The Samuel Bankman-Fried and FTX scam saga is anything but a joke, and a cruel one if that. But anyway, I will start with a favourite quote from one of my favourite TV serials – Blackadder. As I mentioned before, it is an endless reservoir of quips, quotes and put-downs suitable for any occasion. In one episode, the dialogue goes like this:
Baldrick: What a man! They say he’s halfway to being the new Robin Hood.
Blackadder: Why only halfway?
Baldrick: Well, he steals from the rich, but he hasn’t gone around to giving it to the poor yet.
Liberal US media has been portraying Sam Bankman-Fried as a modern-day Robinhood. That did not change much even as his empire collapsed, vaporising billions of dollars, money that belonged to ordinary people albeit with extraordinary greed. He is still a good boy. You will see why. Read on. But what lesson, if any, is there for Indians?
The real danger from the saga that is sweeping through the crypto world is not the financial losses incurred by a few Indians. Given the secretive ways the crypto world operates, we will never know how much Indians lost in that scam.
The REAL danger is that we Indians don’t wake up to the so-called liberal Western media, their agendas, and their powerful propaganda apparatus that can turn charlatans, frauds and scamsters into poor man’s heroes and act as enablers of their loot and destructive agendas. More troubling is that it is an ecosystem that can be easily bought off. Often with your own money paid as taxes. They can, with their money and control over airwaves, create heroes out of zeroes. And destroy not just your wallet but your nation, if only you let them.
In the Indian context, they have always promoted dynastic dacoity and fringe left ideologies packaged as progressive or pro-poor. Just as they packaged Sam Bankman-Fried as a messiah of compassionate capitalism.
If you were to read NYT or WaPO coverage of SBF and his spectacular collapse, you will think some great hero of the masses has slipped on a banana peel thrown by fate and needs our sympathy. It is no different from the fawning coverage that corrupt fascist dynasts attract in Indian mainstream media or for that matter Western liberal media.
In case you are not familiar, it is universally agreed by anyone with any sense and integrity that what SBF was doing was clear fraud and a Ponzi scheme. From day one. Madoff went to prison for it.
Gizmodo features an excellent piece on the fluff journalism of NYT, so I will not repeat its contents, please read it yourself. Just to cite one example, NYT “paint the corporate 3-card-Monte as some kind of innocent investment move gone wrong”. SBF helped himself to customer money, treated it as his own, and moved it to a company owned by himself for speculative investments. Outside of the leftist ecosystem, and NYT’s “fearless independent journalists” that is known as fraud. We Indians have seen that, of course. Just a Google Karvy scam.
WaPo did even better! It painted the SBF collapse as some sort of humanitarian disaster that will set back our efforts to manage future pandemics! That shouldn’t surprise anyone that has seen the “religious scholar” headline on ISIS caliph Al-Baghdadi. The same rag that employs the likes of Rana Ayyub as “journalists”.
Now the logical question is, what buys this servility? The answer is simple. SBF was one of the biggest donors to Democrats and leftist causes. Try to find mention of that in any liberal media article covering the scandal. The omerta is total. In fact, there is near zero coverage of the real victims of the scam – ordinary Americans that blew their savings. Exactly what they should have done and would have done if only SBF was not a leftist. “Joseph (name changed) was dreaming of return from his savings to fund his kid’s college and his first real vacation” with pictures of a dejected victim prominently displayed. You know their tricks.
And now just imagine if SBF had donated Re 1 to the Ram temple or to BJP and see what the coverage will be. The entire blame would be laid at the foot of Hinduism and Brahmanist patriarchy!
Although this article is about him, I would not want to spend too much time on SBF as it is a largely US or Western problem. However, what we should focus on is the power at the disposal of these forces and their ability to influence our decisions through selective omerta and carefully controlled outrage. And their ability to recruit corrupt Indians to do their bidding. All the while maintaining a fake moral façade of fearless independent journalism and speaking truth to power. Or “independent think tank” etc.
We have seen this power exercised to demonise Modi and the BJP and play up “suppression of dissent”. When most “dissenters” have much bigger bank balances, juicy awards, Amnesty gigs, scholarships, frequent flyer miles and 5-start Hotel stay nights than in 2014. We have seen this power used to cover up blatant lying, falsification of documents and emails and deliberate fraud in the name of journalism. “Move on, there is nothing to see here” was their mantra. So that the elite liars could easily throw a low-level underpaid staffer under the bus and walk away clean, ready for more lies.
That is the same powerful ecosystem at work to save SBF and protect the politicians he paid off.
We have far more leftist media portals than we ever had all seemingly flush with funds. All trying to lick the same boots, and pander to the same narratives, employing “journalists” hoping one day to become famous, write for WaPo or BBC and become Harvard Professors. If you recall the classic movie Pakeezah’s last scene, a nameless girl wistfully looks at Meena Kumari joining her husband, with hopes that one day she too will be lucky. Until then it is the low-paid drudgery of singing the praise of shehzade and abusing Hinduism or anyone that speaks for it and retweeting each other’s hit jobs and birthday cakes.
Some are so powerful they have the temerity to ask the PM of Britain to help with pickpocket incidents. In fact, even in the worst of the recession or COVID disaster, anti-Modi or anti-Hindu hate had been a well-paying career. You could snap a picture of a Hindu funeral and sell it for thousands of dollars. But posting their picture is “hate”. NDTV, for example, keeps declaring newer record quarterly profits. Hey! If this is a chilling climate for dissent, I wonder why I am not making a quick buck being a prominent dissenter.
We have seen them turn a megalomaniac, a potty mouth serial liar, phoney as a $3 bill charlatan into an avatar purush on the strength of their donation dollars and biased media coverage. We have seen this power used to pimp costly Western COVID vaccines, use dirty tricks to try to destroy Indian efforts to come out with cheaper alternatives and carry out campaigns to demonise it, spreading FUD when we did. Today their despot handlers are locking cities while we are largely better off. We have seen who gets selected for lucrative ‘fellowships’ from liberal American foundations when there are deserving doctors that gave away their very lives protecting you and me from COVID, not busy giving press interviews and anti-Modi soundbites.
Now the very same forces have set aside $1 billion to promote their brand of politics, money earned from speculation that destroyed people’s lives like SBF did. If you don’t agree ask Dr Mahathir Mohammad, a moderate Islamist and a liberal icon. For what purpose? To destroy our democracy and return us to the days of fascist dynastic dacoity when our wealth ended up in their banks and our dynasts studied and partied in their beautiful cities. Just how many brown-nosed lickers can that $1 billion buy? How many more liar news portals? How many anti-India articles or Op-Eds? How many leftist academicians and intellectuals? Your guess is as good as mine!
If I were to summarise the lessons Indians need to learn from this and other sagas it is this: Whenever you see Western liberal media doing fluff pieces promoting some Indian just assume that he is a fraud out to destroy you, your country or at the very least your wallet. If you have lots of time to kill you can try and check if that initial assumption could be wrong. May there is a small chance it is. For the most part that would be a waste of good time.