Endless War, Public Opinion and the “Pictures in Our Heads”

Over ninety years ago political analyst Walter Lippmann noted how the masses overwhelmingly rely on subjective views–“the pictures in our heads,” or what he termed “stereotypes”–to make sense of the world. “The stereotype,” Edward Bernays elaborated, “is the basis of a large part of the work of the public relations counsel.”[1]

These views mirror those of an elite class that Lippmann and Bernays were pleased to serve—an elite that, taken as a whole, now retains several thousand such minds throughout government and the private sector. As these social scientists and public relations technicians proceed under the broadly-held assumption that as more “qualified” parties are enfranchised to enact realpolitik, the public must necessarily be condemned to flounder in Plato’s cave.

Along these lines, Australian propaganda researcher Alex Carey observed how among all countries in the world the United States has the greatest tendency for possessing a “Manichean” worldview—one where social and political phenomena are typically perceived as binary opposites of good-evil, sacred-satanic, and so on.  This observation is reaffirmed in more recent research.[2] Such a belief system is anticipated and encouraged by the carefully-crafted propaganda and disinformation that pervades government pronouncements and corporate news reportage and commentary on both foreign and domestic affairs.

US public opinion is overall against military action against Syria. Yet this attitude obscures the fact that a similar majority doesn’t understand that the Obama administration and its allies have for over two years supported an intense guerrilla war in Syria that has killed close to one hundred thousand inhabitants and displaced over one million.

A New York Times-commissioned public opinion poll reveals that while Americans are skeptical of President Obama’s attempt to sell them a new war, with seventy-two percent wishing to refrain from inflicting “US democracy” on Syria. A subsequent question suggests the American public’s unfamiliarity with the grave situation in that country.

“Based on what you have seen or read,” the poll asks, “do you think the Syrian government probably did or probably did not use chemical weapons against Syrian civilians?” An overwhelming seventy-five percent responded that it “probably did,” ten-percent said that it “probably did not,” and the remaining fifteen-percent had no opinion.[3]

In other words, nine out of ten Americans are unmindful toward the true geopolitical underpinnings of the Syrian crisis apart from White House propaganda and its heavy reverberation via the corporate media.

A Pew Research Center poll offers similar findings, with fifty-three percent replying that there is “clear evidence” that Bashar al-Assad’s government “used chemical weapons against civilians”, versus twenty-three percent responding that there was “not clear” evidence of such, and an amazing twenty-four percent claiming ignorance.[4]

Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s position that Assad is guilty of such crimes is based on doubtful evidence that initially included a photograph taken in Iraq in 2003 of a child leaping over piles of shrouded bodies.[5]

On the other hand, the “rebels” operating in Syria have clear chemical weapons capabilities. This was proven in May when members of the Al-Nusra front were caught by Turkish police preparing to deploy two kilograms of sarin gas inside Turkey and Syria.[6]

Yet such observations may be easily obscured or dismissed—particularly for the educated classes–as the guardians of proper thought deem them among the many “anti-American conspiracy theories,”[7] a term that intends to short-circuit any inquiry among those inclined to think twice about conflicting information in news reports.

The experts who craft the “war on terror” propaganda recognize how truly effective publicity must be direct and unambiguous. The official narrative rests on the still broadly-held notion that that US and its allies are “the good guys.”

Proclamations concerning the triumph of genuinely independent fact-based analytical reports of the tragic situation in Syria are thus premature. Despite the cracks and fissures in the official “war on terror” narrative initiated by alternative media, it is still more or less accepted by a US populace that the western-backed Al-Qaeda mercenaries operating in Syria are indeed “protesters,” “activists,” and “rebels.”

The effectiveness of such propaganda rests in the fact that such figures are routinely depicted throughout mainstream news outlets wielding machine guns, grenade launchers, and other sophisticated weaponry while they frolic throughout the country.

9/11 and the subsequent brutal and calculated military onslaughts that have unfolded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria cannot emerge as prevailingly uncontested historical events without a citizenry relegated to the hinterlands of what passes for today’s civil society—indeed, without a mass man willing to abandon his own reason and embrace the carefully constructed pictures in his head.


[1] Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York: The New Press, 1997 (1922); Edward Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion, New York: Ig Publishing (1923), 115.

[2] Alex Carey, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty, Andrew Lohrey, ed., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. See also “Majority of Americans Believe in the Devil–Especially Republicans, Blacks, and Women,” UK Daily Mail, September 20, 2013.

[3]  Mark Landler and Megan Thee-Brenan, “Survey Reveals Scant Backing for Syria Strike,” New York Times, September 10, 2013.

[4] “Public Opinion Runs Against Syrian Air Strikes,” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, September 3, 2013.

[5] “’CIA Fabricated Evidence to Lure US Into War with Syria,’” RT.com, September 9, 2013; Julie Wilson, “Bombshell: Kerry Caught Using Fake Photos to Fuel Syrian War,” Infowars.com, August 30, 2013.

[6] “Turkish Police Seizes 2 kg of Sarin Gas From Al-Nusra Militants,” Voltaire.net, May 31, 2013.

