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A few notes on propaganda

Propaganda is everywhere. Most people realize this. What they don’t realize is that it is actually everywhere. Most people think propaganda is just political advertisements and so they adapt by being skeptical of political advertisements. Unfortunately political advertisements are the most unsophisticated forms of propaganda and they are only employed by those who can’t afford a sophisticated propaganda machine.

The four most effective forms of propaganda are as follows:

The propaganda of omission. “If that’s true, why haven’t we heard about it? Huh. Why haven’t the media been talking about it?†By simply having an issue not talked about people become hostile to anyone who does talk about it, because it upsets their world view, and so the most effective antidote to propaganda, word of mouth, is hindered.

The propaganda of disinformation and seemingly independent verification. If the same story and ideas pop up all over the place, people assume these ideas have been independently verified, and so don’t bother to verify them, and again are hostile to anyone with contradictory information, no matter how verified.

The propaganda of nationalism. For some reason people like to believe anything that tells them they’re better than everyone else. Again, any contradictory ideas are treated as hostile.

The propaganda of perception control. Perception control is the ultimate goal of propaganda. If you can control how people perceive the world you don’t even have to change their ideology (what is mistakenly thought to be the goal of propaganda), which is very difficult, you simply have to make it so their ideology concludes from their perception the desired actions. For instance, say I’m against murder, but everything I hear and see tells me certain people aren’t human: it’s now okay to kill them. This is probably the biggest propaganda campaing in history.

The propaganda of omission, disinformation, independent verification, and nationalism, play a part in perception control but not a central part. The central mechanism of perception control is skewing the very form of argumentation, the very framework in which information is presented. Subjected to the same errors in reasoning over and over the lazy will soon start thinking in this erroneous manner and will start perceiving the world through a faulty analytical framework.

When any of these forms of propaganda are used together they become that much more effective. For instance, disinformation is not effective at all without seemingly independent verification which is why they are grouped together. Disinformation by itself is useless, people are very aware that erroneous things are said all the time.

Now, the most successful propaganda campaign in the west, especially North America (and especially the United States) is the perception that’ sophisticated forms of propaganda are simply impossible in the United States. No one has the means and the mechanisms and the control to independently verify false information in a patriotic erroneous framework of reasoning while at the same time suppressing contradictory information in the mass media. That possibility is simply out of the question. Or is it?

Here is a partial list of journalistic assets of the CIA that the CIA told congress it had in the church committee in 1975.

Philip and Katharine Graham (Publishers, Washington Post)
William Paley (President, CBS)
Henry Luce (Publisher, Time and Life magazine)
Arthur Hays Sulzberger (Publisher, N.Y. Times)
Jerry O’Leary (Washington Star)
Hal Hendrix (Pulitzer Prize winner, Miami News)
Barry Bingham Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal)
James Copley (Copley News Services)
Joseph Harrison (Editor, Christian Science Monitor)
C.D. Jackson (Fortune)
Walter Pincus (Reporter, Washington Post)
Associated Press
United Press International
Hearst Newspapers
Newsweek magazine
Mutual Broadcasting System
Miami Herald
Old Saturday Evening Post
New York Herald-Tribune

Congress officially felt the 400 person list supplied by the CIA was not anything close to the truth.

Yet even with this official information most people doubt this CIA testimony occurred (or refuse to accept what it entails), a testament to the perception control at the CIA’s disposal at the time of the testimony and to the present. Iran-Contra-scandal is rapidly fading from public memory. People generally have a vague idea that there was a scandal involving Iran the CIA and contras but rarely actually know what it was about (drug smuggling into the US to pay for CIA opperations; loved one addicted to crack, speed, meth, LSD, or essentially any synthetic drug? Thank the American government). However, that information is readily available and it is not my purpose here to go over the history of the CIA in the last fifty years. I’ll leave the reader with this partial list of CIA projects and suggest researching them if the reader has any doubts.

