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On November 30, 2016, presumably right at the stroke of midnight, Google Inc. unpersoned CounterPunch. They didn’t send out a press release or anything. They just quietly removed it from the Google News aggregator. Not very many people noticed. This happened just as the “fake news” hysteria was being unleashed by the corporate media, right around the time The Washington Post ran this neo-McCarthyite smear piece vicariously accusing CounterPunch, and a number of other publications, of being “peddlers of Russian propaganda.” As I’m sure you’ll recall, that astounding piece of “journalism” (which The Post was promptly forced to disavow with an absurd disclaimer but has refused to retract) was based on the claims of an anonymous website apparently staffed by a couple of teenagers and a formerly rabidly anti-Communist, now rabidly anti-Putin think tank. Little did most people know at the time that these were just the opening salvos in what has turned out to be an all-out crackdown on any and all forms of vocal opposition to the global corporate ruling classes and their attempts to quash the ongoing nationalist backlash against their neoliberal agenda.

Almost a year later, things are much clearer. If you haven’t been following this story closely, and you care at all about freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and that kind of stuff, you may want to take an hour or two and catch up a bit on what’s been happening. I offered a few examples of some of the measures governments and corporations have been taking to stifle expressions of dissent in my latest piece in CounterPunch, and there are many more detailed articles online, like this one by Andre Damon from July, and this follow-up he published last week (which reports that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges has also been unpersoned). Or, if you’re the type of soul who only believes what corporations tell you, and who automatically dismisses anything published by a Trotskyist website, here’s one from last December in The Guardian, and an op-ed in The New York Times, both of which at least report what Google, Twitter, and Facebook are up to. Or you could read this piece by Robert Parry, who also has “legitimate” (i.e., corporate) credentials, and who hasn’t been unpersoned just yet, although I’m sure they’ll get around to him eventually.

I am using the Orwellian verb “unperson” playfully, but I’m also trying to be precise. What’s happening isn’t censorship, technically, at least not in the majority of cases. While there are examples of classic censorship (e.g., in the UK, France, and Germany), apart from so-called “terrorist content,” most governments aren’t formally banning expressions of anti-corporatist dissent. This isn’t Czechoslovakia, after all. This is global capitalism, where the repression of dissent is a little more subtle. The point of Google unpersoning CounterPunch (and probably many other publications) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists like Hedges is not to prevent them from publishing their work or otherwise render them invisible to readers. The goal is to delegitmize them, and thus decrease traffic to their websites and articles, and ultimately drive them out of business, if possible.

Another objective of this non-censorship censorship is discouraging writers like myself from contributing to publications like CounterPunch, Truthdig, Alternet, Global Research, and any other publications the corporatocracy deems “illegitimate.” Google unpersoning a writer like Hedges is a message to other non-ball-playing writers. The message is, “this could happen to you.” This message is meant for other journalists, primarily, but it’s also aimed at writers like myself who are making a living (to whatever degree) writing and selling what we think of as “literature.”

Yes, as you’ve probably guessed by now, in addition to writing political satire, I am, as rogue journalist Caitlin Johnstone so aptly put it once, an “elitist wanker.” I’ve spent the majority of my adult life writing stage plays and working in the theater, and it doesn’t get any more elitist than that. My plays are published by “establishment” publishers, have won a few awards, and have been produced internationally. I recently published my “debut novel” (which is what you call it if you’re an elitist wanker) and am currently trying to promote and sell it. I mention this, not to blow my little horn, but to the set the stage to try to illustrate how these post-Orwellian intimidation tactics (i.e., unpersoning people from the Internet) work. These tactics do not just suppress information. They enforce conformity at much deeper level.

