Barack Obama, Corporate State, Corporatocracy, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Empire, Faux Democracy, Financial Elite, Inverted Totalitarianism, Jill Stein, M. G. Piety, Mitt Romney, Norman Pollack, Police State, Richard Stallman, Rocky Anderson, Security and Surveillance State, The Conflicted Doomer, The Elite 1%, unwashed public, Wall Street Fraud
What was that Einstein quote again?…”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Another blogger, the Conflicted Doomer, posted a write-up of why she was voting for Obama this November:
…I’ve thought about voting for one of the third party candidates – either the Peace and Justice Party or the Green Party – but, quite honestly, neither has a chance in hell of winning and by the time either gained enough strength to have a viable chance, the party will likely be over (though that wouldn’t preclude me from voting for them for Congress or at the local level). If there is any chance of enough change coming to at least hold a nation together while the Empire goes down, it will have to come from the Empire’s rulers because they think it will save the Empire. It won’t, of course, but it might save the nation.
You may see that as compromising my principles. I see it as pragmatic. I’m not telling you how to vote here, only why I am voting for the person I will vote for in November. You have already, I hope, done your own wrestling and come to your own conclusions as I write this.
I’ve often said here, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties when it comes to running the country, because neither party can let go of the illusion that the Empire is the nation. For the most part, I believe that, although I do think that if you stand that dime on its edge, you might find such a difference. And in the end, it’s that slim, dime’s edge of a difference I see that finally decided which way I’ll cast my vote…
While I understand her logic, I don’t agree with her conclusion. Casting your vote with one of the two parties is what the establishment wants the populace to do. It keeps the oligarchic powers in place and preserves the ongoing corruption. Thinking that change will have to come from the figureheads of status quo is a naive and dangerous belief, and it’s this foolish mindset that has gotten us the “elections” we have today – a corporate-funded reality TV series that runs every four years with the same results…
Voting pragmatically is what keeps the indistinguishable and corrupt two-party system in place. Wedge issues are simply red meat for the populace to fight over and keep voting for “the lesser of two evils.” Core issues like U.S. militarism, the security and surveillance state, wealth inequality and the destruction of the middle class, monied interests controlling government, climate change and a fossil fuel-based economy, as well as other environmental issues, etc. will stay the same between the two parties.
M. G. Piety explains why voting within the confines of a morally bankrupt system only leads to further entrenchment of corporate rule and a deeper grave for the long-dead liberal class.
…There’s been a lot of angry posturing from Americans who think of themselves as progressive about how the purported political center in this country has been moving inexorably to the right, yet it’s these very people who are directly responsible for the shift. If you vote for a candidate whose farther right than you would prefer, well, then you’re shifting the political “center” to the right. Republicans aren’t responsible for the increasingly conservative face of the democratic party. Democrats are responsible for it. Democrats keep racing to the polls like lemmings being chased by the boogeyman.
“This is not the election to vote for real change” runs the democratic refrain. We’re in a crisis! We must do whatever it takes to ensure that the republicans don’t get in office even if that means voting for a democrat whose policies we don’t really like and which are only marginally distinguishable from those of the republican candidate. That “margin” is important, we’re reminded again and again. That little difference is going to make all the difference.
Even if that were true, which it ought to be clear by now it is not (see Bart Gruzalski’s “Jill Stein and the 99 Percent”), it would still offer a very poor justification for voting for a candidate one doesn’t really like. Why? Because it is an expression of short-term thinking. Thomas Hobbes argued that privileging short-term over long-term goals was irrational, and yet that’s what we’ve been doing in this country for as long as I can remember. Americans are notoriously short-term oriented. As Luc Sante noted in a piece in the New York Review of Books, America is “the country of the perpetual present tense.” Perhaps that’s part of the anti-intellectualism that Richard Hofstadter wrote about. “Just keep the republicans out of office for this election!” we’re always commanded. “We can worry about real change later!”
Of course anyone who stopped to think about it ought to realize that that mythical “later” is never going to come. Our choices are getting worse not better, and if we keep invoking the “lesser of the two evils” to justify them, we are in effect, digging our own graves…
Voting with your conscience is the right thing to do despite the belief that a third party has no chance. Registering your disgust with the system is the best action you can take in our faux election process that amounts to nothing more than a corporate auction.
Some other thoughts on the subject…
“The lesser-of-two-evils argument is morally obtuse, and dangerous, the first, because it means complicity with policies ultimately destructive, the second, because it induces an undeserved self-righteousness which next time around would yield further compromise. If the people are gulled and lulled into the acceptance of mock-democracy, courtesy of Goldman Sachs and waterboarding apologist Brennan, with Obama presiding over the bread-and-circuses routine, heaven help us.”
~ Norman Pollack
“The only people who will benefit from the election of either Romney or Obama are those associated with the private oligarchies that rule America.”
~ Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
“As the Republicans get more right-wing, the Democrats follow them, staying just one step behind. That will continue as long as right-wing Democrats can get elected by saying that the Republicans are worse.”
~ Richard Stallman
For those who continue to fall back on the comforting excuse of “voting for the lesser of two evils” in the morally ambiguous and desperate hope of receiving some social bread crumbs, you are complicit in supporting America’s inverted totalitarianism and the strengthening of a Corporate Fascist State.
You are a cog in the machine.
after reading your post, I was flying in a sort of apsidal precession around the construct spectrum of left/right politics, finding myself looking up the meaning of the word ‘Anomaly’ (the word kept rolling around somewhere at the edges of my sub-concious), and I came up with:
“Deviation or departure from the normal or common order, form, or rule.”
Then I pushed a few keys and jumped upon Wikipedia’ representation of ‘Normalcy Bias’, finding the line:
“People [..] tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.”
But that didn’t seem to quite fit.
Then I delved a little more into the grey matter – along with Wikipedia again – and Michel Focault and his sociological approach toward ‘Normalization’, came a little closer to a formative idea for a post under your article:
“As Foucault used the term, normalization involved the construction of an idealized norm of conduct – for example, the way a proper soldier ideally should stand, march, present arms, and so on, as defined in minute detail – and then rewarding or punishing individuals for conforming to or deviating from this ideal.”
That flew in the face of ‘that kind of something’ I was struggling to explain even to myself, and then I thought – ahhh! – why not role that old war horse Edward Bernays out of mental storage yet again, chucking the opening gambit of his (1928) book Propaganda into the mulled mix:
Click to access bernays.pdf
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons – a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million – who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine.
