War. War Never Changes.

And looks like China can buy out anyone's silence now.

Hello everyone! It’s been a week around here. Turkey has started another military operation over at Syria and other than a really small minority of people, everyone’s already got drunk on that sweet sweet nationalism juice. And parliament approved the operation just today, so there’s not much to do other than just sit and watch.

How are you all doing?

On a kinda related note, I really want an ARC of Agency because I can’t wait ‘til January.

This week feels like nothing but international politics to me. There’s of course the one headline includes the country I live in. There’s so much to unpack but it all boils down to good old nationalism and populist propaganda to keep everyone in line. Even in the parliament voting for the military operation, only group voted no was HDP, which is a terrorist organization for most of the population. This actually says a lot about the general mindset of the Turkey.

But another topic I’ve been following was how China silenced NBA, Apple and Activision-Blizzard over Hong Kong protests. If you missed what’s going on, click over the links for a summary. TL;DR: Chinese money made sure no one related those companies can say a word about Hong Kong.

It was interesting to me not because I was shocked but I’ve noticed how things like that become normal and how there are different levels of this depending on the power of the country. Take China and Turkey for example. China has much more power in many sense, but most importantly they have a big economic power. So, they can basically force those companies to censor anyone that hurts China’s feelings. Otherwise NBA and Blizzard would lose money. And both knows perfectly that people in USA, their country, would forget all about it in a month. They did before.

Turkey don’t have that kind of influence over them. For example, last year if you wanted to watch conference semi-finals of NBA on TV, you were out of luck. Because Enes Kanter was playing in Portland, and he’s linked with Gülen. But NBA just looked away. Didn’t care enough about to remove a player from the league but also allowed their games to be censored. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook does something similar too. Turkey is number one legal censor on these platforms because they’ve threatened both with blocking them totally, which they did in the past. That’s why every year, hundreds of accounts and tweets added to the list of content “blocked in Turkey”.

Turkey is on the lower level when it comes to controlling foreign platforms or countries. That’s why it also gets controlled all the time. Although Erdoğan uses nationalism and Islam card in his international politics all the time, neither he nor the Turkish media says a single word about what China does to the Uyghur people.

Something similar also happens with Chinese-owned platform TikTok. It already censors everything China wants but also does the same for other countries like Turkey. China makes sure everyone enjoys the control they’ve created. And there’s a good chance things like that will become the norm pretty soon. Netflix starts with removing one episode of Hasan Minhaj’s show for Saudi Arabia, censors every “bad thing” on the home page and search for Turkey and then these will become the norm for all the world.

I wish I’m being a doomsayer but the current trend we’re in can go only this way. States having more and more power over corporations because all of these corporations “needs to grow” or “have to reach to the next billion” so they compromise like that. Then other states asks same compromises because why not and then we all find ourselves in a media ecosystem manipulated for every single governments’ wishes. And by other states, I mean every single one of them. There’s no exception when it comes to power and authority.

It’s all happening because everything is centralized to the core. We’re all at the mercy of bunch of rich guys living in US and hoping they’ll maybe care a little more about humans than money. But since all of us just users and there’s more of us waiting for them, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Plus, all of those states would probably pay much more to that sweet data they collect.

Not sure where we’re going next, but it doesn’t look nice from here. That’s why I’m obsessed with it and thinking about the possibilities. Guess I should put a “To Be Continued…” sign here.

Before ending this topic for the week, I just want to add an extra note over how Chinese government has reacted an app over Apple’s App Store:

Providing a gateway for “toxic apps” is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and against the views and principles of the Chinese people.

Oh boy, heard same sentences in Turkish maybe thousands of times. It seems funny at first, many people know that it’s nothing but a cheesy propaganda line. But you also have to understand the fact that this line is not for Apple, not really. They’re telling this to people who support them. Giving them the cue for reacting in a unified voice. And it works. Not sure how many of them feel hurt but they sure act like they are.

This is how they try to create a public pressure, a manufactured anger against them. Using their power to manipulate the people who says or does things they don’t like. It’s much more effective if you’re in that country.

This is a perfect example of populist rhetoric 101.

WADI Filter

  • “Ubiquitous “smartness” largely serves to enrich and empower the few at the expense of the many, while inflicting ecological harm that will threaten the survival and flourishing of billions of people.”Ben Tarnoff

  • “Why bother with a real fix when a “minimum viable fix” will do? Why bother with a thorough, rigorously tested solution when you can just hide the problem?”Daniel Harvey

  • WeWork and Counterfeit Capitalism — Matt Stoller

  • “Nobody in the OSINT workshop seemed eager to “bloc out,” i.e., take to the streets in the black hoodies, bandanas, and motorcycle helmets often sported by members of the anarchist “black bloc.” But then again, if their intelligence-gathering efforts are effective, they hoped, direct confrontation won’t be necessary. “The focus on street action has been sensationalized,” Gordon insisted. “There’s so much more to the movement that [people] never see.””Aaron Gell

  • Document Number Nine — John Lanchester

Think that’s all I have for this week. October arrived strong and I have to make sure everything is on track before the second part of this month because, well, I’ll be traveling again. Will talk about those another time.

Take care of yourself and see you next week!

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Who Writes This?    

Ahmet A. Sabancı (that's me), writer, journalist and researcher. Writing about many things including technology, surveillance, censorship, philosophy, science fiction and futures and occasionally about politics and Turkey. There’s a good chance you found me through my blog or Twitter or maybe some nice people recommended this newsletter to you. You can find more about me here and small selection of my writings here.

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