[7] Jon Lee Anderson, “Putin and the Syria Conspiracy Theory Problem,” The New Yorker, September 6, 2013. See also, Jamelle Bouie, “Enough Already: Syria Wasn’t A False Flag Operation,” The Daily Beast, September 10, 2013.


Reposted at GlobalResearch.ca on September 23, 2013.

Reposted at ActivistPost.com on September 24, 2013.

Video reposted at GRTV on September 24, 2013.

39 thoughts on “Endless War, Public Opinion and the “Pictures in Our Heads””

  1. Thank you James. The public has been so dumb downed by mainstream. I try to throw a different point of view in a conversation with people including family members what is really happening globally. I feel like quitting, and not spreading the truth, as I find people are so saturated with propaganda that another view such as the truth annoys them. My own family, which includes my sister who is extremely intelligent ( much smarter then me) thinks my opinions are way out there. I wonder if any people on this thread have similar problems with loved ones, and what do they do about it. When I was on face book I would post my thoughts and articles from you or different news sources other then what most people hear and read. I find total disinterest, leaving me the feeling frustrated, and extremely anxious to the point, as sick as this sounds, wanting something bad to happen so I could say “I told you so”. How nuts is that!! I feel like I am the only one living in NY that thinks differently, and completely alone.

    1. As others any myself have previously argued, those who are more intellectually adept also tend to be the most conditioned and deeply invested in a set of beliefs and assumptions that upholds the existing system. Orwell’s notions of doublethink and an outer/inner party from 1984 are good examples of how such a dynamic works.

    2. Dear Ms. Elisabeth,

      Certainly the propaganda is an issue, but that is not what I think people are saturated with. Their saturated with distractions, where mobile technology and Facebook (as but two addictive examples) combine to give us our mental jolts. I once had premium cable (as a benefit for employment) and could not make it through a single round of channel surfing. Worse, I rarely watched any show beginning to end. As soon as a commercial came, I was off until I landed in the middle of an interesting other show. Love my Roko, but the family really only uses it for Netflix which can be done from a Blue Ray player, too. There, the issue becomes ignoring not just the commercials, but also the news.

      I find myself tuning out and forcefully withdrawing myself, but it is hard to keep our GPS locating electronic leashes in check.


    3. Elizabeth…last night I was having an email chat with fellow researcher. We were discussing this frustration you mention. My friend said, his friend, told him about this frustration, ‘you can lead a horse to water…..but a pencil must have lead.’

      Silly but true eh!!

      After 18 emails we agreed that ‘waking up’ is a possibility on every person’s life path and the best we can do is be there for them when they begin to suffer their first doubts. All we can do for ourselves, is live out our path true to wisdoms brought by our own experiences, and with genuine honesty committed to peace, justice and a better way to be in the world.

      You only think you are alone…there are many of us who are in the world but not of it or its ways. Let that console you if nothing else can.

    4. Yesterday, I received a phone call from my younger brother, concerned that our older brother had “gone all tea party” (hard to associate that particular hippie with little old ladies in Virginia) because he was standing up for gun rights under the Second Amendment. “Must be addicted to talk radio or something.”

      I think, pertinent to the point about the Syrian crisis, that when the US operates with a black budget system as it does to arm people like the Syrian rebels, behind the backs of the citizenry, it becomes necessary for the politicians to create an atmosphere in which everything they leave out of discussion, but which is actually going on, is confined to the discourse of “conspiracy theorists” and marginalized.

      Any attempt to discuss what the leaders do not want to discuss, so they may continue to shape perceptions, is considered a breach of etiquette and if others want to attribute it to insanity, so much the better.

      Thus, Senator Feinstein wants to call the First Amendment a “privilege” and journalism itself something only for the properly gelded lapdogs who are only of danger to the ankles of dissenters.

  2. Elizabeth I find the same as you.. posting things on my facebook.. Nil response.. although other ordinary chit chat has loads of response.. I send emails to friends.. No response.. they probably think I am entering a phase of ‘ old age’… but I have always been a critical thinker.. people just accept and are conned into believing the news.. and ‘ it must be right they said so’ attitude.. My husband and I noted after a week of the news bombarding us with the Syria , and chemical weapons and Assads Army doing treacherious thing.. a small announcment from the BBC right at the end of the news show…Previous to this, the announcer had been upbeat and forthright….The announcer used a quiet and non descript ‘ voice.. ” The UN weapons inspectors have evidence from Russia that the rebels using chemical weapons.”….. and it then went onto the weather.. or some announcement about a oncomming programme… It was as plain as the nose on my face she was told to dumb down the announcement and say it in a fashion so the viewers would dismiss it..

