The Left-Wing Media Fallacy

Jeremy Bowen, the BBC, and other National Treasures

It is a mistake to imagine that media corporations are impervious to all complaints and criticism. In fact, senior editors and managers are only too happy to accept that their journalists tend to be ‘anti-American,’ ‘anti-Israel,’ ‘anti-Western,’ indeed utterly rotten with left-wing bias.

In June 2007, an internal BBC report revealed that Auntie Beeb had long been perpetrating high media crimes, including: “institutional left-wing bias” and “being anti-American”.1

Former BBC political editor, Andrew Marr, applied his forensic journalistic skills, noting that the BBC was comprised of “an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnic minorities and almost certainly of gay people, compared with the population at large”. This, he deduced, “creates an innate liberal bias”.2

On the other hand, despite the fact that the media system is made up of corporations that are deeply dependent on corporate advertisers (for revenue) and official government sources (for subsidised news), other possibilities are unthinkable. If one were crazy enough, one might ask, for example:

‘Is it accurate to describe the corporate media as servile to concentrated power? Or, as a key component of the state-corporate system, is media propaganda best described as a form of self-service?’

Such contemplations are beyond the pale right across the supposed media ‘spectrum’. Ironically, then, the popularity of what might be termed the Left-Wing Fallacy of media performance is a result precisely of a massive right-wing bias – the Left-Wing Fallacy is the only critique the media are willing to tolerate.

National Treasures

There are several good reasons why the media are keen to accept that they are biased to the left. First, the overwhelming preponderance of right-wing flak machines — ‘centre-left’ parties and governments, business front groups and powerful ‘religious’ organisations — persuades media executives that they really are too left-leaning. There is just far less flak criticising journalists from the left, and this flak is far less damaging.

Also, those on the money- and power-grubbing right have always been keen to associate themselves with the popular ethical positions of socialism. Hitler described himself as a “National Socialist”, after all, while Stalin headed an alliance of “socialist” republics. The modern media’s far-right militants — the likes of Christopher Hitchens, David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen — all declare themselves to be of the left.

Channel 4 Newsreader Jon Snow typically describes himself as “a pinko liberal hack”.3

Decca Aitkenhead noted in the Daily Mail that Snow “has achieved a rare status on television — famous as a radical, yet held in universal affection”.3 Aitkenhead added:

“There is a risk of his image… even becoming a little cosy. Surely he doesn’t like the idea of becoming a national treasure, Saint Jon Snow, man of the people…”

In a Guardian article, entitled, ‘The moral anchor,’ Jon Henley commented last month:

“Social engagement, and a fine line in self-deprecation, may be two reasons why Snow is so popular; on his way to national treasure status, even.”4

Arch-Blairite MP and pro-war propagandist Denis MacShane has described Snow as: “the closest we have to a modern-day George Orwell… Snow has managed to combine a moral commitment to criticising the powerful with a scrupulous care not to bend the facts.”5 Snow was, MacShane insisted, a “national treasure”.

Owen Gibson noted in the Guardian that Snow had recently “cemented his status as a national treasure”.6 Katy Guest wrote in the Independent: “With his cuddly iconoclasm and warm intelligence, Jon Snow is in danger of becoming a national treasure.”7

In fact the world does not work this way — serious (rather than “cuddly”) criticism of powerful interests is +never+ greeted with “universal affection” earning “national treasure” status. If George Orwell’s name springs to mind as an obvious counter-example, Noam Chomsky is on hand to clarify:

Fame, Fortune, and Respect await those who reveal the crimes of official enemies; those who undertake the vastly more important task of raising a mirror to their own societies can expect quite different treatment. George Orwell is famous for Animal Farm and 1984, which focus on the official enemy. Had he addressed the more interesting and significant question of thought control in relatively free and democratic societies, it would not have been appreciated, and instead of wide acclaim, he would have faced silent dismissal or obloquy.8

Snow benefits from wide acclaim because he has devoted much of his life to emphasising the crimes of official enemies. This can be divined even from the fact that he hosts a high-profile mainstream TV news programme — as a rule of thumb, we can be sure that the demonisation of official enemies is a key requirement of all journalists in Snow’s position. It is simply understood.

As the British media exulted in Baghdad’s rapid fall to US tanks on April 9, 2003, Snow interviewed then foreign secretary Jack Straw – one of the key Iraq war conspirators. Straw told Snow that, earlier in the day, he had met with the French foreign minister, who was fiercely opposed to the war. Snow asked wryly: “Did he look chastened?”9

In his book, Shooting History, Snow described a visit to the United States:

As the plane touched down at Dulles airport in the Virginia wastes beyond Washington, my thoughts were of mistrust for what America had done, of the death squads that flourished under the protection of US-backed military forces, of the dictators like Pinochet whom the Cold War had rendered ‘best friends’. I would expose it all!

But within twenty-four hours of landing my mistrust began turning into an improbable and lifelong love affair with ‘can-do’ America.10

Snow wrote of NATO’s attack on Serbia in 1999:

With a million refugees already outside Kosovo and more coming, the pressure was on Blair, Clinton and the other Western leaders to move quickly.

The point was emphasised when we reached the border the next morning. Straggling along the single-track railway line were unbroken lines of refugees stretching as far as the eye could see. It was like a scene out of Schindler’s List.11

In fact, independent observers reported at the time that the flood of refugees from Kosovo began immediately +after+ NATO launched its 78-day blitz. Following the war, NATO sources reported that 2,000 people had been killed in Kosovo on all sides in the year prior to bombing — tales of a Holocaust-style Serbian genocide prior to bombing were as fraudulent as tales of deadly Iraqi WMD three years later. Snow added of British troops in Kosovo:

“I have never more wanted a force to go to war. This time I had none of the misgivings that were to dog the Iraq adventure four years later. The sheer mass of humanity in peril had convinced me.”12

In similar vein, the Times’s foreign editor, Richard Beeston, wrote last month:

[Iranian] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s extraordinary performance today at the United Nations conference on racism confirmed that Iran’s leader is determined to retain his title as uncrowned king of the world’s awkward squad and speaker of the unspeakable.

Hugo Chavez might exchange handshakes and gifts with President Obama and other formerly hostile world leaders may now be prepared to open a new chapter with Washington, but Iran by its most recent words and deeds has demonstrated that it is not budging.13

Notice that the “awkward squad” — Ahmadinejad and Chavez — is +contrasted+ with “Washington”. The United States has never been described as a member of “the awkward squad”, or as “hostile”, by any foreign editor in any mainstream national newspaper. One might ask why. After all, we do not live in a police state — we live in an ostensibly free society. No one is holding a gun to the heads of our foreign editors.

Perhaps, then, the evidence is lacking. But how much proof do we need that the United States conspired with Britain to invade Iraq on utterly false pretexts causing the virtual destruction of an entire nation? What worse crimes have Ahmadinejad and Chavez perpetrated to earn themselves membership of the “awkward squad”? What would it take before Britain and America were inducted? The answer is that it could never happen because this kind of media labelling is a function of power, not of rational thought. The technical term: ‘propaganda’.

For our neutral media, ‘we’ are always reasonable, civilised, benign — it us up to ‘them’, the crazies, to reach out to ‘us’ in peace and friendship. Peace will reign when those who are “hostile” renounce their baseless aggression towards ‘us’. The myth of media objectivity obscures the deep mendacity of the mainstream stance: the world is always viewed from ‘here’, and ‘here’ is always high and moral.

Scrupulously Unbiased

An Independent leader writes of the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen: “Mr Bowen’s work has always been scrupulously unbiased.”14

The comment was made in response to the decision of the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee to censure Bowen for breaching the corporation’s guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. Adel Darwish, the political editor of The Middle East Magazine Group, commented:

I don’t think this will be damaging to him but I think it will increase the polarisation regarding Jeremy Bowen.

He will be falsely applauded by the left-wing organisations, the Arabs and the anti-American groups. But on the other hand he will be seen as a villain by the pro-Israeli lobby who have a view that the BBC is biased against them.15

Bowen will indeed be lauded by pro-Palestinian groups and villainised by pro-Israeli groups. The problem is that Darwish has restricted the range of thinkable thought in a way that excludes the truth — that Bowen’s reporting consistently reflects exactly this pressure to toe a pro-establishment, pro-Israeli line.

Bowen was censured for a piece he wrote for the BBC website last June under the headline “Six days that changed the Middle East,” in which he provided background to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by describing the events of the 1967 Six Day War. He accurately described “Zionism’s innate instinct to push out the frontier” and wrote of how Israel showed a “defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own”. The BBC’s editorial standards committee ruled that even these very mild gestures in the direction of the truth — a truth that is unrecognisably uglier than Bowen described — breached the BBC’s rules on accuracy and impartiality. It commented:

“Readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war. It was not necessary for equal space to be given to the other arguments, but… the existence of alternative theses should have been more clearly signposted.”

We are to believe that the BBC’s internal watchdogs are somehow blind to the lack of “alternative theses” in a mountain of other news reports. Readers will be familiar with (then) BBC political editor Andrew Marr’s assertion, on the same night that Jon Snow interviewed Jack Straw, that the rapid fall of Baghdad to US tanks meant that Tony Blair “tonight stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result.”16

This was on the main evening news, in time of war — a war that was bitterly opposed by much of the British population. It was “not necessary for equal space to be given” to other arguments, but Marr might have mentioned that much of the world deemed Tony Blair a war criminal responsible for the supreme war crime — the launching of a war of aggression.

Or consider BBC world affairs editor John Simpson’s recent analysis of the British pull-out from Iraq:

“The British themselves tend to think of their time in Basra as a failure. The Americans told them bluntly that they were much too soft. They patrolled in berets instead of helmets, and were not allowed to wear sunglasses; they did not want to seem menacing. That worked well, until neighbouring Iran decided to stir up the militias to attack the British.”17

“Alternative theses” involve the obviously criminal nature of the occupation, and the utter catastrophe that has befallen Iraq, including Basra, since the invasion, which “worked well”. Another excluded “sensible view” is provided by Chomsky:

Would we have had a debate in 1943 about whether the Allies were really guilty of aiding terrorist partisans in occupied Europe? The absurdity of the whole discussion was highlighted by a marvellous statement by Condi Rice a few days ago. She was asked what the solution is in Iraq, and said something like this: ‘It’s obvious. Withdraw all foreign forces and foreign weapons.’ I was waiting to see if one commentator would notice that there happen to be some foreign troops and weapons in Iraq apart from the Iranian ones she was of course referring to. Couldn’t find a hint.18

A Media Lens reader made an interesting point in an email to the BBC’s Paul Reynolds regarding his article, ‘UN condemns N Korea rocket launch.’19

Dear Paul,

I refer to the above article and in particular the following paragraph:

‘The BBC’s Paul Reynolds says it remains unclear what Pyongyang’s intentions were in launching the rocket. The country may be attempting to develop a useable nuclear weapon and the means to carry it, or it may just be seeking to hold the world’s attention, making concessions which can easily be withdrawn, says our correspondent.’

Or indeed North Korea may simply have launched a communication satellite!?! Why is this option omitted from your analysis given America and Britain’s track record in ‘intelligence’? Iraq’s non-existent WMDs spring to mind!!

The email was ignored.

In March, a different reader asked BBC reporter Reeta Chakrabarti why she had claimed that Blair had “passionately believed” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. After all, an alternative thesis — based on a ton of compelling evidence — is that Blair was lying. Chakrabarti responded:

“I said Mr Blair passionately believed Iraq had wmd because he has consistently said so.”20

Hard to believe, but senior BBC journalists and editors consistently present this argument: leading politicians must be sincere because, well, they say so! What possible reasons could they have for saying one thing and believing another?

