Thought Control for the Free?

To presuppose is to assume truth without any proof. In this way, you can establish your own orthodoxy. Even in 1943, George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm and 1984, recognized this in countries under the protection of freedom, like England. In a proposed forward to Animal Farm he noted that “censorship in England is largely voluntary,” further explaining that a “genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

Open societies must practice more subtle and sophisticated mechanisms to establish and maintain what Orwell called “smelly little orthodoxies.”  The doctrine to be instilled in such a target audience should not be expressed or debated as doctrine. Then it would be open to reflection, inquiry and probably ridicule.  If doctrine is presupposed as established truth and repeated often enough (rote learning is the grist of Fox News, for example), no proof need be offered and none is demanded by your audience or by a corporate media.

In the U. S. this is a strategy implemented by conservatives through a surreptitious mind control plan. It was hatched after LBJ’s War on Poverty, the civil rights movement, and the advent of Medicare scared the conservatives into a think tank operation, thereby bringing social scientists into a conservative strategy that would wrestle political, even cultural control, from society’s progressive leanings. Dominant sectors were coming to recognize that to maintain their control they would have to shift from force to other means, primarily control of attitudes and opinion.

Defending First Amendment rights by liberal courts in the 1960s helped to push the civil rights movement. However, proof of vast conservative inroads, such as Occupy Wall Street activism didn’t go very far in the last few years under a now-established conservative-based orthodoxy that presupposes conservative values.

The orthodoxy conservatives wanted to begin establishing by the early 1980s was that of laissez-faire capitalism, weakened unions, a demonized government, and establishment of a fear factor of crime and drugs, the latter emanating from the implied other, mostly black minorities.

Of course, in democratic societies, conservative elites must first win elections, which they did with Ronald Reagan, president from 1981 to 1989. Then establish an infrastructure to implement it, which combine effective indoctrination with the impression that society is really free and open. According to Noam Chomsky, MIT professor and social activist, doctrine should not be articulated but presupposed as though orthodox truth.

So since the 1980s we have had a steady stream of presuppositions, some of which are only now being dispelled:

  • Big government is the problem.
  • Supply-side economics is the only answer to growth.
  • Unions are led by the corrupt and are stealing our livelihood.
  • Crime and drugs are undermining our society.
  • We are a society of makers and takers.
  • Americans are overtaxed.
  • America is exceptional.

We must remember that new institutions have been built as this infrastructure friendly to corporate elites has become a bulwark of their power: corporate monoliths in media, energy, finance, and trade; propaganda disbursed 24/7 by hard-core media sources like Fox; weakened unions; elections controlled by money; minority voters disenfranchised in Republican states; a Supreme Court captured by right wing justices; and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.

This established infrastructure can further dispense a conservative orthodoxy, and function to effectively distribute the pre-suppositions that the conservative elite planned decades ago. For example, it is presupposed that the free market is the superior, if not the only, preferred character of political economy. Those who say otherwise are immediately on the defensive and out of the mainstream.

We all know about the pre-formed consciousness garnered by the Bush administration to establish orthodoxy of war against terrorism and specifically a war against Iraq, also accomplished with a knee-jerk fear sustained with color-coded terrorism threat indexes. Add to that claimed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that elite media like the New York Times helped the administration spread to clueless citizens, along with the “with-us-or-against-us” xenophobia generated by Bush public pronouncements.

In today’s world, pre-suppositions take the form of oft-recited racial rants or negative images portrayed by all conservatives, especially headlined by Republican candidates for president. Donald Trump characterizes all undocumented immigrants as castaways from other countries, mostly rapists and murderers, an image already vociferously built for the Republican base. Citing one example of murder by an undocumented perpetrator – out of some 11 million – is Trump’s proof.

The current Republican focus is to kill the Planned Parenthood organization. Ninety-seven percent of its function is birth control, regular checkups, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy care, usually for the poor.  The remaining three percent involves abortions. The elaborate media hoax ginned up by the Center for Medical Progress means to defund and discredit Planned Parenthood, much as a conservative selectively-edited video did to an advocacy group for the poor called ACORN.

Too many Democrats, being slow learners, are still in defensive modes in reaction to conservative alternate universe truths. At the second Republican debate, when Carly Fiorina vividly describes baby body parts being crassly sold on the open market by Planned Parenthood officials, neither the media nor Democrats reveal how fabricated these accounts are. When Donald Trump suggests that vaccinations caused autism in an acquaintance’s baby, no proof was offered and no truth was pursued by any mainstream source.

Perhaps we are all frozen like deer in the headlights of presupposition: lies are truth because a leading candidate said so, with authority. As long as we are swept up by this misinformation, conservatives will continue to dispense it, and it will continue to debase our country.

Some seventy years after George Orwell’s novel about “thought police,” 1984, democratic citizens are still susceptible to thinking controlled by the elite who in the 1970s marshaled their money and their energy to reduce the “threat of democracy.” The population must be returned to apathy and passivity, many declared.

And it became so.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.