage, in 1988.

So despite his professed love of Erskine & May, Jacob Rees Mogg’s fetish for Parliament’s rites and tradition is mainly theatrical.

His own family weren’t admitted till he himself was approaching twenty.


Why the focus on the City of London and Rees Mogg?

The effect of Facebook on democracy and particularly political marketing is akin to the Big Bang on Finance.

There are so many social factors and consequences that accompany such a development.

Facebook was always going to be a threat to TV and Newspapers.

Zuckerberg allows everyone a voice, political messaging, without restriction — for a price.

As Rees-Mogg is in cahoots with Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, his own sister joined the Brexit Party and became an MEP, it should not come as such a surprise that yesterday Nigel Farage withdrew every Brexit Party candidate from any seat in which the current MP is a Tory.

This strategy would be nothing if Boris Johnson hadn’t already performed a purge of the party and guaranteed 100% loyalty to the Hard Brexit cause.

Personally I believe the EU and the ECB are awful corporatist militarist vehicles that UK should have nothing to do with.

So now Trump, Bannon, Farage, Rees-Mogg, Cummings, & Johnson are a more immediate threat.

They have to be dealt with but not by staying in the corporatist EU.

Ad Libraries

If you look at Facebook’s arguments for profiteering from political BS, the rôle of the Ad Library takes centre stage.

Facebook lets politicians scam its users by citing free expression and increased transparency about who is buying adverts and how much they are spending.

Here is today’s UK Ad Library (link above). It shows information about Sunday 9th November, as I write this post it is 0438 on the morning of Tuesday 12th November (GMT )

You can click on any of the entries for more details.

This is the Boris Johnson Page :


The openness with which politicians now lie is not something we are going to be able to do much about as gatekeepers and intermediaries, ie press barons and their digital counterparts, now allow all sorts of untruth to go unchallenged.

It’s a great time to be blogging about the truth, sadly a little too great.


How’s that coup coming along?

There no coups in the UK. We just adapt. Some people might call it switching sides. Collaborating. Sleeping with the Enemy. Hypocrisy. Spinelessness. Disloyalty. Dishonesty. But that is to be kind. One has to survive. And if one accepts that that is the goal, then all else is up for grabs. So Rule No.1: Throw anyone under the bus. Rule No.2: Let there be no limitations. ie throw lots of people under the bus including family, friends, and especially the innocent. Rule No.3: There are no Rules.

This piece came out on Tech Crunch last night.

I see someone has commented. Do you think numbers are low because no-one is interested, everyone is lazy, or because people are too scared of being surveilled.

Here is the story in the Guardian on Tuesday evening – six hours after the original Buzzfeed piece. Strange that it didn’t make the actual paper. Interesting that, for a story with the word alarm in it, there has been no follow up. Comments disabled, of course.

Is this like what happened when Hervé Falciani handed new ECB head Christine Lagarde a bunch of confidential HSBC tax files (Swiss Leaks) when she was the French Finance Minister?

She managed to get them to the Greek Government but quite cleverly didn’t get too involved.

So anyway the Guardian did something good, but didn’t put in the paper, allow comments or commission follow ups…

The Buzzfeed piece:

Needless to say BBC have completely ignored this story. Not a trace. Channel Four haven’t mentioned it either. Maybe they lack the resources? Maybe they lack the desire. Even UK Column haven’t touched it. Oversight? Or are they too controlled opposition?

Computer Weekly last night:

Independent touch it – look at the comments (there are only two)

One of the Comments points to this. The Big Kahuna. Look at the Pericles bit. :

The book Ratfucked springs to mind. It’s about gerrymandering. Except this time it’s cognitive. Neuro-rigging. With Maps. These are the people behind Cambridge Analytica, aren’t, they?

Johnson, Patel, Gove, Cummings.


Nudged in New Cross

Behaviouralist Bants

So I thought Skinner was the bad guy. The really mechanistic one. Or was it Watson?

Who said we are basically all the same and that our feelings and personal stories don’t really matter.

That there is no such thing as experience. That we are all automatons. The one who put his daughter in a box.

These guys were out of fashion when I learned about them in the early 90s.

But then there was a behavioural revival of sorts. Which in turn enveloped economics.

But behavioural economics said we are all predictably irrational. That classical economics is wrong but behavioural economics is right.

But there are assumptions in behavioural economics too.

Such as that we have limited time and limited information.

Gigerenzer shows that lifting the information and time caps leads to bad decision making – even for experts.

He says we all excel at fast and frugal decision making and that overthinking things induces a form of judgment paralysis.

So behavioural economics itself is quite wrong in terms of how it is applied outside the narrowest of conditions.

