How the West declared war on its own people
In this post – the first part of two – I will outline some of my ideas concerning the manufacture of public opinion in the West and its mechanism. In the next I shall turn to a discussion of world affairs, to see how much of reality has been obscured in this sophisticated campaign of information warfare.
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- The absolute state of Journalism
- Humiliation -The Bolshevik Method of Breaking the Mind
- The Fact/Our Values Gap – Experience versus Explanations
- Operation COVID – An Exercise in Information Warfare
- The Product is You – The Manufacture of Opinion
- The Permanent Present – How the Past is Inimical to Consumer Propaganda
- Brand Loyalism – The Attachment to Ideas over Things
- The World as Devil’s Dictionary – Nominalism and its Discontents
- Belief as Refuge from Reality – Why Argument Makes Enemies of Friends
- Strange Fruit – The Information Warfare Personality
Preamble – The Absolute State of Journalism
There is very little reportage from the Ukraine war. What we get is reproduced from the ukrainian government, which itself simply rebroadcasts the message of the US State.
This itself is a dereliction of duty of the first order, an informed citizenry being the basis of democratic consent. There can be no meaningful consent in ignorance of the facts. The replacement of reporting with full spectrum information warfare, conducted on our own populations, has changed our free world into quite another.
Journalists do still exist, however, as the excellent work of Lindsey Snell shows. Even CBS attempted to do some actual reporting, before walking back their startling documentary “Arming Ukraine” with the kind of pusillanimous self criticism reminiscent of the Bolshevik show trials. It is humiliating for all to participate in such a spectacle: for the journalists themselves, and for us, the audience.
The Bolshevik Method of Breaking the Mind
Humiliation is a central plank of the ideology which rules us. It insists we respect men dressed as women, ignore the crime ridden collapse of our once high-trust societies, and compels us to celebrate ‘diversity’ without giving a single reason to do so. What is compelled to believe is contrary to the evidence of experience. We are told that our own eyes are to be mistrusted and that to be a Good Person is to echo the Party line without exception. This entails a contradiction not only of the basic facts of reality but also of the evidence of your own life. Our values – so often invoked in times of war – are the negation of personal judgement, the submission to known falsehoods. It is the humiliating obligation to disagree with the facts, and this is deliberate, for when someone has been made to deny reality itself they are broken.
The Fact /Our Values Gap
This is one of the insidious goals of information warfare. It does not simply seek to replace your words with theirs, but exceeds narrative management and control by invading the individual psyche. The battlespace of informaton warfare is your mind, and its contested territory includes your decision making and self confidence. A successful campaign makes the target insecure, as it combines a dreadful risk of ostracism and ridicule with the expression of personal judgements contrary to the official line.
This is what it is to be free in the liberal democracies. It is to suffer intense personal torment at the mere suggestion you may find your views at variance with what you are told they ought to be. Information warfare therefore is psychological control at base. It seeks to dominate by implanting fear and mistrust – of your own thoughts and decision making – rendering the target unstable anxious and reliant on an outside source to provide a safe explanation of reality howsoever incredible.
The price is the surrender of personal autonomy in the deepest sense. To buy into this forced sale is to receive respite from the awful burden of thinking thoughts which are constantly linked to licensed opprobrium. To speak out, to speak your mind is to signal to others you are a legitimate target for the release of all the spite, resentment and angst that their surrender to self loathing submission has kindled in them. This too is an aspect of information warfare. Those it conquers become resentful. They know they have bought a lie for a quieter life, which only disturbs them privately. This produces tension in the subject which is released towards legitimate targets of derision – you, the person still capable of and willing to display some independence of mind.
We saw this template in action in COVID, which was amongst other things a grand experiment in information warfare. Its results are telling. Far from the depressing lesson of Stasiland, which mentioned perhaps only a few dozen real dissidents in the police state of the GDR, COVID showed that at least a third, perhaps more, of the population simply would not accept it was raining when the State micturated down their necks and blamed the weather.
