Some groups of people may establish systems of organized coercion, also known as governments. The rest of us may call those people the rulers, the leaders, the elite, the patriarchs or “the founding fathers.”
Then those groups who establish violent governing systems with courts, regulations and of course armed law enforcement mercenaries may publicize their systems. They may create propaganda systems to further influence the attention, perception, and behavior of the target populations, including even to produce anti-government
sentiment. There are two basic kinds of propaganda of course: (1) propaganda to promote compliance as in the perception of legitimacy of a particular system of organized coercion and (2) propaganda to entice the disloyal to identify themselves and take some action to justify the re-education, correction, punishment, or even the execution of those cultivated rebels.
The cultivating of rebels in order to identify them was the theme of George Orwell
‘s famous book 1984
, in which Winston Smith volunteers to participate in an anti-government conspiracy, which happens to be a false front operation of the ruling government. Oddly, many people seem to miss that point and instead interpret the book as merely a criticism of tyranny. To present the basic behavioral patterns of tyranny is not to criticize tyranny, but simply to direct attention to it.
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Ideally, the flow of anti-government sentiment cultivated by propaganda is typically kept moderate, as in a steady trickle. However, there are times when a clash between governments may be produced (like the invasion or “liberation” of one government by another). Prior to that, there may also be a larger polarization (as in first divide and conquer next) in which the morale of a population is reduced by anti-government sentiment being cultivated more than usual.
Civilian anti-government protesters may even be enticed to confront riot squads and tanks. Typically, such confrontations go rather poorly for the civilian anti-government protesters.
More protests may be used to justify more draconian measures. More draconian measures may be used to justify more protests, and so on it goes.
If indigenous populations rebel, governments may increase the frequency of bombing. If slaves rebel, governments may tighten policing and encourage lynching and torture, perhaps protecting (through the politically-directed discretion of local government criminal prosecutors) those in league with the government who commit atrocities.
Police Tank in Tunisia
Wise tyrants know that the best way to neutralize anti-government protests
is to be the ones who start them or at least to infiltrate them and guide them, sometimes with funding and training. For whatever reason, former employees of intelligence (spy) agencies like the CIA
or the KGB
may be among the most celebrated leaders of anti-government conspiracy. “Ex-CIA agent criticizes CIA” always makes for a dramatic headline, right?
When in the 1930s USMC
Major General Smedley Butler
presented his criticism of war (or at least of US imperialism in central America) called “War is a Racket
,” it was published first by Round Table Press and then in condensed form by Reader’s Digest, achieving a huge circulation. However, how many people notice “Round Table” as the name of the publisher and what that name implies?
What if the publication of that content intentionally produced a wave of anti-government sentiment? If so, could the publishers have been producing anti-government sentiment (anti-US) on behalf of the interests of the US
government? We might presume that anti-American sentiment
would be cultivated by foreign enemies of the US, but, again, George Orwell suggested that governments may cultivate sentiment against the very ones doing the cultivating. Are they inciting riots in order to justify firing on anti-government rebel fanatics?
Police attacked by protesters in Algeria
Several years ago, the creators of the US TV show “South Park” had an episode parodying how having peace protests in the US looks good for international PR: “Yes, we are invading and occupying your country, but most of us are sensitive and peace-loving folks, so please don’t get the wrong idea about us just because we are dropping bombs on civilians (again).” I had never thought of that.
When I read 1984, I had never before thought that governments might entice rebellion for their own purposes, such as to identify isolated rebels and attract the rebels to throw themselves (armed only with big signs with anti-government slogans) at riot squads armed with… tanks. Now, I think of the practical value to governments of enticing anti-government sentiment and congregating herds of protesters. Some governments might even be so dishonest as to “plant” fake protesters among the sincere ones and then have those fake protesters do something dramatic like throw a rock or a molotov cocktail at armed government mercenaries, thus justifying the use of deadly force against the entire mob of protesters.
Tank of the Tampa Florida (US) Police Department (above)
There are three basic orientations that one can have in regard to governments: anti-governments, pro-governments, or neutral toward governments. Those who are generally anti-governments may be the least likely to perform those behaviors that result in rewards from governments that enhance social status, such as government contracts, but also compliance with laws, familiarity with the protections offered by a particular legal system and use of those protections.