Corrupted democratic elections in Greece, Italy and dozens of other nations; Been involved to varying degrees in at least 35 assassination plots against foreign heads of state or prominent political leaders. Successful assassinations include democratically elected leaders like Salvador Allende (Chile) and Patrice Lumumba (Belgian Congo); also CIA-created dictators like Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam); and popular political leaders like Che Guevara. Unsuccessful attempts range from Fidel Castro to Charles De Gaulle. Helped launch military coups that toppled democratic governments, replacing them with brutal dictatorships or juntas. The list of overthrown democratic leaders includes Mossadegh (Iran, 1953), Arbenz (Guatemala, 1954), Velasco and Arosemena (Ecuador, 1961, 1963), Bosch (Dominican Republic, 1963), Goulart (Brazil, 1964), Sukarno (Indonesia, 1965), Papandreou (Greece, 1965-67), Allende (Chile, 1973), and dozens of others. Undermined the governments of Australia, Guyana, Cambodia, Jamaica and more; Supported murderous dictators like General Pinochet (Chile), the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos (Phillipines), "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier (Haiti), General Noriega (Panama), Mobutu Sese Seko (Ziare), the "reign of the colonels" (Greece), and more; Created, trained and supported death squads and secret police forces that tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, leftists and political opponents, in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, Angola and others; Helped run the "School of the Americas" at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains Latin American military officers how to overthrow democratic governments. Subjects include the use of torture, interrogation and murder; Used Michigan State "professors" to train Diem’s secret police in torture; Conducted economic sabotage, including ruining crops, disrupting industry, sinking ships and creating food shortages; Paved the way for the massacre of 200,000 in East Timor, 500,000 in Indonesia and one to two million in Cambodia; Launched secret or illegal military actions or wars in Nicaragua, Angola, Cuba, Laos and Indochina; Planted false stories in the local media; Framed political opponents for crimes, atrocities, political statements and embarrassments that they did not commit; Spied on thousands of American citizens, in defiance of Congressional law; Smuggled Nazi war criminals and weapon scientists into the U.S., unpunished, for their use in the Cold War; Created organizations like the World Anti-Communist League, which became filled with ex-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, Italian terrorists, Japanese fascists, racist Afrikaaners, Latin American death squad leaders, CIA agents and other extreme right-wing militants; Conducted Operation MK-ULTRA, a mind-control experiment that gave LSD and other drugs to Americans against their will or without their knowledge, causing some to commit suicide; Penetrated and disrupted student antiwar organizations; Kept friendly and extensive working relations with the Mafia; Actively traded in drugs around the world since the 1950s to fund its operations. The Contra/crack scandal is only the tip of the iceberg –- other notorious examples include Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle and Noreiga’s PanamaHad their fingerprints all over the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcom X. Even if the CIA is not responsible for these killings, the sheer amount of CIA involvement in these cases demands answers; And then routinely lied to Congress about all of the above. Compilation of list courtesy of "Steve Kangas’s long FAQ":http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-overclass.html .

My purpose here is to show how far and sophisticated propaganda can be and to propose a theory as to how it became extensively used in North American media.

I’ll go over a few recent examples to familiarize the reader with the subtleties involved.

Perception control is very difficult. It can be summed up as follows: the maximization of truth and facts in an argument that draws a false conclusion. Ironically enough propaganda is all about trust. Acquiring, influencing or creating trusted news outlets is the bread and butter of propagandists.

For instance, in a recent issue of time magazine there was an article by some historian that started with the premises, “Bush is incompetent and his policies make no sense†, something true, but concluded with, “‘The War on Terror will be renamed by future historians ‘The War for Democracy’, Bush will be hailed as a hero, and the wisdom of what he started will become evident,†something false. How to go from A to B is the art of the propagandist.

One of my favourites examples is our local, Ottawa Canada, spokesmen for the fascist movement in America, David Warren. David Warren is a classic product of the “snow ball effect†which is the ultimate goal of propaganda. At first a lot of resources have to be spent infiltrating news organizations, laboriously writing submissions, delicately influencing the editorial process and leaking "information". However, if all goes well the ball starts rolling, people start to think right is wrong, true is false, black is white and begin to voice and further defend the message all on their own. The originators are eventually not even necessary as a news organization becomes saturated with the contradictory way of thinking, by the careful hiring and career boosting of a few true fanatics that spring up these attitudes become dominant and anyone who thinks differently is pushed out (or put on the Mccarthy list)". David Warren is one such person: trapped in a delusional fantasy land he is allowed to preach his totally unresearched and unthoughtout statements by whomever owns the media he prints in, the Ottawa Citizen and the Sun.