In January 2006, as Iraq collapsed under the violence and chaos of military occupation, Jeremy Bowen commented:

Thanks to the Americans, Iraq had elections in December 2005. Voting in itself is not a magic formula to make people’s lives better. Just because they cast their ballots the violence won’t stop and the electricity won’t run all day. But voting is the way to create a fairer system, so something better might have started. Under American protection, Iraq’s newly elected politicians now have to show they can build a democracy.21

He added:

“All this does not mean that the dreams that the Bush administration has for the region are coming true… The Americans are discovering that the problem with democracy is that it can produce results that you don’t like. That’s just the way it is.”

Imagine these words being said of any other superpower occupation in history. Was it “scrupulously unbiased” to suggest that post-invasion Iraq was free to seek genuine democracy under “American protection”? Was it unbiased to portray the destroyers of Iraq — big business cynics like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell — as political ingénues dreaming of freedom for the world’s oil-producing nations, and then feeling dismayed as the latter made choices discordant with the dreams of US oil giants? Needless to say, there were no BBC committee rulings on the matter.

Returning to the present, the second finding of the BBC’s editorial standards committee related to a broadcast Bowen had delivered on BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent in January last year, in which he referred to a contemporary Israeli settlement, Har Homa. Bowen said the US government considered the settlement illegal. He should have said that +even+ the US government considered it illegal. The committee decided the assertion was inadequately sourced:

“The Middle East Editor had stated his professional view without qualification or explanation, and that the lack of precision in his language had rendered the statement inaccurate.”

This absurd comment was used as justification for its finding that the report had partially breached accuracy guidelines. Robert Fisk commented in the 22 :

The fact that the BBC Trust uses the Hebrew name for Har Homa – not the original Arab name, Jebel Abu Ghoneim – shows just how far it is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which so diligently abused Bowen.

Whenever I’m asked by lecture audiences around the world if they should trust the BBC, I tell them to trust [Israeli journalists] Amira [Hass] and Gideon [Levy] more than they should ever believe in the wretched broadcasting station. I’m afraid it’s the same old story. If you allow yourself to bow down before those who wish you to deviate from the truth, you will stay on your knees forever.23

The same can be said of Fisk’s equally “wretched” newspaper — the Independent. Although, as discussed, it arguably does not “bow down” to power for the reason that it is itself a key element of the power that keeps us all on our knees. This is something Fisk will never accept, nor even discuss, in our strange ‘free’ society where the limits to free speech are subtly understood and crudely ignored.

The issue is not complex, not esoteric: in a world dominated by corporate power we rely on media corporations for news about that world. Future generations will surely be aghast that so few people today are able to perceive the perfectly obvious problem, the very clear source of mass control, that this implies.

  1. ‘Lambasting for the “trendy Left-wing bias” of BBC bosses,’ Daily Mail, June 18, 2007. []
  2. Nicole Martin, ‘BBC viewers angered by its “innate liberal bias”,’ Daily Telegraph, June 19, 2007. []
  3. Quoted, Decca Aitkenhead, ‘That’s Snow business,’ Daily Mail, October 10, 2004. [] []
  4. Henley, ‘The moral anchor,’ The Guardian, April 28, 2009; http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/apr/28/jon-snow-interview-channel-4. []
  5. MacShane, ‘A spokesman for the truth,’ The Independent, October 29, 2004. []
  6. Gibson, ‘Interview: Dorothy Byrne,’ The Guardian, March 12, 2007. []
  7. Guest, ’Cheltenham Literary Festival,’ The Independent, October 14, 2004. []
  8. Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Hill and Wang, 1992, p.372. []
  9. Channel 4, April 9, 2003. []
  10. Snow, Shooting History, HarperCollins, 2004, p.212. []
  11. p.353. []
  12. p.353-354. []
  13. Beeston, ‘Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes fervently in what he says,’ The Times, April 21, 2009. []
  14. Leader, ‘Bad judgement,’ The Independent, April 16, 2009. []
  15. Bowen “breached rules on impartiality”,’ The Independent, April 16, 2009. []
  16. Marr, BBC 1, News At Ten, April 9, 2003. []
  17. Simpson, ‘UK combat operations end in Iraq,’ BBC website, April 30, 2009. []
  18. Chomsky, email to Media Lens, May 24, 2007. []
  19. Reynolds, April 13, 2009. []
  20. Forwarded to Media Lens, March 2, 2009. []
  21. Bowen, ‘Middle East on the road to change,’ January 2, 2006. []
  22. Independent []
  23. Fisk, ‘How can you trust the cowardly BBC?,’ The Independent, April 16, 2009. []
Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The most recent Media Lens book, Propaganda Blitz by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2018 by Pluto Press. Read other articles by Media Lens, or visit Media Lens's website.

46 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on May 9th, 2009 at 11:57am #

    You should always ask yourself, in regard to any media report, what interest the authors have in having you believe what they say. And however bad the traditional media may be, the internet is liar’s paradise, due to anonymity, undeclared pseudonyms, professional bloggers etc. I systematically google authors and you’d be surprised how often they don’t seem to exist in the real world! You can’t hide form the authorities on the internet and if someone is concealing his identity, he is concealing it from nobody but YOU! You always need to ask yourself why!

    As for the BBC, their little trick is to say that if they are being criticised by both sides, that proves that they are “balanced”. One example among many: Israel and it supporters have an interest in fabricating false claims that the BBC is “anti-Israel”, simply because that allows the corportation to “alibi” itself by pointing to similar criticism that it is “pro-Israel” and thereby carry on as before. As the old Soviet joke had it, there’s no pravda in izvestia and no izvestia in pravda!

  2. mary said on May 9th, 2009 at 12:58pm #

    As you say Michael Kenny, Israel and its supporters have an interest in fabricating false claims that the BBC is “anti-Israel”. With reference to the censuring of Jeremy Bowen described by the MediaLens editors, it was CAMERA who made the complaint.

    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=4&x_outlet=12&x_article=1655

    Their triumphant article begins –

    Press Release on Key BBC Ruling Against Mideast Editor Jeremy Bowen

    BBC Trust Finds Bowen Violated Guideline Requiring Impartiality

    In a significant ruling, the BBC’s highest body has substantially upheld CAMERA’s complaint that BBC News’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen violated the broadcaster’s guidelines that require impartiality and accuracy. Below is CAMERA’s press release on the breaking development.

    CAMERA will soon be posting on its Web site a summary describing the details of the complaint and the BBC’s often-disturbingly misleading early attempts to defend its biased report. Check back soon for that eye-opening piece.

    …….>

    Note the use of the ridiculous phrases ‘the BBC’s highest body’. and ‘that eye-opening piece’.

  3. George Washington said on May 9th, 2009 at 5:31pm #

    George Washington on Israel

    “A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.” ~George Washington Farewell Address

    “The nation which indulges toward another habitual hatred or habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interests.” ~ George Washington

    “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

  4. Brian Koontz said on May 10th, 2009 at 9:14am #

    “For our neutral media, ‘we’ are always reasonable, civilised, benign — it us up to ‘them’, the crazies, to reach out to ‘us’ in peace and friendship. Peace will reign when those who are “hostile” renounce their baseless aggression towards ‘us’. The myth of media objectivity obscures the deep mendacity of the mainstream stance: the world is always viewed from ‘here’, and ‘here’ is always high and moral.”

    It’s all power politics. To extend your point here:

    It’s a negotiation. You win the negotiation when you make your enemy concede. By taking the moral high ground the American state/Western alliance assumes itself perfect, thus in no need of concession. It contrasts itself against it’s villanous foes, with the implied understanding that THEY are the ones in need of concession. If they can get the world to believe *their* side, they win the political game and in the endgame they win it all.

    This of course works the same way from the other side, which can be seen clearly during the Cold War when the enemy was likewise a powerful state. To Russians they were the good guys fighting against the corrupt West.

    It’s not that any of these people really believe what they are saying – but their desire for power (vast) is greater than their desire for truth (minimal), so they speak to power instead of speaking to truth. They come to believe what they are saying on enough of a superficial level to not cause themselves any psychological harm, and they shut out of their minds anything which contradicts their views. One way this shut-out occurs is to associate truth with wealth. Hence Bill Gates is a genius who must be listened to and a homeless person knows nothing.

    One role of the left within powerful states is not to threaten the elite, and indeed they do not threaten them. It’s to act as a moral symbol. They can then be put on a pedestal to show the world just how moral and truth-seeking they are. As long as the left is playing it’s role, it gets choice spots in academia while seducing who knows how many “radicals” into believing the criticism is threatening. One of the common ways the left maintains it’s impotent position toward centers of power, control over the population, and status for themselves is to act as intellectual Lords, ruling over the “mindless herd” and blessing the ignoramuses with their words of truth. They then simply make these words highly articulated and lacking in deep power and finish the con game with flying colors, perhaps getting a raise from their governmental masters in reward.

    The American people understand content that threatens the state and obey their masters by refusing to act positively on it. It’s not that the media manipulates Americans – Americans want to be “manipulated”. That way they can blame someone (the media) for their ignorance while maintaining an alleged moral purity. The reason Americans obey the wishes of the state is due to the many forms of reward issued for obedience and of the many forms of punishment the power center has – prisons, unemployment, and demotion being key ones. If the power center is further threatened it moves to torture or murder.

    The left plays along with the moral desire of Americans by forming theories of the supposed domination of Americans by it’s puppet-master corporate media. These theories are accepted by the power centers, they yield fame and fortune for the “dissident left”, and the game goes on.

    The American people are the only ones who can break this game and move to actual war against the power center, and the American people will only WANT to do that when they become sufficiently impoverished such that their desire for change outweighs their fear of punishment. Prior to this event any intellectual with content which threatens the power center will be ignored by Americans and leftists alike. He won’t even be called a radical or an intellectual. It will be as if he doesn’t exist. Leftists don’t like to not exist, so they play the game.

    The only moral positions prior to that event are working to increase the desire for change in Americans (such that they fight the power center as soon as possible) or dropping out of the game entirely, such as by leaving the West.

  5. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 10th, 2009 at 8:03pm #

    USA NEEDS A SOCIALIST-PARTY TO RISE TO POWER AND SMASH THE BOURGEOISE-STATE !!

    WHAT USA NEEDS IS A TEMPORARY DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAN !!

    “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a stubborn struggle, bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative against the forces and traditions of the old society.” -Lenin

    The dictatorship of the proletariat is the instrument of the proletarian revolution, its organ, its most important mainstay, brought into being for the purpose of, firstly, crushing the resistance of the overthrown exploiters and consolidating the achievements of the proletarian revolution, and secondly, carrying the revolution to the complete victory of socialism

    The dictatorship of the proletariat arises not on the basis of the bourgeois order, but in the process of the breaking up of this order, after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, in the process of the expropriation of the landlords and capitalists, in the process of the socialisation of the principal instruments and means of production, in the process of violent proletarian revolution

    Under capitalism the exploited masses do not, nor can they ever, really participate in governing the country, if for no other reason than that, even under the most democratic regime, under conditions of capitalism, governments are not set up by the people but by the Rothschilds and Stinneses, the Rockefellers and Morgans.

    Democracy under capitalism is capitalist democracy, the democracy of the exploiting minority, based on the restriction of the rights of exploited majority and directed against this majority.