Nevertheless, the cost to personal mental health given the strain of noticing the obvious, and the verbotenism attached to it, was compounded by fractures in friendships and family relations. These fault lines largely corresponded – as they do with the parallel information campaign of the war – to those with and without television sets at home.
Briefly, there is a class of person accultured to the convenience of downloading the correct opinions from the mass media. This is an aspect of oversocialisation to the virtual world, meaning these people base their sense of self, of reality and of political and moral rectitude on what they see on screens. This produces a personality which disfavours interpersonal relations, so that they mistrust the experience and opinions of others as much as their own, being reliant on the safe and germ-free product of the prepackaged supermarketplace of ideas. It is as if they breeze down an aisle of ready-made opinions in an air-conditioned environment, safe from the hostile because unpredictable intrusions of the natural – the real world – outside.
The Product is You
Information warfare exploits this aspect of consumerism, where a freedom of choice is celebrated to conceal the vice of convenience. Just as most products in the supermarket are not food, so most of the product on offer in the sterile and comfortably simplified opinion factory is pap. It is something to fill up with, which slips down easily, favouring the habits of the distracted ruminant unwilling to suffer the inconvenient disturbance of thought. To do this is to be Right. It is to be a Good Person.
This abdication of judgement and of responsibility is attached to a sense of status. There is a social reward attached to the lazy consumption of processed thought. The manufacture of consent is a successful model because it confers reward alongside anxiety, a combination which stimulates dependence. It is a paradigm directly translated from consumerism, which ideally produces addiction to a given range of manufactured desires and their attendant product lines. Each brand has its cachet, and that of manufactured opinion comes with the stamp of official approval.
To those subject to the Just World fallacy it is enough that they agree with the authorities to feel proud of retransmitting the signals of information warfare. Each subject becomes a relay beacon of the propaganda of the State, eagerly seeking out dissent to claim a further reward of unearned and unjustified superiority. Those who do not conform are of course cranks – conspiracy theorists, even traitors.
The fact that many – if not all – objections to the COVID regime which were formerly derided as such have been quietly admitted to be true does not alter the view of the target.
The Permanent Present
The goal of information warfare is to make the target completely dependent on the reinforcement to their character provided by the officially sanctioned view. Should this view contradict the view of last week then the science has simply changed.
Here again information warfare interdigitates with factors arising from our dissolving society. In this case, it is the lack of historical continuity. The time is always now.
As we were shifted from living in nations to being consumers in a global borderless marketplace certain traditions had to be rendered undesirable, as they would hamper this transition from settled communities sharing high-trust habits derived from centuries of custom and culture. In brief, what is socially valuable is a hindrance and even a hazard to consumerism, as it provides a satisfaction which if intact limits demand for the consolations of retail therapy. Buying things to feel better is what people who do not feel happy tend to do, and more so when their connections to other people, present and past, are severed or impaired.
As you find yourself surrounded by strangers, with your social environment a management exercise, the very buildings in which your life is arranged come to resemble those of anywhere else. The dislocation of this architecture of ‘International Nowhereland’ serves to accelerate historical discontiunity, replacing local architectural vernacular with light industrial sheds and vast glittering blocks of anonymous apartments. From Astana to Austin, Texas, everywhere looks the same.
The break with a sense of the past is vital to consumerism as everything which dislocates and destabilises the individual aggravates a discomfiture. This inexpressible dissatisfaction is channeled into the manufactured desire to consume. In short, the loss of identity and of tradition promotes buying. We seek to purchase our way out of this predicament.
A break with the past, a lack of historical continuity allows for the promotion of values which underpin the notion of the world as an unrestricted marketplace. If we are all equally deracinated we can find an egalitarianism in shopping centres, on and offline. Consumerism in this extreme degree finds tremendous advantage in the destruction of all meaningful social, cultural, religious and traditional human scale bonds, with itself being the only promised source of satisfaction and even transcendence. It is a jealous cult, which resents everything that is not itself, and which promotes an urgent sense that whatever the hour, it is always me-time. A self isolated in space and time is a prime site for profit.
