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Everyday Propaganda

It is commonplace to claim that mass communication (education and religious indoctrination are also mass communications) has a psychologically controlling effect on the populations it reaches, especially in technologically advanced nations where the ambience of persuasive messages is intense and constant. That claim is generally understood and there is a certain amount of common sense recognition of mass media influence accomplished by the application of advanced research in social science, especially by commercial interests but also in support of the political agendas of groups and individuals with great wealth, since crafted mass communication is within the reach only of great wealth.

Every publisher or broadcaster, as well as every school board and pulpit, has an editorial policy which always picks a worldview to promote, and always expresses the hopes, fears, and beliefs of owners, investors, or funding source, whose interests are never to reveal disinterested truth, or even just to make an honest buck. Editorial policies merge into broad codes of political correctness, often unstated but distinctly enforced. Concentration of ownership and funding in journalism, entertainment, and cultural industries generally, means a uniformity of political correctness, consisting of opinions that may be said safely, facts that may be mentioned safely in public conversations or presentations, the unspoken rules of a discourse, altogether creating an edited and artificial model of reality. It is no surprise to anyone that religion is a cultural background that always influences the public discourse and thinking done in communities practicing religion. It is more of a surprise, although exactly parallel, that the ideology by which the ruling faction of a community legitimizes its privileges also has profound influence on the security prospects of people who communicate anything publicly, and so on the thinking considered reasonable. There is no other plausible reason for anyone to edit and alter reality by creating discourses of political correctness, to be so dedicated to maintaining control over others by all means necessary, than to legitimize specific forms of top-down human-on-human parasitism. Consequently, one thing always excluded from respectable discourse is top-down human-on-human parasitism.

Private ownership of the means of production in itself does not tell the story of capitalism. It is also necessary to recognize that ownership is the same thing as wealth, wealth equals income-generating ownership, and since the vast proportion of wealth is concentrated in about 1% of the population, the private ownership of means of production is concentrated in that 1%. Now that is a story of inequality of control and so of parasitism.

The Matrix

Maybe the best artistic metaphor of mass thought control was in the movie The Matrix (released in 1999, written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving). In the dystopian future depicted in the movie, the brain of every human is supplied electronically with impressions of a fictitious reality by a vast system of computer-based artificial intelligence. The deception permits the artificial intelligence to carry on a secure parasitism, drawing for itself the energy from human bodies. The vision is not unlike that of Gottfried W. Leibniz (1646-1716), in which completely isolated person-monads (individual minds) are supplied by God with impressions of an eventful external world which does not otherwise exist. In Leibniz’s vision the interiority of monadic minds is the medium in which God creates the best of all possible worlds, all pre-determined.

In the actual world of the present, the system works by getting people to identify with the interests of oligarchs, but not in a straightforward way. Take a soldier in battle, for example. The deceptions and propaganda involved in persuading him into the foxhole effectively reduce him to a slave, enslaved by being conditioned to believe that he is heroically resisting enslavement. That is a tricky operation involving layers of deception. People are persuaded to identify with a fictitious superhuman collective entity which is effectively controlled as a parasite’s host by semi-covert oligarchs, as a projection and expression of the ethos and will of those oligarchs, and institutionalizing their parasitism.

To end war, pass a law requiring that the owners of the most wealth and property to protect, say people in families with net worth greater than five million dollars, must be the nation’s protective combatants, must serve in the military roles most in harm’s way, as grunts, marines, paratroopers, and front line troops.