    Only under the proletarian dictatorship are real liberties for the exploited and real participation of the proletarians and peasants in governing the country possible. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, democracy is proletarian democracy, the democracy of the exploited majority, based on the restriction of the rights of the exploiting minority and directed against this minority.

    The dictatorship of the proletariat cannot arise as the result of the peaceful development of bourgeois society and of bourgeois democracy; it can arise only as the result of the smashing of the bourgeois state machine, the bourgeois army, the bourgeois bureaucratic apparatus, the bourgeois police.

    Therefore, Lenin is right in saying:

    “The proletarian revolution is impossible without the forcible destruction of the bourgeois state machine and the substitution for it of a new one” (see Vol. XXIII, P. 342)

    Soviet power as the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat signifies the suppression of the bourgeoisie, the smashing of the bourgeois state machine and the substitution of proletarian democracy for bourgeois democracy

    .

  6. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 10th, 2009 at 8:31pm #

    BRIAN KOOTZ: hi, wonderful psychological, sociological analysis of the beahaviour of the average american and of the american society as a whole. Here is a good song and video which describes the US society:

    Its a song about non-conformity and how society tries to make people into a conforming drone. This is particularily bad in most cities suburbs where homes are built exactly the same by the same builder, and high school is all about being part of the crowd. The song is about the need for conformity and mass consumerism in the capitalist society we live in. Modern capitalism cannot function without it. When I listen to it, I hear an amazingly written eulogy for society by Neil.

    I also think it represents Neil falling away a bit from his earlier beliefs, as he’s mentioned he had. There is nothing inherently wrong with suburbia or living in it, if that is what someone desires. A lot of people don’t have the desire to go to “the bright lights.” This song is clearly more about conformity, which can be found anywhere: the suburbs, in the city, or “the far unlit unknown.” In my opinion, the only flaw in this song is the focus on suburbia as the only place where conformity can be found. Popular opinion has been manipulated to belive that The Suburbs are the worst place for conformity.

    Conformity also occurs when many people seek the same thing, including excitement in The Bright Lights (Everyone else is doing “the cool thing”, so why shouldn’t I?). That being said, Subdivisions is my favorite Rush song, and the best synth song ever. So much to write about this song. Basically, it?s a song about the ? ticking traps? that so many people fall into. A nightmare world where a person’s main desire is a never ending escape from the suburbs. The suburbs can take many forms: from the boring, quiet life of suburbia to the pleasure seeking thrill ride of the big city. Ultimately, the suburbs offer nothing meaningful, and there is no escape within or between them.

    However, in the first verse an outlet is available: ?the far unlit unknown.? This unknown exist within each person-the unique thoughts and feelings that make an individual; tragically, few venture very far into this territory. I’m also inclined to think that it’s more about teens trying to breakaway from suburbia (and thier upper-middle class parents telling them HOW to think/beleive/be), only for some to discover (as Peart writes) ”

    …Some will sell their dreams for small desires – Or lose the race to rats – Get caught in ticking traps ”

    Afterwards these suburb-raised, city-stressed folk “…start to dream of somewhere – To relax their restless flight – Somewhere out of a memory – Of lighted streets on quiet nights… ”

    I think it’s more of a commentary on the seduction of city life and the potential trappings it brings. It is also a social commentary on how cliques are hurtful, and how expectations of comformity often drive away our best and brightest.

    Very much like the suburbs of Chicago

    RUSH
    Subdivisions

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu9Ycq64Gy4

    Sprawling on the fringes of the city
    In geometric order
    An insulated border
    In between the bright lights
    And the far unlit unknown

    Growing up it all seems so one-sided
    Opinions all provided
    The future pre-decided
    Detached and subdivided
    In the mass production zone

    Nowhere is the dreamer
    Or the misfit so alone

    Subdivisions —
    In the high school halls
    In the shopping malls
    Conform or be cast out
    Subdivisions —
    In the basement bars
    In the backs of cars
    Be cool or be cast out
    Any escape might help to smooth
    The unattractive truth
    But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
    The restless dreams of youth

    Drawn like moths we drift into the city
    The timeless old attraction
    Cruising for the action
    Lit up like a firefly
    Just to feel the living night

    Some will sell their dreams for small desires
    Or lose the race to rats
    Get caught in ticking traps
    And start to dream of somewhere
    To relax their restless flight

    Somewhere out of a memory
    Of lighted streets on quiet nights…

  7. Michael Collins said on May 11th, 2009 at 1:04am #

    Media Lens, thank you so much for the exploration and analysis of BBC. I’m not a frequent viewer but I do watch occasionally. It’s fairly staid fare but I assumed there was some freedom of thought. The passages about Snow deflate that expectation. The censure of Bowen is even more damning. I don’t know why I would expect anything different from a government sponsored organization when Blair and Brown have been at the help. Blair can’t stand the truth and Brown isn’t interested in it.

    Brian Koontz, I agree with much of what you say, particularly your characterization of the American left (sic) actin as behaving as though they’re “intellectual Lords, ruling over the ‘mindless herd'” – no wonder the ranks never grow. They do present a token opposition, characters in a rerun of the same old movie with a new cast of characters.

    With regard to this point, I’d urge that you reconsider your conclusion: “It’s not that the media manipulates Americans – Americans want to be “manipulated.”

    I don’t see that with any consistency. The uniformity of the message and the level of ownership of the messengers is truly remarkable, unprecedented for a nation this large and complex. Fear is sold on a constant basis. When it’s time to invade here or there, then the generalized fear is focused on the political situation.

    Even before 9/11, the foundation for Iraq as the new “bad guy” was laid. After 9/11, there was non stop reinforcement of that notoin, despite the facts. All sectors of the corporate media marched in unison with the relentless chorus of ‘onward Christian soldiers’. Despite this, just months before the invasion, majorities of both the Republican and Democratic partties opposed invading absent a clearance by UN weapons inspectors. Undeterred, the “imagineers” of power brought in the shameless Blair and introduced the big lie – Saddam has you know what!’

    It’s worth understanding the fact that the ends, avaricious and violent foreign policy, do not imply a support of anywhere near a majority of the people to achieve those ends.

    See: “Us versus Them”
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0803/S00402.htm

  8. doug said on May 11th, 2009 at 6:29am #

    Excellent article!Some times you have to remind yourself that tis is reality not a dream.Last night watching documentary on “hurricane Katrina” and the devastation it caused,Iwas dumffounded.After almost 5 years not even half the people have returned because nothing is being done to rebuild the infra-structure or their homes.Mean while obama pledges to AIPAC,to give 30 billion dollars over the next 10 years to Isreal.I don’t understand how the “brits ” in England,the Americans in America,the French in France,cant see that their own governments have made them the enemy.They are trying to destroy sovereinty,that is why all these countries and many more are being flooded with poor,unskilled immigrants. God bless the rightious!

  9. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 11th, 2009 at 7:12am #

    Michael Collins: I think it’s not good to generalize about the whole USA left. I think that the left you are talking about is the social-democrat American left such as the people of Free Speech TV and The Nation Magazine. not the revolutionary-left such as Revolutionary Communist Party, Workers Party, Freedom Liberation Party etc

    The US revolutionary-left is more realist about what US government is, and what the solution is (To Smash the whole bourgeoise-state) such as Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela.

    Hugo Chavez even though some say is a social-democrat, falls more into the *revolutionary left*, since he smashed the whole Bourgeoise State.

    I don’ think that if Ralph Nader, The Green Party or any of the US mainstream left rises to power, that they could have the determination to do what Chavez did in Venezuela.

    .

  10. bozh said on May 11th, 2009 at 8:37am #

    once the right to be informed, educated is established much change for better can be expected. To obtain that and healthcare, the Right, the Left, and the Center must unite for these goals.
    the Right, Left, and Center also must establish their right to determine what is the best education for their children.
    to get going on these important issues, Left, Right, and Center must be represented by their respective parties.

    we have to face the probability that if we continue to have one party in US, only it wld rule. And not for benefit of all americans.
    presently as well for four centuries, nearly all US politicians have sat just a bit left of hitler.

    serial wars by serial killers [50mn, tho stratified in guilt, USans] that abound in US proves my assertion about where politicians and 50 mns rabid supporters are. No healthcare nor free higher education offer more evidence that a fascist rule exist in US.
    the right to be accurately/adequately informed had gone the way of the dodo bird.
    this alone suffices to enserf/subjugate mns. That is why disinformation is in private hands and not integral part of governing. tnx

  11. Brian Koontz said on May 11th, 2009 at 9:44am #

    In reply to Michael Collins:

    “With regard to this point, I’d urge that you reconsider your conclusion: “It’s not that the media manipulates Americans – Americans want to be “manipulated.”

    I don’t see that with any consistency. The uniformity of the message and the level of ownership of the messengers is truly remarkable, unprecedented for a nation this large and complex. Fear is sold on a constant basis. When it’s time to invade here or there, then the generalized fear is focused on the political situation. ”

    Look at any totalitarian society – Chile under Pinochet, Germany under Hitler, Soviet Russia, the United States. In every case the people come to *want* to believe what the leaders say. The people are never overwhelmed by cunning propaganda – the propaganda is usually ridiculous and transparent, such as the over-the-top simplistic “War on Terror”. Propaganda never has to be cunning, since it’s role is merely to direct an already obedient populace. Examine Americans’ relationship to Obama to find more of this willing obedience. Obama’s propaganda is likewise ridiculous – “Yes We Can!” – “Change we can believe in!” and is likewise readily accepted by the slaves/zombies under his command.

    Chile and Germany are two interesting cases, since they moved from partly-democratic states to totalitarian regimes. The method achieved to make this transfer of expectations in the populace (create an obedience for totalitarianism) is domination. Hitler’s fiery speeches and Nazi power structures provided that domination. Pinochet’s disappearances and torture victims provided the domination in Chile. Totalitarianism is NEVER about successful propaganda duping a free and innocent people. The propaganda largely comes *after* the domination, as a motive force for an abused and terrorized populace – to give that populace something to do that they can feel positive about (obeying master).

    Examine the videos of police tazer victims. I’ve seen several videos where the tens or sometimes hundreds of surrounding people barely object, and never *physically* object or hinder the scant few police officers involved. I’ve never seen even a single video where any single onlooker even *attempts* to physically intrude in the situation, even where the situation is clearly a matter of police abuse. The onlookers are too terrorized and obedient of the power center to interfere. The role of pacifism on the left comes into play here – to say that the principle of pacifism, rather than the principle of cowardice, is the reason these dozens of onlookers are spectators instead of actors. Pacifism is the last refuge of the eternal spectator.

    One might wonder that if tazer and video technology was available at the time, if these same videos could have been made in Nazi Germany that were made in the US, with the same behavior from the German onlookers.

    Examine the arguments for Iraq having “Weapons of Mass Destruction” prior to and during the American state’s attack on Iraq and that possession warranting unilateral American military action. It’s not that the American people were duped by a brilliant and cunning argument – it’s that the people wanted to obey master so they didn’t want to even attempt to see through the rather ridiculous arguments. Afterward they, and the pathetic American left, cried foul and claimed they had been duped into supporting the war. They *wanted* to be duped and the Bush Administration merely provided them a flimsy cover – a rope to hang themselves with. It’s no surprise that Bush often had an expression of contempt for the American people on his face when he addressed them.