But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens of hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.”
After that little copy and paste excercise, I went to the kitchen and put the kettle on for my fourth cup of tea this morning, and as I filled it with water at the tap and plugged it in, something struck me!
How in the hell can we explain to the average common voter that they are living in the construct of a false, motived, profit making ideology that sets them and the majority at odds with each other for the benefit of the planners to gain the upper-hand on events?
What further struck me was – why would average Joe Voter be here at this blog reading my deep long rabbit-hole of a post – and more so, would he even bother to write a reply?
And still further – if one were to find a post under mine, would it be from a person who could agree and articulate a positive opinion of it, reducing the chance that others following could counter three people in agreeing with each other by disagreeing entirely – extending the thread beyond the limits of sanity, ending up with a debate on Nazi’s to top off the cream layer of the cake?
What I’m gathering is that there aren’t enough passionate Americans set to ensure that, every voter in the country, votes 100%.
There is a maximum upper limit of the actual number of people who are guarantee’d to vote.
More likely there would be poaching from either the Reptilians or Demigogs in support of the Green Party et al, in benefit of either the Reptilians or the Demigogs depending on which way the wind blows – that and a shit load of money!
Then again …
I just got home from work, now sitting at the kitchen table and finishing up the Chomsky video you posted.
In my wordpress reader an essay grabbed my attention which I will have to sit down and read sometime this morning. The author is someone whom I have posted on before – ‘Transnational Capitalism’s ‘Great Wall of Propaganda’.
Click picture to go to article…
First, thank you. You’ll never know how much I’ve appreciated your hand in the dark to guide me …
I read in depth both your August 19th post: ‘Transnational Capitalism’s ‘Great Wall of Propaganda’, and Mike Spindell’s in-depth article with his appreciation of Bruce Levine’s findings and critical thinking of B F. Skinner.
I didn’t just read them, I also read all the links and the comments beneath them, which is why I didn’t reply yesterday!
Let me say this:
I jumped — I was jolted!
Because there was only one single comment that Mike Spindell made out of 64 replies to his article.
“ID707 and Anon Posted,
Thank you ID for linking “The Authoritarians” and thank you AP for detailing the Milgram experiments, they both dovetail beautifully with the point I’m trying to make.”
Fifteen months ago, I wrote a post to you at cm.com linking you to the book Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View ~ by Stanley Milgram:
At the time I had read the book through from cover to cover umpteenth times, having a kind of clarion call – an apiphany if you will.
I’d also read Robert Altemeyer’s online book ‘The Authoritarians’, twice, and had linked, copied and pasted chapter one of that book on cm.com also.
Stupidly – and as has been confirmed since – I had been searching for approval at a site that was slowly being encroached by right wing authoritarians!
How can I thank you enough for creating your own online blog?
No more indolent objection here to solid facts then?
So, with my benefit of hindsight, below you’ll find a shortish relevant piece from Robert Altemeyers book The Authoritarians, complete with a link to the pdf book.
I’ll move to my personal rabbit hole of Stanley Milgram and B F. Skinner in two seperate posts’
Click to access TheAuthoritarians.pdf
Unauthoritarians and Authoritarians: Worlds of Difference
By now you must be developing a feel for what high RWAs think and do, and also an impression of low RWAs.23 Do you think you know each group well enough to predict what they’d do if they ran the world? One night in October, 1994 I let a group of low RWA university students determine the future of the planet (you didn’t know humble researchers could do this, did you!). Then the next night I gave high RWAs their kick at the can.
The setting involved a rather sophisticated simulation of the earth’s future called the Global Change Game, which is played on a big map of the world by 50-70 participants who have been split into various regions such as North America, Africa,
India and China. The players are divided up according to current populations, so a lot more students hunker down in India than in North America. The game was designed to raise environmental awareness, 24 and before the exercise begins players study up on their region’s resources, prospects, and environmental issues.
Then the facilitators who service the simulation call for some member, any member of each region, to assume the role of team leader by simply standing up. Once
the “Elites”in the world have risen to the task they are taken aside and given control
of their region’s bank account. They can use this to buy factories, hospitals, armies,
and so on from the game bank, and they can travel the world making deals with other
Elites. They also discover they can discretely put some of their region’s wealth into
their own pockets, to vie for a prize to be given out at the end of the simulation to the World’s Richest Person. Then the game begins, and the world goes wherever the players take it for the next forty years which, because time flies in a simulation, takes about two and a half hours.
The Low RWA Game
By carefully organizing sign-up booklets, I was able to get 67 low RWA students to play the game together on October 18th . (They had no idea they had been funneled into this run of the experiment according to their RWA scale scores; indeed they had probably never heard of right-wing authoritarianism.) Seven men and three
women made themselves Elites. As soon as the simulation began, the Pacific Rim
Elite called for a summit on the “Island Paradise of Tasmania.” All the Elites attended
and agreed to meet there again whenever big issues arose. A world-wide organization was thus immediately created by mutual consent.
Regions set to work on their individual problems. Swords were converted to ploughshares as the number of armies in the world dropped. No wars or threats of
wars occurred during the simulation. [At one point the North American Elite suggested starting a war to his fellow region-aires (two women and one guy), but they told him to go fly a kite–or words to that effect.]
An hour into the game the facilitators announced a (scheduled) crisis in the earth’s ozone layer. All the Elites met in Tasmania and contributed enough money to buy new technology to replenish the ozone layer.
Other examples of international cooperation occurred, but the problems of the Third World mounted in Africa and India. Europe gave some aid but North America refused to help. Africa eventually lost 300 million people to starvation and disease,
and India 100 million.
Populations had grown and by the time forty years had passed the earth held 8.7
billion people, but the players were able to provide food, health facilities, and jobs for
almost all of them. They did so by demilitarizing, by making a lot of trades that
benefited both parties, by developing sustainable economic programs, and because the Elites diverted only small amounts of the treasury into their own pockets. (The North American Elite hoarded the most.)
One cannot blow off four hundred million deaths, but this was actually a highly successful run of the game, compared to most. No doubt the homogeneity of the players, in terms of their RWA scores and related attitudes, played a role. Low RWAs do not typically see the world as “Us versus Them.” They are more interested in cooperation than most people are, and they are often genuinely concerned about the environment. Within their regional groups, and in the interactions of the Elites, these first-year students would have usually found themselves “on the same page”–and writ large on that page was, “Let’s Work Together and Clean Up This Mess.” The game’s facilitators said they had never seen as much international cooperation in previous runs of the simulation. With the exception of the richest region, North America, the lows saw themselves as interdependent and all riding on the same merry-go-round.