  3. I so appreciate your voice, Dr. Tracy, within the alternative media. Your education and your expertise surely must lend some credibility even to the skeptical. As Elizabeth said many of us are seen, even by our family and friends, as being “out there”, “down the rabbit hole”, or as my daughter described me, “quirky”. Interesting to me is that despite my showing them documentation of my opionion, they will not read or even discuss these issues rationally. I am accused of being negative and my comments are dismissed and ignored. I sometimes suspect that people choose not to know, not so much because they are “asleep”, but because if they admit what is happening they’d have to act and face possibly serious repercussions or minimally face ridicule from their peers. Dr. Tracy, I look every day for a new post from you because although some might say you are wrong, I don’t see how anyone can dismiss your credentials. I don’t have any suggestions for Elizabeth except to say to her that yes, there are probably many of us who have left the fence only to find it to be a lonely position. My facebook friends have told me that FB is not a forum for serious posting but I have no clue where else they might be exposed to the truth. Certainly not mainstream media. I also understand her wish that something happen to expose all of it, but I tend to believe the exposure will ultimately be too late for effective action. I don’t understand why exactly, but I am compelled to pursue the truth regardless of the outcome. It just seems to matter to know.
    As we approach the 50th anniversary of the assasination of JFK one must acknowledge that the truth has always been there, right under our noses, that is, for those who choose to look. There does exist a “high cabal” as described by Churchill, so powerful that their undoing seems impossible. Perhaps knowing that is why so many choose the sand.

  4. Most folks are too preoccupied with their own struggles and fitting in their entertainment to pay attention to what is going on. Had a big chuckle when my ‘well’ educated, busy niece got stuck in traffic for 4 hours as she was not aware the President was visiting. Living in NY, it is easy to complain about high taxes, this is an opportunity to discuss how big government is resposible for that. Prefer to debate in person, if someone on FB posts ridiculous propaganda on guns, I post real stats on how they actually reduce violent crimes, something on how wonderful green energy is, post the stats on billions of tax dollars spent and less than 3% electric comes from it. My husband probably agrees with all of the craziness, but because he doesn’t want me to dwell on the overwhelming ramifications of it all, he will change the subject. Perhaps you can join a political group that is willing to discuss the reality of what we see. Afraid really bad things have and are happening. How many children will actually picture that Islam treats women well? http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/21/yes-the-national-park-service-really-made-videos-showcasing-islams-contributions-to-womens-rights/

  5. This is a major historical problem of our time: the consciousness of the people is deranged by stereotypes and power delusions and the political culture of American society is consequently perverted. What is not sufficiently realized is that this has been done over historical time by the media and other truth institutions of the American power system. American power under the Terror War is based on ideological fraud.

    We are miseducated, misinformed, and misentertained from childhood by the media and other truth institutions, covertly, indirectly, but systematically, to identify with the interests of power against the interests of the people ruled by power, the vast majority. We are systematically miseducated by the schools as children to learn the ideological misconceptions that enable the mass media to systematically misinform us as adults. We are duped by power as children to enable the powerful to swindle us later as adults.

    It’s a valuable insight to recognize that this is largely done by a Manichean polarity. People tend to become more emotional AGAINST something than being for it. That Manichean impulse must be applied to American political culture to unite the American people against American power. Our major Enemy is not the billion and a half Muslims in the world; our major enemy is the American power system who is terrorizing them. And us. The major enemy is at home. American power is ruling increasingly by fear and intimidation, as well as delusion, and we must either recapture it historically, or replace it.

  6. What is disturbing is the the gov perpetrators of endless wars and hoaxes are sloppy script writers who leave holes all over and clues as to the real scenario and yet it doesn’t matter. Even when confronted with the truth by being sent hard, cold factual articles by me, certain friends who are smarter than I am can’t accept how corrupt their gov is. While fortunately, others see the light. The power of mass hypnosis is great, as is the herding instinct to band together for protection even if the protecting agent is the destroyer.

    1. Marzi – I cannot help but feel encouraged that the script-writers are so poor. I wonder what training the public has these days, however, for teasing apart what they are handed. Clearly, many people are content to let the authorities tell them the story. But it is obvious that the story must be “humanized” for some, thus all the seemingly irrelevant human interest back-up for any synthetic terror event. It then becomes an attack on these sympathetic fictional characters when you attack the official story. But how does one know they are fictional? It must come down to physical evidence at the scene, much of which was always under official control, but some of which might be possible to analyze and question. The methods of constructing a hoax are very important to understand. Sometimes having a creative job or training in the arts makes you see the seams in the construction better than one might if coming at it from another angle, even though forensics is also important.

    2. Very well put Marzi, I agree, and the power of mass hypnosis I think is greater than we think… from the Drama’s on TV – the game shows – even in the Adverts and in the News.. its all hype, and lately they seem to be plugging, ” if you don’t fit in with the herd, there is something wrong with you’…’ trying to take everyones personality away, we are all different.. and thats the way it should stay.

  7. I can make a poll say whatever I want by using loaded questions and selectively reporting results. On-line polls can easily be rigged to obtain desired results through poll-bots from outside my organization. Additionally, since I own the poll, I can simply override the results at the last minute before it closes. I have seen all these mechanisms at work.

    The true purpose of showing the public a poll is to capture those that are predisposed toward simply going along with whatever the majority thinks. It’s easily used to shape public opinion rather than reflect it. This is a process that Lippmann and Bernays were very familiar with.

    That feeling of isolation from friends and family is intentionally contrived to keep the public divided.