And refuses to admit it only thrives under controlled conditions.

But it’s about control.

Choice architecture. Avoiding decision fatigue. Favorably automating information flows. Forcing people into certain situations and pretending it’s both logical and exemplifying freedom.

Someone tell Oliver Letwin.

He’s kind of gone now. Still an MP but not quite the eminence grise he once was.

He spoke about his ideas at the institute of government in 2014, I think.

Outlining the Road from Mont Pelerin that his parents and he had trundled. And then he admitted that he now realised that Intervention does work.

What kind of intervention do you mean, Oliver?

Surely not state intervention in markets – not a liberal like you?

Nor QE, where central banks do the heavy lifting that austerity governments ought really to be doing.

Oliver Letwin revealed that he was taking about the nudge unit.

Though he didn’t mention the job centre – he was probably talking about over there too.

His wife Isabel was head of legal services at The Department of Work and Pensions and at the Department of Health. Oliver’s crackpot ideas will have been used on mental health patients and “under” & “unemployed” people who didn’t really need them.

Of course the machinery of government exists to prevent anyone really knowing the consequences of their actions.

Agnatology is another word for ignorance studies. Sociologist Linsey McGoey has a book out on the topic next year. The Unknowers. Watch out for it.

There is always a latest fad via which the old school asset stripping is masked.

Dark Pools

At book club we looked at Dark Pools. The rise of AI and high frequency trading. I couldn’t help but think when presented with these smart idealist insurgent American price scalpers – You Got To Pick a Pocket or Two!!!

So there. From Hangman on the High Street to Richard Thaler’s Nobel 2017 Prize for Nudging.

Cancer research UK has me thinking of the Crick Institute, big pharma and the next Goldman Sachs social impact bond. This a featured big under Cameron, Osborne and Letwin and was just an excuse to privatize the NHS and get volunteers to steer the handover.

Will Davies looks at some of this stuff in Happiness Industry and Nervous States – links between neo-liberal policies, technology, happiness and “well being” discourse. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m sure big pharma has its place in there too.

There’s some great work being done on investigating all this but it’s pretty under the radar.

Let me know if you have any recommendations.

Once you start looking into any of this funny things start happening.

The Road from Mont Pelerin.

I met up with John Christensen of tax justice Network yesterday who told me about The Finance Curse, a new book out by Nicholas Shaxson.

There’s some research accompanying the launch, this Friday, which sheds light on the colossal cost to the UK of the Finance Curse.

Meanwhile check out his film The Spiders Web on YouTube and for updates on what the Tax Justice Network are up to check out the TaxCast with Naomi Fowler.

When discussing Mont Pelerin, I told John I once met Linda Whetstone, whose father, Anthony Fisher, set up the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA).

John asked me how a man who so frequently invoked freedom could make his money from forcing hens into cages barely big enough for them to even breathe.

The Macron Curse

It looks like Macron is going to copy Blair and go all out for neoliberalism.

God knows what that will do to the environment and the Paris Climate accord!

I’m meeting Chloé Farrand of DeSmogUK tomorrow and will report back where she thinks we are heading.

The finance curse has done nothing to improve the gender pay gap in London. So I wonder what the figures look like in France.

London Conversation

I’m planning on publishing more frequently.

The idea is that with heightened fluency might come some sort of style.


The Election Commissions

In August 1869 The Daily News published a story about disputed elections in Norwich, in which Sir Henry Stracey, the Conservative candidate, had resorted to a number of notable techniques — such as getting voters sloshed. The extract below sheds light on the 1868 goings on, and is taken from that newspaper’s report on the public inquiry.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Fast forward to the 2018 disputes about Cambridge Analytica and it starts to appear as though politics has always been about attention and emotion. In Norwich in 1868, booze, cash and locally sourced cheese were the algorithmically driven xenophobic micro-targetting strategies we have today.

Bread and Circus ate our Politics

The convergence of human consciousness and technology has forced political marketers to adapt their short term tactics, while sticking to the tried and tested Bread and Circuses strategy. Was the gap between probity and practice even bigger then than it is now? Wealthy people buying elections by getting the electorate in the right sort of state is totally normal. Psychogeographic gerrymandering. Treat most people badly most of the time, but do enough good things at the right time, and you get re-elected.

Pity the Marginal Billionaire

In America, till recently, the physical gerrymandering, or redistricting, was so open and yet so taboo that things eventually had to come to a head. As with financial crashes, market failure in politics is a fact of life.

When will we learn that we never learn?

Why is the 1868 election fraud episode not taught in schools? Surely not because it’s part of a culture of widespread fraud and secrecy that ‘the powerful’ would have us forget. An investigative / environmental reporter recently told me that the real work is not in uncovering what is illegal but in educating people about what is completely legal but that nobody wants to hear.