The High RWA Game
The next night 68 high RWAs showed up for their ride, just as ignorant of how they had been funneled into this run of the experiment as the low RWA students had been the night before. The game proceeded as usual. Background material was read, Elites (all males) nominated themselves, and the Elites were briefed. Then the
“wedgies” started. As soon as the game began, the Elite from the Middle East announced the price of oil had just doubled. A little later the former Soviet Union
(known as the Confederation of Independent States in 1994) bought a lot of armies
and invaded North America. The latter had insufficient conventional forces to defend
itself, and so retaliated with nuclear weapons. A nuclear holocaust ensued which
killed everyone on earth–7.4 billion people–and almost all other forms of life which
had the misfortune of co-habitating the same planet as a species with nukes.
When this happens in the Global Change Game, the facilitators turn out all the lights and explain what a nuclear war would produce. Then the players are given a second chance to determine the future, turning back the clock to two years before the hounds of war were loosed. The former Soviet Union however rebuilt its armies and
invaded China this time, killing 400 million people. The Middle East Elite then called
for a “United Nations” meeting to discuss handling future crises, but no agreements
At this point the ozone-layer crisis occurred but–perhaps because of the recent
failure of the United Nations meeting–no one called for a summit. Only Europe took
steps to reduce its harmful gas emissions, so the crisis got worse. Poverty was
spreading unchecked in the underdeveloped regions, which could not control their
population growth. Instead of dealing with the social and economic problems “back
home,” Elites began jockeying among themselves for power and protection, forming
military alliances to confront other budding alliances. Threats raced around the room
and the Confederation of Independent States warned it was ready to start another
nuclear war. Partly because their Elites had used their meager resources to buy into
alliances, Africa and Asia were on the point of collapse. An Elite called for a United
Nations meeting to deal with the crises–take your pick–and nobody came.
By the time forty years had passed the world was divided into armed camps
threatening each other with another nuclear destruction. One billion, seven hundred
thousand people had died of starvation and disease. Throw in the 400 million who
died in the Soviet-China war and casualties reached 2.1 billion. Throw in the 7.4
billion who died in the nuclear holocaust, and the high RWAs managed to kill 9.5
billion people in their world–although we, like some battlefield news releases, are
counting some of the corpses twice.
The authoritarian world ended in disaster for many reasons. One was likely the
character of their Elites, who put more than twice as much money in their own pockets as the low RWA Elites had. (The Middle East Elite ended up the World’s Richest Man; part of his wealth came from money he had conned from Third World Elites as payment for joining his alliance.) But more importantly, the high RWAs proved incredibly ethnocentric. There they were, in a big room full of people just like
themselves, and they all turned their backs on each other and paid attention only to
their own group. They too were all reading from the same page, but writ large on their page was, “Care About Your Own; We Are NOT All In This Together.”
The high RWAs also suffered because, while they say on surveys that they care
about the environment, when push comes to shove they usually push and shove for the bucks. That is, they didn’t care much about the long-term environmental consequences of their economic acts. For example a facilitator told Latin America that converting much of the region’s forests to a single species of tree would make the ecosystem vulnerable. But the players decided to do it anyway because the tree’s lumber was very profitable just then. And the highs proved quite inflexible when it came to birth control. Advised that “just letting things go” would cause the populations in underdeveloped areas to explode, the authoritarians just let things go.
Now the Global Change Game is not the world stage, university students are not
world leaders, and starting a nuclear holocaust in a gymnasium is not the same thing
as launching real missiles from Siberia and North Dakota. So the students’ behavior
on those two successive nights in 1994 provides little basis for drawing conclusions
about the future of the planet. But some of what happened in this experiment rang true to me. I especially thought, “I’ve seen this show before” as I sat on the sidelines and watched the high RWAs create their very own October crisis.
A saliant extract from Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View ~ by Stanley Milgram PDF
Click to access milgram.pdf
Obedience and the War in Vietnam
Every generation comes to learn about the problem of obedience through its own historical experience. The United States has recently emerged from a costly and controversial war in Southeast Asia.
The catalogue of inhumane actions performed by ordinary Americans in the Vietnamese conflict is too long to document here in detail. The reader is referred to several treatises on this subject (Taylor, 1970; Glasser, 1971; Halberstam, 1965). We may recount merely that our soldiers routinely burned villages, engaged in a “free-fire zone” policy, employed napalm extensively, utilized the most advanced technology against primitive armies, defoliated vast areas of the land, forced the evacuation of the sick and aged for purposes of military expediency, and massacred outright hundreds of unarmed civilians.
To the psychologist, these do not appear as impersonal historical events but rather as actions carried out by men just like ourselves who have been transformed by authority and thus have relinquished all sense of individual responsibility for their actions.
How is it that a person who is decent, within the course of a few months finds himself killing other men with no limitations of conscience? Let us review the process.
First, he must be moved from a position outside the system of military authority to a point within it. The well-known induction notice provides the formal mechanism. An oath of allegiance is employed to further strengthen the recruit’s commitment to his new role.
The military training area is spatially segregated from the larger community to assure the absence of competing authorities. Rewards and punishments are meted out according to how well one obeys. A period of several weeks is spent in basic training. Although its ostensible purpose is to provide the recruit with military skills, its fundamental aim is to break down any residues of individuality and selfhood.
The hours spent on the drill field do not have as their major goal teaching the person to parade efficiently. The aim is discipline, and to give visible form to the submersion of the individual to an organizational mode. Columns and platoons soon move as one man, each responding to the authority of the drill sergeant. Such formations consist not of individuals, but automatons. The entire aim of military training is to reduce the foot soldier to this state, to eliminate any traces of ego, and to assure, through extended exposure, an internalized acceptance of military authority.
Before shipment to the war zone, authority takes pains to define the meaning of the soldier’s action in a way that links it to valued ideals and the larger purposes of society. Recruits are told that those he confronts in battle are enemies of his nation and that unless they are destroyed, his own country is endangered. The situation is defined in a way that makes cruel and inhumane action seem justified. In the Vietnamese War, an additional element made cruel action easier: the enemy was of another race. Vietnamese were commonly referred to as “gooks,” as if they were subhuman and thus not worthy of sympathy.