  8. Hi Elizabeth,

    I, too, find it rather frustrating to try to inform acquaintances about what is going on, and, yes, what is most discouraging is their apparent refusal to engage with the issues.

    I think that the propaganda effort by the MSM, as here underscored and made plainly obvious by James, surely bear a good part of the responsibility.

    The education that ‘we’ collectively received while at school – with an emphasis on little else but vocational aptitudes and rote learning, rigidly conforming to ‘standards’ to standards imposed from on high, certainly with little emphasis on developing critical or independent thinking – also bears a good part of that responsibility.

    On top of all of this, trapped in a life of overwork, of too many pressing responsibilities and too little leisure time, or unemployed and so having to live on the margins, demoralized and alienated – most simply cannot muster the energy that would be required of them to lift themselves up to even a marginally higher level of social, political, and economic awareness.

    Finally, the issues are in and of themselves complex. Nothing is straightforward. Getting at the truth requires both a lot of hardnosed digging and thinking. Not everyone is up for it even under the best of circumstances.

    So, yes, it’s frustrating and the odds are heavily stacked against any of us coming to an informed opinion on any important issue, let alone helping someone else come to that same opinion.

    On the other hand, if, after having made a careful and judicious effort of getting at the ‘truth,’ you remain silent with ‘it,’ then how under the circumstances will that ‘truth’ ever see the light of day? And unless that ‘truth’ does emerge, what hope is there that ‘we’ can ever move ourselves, collectively speaking, farther along toward a state of affairs less cruel or barbarous than that in which we currently live?

    In the face of odds that are truly dismal, what exhortation remains? That which was ever the first and the highest: love for mankind, an abhorrence of needless suffering.

    Denounce because you must. Outrage should and must speak.

  9. It is so much easier to remain in the dark than to think and form opinions for yourself. I can remember listening to George Carlin rant about there being too much bull-**** in the world, and that people needed to teach their children to question everything. At the time, I thought he was just a crazy old coot. Now, I realize that, while his delivery was a bit crass, his message was right on. But, it takes effort, and many just don’t want to put forth that effort.

  10. Dear Professor,

    First, I apologize for not finding your site long ago. My search for the truth must be slipping, but the good news is I have found your site and that makes me feel better.

    Secondly, writing, for me, is like pulling teeth from a wounded tiger, backed into a corner of a house on fire. My mind races much faster than my fingers can type or my spell checker can auto-correct my spelling. Regarding grammar, well forget it. I still don’t understand how to use commas correctly, which I’m sure can be infuriating to readers, and for that I apologize profusely, and humbly seek forgiveness and only hope that you, and others, can get past it and “hear” what I’m saying. (I am dyslexic so please bare that in mind. this isn’t easy for me)

    Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always intuitively known something wasn’t right about our world, and most specifically, the false narrative proffered by our mainstream society. I’ve always question anything and everything I’ve been told. From Santa Clause to “honesty” is the best policy. All through my life, honesty has done nothing but get me into more trouble because it differed with what “society” at large considered “normal”.

    In a sense I was lucky to have grown up with parents that gave me permission to question and think for myself, yet I’ve always been the loner, so to speak, because my views have always differed with the false narrative others believe in and it’s been difficult to “fit in”. I truly have tried to “fit in”, but it “feels” like lying to one self just to be accepted, which in the end means nothing if one can’t be honest with one’s self. I can’t stand lying by others and I’m not willing to lie to myself.

    I feel like many other posters, that I am alone and without support. My so called friends, family and even my wife, don’t understand they suffer from what Leon Festinger called Cognitive Dissonance. I’ve tried for many years to “resolve” that dissonance with a better paycheck (bribery) as well as writing and performing music, which has helped somewhat, to release the “physical” tension that wants to rip me apart at any moment.

    In relation to the potential war with Syria, I can only say that if one actually reads the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter and especially the Nuremberg War Crimes Charter, specifically Art. 82, principal V, it clearly states that, even a war criminal is entitled to a “fair” trial. However the “dissonance” is created when our president speaks of American exceptionalism and international norm, conveniently ignoring the “term” internal law, and one thinks for a moment about the war crimes that have been committed by the US since WWII, it truly is mind numbing.

    In Festinger’s book, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, written in 1957, Festinger essentially described his hypotheses of cognitive dissonance as, “the existence of dissonance or inconsistency, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance or consistency. And, when dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.”

    I think our country suffers from a case of mass mental illness as a result of the cognitive dissonance created by the false narrative and propaganda postulated by a pernicious press corps who has prostituted their principals for profit. According to the DSM-V, nearly 46% of Americans suffer from some form of a mental disorder. But considering that 99% of the diagnosis contained within the DSM-V do not have biological nor medical test to confirm nor validate each diagnosis, one might begin to question, what really is a mental disorder.

    My sense of loneliness in a world upside down, only exacerbates the rage (helplessness magnified exponentially) that boils beneath the surface. I would seek help, but I’m too afraid of a health care system that slaughters over 180,000 people annually, from preventable medical errors. And yet our president want’s to bomb Syria for it’s alleged use of chemical weapons on 1400 people.