The depressing fact of the matter is, in our brave new Internet-dominated world, corporations like Google, Twitter, and Facebook (not to mention Amazon), are, for elitist wankers like me, in the immortal words of Colonel Kurz, “either friends or they are truly enemies to be feared.” If you are in the elitist wanker business, regardless of whether you’re Jonathan Franzen, Garth Risk Hallberg, Margaret Atwood, or some “mid-list” or “emerging” author, there is no getting around these corporations. So it’s kind of foolish, professionally speaking, to write a bunch of essays that will piss them off, and then publish these essays in CounterPunch. Literary agents advise against this. Other elitist literary wankers, once they discover what you’ve been doing, will avoid you like the bubonic plague. Although it’s perfectly fine to write books and movies about fictional evil corporations, writing about how real corporations are using their power to mold societies into self-policing virtual prisons of politically-correct, authoritarian consumers is … well, it’s something that is just not done in professional elitist wanker circles.

Normally, all this goes without saying, as these days most elitist wankers are trained how to write, and read, and think, in MFA conformity factories, where they screen out any unstable weirdos with unhealthy interests in political matters. This is to avoid embarrassing episodes like Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize lecture (which, if you haven’t read it, you probably should), and is why so much of contemporary literature is so well-behaved and instantly forgettable. This institutionalized screening system is also why the majority of journalists employed by mainstream media outlets understand, without having to be told, what they are, and are not, allowed to report. Chomsky explains how this system operates in What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream. It isn’t a question of censorship … the system operates on rewards and punishments, financial and emotional coercion, and subtler forms of intimidation. Making examples of non-cooperators is a particularly effective tactic. Ask any one of the countless women whose careers have been destroyed by Harvey Weinstein, or anyone who’s been to graduate school, or worked at a major corporation.

Or let me provide you with a personal example.

A couple weeks ago, I googled myself (which we elitist wankers are wont to do), and noticed that two of my published books had disappeared from the “Knowledge Panel” that appears in the upper right of the search results. I also noticed that the people “People Also Search For” in the panel had changed. For years, consistently, the people you saw there had been a variety of other elitist literary wankers and leftist types. Suddenly, they were all rather right-wing types, people like Ilana Mercer and John Derbyshire, and other VDARE writers. So that was a little disconcerting.

I set out to contact the Google Search specialists to inquire about this mysterious development, and was directed to a series of unhelpful web pages directing me to other unhelpful pages with little boxes where you can write and submit a complaint to Google, which they will completely ignore. Being an elitist literary wanker, I also wrote to Google Books, and exchanged a number of cordial emails with an entity (let’s call her Ms. O’Brien) who explained that, for “a variety of reasons,” the “visibility” of my books (which had been consistently visible for many years) was subject to change from day to day, and that, regrettably, she couldn’t assist me further, and that sending her additional cordial emails was probably a pointless waste of time. Ms. O’Brien was also pleased to report that my books had been restored to “visibility,” which, of course, when I checked, they hadn’t.

“Whatever,” I told myself, “this is silly. It’s probably just some IT thing, maybe Google Books updating its records, or something.” However, I was still perplexed by the “People Also Search For” switcheroo, because it’s kind of misleading to link my writing to that of a bunch of serious right-wingers. Imagine, if you were a dystopian sci-fi fan, and you googled me to check out my book and see what else I had written, and so on, and my Google “Knowledge Panel” popped up and displayed all these far-right VDARE folks. Unless you’re a far-right VDARE type yourself, that might be a little bit of a turn-off.

At that point, I wondered if I was getting paranoid. Because Google Search runs on algorithms, right? And my political satire and commentary is published, not only in CounterPunch, but also in The Unz Review, where these far-right-wing types are also published. Moreover, my pieces are often reposted by what appear to be “Russia-linked” websites, and everyone knows that the Russians are all a bunch of white supremacists, right? On top of which, it’s not like I’m Stephen King here. I am hardly famous enough to warrant the attention of any post-Orwellian corporate conspiracy to stigmatize anti-establishment dissent by manipulating how authors are displayed on Google (i.e., subtly linking them to white supremacists, anti-Semites, and others of that ilk).

So, okay, I reasoned, what probably happened was … over the course of twenty-four hours, for no logical reason whatsoever, all the folks who had been googling me (along with other leftist and literary figures) suddenly stopped googling me, all at once, while, more or less at the exact same time, hundreds of right-wingers started googling me (along with those white supremacist types they had, theoretically, already been googling). That kind of makes sense when you think about it, right? I mean, Google couldn’t be doing this intentionally. It must have been some sort of algorithm that detected this sudden, seismic shift in the demographic of people googling me.