Within the war zone, new realities take over; the soldier now faces an adversary similarly trained and indoctrinated. Any disorganization in the soldier’s own ranks constitutes a danger to his unit, for it will then be a less effective fighting unit, and subject to defeat. Thus, the maintenance of discipline becomes an element of survival, and the soldier is left with little choice but to obey.
In the routine performance of his duties, the soldier experiences no individual constraints against killing, wounding, or maiming others, whether soldiers or civilians. Through his actions, men, women, and children suffer anguish and death, but he does not see these events as personally relevant. He is carrying out the mission assigned to him.
The possibility of disobeying or of defecting occurs to some soldiers, but the actual situation in which they now function does not make it seem practical. Where would they desert to? Moreover, there are stringent penalties for defiance, and, finally, there is a powerful, internalized basis for obedience. The soldier does not wish to appear a coward, disloyal, or un-American. The situation has been so defined that he can see himself as patriotic, courageous, and manly only through compliance.
He has been told he kills others in a just cause. And this definition comes from the highest sources – not merely from his platoon leader, nor from the top brass in Vietnam, but from the President himself. Those who protest the war at home are resented. For the soldier is locked into a structure of authority, and those who charge that he is doing the devil’s work threaten the very psychological adjustments that make life tolerable. Simply getting through the day and staying alive is chore enough; there is no time to worry about morality.
For some, transformation to the agentic stage is only partial, and humane values break through. Such conscience-struck soldiers, however few, are potential sources of disruption and are segregated from the unit.
But here we learn a powerful lesson in the functioning of organizations. The defection of a single individual, as long as it can be contained, is of little consequence. He will be replaced by the man next in line. The only danger to military functioning resides in the possibility that a lone defector will stimulate others. Therefore, he must be isolated, or severely punished to discourage imitation.
In many instances, technology helps reduce strain by providing needed buffers. Napalm is dropped on civilians from ten thousand feet overhead; not men but tiny blips on an infrared oscilloscope are the target of Gatling guns.
The war proceeds; ordinary men act with cruelty and severity that makes the behavior of our experimental subjects appear as angel’s play. The end of the war comes not through the disobedience of individual soldiers but by the alteration in governmental policy; soldiers lay down their arms when they are ordered to do so.
Before the war ends, human behavior comes to light that confirms our bleakest forebodings. In the Vietnam War, the massacre at My Lai revealed with special clarity the problem to which this book has addressed itself. Here is an account of the incident by a participant, who was interviewed by Mike Wallace of CBS News:
Q. How many men aboard each chopper?
A. Five of us. And we landed next to the village, and we all got on line and we started walking toward the village. And there was one man, one gook in the shelter, and he was all huddled up down in there, and the man called out and said there’s a gook over there.
Q. How old a man was this? I mean was this a fighting man or an older man?
A. An older man. And the man hauled out and said that there’s a gook over here, and then Sergeant Mitchell hollered back and said shoot him.
Q. Sergeant Mitchell was in charge of the twenty of you?
A. He was in charge of the whole squad. And so then, the man shot him. So we moved into the village, and we started searching up the village and gathering people and running through the center of the village.
Q. How many people did you round up?
A. Well, there was about forty, fifty people that we gathered in the center of the village. And we placed them in there, and it was like a little island, right there in the center of the village, I’d say. . . . And. . .
Q. What kind of people – men, women, children?
A. Men, women, children.
A. Babies. And we huddled them up. We made them squat down and Lieutenant Calley came over and said, “You know what to do with them, don’t you?” And I said yes. So I took it for granted that he just wanted us to watch them. And he left, and came back about ten or fifteen minutes later and said, “How come you ain’t killed them yet?” And I told him that I didn’t think you wanted us to kill them, that you just wanted us to guard them. He said, “No. I want them dead.” So –
Q. He told this to all of you, or to you particularly?
A. Well, I was facing him. So, but the other three, four guys heard it and so he stepped back about ten, fifteen feet, and he started shooting them. And he told me to start shooting. So I started shooting, I poured about four clips into the group.
Q. You fired four clips from your. . .
Q. And that’s about how many clips – I mean, how many –
A. I carried seventeen rounds to each clip.
Q. So you fired something like sixty-seven shots?
Q. And you killed how many? At that time?
A. Well, I fired them automatic, so you can’t – You just spray the area on them and so you can’t know how many you killed ’cause they were going fast. So I might have killed ten or fifteen of them.
Q. Men, women, and children?
A. Men, women, and children.
Q. And babies?
A. And babies.
Q. Okay. Then what?
A. So we started to gather them up, more people, and we had about seven or eight people, that we was gonna put into the hootch, and we dropped a hand grenade in there with them.
Q. Now, you’re rounding up more?
A. We’re rounding up more, and we had about seven or eight people. And we was going to throw them in the hootch, and well, we put them in the hootch and then we dropped a hand grenade down there with them. And somebody holed up in the ravine, and told us to bring them over to the ravine, so we took them back out, and led them over to – and by that time, we already had them over there, and they had about seventy, seventy-five people all gathered up. So we threw ours in with them and Lieutenant Calley told me, he said, “Soldier, we got another job to do.” And so he walked over to the people, and he started pushing them off and started shooting. . . .
Q. Started pushing them off into the ravine?
A. Off into the ravine. It was a ditch. And so we started pushing them off, and we started shooting them, so all together we just pushed them all off, and just started using automatics on them. And then. . .
Q. Again-men, women, and children?
A. Men, women, and children.
Q. And babies?
A. And babies. And so we started shooting them and somebody told us to switch off to single shot so that we could save ammo. So we switched off to single shot, and shot a few more rounds. . . .
Q. Why did you do it?
A. Why did I do it? Because I felt like I was ordered to do it, and it seemed like that, at the time I felt like I was doing the right thing, because, like I said, I lost buddies. I lost a damn good buddy, Bobby Wilson, and it was on my conscience. So, after I done it, I felt good, but later on that day, it was getting to me.
Q. You’re married?
Q. How old?
A. The boy is two and a half, and the little girl is a year and a half.
Q. Obviously, the question comes to my mind. . . the father of two little kids like that. . . how can he shoot babies?
A. I didn’t have the little girl. I just had the little boy at the time.
Q. Uh-huh. . . . How do you shoot babies?
A. I don’t know. It’s just one of these things.
Q. How many people would you imagine were killed that day?
A, I’d say about three hundred and seventy.
