A Culture of Propaganda?

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A companion piece to A Culture of Cheating?

The average American with a smartphone is inarguably the most heavily and consistently propagandized citizen in the entire collective history of human societies.

by Ben Steele edited by O Society Friday March 13, 2020

“Contrary to previous readings by historians of the 20th century, which typically describe propaganda films as glaringly biased and crude, contemporary historians argue filmmakers in propaganda’s coming of age were already educated in the power of subtle suggestion.”
~Christopher Maiytt, A Just Estimate of a Lie

“During the Cold War, it was commonplace to draw the distinction between “totalitarian” and “free” societies by noting only in the free ones could groups self-organize independently of the state. But many of the groups that made that argument — including the magazines on this left — were often covertly-sponsored instruments of state power, at least in part.”
~Patrick Iber, Literary Magazines for Socialists Funded by the CIA, Ranked

“Bernd Scherer found fault with the CIA’s cultural programme for the way in which it “functionalised and thus corrupted the term ‘freedom,’” pointing out the paradoxes of an intelligence agency funnelling money to anti-apartheid organisations abroad while helping to sabotage the Black Panther movement at home.”
~Philip Oltermann, Berlin exhibition questions CIA’s influence on global art scene

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The subjects of the American Empire are among the most propagandized in the world. We enjoy a long rich history of it. Propaganda manufactured during World War II came home to be used in the United States, as were counterinsurgency techniques from Southeast Asian wars and covert operations. See The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’ as one of many examples of the legal use of propaganda by the US government on its own citizens.

However, few of us American citizens are able to recognize propaganda for what it is, as the media filter our entire sense of reality, seeping into every crack and crevice of culture. It’s not merely disinformation. It’s a master narrator whose stories rule the paths in our minds, just as the structures of power rule the allowable forms our lives can take.

Here is a basic truth. In order to maintain the appearance of democracy in a banana republic, it requires maintaining basic levels of comfort so people don’t question the world around them. This is why a minimal welfare state is necessary, to keep the population barely treading water and in so keeping them from outright revolution. It’s the first part of carrot and stick, bread and circus.

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Propaganda, as a vast circus, is all the more important to smooth over the bumps and divides. In a democratic society, Jacques Ellul argues in Propaganda, “as the government cannot follow opinion, opinion must follow the government. One must convince this present, ponderous, impassioned mass the government’s decisions are legitimate and good and its foreign policy is correct.”

A more blatantly authoritarian society is less reliant on propaganda since violent force maintains control and order. For example, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea  regime may have little use for extensive and sophisticated methods of subtle mind control and clever public perception management, since anyone who doesn’t conform and follow orders can be imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed. Yet even in a banana republic such as the United States of today, violence always is a real threat.

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There is a reason the American Empire employs the largest military and prison system in human history, a reason it is the only country to drop atomic bombs on a human population, a reason it regularly supports terrorist groups and authoritarian regimes while overthrowing democracies. The authoritarian threat is not theoretical, rather it is quite real and carried out daily in the punishment of vast numbers of peoples, making examples. Comply or else. Just ask the number of incarcerated Americans locked away or ask the incessantly-droned populations targeted by our military-industrial complex.

16 _ Post-_Hope_ Poster_ Shepard Fairey on Art, Advertising, and Propaganda _ Co_Create _ creativity + culture + commerce

The trick is to turn public attention away from the brutality of raw power.

Propaganda offers a story, a pleasant form of indoctrination. All Americans, on some level, know we are ruled by violent authoritarians and homicidal psychopaths. A good story makes us feel better about why we don’t revolt, why we stand by in complicity as millions suffer and die at the hands of the ruling elite, why we allow the theft of hundreds of trillions of dollars and the poisoning of the earth, leaving a horrific inheritance to our children and grandchildren.

Propaganda comes in many forms, such as the daily mindless experience of the propaganda model of news or the invasive nature of corporate astroturf and greenwashing. It is also often implemented as straightforward political rhetoric, propaganda campaigns, and psyops. See COINTELPRO  and Operation Mockingbird.

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What is Greenwashing?

