For many years now I've been observing how the ruling elite in the United States has been putting into place the mechanisms to subjugate and exploit the population. As I've observed this, year after year, I've marvel about how they've been able to do it while keeping the population in an eerie state of acceptance, passivity, acquiescence, apathy, powerlessness, and confusion.
And I mean, I'm talking about some serious stuff like the launching of wars of choice based on what were clearly lies and propaganda; war crimes; war profiteering; the wholesale undermining of constitutional protections; the enactment into law of the far-reaching and oppressive PATRIOT Act; direct assault and undermining of labor unions; and the establishment of what is in essence a increasingly oppressive surveillance police state.
Watching this stuff happening in real time during the last 12-plus years has been mind-blowing. I've often though about the 1988 movie They Live as a metaphor.
Obviously, I've given this issue a lot of thought and just by simple observation what I've been able to discern as that the reasons why this type of massive deception seems to be so easy is because in fact it is not. What I mean by that is that the ruling elite along with the government that protects them have put an extraordinary amount of effort and resources into what is essentially propaganda meant to control and manipulate the population. The effort is massive, non-stop, and it reaches the entire population, 24/7.
One recent book that addresses the current surveillance police sate is Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance, written by Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyer's Guild.
Heidi Boghosian's 'Spying on Democracy' is the answer to the question, 'If you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care if someone's watching you?' It's chock full of stories about how innocent people's lives were turned upside-down by public and private-sector surveillance programs. But more importantly, it shows how this unrestrained spying is inevitably used to suppress the most essential tools of democracy: the press, political activists, civil rights advocates and conscientious insiders who blow the whistle on corporate malfeasance and government abuse.All along during this process of real-time observation of the encroachment of proto-fascism in our society, it has been clear to me that the massive deception and propaganda was being done deliberately, and systematically--and because of it, it has worked.
-- Michael German, senior policy counsel for the ACLU (and former FBI agent)
And all along I've understood that one of the main objectives of the propaganda, psychological warfare and misinformation campaign has been to prevent the establishment and evolution of a successful social justice or progressive movement.
COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.I believe that many of these tactics have not only continued, but have actually evolved to be even more sophisticated (and more widely used), especially in the current total information awareness surveillance police state. Here's how Ms. Heidi Boghosian sees it:
The FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception; however, covert operations under the official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971. COINTELPRO tactics have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination. The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."
As more individuals are entrusted with access to and oversight of vast troves of personal data, this information necessarily becomes more vulnerable to misuse, whether by the parties gathering and analyzing it or by foreign governments and private multinational corporations. Because this data literally contains information related to people's entire lives, it is ripe for bullying, blackmail, threats or other improper uses.The emphasis is mine
But this "top secret" information is already being used by our own government for reasons that have little to do with combating threats to national security. Ownership of this information affords the administration unlimited power to suppress dissent, inhibit free speech and intimidate would-be critics into adhering to the status quo.
I've argued for a very long time that the key to start addressing this seemingly overwhelming and intractable challenge is to first address the issue of systemic and organized propaganda head-on. I usually refer to it as counter-propaganda.
And here's what I mean by that... Unless people become fully aware about how the ruling elite is manipulating them, it will be almost impossible to find common cause to unite in solidarity against them and utterly defeat them.
They know that, and that's why they spend such an extraordinary amount of resources on an ongoing, relentless 24/7 misinformation and propaganda campaign. And that's why Occupy Wall Street was crushed.
From its inception, the FBI has operated on the doctrine that the "preliminary stages of organization and preparation" must be frustrated, well before there is any clear and present danger of "revolutionary radicalism."The emphasis is mine
I've often written that what we need to do is to start a nationwide counter-propaganda (public education) campaign using historical examples of progressive and social justice activism. One such an example is chronicled in the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary The Abolitionists:
Abolitionist allies Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation.The emphasis is mine
I watched the entire series and I saw many similarities regarding the challenges we face. In essence, what those great Americans engaged in was a public relations/counter-propaganda campaign specifically designed to reach as many people as possible in the general population and educate them about the evils of slavery by appealing to reason and morality.
Although they ran into many difficulties (harassment by the government and established economic powers/interests, violence, derision by the public, internal infighting) they were nevertheless relentless in their efforts, year after year, decade after decade.
I argue that today, to a certain extent the population is being subjugated (enslaved), and that it is being done deliberately and systematically. And I argue that the reason thus far that the increasingly ruthless ruling elite has been able to get away with it is because the majority of the population doesn't have a clear understanding about what's happening and about who's behind these things.
And so we need to engage in an new type of abolitionist movement in order to achieve emancipation of all citizens from the choke-hold of illegitimate corporate power in our lives.
A New Kind of Abolitionist Movement Against Corporatism
I'm sharing some ideas here but I'll ask you to cut me some slack... I'm just one guy in front of a computer, who suffers from really bad neck pain, and is neglecting (at this very moment) engaging in taking care of my consulting business (thus possibly losing some income) to write this... The propaganda we're being exposed to 24/7 is backed up by an almost incalculable amount of money and resources.
So my recipe may not be as polished as what the Koch brothers and Third Way Democrats (funded by billionaires) are able to put out, but I hope you give me some points for trying...
