Not so long ago the image of a super-wealthy international villain with designs on global domination was the stuff of fiction, the standard fare of the James Bond novels and movie franchise. A few years ago, with talk of the Carlyle and Bilderberg groups, it had graduated into the sphere of the crackpot conspiracy theorists. But now in the aftermath of Brexit the spectre of the plutocratic puppet master of geopolitics has at last arrived.
Writing for the Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr, in what is quite frankly an unnerving piece of investigative journalism, has connected the dots linking the election of Donald Trump in the United States and Brexit in the United Kingdom to just such a figure – the billionaire Robert Mercer – through a shady network of private data mining and intelligence harvesting operations. What’s more, and all the more unsettling, is that this is a plot that ties in offshore political donations, ultra-deep penetration cyber snooping, mass voter manipulation, psychological warfare techniques, the military-industrial complex, tonnes of money, right-wing political campaigns, Aaron Banks, Nigel Farage, Steve Bannon, and the President of the United States.
“The political use of this information was informed by the military, integrating its use with the lessons learnt in so-called dark operations.”
All the whiles the plot is pretty damn convoluted, but the connections and the sources are real. It begins in the world of the hedge fund with Mercer who invests in the English data analytics company Cambridge Analytica (CA), assuming an 80 per cent share in the outfit. CA specialises in the political use of collected data; information gathered on millions of private citizens, reported by its CEO Alexander Nix to be in the region of four to five thousands data points per person. This information is mined from Facebook, credit card purchases, subscriptions, and so on, constructing a comprehensive digital image of characteristics and behaviours. In turn this is used to build a psychological profile that can be used to individually tailor political messages.
Of course this snowballs. Both in the US and in the UK the political use of this information was informed by the military, integrating its use with the lessons learnt in so-called dark operations in various “hearts and minds” propaganda and deception strategies deployed against civilians. This synergy of deep surveillance and tested methods of psychological manipulation thus becomes a master tool in the highly sophisticated manufacture of consent in the United States and Britain.
Mercer is a close personal friend of Trump and a political supporter and backer. It follows naturally that this machinery would be put to use in the Trump-Bannon campaign. It transpires then that Steve Bannon was the VP of this Cambridge Analytica.
In the case of Brexit, very much a theatre of the Trumpist-Bannonist war for global domination, the wheels turn. Violating UK election law, the four Leave campaigns coordinate after an infusion of dark money – a “gift” – and begin employing the expertise of CA. This is all obfuscated through its Canadian subsidiary, Aggregate IQ, which’s intellectual property rights are owed by Robert Mercer. As this dark money and interference is outside of the UK’s jurisdiction the law is powerless to stop it or bring it to book after the fact. Brexit succeeds, albeit narrowly.
None of this is legal. The use of this collected data is in serious violation of privacy and the protection of information laws, and gives a highly unethical – if not, illegal – advantage to those using it in a political campaign. More, this is a direct assault on democracy. People went to the polls and voted, But when black operations and military grade psychological weapons are used against the public – with the possibility or likelihood of state collusion – it is not possible to call this democracy. It is in no sense a free and informed decision. The thought patterns of millions of voters have been manipulated using the most sophisticated methods of mind control known.
That all of this is being done, and will continue to be done, is something that should be worrying us. It is being done by parties who transcend the state, by people who are not elected, and in accordance with an agenda we are not privy to. Behaviour like this sets dangerous precedents and is highly corrosive to our democracy and a real threat to our sovereignty and national security.