That consumerism is inimical to historical continuity is therefore obvious. A living link to the past, personal, family, ancestral and national is anathema to the immediate digital culture of manufactured desire and perpetual momentary satisfaction.
Information warfare exploits this facet of consumerism. This is the reason the narrative can change without consequence, because the loyal consumer is attached to the notional and not the actual world. They gain their satisfactions from the products they consume. The forms of propaganda used to sell each type of product – ideas and iphones – are the same. Consumers are attached to brands far more than they are to things. This evidences the primacy of the notional, of the idea, over the object. This is the reason that in our times the meaning of words carry such powerful significance, as so much of the population regard names and not things as the basis of reality.
The World as Devil’s Dictionary
This reliance on nominalism – the belief that the world is made out of descriptions and not of facts – is the basis of the new identitarianism and of much of modern ‘values’. Diversity and inclusion training, the nonsense idea that words are equivalent to violence, and the absurd fact that there is now nothing more serious than a man dressed as a woman are all obvious grace notes of this discordant popular refrain. It is a siren song which leads us on to the unforgiving rocks of reality. Consumerism affords the individual a sense of freedom whilst piping them away from reality to a comforting world of avatars and of agreement. To such people the real world becomes offensive.
Belief as refuge from reality
Information warfare exploits this aversion to reality and the reliance upon even the most specious redefinitions to avoid confronting it. Combined with a kind of linguistic Lysenkoism, the predicament of the disconnected, virtualised self is to be unmoored in a shifting field of mutable definitions, permanently uncertain, forever fearful of being found out. The anxiety of the atomised, so advantageous to the addiction economy, prepares the mind of the target perfectly for the aims and methods of the means of opinion control.
Information warfare is the glove to the hand of the consumer personality, which seeks protection from the disturbing world of facts. The function of belief in this sphere is not to help explain the world but to preserve the believer from upset. At base, information warfare is a subtle and effective manipulation of emotionalism – where feeling and not fact dictate belief.
It is far more important to many people to feel wise than be so. This feeling comes from having the Right Opinions. To contradict or even question these views is not to open a debate but to offer a personal insult to the individual, who as it were has been convicted by their convictions. To doubt these beliefs is to doubt the believer.
It is for this reason your attempts to question the narrative with other people – any narrative – is often met not with curiosity but spite. There is a mechanism at work here which is again useful to the information warrior, and that is the symbiosis of personality with belief. To such people there is no distance between their opinions and themselves, as their opinions have been selected precisely because they reinforce their sense of worth.
This is the retail therapy of the supermarketplace of ideas. These prepacked notions are absorbed into the personality to become identical with the person. To criticise them is to commit an assault. To such people words do indeed appear to be violence, as the experience of having the basis of your reality questioned is profoundly unpleasant. The problem here is twofold: this basis is not in reality at all, but in images and sounds found onscreen, and secondly these have been chosen as foundational as the person in question is already in need of reassurance and of refuge from reality. You cannot ‘bring them back’ with argument – you can only make them resent you for being unlike them.
There is a vanity to such dependence which is offended by being noticed, as any addict often despises the name. A degree of disavowal is present in the target of information warfare, which means that on some deeper level they are aware that they are being decieved but the cost of admitting this is too great. The cost would be personal – to their vanity at admitting having been duped. It would be social – they would have to disagree with their right-thinking colleagues, and perhaps start shouting at the television. It may even be financial, as some nonsense totems are obligatory in the modern workplace. Everyone, of course, is obliged to some degree to pledge allegiance to The Party and its programme of moral and reality inversion. To speak out, to name the naked emperor can mean the end of your career. Such are the costs of noticing, which again compound the efficacy of and prepare the pyschological ground for the fructification of the bitter seeds of information war.
In the next part I shall examine in some detail specific cases of information warfare relating to the war in Ukraine and its devastating – if largely redacted – impact on the West.
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