    I wonder if our president forgot, that the US dumped over 12 million gallons of Dixon on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, whose effects are still inflicting pain, deformities and suffering on hundreds of thousands of people, including our own service members, who are routinely denied benefits and treated with contempt.

    Sometimes I wish I would have taken the blue pill, the rabbit hole is very deep and the reality is grotesque. It’s just really to navigate by one’s self.

    Thank you your time and allowing me to share.

  11. The primary motive for most people is simply to survive. If it requires being asleep, so be it. It reminds me of a character in the Stanley Kubrick film “Full Metal Jacket” who somewhat sarcastically laments the Vietnamese… “they would rather be alive than free, the poor dumb bastards”

  12. My Religion and belief in God has always been my rock, if you feel alone, I suggest you join a church where there are loving people and a community to belong to. Do not think there are many people who are enlightened on our current state of affairs, so you must tread lightly when approaching the subject. Keep in mind, they have a goal of making us all desperate and dependant on them, do not let them succeed! Every day, find something that is joyful in the freedom we still have. Good health is an easy one if you have it, although mostly we take it for granted when it is there. In grade school was taught a lesson that stays with me every day. “You are a soldier of the Lord, you know right from wrong, there will be times in your life when you must speak for those who have no voice, however hard that may be.” We can do whatever we can, write to our representatives, engage in conversations to the point people are willing to engage, respond in comment sections, noticed some previously all hyper liberal sites have come around to having the same values with their opposites, such as no more war! Join a political group with hopes of changing this regime. Continue to write to one of my representatives that is a war monger, one that I had supported and now consider a traitor! He’s worried about re-election, which is phenomenal in this state where he had no challengers, and changed some stances, but do not trust him for a minute! Start every day being thankful for what you can be, and be strong because if the tides do not change, the weak will need us who have been preparing and are aware!

  13. Wanted to thank everyone that replied to my “I am so alone post”..ha ha!
    All good input, and I do feel better. I need to start my power walking exercise program to clear my head tomorrow. I wanted to reply to all of you individually, but didn’t want your e-mail to fill, not knowing who followed the post or not. Thanks again.

  14. FWIW: There is no mystery about any of this. The cognitive dissonance of educated folks is feigned. These people are interested in status/money. They want to remain isolated from the riff-raff. There is no status/money in alternative media. Alternative viewpoints are politically incorrect and these can result in long-term unemployment or under-employment, loss of status, family, and property, physical assault to one’s self and bullying of loved ones, legal persecution and imprisonment. In most cases educated people are the perpetrators of this PC persecution. Why? Because it’s better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

    1. Hi Glen,

      Indeed, there is no mystery about any of this.

      If it isn’t that one has been successfully brainwashed, then I agree with you: it’s either collaboration or a rational fear of retribution.

      In that case, what would it be like to live in a Fascist state?

    2. Sadly Glen, I must agree with you as to academics, most of whom are mortally afraid of putting a foot wrong. Even the wrong turn of phrase once can get them attacked as traitors. Better not to let the thoughts enter the head which might come out the mouth. That way, grants are more secure, promotion less blocked. And we are living in hard times for them already.

  15. Hello all –

    I wasn’t going to post, but I felt after reading some comments, maybe I should.

    First: Elizabeth, you are not alone. I also find it very difficult to talk to any family and friends about any of these issues.

    Second: I’m not at all sure about some of the comments about educated/intelligent folks and cognitive dissonance. I don’t totally agree. There was something many posts back – about why “facts” often backfire? I’d read something about that in one of my mailing lists (sorry I didn’t print it out…). If I remember correctly, in what I read, one point was that people didn’t like to admit they were wrong (I don’t think any of us does, really) but that more educated folks were more likely to be amenable to factual arguments. Also, I started some time ago reading The Authoritarians online —- again, hope I remember correctly. The author did an experiment with one of his classes. He found that the more intelligent students really did show cognitive dissonance under his strict authoritarian classroom.

    So, no, Glen, I don’t think it’s “feigned.” But I do wonder that folks are afraid – afraid of losing relationships, jobs, at the very least. And it’s this climate of fear that is very troubling.

  16. The problem with intelligent people not accepting logical arguments that threaten their security may lie in how their brains are wired. Read John Dean’s Conservatives without Conscience which isn’t just about amoral right wingers but about how the brain in authoritarians gets stuck on irrational tangents.

  17. Interesting comments, not only in what is said, but in what is not said.

    The simple historical truth in the USA is Un-American. It subverts the American ideology of Freedom&Democracy that historically has legitimated American power. Therefore it is uneducated, it subverts the ideological truth consensus of the Educated classes. Therefore if one tells the simple historical truth, one isolates oneself from the American truth consensus, and one is alone, outside the common acceptance of the ideological denial.

    A major historical tendency in the USA has been homicidal racist imperialism. This is the killing, or threat to kill, non-White people in order to steal their collective and personal property and power.

    The American polity was founded on the ethnic cleansing of American Indians and the slavery of African Americans, stealing the homes and homeland of the former, and the labor and freedom of the latter. Compared to the suffering and bloodshed of these Americans, the American Revolution was a business decision by the White ruling class–The Founding Fathers–to avoid paying taxes.

