The terror of living in our time is that even as people now generally have a sense of unease about the direction of society, the specific factors that imperil civilization are being systematically kept out of people’s consciousness. We know something is wrong, but many of us don’t see the nature of the crisis or know about the tools for solving it.
History, recent events, and even the most current developments are removed from people’s awareness by an oligarchic propaganda echo chamber. In this environment, people can be easily lead towards helping the agenda of the corporate-controlled, oligarchic empire that spans the U.S./NATO power axis.
For example, Donald Trump’s supporters appear to be convinced that their leader is trying to end the war in Syria despite the opposite being the case
. Trump has only tried to withdraw the troops that he’s already added (a proposal that’s recently been blocked by the Senate). Trump is also increasing airstrikes in Syria, in addition to the vastly expanded drone wars and bombing campaigns that have been carried out around the world throughout the last two years. But after all the distractions that the government shutdown has produced, and as the corporate media has declined to emphasize the ongoing war operations, anti-interventionist Trump supporters continue to be loyal to the president.
This dynamic of concealment and diversion is how all the other inconvenient facts are pushed into the country’s collective memory hole. As America’s political and media class have promoted unsubstantiated claims
from U.S. intelligence agencies about “Russian hacking,” Americans have been primed to forget about how these agencies recently lied us into war in Iraq. Last April, when we were told to believe that Assad had committed a chemical attack, mainstream discussions omitted the fact that just a year earlier, the U.S. had attacked Syria based on chemical attack accusations that James Mattis has admitted
are baseless. Similar tactics are required for every other campaign of imperialist aggression; to sell war to the people, the lies behind past American military interventions have to be removed from the conversation.
The power of the ruling class’ propaganda doesn’t so much come from the lies that it feeds people, but from the information that it hides. By cutting out massive chunks of knowledge from their messaging, the government and the media enforce a sense of political and historical myopia among the population. When the contexts behind events aren’t mentioned, it’s effortless for propagandists to get their followers to accept their narratives. Whether Trump administration officials tell numerous lies
about Iran, or Rachel Maddow says
that Russia might sabotage America’s power grid, or Washington’s bipartisan crowd of Venezuela intervention supporters dishonestly claim
that Maduro stole last year’s election, the people who trust these figures unquestioningly believe their assertions.
It’s an example of what George Orwell’s 1984 calls “reality control,” where the past is constantly revised to make the preferred story look true. And modern America’s reality control is coordinated in ways similar to that of 1984’s fictional country of Oceania.
The relationship between the American media and the CIA goes far beyond
the infamous Operation Mockingbird
, wherein the CIA covertly took control of over 25 newspapers and wire agencies during the McCarthy era. The CIA regularly shapes the contents of Hollywood films to reflect the agency’s preferred political vision. In-Q-Tel, the firm that the CIA created in 1999 to establish relations between the agency and tech companies, has tied the CIA in with top social media platforms like Google and Facebook. These are just a few of the known cases of collusion between the CIA and the information centers that Americans regularly interact with.
The mainstream media’s unquestioning promotions of claims from the intelligence community-with the Iraq WMD hoax and the recent Russia reports being just two examples-has stemmed from the fact that the CIA and the media are largely one and the same. This fusion of these institutions was solidified
with the passage of the 2013 NDAA, which repealed a 1948 law that made it illegal for the U.S. government to conduct psychological warfare against its own citizens.
Since then, government propaganda in the American media has become more intense than ever, especially when it’s come to our regime change operations in places like Syria and Ukraine. Aggressive and often elaborate deceptions have been carried out to manufacture support for intervention in Syria, like when war propagandists exploited
the experience of the Syrian refugee girl Bana al-Abed towards inciting opposition to Assad. Even after the U.S. installed
a neo-fascist regime in Ukraine in 2014 through a violent coup, Western media outlets have portrayed Ukraine’s new regime as an important ally in the fight against the demonized Russian Federation. The media has worked to similarly invert the truth about Venezuela
, both of which are also targets of illegal American destabilization efforts.
