Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Book Review: "We'll Tell You What To Think" by Professor T.J. Coles

There are no magazine reviews anywhere for this self-published book, which came out last summer. So it falls on this blog to attempt a review.

We'll Tell You What To Think, T.J. Coles. Self-published by "Ursa Major" in Las Vegas, NV. 319 pages.

No “legitimate” publication has done a review of this work, so far as we know, which leaves us with the task of reviewing Professor Coles’ book. From the start let me say that this book has made large parts of this website and Wikipediocracy obsolete. Coles has not focused on the granular details like Wikipedia Sucks! or Gender Desk; he sees Wikipedia as an extension of how Washington and mainstream media (which follows Washington’s lead) would like certain topics to be seen. In many ways We’ll Tell You What to Think is a companion of websites like CounterPunch, Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam blog, Z Communications (Z Magazine) and Robin Ramsey’s Lobster magazine.

“In addition to the reputational protection afforded by anonymity, consider the exclusion of self-proclaimed Marxist editors. In September 2008, a Wikipedia administrator sent out a request for colleagues to back their nomination in support of a new administrator, Lorry; a skilled Wikipedia editor who later became a member of the Polish branch of the organization’s Arbitration Committee. Because Lorry failed to reach the required 85 percent votes, her nomination fell. One of the administrators who blocked Lorry’s nomination was Prot, a Wikipedian reportedly known for their divisive tactics and right-wing views. Prot’s objection was that Lorry was an open Trotskyite. During the debate for the vote, Prot asked colleagues: ‘How many users would vote for a candidate, who, just one day before…..on their own userpage would declare ‘This user loves Adolf Hitler’?’. Having made the comparison between Hitler and Trotsky, Prot went on to call Trotsky “one of the biggest murderers and criminals in world history [sic].” True or not, colleagues raised the point that political beliefs should not influence editorial appointments as long as the appointee’s work follows the neutrality principle. In the end a Lorry defender, Dariusz Jemielniak, ended up getting a 24-hour ban by the Arbitration Committee for hurting Prot’s feelings during a discussion on the topic. Jemielniak’s treatment by people he considered friends left him feeling wronged and ‘with no recourse.’”  (pp. 22-23, Wikipedia handles in quotation marks in original.) On the same page (p. 23) Coles states that the WikiMedia Foundation taking money from wealthy people and organizations is “a prima facie conflict of interest issue.”  On the next page he mentions the 2011 leak that Gregory Kohs wrote about in The Examiner and on his mywikibiz website, and lists off the secret famous donors and organizations: Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, ex-US President Jimmy Carter, Anurag Dikshit (gambling software programmer and billionaire), Arianna Huffington, the now-deceased David Koch of “Koch Brothers” infamy, Pierre Omidyar (eBay, also Glenn Greenwald’s boss), Mark Zuckerberg before Meta began ruining his life, Larry Page and Sergei Brin of Google, the arch-conservative website Newsmax, and Ron Unz ( wealthy tech entrepreneur, Republican candidate, operator of The Unz Report website.) And they are not all; Apple, AIG Insurance, BlackRock (the hedge fund), Netflix, Nike, Boeing, also have given the WMF cash. It’s very much the question we have to ask of the US “public television” network PBS; if you have to get cash from John M. Olin’s foundation, Charles Koch (of the aforementioned Koch Brothers), Boeing, and other corporate funders, is it actually a public TV network, or just free advertising?

The real meat of the book is a series of “content analysis”, i.e. chapters with titles like “USA vs. Russia”, “Climate Change”, “Iraq Blockade” (the 1990-2003 one that also had “no fly” zones). T.J. Coles is merciless in each chapter, and the fourth chapter on nuclear war is worth the price of the book; even the initial definition of what a Nuclear War is pretends that a) nuclear wars have been fought (the United States has only accomplished two nuclear bombings of Axis Japanese cities in 1945, though the US and USSR came close to nuclear war repeatedly during the Cold War, either deliberately or by accident) and that b) they are survivable somehow, even with thermonuclear bombs.

Nuclear Winter does not really count on Wikipedia, nor do the various anti-nuclear weapons groups (which Wikipedia treats like historical antiquities.) That we no longer truly live in a MAD (mutually assured destruction) world seems to have brushed past whomever writes the articles on en.Wikipedia. These writers also support the historical framework that the US had to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (pp. 128-132) because an invasion of Japan would have been a bloodbath, even though the Japanese Army was badly mangled and both the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and the IJN Air Arm were mostly converted into kamikaze aircraft. The possibility of Japanese ground resistance being sporadic sniper attacks, booby-trapped roads, and peasants flinging Molotov cocktails made out of special earthenware jars is not discussed on en.Wikipedia much. The truth that President Truman dropped the bombs before the Soviet Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army could invade Hokkaido in 1945, because Washington was terrified of Communism spreading inside Japan once the Imperialists were out, is avoided by Wikipedia (pp 133-136).

So what is to be done? T.J. Coles wants the editorial body democratized on the last page of the book. What he does not say is that this will require a body of Wikipedia editors, nor does he point out that the pool of actual human editors is shrinking down to nothing. As for We'll Tell You What To Think, it needs to be picked up by a real publisher like Verso or McGraw-Hill. Buy this book while you can.



                                                Professor T.J. Coles

No comments:

Post a Comment