Reading articles these days on attempting to disentangle the various strands of propaganda surrounding the political situation in the Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq and Libya and finding that it’s well nigh impossible, I was reminded of earlier attempts on my part to come to grips with the subtleties and ever shifting alliances amongst the various factions in Syria, and going back even further, Lebanon in its bloody heyday.
There’s so much spin, deceit and lying on all sides one can only guess at approximations, and I suspect most of us are becoming used to that. But what I find myself wondering more and more as the years go by is how much this geopolitical tale-spinning extends its influence into those other fields dominated by public relations and marketing. Are there truth-tellers anywhere? Or only people who are paid to represent a public entity’s point of view with the greatest degree of spit and polish?
As the seasons take their turns in advancing the years I suspect the latter. There seems to be no way of avoiding it. We are propagandized at every turn by every organization with a service or a product to sell, and I would not exclude ‘national security’ from that. The intelligence services, wherever they happen to be, have budgets and status to maintain and other departments to compete with. Everyone wants to prove that they are indispensable, the defenders of the nation, the upholders of tradition, the watchdogs of liberty, the curators of economy. They no more wish to lose the level they have reached than you or I fancy a wage drop or benefit cut. If they can’t get a bigger piece of the pie then the same size must be maintained. Status, honour, power, all must be maintained. From the top to the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder the same attitudes prevail.
But do the individual and family broadcast daily propaganda as matter of course, as the major players do without cease? Do they have PR departments, spin doctors, lawyers and the like? Of course not, but family honour and individual dignity are usually protected, if not by propaganda then by careful administration. We give each other leeway to cope with challenges and problems, for we know the signs all too well.
I am proposing that we know the signs of propaganda just as well. I am proposing that we cease to hang on to our illusions of honesty and plain dealing in these sham democracies we cling to in the feint hopes that someone, somewhere will be truthful. We have come to know that corporations are psychopathic in nature, their miniscule shreds of empathy and fair dealing activated only by the class action suit or court case. We have discovered that governments and religions the world over will lie, cheat and obfuscate as a matter of course until pressure or embarrassment is brought to bear.
Only when the game is truly up and offenders accurately and unavoidably fingered does the public entity provide some smattering of truth. Usually just enough to excuse the lie and pamper the liars with shocked ignorance and righteous outrage at the soured and scuttling underlings already positioned under the bus of blame. Plausible deniability has many uses and manifestations, although less and less of us can find the naivete necessary to its untroubled digestion.
We’re pretty sure Putin’s bullshitted himself into a corner and can’t get out without losing face and that some dumb ass rebels shot down a civilian airliner believing it was a military transport and those unfortunate Dutch families were the sacrificial lambs in a blood feud beyond their ken, but how the heck did ISIS scamper out from under imminent defeat by the butcher Assad and conquer half of Iraq in a week without the satellite enabled intelligence services of the West knowing every inch of their advance?
And it sure looks like the much touted unshackling of Libya from the Gaddafi family’s chokehold has lead only to a bloodthirsty settling of old tribal scores. Was the Arab Spring destined to fail on a grand scale? Was endless turmoil in the middle east the actual goal of the self-righteously moralizing West, keeping the price of oil in its place and the prospect of further discoveries easily purchasable from countries decimated by regime change and internal collapse? It’s starting to look like it.
Decifering actualities from the fogs of propaganda emanating from various sources has become an art beyond the analytical capabilities of the average concerned citizen already in an advanced state of cynical disbelief. We seem to have reached stage where putting your best foot forward entails an elaborate structure of barely believable untruths. And is it only our touching naivete that makes it seem that it was not always so?
The rushing of passionate Jihadis to their desert and mountain enclaves for training in fighting the satanic Goliath destroying their promised paradise seems like a very small scale repetition of European men rushing to enlist in 1914’s slaughter, while the ability of their theorizing manipulators in harnassing their youthful idealism for sacrifice seems all too familiar. It’s the patriot game pasted onto religion.
It’s no secret that In the 1930’s General Smedley Butler named his memoir “War Is A Racket”. He was right. A racket run by profiteers and gangsters who bully, bribe and force feed the media, and when we complain, tell us “Son, you can’t stand the truth!”
Oh yes we can. And like the proverbial children, we can see that the Emperors and his retinues have no clothes, that their dicks are waving in the wind of their lies. Because now we are all divine.