In mid-2002, when I started researching the forecasting of trends, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I found not only trends of things like birth rates, but also of the inflation-adjusted cost of fuel, which had been dropping dramatically for many centuries, but then reversed trend in 1999. I also found trends in approval ratings of governments, as in trends in pro-government sentiment and anti-government sentiment. Further, those trends of social psychology closely correlated with trends of stock market price. Trends of stock market prices were an excellent predictor of things like the re-election of an incumbent President in the US as well as the sentiment ratings toward the current US President (which is apparently polled much more often than overall sentiment about the entire US government
I encourage people to use the protections offered by any legal system. I do not say to do that because of any concern with morality or fairness, but what I call a practical concern.
If you can legally increase your net worth and profit, why not? In other words, if you can legally reduce your taxes, why not at least explore it? If you can legally reduce your debt, why not at least explore it?
Of course, I personally offer services in these realms, so it is not just that I am encouraging that people concern themselves with practicality first and things like morality and fairness only in the context of practicality. That is true, too. But I also specifically encourage people to use my own services solely for their practical value.
Protect your assets simply because it is valuable. Reduce your taxes and debt simply because it is valuable.
If focusing on morality is valuable, then do it! If focusing on fairness is valuable, then do it!
However, be aware that moralities vary from place to place and time to time. Practicality is always valuable.
Moralities are learned, as in indoctrinated from one generation to another, from one group to another. When the elite are propagandizing the masses as to the morality of a particular war and the immorality of a particular target enemy, that is just practical propaganda. It is valuable to the elite to program systems of morality in those ways, even if it is untrue that the target enemy is actually guilty of something like the possession of weapons of mass destruction.
First, condemn the morality of possessing weapons of mass destruction. Then, accuse someone of violating that morality. That is a very practical way to distract people from the clear and obvious fact that one is also violating that same moral code. Using weapons of mass destruction to punish someone accused of weapons of mass destruction… is a classic example of the practical amorality of the elite in governments and media outlets worldwide.
Arab leaders might have used the same principles of propaganda to justify something like an economic embargo against NATO: “economic embargoes are morally wrong, plus NATO is accused of planning an economic embargo against someone somewhere, therefore we must punish them by using an economic embargo against them.” The elite in one system may pretend to be quite different from the elite in another system, but, even with various notable differences, there may be tremendous consistency in their methods.
Governments consistently use organized coercion to collect revenues such as taxes. They also punish others for the unlicensed practice of extortion and racketeering. Only officials like government tax agencies are allowed to practice extortion and racketeering.
Blackmail and bribery are also illegal throughout the world, except for law enforcement agents when making deals with suspects to get more information about other suspects. In that case, blackmail, bribery, and even torture and threats of execution have been used quite consistently by governments for thousands of years. From police officials to the guards of prisoner of war camps, reservations, and internment camps, government officials use whatever methods they deem practical.
Governments may cover up atrocities when practical (or blame them on enemies, such as when the Soviets blamed the Nazis for the massacres at Katyn Forest in 1940). Governments also consistently offer lenience like presidential pardons to convicted criminals who are the friends or business partners of the ruling officials, such as the pardons granted to Oliver North.
So, shouldn’t we condemn the propaganda, organized coercion, deception, fraud, extortion, and racketeering of some or all governments? Well, that may be the reaction that we have been trained to have.
However, those who condemn such patterns of behavior may include many who practice such behaviors. For instance, let’s review the personal history of George Orwell:
From 1941- 1943, he was a propagandist for the BBC (the British government’s public TV station). Here is another interesting detail: “On the outbreak of World War II, Orwell’s wife Eileen started work in the Censorship Department in London.” By the way, while Americans might not know it, Orwell’s references to a “Ministry of Information” were not fantasy, but part of his daily life: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Information_(United_Kingdom)
Image via Wikipedia
Was Orwell assigned by government officials to write his famous books? I don’t know. However, it is notable that the BBC made Orwell’s 1984 in to a TV movie in 1954: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four_(TV_programme)
and it did produce a wave of people identifying themselves to the BBC as outraged by the ideas presented in their TV broadcast of 1984: “The production proved to be hugely controversial, with questions asked in Parliament and many viewer complaints over its supposed subversive nature and horrific content.”
