Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions
What happens when Ideology triumphs over Reason
By Michael Spence
April 08, 2018
Both of my parents experienced the horrors of World War II firsthand. Like most American men in the early 1940's, my father joined the US Army. As a combat engineer, he saw some of the worst fighting from the beaches of Normandy to the liberation of France and Germany in 1944 and '45.. He lost his younger brother in the war effort. My Mother, who was German, lived through the the misery of bombardments from the Allied forces. Her home city was leveled to rubble. Somehow she and my grandmother survived, but many of their friends and family did not, and their lives were never the same again.
I often wondered how it came to pass that the German people, an advanced culture whose nation achieved great economic and educational success, could have succumbed to a such catastrophic end as witnessed in the 1930's and 1940's. The vast majority of Germans were hardworking, peace loving people. The culture that brought to the world the printing press and some of the the greatest advances in art, science and medicine of the 20th century, was somehow brought to a state that practiced mass warfare and genocide on a scale never before seen in human history.
It seems that even a smart advanced society can succumb to the effects of organized, sophisticated ideological propaganda.
To understand how this happened one only needs to read the following paragraphs:
All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Propaganda must be limited to a few simple themes and these must be represented again and again."
"Only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd. The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.
These were the words of author Adolf Hitler from his books in 1925 and 1926, entitled Mein Kamph They were written at a time that the only mass communication that existed was published books and radio.
In contrast, today's mass media of television and internet is like Mein Kamph on steroids.
It preys on the elderly, the less well-read, and the less worldly.. Most Americans know and popularly tremble at the thought of an Orwellian big brother or government agency that controls their very existence by propaganda. Yet they are less caring or aware of the same effect achieved by commercial interests. After all, in our capitalist nation it's OK for propaganda to manipulate us in the name of commercial or economic success.
So the government agency simply hires a private contractor to do its dirty business...
Directed at this this blind acceptance, every other paragraph in a news source is politely prefaced with words like sponsored content . On the internet, every user is tagged by Google and Facebook and Apple and henceforth is targeted with topics of interest to you . Hence the opinions of the targeted reader are reinforced and given a feeling of harmony with others of similar persuasions.
Of course, much of this commercial propaganda is innocent of any purposeful wrongdoing. After all, they are just trying to make a profit. Unconsciously, however, the stage is set for more deliberate actions which are dedicated completely to ideological manipulation. It is a highly scientific and systematic process.
If you have access to the internet, (and who doesn't?) just pay a visit to the patriotnewsagency.com. There you will find, under a colorful red-white-and-blue banners, all kinds of information dedicated to people who are all about red-white and blue patriotism.. Interwoven in its articles (all written seemingly by the same person or maybe two), all kinds of stuff about racist and right wing philosophy. All written by Russians for Americans. Soldiers of fortune and other glory seekers will find a fertile support network there
In 2018, most Americans are aghast at Russian Interference in our elections. Equally so they might, (if they only knew), take exception to Russian meddling in our news media. Seemingly less important to many Americans is everyday meddling by our own American propaganda machines. The Russians may only be following the model of their American counterparts in the business of disinformation. American political action groups long ago hired the tobacco industry disinformation experts to develop clever and complex ways to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of Americans about such things as the holocaust, global warming, global trade, and many other issues that are of commercial and ideological interest to their sponsors..
The Association of Mature American Citizens, the Heritage Foundation, the NRA, and many other advocacy groups have no other purpose that than to serve their corporate and political supporters as political propaganda machines.
What difference does it make that the Russians are meddling in our elections when American political parties have been doing this in districts they control for decades? After all, redistricting and putting limits on access to voters has been a staple of one-party controlled state legislatures for a long time. This is how some States send ballots to every citizen by mail while in others it is a more complicated and thus restricted process. The right to vote in a National election is a highly subjective privilege depending on where you reside. After all, the supporters of restricted voting argue, to allow everyone the vote would encourage voter fraud . In so arguing, the only voter fraud is committed by the legislatures themselves.
Much ado about the Rule of Law
The US Congress is mandated by the Constitution to hold a confirmation hearing when a sitting president appoints a Supreme Court Justice. Yet somehow the Rule of Law was bent when the political majority in Congress deemed it advantageous. Ditto the many other laws that are simply stripped away by a executive order. It is entirely predictable that the party in control of Congress today will easily pardon all the corrupt and outrageous behavior of its Commander in Chief, all for the sake of party control.
Yes, today's propaganda machinery follows the same technique advocated in Mein Kamph in 1925:
Propaganda must be limited to a few simple themes and these must be represented again and again.
"...The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.
In today's highly commercialized media, the academic rules of ethical investigative reporting are out the window. All that matters is the network deems it newsworthy and that it appeals to their audience as defined in polls and internet data mining. If your Facebook account has tagged your name to online guns sales, then you must obviously be of a Second Amendment Vigilante mindset. Henceforth you will receive all manner of messages from so called advocacy groups.
Today's dominant ideological themes are:
Poor people choose to be poor and therefore don't merit taxpayer assistance.
Modern day Immigrants, especially if they are not white and Christian, threaten our society
Armed resistance and gun violence is OK if want to overthrow a government you don't like, or for that matter, anyone that differs with your beliefs.
Health care and a old age pension are privileges, not rights. Anything else is socialism.
All Americans are either Conservative or Liberal . There is no middle ground, only a battleground
And so it happens that in 2018 the USA is governed by what is manifestly a white supremacist regime.
It advocates for securing borders from foreign immigration, particularly that which is non white and non-Christian. Countering decades of peaceful overtures to increasing world trade, it now threatens trade wars with our former trade partners. It threatens military instead of diplomatic solution to problems with other states. The latest National Security Officer of the Unites States , John Bolton, has many times advocated for preemptive military strikes against North Korea and Iran, as he did towards Iraq in 2002-3.
Ironic as it seems, the United States which was once seen as the global example of free enterprise and competitive markets, is now in the midst of a massive protectionist movement. A movement that is conducted by executive orders of our President, and co-opted by a Congress that is more interested in one-party control of government than the preservation of our democracy.
Any media group that disagrees with the new American fascist regime is branded by our president as fake news . High level executive branch officers that are not absolutely loyal to our President are simply fired. Individuals who express disagreement with the regime are branded Liberals or Socialists . Just as happened in the 1930's, authoritarianism in governments worldwide is encouraged by the movement in the USA. Dictatorship begets more Dictatorships. Having a United States president who threatens military aggression is the best thing that could happen for national leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia or Kim Jong-Un of North Korea. The nuclear arms race is once again ascending in our nation and theirs.
Does the tragic history of World War II have to repeat itself? Must we again see genocide and mass annihilation of entire cities? Do modern Americans naively believe this cannot happen in their own backyard? Propaganda is the enemy of democracy, and the American people are awash in it.
The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.
Received April 06, 2018
- Published April 08, 2018
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