Or, I don’t know, does that possibly sound like a desperate attempt to rationalize the malicious behavior of an unaccountable, more or less god-like, global corporation that wields the power of life and death over my book sales and profile on the Internet (a more or less god-like global corporation that could do a lot of additional damage to my sales and reputation with complete impunity once the piece you’re reading is published)? Or am I simply getting paranoid, and, in fact, I’ve developed a secret white supremacist fan base without my knowledge? Only Google knows for sure.

Such are the conundrums elitist literary wankers have to face these days … that is, those of us wankers who haven’t learned to keep our fucking mouths shut yet. Probably the safest course of action, regardless of whether I’m being paranoid or Google does have me on some kind of list, is to lay off the anti-corporatist essays, and definitely stop contributing to CounterPunch, not to mention The Unz Review, and probably also give up the whole dystopian satire novel thing, and ensure that my second novel conforms to the “normal” elitist wanker rules (which every literary wanker knows, but which, technically, do not exist). Who knows, if I play my cards right, maybe I can even sell the rights to Miramax, or … okay, some other corporation.

Once that happens, I assume that Google will want to restore me to normal personhood, and return my books to visibility, and I will ride off into the Hollywood sunset with the Clintons, Clooneys, and Pichais, and maybe even Barack Obama himself, if he isn’t off jet skiing with Richard Branson, or having dinner with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, who just happen to live right down the street, or hawking the TPP on television. By that time, CounterPunch and all those other “illegitimate” publications will have been forced onto the dark web anyway, so I won’t be giving up all that much. I know, that sounds pretty cold and cynical, but my liberal friends will understand … I just hope all my new white supremacist fans will find it in their hearts to forgive me.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at or

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Censorship, Google 
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  1. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Thank you for mustering the courage and then taking the time to spell out these outrages in a straightforward, unemotional way. I’ve appreciated the humor that centers your other essays, but there’s not a damned thing funny about this.

    But why are things as they are? With billions aplenty, our rulers must be driven by their libido dominandi. We’re left to wonder only whether they get off more on ostracizing the Hopkinses, on buying the politicians, or on herding the sheep from bathrooms to statues to flags.

    • Replies: @Antiwar7
    , @prusmc
  2. I’ve developed a secret white supremacist fan base without my knowledge?

    Yes, it’s no secret. We Derbyshire and Mercer fans (‘the White Supremacists’) are massive C.J Hopkins enthusiasts. We find his essays amusing and informative and look forward to his debut novel, Zone 23. I, for one, plan to take it to my next Britain First protest. I’ll read it on the train then, perhaps, chuck it at a brown person.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  3. It is the same in the whole west, the self nominated international community.
    But there are exceptions, even in Germany

  4. Google is run by Jews who wants control. They all want control of everything. They gain control by delegitimizing everything they don’t control. This delegitimizing works because it stops people from viewing or reading other opinions through a form of mental intimidation and group think. This is common leftist methodology.

    When they ban these websites what are they really saying: They fear them! That’s right they fear them. How could a few blog type websites go against the massive mainstream media? They fear knowledge and truth. It shows the weakness of the mainstream and there will be more censorship to come.

    If they continue to lose control their ideology and plans will collapse and they will stop at nothing to protect them. The pen is mightier than the sword or in this case those little blogs and sites are more powerful than the Jewish Mainstream Media.

    • Replies: @utu
  5. LauraMR says:

    Amusing to hear the left whining about the exact same “censorship problem” that the right does.

    Victims everywhere.

    • Replies: @Colleen Pater
  6. Joe Hide says:

    To C. J. Hopkins,
    Good read, keep it up “Elitist Wanker”, Are you also making the transformation to “Intelligent Evidence Based Conservative Realism” just like billions of we former “Deluded Mentally Manipulated Deceived Liberals” have? It gets fun. Thanks again for the humor and insights!

