+One of my current reads is Active Measures: The secret history of disinformation and political warfare by Thomas Rid (Profile books, 2020). It traces the Twentieth century history of what shall we call it? Fake News? I’ve got as far as disinformation projects during the Cold War, and the massive efforts funded by the CIA to destabilise the Communist regime of East Germany. Much of this funding paid for the printing and distribution of copy newspapers and magazines made to look like official Communist publications, but containing misinformation about the rulers and what people were expected to do. I guess sometimes the information may have been based on what the rulers actually did but didn’t want publicised.
Disinformation works best with an admixture of fact, or at least what people may think is believable. This publishing effort, which produced fake copies of many East German publications ran for a decade up to the early 1960s, eventually being defunded by the CIA who were not sure how much impact it was having. One of the operation’s publications was a jazz magazine, which I guess was meant to tap into a subjugated population’s desire for a bit of spice, a bit of anarchy perhaps, thus undermining the cultural monolith of the East German state. But it apparently became just a relatively good jazz magazine with no measurable political impact. Disinformation has been around since biblical times as a method in warfare. But it’s the first time I’ve read that jazz music was recruited to the cause. Jazz may be at the forefront of revolutions in music, but I don’t think there are sufficient jazz buffs to start a revolution. Who would lead this revolution? Ken Clarke?
+I went to the supermarket today, where there was an offer on for my favourite (but expensive) pickled onions. We are now told it is compulsory to wear masks again in shops. Most people were masked but I noticed that those who weren’t were all under the age of 30. To be honest, I suspect that most were probably sixpence short of a half-crown and it would be pointless to challenge them (unless you enjoy abuse).