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‘The Blob’: Government, Media and Big Tech Censorship Alliance Suppressing Dissent on Wide Range of Issues

In an interview with Russell Brand, ex-U.S. Department of State official Mike Benz exposed how an informal alliance of government agencies, media and tech companies he calls “the Blob” has redefined democracy as a “consensus of institutions” to justify censorship and maintain control over our government and public discourse.

Former U.S. Department of State official Mike Benz claims humanity is engaged in a struggle against a far-reaching government-led censorship apparatus he called “the Blob” — an informal alliance of government agencies, media outlets and tech companies working to suppress dissent on issues like the 2020 U.S. election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Russell Brand on his March 8 “Stay Free” podcast, Benz said, “It’s really not a partisan issue … It’s a universal human experience now trying to fight against this Blob.”

Benz, founder and executive director of Foundation for Freedom Online, argued that this Blob targets domestic populist movements across the political spectrum, viewing them as threats to its power and influence.

According to Benz, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has played a key role in coordinating censorship efforts, pressuring tech companies to adopt stricter content moderation policies and suppress information that questions official narratives.

He emphasized the urgent need for public awareness and resistance to these anti-democratic practices.

Brand characterized the censorship efforts as a “surge towards authoritarianism … under the auspices of liberal ideas,” in reaction to “the possibility of true freedom.”

Birth of ‘the Blob’ and the double-edged sword of free speech 

The Blob,” a term coined by former President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, emerged in the post-World War II era as the U.S. sought to maintain its global influence through a combination of diplomacy, intelligence and military power.

According to Benz, for decades the Blob opposed “red-brown alliance[s]” — the Blob’s term to “derisively, insultingly refer to” both left-wing and right-wing national popular movements in foreign countries that sought to “box out neoliberal corporations and financial class investors.”

On the left (red, for socialist or communist), citizen movements sought “state industries held in trust with the people through their own governments,” Benz said. On the right (brown, for nationalist or fascist), populist efforts centered on “preserv[ing] their own heritage or national identity.”

For “the same self-serving financial reasons,” the Blob “got its license to do dirty tricks” to overthrow both left- and right-wing governments and movements around the world, Benz told Brand.

Benz pointed to Venezuela and Chile in the 1970s, where the Blob was “sicking” the CIA or British Intelligence or the U.S. State Department diplomatic and defense teams on left- and right-wing populist groups or governments in attempts to short-circuit their “political merger.”

Over the past 50 years, the Blob has become an informal alliance of government agencies, think tanks and media outlets, run by foreign policy establishments in the U.S., United Kingdom and NATO countries, according to Benz.

After the development of the internet, the Blob saw the rise of free speech as a tool to support popular revolutions abroad, such as the Arab Spring protests in the early 2010s that leveraged social media to oust the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, or the 2014 coup in Ukraine.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum served as wake-up calls for the Blob, demonstrating the power of social media and alternative news sources to challenge the establishment’s preferred outcomes and its “control over the bumper rails around ‘democracy,’” Benz told Brand.

Thus, the Blob began suppressing dissent in domestic populist movements on the left and the right to maintain control over public discourse.

“Now you basically have the foreign policy establishment against domestic populism, which is not a partisan issue,” Benz said. “Left-wing populism and right-wing populism both flank this globalist or neoliberal structure.”

Redefining ‘democracy’ to protect the Blob

According to Benz, the Blob has sought to redefine the concept of “democracy” itself to justify its censorship efforts and maintain control over key institutions, at home and abroad.

The Blob shifted democracy from its classical definition as a system of popular representation to a “consensus of institutions” — media outlets, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and civil society institutions, which includes control over the machinery of elections.

“We say that we are in Ukraine to defend democracy,” Benz said. “Meanwhile, there is no democratic vote.” Instead, there is a set of “democratic” institutions that Benz called “a very, very nasty framing device intended to deceive people about what’s really going on.”

Benz cited the example of the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, funded with over $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars, working in alignment with the “State Department, USAID or CIA cut-outs like the National Endowment for Democracy.”

“We flood the zone with … so-called civil society institutions” and get “hundreds of thousands of people” on these institutions’ payrolls to “co-opt portions of the region that we are trying to politically control,” Benz said.

This is akin to “put[ting] the fox in charge of the hen house” by giving the Blob control over the very institutions tasked with overseeing the electoral process and shaping public discourse, he said.

By redefining democracy to include these various institutions, the Blob can justify its interventions that undermine the foundations of democratic governance, in foreign countries or domestically, as necessary to protect “democratic values,” said Benz. In this way, the Blob insulates itself from criticism and accountability while maintaining its grip on power.

The expansion of censorship to public health 

The Blob’s censorship efforts did not stop with the 2020 election. Benz revealed that via its sub-agency the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), DHS expanded its focus to include the suppression of information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a March 11 reply to a tweet by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) claiming “COVID was created with U.S.-funded technology” to “create new vaccines,” Benz said this explained why “Pentagon contractors & CIA cut-outs were the very first censorship mercenary firms to begin mass monitoring & censoring Covid origin narratives in Dec 2019, Jan 2020, right at the start of the outbreak.”

Brand later discussed the “coincidence” in how the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics recalculated excess deaths to make it appear fewer died since 2020 than actually did.

“Is data that proves a connection between COVID shots and excess deaths being suppressed by the British government?” he asked.

“All these coincidences [are] coming out of the back of a great big global coincidence where authority benefited, Big Pharma benefited,” and with “the right to censor, authoritarianism benefited,” Brand said.

The whole-of-society censorship framework

In a further co-optation of civil society institutions, the Blob constructed what Benz describes as a “whole-of-society” censorship framework to suppress dissent and maintain control over public discourse.

This framework involves four key categories of institutions working together: government agencies, private sector companies, civil society organizations and media outlets.

Benz explained that these entities are “fused into the nucleus of a single cell so that they can move as a whole-of-society apparatus and they can all lend their own resources to that censorship apparatus.”

Benz provided an example from the 2020 U.S. election: CISA, DHS’ cybersecurity agency, invited the heads of the trust and safety teams at Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, academic CIA cut-outs like Stanford and “hand-selected journalists” — often from the national security or the intelligence bureaus of The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR and CBS — to participate in “consensus-building meetings.”

These would build “the ideal mechanisms for domestic censorship to make sure that all four categories of those institutions are on board.”

The need for a left-right populist coalition 

To counter the Blob’s growing influence and censorship efforts, Brand asked, “Does it not become an immediate necessity that … we oppose the Blob and this apparatus of global power?”

Benz agreed, arguing for the formation of a “big tent coalition” of left-wing and right-wing populist groups united in their opposition to the neoliberal, globalist establishment.

However, he acknowledged that building such an alliance would be challenging, given the Blob’s willingness to use legal and other hard power tactics to suppress dissent.

The American people are essentially living under occupation, according to Benz, unable to decide their own affairs without the Blob considering their votes a threat to its own conception of democracy.

“It’s just something we need to be sensitive to,” he said of the risks of challenging the foreign policy establishment. “You almost have to pray for mercy at a certain point that they won’t simply do a counterintelligence type work here and just arrest everybody who tries to vote against them.”

Watch Mike Benz on Russell Brand’s ‘Stay Free’ podcast:

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