Goodhart’s Compass & News of the Week: 22/04/2018

What a funny week we’ve had: Wages, Inflation, Sterling, Labour shocks, Enoch Powell, Windrush, Home Office, Deportations, Andrew Neil and David Goodhart, Nick Timothy, Hostile Environment, Modi, Gove, Mode4, The Times, ALEC, Cambridge Analytica, Barbara Bush, Basic Income, Biometrics, Aadhaar, Syria, Peter Hitchens, Owen Jones, Amelia Gentleman and Jo Johnson, Amber Rudd, Caroline Nokes, Mick Mulvaney, Lance Armstrong, The Serious Fraud Office, Aaron Banks and Local Elections — all very Surkov. (explanation to come)

Some of these issues were mentioned in Amusing Ourselves to Death, a podcast out later today. I will include some links for some of what we talked about and a few more from the list above.

Corbyn who has been personally accused of Anti-Semitism was one of only a handful of Labour MPs to oppose Theresa May’s Hostile Environment Strategy in Parliament in 2013. The Conservative MPs all voted for it and the Labour MPs who accuse him of Anti-Semitism all abstained. Actions speak louder than words, ha?

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes claimed not to know the numbers when asked bout how many people had been deported but promised them all Biometric Residency Permits. WTF?

Amber Rudd accused her own department of being too focused on policy and not on individuals. But she’s been running it since she took over from Theresa May in July 2016. It was during Rudd’s incredibly hostile speech at the Tory Party Conference in October 2016 that the Pound dropped like a stone.

Recent wages figures may have outstripped inflation for the first time in a long time and Sterling may have hit a recent high but it has since fallen and the wage increases mask a labour shock fuelled by a fall in immigration due to foreign workers unwilling to come to Britain.

According to Theresa May’s definitions David Goodhart’s grandfather was a Jewish immigrant to the UK. Yet Goodhart himself, despite being descended from the Jewish Bankers who set up Lehman Brothers,  thinks nothing of lending support to the far right French National Front and to Hungarian far right anti-Soros Orban Party.

Obviously Andrew Neil is also severely compromised.




UKIP paid Bannon’s firm to swing Brexit

Finally a smoking gun. UKIP paid Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica to swing Brexit.

Carole Cadwalladr and Peter Jukes have been tweeting about Brexit and outside interference for some time.

But this invoice, showing that UKIP paid Cambridge Analytica, says it all.

I must say I am one of the people who was going to vote Remain but changed their mind at the last minute. The arguments I fell for were persuasive so I was utterly convinced of them at the time.

The proof has come out just a few hours after the BBC read out Enoch’s Powell’s Rivers of Blood Speech on the television to commemorate’s its 50th anniversary.

The BBC is a public institution which shrouds itself in secrecy. Which shows how seriously our leaders take its propaganda purpose. If only we could know who had decided we needed to hear that speech in that particular way. The BBC relies on a single Supreme Court ruling to interpret the European Convention on Human Rights in such a way as to prevent the public from ever knowing who decides what at the BBC. You’re more likely to find out   about the contents of a telephone call between Theresa May and Donald Trump than between the producers and programme researchers of Newsnight.

Lord Andrew Adonis, rather annoying at the best of times has suddenly taken it upon himself to start objecting to the #brexitbroadcastingcorporation as he likes to call it.

He has a point, but sadly where were these arguments about BBC impartiality when he was achieving his political aims under Tony Blair?

Either way, things have got pretty bad. So much so that the newspapers have become very readable purely because of their  propaganda content.

Yesterday I glanced at a report from Kensington and Chelsea on page two of the FT.

It was quite obviously written to persuade FT readers in Kensington that are disgusted at the behaviour of the Conservative Party in relation in particular to Grenfell, but also Brexit, that there is a non-Labour alternative. Quite a PR coup for the Conservatives who have clearly already given up on the idea that they can maintain their stranglehold over the borough.

But also of interest from the national perspective as perception is everything and the Conservatives have to do everything they can to fight a Labour revival wherever it appears. Like the Americans in Latin America.

The few photos I can see of the Advance canvassers tell me they are not made up of Grenfell Fire survivors.

This looks like an outside operation – just as Cambridge Analytica were paid by UKIP to swing Brexit.

A quick look at who is following the Advance Party on Twitter shows a demographic that is even whiter than the Tories! Obviously there is nothing in itself wrong with that, but these people are obviously all Lib Dem Remainers who just can’t bring themselves to vote Labour.

The class struggle is alive and well in Kensington and Chelsea!

This retweet by one of the Advance Followers – says it all: