A Counterintuitive Reading of History
As couched by the Founding Fathers almost two and a half centuries ago, the United States came to life as an aristocratic republic with a severely limited democratic franchise. That democratic DNA has been receding ever since.
Lying for one’s own benefit is as old as the species, and a predatory species we are. Primary examples?
Create sympathy or pretend helplessness to get your prey in close, and then go in for the kill.
The best defense is an offense. “A victim is never at fault.”
Misdirection to the actions of another, to take attention off of your own actions is not merely a magician’s trick, it is a learned survival tactic of humanity.
Propaganda and public manipulation started long before Goebbels. It has been employed in relationships, societies, and governance since we became self-aware.
If you study the history of the US from day one, nothing was left to chance; propaganda, or “game” was applied to every aspect of how our society was formed. From only landowners voting, to freeing white slaves after Bacon’s Rebellion to become the overseer class to divide the united workers, to massive ad campaigns against unions, strikes and communist principles after WWI and II, nothing is left to chance when it comes to protecting those with wealth and power from the common workingman.
I have been trying to work my mind around the greater plan for this election cycle, like most people have. The obvious play is that the entrenched money power behind the political theater wanted Clinton, and suppressed marginally left Sanders, and thus doomed themselves in a bout of overconfidence and ineptitude to losing. Yet that theory is full of huge plot holes. Too many polls said Clinton couldn’t win; too many polls said Sanders could win. She ignored the swing states, while Trump and company swarmed them. The leaks weren’t even necessary to those of us paying attention to her years-long love affair with the Financial District; her speaking engagements at banking functions were a matter of public record. They let her go on camera when obviously in some state of reduced health, pass out publicly, be filmed making weird grimaces, and acting oddly. They ran her despite knowing she was universally loathed by the right, and distrusted by the left for both her hawkishness and being seen as a Wall Street sycophant. Could the DNC, for all its enormous bankroll and think tanks make more tactical errors if they tried? Were they merely bumbling, out of touch idiots? While the answer “Yes!” resolves it for many, it defies logic when every other part of society has been so carefully planned throughout every part of history. While the DNC may be a malignancy of its own accord in its servitude of the predatory Capitalist Class, I very much doubt that unlimited funds, think tanks, test marketing, political strategists and vast advertising abilities that her loss was just an “oopsie.” Seriously, as an uneducated, middle aged, Midwestern housewife, I could have outmaneuvered their strategies this election cycle in my sleep.
All these logical fallacies bother me no end; insult my intelligence. Every time spin-doctors opened their mouths, I knew it had to be misdirection.
Next was the fact the RNC, and its far superior funding to the DNC, didn’t work all that hard to put up someone of substance against Trump. Instead they put up so many candidates that their primary season was referred to as the “clown car” by a smirking press. Divide and Conquer? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see they would have been better off choosing one, rather than dozens, and pushing him hard against Trump to win. Even if the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute could only find a weak candidate, Trump had enough skeletons in his closet to be the dumpster to end all dumpsters for every rib shack across America combined. They could have downed him on his taxes alone, let alone lampoon him upon troglodyte things that have dripped out of his mouth throughout the campaign, let alone his business career. They made a show of trying, but with a legion of what are effectively what amounts to mercenary geniuses working in think tanks for billionaires, they didn’t stop him. I mean, really, they killed a President, picking a candidate is chump change. Are they also so inept and weak, they couldn’t stop a reality show caricature from taking the throne of what has become a Unitary Executive?
No, no, this had to be part of the Game. Planners make no mistakes. At least not so elementary mistakes.
So, why? To what end? Why try to make us think it was really a case of gross miscalculation by both parties? Tell us it was really a gross miscalculation by the people that fund both parties? Hillary was a darling of the Banking Cabal. She was fiercely pro-Military Industrial Complex. There was no reason to not back her. Yet, I could not fathom with all the resources at hand, they would let their chosen puppet Hillary lose, or be too remiss to put up an opponent that was even more indebted to money and war as an “opposition” candidate to cover their interests from the Republican end. Game means not losing, and if you sacrifice a pawn it is for a long-game calculated reason. The long game never allows less than a long-term deeper tactical and strategic win.
It matters not to the Capitalist Governance which puppet pushes their agenda, only that they stop just short of pushing the people to revolt…
If you look at the expanding abyss between the working and owning class the last few generations, the nonstop expansion of the Military Industrial Complex’s reach, the decline in services for citizens while welfare for the rich grew exponentially, you will have to note that agenda continued unfettered no matter what brand (D or R) was in the Oval Office at the time.
One need look no further than the “more effective” evil of the eight-year Obama Presidency (as Black Agenda Report editor caustically but appropriately calls it) to see how Americans allowed the wars of world hegemony to expand dramatically, while the class divide grew and our rights were whittled away, with nary a complaint, making Obama—hands down in the demagogic competition— a more effective tool of Empire than Bush. There was no pesky backlash by the left—such as it is understood in the United States, basically a clutch of mainstream liberals— when a Democrat continued the policies historically regarded as Republican. They place whoever can get the job done for them into office, to serve up more power and money to those placing them there, the branding matters little. What matters is that the long game is not interrupted, and who can accomplish that with as little interference from the masses as possible. For example, Trump may be building a wall, but Obama quietly deported 2.5 million people, a 23% increase over Bush. He also prosecuted more whistleblowers than every other previous administration combined. It matters not to the Capitalist Governance which puppet pushes their agenda, only that they stop just short of pushing the people to revolt.
So, why would all the think tanks, planners, and social engineers choose Trump?
He certainly muddies the waters. For the right, he exemplified the xenophobia they have, the carefully taught blame they pose on their other working poor for their conditions. For the centrists, his claim of “cleaning out the swamp” and bringing outsiders made sense – despite the fact he has now filled most of his cabinet with life-long beltway denizens, oil men, privatizers and propagandists. For the left, he made noises of isolationism, less war, and economic cooperation with Russia, appeasing our totally justified fear of WW3. He has something for everyone, even if it is all bluster and blow. The powers that be (PTB) had to know those three factors were in play, and chose to let him win. They also had to make sure that his opponents lost. But Why?
HISTORY OF THE GAME
In a word (or 5?) “They sold us pet rocks.”
As laughable as that sounds, it truly is a litmus test for what seems to be the abject stupidity of consumers, yet is a really a case study in how Pavlovian manipulation and Public Response operate. They sell us water. Water, something our parents and grandparents saw as natural to their world as breathing air and nothing they would ever dream of having to purchase. Yet, buying water is now normalized, and Nestle is claiming it is not a human right. In many parts of the country where water has become too polluted by fracking and unchecked industrial runoff, people are indeed forced to buy bottled water. If one concedes that markets are created under capitalism from imagined want to created need in order to sell a product and profit thereby, one cannot blindly suggest that our political products are not carefully vetted, packaged and sold as well. They know how to market, baby!
In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) finally perfected the method of using words rather than weapons in the 30’s in the midst of the Great Depression to put down strikes, though it wasn’t their first foray into propaganda by far. Established in 1895, after a lesser recession they started an exercise in social engineering that continues to this day.
It is hard to fathom the extent to which every part of our personal identities as US citizens has been manipulated by framing our public dialogue in a planned and pointed way.
The “Red Scare” tactics in the 30’s, while workers were unionizing, adopting socialist views and full of anger at their miserable conditions compared to the lavish excesses of the upper class manufacturers is now a well known tactic. The prior use of violence by the manufacturing class had only created public outcry at the outrageous use of force in putting down strikes; thus strengthened the Union movement. They needed to perfect the formula and market it to the point where people decided that their “want” and “need” was different than the demands of the workers. That their “want and need” matched exactly what the Capitalist class’ were.
The propaganda game perfected itself with what is referred to as the “Mohawk Valley Formula” wherein NAM flooded the Johnstown PA area with fliers, bought radio programs, outdoor advertising, news ads, showed short films, appealing to people that a strike against Bethlehem Steel hurt “Harmony” and “Americanism”. They used smaller businesses, churches and ladies groups as platforms to equate free enterprise with social harmony, freedom, democracy, patriotism, church and family. They worked hard to convince people that the businesses supporting them would be broken and bankrupted by strikes, leaving whole swaths of America without a source of income. N. Chomsky provides a good visualization of the approach in practice:
We are now talking about the business community which spends lots and lots of money and attention and thought into how to deal with these problems through the public relations industry and other organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable these days and so on. They set to work immediately to try to find a way to counter these democratic deviations, the first major effort, the first trial was a year later. In 1936 there was a major strike, the Bethlehem steel strike out in Western Pennsylvania, Johnstown, the mohawk valley and business tried out a new technique of destruction of labor which worked, worked very well, it was through propaganda.