    The homicidal racist imperialism ( and the tax evasion) continues up until the present historical moment, in the killing of hundreds of thousands of dark skinned Muslims under the Terror War, to steal their oil, homes, power, and other property and power.

    The Terror War is a continuation as well as a modern perversion of our American heritage. American ideology of Freedom&Democracy covers up a great evil, the freedom to kill and oppress non-White people, which we prefer not to see or say. It is the freedom to kill non-White people, not only abroad, but in our racist legal system of American Justice. What is stated is that we are a nation of laws, but what is not stated is that they are racist laws, implemented by racists from the cop on the street to the head of the Supreme Court.

    But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe America isn’t like this, I just made a mistake of some kind. Or maybe American ideology covers up a great historical evil, and it can’t be expunged until it is candidly acknowledged. What do you think? Or don’t you want to think about it.

    Most people prefer power to truth, and therefore the ideology of power. That is why the American people are so delusional and childish ideologically. The obverse side of delusion is denial. The stereotypes and power delusions are incompatible with the simple historical truth. That is why, as Orwell said, telling the truth in a time of universal falsehood is a revolutionary act.

    A truth revolution is necessary before any change is possible in the American political culture, and it will not come from the schools, universities, media, or other learned bureaucracies.

    It will come from you. Or it won’t come at all. But you will be alone initially when you tell the uneducated truth. The truth only comes at a price, and it is a price that most people are unwilling to pay. Initially. But after a while, with repetition, it’s not so bad.

    1. “A truth revolution is necessary before any change is possible in the American political culture, and it will not come from the schools, universities, media, or other learned bureaucracies.

      It will come from you. Or it won’t come at all. […]”

      Very well said, Mark.

    2. That’s lot to think about, Mark! Pretty stark terms – of course there is truth in that indeed the U.S. has behaved despicably toward people of color. I think you have something when you said that this must be acknowledged and that we need a Truth revolution. What does the Bible say – “The Truth shall set you free.”

      Seems Orwell was right about telling Truth being a revolutionary act. You’re probably right about not counting on politics, or even schools and universities. So more people must start to speak up.

      One more aside: something that is troubling not a few people is that – even if our laws are – racist – we don’t even seem to follow those! Sad state of affairs

  18. Hi, everyone —

    Resistance to ‘facts’ is not one dimensional in its motivation. Many factors are at play, both rational and irrational. Glen’s account of why ‘educated’ people seem to be more hidebound, to my mind, falls into the category of ‘rationally motivated resistance.’ I don’t mean to imply that their motivation for resisting is ‘reasonable,’ but that it is informed by a ‘conscious recognition’ that certain personal consequences would likely ensue from publicly acknowledging ‘facts’ that the powers that be would rather remained unacknowledged. So, yes, some people conform to the officially sanctioned narrative if only because they regard that conformity as a prerequisite to status and promotion; others are rightly aware that openly challenging the official narrative could cost themselves and their dependents dearly. In these examples, the ‘resistance to fact’ is calibrated to a purpose.

    On the other hand, resistance to ‘facts,’ even among the well-educated, derives from irrational sources. There is, for instance, in everyone a seeming natural propensity to conform to the dominant currents of opinion among peers and betters. We are all, to borrow a phrase from Howard Zinn, to one degree or another tainted by ‘the culture.’ Others have expressed the same idea by declaring that our greatest misfortune is that we begin life as children. In our childhood naiveté and gullibility, we imbibed, so to speak, the dominant currents of opinion all about us, much of the good along with much of the bad. These opinions, then, are ‘the pictures in our heads’ with which we start out our lives, our inherited assumptions and presuppositions, by most of which we live out the rest of our lives. And because to some degree we all strive for a sense of congruence between what is in our heads and what we think is out there in the world, we are disposed to resist anything that tends to disrupt the congruence that we imagine to hold between ‘the pictures in our heads’ and ‘reality as we presume it to be.’ Confronted by information that disrupts the congruence that we presume to hold between ‘the pictures in our heads’ and ‘reality as we fancy it to be,’ we have to make a choice: revise our worldview to the degree that it must be to integrate the new ‘facts,’ or reject the new ‘facts’ so as to spare ourselves the very real emotional and cognitive disruption that the process of assimilation would entail. Inertia, in terms of effort and the pain of disillusionment, is often more preferable to enlightening oneself.

    Hence the many faces of ‘resistance:’ the deliberately indoctrinated masses; the collaborating opportunists; the people brutalized by fear; and people just being people.

    The ‘resistance’ of the educated, I therefore venture to believe, is not much different from that of everyone else. It derives from the same susceptibilities that afflict all men and women although, it is true, they may be better at fabricating and articulating more elaborate ‘reasons’ for why they cannot accept the ‘facts’ being presented to them.

    1. Wow. great analysis. Makes sense that we humans would have many different motivations. I do think that so many folks are either not aware of some troubling developments (I had occasion to chat with a Verizon service agent and he seemed to have little knowledge of latest NSA developments (of course I was able to point him to The Guardian). Others that have some inkling of what’s going on and aren’t outraged I think are in some sort of denial (can’t happen here). Also, as one poster on this thread observed – so many people are so busy making a living or living their lives it leaves them little energy for Truth seeking.