Also, if Orwell’s writing was so threatening to governments, then how is it that his two books Nineteen Eighty-Four
(1949) and Animal Farm
(1945), “together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author?”
Isn’t it odd that I was introduced to the book 1984 as assigned reading in a public school class?
The book is represented as a condemnation written by a disgruntled BBC propagandist in 1948 (and published the next year). However, only 6 years after writing it, 1984 was made in to a TV program by the BBC. Isn’t that more than a little ironic?
Was the government station BBC intentionally stirring up anti-government sentiment in 1954? To propose that they were not is rather ridiculous.
Was Orwell intentionally stirring up anti-government sentiment? If so, why? Well, what did he write in regard to the intentional stirring up of anti-government sentiment in his own book? He indicates that anti-government propaganda can created by governments and used to stir up anti-government sentiment in order to create “thought criminals” and entice the thought criminals to identify themselves.
Again, I do not particularly condemn the use of organized coercion by governments or anyone else. For thousands of years, groups of humans have killed each other. To exclusively celebrate a particular occasion of organized violence, such as the US Revolutionary War or Civil War, seems odd to me.
One may be anti-violence or pro-violence, but why some of each? Other than after-the-fact moral justifications indoctrinated by propagandists on behalf of the winning group of organized coercion, I am not aware of any reason to celebrate (or condemn) any particular instance of organized coercion (or propaganda). Yes, wars in particular are dangerous- and governments in general.
But recognizing their danger does not imply condemning them. I also recognize the danger of sharks, airplane crashes, gambling, pharmaceutical drugs, heart surgery, and tornadoes.
So, former British government propagandist George Orwell’s anti-government propaganda was notably successful. Even the government liked it- or perhaps even especially the government there in the UK. The BBC took only a few years to make 1984 in to a movie. It took nearly 50 years for the BBC to make Huxley’s “Brave New World” in to a movie.
Again, though, the BBC, a government channel, made two of the most famous books of anti-government criticism in to movies. Isn’t that extremely odd?
I was assigned both of those books in public high school classes. Isn’t that also extremely odd?
Do governments ever cultivate anti-governments sentiment? If so, how often? Further, exactly how practically valuable is it for them to do so?
Do governments ever discourage people from using the protections promised by government courts? Do “political activists” ever threaten people with economic repercussions for their political activity? In West Africa in the 1990s, apparently thousands of people had their hands cut off for daring to vote “the wrong way” in an election that had implications for the global diamond cartel, DeBeers. In the recent movie “The Gangs of New York,” politics is presented as openly violent. If there is such a thing as political violence, then violence can be political and politics can be violent.
As for me, I promote the full use of government protections such as evicting delinquent tenants, reporting all sorts of crimes including white collar financial crimes to bring about the arresting and punishing of certain people, and the use of the most skilled and effective criminal defense lawyer that a suspect is able and willing to hire. Further, I promote the full use of government protections such as asset protection, tax planning, estate planning, and debt interventions including re-organization of one’s finances under bankruptcy exemptions and benefits. If someone chooses to volunteer more money than is legally required out of guilt, so be it. However, if someone chooses to exercise their personal discretion and personal responsibility to the fullest extent possible, so be it.
If some people create legal systems or alter them or even oppose and overthrow them, so be it. If some people use lobbying or bribery or diplomacy or any other means to produce changes in the regulatory policies and practices of any particular governing system, so be it.
If George Orwell and the entire BBC create anti-government propaganda to incite anti-government sentiment, so be it. If I tell “everyone” to Occupy Wall Street or put their money in to insurance industry ponzi scams or whatever else, so be it. Maybe I get commissions from it or maybe I am sincere as in just doing it to ease my own fears or a guilty conscience.
I forecast the major opportunities and risks of the last 9 years of the global economy. However, lots of folks may prefer to focus away from the actual practical risks and practical opportunities to instead argue about propaganda, government corruption, immorality, injustice and, of course, arguing.
“People should not argue. I condemn arguing.”
Or, on the other hand, maybe some people encourage others to argue because it is practically valuable for huge proportions of a target population to be arguing amongst themselves: Christians vs Muslims (as in NATO vs OPEC), Democrats vs Republicans, boys vs girls, etc. “Divide and conquer” is still practical, right?
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