    Examine the political apathy of the American people. Chomsky argues that the American people simply have no time to gain political knowledge. Chomsky fails to note that they have plenty of time to entertain themselves on video game systems, television, IPODs, cell phones, and the like. One reason they entertain themselves so frequently is so they can claim to be duped by the various supposedly potent propaganda techniques of the corporations and government. Instead of recognizing the complicity of the American people, Chomsky spends countless hours detailing the “manufacture of consent” and even more hours as the supposed Champion of the innocent people against the tyrannical and monstrous power center.

    Examine the “9/11 conspiracy”, where the government is said to have masterminded the event. Or the “alien conspiracy”, where the government is said to be holding alien biology and technology at Area 51. The ongoing theme in the conspiracy movement is a highly capable and nearly all-powerful government (funny how it’s always the government, never corporations) successfully machinating their way to victory. The role of the “conspiracy movement” is to awaken an ignorant populace to the dark reality all around them.

    If I believed even half of what these people believed, I would abandon any hope of revolution since I would be so damn impressed at the capability of the elite. The role of the American conspiracy movement in maintaining a totalitarian social reality may want to be examined.

    No slave in history is *innocent*. Slaves make a power calculation, and determine their life under enslavement to be superior to their life (or frequently, their death or serious injury) under an attempt at freedom. In the case of the US, this power calculation favoring obedience is largely based on the trickle-down wealth they receive from the US elite’s economic domination of the world.

    The sooner we break the myth that the role of the left is to educate an ignorant and helpless populace rather than to subvert a *complicit* populace into a revolutionary one, the sooner we will help bring about a revolutionary reality in the world.

  12. bozh said on May 11th, 2009 at 11:10am #

    brian,
    i’m not sure that i understood you regarding a people’s acceptance of governmental propaganda.

    be it as it may, here is my conclusion! People, starting from elementary scholing, are taught a multitude of falsehoods.
    the fact is they evaluate a vast number of the false to fact notions as factual; thus, i conclude they’ve been victimized.
    so, blame for children or their parents who were also victimized in same way, amounts to victimization of the victims.
    generally speaking, few people wld make inquiries about or intervene in any police action such as tasering or even hitting a suspect, precisely beacause they have been profoundly taught that authority is always right and to always blame the victim.

    try lending money. And borrower doesn’t pay back. You tell s’mone about it. At least 50% wld victimize you by saying, I never lend money.
    in other words, such people are callling you stupid.
    people who voted for obama are also stupid to these critics.

    after all what is rating people or meritocracy but victimization of the societal [but not of nature] victims? tnx

  13. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 11th, 2009 at 11:55am #

    i was thinking about the extreme conformism of Americans. And thats why americans are so happy with the 2-party capitalist-dictatorship. But if american average joes were less conformist with their own bodies, their own health, their shitty, exhaustive boring lifestyle, that the Oligarchical-Capitalist dictatorship provides. All americans would be overthrowing this oligarchical-capitalist system that only causes a life of boredom, and suffering:

    For example, most conformist americans are so conformist that they don’t realize that average americans need:

    Public, free, state-owned universities
    Public Walking-trails and Parks in *most* neighborhoods
    The independence of Puerto Rico
    12 dollars, Higher Minimum wage
    Low-cost fitness-centers (Gyms)
    Low-cost Utility services (as a result of nationalized state-owned utilities)
    Low-cost airline travelling (as a result of nationalized airlines)
    Legalization of all illegal citizens.
    A complete halt to US wars.
    Cut in deffense spending, and use remaining to pay the USA *external* debt
    Incorporation of USA with ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas)
    US gov. program of social-missions, like literacy missions, free eye-care missions, free dental-work missions perhaps with a Cuban trade system of doctors from Cuba, and food from USA to Cuba, etc.
    Letting Hugo Chavez invest in USA.
    Trade with Iran, Russia and China,
    A complete STOP of donations of Israel. Expelling the Israeli ambassador from USA
    Reformation of US constitution by a competitive constitutional assembly.
    Nationalization-program of key elements of US industries (No consesssions for millionaires)
    Community-Councils by the US government.
    Creating a socialist-state owned media like Telesur, in order to spread socialist knowledge to Americans.

    etc. etc. etc.

    etc. etc.

  14. Michael Pugliese said on May 11th, 2009 at 4:47pm #

    Re: i was thinking about the extreme conformism of Americans.
    Why that musty be why America invested Jazz, Blues and Rock and Roll, plus the Beat Generation.

  15. dino said on May 11th, 2009 at 11:57pm #

    I think that Brian is wrong when he put together so different systems at which he called dictatorships:”Look at any totalitarian society – Chile under Pinochet, Germany under Hitler, Soviet Russia, the United States. In every case the people come to *want* to believe what the leaders say. The people are never overwhelmed by cunning propaganda – the propaganda is usually ridiculous and transparent, such as the over-the-top simplistic “War on Terror”.I would begin with the term “totalitarianism”which surely was made for propaganda goals.But even using the notion of “totalitarianism” we can discern what is the factor which convince the people “to obey”.Supposing that a society will use mathematics as its means to convince.I will not wonder if a large majority find that 2+2=4.The same, i think,that marxism-leninism theory has the logic power to convince people.Now if you compare the “totalitarianism” of Russia with that of the “free democracies” you can be sure that never in the latter will appear one as Gourbatchev and never there will be a real try to make a change.Contrary to what the propaganda said ,and Brian seams to be a victim of it although he is sure that this propaganda is too stupid to influence him,the people in URSS and socialist countries were less brain washed and more rational
    than those from the so praised “free world”.

  16. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 12th, 2009 at 7:56am #

    dino: You also forgot that as bad as USSR was at least the people of USSR recieved subsidized or free basic utility services (phone, electricity, etc.) compared with the U.S.A. “freedom” where americans feel terrorized, stressed-out, and mentally harassed by the constant paying of basic ultra-expensive services (electricity, phone, internet, cable-tv, privatized insurance fees, etc.) just to live in this evil empire.

    In fact there are statistics that prove that poverty-levels increased in all former USSR countries, after they became neoliberal-capitalists.

    .

  17. mary said on May 13th, 2009 at 7:40am #

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/may/13/jonathan-dimbleby-jeremy-bowen-bbc-middle-east

    The younger of the Dimbleby brothers (s0ns of Richard Dimbleby) says that this ruling will damage the BBC.

    As Ed, one of the commenters on Medialens, says today:
    “Dumblebee doing the old “we get criticised from both sides so we must be doing it right” ploy.

    Yes, but only one side gets its knickers in a twist and has the to power to launch a full scale propaganda offensive to get a BBC hack censored, while the other side keep on being killed, maimed, and ethnically cleansed.”

    From the Guardian report – ‘The complaints, which according to Dimbleby came from from lawyer Jonathan Turner, a member of the Zionist Federation, and Gilead Ini, a lobbyist for US Zionist organisation the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (Camera), were prompted by a piece Bowen wrote for the BBC News website to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

    Turner also complained about a later report by Bowen from Har Homa, the Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent, Dimbleby added.’

  18. Brian Koontz said on May 15th, 2009 at 6:20am #

    “Contrary to what the propaganda said ,and Brian seams to be a victim of it although he is sure that this propaganda is too stupid to influence him”

    The propaganda is too stupid to influence anyone. What we are “convinced” by is the *rationality* of living at the heart of the empire – the vast material benefits of exploiting the world. That’s the main reason why onlookers stay glued to their seats as police are tazering someone unnecessarily. They get to go home and play with their IPoDs, and then engage in the capitalist investment scheme otherwise known as sending their kids to college. If someone around them is convulsing in electrical paroxysm, well then, that’s just part of the price paid for luxury. “I behave well enough to avoid such unpleasantness”, they say to themselves.

    For self-righteous moral reasons we have to make up a *reason* other than the truth for WHY we are happy living in America. Enter the role of propaganda, to serve as that reason. Enter the role of caretakers of that propaganda, such as Chomsky and Zinn, who say that we are victims of malicious and effective propaganda. One can even build a career and get a nice plush academic office based on such “truth telling”.

    Who are Americans going to believe – someone who is telling them what they want to hear (they are unwitting victims) or the truth (they are complicit in imperial domination)? Which makes them smile and pat themselves on the back for their morality?

    In reply to bozh:

    Look deeper into what you are saying. For example, “they evaluate a vast number of the false to fact notion as factual”.

    WHY do they do this?

    Closely examine children at school. They are unruly, disobedient, they don’t pay attention, etc. The adult bourgeois monsters invent psychoses for this behavior, because of course any behavior other than abject obedience must be destroyed. The reason children behave in this fashion is because they *recognize* the monstrosity of their “education” and they, *at a very early age*, rebel against it. This is not rare, this is normal. This is not *natural* child behavior, this is natural resistance to the project of obedience training otherwise known as school.

    Now, of course there are also kids who closely pay attention, who follow instructions from the teacher to the letter. But what’s going on here is not successful propaganda or indoctrination that they have fallen for, or lack the natural resistance for, but it’s a willingness and desire to join in the COMMUNITY of hierarchical capitalist domination which controls the school system. Obedience is the path to joining that community, which kids recognize (subconsciously) at a very early age, and they have the option to either join the community, resist joining, or outright reject it. Most kids take the middle path and permanently choose one of the other paths later in life. The process of schooling most accurately is noted as a war for the “hearts and minds” of children waged by the state. Successful conquest of children by the state occurs whenever a child moves from resistance against to obedience of the state.

    Just because kids have no ability to articulate or consciously understand this doesn’t mean they aren’t already acting on this reality.

    Chomsky and Zinn themselves obey the elite by believing the propaganda model. They are all too happy to serve as “brains” to guide the poor ignorant masses and protect us (inform us) from such malicious propaganda.

    “few people wld make inquiries about or intervene in any police action such as tasering or even hitting a suspect, precisely beacause they have been profoundly taught that authority is always right and to always blame the victim.”

    This time, closely examine the onlookers during tazering events. Do they look peaceful, happy, as if they have been profoundly taught that authority is always right and to always blame the victim? Or do they look uncomfortable, embarrassed, as if they are feeling the shame of their own cowardice? Do they cheer on the police, since according to you they believe the police are rightfully electrocuting a terrible citizen?

    Sometimes there *are* objections, or supposed objections, during tazering events. Sometimes one or more onlookers will say “Oh no” or “he’s (the victim) not doing anything!” or even “Stop that!”. Of course, when the police inevitably fail to “stop that” the onlookers just stand there while the victim is further electrocuted rather than logically follow-up on their own words.

    It’s clear from the reactions of tazering onlookers that they understand the totalitarian reality in which they live and while being personally uncomfortable with it they accept it, for the reason I’ve already mentioned.

  19. bozh said on May 15th, 2009 at 9:26am #

    brian koontz,
    i do not know what “looking deeper” means regarding my assertion that people evaluate a vast number of lies as factual.
    as far as i can make out, the assertion stays until a number of schollars show or prove that the vast number of amers; let’s say, 200mn, are onto most or all lies perped by the clero-political-educational class of life.
    there are, however, serbs, germans, italians, japanese peoples who not only show but may prove [i want science to get into this] that 95% of these peoples have believed or evaluated as factual what the leadership in their respective countries was saying.

    in recent US election, 97% of USans have rejected not only healthcare but even greater freedoms and free higher education.
    we need free higher education, but not imposed by the deceivers/liars but also by low[er] classes as well.

    children are tabula rasa; thus, they aren’t this or that but they clearly become this or that. In sea of lies, they BECOME liars. [caveat, distrust the words “are” or “is”]
    they fear schooling, i educe, because they know they’ll be graded like cattle. It seems, they have natch instict to espy the abusive deception.
    but even adults fear being rated/graded and on the basis of grading praised or left behind.
    this is what schooling assures: division, envy, and mns of children devaluated and left behind.
    i think i have clarified my views. And i think you’ll agree.
    it is to me of utmost import not say that amers don’t care or that they don’t want to know.
    this view supports the views of the ‘creme de la creme’. tnx

  20. bozh said on May 15th, 2009 at 9:36am #

    brian koontz,
    in rereading your post, i have noticed that you describe kids’ behavior much like i do. I may have just used different words but what you say about children is true. tnx

  21. Garrett said on May 15th, 2009 at 12:02pm #

    Brian or anyone who would like to reply,

    Very interesting comments. I’m tempted to agree with what you have to say, but I can’t help but wonder if you’re giving people (U.S. Americans, at least) a little too much credit.