These efforts from the CIA are a way of directly policing the messages of corporate media outlets that would report with pro-establishment bias regardless. The CIA is only helping make the empire’s propaganda more efficient and strategic. And the CIA’s takeover of the newsrooms since 2013 has mirrored
the media seizure operations of totalitarian regimes like the Nazis.
Amid the outbreaks
of media psyops, the emergence
of a revolving door between the media and the intelligence community, and the drastic increase
in the role of State Department propaganda branches like the Broadcasting Board of Governors, virtually all of the formerly independent press in America has been quietly assimilated into the state.
The result is an American society whose already existing impulses towards jingoism and anti-intellectualism are fed by a carefully tuned information control operation. Even as the U.S. empire’s increasingly reckless military adventures and sabotages of relations with Russia and China threaten to instigate a third world war, no one can challenge these actions without being attacked as a traitor or a Russian asset.
And what’s most alarming is that this kind of warmongering demagoguery usually comes from those who are ostensibly “liberal” and “progressive;” when Trump recently floated the idea of scaling back U.S. involvement in Syria and Afghanistan, Democrats overwhelmingly opposed
this proposal while accusing Trump of being a puppet of Russia. “Liberal” war propagandists are currently using the same McCarthyite tactic against anyone who opposes America’s attempted coup in Venezuela, with anti-interventionists like Tulsi Gabbard having recently been smeared
as Russian assets because they advocate for respecting Venezuela’s sovereignty.
The dangerous consequences of the manufactured
“Russiagate” scandal are now further on display as Trump instigates
nuclear tensions with Russia, which Democrats have met with continued charges that the president is “soft on Putin.” This drive towards ever heightened cold war escalations with Russia is happening as a result of the Democratic Party’s recent alliance with neoconservatives and the U.S. intelligence community, which are now seen as trustworthy by mainstream liberals.
As Democrats have dramatically shifted to the right, Republicans get their base to support the empire’s agenda through different slogans and distractions. Mirroring how Democrats paint Russia as an all-encompassing threat, Trump and his GOP use fears of Muslims and immigrants to create support for militarism and social repression. Trump’s endless hyperbolic statements about Islamic terrorism and “criminal” migrants draw attention away from issues like climate change, America’s continued imperialist violence abroad, and the country’s unprecedented economic inequality. It also gets Trump’s supporters to accept an increasingly violent and militarized American police force, a continued and expanded surveillance state, and the potential
for martial law under a state of emergency as all essential for “national security.”
A bipartisan campaign of fascistic rhetoric and militant authoritarianism is choking out reasoned discourse. And the U.S. government’s propaganda apparatus is a potent weapon for enforcing this paradigm of nationalism and paranoia. In addition to the domestic psychological warfare operations of the CIA, in 2016 Obama signed the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act
, which created a State Department-run messaging entity called the Global Engagement Center. This creation of a Ministry of Truth has been backed by both Democrats and President Trump; the Democrats have authorized it under the guise of fighting “Russian propaganda,” and Trump has quietly allowed for it
because it lets Trump’s White House promote its agenda both abroad and within the United States
All of these things are the reason why we’ve entered what many call a post-truth world. When our government is lying to us so frequently, and when it often lies to us through covert media psyops that we can’t directly detect, people become confused about what reality is. So many Americans have turned to believing in things like the “flat earth” theory because when the official narratives are obvious fabrications, all kinds of alternative worldviews look plausible.
The crisis of “fake news” that the corporate media has often talked about in recent years is a red herring. When these outlets say “fake news,” they mean
material from alternative media sources that challenges imperialism, corporate capitalism, and the national security state. They’ve maligned alternative viewpoints in these ways because many people no longer trust the CIA/CNN narratives, which has forced the political establishment to respond with McCarthyite propaganda and censorship
of independent journalists.
The latest major attempt to suppress the alternative media involve the recent actions of Newsguard, the neocon-backed company which aims to become a prime source for which sites are “reliable.” If Newsguard succeeds, its extremely biased
claims about the world’s media sources will be integrated into social media outlets, many computers, and much of the country’s educational institutions. This will be a subtle and manipulative attempt at getting people to trust what the empire says. But amid all the lies that our government and media have told, Newsguard won’t be able to win many people over.