Not through goon squads, breaking knees and all that kind of business which wasn’t working very well anymore but through the more subtle and effective means of propaganda. The idea was to figure out ways to turn the public against the strikers, to present the strikers as disruptive, harmful to the public, against the common interests and the common interests are those of US, the businessman, the worker, the housewife and so on, that’s all US, and we want to be just together, we want to have things like harmony, and Americanism and working together and so on and then theres those bad strikers out there who are kind of disruptive and causing trouble and breaking harmony and violating Americanism and we have to stop them so we can all live together, the corporate executive and the guy who cleans the floor who all have the same interests. we can all work together and work for Americanism in harmony, liking each other, that was essentially the message and a huge amount of effort was put into presenting it. (Italics ours).
To my original premise? Disarm with sympathy to bring them in close, accuse the workers of abuse (when the companies were the abusers) then misdirect their miserable conditions on other workers rather than the Capitalist class that actually created it. Game.
Alex Carey’s book “Taking the Risk Out Of Democracy” explains this in great detail. One more mind-blowing example was the turning of public opinion by leafleting & advertising, was how they turned that opinion against Truman’s Office of Price Administration. (OPA) It was an act that capped prices to keep goods affordable for the working class after the war. The manufacturers were livid seeing their profits curtailed, and paid handsomely to turn people to their side. 81% of the people approved of the OPA before NAM’s propaganda campaign against it. After NAM’s efforts, only 26% approved. OPA was overturned easily due to “reshaped” public opinion; prices went up because of it, because the people saw it as “freedom” from government interference that threatened the liberty of the United States. In other words, the people had been convinced to vote against their own interests, because a barrage of propaganda to support their abusers had molded them; they scarcely recognized they had been conned.
This tactic has been replayed repeatedly, against Unions and the working class.
Autoworkers – conflating them with corruption, laziness, and the mafia
Air traffic controllers, justifying their firing by worrying the public about their safety
Federal Employees– making the public want to tear down their economic gains and protections in a pique fit of jealousy, calling them “pampered, spoiled, and entitled”
All these charges are repeated against any worker’s movement:
Unions “overstepped”, are “corrupt”, and their workers are “lazy” and “entitled” while their leaders are “corrupt” and the dues are used for the personal gain of their leaders.
This has created a narrative that has made Democratic support of Unions lukewarm and full of doubts (this reality made easy by US parties essential lack of principle and deeply rooted opportunism), hence despite their history of mutual support. Good propaganda is a long game. We are being played by experts, not bumbling idiots. Jump to the 80’s, and Reagan’s coalition with evangelicals, deregulation and Union busting, and a prime example:
“Family Values” was first uttered in 1976 by Barbara Bush, soon taking on accusatory tones to call opponents of the Republican Party “counter-culture” (read pot smoking) “draft-dodgers” and accuse them repeatedly of marital infidelity, and serial abortions; they stooped low enough to accuse women who didn’t center their lives solely inside the home of destroying the institution of marriage. It is now lexicon, permanently wedding the ideas of war, misogyny and church into patriotism. By the 80’s it had morphed into code for the divisive issues of abortion, gay rights, and sexual promiscuity. Family values now means one heterosexual couple, a stay at home Mom, who attends a Christian Church regularly, idolizes the military, believes in Capitalism as cannon, and of course, being told so repeatedly, must vote Republican if they are those things.
Who, in a tight-knit, small rural, community would want to publicly condemn those things, be accused of cheating on their spouse, being gay, hating our brave soldiers, and wanting to kill babies? Small communities have been taught to ostracize, if not abuse, anyone stepping outside the “traditional” though recently created “family values” dogma. Even if they privately disagree with a politician’s positions, the weight of the character attack by their peers keeps them in line as easily as a weapon would. Conformity rules. Children who are lgbtq flee from these small communities to cities for their own safety and sanity. Rank-and-file liberals in the trenches may try and fight back, but in small town USA, they are ostracized. “Words over weapons” has a long and sordid history in the United States.
The long game was to equate anything questioning the status quo with “evil”. This in turn would make the populace police itself on its behalf.
It has been said that the problem with American thinking is that they “All think we are Millionaires down on their luck” or that “We are all just one lucky break away from the big time!” If this bears truth, it is because the fabric of every moment of our lives is woven with the mythos; the unquestioning idea that Capitalism is the best system for us, the Manufacturers deserve their ‘hard earned’ wealth and they ‘provide jobs for us,’ our Government is a freely chosen champion of our Democracy, and our Military are heroes. Boot-strap, class climbing, John Wayne rogue vigilantism, flag-waving, apple-pie, ughhhh. Movies, books, papers, radio, television, cartoons even, and education all follow the NAM method. Myriad books have been written on whitewashed history, and how history is rewritten by the conquerors. People”s History of the United States. It was Howard Zinn’s crowning work. (See our Virtual University archives). The late Molly Ivins always admonished us to follow the money. So, why the fuck doesn’t anyone apply that to current affairs, I have to wonder.