    Don’t you think some of the propaganda is, in fact, effective with portions of the population? Aren’t there some “red-blooded” Americans who honestly believe in war, free trade, preventing gay marriage, etc.? Do you really think they feel any sense of guilt or embarrassment? As far as I can tell, my dad doesn’t…and he’s your stereotypical pro-military, Christian, pro-free market economy, Limbaugh-listening right winger.

    On the other hand, there are folks like me who know damn well what evils this country commits, and aren’t really doing anything to stop it.

    My fiancee and I are comfortable (in comparison to the rest of the world, I guess it would be more fair to say we live in luxury). We have an 1100 sq. ft. house (not tiny, but below average by U.S. standards). We live near mountains and an ocean in the “progressive” Pacific Northwest. We each have a car (neither is a hybrid and neither is an SUV). We recycle. We occasionally buy local products. We buy some organic foods and eco-friendly cleaning/lawn care products. We have low-flow shower heads. We read ‘leftist’ websites and magazines, and occasionally attend a local progressive film showing. We don’t watch TV, but we do watch movies and a couple of TV shows on DVD.

    That’s what we are doing. What are we not doing? We’re not preventing the military’s slaughter of innocent civilians, torture practices, mass incarceration, free trade’s destruction of livelihoods, sweatshop businesses or any other human rights violations.

    Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I feel complicit. I sometimes lose sleep because of the anger or guilt or whatever it is. But what do we do about it? If the propaganda is effective on tens of millions of people, how do we re-educate for lack of a better term? If it’s a matter of people being too afraid to leave their comfort zone, as I suspect is the case for tens of millions of others, how do we change that?

  22. Garrett said on May 15th, 2009 at 12:22pm #

    I should also mention that we each have a middle class job with health insurance. And no kids. Just 2 cats. We could without a great deal of difficulty move to a new location and acquire new jobs, which is something we’re considering. We’re white in a white supremacist society. We’re heterosexual in a homophobic society. Half of us is male in a patriarchal society.

    As I said, we’re comfortable. We’re not necessarily afraid to give up some of our comfort, but we don’t want to give it up just for the sake of giving it up. Again I ask, what are folks like us to do?

  23. Brian Koontz said on May 15th, 2009 at 4:45pm #

    In reply to Garrett:

    I spend a lot of time talking with poor people (American poor people who are part of the global middle class) who have not gone to college nor do they do their own research or study. It’s *much* easier to intelligently talk to these people about leftist issues than it is to talk to a college-educated person about the same issues. The reasoning is simple – college is a capitalist investment scheme, where the purpose is to invest a certain amount of money, get a degree, and then use that degree to get even more money (a higher paying job). Therefore, college graduates are either rich people or people who plan to be rich (rich in relation to the global average). These people have no need for any truths which help poor people, thus they are simply uninterested in leftist issues, unless they make a living off of being interested in leftist issues, such as some college professors. Poor people on the contrary are interested.

    But it goes well beyond that. While poor people may be “interested”, they are also highly pragmatic. I talk to a fan of Lil’ Wayne, a corporate singer whose interests reside largely in clubs, young women, and the spoils of corporate capitalism he accumulates. This fan of Lil’ Wayne is poor, he knows he’s only hurting himself by listening to a capitalist monster, but he does it anyway. For most poor people (in America), there’s more of a future in dreaming of capitalist success than in fighting for socialist reality.

    The propaganda is absolutely irrelevant. Propaganda doesn’t make this poor person like Lil’ Wayne, his own slavery does. His own belief that fighting is hopeless, that the powers that be are the powers that WILL be, and finally and perhaps most importantly, that his location at the heart of the global empire is positioned well enough that perhaps his dream of capitalist success is rational. After all, when Martin Luther King and Malcolm X fought for “black equality”, the rational result of such black equality is the sharing of imperial spoils between the races in America. The quest for “black rights” is a quest for the exploitation of the world by American blacks, instead of merely American whites exploiting it.

    “Don’t you think some of the propaganda is, in fact, effective with portions of the population? Aren’t there some “red-blooded” Americans who honestly believe in war, free trade, preventing gay marriage, etc.? Do you really think they feel any sense of guilt or embarrassment? As far as I can tell, my dad doesn’t…and he’s your stereotypical pro-military, Christian, pro-free market economy, Limbaugh-listening right winger.”

    One can *eliminate* most guilt and embarrassment from oneself. Rush Limbaugh for example provides dittoheads with a “positive example” – behavior they wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable with becomes ok because it’s approved by Limbaugh. But this isn’t propaganda – it might be called *self-delusion*, *self-engineering*, or self-manipulation. One is programming oneself. One ultimately chooses to accept or reject Limbaugh. Limbaugh himself has no ability to create acceptance.

    Look back at high school. In high school there were several cliques where to fit in one had to assume an identity. It’s not much different after high school. There’s a right-wing *history* in America, a right-wing *community*, and your dad perhaps admires that history and community. For many people the actual beliefs are of secondary importance, they just come with the territory. Most people are not intellectuals with a need to justify all of their beliefs. So why is your dad pro-military? Because he thinks the military is a great force for justice in the world, because he thinks it’s role is to defend Americans, or because other people who he admires also claim to believe such?

    Likewise with Christianity and all other beliefs. Most people aren’t experts in Christianity. There’s just a community of Christians they identify with, and thus become a Christian to fit into that community.

    Truths don’t exist in a vacuum. They are attached to real flesh and blood objects, and to institutions and capital. A lot of people believe what Bill Gates says just because Bill Gates is rich, they associate wealth with success and wisdom, and they want to be like Bill Gates so they follow his directives. The term for the type of person who has this necromantic effect is *celebrity* (if it’s not Bill Gates it’s Barack Obama or someone else – pick your poison). People aren’t interested in truths so much as they are interested in who or what believes something to be true. To a white supremacist for example, if whites believe one thing and blacks something else, the whites are correct. Evidence is irrelevant.

    The conclusion of my argument – there’s something that unites the Lil’ Wayne poor of America and the capitalist investment schemers – both sides accept propaganda not because it’s effective but because they accept the elite. Whether propaganda is true or false is irrelevant – the importance of propaganda is that it directs the slaves in efficient fashion. These slaves “believed” the ridiculous weapons of mass destruction argument not because they actually believed it to be true (in the empirically rational sense) but because they believed that believing it was what master wanted them to do.

    And when the masters fought – when the war in Iraq went badly such that some of the masters rebelled against Neoconservative desires, the slaves split and some of the slaves sided with the rebellious masters. These rebellious masters and their aligned slaves then called foul on the various “weapons of mass destruction” arguments, saying that they were manipulated into supporting the war, which is an utter lie. But it’s a lie which they’ve manipulated themselves into believing – to such an extent that it probably can’t be detected by a lie detector.

    So who are the good guys in America? If Chomsky and Zinn are deluded and self-serving, if the Lil’ Wayne poor are despairing self-mutilating slaves, if the capitalist investment schemers are wealth-driven monsters, if the elite just want to control everything and wreak terrible destruction as a result, who exactly remains?

    When we review the Roman Empire, who are the good guys? How about the British Empire? Why are we so convinced that there are good guys in America? Why do we celebrate Chomsky and Stewart and Colbert?

    Are there ever good guys at the heart of ANY empire? And if there truly are (more or less) good guys, do they matter? Did they matter in Rome? Did they matter in Britain?

    Why are we so convinced that America is any different?

    Lenny Bruce said it well, when he stated that he was a [supportive] part of everything he criticized. But there’s one way to no longer be a part of it – leave. Leave, never look back, and if you meet the empire again you’d better be looking through a targeting scope.

    If you stay in America, then subverting the empire from within is the only moral project.

  24. Garrett said on May 16th, 2009 at 9:43am #

    Brian,

    “Therefore, college graduates are either rich people or people who plan to be rich (rich in relation to the global average). These people have no need for any truths which help poor people, thus they are simply uninterested in leftist issues…”

    In relation to the global average, anyone who can even contemplate going to college in the U.S. is rich. But speaking as someone who went to college and then grad school to become a teacher, my goal was not and is not to become rich. And I most certainly desire “truths which help poor people.” In relation to the global average, I was born wealthy. I was born white, solidly middle class, male and heterosexual in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. To ultra-conservative, Christian parents. I’ve made the transition from buying into some of what my dad believes to being a Democratic Party believer to being fully anti-empire, anti-religion, anti-political party, etc. And reading some Chomsky (amongst other things, such as articles on this site) helped get me to this point.

    *But* how do I go about “subverting the empire from within?” I hunger for an answer to that question. I hope fighting isn’t hopeless, but who do we fight and HOW do we fight them?

    And I still think there are people who genuinely buy propaganda such as, “we have to fight the ‘enemy’ over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” I also think flat-out ignorance is a mammoth problem (ignorance of ‘covert’ U.S. terrorism in Latin America and elsewhere, ignorance of Christianity, etc.). And I can’t help but think all of that’s relevant. For instance: as absurd as a color-coded homeland security warning system is to anyone who thinks critically, it’s a fear tactic that actually works on people like my dad, some co-workers of mine and millions of others. But perhaps that’s irrelevant in the sense that re-educating the brainwashed is a lost cause?

  25. Garrett said on May 16th, 2009 at 9:58am #

    Also, what are you doing to subvert the empire?

  26. bozh said on May 16th, 2009 at 11:10am #

    a human being can be best described as an organism-as-whole-in-environment. In such a world, labels such as self-didact, self-made, self-taught, self-indocrinated, or self-hating denote illusions.
    and ocean of lies and disinformation or withholding of knwledege is a part of the environment.
    escape from it is not possible for children under 7-8 yrs old. But that’ll do make eterne serfs.
    by just using language alone, one is related and to be is to be related to everything that goes on in this universe. tnx

  27. Brian Koontz said on May 18th, 2009 at 9:03pm #

    In reply to bozh:

    “as far as i can make out, the assertion stays until a number of schollars show or prove that the vast number of amers; let’s say, 200mn, are onto most or all lies perped by the clero-political-educational class of life.
    there are, however, serbs, germans, italians, japanese peoples who not only show but may prove [i want science to get into this] that 95% of these peoples have believed or evaluated as factual what the leadership in their respective countries was saying.”

    They obey the elite – there’s no need for them to evaluate whether or not the elite happen to be telling the truth on a given issue, since they obey regardless. They don’t try to be “onto” things. Propaganda is so transparent that most people can easily discuss things intelligently – their obedience to the elite however prevents them from acting on their own intelligence and good judgment.