The Downward Path, the Upward Path*

Although the effectiveness of commercial, religious, and political propaganda is generally accepted, there is not very much discussion about how and why the illusory reality constructed by mass media was founded nor about how to break out of it to a better alternative, and there is certainly no consensus on a reliable process by which to escape its influence. That’s where the idea of ‘the upward path’ kicks in. The idea of ‘the downward path and the upward path’ is a metaphor borrowed from ancient theories of reincarnation, where it refers to narratives of the soul’s descent, on the downward path, into entrapment in the illusions of time and material embodiment, and then what an individual must do to rise above that entrapment on the upward path. In the present context, the downward path refers to the historical conquests and evolving influence of parasitic animal herding cultures from the semi-desert pastures of the world. They subjected the human communities they assaulted to the same parasitism they had imposed on herds of migratory grass-eating animals, but to stabilize their human parasitism they found it necessary to construct distortions of reality through cultural doctrines which legitimized their parasitism, such as wildly exaggerated criteria of individual merit and identity based on their nomadic cowboy ideal of masculine accomplishment, alpha-trophy-looting masculinity. The upward path refers to what must be done to rise above the illusions, especially illusions of personal identity, constructed by the current carriers of the ancient parasitic cultural legacy, controllers of mass media, religion, and education. The upward path is not a common sense idea, but in the present context involves cultivating elemental innocence, elemental orientation, and the application of what is learned in innocence.

* The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, written by Thomas C. McEvilley, published by Allworth Press, (2001), ISBN-10: 1581152035, ISBN-13: 978-1581152036. See page 41, but read the whole book.

Philosophy is a scholarly tradition, including a considerable body of literature, with a history of engagement in political struggles for individual freedom of thought such as in the historical movement called the Enlightenment, for example. That scholarly tradition is at present barely clinging to the outer margins of respectability because of current academic fashions, but some of it is worth dusting off in the context of resisting the thought control created by mass communication.

There are two realities “hidden in plain sight” which are made recognizable by philosophy’s elemental thinking. The first is the transcendence of individual intelligence in its conceiving futurity, thereby creating freedom and grounding personal identity in an interiority of intelligence. The second is patterns of human-on-human parasitism, legitimized in violation of that fundamental identity of intelligences-as-such. Philosophical thinking enables recognition of those two “hidden” realities by fostering a search for the elemental grounding of intelligence-as-such, and in doing so developing an orientation which is independent of any culture. It is a monumentally important fact that intelligence exists only in individual embodied units, individual persons, but champions of communitarian power and cultural authority always resist that elemental truth.

Historically, there have been strong streams of philosophy with a focus on individual intelligence as identity, beginning most clearly in the humanism of ancient Hellenistic Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism. The significance of philosophical studies of the interiority of intelligence such as Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), and much of Being and Time by Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is that they show the grounding of pre-cultural identity in individual intelligences, in every individual person. They show that the interiority of intelligence is not a mere screen but is instead a particular and original force and power with a great deal of independent originality, a grounding of every person’s innocent identity. That provides a fundamental means of evaluating the injustice of identity definitions derived from ambient culture, a means to recognize and understand the political entrapment those identity definitions impose and enforce on individuals. People cannot be seen as equal because of the identity definitions imposed by their cultural situation.

The philosophical search for grounding in intelligence-as-such gets started by the personal experience of culturally derived negations of an intuition of transcendence, an intuition that is often only semi-conscious and unidentified. The intuition of transcendence is normally resisted by ambient cultural discourses, cultural “correctness” concerning a focus on economic practicalities, traditional religious beliefs, and specific political possibilities. Communities certainly recognize the individual intuition of transcendence, and normally arrange to channel it into external and formalized expressions of spirituality and religion controlled by top-down hierarchies. Dissatisfaction with such externalizations can inspire a personal search for clarity on the conflict between culture and personal innocence.

The subjective intuition of transcendence can be an interior force which is offended by culturally assigned personal identity definitions drained of transcendence to accomplish a complete immersion in established patterns of economic inequality which always normalize and attempt to legitimize top-down parasitism. The upward path out of a thought controlling environment begins with recognizing the identity theft involved in the imposing of such cultural identity definitions. Authentic identity is something that indisputably belongs to each individual and nothing justifies repressing it. The fundamental parasitism of the cultural regime is evident in the hierarchical placement intrinsic to definitions of personal identity assigned to people. When you are looking at the people around you for their original intelligence as definitive of their personal identity, then it becomes obvious that the identity designations assigned them by the socio-cultural system are distortions of and constraints on their intelligence and so also on their freedom. You can see the injury and insult that results. If you want to evade the psychological control and conditioning of mass media and “politically correct” journalism, entertainment, religion, and education then think past the evaluative definitions of personal identity assigned to people, and instead find the elemental ground of equality, which is the transcendence of individual intelligence-as-such.

Copyright © 2013 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.