      Glen Greenwald I think said something I’ve felt in a recent Guardian article. Civil liberties seem pretty abstract to most people and they don’t see how it would personally affect them. We need to find ways to show folks these issues are very relevant for them and for succeeding generations.

  19. Norm,

    I agree with much of your train of thought. (However, I want to remind you that “fascist state” is typically used as a pejorative to stifle discussion.)

    I imprecisely used education as a synonym for intelligence. There are important differences between the two concepts. For clarity and brevity I shall revise my meaning:

    There are no intelligent fools.

    There are educated and ignorant fools, of course. These are the overwhelming majority. Those who are blessed with higher intelligence are calculating, however. They do not suffer from cognitive dissonance.

    “Intelligent confusion,” for example, is a deceptive term disseminated by calculating individuals for consumption by the fools and the ignorant.

    The cognitive dissonance of intelligent folks is feigned.

    1. Hi Glen,

      Points well taken.

      And if I may offer a clarification of my own: in response to your post, by raising the question of what the experience of living under a Fascist regime might be like, I was not taking the slightest issue with anything that you wrote, but rather meant to suggest that your very apt description of the currently ‘troubling climate of fear’ – (to pilfer something from Mollie’s remarks ) – surely was akin to that very experience.

      As Mollie also put it, but better than I did, after reading your post, one cannot but be left ‘wondering that folks are afraid.’

  20. My brother threatened to report me to the feds for believing the Tsarnaev brothers were patsies and my mother insists “he wants to be your friend”. Friday night, a guy half my age wanted to fight me for saying Saddam Hussein was not responsible for 9/11 and didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. “If that were true”, he said,”my friends died for nothing.” I told him to listen to Alex Jones. “”Alex Jones, Alex Jones”, you keep repeating yourself. Why don’t you just shut the fuck up!” he said and went out to smoke a cigarette.

    People are invested in what they believe to be true.

    “It is easier to fool someone than to convince them they have been fooled” — Who said that?

    1. Who said that? Mark Twain. And the experiences you relate prove that he was quite right.

      Now stop repeating yourself and be quiet!

      (Otherwise you will have to start lifting weights again and running miles before breakfast.)

  21. I strongly disagree with Glen that the intellectual corruption of the Educated classes is feigned. Would it were so. There is of course an element of intellectual dishonesty in the learned and academic tradition, but the major historical problem is that the Educated actually believe much of what they say. I agree with James on this point.

    The major problem is not that the Educated are more dishonest than most people, the historical problem is that they are more powerful. The are the truth leaders of the truth consensus that forms the conceptions and preconceptions of the general population. These are largely inherited from previous generations, to legitimate power. and, largely without our conscious awareness, to demean, disregard, and marginalize people.

    The Educated truth is an anti-people truth, held by the wealthier and more status oriented Ellite of a society. They genuinely believe they are more intelligent and capable than the general person, and perhaps they are partially right. But they are genuinely ignorant of the rise of leaders in the general population who are more capable than most academics, just as Malcom X rose from being a street hustler to a Black leader.

    It is a common frailty of people that we cannot conceive the world as being other than it is, and the Educated are the most frail in this regard. There are notable and noble exceptions of course, but that is what they are; exceptions. The major enemy of the scientific revolutions, the religious revolutions, or the political revolutions have always been the Educated classes, the upper 10% or so of the people. And America is not Exceptional in this regard.

    1. Mark,

      Naturally we expect intelligent people to have power. This power didn’t come about due to the cognitive dissonance of educated fools, however. It was achieved – mostly – through calculation, the creation of additional opportunities, and the quick exploitation of opportunities not foreseen in advance. Of course this also requires will, organization, and resources.

      What many see as cognitive dissonance among the intelligent members of the “educated community” (I do not, by any means, limit the educated community to academia) is actually evidence of a dual morality: a particularist morality practiced by the in-group in power, with a universal morality advocated for its out-group followers.

      Morality is dual, actually. If everybody is my brother, then I have no brothers. To claim that one loves everybody equally is a lie. Belief in a universal morality is religious delusion.

      Intelligent trucklers and educated fools (the duped, less-intelligent, mentally-ill, etc) in out-groups allied to the in-group tend to follow a universal morality and collectivize, at least where it benefits them to do so.

      Enemy out-groups are encouraged to atomize and hyper-individualize, and are discouraged from organizing.

      As a slightly-more-intelligent-than-average-member of the regime’s primary enemy out-group, I can see this.

      Ultimately, this is not about persuading or educating the elite members of the regime. They are not fools suffering from cognitive dissonance. This is a war that my side has been losing for over a century.

      And what is politics if it is not a low-intensity war that results in real casualties, the overwhelming majority of which have little/no clue as to why they are suffering?

      1. Hi Glen –

        You have some interesting thoughts, but I think I have to take issue with one: “Morality is dual, actually. If everybody is my brother, then I have no brothers. To claim that one loves everybody equally is a lie. Belief in a universal morality is religious delusion.”