Q. How do you arrive at that figure?
A. Just looking.
Q. You say you think that many people, and you yourself were responsible for how many?
A. I couldn’t say.
Q. Twenty-five? Fifty?
A. I couldn’t say. Just too many.
Q. And how many men did the actual shooting?
A. Well, I really couldn’t say that either. There was other . . . there was another platoon in there, and . . . but I just couldn’t say how many.
Q. But these civilians were lined up and shot? They weren’t killed by cross fire?
A. They weren’t lined up. . . . They [were] just pushed in a ravine, or just sitting, squatting . . . and shot.
Q. What did these civilians – particularly the women and children, the old men – what did they do? What did they say to you?
A. They weren’t much saying to them. They [were] just being pushed and they were doing what they was told to do.
Q. They weren’t begging, or saying, “No. . . no,” or . . .
A. Right. They were begging and saying, “No, no.” And the mothers was hugging their children, and . . . but they kept right on firing. Well, we kept right on firing. They was waving their arms and begging. . . .
(New York Times, Nov. 25,1969)
The soldier was not brought to trial for his role at My Lai, as he was no longer under military jurisdiction at the time the massacre came to public attention.
In reading through the transcripts of the My Lai episode, the Eichmann trial, and the trial of Lieutenant Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville, the following themes recur:
1. We find a set of people carrying out their jobs and dominated by an administrative, rather than a moral, outlook.
2. Indeed, the individuals involved make a distinction between destroying others as a matter of duty and the expression of personal feeling. They experience a sense of morality to the degree in which all of their actions are governed by orders from higher authority.
3. Individual values of loyalty, duty, and discipline derive from the technical needs of the hierarchy. They are experienced as highly personal moral imperatives by the individual, but at the organizational level they are simply the technical preconditions for the maintenance of the larger system.
4. There is frequent modification of language, so that the acts do not, at verbal level, come into direct conflict with the verbal moral concepts that are part of every person’s upbringing. Euphemisms come to dominate language – not frivolously, but as a means of guarding the person against the full moral implications of his acts.
5. Responsibility invariably shifts upward in the mind of the subordinate. And, often, there are many requests for “authorization.” Indeed, the repeated requests for authorization are always an early sign that the subordinate senses, at some level, that the transgression of a moral rule is involved.
6. The actions are almost always justified in terms of a set of constructive purposes, and come to be seen as noble in the light of some high ideological goal. In the experiment, science is served by the act of shocking the victim against his will; in Germany, the destruction of the Jews was represented as a “hygienic” process against “jewish vermin” (Hilberg, 1961) .
7. There is always some element of bad form in objecting to the destructive course of events, or indeed, in making it a topic of conversation. Thus, in Nazi Germany, even among those most closely identified with the “final solution,” it was considered an act of discourtesy to talk about the killings (Hilberg, 1961). Subjects in the experiment most frequently experience their objections as embarrassing.
8. When the relationship between subject and authority remains intact, psychological adjustments come into play to ease the strain of carrying out immoral orders.
9. Obedience does not take the form of a dramatic confrontation of opposed wills or philosophies but is embedded in a larger atmosphere where social relationships, career aspirations, and technical routines set the dominant tone. Typically, we do not find a heroic figure struggling with conscience, nor a pathologically aggressive man ruthlessly exploiting a position of power, but a functionary who has been given a job to do and who strives to create an impression of competence in his work.
Now let us return to the experiments and try to underscore their meaning. The behavior revealed in the experiments reported here is normal human behavior but revealed under conditions that show with particular clarity the danger to human survival inherent in our make-up. And what is it we have seen? Not aggression, for there is no anger, vindictiveness, or hatred in those who shocked the victim. Men do become angry; they do act hatefully and explode in rage against others. But not here. Something far more dangerous is revealed: the capacity for man to abandon his humanity, indeed, the inevitability that he does so, as he merges his unique personality into larger institutional structures.
This is a fatal flaw nature has designed into us, and which in the long run gives our species only a modest chance of survival. It is ironic that the virtues of loyalty, discipline, and self-sacrifice that we value so highly in the individual are the very properties that create destructive organizational engines of war and bind men to malevolent systems of authority.
Each individual possesses a conscience which to a greater or lesser degree serves to restrain the unimpeded flow of impulses destructive to others. But when he merges his person into an organizational structure, a new creature replaces autonomous man, unhindered by the limitations of individual morality, freed of humane inhibition, mindful only of the sanctions of authority.
What is the limit of such obedience? At many points we attempted to establish a boundary. Cries from the victim were inserted; they were not good enough. The victim claimed heart trouble; subjects still shocked him on command. The victim pleaded to be let free, and his answers no longer registered on the signal box; subjects continued to shock him. At the outset we had not conceived that such drastic procedures would be needed to generate disobedience, and each step was added only as the ineffectiveness of the earlier techniques became clear. The final effort to establish a limit was the Touch-Proximity condition. But the very first subject in this condition subdued the victim on command, and proceeded to the highest shock level. A quarter of the subjects in this condition performed similarly.
The results, as seen and felt in the laboratory, are to this author disturbing. They raise the possibility that human nature, or-more specifically-the kind of character produced in American democratic society, cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment at the direction of malevolent authority. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.
In an article entitled “The Dangers of Obedience,” Harold J. Laski wrote:
. . . civilization means, above all, an unwillingness to inflict unnecessary pain. Within the ambit of that definition, those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized men.
. . . Our business, if we desire to live a life not utterly devoid of meaning and significance, is to accept nothing which contradicts our basic experience merely because it comes to us from tradition or convention or authority. It may well be that we shall be wrong; but our self-expression is thwarted at the root unless the certainties we are asked to accept coincide with the certainties we experience. That is why the condition of freedom in any state is always a widespread and consistent skepticism of the canons upon which power insists.
High thought inducing Britsh journalist and documentary film maker Adam Curtis has a blog that I’ve followed since its virtual beginnings.
Back in November 2010 he released one of the – in my mind – best pieces he’s ever written. The subject is of B F. Skinner, and the article is called ‘From Pigeon to Superman and Back Again’.
I have an inkling that the films within the piece won’t work outside of the UK but the article itself will be readable. By the way, the comments to his site are some of the best I’ve read on the net.