And look at the involvement of the CIA and Pentagon in education, art, literature, movies, video games, music, magazines, journals, and much else; even or especially philosophy and literary criticism (see the CIA obsession with postmodernism in CIA and the Cultural Cold War). Not to mention the CIA and FBI infiltration of organized labor, student groups, church organizations, and much else.

Moreover, one has to wonder about scientific fields as well, the social sciences most of all. Take anthropology (see Anthropological Intelligence), such as the career of Claude Lévi-Strauss. Or think of the less clear example of linguist Noam Chomsky criticism of the military-industrial complex, while essentially on the payroll of the Pentagon (see The Chomsky Problem). This is explored thoroughly in Decoding Chomsky.

Be patient for a moment while we go off on a tangent…

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How consistent Chomsky is in denying “conspiracy theories” despite the fact much of his own writing could only be described accurately by our mainstream narrative as conspiracy theory. He analyzes the history of those who conspire with various agendas and to various ends. Like many academics today, Chomsky seeks to be respectable. But how did “alternative thinking” become disreputable, even among alternative thinkers?

Although the term “conspiracy theorist” is tossed around since the 1800s, it was rarely used in the past. This changed following a 1967 CIA memo, in response to the Warren Commission Report, which conspired to control the narrative and manipulate public perception about the John F. Kennedy assassination:

“The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists” (declassified CIA memo# 1035-960, Countering Criticism of the Warren Report. For more detailed info, read Conspiracy Theory in America).

Overtly advocating for the government to conspire against the public, the memo’s anonymous author directs CIA operatives to, “employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.”

Who are these propaganda assets? And why is there such confidence in their power to carry out this conspiracy? Let’s put this in context, shall we?

The same year 1967, a Ramparts article exposes the CIA funding of the National Student Association. The following decade leads to the revelations, in the Congressional investigations and reports, the CIA is working with journalists in the mainstream media, along with connections to civic groups.

At around the same time, the CIA Family Jewels report is compiled and, upon its declassification in 2007, shows the CIA has a propaganda program called Operation Mockingbird to involve the media with its own operations going at least back to the 1950s. This is an extensive covert operation (AKA it’s a conspiracy) linked to major news outlets, as well as influential journalists and editors in both foreign and domestic media.

Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia article on Operation Mockingbird:

In a 1977 Rolling Stone magazine article, “The CIA and the Media,” reporter Carl Bernstein writes by 1953, CIA Director Allen Dulles oversaw the media network, which has major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies.[2]

Its usual modus operandi is to place reports, developed from CIA-provided intelligence, with cooperating or unwitting reporters. These reports are repeated or cited by the recipient reporters and would then, in turn, be cited throughout the media wire services.

These networks are run by people with well-known liberal but pro-American-big-business and anti-Soviet views, such as William Paley (CBS), Henry Luce (Time and Life), Arthur Hays Sulzberger (The New York Times), Alfred Friendly (managing editor of The Washington Post), Jerry O’Leary (The Washington Star), Hal Hendrix (Miami News), Barry Bingham, Sr. (Louisville Courier-Journal), James Copley (Copley News Services), and Joseph Harrison (The Christian Science Monitor).

This is admitted the year before, in 1976, by the Church Committee’s final report. About foreign media, it states:

“The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets” (Church Committee Final Report, Vol 1: Foreign and Military Intelligence, p. 455).

In our cynicism and passive complicity, Americans expect the CIA to be tangled up in all kinds of foreign organizations, and many of us support these covert operations, maybe even feeling some pride in the greatness of American imperialism. The shocking part is the CIA does the same in the United States to us and sadly, most Americans are intentionally kept ignorant of this fact (i.e., not typically taught about it as part of American history classes nor often mentioned in the news media and political debates).

Read the following and let it sink in…

“Approximately 50 of the CIA assets are individual American journalists or employees of U.S. media organizations. Of these, fewer than half are “accredited” by U.S. media organizations … The remaining individuals are non-accredited freelance contributors and media representatives abroad … More than a dozen United States news organizations and commercial publishing houses formerly provided cover for CIA agents abroad. A few of these organizations are unaware they provide this cover.”

