Earlier today I read a diary that inspired me to write about this topic. I thought it was a perfect case study as it related to a topic I've been focusing on for many years now: Exactly how is it that a tiny ruling class of a few thousand people can so utterly manipulate the vast majority of the population.
Well, actually, to me, that's a rhetorical question since I feel pretty confident I know the answer to it: A combination of the effects of the massive amount of propaganda (due to corporate media conglomeration), social stratification, and induced (planned) economic insecurity (for tens of millions of people).
I've written about this often... The reason I think the U.S. media is so harmful to our cognition is because it subjects the senses to an incredible (powerful, and extremely effective) amount of mind-numbing trash (reality TV, etc.), false (bizarre, and distorted) narratives, and pablum passing as news.
It is designed to prevent people from realizing what is essentially a very simple truth: A moneyed/ruling elite has built an infrastructure consisting of an interlocking myriad of think tanks (propaganda outfits), and business/corporatist cartels tasked with buying off our entire political system one dirty-greedy politician at a time. (I'll skip quotes here, and instead will add some reference material below).
The control now is absolute, but it took 40-plus years to get us to this level (the thingy about creeping fascism)...
In the final analysis, the ruling class views the population as just another resource to be exploited in order to extract profit, just like cattle, or herds of sheep.
But human rights, constitutional rights, worker protections, etc., protect our humanity, and therefore interfere with the profit motives of the ruling class.
So that explains the systemic take-down (tearing down) of pillars of democracy. So once the symbiotic relationship between the moneyed elite and the politicians was cemented, they then became what we have today: a corporate oligarchy, or Corporatocracy.
That right there is in essence a simple truth, evident to the naked eye, but for some bizarre reason it remains hidden (elusive, inscrutable) to the majority of the population, including the majority of the people reading this diary.
And this brings me to the diary I was referring to, where the diarist muses about the possibility that the corporate-controlled for-profit national security apparatus may be a tool for the ruling elite to subjugate the population.
To me, the prize quote from that diary is this:
Maybe the crazy conspiracy theorists have been right all along, while the rest of us are good little citizens playing at democracy, arguing policies and cheering on our teams and officials (who are just part of a side show facade), distracting us from the slope towards genuine fascism.To me, that was priceless. What I'm writing in this diary I've been writing (with different angles) since at least the late 90's. For most of that time I was called a conspiracy theorist for the trouble.
And mind you, back then (early 2000's) I was working in technology, international computer networks, and doing pretty good (with a six figures salary).
But that didn't blind me to what was what happening... The playbook, the "script," was so clear. Use the 9/11 events in order to finally lock into place a proto-fascist system that has been under construction for the previous decades and which accelerated under Clinton, and then went into hyper-drive under Bush, and now is going into the speed-of-light under Obama.
We know the rest. The misnomer PATRIOT ACT, the rapid build up of the corporate-controlled for profit total-information-awareness surveillance police state. And the tear down of the antitrust regulatory framework, and of constitutional protections, of workers' protections, the attack on labor unions.
Again, that's reality, the real deal. But for some reason tens of millions of people choose willful ignorance, are too blinded by factional partisanship, or know what's happening but choose to lie and obfuscate in order to protect their own interests (the worst kind). Well, I guess there is one more group: those who are truly and innocently clueless about what's happening.
Here's the main point I want to emphasize in this diary: the number one priority of anybody engaged in social justice and anti-corruption activism should be to engage in a constant counter-propaganda (or if you prefer, educating the public) campaign.
This should be done deliberately, methodically, systematically, and it should aim to reach as many people as possible (outside echo chambers).
Here's one of the reasons... I'm a consultant (technology, advertising, marketing). Let's say that I'm working on a very important presentation (PowerPoint) for a meeting with a potential partner or investor in San Francisco, and that I really, really need to close the deal (maybe I'm under immense financial stress and I need to get the deal).
Finally the day comes, and I'm driving to San Francisco, and as I enter the Bay Bridge, traffic stops in the middle of it... You just see a sea of red brake lights. I look at my watch and see it's 8:30am, and then I realize I will miss my meeting (and by-the-way, there are ten people waiting for me at a conference room in the 23rd floor of a fancy and tall San Francisco Financial Center office building).
I turn on the radio and check out my twitter feed and I realize that the bridge is blocked due to some kind of massive protest action, or something like that.
The consequences of me missing that meeting may be personally devastating. Maybe it was almost a miracle to get all ten people to attend, and I won't have that chance again...
But knowing what I know about the system, I would just pump my fist up, and clamor a big "Yes!, finally, people have awaken and are ready to do what needs to be done: the shut down the whole system, so it can be repaired." I would put my own self-interest aside, and will be willing to endure the inconveniences that come from that sort of shutdown, for a greater good.
There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all![At this point I'll ask readers to see if we can avoid the discussion about "what about if somebody gets sick on the bridge, has a heart attack, and dies because he can't get to a hospital.]
- Mario Savio
In a week I'm headed up to VA for a family wedding. I [have a] VERY large extended family, but none seem inclined to care about this stuff or think deeply about it, or at least are private with their opinions. And these are bright, successful people and some are leaders in their fields. It is disturbing.The emphasis is mine
"It is disturbing." I consider that the other prize quote from that diary. To those of us who have been warning about this situation for years, that's how we feel about the shrugging-of-the-shoulders apathy by much of the population, and the outright hostility (and ridicule) we are subjected to on a regular basis.
And so, yes that diary struck a nerve in me...
In his book, Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised 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."
“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”
-- I will not list author in order to avoid sidelining the arguments
Since 9/11 private corporations have greatly expanded the intelligence community. Seventy percent of the community’s budget now goes to private contractors. So members of Congress, reporters, and suspected leakers are not just vulnerable to government surveillance; they are vulnerable to corporate reprisals, should their investigations or disclosures pose a threat to companies in the intelligence business. These surveillance powers can be used not only to protect secret agencies from criticism; they can be used, as General Motors once used them, to try to discredit critics like Ralph Nader.
-- Christopher H. Pyle
Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.
-- "Rise Up or Die" - Chris Hedges
- America Is Ruled by Billionaires, and They Are Coming After the Last Shreds of Our Democracy
- The Untouchables - FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.
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