    So when I discuss the latest elite lie, people are not shocked and outraged at my assertion. They nod their head, or shrug their shoulders. They know, but they don’t care to do anything about it. It’s the same thing as not liking what the boss says, but following orders nonetheless. The typical American phrase for this is “I’m just doing my job”. The alternative of course is the dreaded “Being fired”.

    Propaganda is a *directive* mechanism – a set of instructions for content of thought and behavior. It’s truth or falsity isn’t relevant. So there’s nothing to be “onto”.

    All elite communication is propaganda, even what they say that is 100% true. Propaganda is communication that is self-serving and “power-seeking”. Do you think the elite ever operate in some other fashion?

    Master commands. Slave obeys. It’s that simple. Truth and falsity are irrelevant to the issue. America is such a tremendously obedient society filled with such deep slaves that master can use various types of propaganda, some quite subtle, to get an effective message across. The propaganda is so effective that “educated” Americans only define *false* propaganda as propaganda.

    In reply to Garrett:

    “In relation to the global average, anyone who can even contemplate going to college in the U.S. is rich. But speaking as someone who went to college and then grad school to become a teacher, my goal was not and is not to become rich. And I most certainly desire “truths which help poor people.” In relation to the global average, I was born wealthy. I was born white, solidly middle class, male and heterosexual in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. To ultra-conservative, Christian parents. I’ve made the transition from buying into some of what my dad believes to being a Democratic Party believer to being fully anti-empire, anti-religion, anti-political party, etc. And reading some Chomsky (amongst other things, such as articles on this site) helped get me to this point.”

    Most Americans believe that what they *believe* matters, instead of what they do. A belief is not an accomplishment – it merely allows the possibility of one.

    Americans like “good beliefs” so much because they allow their morality to stay locked up in their heads while their actions remain pleasantly immoral.

    Immorality has tremendous benefits. Wealth accumulation gets someone an attractive spouse (or a selection of playmates). Domination gains control over other humans, forcing them to do one’s will. Playing by the rules (being immoral) gets one wealth, social status, material goods, the works. Most “good” Americans define wealth accumulation as good.

    Look at Brad Will. From what I’ve seen, one of the most moral people in America. It didn’t take him long to become a corpse. Or Rachel Corrie, seemingly a very good-hearted person. Her heart’s biological function didn’t last long.

    Being moral is a serious commitment, and an often deadly one. Everyone who is not quickly eliminated from society by the elite (either jailed, tortured, or killed) is compromised in some fashion. Everyone who is free is corrupt. We should recognize the reality and go from there. If the role of the moral among us is to be eliminated from society, the role of the corrupt is to save the world. Or not save the world. That’s the choice.

    The typical “good” American moderates his immorality. Sure, he buys sweatshop goods. Sure, he gets a paycheck from a corporation tied to Wall Street corruption. But he doesn’t “hurt” anyone. These moderately immoral among us have bought their conscience with that moderation – surely a good bargain. Then they form a community where they pat each other on the back for their beliefs – because you know they need consolation due to living with such bad people.

    Rather than be “good” people – moderately immoral people – we need to ask ourselves if we are contributing as much as we can to saving the world. If we’re not willing to at least do that then we need to recognize the effects of the destruction of the world, and our own role therein.

    “Also, what are you doing to subvert the empire?”

    What I’m doing now (on Dissident Voice) is very similar to what I’ve done in the past to subvert Americans. It’s a combination of education and discipline training. Americans are fairly well educated nowadays, other than their ridiculous libertarian right leanings, but their discipline is atrocious.

    “*But* how do I go about “subverting the empire from within?” I hunger for an answer to that question. I hope fighting isn’t hopeless, but who do we fight and HOW do we fight them?”

    If you have a passion for subversion you’ll find a way. If you haven’t found a way yet in your life the most likely cause is a lack of passion. In a group sense, increasing the power of local democratic groups (anarchist groups, workers’ groups, local community groups) by means of effective participation in them is perhaps the most pragmatic strategy in the war against the elite.

    “And I still think there are people who genuinely buy propaganda such as, “we have to fight the ‘enemy’ over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” I also think flat-out ignorance is a mammoth problem (ignorance of ‘covert’ U.S. terrorism in Latin America and elsewhere, ignorance of Christianity, etc.).”

    Their ignorance is a problem for *you*, not for them. They want to be ignorant, so that they can more easily blame others for their problems and so that they don’t have to feel anguish at who they are. People aren’t tricked into watching Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh – they know it’s propaganda and they are simply choosing who to obey – choosing Fox News OVER Air America.

    Likewise – noone buys propaganda, just like noone buys what the boss tells them to do. They do what the boss tells them to do because the alternative is worse, according to their values. The boss can fire them – the power center can imprison or kill them or fire them. So they obey.

    If one is going to do what the boss tells them to do, regardless, then it DOESN’T MATTER whether or not the boss is lying. It simply doesn’t matter whether or not the propaganda is “bought”.

    People accept government propaganda not because that propaganda is cunningly effective, but because they don’t care whether or not it’s true – master orders and they obey.

    Worker – “I’m just doing my job”

    Citizen – “I’m just following my elected leader”

    In “doing my job” – what is the importance of truth and justice? Is truth and justice worth being fired for? As long as the answer is “no” there is slavery.

    Examples abound – there was a recent piece on The Real News where mortgage brokers talked about the corrupt and horrible practices at banks, linked to Wall Street. But they followed orders, “did their job”, in order to not be fired.

    That’s what it comes down to in America. These people just “doing their job” are the “good Americans” – but without them there *is no* American Empire.

    In refusing to be fired, they accept master’s orders, and are complicit in all results of those orders.

  28. Garrett said on May 19th, 2009 at 10:37am #

    “The typical “good” American moderates his immorality. Sure, he buys sweatshop goods. Sure, he gets a paycheck from a corporation tied to Wall Street corruption. But he doesn’t “hurt” anyone. These moderately immoral among us have bought their conscience with that moderation – surely a good bargain. Then they form a community where they pat each other on the back for their beliefs – because you know they need consolation due to living with such bad people…Rather than be “good” people – moderately immoral people – we need to ask ourselves if we are contributing as much as we can to saving the world.”

    While very few people, if any, are doing as much as they can to save the world, many people *are* acting on their beliefs. Volunteering, donating, boycotting certain products, writing, raising awareness, etc.

    “What I’m doing now (on Dissident Voice) is very similar to what I’ve done in the past to subvert Americans. It’s a combination of education and discipline training. Americans are fairly well educated nowadays, other than their ridiculous libertarian right leanings, but their discipline is atrocious.”

    Aside from writing, what actions are you taking? Do you successfully avoid all sweatshop goods, successfully avoid contributing to corporations, grow your own food, eat a vegan diet, buy fair trade clothing, walk or bike everywhere you go, etc.? If you are, in fact doing all of those things, what do you say to those who tell you they simply cannot afford to do most of those things?

    I have a hard time calling Americans fairly well-educated. Whether it’s the teenagers I work with or the adults I enounter, I am not seeing much evidence that the U.S. population is well-educated.

    “If you have a passion for subversion you’ll find a way. If you haven’t found a way yet in your life the most likely cause is a lack of passion. In a group sense, increasing the power of local democratic groups (anarchist groups, workers’ groups, local community groups) by means of effective participation in them is perhaps the most pragmatic strategy in the war against the elite.”

    People can be exposed to new ideas and develop new passions at any point in their lives. I’m 31 years old, and for much of my life there was a lack of awareness (partly due to my upbringing and partly due to my greater interest in typical kid stuff like playing baseball with friends). Lack of awareness regarding the corporate stranglehold on Washington, the duopoly/plutocracy, white male privilege, the impacts of free trade, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, etc., etc., etc. I was aware of inequality, racism, sexism, pollution, etc. And as I said before, there are actions I’m taking and have been taking (volunteering, donating, having the occasional discussion with my students about some of these issues, using eco-friendly products, etc.). But I’m fully aware of my shortcomings (I do buy products that I’m sure were made with slave labor, for instance). I feel somewhat overwhelmed and unsure what exactly I could and should be doing to subvert the empire. I need specifics.

    Define for me “effective participation.” I really want to know what I and other moderately immoral people can be doing, and “effective participation” is too non-specific.

  29. bozh said on May 19th, 2009 at 12:26pm #

    brian koontz,
    scientific inquiry [not restrained by the ruling class] into what amers know about the nature of the empire and its governance; which wld include constitution, judiciary, jurisprudence, fbi, cia, legislature, education, sources of information, etc., wld throw much more light on the subject.
    but for the time being i”ll maintain that 95% of amers are victimized solely by words.
    and i seldom if ever blame victims. For if 90+% of amers are cognizant of the vast number of iniquities in US governance, then, that’s it.
    they are ready to nuke half the planet to make sure only they obtain planet’s goodies.
    if amers don’t nuke the world, amers cannot, i deduce obtain the goodies.
    in short, if amers are onto ?all lies, then that wld mean, at least to me, that we have met ultimate evil.
    i hope not. But who knows? In any case, ruling class wld never ever allow an inquiry.
    it took me whole hour to find this analyses.
    by the way, i, too, watched john waine movies. Did i believe the movie? I won’t tell you! I still feel some shame about his movies! tnx

  30. Garrett said on May 19th, 2009 at 3:01pm #

    One other thing: “People aren’t tricked into watching Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh – they know it’s propaganda…”

    I guess that depends on how you define propaganda, but I can tell you that my dad (and I know he’s not alone) does not consider FOX/Limbaugh/CBN to be propaganda. He believes wholeheartedly that they are speaking the truth, that they are patriotic, etc. And I know there are folks who believe Barack Obama, Ed Shultz (sp?), Air America and the Democratic Party are speaking the truth, independent of corporate influence, etc. (hell, I used to fit that description…my thinking has changed dramatically in recent years).

    About a year ago, I got into a brief discussion with students of mine about the occupation of Iraq. Nearly every single student believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. Nationwide polls showed that large percentages of the population believed the same thing. The propaganda works, and I don’t think it’s because people want to believe nonsense or look foolish. That said, I do think there are those who purposefully stick their heads in the sand to avoid feelings of guilt, responsibility, etc. Generally speaking, though, I think you’re giving U.S. Americans too much credit.

  31. Brian Koontz said on May 21st, 2009 at 7:47am #

    In reply to Garrett:

    Let’s take an example to help clarify – Jews in Dachau (a Nazi concentration camp). Let’s briefly compare this Jew in Dachau to your dad. How do we go about analyzing the MEANING of what this Jew states are his beliefs? Let’s say this Jew states similar beliefs to his Nazi captors. Are we to believe his views are “free” – freely created through his own free will, or are we to believe that he believes that by attempting to manipulate himself into believing such, that he will render himself less threatening to his Nazi captors and thus increase his own chance of survival?

    And assuming this to be the case, what does this Jew believe about this own process of self-manipulation? Does he see it clearly for what it is, or does he self-delude into a position of “I really believe it! I freely believe it!”

    We live in a totalitarian social reality in the US. So what does it MEAN for your dad to hold the beliefs he does? How did he beliefs come to be his beliefs?

    Let’s examine that same Dachau Jew. He lives through the WWII Jewish Holocaust, marries, has children. He’s learned that self-manipulation and self-delusion are the path to the continuation of life, and those are the lessons he imparts (largely subconsciously) to his children. So what happens to the beliefs of his children? Are they “freely constituted”, or rather are they the absolute product of historical and contextual circumstance?

    So your dad “believes” Fox News. He believes that “believing SUCH” is the wise thing to believe, rather than his belief being based on empirical rational reality.

