The following are some of my email responses to episodes of the excellent podcast 'Smells Like Human Spirit', produced by a lecturer and former professional sportsman from Wales, now based in New York, called Guy Evans.
In particular, I have given considerable feedback regarding Guy's series profiling the 1928 book 'Propaganda', written by Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays. Bernays is in my opinion one of the most significant figures of the 20th century when you consider his role as 'the father of public relations' (i.e. the father of propaganda) and hence his ability to influence the thoughts and actions of millions of people. To give a couple of small examples, the main reason why women smoke far more than in the past and many people consider bacon and eggs to be a breakfast staple is the work of Bernays.
is war inevitable?
As things stand now, war is inevitable. But, if there is somehow a dramatic shift in public awareness then this could change. I really believe that Iran would have already been invaded if there hadn't been a feeling amongst the big boys that the public outcry might have finally tipped this issue over the edge. If there is an invasion, particularly if it follows a 'terrorist attack' and the usual propaganda, the public at large may all suddenly 'get it' (the truth, that is) and a real sustained outcry may ensue.
-The key to analysing 'Propaganda' is linking it to today, in this case the Blair and Alistair Campbell clips, because it shows people that even in seemingly primitive days, which the 1920s certainly seem like compared to now, there was sophisticated engineering of the masses going on. I hope that some of your listeners are coming from a naive standpoint because they are the ones who will learn what most of us have discovered, namely that we are being fed an entire view of the world dressed up as our 'free will' in the 'free world' and that there is a huge operation, dare i call it a conspiracy, (another word heavily propagandised), designed to progressively shape this as time goes on. It's getting very obvious now in my opinion but most still don't see it. I also liken it to putting on a play for an audience who see what's shown to them but never see, or probably even think about, the multiple shenanigans of drama happening backstage. The play 'Noises Off' is a good example of this.
-Another good episode and well-linked to the present again with the scrutinising of Obama's smooth but ultimately shallow rhetoric. I found it interesting that Graham Wallace, co-founder of the L.S.E., talked and wrote many years ago about 'an unending stream of information and stimuli to prevent people being able to grasp reality', something which has undoubtedly been accelerated in recent times. Making the presumption that inventions are not simply allowed to pass automatically into the public domain but are vetted in some way by the people who run society, is this perhaps revealing the true purpose, or one of them, of the Internet?? The 'bewildered herd', as Walter Lippman called them, now have an incredible wealth of information with which to fry their brains and prevent critical thought rather than encourage it. If this sounds cynical, consider that statistics regarding Internet use appear to show that 4 or 5 websites -you can probably guess which ones- represent a significant proportion of overall Internet traffic, and it's fair to say from experience that the majority of information shared via the Web is largely inane and inconsequential. Regarding consumerism, one interesting development is that like alcohol there seems to be a natural tendency to turn to it both for celebration and commiseration, i.e every time that the natural ups and downs of life occur. Finally, one of the biggest barriers to trying to discuss the group mind with adults is that they generally don't want to be told or to consider that they are malleable and not quite in control of their actions, so there is an element of pride at stake too.
-Some more thoughts on 'Propaganda'
Another great podcast, the best so far i think, and you got the mix of Bernais quotes and other material just right. Following on from my comments and your response last week, this theme of realising and admitting that we've been duped seems to be the key to global enlightenment and quite a test of character at the same time. I think the simple tagging of the phrase 'conspiracy theorist' on anyone with non-mainstream views is one of the defence mechanisms you mentioned last time. This particular labelling has been thoroughly debunked by 2 presentations in particular: James Corbett's podcast 'The C Word' and Ian R Crane's presentation entitled 'Conspiracy Theory vs Deep Geopolitics'. The latter was part of a 'Conspiracy Theory Conference' which inexplicably presented a host of academics all explaining to us why in psychological terms certain people seem to like and pursue conspiracies while omitting one possible reason like....hmmm....they've uncovered lots of clear evidence in the public domain and put two and two together. I highly recommend people watch this and show it to anyone calling them the C Word.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64Efkhd-XF4 (the C word)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mpGY7aR1oo (Conspiracy Theory vs Deep Geopolitics
Another thing that came to mind while listening to the podcast was a quote that i picked up from a speech given by Australia's doyen of journalistic integrity, John Pilger. Pilger quotes a journalist living in Communist Russia who came to the West for a few days and exclaimed (paraphrasing) 'It's amazing. In Russia they have to point a gun at people to get them to do what they want, but here your people do it willingly'. What a fitting tribute to the esteemed Mr Bernais!!
-So much to say about another great podcast but i've just made a few observations.
Right at the start you made the very accurate observation that our leaders are supposed to be our servants, rather then being people that we feel are esteemed in comparison to the humble ordinary folk. The fact that they are portrayed as celebrities, or a kind of rock star in Obama's case, helps to obscure the reality of what should be their role. Regarding politicians' incentives to lead, perhaps the high level of compensation and the affluent lifestyle awarded to them is a good incentive to climb the greasy pole but obviously not much incentive to change things once they are there. I highly recommend the 1980s BBC sitcom 'Yes Minister' for an insight into 'the politics of politics', essentially the big game that it all is.