“I have never actually written a proper CV — sheer luck has saved me from having to do so†– David Warren.

Messages that include, but are not limited to:

“Paradoxically, the U.S. military has performed superbly in Iraq, under all kinds of debilitating, “politically correct†restraints, such as the need to kill as few of the enemy as possible, and to entirely avoid collateral damage, even to the people actively sheltering them in the Sunni Triangle.â€

“Unlike his predecessor in the White House, this President refused to allow the United States, and the West it defends, to be monkeyed by Saddam Hussein, et al. At some point, you stop watching the enemy’s manoeuvring to hurt you, and do something about it. Mr Bush did something, on the generous assumption that, after 9/11/01, the U.S. electorate could be kept behind him. He misunderestimated the media’s power, to broadcast the message of “quagmire†, 24/7 from their ivory towers.â€

“The U.S. economy has been steaming ahead, taxes are lower and revenue climbs higher.â€

“The progressive radicalization of the Democratic Party has made the American electorate exceptionally cautious.â€

“Good [referring to the bush doctrine] emerges from evil [reffering to the possibility of a Democrat majority] in astounding ways [as part of one of the most rediculous arguments I’ve ever seen].â€

“I have a Grade X education.â€

“ ’Let a million arbours bud’. That was among the U.S. suggestions, for how to actually reduce CO2 accumulations. It wasn’t acceptable to the Kyotans, who insisted on turning out the lights instead. Which is how Kyoto defeated itself. And will continue to defeat itself.

These people will not give up, however. There is too much money and power to be grabbed.â€

“For another, I am too modern, and too North American, and therefore too used to associating intimacy with equality. We have lost too much of the ability to “condescend†in the fine old sense of the word, as it was used when people could be close without being similar or equal. That comes, I suppose, from losing our varlets, servants, and chambermaids; but also from a desiccation of spirit." (Desiccation — v.tr. 1 remove the moisture from, dry (esp. food for preservation) 2. deprive (land, plants, etc.) thoroughly of moisture.)

“My own ancestors were savages, lagging badly in Britain, though with a slight head start on their New World competition. Everyone’s ancestors were savages, some even more recently. We ought to take some pride in that, to look back and laugh. For we all fade, too.â€

“It was a Democrat-controlled Congress that decided to sink free South Vietnam, by cutting off its supplies even of rifle ammunition after the peace treaty signed by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1973. It was Congress that ordered all U.S. bombing halted — air strikes that could have made mincemeat of the regular North Vietnamese army, marching openly along the South’s main highways in 1974. The U.S. never lost the war militarily, and could easily have won it without self-imposed restraints. But the enemy was more ruthless, and the allied will to fight evaporated.â€

David Warren is a great example of the momentum propaganda can achieve. He isn’t even American. Quotes where taken from his website http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/ .

Another recent example is before the 2006 mid term election was the continued repetition that the stock market would go down if the Democrats win, followed by a whole lot of bullshit. The goal of this sort of propaganda is in the immediate to associate the democrats with being bad for the economy, even though the last democratic president went from deficit to surplus and Reagan, Bush I and Bush II all went it would seem as far into debt as possible (the stock market of course went up when the democrats won because as bad as possible economic policies - America is now the most indebted nation in history as well as having the largest trade deficit in history - generally make investors afraid). In the long term is the goal is to propagate a whole way of looking at the stock market that makes no sense. We would be led to believe that you buy stocks because you think they will go up, that this is what the stock market is about. However, in reality a stocks value is determined by the dividend (percentage of profit) it pays out relative to the cost of the stock. The latter perception leads to shrewd investment and rarely any “bubbles†. The former perception leads to an “ever increasing stock market†as more any more people think stocks will go up and they will be able to sell at the appropriate time. This of course allows the big players to sell at the appropriate time because they generally know things others don’t (such as the fact all the “profits†and profit projections aren’t actually real), and then re-buy the stock when it crashes in case they can do it again (the stock market cannot actually increase indefinetely). If people bought stock based on the projected profit of the company, the projected return, the economy would be a lot more stable and less money would be transferred from the middle class to the rich. But instead people get super pumped by the idea that a stock will go up even though the company stays essentially the same. If the company doesn’t actually change the value of the company should not change. The American stock market is overvalued by 200%.