    A lot of people choose to believe something basely largely on their judgment that it’s the *winner* saying it. So maybe your dad merely thinks of Fox News as the *winner* (whose views will be in power and dominant) and Air America as the *loser* (whose views will be put into submission, perhaps eventually exterminated).

    To see a metaphor for this, examine sports apparel, and notice that if that team is successful there is a much higher frequency of the wearing of their apparel by the populace. Yankees caps for example are ridiculously frequent, even outside of America, and not coincidentally the Yankees have been perhaps (there are various ways to define it) the winningest baseball team over the past two decades. When your father talks to you he’s “wearing” his beliefs.

    You know your dad much better than I do and can make a judgment – but the judgment that he “believes freely” in what he does is naive.

    So while your dad, on an empirical rational judgment, knows that Fox News is propaganda, on a POWER judgment he knows it to be the truth, in the same sense that the bible is the truth, because the bible is powerful and just, not because the bible is empirically accurate.

    If you’ve been conversing with your dad and have never heard him state that Fox News is propaganda, the most likely reason is that he believes it will harm him to make a rational judgment which contradicts his power judgment, not that he’s not *capable* of making a rational judgment. If you’d like to test his ability at rationality lay out a rational argument and see his response.

    If Fox News were to be destroyed, many citizens would be freed of it’s propaganda, not merely directly but by way of the lessening of power of that type of propaganda.

    It’s not propaganda itself that has any power, and propaganda is never truly deceptive. It’s *power* that influences people – the more powerful a source the more powerful it’s propaganda. The only power component of propaganda is in how effective it is (how efficient it is) in it’s functionality as a *directive mechanism* – how effectively it moves the slaves in the direction the propagandist wants them to go.

    A homeless man on the street can be brilliant and he’ll be dismissed (by the people themselves, not just the elite) because he lacks power, while George Bush can be an utter idiot (act as if he’s an utter idiot) and he’ll only be dismissed when other elite turn against him.

    Everyone, even the intellectuals, hang on the every word of Barack Obama, because of his power. This power isn’t based on personal merit, but on a combination of personal elements and obedience to the power center.

    “I have a hard time calling Americans fairly well-educated. Whether it’s the teenagers I work with or the adults I enounter, I am not seeing much evidence that the U.S. population is well-educated.”

    The amount of evidence you see is directly related to the balance of power. “No evidence” occurs in totalitarian societies.

    There’s an easy way to see this. Examine the period of social unrest in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. If you worked with teenagers and adults during this period, you would have “seen much evidence” that they were well educated. Yet rationally, it makes no sense to say that Americans were poorly educated in the 1950s/1980s but well educated in the 1960s/1970s. So what’s going on?

    You have no access to the education that people HAVE, merely the education they allow you to see. In the 1960s and 1970s, people in the United States felt more powerful, more free, more revolutionary, and therefore had the impetus to express their knowledge.

    Before and after, the people felt powerless, like slaves in a totalitarian nightmare. There’s no *point* to them expressing their knowledge in such situations, which therefore leads certain high-minded academics to declare them “uneducated”. Yet suddenly, VOILA, if the people again gain a measure of power, they will appear to be educated.

    I’m able to get people to express their education at times due to being a revolutionary.

    “Aside from writing, what actions are you taking? Do you successfully avoid all sweatshop goods, successfully avoid contributing to corporations, grow your own food, eat a vegan diet, buy fair trade clothing, walk or bike everywhere you go, etc.? If you are, in fact doing all of those things, what do you say to those who tell you they simply cannot afford to do most of those things?”

    That’s the ironic problem – most “good ways” of living (in the US) require greater control of capital (better relationship with the power center) to execute.

    The only thing on your list I do is eat a vegan diet. I do do related helpful things like buying a minimum of clothing, driving little, etc. but through a combination of lack of access to capital and lack of ability and willingness to spend the time maximizing my morality I’m far from maximized in that respect.

    Also, I notice that “leaving the United States” is not on your list – yet that’s probably the most helpful thing one can do for the environment.

    I’ve lived most of my life under the common intellectual conceit that through “thought itself” I could save the world.

    I consider one of my jobs to encourage humans toward morality – I don’t expect moral perfection.

    “I feel somewhat overwhelmed and unsure what exactly I could and should be doing to subvert the empire. I need specifics.”

    Forming a union at your workplace is helpful. Before you do that you should research the issue. Since you’re a teacher you may already be unionized, in which case participate therein.

    Forming a civic group which then acts as a voting block will lead to influence with local politicians.

    The difficulty here is that the most helpful actions are also the ones which lead the elite to remove one from society. So all “helpful actions” are of limited consequence, but the process of unionization and civic group forming is still useful and helpful.

    If one is not concerned about remaining in society, then I recommend assassinating members of the high elite. Just bear in mind that most of the left claims to be pacifist and therefore won’t make you a martyr. You can only be a martyr by dying needlessly and pathetically bravely, like Rachel Corrie.

    “Define for me “effective participation.” I really want to know what I and other moderately immoral people can be doing, and “effective participation” is too non-specific.”

    Once you’re in a democratic group, maximize the power of your actions in terms of benefiting the group.

    For more information, you could talk to one of these democratic groups rather than talk to me, who would like to join one of these groups but knows of none in my locality.

    In my case, since I know of none and am of limited ambition in this regard I started a book club. *Any* local organization can evolve into a political entity.

    Removing yourself from the power center and involving yourself in your locality is good, even if you are not directly doing anything political. This means turning off corporate TV, getting independent news, participating in local civic activities and clubs, minimizing your engagement with corporations, etc.

  32. bozh said on May 21st, 2009 at 12:56pm #

    lies are as powerful as the truth. A lie is powerful, if the listener evaluates it as true.
    If a person evaluates a statement or piece of information as neither true nor false, it makes a huge difference.
    has there ever been a human being who did not at least one time evaluate a lie as the truth? probably not!

    it seems that some people know how effective a lie is in obtaiing what they want.
    if i had lied about; let’s say, about iraq as some 100mn amers have lied about it, i am doubtful that i’d ever sleep nights or mix with people.
    i’d probably commit suicide or get lost s’mwhere.

    it seems that some people can lie and then cover the lies with more lies and throw in a truth here and there and are not disturbed by it or even exult while lying.
    how did the become that way? Is the genetic pool to blame for producing psychopaths? or is it combination of the pool, miseducation, disinformation, etc.

    what we know for certain is that the nature, of which we are part, is infinitely valued. Btwn its goodness and badness there are great number of values
    so, all this may be the will of the nature? If so, woe to us nonpsychos. bozhidar balkas tnx

  33. Garrett said on May 21st, 2009 at 2:39pm #

    Brian,

    My dad believed what he believes long before there was a Fox News and long before there was an Air America (the latter is merely a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party). How did he come to those beliefs? Family members, friends, co-workers, religion, books, articles, media, etc. The same is true for everyone, I suppose. We’ve had numerous exchanges over the years that lead me to believe that he believes his beliefs are rational and based on reality. Of course, I’m not inside of his head. As for empirical data, like any good conservative Republican, he either ignores numbers/data/science or he twists numbers to suit his beliefs (maybe we all do that at some point in our lives).

    Needless to say, there are/were educated people and uneducated people. In the 60s/70s, as well as now. But I think it’s possible that the massive increase in media (cable, video games, etc.) has helped dumb down America…or maybe that’s a myth. I’m not sure. If surveys show that more Americans know more about American Idol than they do about politics, what does that say? Maybe nothing. I don’t know. Generalizations should be avoided, though, so I should say that I see evidence of educated people and evidence of uneducated people. Of course, this gets even more nuanced when you try to define “educated.” My dad has a college degree and many decades of life experience, but his world views are – in my opinion – terribly inaccurate.

    Try to bring about change in the U.S. or just leave the U.S.? That’s a question I’ve considered, and perhaps someday my wife and I will decide to leave. If we do, where will we go that is not imperialistic *and* to our liking? Not sure.

    How is what you’re doing different than what Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson and Howard Zinn are doing?

  34. Brian Koontz said on May 22nd, 2009 at 6:17am #

    My dad believed what he believes long before there was a Fox News and long before there was an Air America (the latter is merely a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party). How did he come to those beliefs? Family members, friends, co-workers, religion, books, articles, media, etc. The same is true for everyone, I suppose. We’ve had numerous exchanges over the years that lead me to believe that he believes his beliefs are rational and based on reality. Of course, I’m not inside of his head. As for empirical data, like any good conservative Republican, he either ignores numbers/data/science or he twists numbers to suit his beliefs (maybe we all do that at some point in our lives).

    Everyone is selective both in terms of their consciousness and in the data they apply to their life. If one wasn’t selective one would be powerless. “Twisting numbers” is a matter of honesty and it’s quite possible (and imperative for a serious person) to never twist numbers.

    This selectivity is partly a matter of ideology – leftists for example tend to know a lot of data regarding leftist issues – the number of people who die from poverty, the number imprisoned, and the like.

    “Needless to say, there are/were educated people and uneducated people. In the 60s/70s, as well as now. But I think it’s possible that the massive increase in media (cable, video games, etc.) has helped dumb down America…or maybe that’s a myth. I’m not sure. If surveys show that more Americans know more about American Idol than they do about politics, what does that say?”

    In terms of the *details*, I completely agree with you. Americans are largely ignorant of political *details*. People don’t know the vast array of details that Chomsky knows, for example. That’s one difference between an academic/intellectual and a regular joe. In the ’60/’70s, Americans were more aware of political details, since they were politically engaged and relatively empowered. For example, the Employee Free Choice Act would have been much more a part of populist consciousness in the late ’60s than it is today.

    What Americans have become even more educated in, far more so than in the ’60s, is in the big picture. The average joe understands at a deep level that America is a totalitarian society (it’s only academics who are debating it), which was not at all true in the ’60s, when Americans were outraged by the mere possibility of such. The average joe understands that corporate media is propaganda. They understand that politicians constantly engage in propaganda. They understand that America causes great damage in the world. Unless they are leftists however, they believe this damage to be “worth it”, which is why (besides racism) they aren’t too fazed by the common knowledge that Iraq has suffered massively due to the American occupation.

    “but his world views are – in my opinion – terribly inaccurate.”

    Is your wife accurate? Can ideology be defined as “inaccurate”? Isn’t selecting ideology much like selecting a wife? Don’t we court ideologies when we are young and then “get married” to one?

    Most Americans in the 1950s were racist. Most Americans today are not (excuse the binary yes/no distinction). Does any of that have to do with “accuracy”? Is it “accurate” to say that humans should not starve to death?

    “How is what you’re doing different than what Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson and Howard Zinn are doing?”

    The academic left in general believes that they have an *informative* function regarding the general public. They believe that their role is to present the truth, and the rest will take care of itself.

    This is changing, however, and (among your list) especially Chomsky seems to understand that the far more important role of the academic left is to become a power source of it’s own, and allow through it’s own power to gain the allegiance of the populace.

    I don’t consider myself to serve an informative role (regarding the general public anyway, I’m happy to inform academics), and I’ve argued with self-styled educators on this point who consider their ONLY role to be informative. My role is to move the general populace generically speaking “to the left”, more accurately speaking to the place where I believe they want themselves to be. To subvert them, to cause them to take up the revolutionary mantle that they, in their hearts, want to take up but lack the power and bravery to do so *without* a power source to back them up.