In 1934, 83 years ago, NAM declared, more or less openly :
“Public policies in our democracy are eventually a reflection of public opinion, so public opinion must be reshaped if we want to avoid disaster”, the National Association of Manufacturers said in 1934. “You will note especially this is not a hit or miss program. It is skillfully coordinated so as to blanket every media, and then, it pounds its message home with relentless determination.”
NAM’s current website brags of its exploits in promoting Big Business’ agenda, the subtext left out is in crushing any realized political power of the masses, but that is a necessary goal to achieve their own goals, is it not?
Every people’s movement here has been crushed by limited violence with a “reasonable” explanation, and propaganda making a reasonable case for innocence of the ruling class, or propaganda damning the movement in the first place.
JFK, MLK, RFK, Malcolm; the incarceration of leaders of the SDS, AIM, Angola 3, the list goes on…. But branding worked harder. The game was to make the ideas of revolutionaries, populists, socialists and even reformers forever equated with “evil”.
The demonizing of the civil rights and anti-war era of the 60’s and 70’s, in coordination with the Trilateral Commission, was rebranded from social conscious humans to “dirty hippies” and “living off their parents” to the working class. Education was forever altered to divide us racially and socially. Despite damning “druggies, sex-fiends and the godless rock and roll culture” manufacturers were quick to step on the marketing of tie-dyes, beads, peace sign jewelry and records to fill their coffers. They could demonize and profit at the same time.
In reality, besides the heroic sacrifice of the Vietnamese people, who—in conventional warfare, minus a nuclear capability—inflicted in the field one defeat after another on the US military until demoralization grew to unmanageable proportions, it was free journalism that really ended the Vietnam War, mostly independent reporters speaking of atrocities, the endless stream of coffins coming home shown on the news that made working class people agree with the protesters and want the war to end. Lesson learned, the Press was banned from showing coffins returning in 2003, to prevent the same backlash from another of our forays in hegemony in Iraq. President GW Bush enforced it with resolve, as well as eliminating the right for the Press to be embedded with the troops on their terms; carefully orchestrating and vetting any report from any of our wars. Blanketing the media was the mantra of Iraq and 9/11, long after proven false; then WOMD’s proven equally false. But repeated lies become truth, and many Americans to this day believe both lies. Truth doesn’t matter to the long game, as the string-pullers create their own reality, only sentiment and consent for their agenda.
The fact of the matter is, PNAC (Project for a New American Century) another business/rich/right wing think tank crawling with dual-citizen Neocons (Israeli/American) sent a letter to President Clinton in 1998 saying they were “taking Saddam out” eventually and by any means necessary.
It took, as they publicly begged for before the fact, “A new Pearl Harbor” to manufacture that consent, but they got it. They are GOOD at the game.
The Occupy movement was made out to be pointless, useless, and without focus – a grain of truth always aids propaganda. Few were upset when brutal force was used against them. The short game was to ridicule them, the medium one was to harass and arrest, the long game was simply to wait for winter to freeze them out.
Standing Rock, likewise, became a popular meme for a while, but in a perfect ploy, they offered a reprieve soon to be redacted to deflate it, and attention deficit America has moved on. If you cannot win a propaganda war, simply wait them out.
In the 80’s, NAM’s 6 point economic plan became Reagan’s 4 point plan:
Reduce the growth of government spending (privatize)
Reduce the federal income tax and capital gains tax (trickle down) Reduce government regulation (deregulate)
Tighten the money supply in order to reduce inflation (work with the banksters).”
Today, NAM’s website says much the same, for their 2016 agenda:
Tax reforms for the rich (trickle down again)
Open trade barriers (hegemony)
Exploiting domestic oil, gas and coal
Divert money away from environmental regulation (deregulate)
Adapt pay plans that close the gap in competition with other countries(read eliminate minimum wage)
Repeal the ACA, eliminate price caps, charge workers a higher percentage of the cost (nearly in place)
enhance R&D incentives (make the public pay for product creation)
Address immigration in a strict manner (now a fight between the unitary executive and the other 2 branches)
DEREGULATE, DEREGULATE, DEREGULATE.
Curiously foremost and repeated in their missives? Unionize the rich:
“Organize manufacturers to speak with one voice regarding the workforce needed to sustain and grow manufacturing.”
See, even they know there is power in Unity.
Now, whose platform does this most resemble? A rich man, who likely was, or is a member of NAM. Or has at least consulted with them. Donald Trump.