Interesting to hear again the frankly horrible clip of Bush joking about WMDs, but Obama did a similar thing at a similar event when he made a crack about his daughters liking the Jonas Brothers. 'Boys, don't get any ideas. I've got 2 words for you. Predator drones, you'll never see them coming!' Cue huge laughter.
What was perhaps just as disturbing was watching this being analysed the next day on mainstream TV and the joke being described as 'badly-judged' in a strategic sense. All about appearance and public perception!! His cringeworthy dry-eyed crying and timed wiping of the eyes when making his Sandy Hook speech was hard to watch as well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40VWTEj-L7c (watch from 1.00)
Obama is a perfect person to study in terms of this whole phenomenon of the difference between presentation and reality. The distortion created by trying to project his personality to attract voters is that in people's minds, his genuine personality is linked to his presidential personality while in fact he is clearly wearing 2 hats, for example admonishing and disassociating himself from Wall Street on one hand while giving them bailouts and employing ex-Wall Street executives in his administration in order to sort out the mess that in his own words they caused. It is useful however to listen to what politicians say on the campaign trail because it actually reflects the real situation and what should be done about it, a one-stop guide to what actually needs to happen. Incredible, and you really have to laugh at the administration keeping secret documents outlining their transparency! Orwell lives!!
I always say to Obama supporters that i'm not attacking him personally because i don't know him personally and as i said earlier i don't think his personal beliefs really have a great deal to do with what President Obama actually does. He probably is a man of peace rather than a psychopath but i think the Bill Hicks joke is pretty accurate, namely that when a new president is sworn in having made all his promises, he's taken into a smoky basement room with all the top military generals and industrialists (a.k.a 'the military-industrial complex) and shown a clip of the JFK Zapruder film on a projector screen from an angle never seen by the public, showing beyond doubt that he was killed from the grassy knoll. The projector is turned off and the new President is asked 'Any Questions??'
-re: Propaganda part 12
An interesting entry to the series on one of my favourite subjects, namely 'What Is Art'?? I once gave my language students the task of writing a definition of the word to see if we could reach a consensus, and the most common responses were that it was something that was crafted and something which expressed an idea.
On the subject of modern art, I remember going to the Tate Modern as a teenager and watching with some amusement a group of people all looking at a 'sculpture' which was simply a blue square, and they were engaged in deep discussion and even taking notes! However, one critic made the salient point that Andy Warhol and Tracey Emin, and probably most conceptual artists, were/are talented conventional artists and painters, and the fact that they express themselves in an unusual and non-traditional way is a creative choice rather than laziness or lack of talent.
I have always been quite a fan of performance art as it does seem to galvanise the audience into a reaction and give them a reflection of themselves whether they are aware of it or not. Those living in England in 2003 will no doubt remember illusionist David Blaine's endurance stunt which involved being confined to a clear perspex box suspended from a crane next to Tower Bridge in London for 44 days without eating. Leaving aside the moral questions of whether this was making a mockery of genuine hunger strikes and whether he was in fact starving or performing an illusion, there is no doubt that essential aspects of the English character were revealed by reactions to his 'performance piece'. The initial reaction was one of anger from many people, reflecting the British mistrust of those with overly lofty ambitions which don't appear to make tangible sense, but as he appeared to be weakening from lack of food, the British sympathy for the underdog revealed itself and the crowd were largely supportive towards the end of his ordeal.
on the separation of the mainstream and alternative camps
I've been pondering something recently. Have you ever noticed that a lot of people with mainstream credibility who don't blindly toe the mainstream line and generally get dismissed as 'lefties', whatever the f*** that means (e.g Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Naomi Klein, Robert Fisk, Amy Goodman and possibly Michael Moore) never commit themselves to discussing the 9/11 anomalies at all, and in Chomsky's case dismiss them entirely. Do you think this is an understandable tactical move not to lose credibility and thus invalidate everything else they say? Michael Parenti was on Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad Radio show and expressed this opinion.
I've just read 'The Shock Doctrine' by Naomi Klein and what she claims there is pretty extreme and controversial to many. Fisk has said publically that Iraq was about oil, but he got slightly defensive when asked about WTC Building 7 at a conference i watched. As well as disregarding 9/11 anomalies, Chomsky also never mentions fractional reserve banking and the ludicrous and unfair banking system in general, which irks many including myself.
A lot of activist groups and friends of mine call these people gatekeepers but i think that's a bit unfair because these groups often just have a repulsion of mainstream media, so by that rationale they would then reject 9/11 alternative theories if they somehow got onto prime-time TV or the front pages. It's a subconscious way of keeping themselves separate and unfortunately ensuring that things don't really change.
In a nutshell, the mainstream and alternative media groups innately distrust one another, which is a shame because the ultimate loser is truth.