  7. Perhaps CounterPunch being dropped by Google for being “peddlers Russian propaganda” is karmic justice given that it dropped Linh Dinh from its pages and publicly questioned his sanity because he expressed doubts about the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  8. Since the author refers to Counterpunch and VDare by name, let me say I agree with the proposition that they peddle pro-Putin/anti-EU propaganda (the two are nowadays part of the same “transaction”). I came to that conclusion long before the Washington Post published its article, on the basis of 14 years of almost daily visits to those sites and careful analysis of the content of the articles posted. If I formed that view, I assume many others also formed the same view. Thus, trying to paint this as a “smear job” is nonsense. Mr Hopkinson is simply trying to gag criticism of internet articles while he himself denounces articles or reports in other media. It is part of the normal exercise of free speech for authors and website editors to advocate any political proposition they wish. It is part of the normal exercise of free speech for readers of those articles to interpret them as propaganda for this or that cause if they wish. Thus, if Mr Hopkinson dismisses the Washington Post’s claims as a “smear job”, am I not equally entitled to dismiss his article as propaganda?

    • Replies: @neutral
    , @Antiwar7
  9. neutral says:
    @Michael Kenny

    The EU is anti white, so it hardly takes a genius to figure out why VDARE would be against it, so the question is why are you anti white? And since Google is openly anti white then it should stop pretending it is some kind of neutral entity when it very clearly is not, nor can it pretend to take some moral high ground when China bans it when Google is also very much into the banning business.

  10. As commenter ‘Tony Vodvarka’ above noted, CounterPunch itself seems to be turning into an instrument of censorship. In recent times, they’ve dropped a number of excellent op-ed writers. A partial list: Linh Dinh, Israel Shamir, Paul Craig Roberts, Jean Bricmont. Additionally, they’ve also started writing editorials attacking fellow leftists, such as Caity Johnstone (whom you mentioned in your piece), and even their own Diana Johnstone (no relation to Caity), who had the temerity to pen an article questioning whether ‘antifa’ was, perhaps, a deep-state psy-op. I don’t suspect CounterPunch will be ‘alt’ media much longer. If they ever get rid of Mike Whitney, it’s all over.

    Or you could read this piece by Robert Parry, who also has “legitimate” (i.e., corporate) credentials, and who hasn’t been unpersoned just yet, although I’m sure they’ll get around to him eventually.

    Incidentally, Robert Parry’s own website, Consortium News, also made the same WaPo ‘PropOrNot’ list as CounterPunch: He may not be “legitimate” much longer.

    Suddenly, they were all rather right-wing types, people like Ilana Mercer and John Derbyshire, and other VDARE writers. So that was a little disconcerting … However, I was still perplexed by the “People Also Search For” switcheroo, because it’s kind of misleading to link my writing to that of a bunch of serious right-wingers.

    This is the exact same strategy being used by the CounterPunch ‘Gang of Four’ (St. Clair, Proyect, Draitser, Ben-Abba) of accusing anybody who refuses to toe the line of ‘advocating a red-brown alliance.’ Personally, I’m not so sure that’s a bad idea; but one way or another, they’ve turned it into an all-purpose smear that they can use to excommunicate lefties who are reject the fake anti-Trump ‘#Resistance’.

    In other words, C. J., you ain’t seen nothing yet. Some day, you won’t be able to get your pieces published anywhere but Unz!

    • Replies: @utu
  11. @TonyVodvarka

    Perhaps CounterPunch being dropped by Google for being “peddlers Russian propaganda” is karmic justice given that it dropped Linh Dinh from its pages and publicly questioned his sanity because he expressed doubts about the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory.

    Good one!

    Hopefully it’s a sign that once you cave to the [email protected], you don’t go just half way, and I hope CounterPunch learned their lesson.

    They gotcha by the $alls.

  12. Jake says:

    I am certain proof that CJ Hopkins has found ‘right wing’ friends, which is all he needs to be damned.

    But we must clarify. If Hopkins had become beloved by professed ‘conservatives’ like Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz, he now would be tolerated as the acceptable opposition to Globalist Leftism.

