Weaponising everything and everyone

In a way, accusing the other side of weaponising all sorts of things is itself an attempt to weaponise those things. By saying others are weaponising information, for example, as the Guardian does, you are basically turning information sources into targets for military action.

Or, you are telling people to close their ears to other sources and listen instead to you. You are taking the war to the information sphere and telling your audience to fight for you by only listening to you, thereby unnecessarily militarising and weaponising this sphere. You were the one who adopted the idea that making people hold specific beliefs is a military objective you want met, and declared this view publicly. Others may just have welcomed a healthy debate, with every point, from the most banal to the most diabolic, open for consideration. So, who really weaponised something?

Pandemic of censorship

In a 2020 exchange of ideas, the Mont Order information-sharing society agreed that “The way content related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been controlled is a potential gateway to increasingly aggressive censorship by Western governments”. This referred to the handling of medical disinformation, which can indeed be fatal, but later, disputed political information was increasingly being dealt with in the same way.

The Mont Order prediction seemed to come true later, when all dissenting sources on the Ukraine conflict were being treated as enemy operators rather than legitimate participants in a debate. Virtually every statement critical of the West and NATO was also suddenly treated as the statement of none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself. The accepted idea became that everyone must promote a single narrative on any controversial issue, and all dissent must be dealt with like enemy shellfire, and silenced immediately.

Attention given to the idea of Russia spreading propaganda, and a lack of grasp of what propaganda is (other than that it is enemy information and therefore bad), has likely made many people in the West incapable of spotting a lot of very obvious and shoddy propaganda from the West itself. The cliché that the other side only produces propaganda and its claims can all be dismissed (even if true) is a huge accomplishment in propaganda. Inconvenient information is to be dismissed without consideration and even any source dismissed as an enemy agent, regardless of where it is located or its prior reputation. Everything becomes ad hominem attacks and shooting the messenger (in Ukraine itself, that probably is happening literally).

Being right doesn't mean being correct

Control of all publicly-consumed information works well for winning information wars where the goal is to convince the people of something, but it does not create informed experts. It is not hard to guess that Western journalists and politicians are themselves consuming dubious information, confusing a sense of righteousness for accuracy (the word "right" being the same word used to describe things that are morally encouraged or factually correct is a source of confusion, maybe). A rational person, meanwhile, concedes that our own regimes and the small, narrow blob of familiar corporate sponsors in the West could be motivated to spread their own fakes and propaganda.

In some ways, the discouragement of anything contrary to the single supreme narrative on a given controversy makes the West every bit as vulnerable to mindless propaganda as the most totalitarian societies in history. At worst, it means the very foundations of our supposed Western civilisation are just fakes and falsehoods, devoid of substance. We do not enjoy liberty, and lack access to the truth.

Weaponisation of TikTokers and YouTubers

The Biden administration actually intervened to convince TikTok creators to help it convince users of its position on the fighting in Ukraine. To the US government, everything is a weapon, and its foreign policy goals need to be achieved using every ethical and unethical method it can find.

It can seem as if genuine grassroots voices are rising up to support Ukraine's apparently morally just cause on YouTube, unanimously siding with the West and the supposed universal decency it represents when it comes to conflicts. The reality, though, is that even this behaviour is explained more by these people's reliance on a single platform aligned with the West and the sanctions it uses to control content creators. Creators want to stay in good standing with the platform, and this has more to do with what they say than any genuine moral stance on anything.

The sanctioned point of view

If we focus on YouTube's weaponisation, it is not hard to notice that content (even from entertainers) praising Ukraine or NATO in the ongoing conflict in Europe retains its monetisation (ads still play), in addition to which pro-Ukraine ads are allowed all over the site itself, despite this cause being ethically dirty and politically aligned in a violent conflict (revenue is blocked for video content on other conflicts). This tells us two things. First, that YouTube's management are guided by agents of the US government when it comes to foreign policy (certainly, Google is). Second, that the users creating the content had some kind of advance knowledge of the measures in place to reward or punish people depending on what conclusions their videos endorsed regarding the Ukraine conflict. With such factors in force, how likely is a content creator to arrive at balanced conclusions on the war in Ukraine? Basically, they have been given financial incentives to promote a specific view in their videos.

Clearly, the same narrow group of people who have sway over Western regimes and are able to treat politicians to all kinds of carrots and sticks are doing the same with even small content creators online. Consequently, what appears to be mass support popping up for a cause is always more likely to just be financially motivated and originating from a very narrow source.

To display a Ukrainian flag at one's church, or on one's car or social media profile, is not an autonomous action by people. Nobody was really moved by what they saw in Ukraine or in any other foreign conflict, but by sanctions, i.e. a cycle of reward and punishment by the powerful, which is the basis of all Western policy and morality. The resulting activity supporting the state's policies is subtly state-controlled. One way or another, incentives are created by the state and influence operations take place, in an effort to weaponise everything and everyone to sanitise and prop up an otherwise dubious and dirty policy of inflaming a foreign conflict.