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Let’s get back to the CIA pushing the slur of “conspiracy theorists” through these assets. Just because a conspiracy is proven beyond a mere story doesn’t mean it is effective and successful. So, what are the measurable results, who followed?

Want to know just how pivotal this CIA memo is in shifting the media framing?

From Do we need another 9/11 conspiracy theory?:

In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase “conspiracy theory” appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.

Before the CIA memo came out, the Washington Post and New York Times never used the phrase “conspiracy theorist.” After the CIA memo came out, these two newspapers use the phrase 1,118 times.

Of course, in these uses the phrase is always delivered in a context in which “conspiracy theorists” are made to seem less intelligent and less rational than people who uncritically accept official explanations for major events.

Here is the sad irony. The CIA always is talented at playing two sides against each other. So, as agents use propaganda to weaponize “conspiracy theory” as an attack on critics of authoritarian statism and military imperialism, they also use propaganda elsewhere to actively push false conspiracy theories to muddy the water.

From Real Enemies, pp. 239-240:

“Citizens of a democracy must be wary of official and alternative conspiracists alike, demanding proof for the theories. Yet Americans should be most skeptical of official theorists, because the most dangerous conspiracies and conspiracy theories flow from the center of American government, not from the margins of society.

Since the First World War, officials of the U.S. government encouraged conspiracy theories, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes intentionally. They engaged in conspiracies and used the cloak of national security to hide their actions from the American people. With cool calculation, they promoted official conspiracy theories, sometimes demonstrably false ones, for their own purposes. They assaulted civil liberties by spying on their domestic enemies.

If antigovernment conspiracy theorists get the details wrong—and they often do—they do get the basic issue right: the secret actions of the government are the real enemies of democracy.”

See Skepticism and Conspiracy

Critical thinking

In respect to Chomsky, how did alternative thinking became disreputable? This was not always the case.

Chomsky is the most well-known left-wing academic in the world, yet he often plays the role of guarding the boundaries of thought and shepherding loose sheep back into the fold, such as in recent elections repeatedly telling Americans to vote for corporatist Democrats. What in the hell is a supposed anarchist doing promoting corporatism?

And why is he repeating a CIA talking point in his dismissal of conspiracy theories and condescending toward those he labels as conspiracy theorists?

It isn’t about claiming Chomsky is a CIA asset, so let’s remain focused on the point at hand. Earlier last century, left-wing thinkers were far less concerned about respectability, which is to say they were far more radical.

“Around the time of the Second World War,” writes Ron Unz, “an important shift in political theory caused a huge decline in the respectability of any “conspiratorial” explanation of historical events” (American Pravda: How the CIA Invented “Conspiracy Theories”). Unz goes on to say:

“For decades prior to that conflict, one of our most prominent scholars and public intellectuals was historian Charles Beard, whose influential writings heavily focused on the harmful role of various elite conspiracies in shaping American policy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, with his examples ranging from the earliest history of the United States down to the nation’s entry into WWI.

Obviously, researchers never claim all major historical events have hidden causes, but it was widely accepted some of them did, and attempting to investigate these possibilities was deemed a perfectly acceptable academic enterprise.”

Following Charles Beard, a new generation of intellectuals and scholars felt the walls closing in. These people either quickly learned to submit and conform to the hidden demands of power or else find themselves shut out from publishing or speaking in polite society. It is the beginning of the era of respectability politics.

In controlling the terms of debate, the CIA and other covert interests control public debate and hence public perception. The American ruling elite won the Cold War culture war, not only against the Soviet commies, but also against the American people.

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“It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”
~Sally Kempton, Ben Price’s None Dare Call It Propaganda

“Power is the ability to rule the imagination.”
~Jacques Necker, from Guillaume de Sardes’ Against the hegemony of American art

Pseudo-radicals are allowed to go through the motions of freedom, as long as they toe the line, as long as they demonstrate a properly indoctrinated mind. Then such figures can be successful and, more importantly, respectable. We simply have to make the Devil’s Bargain of never actually taking radical action.