        I don’t know if you’re saying that it is a delusion to be religious or what. I certainly hope not. Kathy said her faith/religion has been her rock. My faith is also a great source of strength to me. I’ll try not to preach too much here but I think Jesus said “Love one another.” As a cyberbuddy on one of my mailing lists said once (paraphrasing): “Jesus didn’t say love just this one or just that one, He said love one another.” Now I know that we are all mortals on Earth here and this may not be quite attainable, but I do believe it’s something we should keep in front of us and work toward. I also like what Mark said in another thread recently that it may not be possible to love everyone, but one should always try to treat others with respect. Sounds very much like the one scene I’ve ever seen from the play “Fences” (by August Wilson, I believe).

        I somehow don’t see morality as dual. Maybe I’m too much of an idealist, but I’ve pretty much always felt that a moral code is a moral code and should apply to all. Sure there may be “gray” areas, but in my mind the larger morals are for all.

    2. Hi Mark,

      The ‘system of education’ that we have in North America – which differs only cosmetically from all such systems throughout the industrialized nations – is primarily an indoctrination and selection mill.

      The people who get promoted up through the ranks ‘tend’ to be those who not only demonstrate an ability to learn and regurgitate and solve problems algorithmically, but who also prove themselves to be ideologically ‘safe,’ that is to say, highly orthodox in their allegiance to the values openly professed by the authorities within the system.

      Just as with the army, the higher the rank or level of credentials achieved, the more obedient on average the cadres become. This is not a ‘fault’ or ‘failing’ of the individuals being selected. Rather, it is a testament to the effectiveness of the system to ferret out from among the general population individuals capable of reliably performing their institutional duties, whatever these may be, with resolute determination.

      So I completely agree with the observation that the ‘educated’ or ‘credentialed’ tend to be, more than the average person, both dogmatic and deeply invested in the ‘status quo.’ If they were not, the power elites, those who are the personification of the ‘status quo’ and who oversee through networks of corporate directorates the designs and purposes served by the system of public education, would be in serious trouble.

      But none of this should surprise us or strike us as being in any way controversial. Why? Because we live in a society where ‘power’ is concentrated at the very top, certainly not in the hands of the credentialed intellectuals who are the selected servants of the system, but in the hands of those who literally ‘own’ America, the less than 1% who claim ownership to more wealth than the bottom 85% of Americans and who can therefore easily buy up all of the loyalty and obedience that they require.

      America, it appears, is a class society, wherein a vanishingly small minority of individuals lord it over everyone else, and the rule of the 1% (or less) over the 99% (or more) is guaranteed by the hierarchical structure of all of its important institutions, its public and private bureaucracies, and the upper class exclusive membership requirement of the men and women who sit on the thrones of those institutions.

      So of course the MSM – private for profit corporations that they are – are 24/7 propaganda operations serving the designs of the uber rich.

      So of course public education fails to educate because if it did, how long would it be before the 99% would claim their due?

      So of course the ‘civil war’ in Syria is a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ and Assad’s chemical stockpiles need to be neutralized post-haste before he uses anymore of it, even though the ‘civil war’ isn’t really a ‘civil war’ but a concerted destabilization attempt by mercenaries, trained, supplied, and funded by the ‘US of A’ and its Middle East proxies – because the American ruling class, who also happens to own the military-financial-industrial complex, sees geopolitico-economic opportunities everywhere in this looming war, if only it can get it started.

      The real issue, then, behind all of the others in the foreground, is how to depose the minority that rules in contempt of both the majority Americans and their basic human decency. It is, in other words, the problem of rendering ‘wealth’ impotent in the social, political, and economic spheres of life. It is the problem of breaking the tyranny of profits over people.

  22. http://niqnaq.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/aipac-finally-appears-on-the-syria-war-hawk-horizon-but-then-gets-edited-out-again/

    Here’s the pertinent part of the text:

    There was also a strong sense on the call, Democrats said, that Obama needs to appeal directly to the US public, most likely in a prime-time address. On the call, Jackass took the lead, portraying the horrors of chemical weapons and underscoring the consequences of inaction. Dempsey reviewed possible targeting, and how the military is planning strikes that minimize threat to civilians. He also reprised the argument that delay does not help Assad despite his dispersal of troops and equipment. Clapper reviewed unclassified intelligence, particularly his view of why rebels could not have launched the poison gas attack. Rice played maestro and traffic cop and assigned questions from lawmakers to the briefers. Although Walnuts and Graham have been sharply critical of Obama that a strike he is planning on Syria would not be extensive enough, many more critturs in both parties have taken the opposite approach, saying they were wary of a strike on Syria, no matter how limited. On Tuesday, Obama is to meet with the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and their counterparts in the House. Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC was already at work pressing for military action against Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes US retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. House majority leader Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews. One administration official called AIPAC “the 800 lb gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying:

    If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, we’re in trouble.

    This is the text that was excised from the article, essentially hiding the fact that despite America’s distaste for the useless conflicts wasting thousands of lives, there are those who do wish to see those conflicts continue.

Comments are closed.