Here's what I envision... Let's get back to Ms. Heidi Boghosian (executive director of the National Lawyer's Guild) and author of the new book Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance.
She's basically speaking truth to power. She's cutting through the smokescreens and lies and misinformation, and informing the people about the real reasons the total information awareness surveillance police state is so dangerous to democracy and freedom.
Another person who has been speaking truth to power for a very long time is Chris Hedges. Here's how he describes it in the truthdig article "Rise Up or Die:"
Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.The emphasis is mine
A handful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything—wealth, power and privilege—and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia.
Both of these individuals are speaking the truth, and yet just like in the mid-1830's during The Abolitionist Movement, the public remains unaware of this truth.
Here's what I would do: I would contact these two individuals (or others like them) and invite them to participate in a series of events around the country, specifically designed to share their insights about the system with as many people as possible.
The key would be to start doing this non-stop with no end in sight, in hundreds of cities around the country.
Here's how I would do it: I would go to the truthdig website and call their 310 number (in Los Angeles) and inquire about the possibility of booking Chris Hedges for an event here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Once I get the details, if he is able, agreeable and available, I would book a venue (and date) for the event.
Then I would put together a professional-level advertising and marketing campaign for the event. To raise revenues to cover costs (and the speaker's fees), I would sell tickets for admission.
I would market it just like a professional seminar, communicating to potential attendees that they will learn something of immense value to their lives, beneficial to their social and economic well-being.
The advertising campaigns would include print (newspapers, magazines), social media, and possibly radio and TV (if I was able to raise the funds).
The day of the event would be a special day with related activities. For example, I would try to organize (protest) rally during the day. Press releases to all local media would have been sent; and all local activists, progressive groups, etc., would have been notified.
The "Seminar" featuring Chris Hedges and Heidi Boghosian (or speakers like them) would take place in the early evening.
I would have a very specific objective for the event:
At this point I'm going to ask readers to take a few minutes and watch this video (below). I think it adds very important context to what I've written so far:
- Awareness: Attendees should come out of the seminar with a very clear understanding of how the system really works; who is really pulling the levers of power; how they control politicians; how they act against the interests of the citizenry
- Unity and Solidarity: Attendees should come out of the seminar with a desire to establish unity and solidarity with others who have become aware of the situation, both locally, and nationally.
- Defunding The Corporate State: Attendees should engender a desire to study ways of defunding the corporate state. That could involve understanding how corporatist cartels are funded (mainly we the people funnel money to them), and then coming up with strategies to stop the money flow, and diverted back to our communities.
- Sustainability: This process is going to take some time, so in the meantime we need to find quick ways to make some changes (where we can) and embracing local sustainability concepts, employee-owned/run businesses, food and housing collectives, etc.
Finally, for the day of the event I would have arranged for it to be live-streamed online so people in other cities could watch it at pre-planned events at homes, community centers, and other venues.
Then I would have arranged for professional photographers and videographers to document the event, the talk, and then have the media edited to create powerful advertising and marketing material....
Then another group does the same in Chicago, and Miami, and Dallas, and Seattle, and Houston, and New York City, an hundreds of cities across the country.
We share resources (from ticket sales and donations?) and start buying billboard ads, newspapers ads, TV and radio advertisement, all over the country.
We can do this... Here's what I suggest: Let's put together teams in different cities. You can start with a few people. Think about what it would take to plan one event like this. It's pretty straight forward (I've been involved in planning of dozens of events): Select a date and venue; book the speaker(s); put the advertising/promotional material together; sell tickets for the event (or get donations, etc., according to your team's resources).
We could even end up producing a documentary about it (from all the photo and video footage at the different events around the country).
But most importantly, if we are able to come together with a common purpose in in a highly organized and strategic manner, we could help bring about a really powerful and independent (if it is to be legit, it would have to be non-partisan IMHO) new progressive movement.
I'm fully aware that there are many progressive groups and activists out there doing great work. I'm not seeking to re-invent the wheel. This approach I'm suggesting is a call to add something (structured and strategic) to the mix of activism that's already happening.
Here's the key about the approach I'm suggesting: The machinery of the power structure is acting upon us (our livelihoods, our psyches) 24/7, non-stop. If we are going to liberate ourselves from it, our approach should likewise be constant, non-stop, relentless.
That's why I suggest people watch The Abolitionists Documentary to get inspiration. Actually, most of the progressive and social justice movements that were successful came to embrace the concept of direct action, organization, strategic thinking, and relentlessness.
I'm putting together some online tools to move these concept forward at: Market For The People.
My homework? I'm actually going to reach out and see if I can get in touch with Chris Hedges, Heidi Boghosian, and other high-profile activists, writers, academics and intellectuals to see what it would take to book them.
I share my findings later...
I welcome ideas, suggestions, and constructive criticism about what I'm proposing. The key for me is to find ways of taking action; not for the sake of it, but with the idea of making a real tangible impact.
P.S. I welcome spirited debate about this topic, and I'm especially interested in hearing from people who do not agree with my position. However, I will not engage in discussion with people who write first-person personal insults, or engage in disruptive behavior. I ask other serious people to do the same. To learn more about this subject, please visit the following links: The 15 Rules of Web Disruption / Thirteen Rules for Truth Suppression / Disinformation: How It Works.
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