We can talk all we want while remaining safely within the system of the status quo, such as Chomsky regularly appearing in American media. He regularly admits the system maintains control of what he is allowed to communicate.

“With the help of propaganda,” Jacques Ellul writes:

“One can do almost anything, but certainly not create the behavior of a free man or, to a lesser degree, a democratic man. A man who lives in a democratic society and who is subjected to propaganda is being drained of the democratic content itself – of the style of democratic life, understanding of others, respect for minorities, re-examination of his own opinions, absence of dogmatism.

The means employed to spread democratic ideas make the citizen, psychologically, a totalitarian man. The only difference between him and a Nazi is he is a ‘totalitarian man with democratic convictions,’ yet these convictions do not change his behavior in the least.

Such contradiction is in no way felt by the individual for whom democracy becomes a myth and a set of democratic imperatives, merely stimuli to activate conditioned reflexes. The word democracy, having become a simple incitation, no longer has much of anything to do with democratic behavior. And the citizen can repeat indefinitely ‘the sacred formulas of democracy’ while acting like a storm trooper.”

So, there is a definitive closing of the American mind and a silencing of radical thought during the early Cold War. This is no surprise. What is surprising is leading radicals are not eliminated so much as neutered and house-trained to self censor.

The conspiracy theory is this is an intentional outcome, what the CIA was hoping to achieve. So, is that 1967 CIA memo part of an intentional propaganda campaign?

This is difficult to prove absolutely in terms of specific actions taken, even as the memo itself seems to admit to it and even as we know the CIA uses every dirty trick in the book. We will never fully and exactly know what all these CIA assets are doing within the world of media and culture.

Besides, it’s not always clear what is or is not propaganda, as the deep state has its hands in almost every aspect of society with its influences being pervasive if often subtle. But what can’t be denied is both whether intentional or as a side effect, this has a propagandastic-like effect in shaping thought in the public mind and among intellectuals, writers, and artists. We are talking about immense amounts of money (and other resources) sloshing about determining which research gets funding, which articles get into journals, which books get published, and which movies get made.

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This is subterfuge at the highest level. One has to wonder about entirely other areas. Consider plutocratic and corporatist philanthropy, often combined with greenwashing and control of food systems, overlapping with big agriculture, big fossil fuels, and, of course, big food.

Think about why the government and corporations are so interested in manipulating the American diet since the world war era, coinciding with agricultural subsidies to artificially create cheap agricultural products such as wheat, corn syrup, etc.

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Then look to something recent like the propagandistic EAT-Lancet report that argues for the need of authoritarian measures to control the global diet for reasons of ‘environment’ and ‘health’; and when one looks to the backers of this agenda, one finds transnational corporations. It is a corporate narration to co-opt the environmentalist left, yet it is being done through a respectable and powerful scientific institution that informs government policies.

In the American Empire, this is a shared project of business and government. Ever since the early modern revolutionary era, the reactionaries — not only right-wing authoritarians and conservatives but also right-wing bourgeois economic liberals — incessantly co-opt left-wing rhetoric, tactics, and cultural image (see The Many Stolen Labels of the Reactionary Mind; & Reactionary Revolutionaries, Faceless Men, and God in the Gutter).

In service of empire, these people simultaneously co-opt what we think of as “the left” as they attack the left, essentially playing both sides and determining the field of play so as to control the rules of the game; hence, in controlling the outcome, the few “acceptable” winners chosen.

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This is particularly true of reactionaries in power.

For an obvious example, think of Donald Trump speaking the progressive language of the New Deal, so co-opting the public outrage of economic populism in a pantomime representing the common man, when actually Trump is a billionaire member of the group FDR called the economic royalists:

ECONOMIC ROYALISTS. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for a second term, delivered at Philadelphia on 27 June 1936, said, “The economic royalists complain we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.”

He refers to persons prominent in finance and industry who in general oppose his tendency to centralize the government and to put it into competition with private enterprise. The phrase was repeated many times thereafter.

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Or worse still, look back to Joseph Stalin who, as an ultra-nationalist, co-opted the communist movement in Russia and used it to rebuild the Russian Empire. In the process, he silenced radical leftists by imprisonment, banishment, and death.