The other big one is tax cuts. Tax cuts are good, taxes are bad is probably the most repeated message in American Media. The best example I come across recently is referendum C in Colorado. The day of the election I Googled “Colorado referendum C†and got only articles and sites very much against the idea, to varying degrees of extreme. Yet the referendum passed. Why didn’t I get any hits for the motion in the first 3 pages? Google ranking is based on hits and money paid to Google, through a complicated equation which limits how far up the ranking one can go (one cannot pay oneself to the top). The goal is to optimize profit by balancing the accuracy of Google searches, which increases the worth of Google searches (as people will then use them), and the amount one can distort the searches by money, which decreases the worth of Google searches. It’s pretty clear that the reason why all these anti-tax sites had such high rankings is because someone spent a lot of money to make it so (perhaps the rich who don’t like paying taxes). The rankings clearly didn’t reflect popularity considering the tax increase passed. If you Google “Colorado referendum C†now you get more and more pro-tax increase sites which can only mean the various investors in the “tax increase is stealing from the public to pay for dildos†sites have stopped paying the Google toll for artificial popularity (perhaps because it is now redundant to do so). You can also pay programmers to write programs to simply roam (troll) around sites creating lots of hits, and to defeat Google’s attempts to catch such distortion, by randomizing IP address and roaming methods. People genuinely interested in the truth rarely have the the funds to pay for all this. The best way to defeat suspected distortions in search engines is to search for phrases and collections of words not obviously related to your topic (advertisers pay for a certain amount of key words to return a weighted result, not a weighted result on every single search), and so a more balanced representation of the literature available about one’s topic on the web is produced. Keep in mind however that this then distorts the search result, for if something is not obviously related to one’s topic of interest excellent pieces may not contain it; this can be overcome by repeating the method with different jargon.

"The CIA’s tries to subvert democracy to avoid democratic oversight because it knows what it does would be viewed as evil":http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/CIAtimeline.html. The uber-wealthy also wish to subvert democracy because the majority have no incentive to grant more and more tax cuts for the rich ("there is no evidence that tax cuts to the rich increase efficiency, indeed very much to the contrary":http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-richmerit.htm), nor to deregulate the economy resulting in the acceleration of wealth accumulation by the top 1 percept. The CIA needs the top one percent to supply contacts, fronts, and even funding for black operations, and the top one percent need the CIA to subvert democracy everywhere (including America) in order to exploit resources and people.

By these incentives the super rich and the CIA quickly became one. When democracy started to get popular in the 1970’s the super rich and the CIA quickly hatched a plan to reverse the trend of the top one percent going from owning 37 percent of America’s wealth in 1965 to owning 22 percent in 1976, and the trend of democratic oversight of the CIA (which the upper echelons of the CIA despised, be it due to delusional fanaticism or from also being super rich and realizing the awesome power of CIA non government funded black opps to remain so, or become more so, as well as the CIA’s ability to shut down any "investigation at any lower level of law":http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-4946110250157218995&q=conspiracy+of+silence).

The idea that the super rich and the government should together control society is called fascism (originally called corporatism). Democracy on the other hand is the idea that the power of the rich and powerful should be kept in check by a government controlled by the majority. Fascism is essentially aristocracy and despotism in a propaganda form befitting the publics realization that aristocracy and despotism are in no way good for society. After the public realized that fascism is also not in any way good, fascism kept a low profile in the super elite/CIA in this idea or that before finally emerging in a propaganda form befitting the public, called Reaganomics and then later renamed neo-conservatism when Reaganomics proved to make absolutely "no sense":http://www.uuforum.org/deficit.htm but further propaganda led to not-an overwhelming remembrance of this fact (Bush the second of course didn’t actually win any elections, but came close enough to get away with election rigging).

But where did the fascism come from? Ideologies don’t just spring out of no where, even if the propagation of it is economically beneficial to a group in question. Denmark has 68 percent tax on the rich and yet the country has not collapsed.

