Tuesday, December 11, 2012

True Believers and Manipulators

As more and more facts come to light about the stunningly immoral behavior of the superclass which seeks to control every aspect of our lives, we keep asking ourselves, what motivates these people?

Mark Crispin Miller, in his introduction to a recent reprint of Edward Bernays Propaganda, points to an answer, as he discusses the dual nature of the minds of demagogues such as Hitler, Mussolini, McCarthy and others. While on the one hand, they appear to be radically committed to their mission, on the other they are detached and manipulative. Miller proposes that it is actually both - they are "fanatical and cynical at once, neither wholly in control nor wholly ecstatic. Such agitators work within a certain mental borderland, where one can never clearly see conviction as distinct from calculation. Indeed, that inner murkiness appears itself to be the very source or basis of the mass manipulator's enigmatic power, and so we cannot comprehend it through schematic dualistic formulas."
(By the way, this is a very valuable book to read, and Miller's excellent introduction makes it doubly so.)

I think this idea goes a long way to explaining the actions of all the megalomaniacs running rampant over our democracy, our economy, our media, our civil liberties, our education system, our privacy, our environment, our food, our water, you name it. And of course, waging wars around the world. They always come up with a rationale to justify what they do, and perhaps they even believe it is a righteous, virtuous cause. But that doesn't stop them from engaging in the most blatantly unethical, manipulative, and usually criminal behavior in pursuit of their goals.

The powerful manipulators seem to have two underlying attitudes. One goes something like: "I think you are inferior, therefore I have no reason to treat you with any respect, compassion or humanity. I can exploit you and do whatever I want to you with no concern. The only things of importance are the increase of my own wealth and power." The other would be: "I think you are inferior, therefore I must use my vast superiority to do whatever is necessary to protect and improve the world as I see fit. Because you are inferior you are incapable of deciding for yourselves what is best for you. I, in my superiority,  must make those judgements - for the greater good of all." As Miller suggests, both of these attitudes may exist simultaneously in their minds.

As you explore this topic you find there are many levels as the elites manipulate those below them, who in turn manipulate those below them. The plight and peril of anyone who has genuine passion and commitment is that he is susceptible to being used by someone who knows how to manipulate his passion. Thus the revolutionaries in the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Libya are in danger of being manipulated by Western covert forces who only view their countries as pieces on the global chessboard. NGO's and charitable foundations, staffed by hard-working, smart, sincere, committed individuals, unwittingly provide cover and credibility, disguising the true objectives of the mega-billioinaires who finance them. Honorable young men and women with noble ideals, equipped with great intelligence, skills, and bravery, become the public face of a military that, just below the surface, is rife with corruption and senseless brutality.

Perhaps the true believer's passion is actually nothing more than bigotry, or simple hatred of the poor, the foreign, the dark-skinned. He can be used by the elites to engage in the most heinous, in-humane actions - which also happen to serve the long-term agendas of the elites. That person may eventually be exposed as a racist or extremist, but his manipulators remain obscured.The recent coverage of the sordid history of forced sterilizations in the U.S for most of the 20th century is but one example:


We have some contemporary examples in which it is hard to tell whether one is a true believer, or a cynical manipulator. Take for example Duane Clarridge, a CIA officer who became notorious in the 80's for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal.  He is a perfect example of someone so wrapped up (apparently) in the myth of American exceptionalism that he is convinced that any level of brutality is allowable, as long as it is in the cause of defending and promoting American interests. Note how insistent he is on selling us on the righteousness and importance of what are clearly violent, inhumane acts.

And his present-day counterpart, Jose Rodriguez, virtually identical in his tone and intent:

Do they really believe what they're saying? If so, whose agenda are they serving so willingly? Or are they just cynically spouting the words that they know will inflame the passions of those who respond more to appeals to emotion than to reason? Or is it all of the above?

In political rhetoric, there is always some invocation of a "greater good" to justify actions that are clearly, obviously uncompassionate, inhumane and destructive. Cut social spending to save the economy. Fight endless wars to achieve peace. Support a dictator to help spread democracy. The illogic of such double-speak is usually so transparent one wonders how they carry it off. Then we remember: they are experts at that.

In a world of such insane contradictions, it helps to recognize that this is actually the elites' weakness: the inherent irrationality of their actions. By being so utterly obsessed with personal gain and the exercise of control, they are forced to produce a rationale for public consumption that simply doesn't hold up. They are aware of it; that is why they engage in so much propagandizing, media manipulation and cultural conditioning. What we need is for people to reawaken their common sense and capacity for critical thinking, in order to break through all that, and realize we need to stand up and refuse to tolerate it.

It also calls for us to re-connect to our core sense of compassion and empathy for others, in order to grasp the basic, simple ethical flaw in the mindset of the manipulator: that the lack of caring for others is, in reality, destructive to themselves and to the greater good they claim to serve.

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