The American Imperialists didn’t necessarily oppose Stalin because of his ideology but rather because the Soviet Union was seen as a competing global superpower. As for Stalin, he hoped to become trading partners with his wartime allies in the West (Cold War Ideology and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies).

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The problem is, with the Nazis gone, the American Imperialists needed a new boogeyman for purposes of domestic social control, as authoritarian oppression at home always needs an externalized rationalization, a group to be scapegoated or an enemy to be fought. The Cold War right from the start was a propaganda campaign, albeit one that got out of control and nearly turned into a nuclear holocaust.

As this commenter puts it, “It took a lot of mental gymnastics to transform the Soviet Union from an anti-fascist ally in WWII into an enemy, and CIA was created in part to do a lot of the heavy lifting.”

To create and maintain political power and social control requires narrative dominance combined with mass spectacle. The Cold War was better than a real war, as it could be drawn out for decades. It helped to politically justify the immense money going into the deep state. The first purpose of propaganda is to persuade the public the propagandists are necessary.

Most propaganda, though, is so successful because it remains hidden in plain sight, influencing us without our awareness — framing and precluding what we think, and so not overtly appearing to tell us what to think. Sure, there was plenty of silencing going on during the Cold War witch hunts, from McCarthyism to corporate blackballing, but the CIA played the long game of instead making certain voices louder, to drown out all else. Controlling and co-opting the political left turns out to be a much more effective strategy in castrating opposition and replacing it with a controlled opposition. It is ideological warfare as cannibalism, taking on the power of one’s enemies by consuming them before they can do any real harm to the agenda.

In this political version of televangelism, the radical becomes tainted by this masquerade of con men manipulating and posing as what they are not. Combined with outright infiltration and sabotage on American soil (e.g., COINTELPRO), not to mention assassinations (e.g., Fred Hampton), this multi-pronged approach to social control and perception management has a devastating effect.

Reactionary forces and mindsets successfully infiltrate the political left and maintained a hold, creating conflict and division with the left turned against itself. This takes the punch out authentic leftist critique and organizing — the demoralization of learned helplessness lingers ever since.

In The CIA Reads French Theory, Gabriel Rockhill writes:

“Even theoreticians who are not as opposed to Marxism as these intellectual reactionaries make a significant contribution to an environment of disillusionment with transformative egalitarianism, detachment from social mobilization, and “critical inquiry” devoid of radical politics. This is extremely important for understanding the CIA’s overall strategy in its broad and profound attempts to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere.

In recognizing the unlikelihood it could abolish left-wing thought entirely, the world’s most powerful spy organization sought to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics and toward centrist reformist positions less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies.

Moreover, as Saunders demonstrates in detail, the Agency went behind the back of the McCarthy-driven Congress in the postwar era in order to directly support and promote leftist projects to steer cultural producers and consumers away from the resolutely egalitarian left. In severing and discrediting the latter, it also aspires to fragment the left in general, leaving what remained of the center-left with only minimal power and public support (as well as being potentially discredited due to its complicity with right-wing power politics, an issue that continues to plague contemporary institutionalized parties on the left).”

Then again, this is a positive sign of potential power.

The OSS before and the CIA later on would not have spent so many resources for something not ultimately threating. The thought of leftist radicals is inherently anti-authoritarian and the intelligence agencies are inherently authoritarian; these are the terms of the fight. Even as the political left appears weak and lost confidence, it remains a potent danger to authoritarian regimes like the American Empire. The culture war continues, the war over hearts and minds.

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In this concluding section, let’s look further into the (socio-)cultural aspect of the propagandistic culture wars. We’ll start with a personal or rather familial example and an interesting historical note.

Our father grew up in Alexandria, Indiana. It’s a small farm community that once was a small bustling factory town. There used to be many towns like it.That is why it was chosen to be designated, “Small Town USA“. This was part of a propaganda program set up by the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA. Pamphlets were made of life in Alexandria as the utopian ideal of American-style capitalism. During the war, these pamphlets were distributed throughout Europe. So, the so-called Cultural Cold War had begun before the Cold War itself.