And remember NAM is only one of hundreds of Conservative Think Tanks. The Cheeto was no accident.
GAMING BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE
It is fact that every President we have had has been wealthy, by the standards of their day. Truman had the least, but he was not an elected President, gaining office only by the death of FDR. All but another 7 were millionaires. Obama came into office with 1.3 million, including the 481k he inherited from his so-called “middle class” grandmother. He went out with 7 million. Much more is now likely to flow into his bank account, as he cashes in on the rewards for good and loyal service to the plutocracy. Just look at the Clintons.
Carlin liked to say, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”
We have always been run by the powerful, in an illusion of Democracy. That Democracy has proven itself stifling from time to time to the people it truly serves. In each case, practiced minds have worked relentlessly to turn the tide of public opinion to a manageable current that supports the status quo. The illusion of self-determination must be maintained. The support of the governed must always align with the governing. In the long con, the long game, we must rally behind our masters, seeing one as more evil than the other, being given small victories between competing teams. That way, we always lose sight of the long game.
Every single display of people power has been crushed first by violence, then propaganda, from the earliest days of rebellion against slavery and servitude from the 1700’s to the woman’s march this last week. Trolls are paid to divide us, and create anger between us; whether the charges of not being activist enough or not are true – rather than us celebrating the awakening of people and encouraging unity.
Right now, every single portend is pointing to another, greater economic collapse. There isn’t enough money or jobs for the teeming populace, and some kind of popular reaction is inevitable.
None of the popular theories wonks are playing made sense to me. My theory rings soundly.
I think the PTB knew that Hillary had not the charisma nor influence to frame, nay, propagandize for them, enough to control the torrent of outrage to come. Sanders, though arguably tamed enough to vote with their DNC puppet 95% of the time – up to 99% in later years, was not trustworthy enough to carry the ball. If, in fact, called upon, he might just break ranks and expose them.
I think none of the Republicans had the presence either, to enact radical right-wing change without backlash. Perhaps they could not be trusted to be that brazen, they lacked the easily manipulated ego of a Trump.
I think nothing happens without being carefully considered, plotted, and placed into motion.
A Trump Presidency would be both confusing enough, and so Carnivalistic to distract people into being too disorganized to revolt in any sense threatening to the PTB. As we speak, his first weeks of Presidency has been an exercise in Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” leaving people running from crisis to crisis, until they will finally look away, and just try and survive it. They will no longer have the temerity to deal with such a barrage.
He ran on “draining the swamp” and immediately hired Goldman Sachs, Heritage Foundation members, K-Street, Oil men, and Lobbyists.
He ran about shrinking Government interference, and used the Government to gag-order the free speech of people in its employ.
Most importantly, he is creating a crisis in what little checks and balances we have with what amounts to a Constitutional Crisis with his immigration ban. The push for a Unitary Executive has been ongoing – one man is far easier for the PTB to control than many – and this is a test case to see if he can over-rule the Judiciary and the Legislative branches.
He purged every mention of Climate Change on every Government website, and has the scientific community terrified.
While he has repeatedly said he has no position on abortion —“Who cares, I don’t need one” —he is using it as a wedge issue to make a State’s rights precedent that will have far-reaching business applications in deregulation.
He is talking about paying for the wall with import taxes, which we the citizens will pay for in purchase, yet has convinced the people that Mexico itself will pay. People don’t understand tax codes; they understand rhetoric.
One after another, completely baffling and extreme things are happening, and people don’t know which to react to. People are paying less attention to his actions than his twitter account. The people for and against him are raging at one another. Even the protestors are shredding one another. I had to remind some that the first marches in the 60’s were all single subject… then something happened, and they started merging, melding, becoming larger and more inclusive, ending war and creating civil rights as one. The women’s march was a good start. But so much dissent.
Trump was no accident. Revolt is coming and he will keep us fighting one another rather than attacking the Manufacturing/Banking/Ruling Class. He is propaganda embodied, and will make half love their enslavement, all blame one another, and place crushing punishment on his opponents that will make people lather up over like a bad gladiator show, or feeding people to lions. Who needs bread, when circuses work?
No, the Think Tanks don’t make mistakes.
He is magnificent at propaganda, and a player of the Game so much that no one knows if he is a billionaire or bankrupt. He is the perfect barker for the big show. He will keep our eyes on the cups while the PTB not only lift our wallets, they sign our ownership papers… while America cheers!
Trump is the face of the next wave of Class War, and carefully placed there to so do. What better face than a Clown to make us disbelieve our own degradation is real?
Trump was carefully planned.
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