Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Age of Propaganda

Propaganda are like a virus. They enter through the eyes and ears, anchor in our head or heart, then grow and spread. Once in a while they turn epidemic, with devastating effects. 

It has been said that modern propaganda were invented in WW-I. Caricatures, novels, and poems assisted recruitment to excellent effect. Newsreels from the front was a sensational innovation. Total WW-I casualties reached 35 million. Most died without having asked why. It was unpatriotic and cowardly to question. 

Most atrocities since then had at least been partially fuelled by mass propaganda. Millions of ordinary folks had been induced to murder by surprisingly simplistic slogans. Posthumous propaganda such as cowboy movies and Islamophobic hate messages are arguably more heartless. Is it not enough to destroy a community unprovoked without demonising the dead and their children?

A scary fact about New Age Propaganda is their transient and “entertaining” nature. As long as a sensational lie is believed for the time being, when it’s needed, subsequent uncovering carries little if any consequence. The International Community’s atrophied attention and memory spans have apparently shrunk shorter than its moralising sermons. The Gulf of Tonkin conned the American people into an atrocious war. More than a million Vietnamese were killed. Tens of thousands of American young men died for nothing. The false-flag operation had since been declassified. So?

So 911 unfolded in front of our eyes, a physically impossible drama unquestioned by most, just like geocentric astronomy in Galileo’s days ( The invasion of Iraq — a country unrelated to the official villain Osama bin Laden — followed. Remember weapons of mass destruction? Few do. To think and question is unpatriotic and cowardly, just like in WW-I. Sensible questions, even those stemming from fundamental physics, are dismissed as “conspiracy theories”, neat and simple. Good enough.

In time, physics will eventually prove more credible than Bush and Cheney. History will one day wonder how anyone back then could have fallen for it. Who cares? Meanwhile, ordinary folks are not losing sleep or reflecting on the death and suffering of innocent Iraqis. The Free Press won’t remind them of the blood stain on their ballot-casting hands so, everything’s cool.

Next: Gaddafi became a monster. Libyan thugs became rebels, then nameless revolutionaries and ministers. A Central Bank was established in a great hurry. Gaddafi was lynched. The Free Press called it liberation, then went universally silent. How many have asked why the country was invaded, and how it is doing? Gaddafi was perhaps not a cuddly nice guy, but much better than most dictators supported by the West; a great guy by African standard. All it took to start war was the baffling indignation of the President: “We won’t sit here and let him massacre his own people!” And off they went! Genghis Khan would have needed something more elaborate.

Many who supported invasions, therefore indirectly responsible for the destruction of millions of innocent lives, are normally kind-hearted souls. Manipulated by sophisticated propaganda, they have unwittingly subscribed to a systemic superiority complex, and blind to their governments’ moral duplicity. That’s why contemporary casus belli have become perfunctory, sloppy, even absurd to those who care to pause and think; overwhelmed by the pressure wave of detonated propaganda, few have the mental space or courage to pause and think. 

Knowledge, information and skepticism could be effective inoculants against the propaganda virus though. Mind you, inoculation might earn one the label of conspiracy theorist. But the way things are going, the conspiracy label might soon become a distinguished qualification, evidence of having retained a functional degree of human intelligence. Handle the Free Press with care, like a culture of deadly contagion. Open the mind to alternative sources. Sure, the internet is full of  information and disinformation designed to confuse and discredit. But having an uncertain picture of the partial truth is a huge leap forward from accepting flagrant and murderous lies wholesale, unthinking. 

Guo Du  14/11/2011
Rev 8/2013
Chinese: 面对现代化政治宣传

Guo Du Nov 2011
(Rev Aug 2013)


Leela Devi Panikar said...

Your article is unbiased and yet cynical enough for me to enjoy it. Thank you, well thought out and expressed.
'...whatever the historical motives, could not gain momentum without mass support' this is so true.
'...died without having asked why. It was unpatriotic and coward to question' and many question not for their soldiering is simply to earn a living for their families and themselves.

Dan Bloom said...

James Tam, i am dan bloom in Taiwan , read about your cli fi book set in 2090, have not read it yet, but want to find you via email to chat about the cli fi genre of fiction, since i coined the term in 2008 and it is now getting picked up by media in the West and also in Taiwan, HK and Beijing. Email me at danbloom AT gmail DOT com, online 25/7 and Twitter me at @polarcityman

Dan Bloom said...

PS i James Tam, i am dan bloom in Taiwan , i want to interview you by email ten questions short ones for my blog CLI FI CENTRAL, got time, abotu your novel set in 2090