By the way, Alexandria remains true to being representative of the United States. It has declined into poverty and unemployment, having gone from a labor union town and a Democratic stronghold to more recently supporting Donald Trump in his 2016 presidential victory. The sense of pride once elicited by this propaganda campaign became a point of shame that Trump was then able to take advantage of with his own rhetoric, Make American Great Again. The myth of the American Dream, even if a fantasy and often a nightmare, remains powerful capitalist propaganda in how it echoes across the generations. The Cold War lives on.

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Much of the Cold War propaganda was about branding. And it’s interesting to note that the rhetoric used by the United States and the Soviet Union were often so similar, in both presenting an image of freedom. The Soviets loved to point out that the poor and minorities in America experienced very much the opposite of freedom, especially in the early Cold War when there were still lynchings, sundown towns, redlining, and Jim Crow. And much of that prejudice targeted not only blacks but also Jews, Catholics, and ethnic Americans (e.g., along with Japanese-Americans, innocent Italian-Americans and German-Americans were likewise rounded up into internment camps).

Think about what propaganda is in terms of branding. Sure, the American ruling elite were attempting to gain cultural influence, especially in Western Europe. That was important, but more important was creating a new American identity and to uphold an ideal of American culture. That was the problem since prior to the world war era the United States was not seen as having its own distinct culture. This is why American Studies was created in colleges involving professors who worked for the CIA (Early Cold War Liberalism), largely to indoctrinate American students, if also to spy on foreign students.

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We tend to think of branding, in the corporate world, as targeting customers and prospective customers. But Nick Westergaard, in Brand Now, argues that only represents the outer layer of targeted influence. First and foremost, branding needs to become an identity that employees internalize, from entry-level workers to upper management. Our father worked in factory management and later became a professor in the same. He did some consulting work in later years, as did an associate of his.

This associate told him this was the primary purpose of the 1980s Ford advertising campaign, “Quality is Job #1” primarily intended to inculcate an image of employee identity. It’s about corporate culture, essentially no different than the patriotism of nationalistic culture that is promoted by government propaganda. The point is to make people into true believers who will defend and embody the official dogma, whether to be good workers or good citizens.

It’s only after creating a culture as a self-contained and self-reinforcing worldview that those in power can then extend their influence beyond it. But here is the thing. Those in power are the greatest targets of propaganda, as they are the influencers of society (Hillsdale’s Imprimis: Neocon Propaganda).

If you can get them to truly believe the ruling ideology or else to mindlessly repeat the talking points for personal gain, these propaganda messages and memes will spread like a contagious disease. And you get others to believe you by acting as if you believe — the con man first has to con himself, as Jack Black (the early 20th century author, not the actor) observed in his memoir You Can’t Win. C. J. Hopkins writes (Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works):

“Chief among the common misconceptions about the way official propaganda works is the notion that its goal is to deceive the public into believing things that are not “the truth” (that Trump is a Russian agent, for example, or that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or that the terrorists hate us for our freedom, et cetera). However, while official propagandists are definitely pleased if anyone actually believes whatever lies they are selling, deception is not their primary aim.

“The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.”

It’s a similar methodology for why corporations spend so much money on astroturf and lobbying, especially in influencing doctors, health experts, government officials, academic researchers, etc (Sharyl Attkisson, Astroturf and manipulation of media messages).

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Corporate funding goes to scientific journals, scientific conventions, and further education. Even more money gets thrown around to pay for fake news articles, fake positive reviews, fake social media accounts, etc. All of this to create an image and then to discredit anyone who challenges this image. This is an all-out propaganda onslaught from hundreds, if not thousands, of government agencies, corporations, lobbyist organizations, special interest groups, think tanks, and on and on.

“I am an intellectual thug who has slowly been accumulating a private arsenal with every intention of using it. In a mindless age, every insight takes on the character of a lethal weapon.”‬

‪Marshall McLuhan to Ezra Pound,‬ ‪letter, June 22, 1951‬.