From Pigeon to Superman and Back Again
“I am fascinated by the group David Cameron has set up in No.10, called The Behavioural Insights Unit. I think it is evidence of a massive shift that is just beginning in British politics which will change the way politicians govern and manage the rest of us.
Tony Blair believed in a consumerist idea of democracy. He used focus groups to try and find out what people wanted as a way of shaping policy (except, of course, over Iraq). Like Mrs Thatcher, he believed that the people knew best. They expressed their desires and wants clearly through the market. And politics, he believed, should imitate this.
The Behavioural Insights Team believe the opposite. That in many cases you can’t trust the people. That if you let them just follow their desires they will often do things that are bad both for themselves and for society.
This doesn’t mean you get rid of the market. Instead governments should find ways to manipulate ordinary peoples’ feelings and desires so they … [continued] …”
I know I’ve linked and pasted far too much, but this has been an impass for me that I clearly want shared and understood.
Whatever comes of these four posts and what it teaches, I’m rounding the other three off with this final fourth – and who better than an article by Noam Chomsky that was linked by one of the commenters in Mike Spindells piece:
What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream ~ by Noam Chomsky
Part of the reason why I write about the media is because I am interested in the whole intellectual culture, and the part of it that is easiest to study is the media. It comes out every day. You can do a systematic investigation. You can compare yesterday’s version to today’s version. There is a lot of evidence about what’s played up and what isn’t and the way things are structured.
My impression is the media aren’t very different from scholarship or from, say, journals of intellectual opinion—there are some extra constraints—but it’s not radically different. They interact, which is why people go up and back quite easily among them.
You look at the media, or at any institution you want to understand. You ask questions about its internal institutional structure. You want to know something about their setting in the broader society. How do they relate to other systems of power and authority? If you’re lucky, there is an internal record from leading people in the information system which tells you what they are up to (it is sort of a doctrinal system). That doesn’t mean the public relations handouts but what they say to each other about what they are up to. There is quite a lot of interesting documentation.
Those are three major sources of information about the nature of the media. You want to study them the way, say, a scientist would study some complex molecule or something. You take a look at the structure and then make some hypothesis based on the structure as to what the media product is likely to look like. Then you investigate the media product and see how well it conforms to the hypotheses. Virtually all work in media analysis is this last part—trying to study carefully just what the media product is and whether it conforms to obvious assumptions about the nature and structure of the media.
Well, what do you find? First of all, you find that there are different media which do different things, like the entertainment/Hollywood, soap operas, and so on, or even most of the newspapers in the country (the overwhelming majority of them). They are directing the mass audience.
There is another sector of the media, the elite media, sometimes called the agenda-setting media because they are the ones with the big resources, they set the framework in which everyone else operates. The New York Times and CBS, that kind of thing. Their audience is mostly privileged people. The people who read the New York Times—people who are wealthy or part of what is sometimes called the political class—they are actually involved in the political system in an ongoing fashion. They are basically managers of one sort or another. They can be political managers, business managers (like corporate executives or that sort of thing), doctoral managers (like university professors), or other journalists who are involved in organizing the way people think and look at things.
The elite media set a framework within which others operate. If you are watching the Associated Press, who grind out a constant flow of news, in the mid-afternoon it breaks and there is something that comes along every day that says “Notice to Editors: Tomorrow’s New York Times is going to have the following stories on the front page.” The point of that is, if you’re an editor of a newspaper in Dayton, Ohio and you don’t have the resources to figure out what the news is, or you don’t want to think about it anyway, this tells you what the news is. These are the stories for the quarter page that you are going to devote to something other than local affairs or diverting your audience. These are the stories that you put there because that’s what the New York Times tells us is what you’re supposed to care about tomorrow. If you are an editor in Dayton, Ohio, you would sort of have to do that, because you don’t have much else in the way of resources. If you get off line, if you’re producing stories that the big press doesn’t like, you’ll hear about it pretty soon. In fact, what just happened at San Jose Mercury News is a dramatic example of this. So there are a lot of ways in which power plays can drive you right back into line if you move out. If you try to break the mold, you’re not going to last long. That framework works pretty well, and it is understandable that it is just a reflection of obvious power structures.
The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious. Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. “We” take care of that.
What are the elite media, the agenda-setting ones? The New York Times and CBS, for example. Well, first of all, they are major, very profitable, corporations. Furthermore, most of them are either linked to, or outright owned by, much bigger corporations, like General Electric, Westinghouse, and so on. They are way up at the top of the power structure of the private economy which is a very tyrannical structure. Corporations are basically tyrannies, hierarchic, controled from above. If you don’t like what they are doing you get out. The major media are just part of that system.
What about their institutional setting? Well, that’s more or less the same. What they interact with and relate to is other major power centers—the government, other corporations, or the universities. Because the media are a doctrinal system they interact closely with the universities. Say you are a reporter writing a story on Southeast Asia or Africa, or something like that. You’re supposed to go over to the big university and find an expert who will tell you what to write, or else go to one of the foundations, like Brookings Institute or American Enterprise Institute and they will give you the words to say. These outside institutions are very similar to the media.
The universities, for example, are not independent institutions. There may be independent people scattered around in them but that is true of the media as well. And it’s generally true of corporations. It’s true of Fascist states, for that matter. But the institution itself is parasitic. It’s dependent on outside sources of support and those sources of support, such as private wealth, big corporations with grants, and the government (which is so closely interlinked with corporate power you can barely distinguish them), they are essentially what the universities are in the middle of. People within them, who don’t adjust to that structure, who don’t accept it and internalize it (you can’t really work with it unless you internalize it, and believe it); people who don’t do that are likely to be weeded out along the way, starting from kindergarten, all the way up. There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently. Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don’t do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly (they aren’t lying) internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, say, Harvard and Princeton and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization. If you go through a place like Harvard, most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on.
If you’ve read George Orwell’s Animal Farm which he wrote in the mid-1940s, it was a satire on the Soviet Union, a totalitarian state. It was a big hit. Everybody loved it. Turns out he wrote an introduction to Animal Farm which was suppressed. It only appeared 30 years later. Someone had found it in his papers. The introduction to Animal Farm was about “Literary Censorship in England” and what it says is that obviously this book is ridiculing the Soviet Union and its totalitarian structure. But he said England is not all that different. We don’t have the KGB on our neck, but the end result comes out pretty much the same. People who have independent ideas or who think the wrong kind of thoughts are cut out.
