Monday, June 13, 2016

It's Later Than We Think

The real battle in the United States won't be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Chris Hedges writes that the real battle is between corporate power and ordinary citizens. And, if ordinary citizens are to win the battle, they must understand their opposition:

The reach and effectiveness of corporate propaganda dwarfs even the huge effort undertaken by Adolf Hitler and Stalin. The layers of deception are sophisticated and effective. News is state propaganda. Elaborate spectacles and forms of entertainment, all of which ignore reality or pretend the fiction of liberty and progress is real, distract the masses.

Education is indoctrination. Ersatz intellectuals, along with technocrats and specialists, who are obedient to neoliberal and imperial state doctrine, use their academic credentials and erudition to deceive the public.

The promises made by the corporate state and its political leaders—we will restore your jobs, we will protect your privacy and civil liberties, we will rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, we will save the environment, we will prevent you from being exploited by banks and predatory corporations, we will make you safe, we will provide a future for your children—are the opposite of reality.

The Citizens United  decision has allowed the corporate elite to establish a huge propaganda machine:

The corporate state, operating a system Sheldon Wolin referred to as “inverted totalitarianism,” invests tremendous sums—$5 billion in this presidential election alone—to ensure that we do not see its intentions or our ultimate predicament.

These systems of propaganda play on our emotions and desires. They make us confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge. They get us to identify with the manufactured personality of a political candidate. Millions wept at the death of Josef Stalin, including many who had been imprisoned in his gulags. There is a powerful yearning to believe in the paternal nature of despotic power.

But, if the Trump and Sanders campaigns prove anything, it's that ordinary citizens are beginning to wake up to the fact that they've been played for chumps. There is some hope. But time is short:

We still have options. Many who work within ruling class structures understand the corruption and dishonesty of corporate power. We must appeal to their conscience. We must disseminate the truth.

Climate change, even if we halt all carbon emissions today, will still bring rising temperatures, havoc, instability and systems collapse to much of the planet.

It's later than we think.


Steve said...

This battle started with the Magna Carta

Owen Gray said...

True, Steve. But there are quite a few folks who have no respect for -- and who would like to abandon -- the Magna Charta.

Lorne said...

It seems to me, Owen, that there has to be two aspects to this battle: real education that cultivates critical-thinking skills, and then the application of those skills to see through the huge propaganda machine so amply funded by the right. True power begins with knowledge and critical thought, both of which seem to be so sorely lacking on the American landscape.

Owen Gray said...

Orwell claimed that political renewal could only happen once we reclaimed our language, Lorne. We seem to have forgotten how important his insight was.

The Mound of Sound said...

Many times have I argued that the path to democratic restoration begins with breaking up the corporate media cartel. There is a reason we have such a mal-informed public. It's the inevitable result of feeding them a diet of spin dressed up as news, information.

Early in the Bush/Cheney era, 60 Minutes ran a remarkably candid interview with two Republican information czars. Without the slightest hesitation or apology they described their formula for manufacturing truth. It was well thought out. Stage One was the open mouth radio networks where the Limbaughs, etc. would sow outright lies. They would do it in concert, in repetition. The seed of the lie would sprout. Then it would pass to Stage Two, the cable TV networks. There it would be presented as "some people are saying" at the O'Reilly/Hannity level - not specifically vouching for the truth of the story but keeping it alive, adding through repetition a degree of credibility until it fermented into an accepted truth on the cable news shows. Stage Three was when the mainstream media, even the New York Times, finally had to run the story because of its vast coverage and acceptance everywhere else. That was the final polishing of the turd.

After having explained the process, an example was dished up - the Swiftboating of John Kerry. The Republican apparatus quite deliberately planted the seed of the lie in the open mouth radio circuit. After it germinated it moved on to the cable talk shows, passing seamlessly from talk to news. Once it was sufficiently embedded in cable news it went to the mainstream networks and papers.

What floored me was how open - no, brazen, these Republicans were about how they manipulated the public to spread misinformation and manufacture public opinion and nobody did anything. That's why it's still going on today. That's how you cultivate and nurture movements such as the Tea Party.

Look what happened in Canada before Harper prorogued Parliament. There was talk about the NDP and LPC forming a coalition to govern Canada in place of the Harper Conservatives. The media wasted no time in spreading the lie that such a thing would be unconstitutional, illegal. They even called it a coup. People believed it even though Harper's BFF, John Howard, governed Australia in exactly the same form of coalition. The public was misled by our corporate media cartel. They were fed lies, told to believe what the corporate media masters wanted them to believe.

You cannot have a genuine democracy without informed consent of the governed. Anything that subverts that seeks illiberal democracy at best, outright oligarchy at worst. That's the path we're heading down.

Owen Gray said...

The strategy is straight out of Dr. Goebbel's play book, Mound. It worked eighty years ago. And it's working now.

ffd said...

I'd be happy if a majority of Canadians just learned to read at an adult level, ie, OECD levels 4 and 5. 23% of Canadians read at this level now. Between 40-50% read at levels 1 and 2 and about a third at level 3. OECD tests people's reading capacity right now, and doesn't judge on years of education or past educational achievements. Reading is important not only in its own right but because it changes the brain and makes thinking more sophisticated, less black and white, more tolerant of uncertainty. Many people can't stand uncertainty about anything. They have to know, even if they have to make something up to believe and be certain of.

Anyway Canada is a mainly non reading country where reading is grudgingly tolerated for its occasional usefulness and where any show of interest in reading is regarded with suspicion (who are you trying to impress?) and hostility. Nowadays keeping books at home is making clutter and mess, landlords complain. It used to be called a library.

Owen Gray said...

I have to say that, as an old English teacher, I wholeheartedly agree, ffd. Good readers tolerate -- even enjoy -- ambiguity.