* * *

Hearts, Minds, and Dollars
by David Kaplan

A Lost Opportunity to Learn Lessons from the Cultural Cold War
by Steve Slick

How the CIA Really Won Hearts and Minds Naïve
by J.P. O’Malley

The CIA and the Cultural Cold War Revisited
by James Petras

The CIA and the Media
by Carl Bernstein

A Propaganda Model
by Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky

The CIA and the Press: When the Washington Post Ran the CIA’s Propaganda Network
by Jeffrey St. Clair

Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda
by Robert Parry

Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’
by Frances Stonor Saunders

The CIA as Art Patron
by Lenni Brenner

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think
by Matthew Alford

Hollywood and the Pentagon
by Jacobin Editors

EXCLUSIVE: Documents expose how Hollywood promotes war on behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA
by Tom Secker

ROI: Does the Pentagon Fund Movies?
from Spy Culture

How Many Movies has the Pentagon Prevented from Being Made?
from Spy Culture

CIA helped shape ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ series into bigoted Venezuela regime change fantasy
by Max Blumenthal

How the Pentagon and CIA push Venezuela regime-change propaganda in video games
by Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton

“Invading Your Hearts and Minds”: Call of Duty® and the (Re)Writing of Militarism in U.S. Digital Games and Popular Culture
Frédérick Gagnon

Arts Armament: How the CIA Secretly Shaped The Arts in America
by Theodore Carter

The CIA-Soviet Culture Wars That Shaped American Art
by Juliana Spahr

Was modern art a weapon of the CIA?
by Alastair Sooke

Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’
by Frances Stonor Saunders

Modern art is a sham
by Arthur B. Alexi

The Occult War of Art
from Cult Of Frogs

The battle for Picasso’s mind
by Matthew Holman

Picasso and the CIA
by Susan Adler

How Jackson Pollock and the CIA Teamed Up to Win The Cold War
by Michael R. McBride

Postmodern philosopher Judith Butler repeatedly donated to ‘top cop’ Kamala Harris
by Ben Norton

The CIA Assesses the Power of French Post-Modern Philosophers: Read a Newly Declassified CIA Report from 1985
by Josh Jones

Why the CIA Cares About Marxism
by Michael Barker

Why the CIA Loved French New Left Philosophy, and Why They Were Wrong
from Spy Culture

Is Literature ‘the Most Important Weapon of Propaganda’?
by Nick Romeo

Literary Magazines for Socialists Funded by the CIA, Ranked
by Patrick Iber

The CIA Helped Build the Content Farm That Churns Out American Literature
by Brian Merchant

How Iowa Flattened Literature
by Eric Bennett

Hijack: The CIA and Literary Culture
by Antony Loewenstein

How the CIA Infiltrated the World’s Literature
by Mary von Aue

How the CIA Helped Shape the Creative Writing Scene in America
by Josh Jones

‘Workshops of Empire,’ by Eric Bennett
by Timothy Aubry

Silent Coup: How the CIA is Welcoming Itself Back Onto American University Campuses
by David Price

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics
by Daniel Golden

Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History
by Victor Marchetti

The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America – Part 1 & Part 2
by Nancy Hanover

These are the propaganda ad campaigns that made socialism seem un-American
by Oana Godeanu-Kenworth

FBI Uses “Cute” Propaganda Campaign to Justify Civil Asset Forfeiture
by Jose Nino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “A Culture of Propaganda?

  1. I approve of this version. This was one of those posts that grew longer than I originally intended. I should’ve known better. It’s not a topic one easily writes a short post about. The difficulty is explaining the long, involved history that few people know about.

    That is why, according to Chomsky, the propaganda model of news works. There is never an opportunity for detailed explanations and this trains viewers to have short attention spans, so as to make them resistant to unconventional views.

    Yet most of what I’m talking about here is not exactly radical or speculative, as I was quoting what was said in various government reports, memos, etc. But maybe that is precisely what makes it radical, in going to the root of public ignorance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These things hide out in the open. I believe the average American is too conceited to realize and admit we’ve all been fooled for so long by such simple tricks. Dunning-Kruger. Big confidence in little understanding.

      Liked by 1 person

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