He talks a little, only two sentences, about the institutional structure. He asks, why does this happen? Well, one, because the press is owned by wealthy people who only want certain things to reach the public. The other thing he says is that when you go through the elite education system, when you go through the proper schools in Oxford, you learn that there are certain things it’s not proper to say and there are certain thoughts that are not proper to have. That is the socialization role of elite institutions and if you don’t adapt to that, you’re usually out. Those two sentences more or less tell the story.
When you critique the media and you say, look, here is what Anthony Lewis or somebody else is writing, they get very angry. They say, quite correctly, “nobody ever tells me what to write. I write anything I like. All this business about pressures and constraints is nonsense because I’m never under any pressure.” Which is completely true, but the point is that they wouldn’t be there unless they had already demonstrated that nobody has to tell them what to write because they are going say the right thing. If they had started off at the Metro desk, or something, and had pursued the wrong kind of stories, they never would have made it to the positions where they can now say anything they like. The same is mostly true of university faculty in the more ideological disciplines. They have been through the socialization system.
Okay, you look at the structure of that whole system. What do you expect the news to be like? Well, it’s pretty obvious. Take the New York Times. It’s a corporation and sells a product. The product is audiences. They don’t make money when you buy the newspaper. They are happy to put it on the worldwide web for free. They actually lose money when you buy the newspaper. But the audience is the product. The product is privileged people, just like the people who are writing the newspapers, you know, top-level decision-making people in society. You have to sell a product to a market, and the market is, of course, advertisers (that is, other businesses). Whether it is television or newspapers, or whatever, they are selling audiences. Corporations sell audiences to other corporations. In the case of the elite media, it’s big businesses.
Well, what do you expect to happen? What would you predict about the nature of the media product, given that set of circumstances? What would be the null hypothesis, the kind of conjecture that you’d make assuming nothing further. The obvious assumption is that the product of the media, what appears, what doesn’t appear, the way it is slanted, will reflect the interest of the buyers and sellers, the institutions, and the power systems that are around them. If that wouldn’t happen, it would be kind of a miracle.
Okay, then comes the hard work. You ask, does it work the way you predict? Well, you can judge for yourselves. There’s lots of material on this obvious hypothesis, which has been subjected to the hardest tests anybody can think of, and still stands up remarkably well. You virtually never find anything in the social sciences that so strongly supports any conclusion, which is not a big surprise, because it would be miraculous if it didn’t hold up given the way the forces are operating.
The next thing you discover is that this whole topic is completely taboo. If you go to the Kennedy School of Government or Stanford, or somewhere, and you study journalism and communications or academic political science, and so on, these questions are not likely to appear. That is, the hypothesis that anyone would come across without even knowing anything that is not allowed to be expressed, and the evidence bearing on it cannot be discussed. Well, you predict that too. If you look at the institutional structure, you would say, yeah, sure, that’s got to happen because why should these guys want to be exposed? Why should they allow critical analysis of what they are up to take place? The answer is, there is no reason why they should allow that and, in fact, they don’t. Again, it is not purposeful censorship. It is just that you don’t make it to those positions. That includes the left (what is called the left), as well as the right. Unless you have been adequately socialized and trained so that there are some thoughts you just don’t have, because if you did have them, you wouldn’t be there. So you have a second order of prediction which is that the first order of prediction is not allowed into the discussion.
The last thing to look at is the doctrinal framework in which this proceeds. Do people at high levels in the information system, including the media and advertising and academic political science and so on, do these people have a picture of what ought to happen when they are writing for each other (not when they are making graduation speeches)? When you make a commencement speech, it is pretty words and stuff. But when they are writing for one another, what do people say about it?
There are basically three currents to look at. One is the public relations industry, you know, the main business propaganda industry. So what are the leaders of the PR industry saying? Second place to look is at what are called public intellectuals, big thinkers, people who write the “op eds” and that sort of thing. What do they say? The people who write impressive books about the nature of democracy and that sort of business. The third thing you look at is the academic stream, particularly that part of political science which is concerned with communications and information and that stuff which has been a branch of political science for the last 70 or 80 years.
So, look at those three things and see what they say, and look at the leading figures who have written about this. They all say (I’m partly quoting), the general population is “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders.” We have to keep them out of the public arena because they are too stupid and if they get involved they will just make trouble. Their job is to be “spectators,” not “participants.”
They are allowed to vote every once in a while, pick out one of us smart guys. But then they are supposed to go home and do something else like watch football or whatever it may be. But the “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders” have to be observers not participants. The participants are what are called the “responsible men” and, of course, the writer is always one of them. You never ask the question, why am I a “responsible man” and somebody else is in jail? The answer is pretty obvious. It’s because you are obedient and subordinate to power and that other person may be independent, and so on. But you don’t ask, of course. So there are the smart guys who are supposed to run the show and the rest of them are supposed to be out, and we should not succumb to (I’m quoting from an academic article) “democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interest.” They are not. They are terrible judges of their own interests so we have do it for them for their own benefit.
Actually, it is very similar to Leninism. We do things for you and we are doing it in the interest of everyone, and so on. I suspect that’s part of the reason why it’s been so easy historically for people to shift up and back from being, sort of enthusiastic Stalinists to being big supporters of U.S. power. People switch very quickly from one position to the other, and my suspicion is that it’s because basically it is the same position. You’re not making much of a switch. You’re just making a different estimate of where power lies. One point you think it’s here, another point you think it’s there. You take the same position.
@PAR SUB = How did all this evolve? It has an interesting history. A lot of it comes out of the first World War, which is a big turning point. It changed the position of the United States in the world considerably. In the 18th century the U.S. was already the richest place in the world. The quality of life, health, and longevity was not achieved by the upper classes in Britain until the early 20th century, let alone anybody else in the world. The U.S. was extraordinarily wealthy, with huge advantages, and, by the end of the 19th century, it had by far the biggest economy in the world. But it was not a big player on the world scene. U.S. power extended to the Caribbean Islands, parts of the Pacific, but not much farther.
During the first World War, the relations changed. And they changed more dramatically during the second World War. After the second World War the U.S. more or less took over the world. But after first World War there was already a change and the U.S. shifted from being a debtor to a creditor nation. It wasn’t huge, like Britain, but it became a substantial actor in the world for the first time. That was one change, but there were other changes.