If you remember the list of CIA crimes the very first one was the attempt to salvage as much of the Nazi mental infrastructure as possible, among them the brains of the Gestapo, SS, and Third Reich. The meticulous organizational and propaganda geniuses that actually ran the Nazi machine (including the spy networks in the Soviet Union the CIA was most interested in, which the CIA suddenly found a lot of high level Nazi’s where integral to). They didn’t get all of them, but they got enough. So there stood the Budding CIA with no oversight and the only information and analysis they received supplied by the Nazi infrastructure. Low and behold the suspicion of the Soviet Union, America’s ally in WWII, suddenly turned to paranoia. The American people and the world must be brought to understand this. So who do you go to when you need to learn sophisticated propaganda techniques? Who were the best at it? Who managed to turn a population that at first were as anti-Semitic as the rest of the world into hating the Jews to the extreme, and agreeing with the concentration of them in camps and the probable extermination of them? (What I mean by probable is that the extermination campaign wasn’t widely advertised by the German government, so the average German wasn’t completely aware what was going on, however everyone knew Jews were being sent to camps and no Jews ever came out of camps, so even the average German of the time had enough information to conclude the extermination of the Jews was probable. The Holocaust is of course fact; but here I’m talking about the propaganda the led the average German to either ignore, or support, all indications of a Holocaust.)

Suddenly the Gestapo and SS officers you have lying around are your new best friends. Underestimating these seemingly under control assets was a mistake. These guys were meticulous thinkers who understood how to influence and guide the unguarded mind. The Nazi’s invented and ran the Hitler Youth which had children informing on their parents. The very same people managed to convince enough people that genocide and torture was a good idea, to institutionalize it. The very same people the CIA relied on for advice. A few well placed suggestions and symapthetic remarks, and the ball gets rolling. The more the CIA tries to control the world through secrecy, subterfuge and propaganda, the more it goes to its Nazi professionals for advice and the more subtle Americanized fascist doctrine they get in return. Long after the passing away of these mild mannered friendly people who have a lot of good ideas the CIA can use, the spirit of fascism endures.

Authors note: This article focuses a lot on the CIA. This is not to say that the CIA "are masters of the world" or even the most effective propaganda organization currently running. Rather, the CIA is unique in the huge volume of public documentation available about their propaganda activities. So using the CIA as an example doesn’t require suppositions or inferences, in general their goals and methods are clearly stated and documented in public Government reccords, so it makes a very good case study.

A few end Notes

[1] "The Nazi coersion of the CIA is documented extensively here":http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Fascism/Blowback_CSimpson.html.

[2] "here’s a colections of documentaries on the CIA that pretty informative":http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/video_CIA.htm

What most people don’t know is that it’s not the extent of the evil of the CIA and the American corperate powers that unbelievable - you fill your organization with 4000 Nazi war criminals and it’s hard to expect any other outcome - what’s unbelievable is the sheer amount of evidence available detailing these crimes against humanity that people just aren’t interested in seeing or hearing about.

[3] "What I find really bizzarre is that Isreal allied themselves (esepcially when it came to the whole propaganda effort in the US":http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7828123714384920696) with these forces, the hard right of America, knowing full well that these guys are a direct evolution of the Third Riech (which means Third Empire; the Roman empire and World War I Germany being the first two). And for what? A non hard right American government would still intervene if Isreal was attacked anyways. All the Isrealis need a hard right US for is to veto the resolutions on the illegal occupation of palestine (agreed to as illegal by the rest of the world).

So they betray the victims of the holocaust just so they can betray themselves in a counter productive occupation that simply brings themselves disgrace; and not only disgrace, guilt of many of the very same war crimes they suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

[4] You really begin to doubt how many people actually have any moral principles they’d stick too even if it became inconvinient to do so, or, worse, if it required thinking.

[5] "The Inspector General reports are important evidence that trillions of dollars were siphoned through the Department of Defense (DoD) for the fiscal years 1998-2002. [89] Using the Inspector General reports of accounting anomalies, it can be estimated that Fitts and O’Meara’s estimates of missing money from the DoD is a close approximation to the CIA’s ‘unofficial’ black budget. Consequently, the CIA black budget is annually in the vicinity of 1.1 trillion dollars – a truly staggering figure when one considers that the DoD budget for 2004 will be approximately 380 billion dollars. [90] This suggests that the vast size of the DoD in terms of its personnel, weapons systems and research into ‘conventional weapons systems’, is dwarfed by something that in funding terms is almost three times larger than the entire conventional military system funded by the DoD budget.":http://www.american.edu/salla/Articles/BB-CIA.htm


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