    The argument these followers of “information” make is that the embrace of power ultimately leads to self-destruction (kind of like “turning to the dark side” in Star Wars). This argument goes hand-in-hand with pacifism. So they reject POWER and therefore have none, and the hierarchical capitalist structure has no viable enemy as a result and rampages unchecked over the world.

  35. Garrett said on May 22nd, 2009 at 10:03am #

    “The average joe understands at a deep level that America is a totalitarian society….The average joe understands that corporate media is propaganda….They understand that America causes great damage in the world.”

    I have a really hard time believing this. I’m not even sure the average joe knows what totalitarian means, or that the bulk of mainstream media is owned and operated by a handful of corporations. My dad, unless he’s covering up his true feelings, seems convinced that the U.S. is benevolent and by far the greatest nation on Earth. It isn’t that he thinks the damage we cause is “worth it”–rather, he denies that we cause damage. I believe there are tens of millions who feel that same way. And even if they’re intentionally fooling themselves, it doesn’t really matter if they refuse to accept new points of view–if they can’t be reached, what good are they? Are there enough reachable people to make a substantive difference? I hope so.

    Why encourage “leftists” to leave the country if you want there to be a revolution?

    Speaking of leaving the country, that also requires control of capital…it’s not easy or inexpensive to move to another country (where you don’t know the culture or language, where you don’t have a job or place to live, etc.).

  36. Garrett said on May 22nd, 2009 at 11:58am #

    When we reach a point when the vast majority of the U.S. population no longer believes in our 2-party system/duopoly, then perhaps I’ll be more hopeful/optimistic. As things stand now, it sure seems like most people still believe in either the Republican or the Democratic party. The Dissident Voice (and the like) crowd is a miniscule minority, as far as I can tell.

  37. bozh said on May 22nd, 2009 at 12:35pm #

    garret, yes,
    first of all amers are people. Peoples can be deceived; amers are people; ergo, amers get fooled.
    and not just for a day but for lifetime.
    Germans, italians, and japanese have been led astray in late ’30s.
    italians and germans had not been fooled %wise as much as japanese and amers.

    amers are not evil; i.e., fully cognizant that their country, led by about 5% of its pop, is commiting crimes.

    peoples are never this or that; a people becomes or is becoming! causes for that are, in my view, massive miseducation, disinformation; people’s deep need to trust leadership and taught belief that rich know better and thus have absolute right to govern as they see fit.
    peoples worldover have been taught for millennia that priests, kings, nobles know best and that therefore only they shld rule or guide the flock.
    have these misteachings- because this miseduction is milennia-old- gone genetic?
    if it is in genes, and if genes are stronger than any elucidation, then it might take millennia for the enlightenment or knowledge to erase delusions from our genes.
    it is a frightful thought.
    if this analyses are true, enlightenment wld be rigourously persecuted and prosecuted.
    tnx bozhidar balkas

  38. Garrett said on May 22nd, 2009 at 1:18pm #

    bozh,

    “if it is in genes, and if genes are stronger than any elucidation, then it might take millennia for the enlightenment or knowledge to erase delusions from our genes.”

    I’ve wondered about this myself, and it is frightful. I like to think that greed and hatred are not in our genes, but I’m not sure. Or, if they are, I hope they can be resisted enough so that “we” (i.e., anyone who gives a damn) can bring about peace, justice and equity.

  39. Brian Koontz said on May 22nd, 2009 at 7:45pm #

    “I have a really hard time believing this. I’m not even sure the average joe knows what totalitarian means, or that the bulk of mainstream media is owned and operated by a handful of corporations. My dad, unless he’s covering up his true feelings, seems convinced that the U.S. is benevolent and by far the greatest nation on Earth. It isn’t that he thinks the damage we cause is “worth it”–rather, he denies that we cause damage. I believe there are tens of millions who feel that same way. And even if they’re intentionally fooling themselves, it doesn’t really matter if they refuse to accept new points of view–if they can’t be reached, what good are they? Are there enough reachable people to make a substantive difference? I hope so.”

    Let’s say you’re a teacher on the Death Star, helping with the “education” of the Death Star minions. Let’s say that you become disgusted with the Empire but you don’t want to join the Rebels for various reasons – the Empire pays better, there’s less chance of being killed or enslaved, etc.

    Now you, on the Death Star, are asking me if there are enough reachable people on the Death Star to make a substantive difference. Apparently you believe that who? – the Stormtroopers, the construction workers whose livelihoods and social status are tied to the Empire, the Dissidents are going to rebel?

    How much of a dissident can one be to REMAIN on the Death Star, working for and *supporting* the Empire? Even if the entire Death Star was made up of Dissidents these people would not rebel.

    What would Luke Skywalker think of a “Death Star dissident” who talks about rebelling with other “Death Star dissidents”? He looks around him and sees Rebels who have put themselves on the line for their cause, worked years upon years to bring down the Empire.

    “Why encourage “leftists” to leave the country if you want there to be a revolution?”

    It’s a lot easier to revolt if one is not corrupt, and the heart of the empire is the place of greatest corruption.

    One can only destroy the Death Star from the outside.

    Consider the average joe on the Death Star. Do you really expect him to be honest with himself? Do you expect him to care about the planets the Death Star destroys? Wouldn’t it destroy him to care about that, due to his role in it?

    Noone likes to be miserable, depressed, unhappy. Americans are known for their smiles. Why do you suppose they smile?

    If we fail to save the world, what is the last vision that we will see? As humanity collapses, and the rich hole up in their fortresses, won’t the last vision be one Final Party, one extravagant overwhelming barrage of “prosperity”? The party will be filled with shiny, happy people, celebrating themselves one final time, celebrating their triumph over the corpses all around them.

    In movies apocalypses are shown as causing misery and depression. But for anyone who can climb on top of other humans, regardless of the misery around them, there’s a smile on their face.

    A smile in the heart of the empire doesn’t indicate happiness – it indicates a denial of unhappiness.

  40. Garrett said on May 22nd, 2009 at 8:05pm #

    I guess I hold out hope that change can happen from within. But I acknowledge that I’m not quite sure how to be part of a corrupt system *and* help destroy/replace that system.

    I get very depressed about the state of the world, about U.S. imperialism, about income disparities, about racism and the denial of white privilege, about the poisoning of the environment, etc., etc., etc. Before meeting my soon-to-be-wife, the depression was more frequent and more severe…but also more debilitating.

    I do now and always have managed to find happiness and live my life (admittedly contributing to what depresses me, which depresses me more).

    And I know I’m not alone.

    Have you left the U.S.?

    If substantial change is going to happen (from the outside), how do you envision it unfolding?

  41. Brian Koontz said on May 23rd, 2009 at 8:56pm #

    The most likely event over the next few decades is the fall of the American Empire and the rise of various regional powers (the Asian bloc, South American bloc, etc.). One of the primary foreign relation goals for US administrations nowadays is to build strife between nations who could otherwise be allies. The US is trying desperately to pit India against China, for example, and have had considerable success in courting India. The US involvement in Pakistan is much less about the Taliban than about gaining military control over a key economic region of the world, and leveraging that power to the maximum extent. The US will continue to divide and weaken the world as much as possible while further preying on the powerless, such as the recent introduction of Africom to deepen the economic slavery of Africa.

    The most likely near future event is conflict between competing empires. The winner gets to be the master of the enslaved global population, as the US elite are the current masters.

    There’s been little if any progress on anarchist/democratic fronts. The most sensible anarchist strategy is to operate on two fronts – a global solidarity peoples’ movement and local community solidarity movements.

    I look at China, South Korea, and India. I see the same greed, the same material desires, the same capitalist populace that we saw in the US when it was a rising capitalist power. Humanity hasn’t learned anything at all. It’s the same old shit with different faces. Of course they all have their dissidents. And of course they all have no power.

    I examine the youth of America. Far from *excited* about the fall of the American Empire (as some of us are), they are deeply disturbed by it. Many of the youth who became fascinated with Japan when it was a “rising power” in the ’80s and ’90s have shifted their interest to China, India, and South Korea. These are capitalists who have given up on the US and are looking west for capitalist guidance and hope.

    Another subset of the youth are anarchists, and while no survey can be undertaken I expect the anarchist percentage of youth in the US to be on the rise.

    Another subset of the youth have given up on society itself. They turn to addiction in one form or another – TV, video games, parties, anxiety of intimacy, drugs. This is related to a decline in thinking by the youth, as their thoughts are enslaved by their addiction(s). Their inner argument is that in a loveless totalitarian society the self-defined and self-created love of what they are addicted to is the real meaning of life.

  42. Deadbeat said on May 23rd, 2009 at 10:03pm #

    I just skimmed some of the comments and noticed a mention of Fox News. What makes Fox News so “special” is the FORM and FUNCTION. Fox News comes off as “working class”. They claim to speak to working people and they do. They address issues in a way that are “of interest” to working people. Take Bill O’ Reilly that his shtick and it attracts working people. The Left (Amy Goodman) really doesn’t deal with day-to-day domestic issue. The only time I see DemocracyNow! focus on domestic issue is when Juan Gonzalez is on the show otherwise it is pretty much interested in international issues. There is nothing with that per se but it really doesn’t address the day-t0-day issues that will capture working class interest. I notice that Laura Flanders, Grit TV, seems better focused on the domestic side.

    Fox is propaganda but they speak the “working class” language a lot better than the Left and that is why they are popular.

  43. bozh said on May 24th, 2009 at 5:58am #

    trust and the need to be led on certain levels, such as religious or governmental levels or strata, may be innate; i.e., largely or to an unknown degree engendered by our genes.

    apes have a leaders. A pride of lions have a leader; usually a wise female hunter.
    This might explain why even euros, who appear to have not been indocrinated as much as people in US, still support israel, invasions, and occupations; and a stagnant/largely undemocratic governance.
    tnx bozhidar balkas

  44. Don Hawkins said on May 24th, 2009 at 7:01am #

    Bozh for me I see knowledge and the truth being seen by many more people. On the media here in the States it’s amazing to watch this third grade stuff you know the way the leaders have played the game from 0 and the fight to be stupid. Strange day’s ahead pretty much a nobrainer now. Things on all fronts only get harder.

    “We are going to escape, to a large degree, the consequences of climate change. Our children and grandchildren will not.” Goldmark

    A big part of the answer is “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

    So far only talk we haven’t even started yet. Let’s see how Copenhagen goes and more talk and band aids. These next two years will show us more not talk but the power bigger than ourselves we called Earth.

  45. bozh said on May 24th, 2009 at 8:15am #

    don, yes,
    truth is what we need. Or enlightement, as i and others say.
    truth or elucidation is available; however, it had been denied to children for millenia thruout the world

    over the last 10K yrs, $zillions were spent on arms and warfare. If that money wld have been used to impart enlightenment/knowledge to kids, we wldn’t be in peril now.

    re warming i trust science. It is science which had improved our lives and not at all the patricians.

    so, modern patricians have realized how much science can increase their wealth; they took it over and some parts of knowledge like technology almost completely.
    by taking over knowledge, i mean to say that ruling class has it and is withholding it from children.
    as an aside, if US empire grows poorer or breaks down, the ruling class might come up even stronger and richer.
    as another aside, with so much land already obatined and much more to obtain, whites might export black and latino pops to newly ‘discovered’ lands and thus end unsolvable demography. tnx balkas

  46. Garrett said on May 24th, 2009 at 8:41am #

    Fox News speaks to racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, religious nuts and people who blindly support all U.S. military action.

    I think their function is to keep people believing in a left-wing media, to confuse the masses.