The first World War was the first time there was highly organized state propaganda. The British had a Ministry of Information, and they really needed it because they had to get the U.S. into the war or else they were in bad trouble. The Ministry of Information was mainly geared to sending propaganda, including huge fabrications about “Hun” atrocities, and so on. They were targeting American intellectuals on the reasonable assumption that these are the people who are most gullible and most likely to believe propaganda. They are also the ones that disseminate it through their own system. So it was mostly geared to American intellectuals and it worked very well. The British Ministry of Information documents (a lot have been released) show their goal was, as they put it, to control the thought of the entire world, a minor goal, but mainly the U.S. They didn’t care much what people thought in India. This Ministry of Information was extremely successful in deluding hot shot American intellectuals into accepting British propaganda fabrications. They were very proud of that. Properly so, it saved their lives. They would have lost the first World War otherwise.
In the U.S., there was a counterpart. Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1916 on an anti-war platform. The U.S. was a very pacifist country. It has always been. People don’t want to go fight foreign wars. The country was very much opposed to the first World War and Wilson was, in fact, elected on an anti-war position. “Peace without victory” was the slogan. But he was intending to go to war. So the question was, how do you get the pacifist population to become raving anti-German lunatics so they want to go kill all the Germans? That requires propaganda. So they set up the first and really only major state propaganda agency in U.S. history. The Committee on Public Information it was called (nice Orwellian title), called also the Creel Commission. The guy who ran it was named Creel. The task of this commission was to propagandize the population into a jingoist hysteria. It worked incredibly well. Within a few months there was a raving war hysteria and the U.S. was able to go to war.
A lot of people were impressed by these achievements. One person impressed, and this had some implications for the future, was Hitler. If you read Mein Kampf, he concludes, with some justification, that Germany lost the first World War because it lost the propaganda battle. They could not begin to compete with British and American propaganda which absolutely overwhelmed them. He pledges that next time around they’ll have their own propaganda system, which they did during the second World War. More important for us, the American business community was also very impressed with the propaganda effort. They had a problem at that time. The country was becoming formally more democratic. A lot more people were able to vote and that sort of thing. The country was becoming wealthier and more people could participate and a lot of new immigrants were coming in, and so on.
So what do you do? It’s going to be harder to run things as a private club. Therefore, obviously, you have to control what people think. There had been public relation specialists but there was never a public relations industry. There was a guy hired to make Rockefeller’s image look prettier and that sort of thing. But this huge public relations industry, which is a U.S. invention and a monstrous industry, came out of the first World War. The leading figures were people in the Creel Commission. In fact, the main one, Edward Bernays, comes right out of the Creel Commission. He has a book that came out right afterwards called Propaganda. The term “propaganda,” incidentally, did not have negative connotations in those days. It was during the second World War that the term became taboo because it was connected with Germany, and all those bad things. But in this period, the term propaganda just meant information or something like that. So he wrote a book called Propaganda around 1925, and it starts off by saying he is applying the lessons of the first World War. The propaganda system of the first World War and this commission that he was part of showed, he says, it is possible to “regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies.” These new techniques of regimentation of minds, he said, had to be used by the intelligent minorities in order to make sure that the slobs stay on the right course. We can do it now because we have these new techniques.
This is the main manual of the public relations industry. Bernays is kind of the guru. He was an authentic Roosevelt/Kennedy liberal. He also engineered the public relations effort behind the U.S.-backed coup which overthrew the democratic government of Guatemala.
His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn’t smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual.
Another member of the Creel Commission was Walter Lippmann, the most respected figure in American journalism for about half a century (I mean serious American journalism, serious think pieces). He also wrote what are called progressive essays on democracy, regarded as progressive back in the 1920s. He was, again, applying the lessons of the work on propaganda very explicitly. He says there is a new art in democracy called manufacture of consent. That is his phrase. Edward Herman and I borrowed it for our book, but it comes from Lippmann. So, he says, there is this new art in the method of democracy, “manufacture of consent.” By manufacturing consent, you can overcome the fact that formally a lot of people have the right to vote. We can make it irrelevant because we can manufacture consent and make sure that their choices and attitudes will be structured in such a way that they will always do what we tell them, even if they have a formal way to participate. So we’ll have a real democracy. It will work properly. That’s applying the lessons of the propaganda agency.
Academic social science and political science comes out of the same thing. The founder of what’s called communications and academic political science is Harold Glasswell. His main achievement was a book, a study of propaganda. He says, very frankly, the things I was quoting before—those things about not succumbing to democratic dogmatism, that comes from academic political science (Lasswell and others). Again, drawing the lessons from the war time experience, political parties drew the same lessons, especially the conservative party in England. Their early documents, just being released, show they also recognized the achievements of the British Ministry of Information. They recognized that the country was getting more democratized and it wouldn’t be a private men’s club. So the conclusion was, as they put it, politics has to become political warfare, applying the mechanisms of propaganda that worked so brilliantly during the first World War towards controlling people’s thoughts.
That’s the doctrinal side and it coincides with the institutional structure. It strengthens the predictions about the way the thing should work. And the predictions are well confirmed. But these conclusions, also, are not allowed to be discussed. This is all now part of mainstream literature but it is only for people on the inside. When you go to college, you don’t read the classics about how to control peoples minds.
Just like you don’t read what James Madison said during the constitutional convention about how the main goal of the new system has to be “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority,” and has to be designed so that it achieves that end. This is the founding of the constitutional system, so nobody studies it. You can’t even find it in the academic scholarship unless you really look hard.
That is roughly the picture, as I see it, of the way the system is institutionally, the doctrines that lie behind it, the way it comes out. There is another part directed to the “ignorant meddlesome” outsiders. That is mainly using diversion of one kind or another. From that, I think, you can predict what you would expect to find.
Pragmatix: Enemy of my enemy is my friend. Friend of my enemy is my enemy. No permanent enemies, no permanent friends. Permanent interests only.
Brian Routh said:
if the candidate I want to vote for like Rocky Anderson is not on the ballot in California then I am not able to vote!!!
Brian Routh said:
you should be able to just vote for who you want at a national level (those on the ballot to be president) and not at a state level….the national vote for the president should handled at a federal level and a vote for your party of choice…..regardless if they are on the ballot or not in some states.
while we’re at it, how about having a little box on the ballot entitled:
“Non Of The Above”