    Hopkins knows that; I stress it for any readers who still fail to see the reality. A ‘liberal’ like Hopkins is hated and feared by the Globalist Corporatists almost as much as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Traditionalist Catholics are hated and feared by the Globalist Corporatists.

    We are ruled by a world-wide Empire. That Empire is Part 2 of the British Empire. The USA is to the British Empire as Constantinople was to Rome.

    WASP culture not only is the source of the ‘Anglo-Ziomist’ Empire because WASP culture is the product of a Judaizing heresy, which necessarily produces pro-Semitic culture. WASP culture also is the source of the ‘soft’ totalitarian horror that is Globalist Corporatism. Spend some time with the British East India Company.

    By the way – the US Stars and Stripes flag is the flag of the East India Company, with just one difference.

    The Empire that hates CJ Hopkins almost as much as it hates me is the Empire of WASP cultural imperialism.

  13. Hi CJ. O’Brien? Nice one.

    • Replies: @Delinquent Snail
  14. Antiwar7 says:

    Brilliant. Makes me want to read all your other works.

    By the way, you’re somewhat established, so you already have some people looking for you (I for one). This would be a much bigger blow to a new author. The establishment will take what it can get.

    That Google “Knowledge Panel” (that’s what it’s called?) has been a piece of shit from the get-go, so I always ignore it, unless looking for the Wikipedia link if they’ve buried that on the main results).

    As well, Google News has gotten unimaginably lame in the past year, so I never punch it up unless I’m curious to see what the latest establishment focus stories are (which is rare). If they go too far, they may lose their captive audience.

  15. wayfarer says:

    Truth is dying the slow painful death, by a thousand cuts.

    There’s a critical need for more undercover investigative journalism operations like, Project Veritas.


  16. Antiwar7 says:
    @Michael Kenny

    You’re always entitled to dismiss any article as propaganda! We all are.

    It comes down to do you agree with what’s being said, or not. You have to be your own filter of what’s reasonable. Or what may be reasonable, to be filed away for later corroboration or dismissal.

  17. Antiwar7 says:

    Maybe because they see possible trends which they fear? People tend to over-control things, especially the bigger the money that’s involved.

  18. utu says:

    If they continue to lose control

    I do not see evidence for it.

  19. utu says:
    @Seamus Padraig

    Some day, you won’t be able to get your pieces published anywhere but Unz!

    Some day Unz will be gone too.

    • Replies: @JackOH
  20. JackOH says:

    “Some day Unz will be gone too.” UR is an enormous resource, and I hope Ron is thinking about successorship if it comes time for him to move on.

    The frank, robust talk here seems to me truly a marvel in these days of “soft-” and self-censorship. Just for laughs, I’d like to see a 600-word piece written by, say, Steve or Phil, transformed by an expert writer into the soft pap that’s fed to us by mainstream newspapers and television.

  21. @Michael Rolls

    “I, for one, plan to take [C.J. Hopkin’s debut novel] to my next Britain First protest. I’ll read it on the train then, perhaps, chuck it at a brown person.”

    In the immortal words of Dorothy Parker, “It’s not a book to be tossed lightly aside — it should be thrown with great force.”

  22. prusmc says:

    Hate to display my technological backwardness but what is the “dark web” and how can I access it from a very simple hand held phone ?

  23. Bill Jone says:

    Unz is great but the guy is growing older, succession plan?

  24. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    “You’re always entitled to dismiss any article as propaganda.”
    Just another variant on the At Will Work contract enforced by the courts, corporations and society writ large.
    An individual with his or her freedom of choice no longer possesses any influence over a corporation and its billions of dollars. The courts and Gov’t provide no recourse for individual intervention serving instead as corporate parrots and mouthpieces.

  25. @LauraMR

    Well yeah in a sense. The globalists are an unholy alliance of neo marxists and neo capitalists who realized they had common interests and synergy. There are some on the left and some on the right who have either seen through this, or who havnt but at least get that their respective elites are no longer on their side.So yes its entirely possible both left and right are being attacked by elites who are billionaire bolsheviks

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