The Propaganda Weapon: Fake News and False Memory

When I was an undergraduate, one of my professors (and later my supervisor) steered me in the direction of propaganda analysis. He had been a resistance fighter in Belgium during the Second World War and had been mightily impressed by the power of propaganda to mobilise the energies of the nations for collective mass suicide. Having lived through that period, he came to see the propaganda weapon as the chief danger and threat to the realisation of any kind of human or humane social order.

So, I dived right into the question of propaganda with a sense of mission, both here in Canada and in Germany, where I eventually went to continue my studies and most especially to research the social legacy of the Nazi propaganda system in terms of its current impacts on the German language.

Louis’ way was not to begin with definitions. Definitions were conclusions, not beginnings, and were framed only from direct experience and after long, patient study and reflection on the data. Consequently, I began my propaganda studies without a functional definition or a working hypothesis, although, one after another, I adopted other researcher’s definitions only to discard them shortly afterwards as insufficient.

We did begin with an assumption, though, that propaganda was pathology or a symptom of a situation of social pathology. We approached it, then, as if in the situation of the epidemiologist or medical researcher who is confronted with a previously unknown and terrible disease, who must identify and isolate the active agent in order to develop the cure or the inoculant. Our approach to propaganda was, similarly, one of “mental hygiene” as being also a necessary complement to physical hygiene. The assumption we had was that propaganda violated the integrity of the mind or soul, inducing pathological behaviours that required mental defences or countermeasures. We would diagnose and analyse propaganda, identify and isolate the effective elements of propaganda, and develop those countermeasures.

This had been attempted before. The American Institute of Propaganda Analysis (1937 – 1942) was active during the interwar years. I have all the circulars which they published then. Ironically, even revealingly, the Institute of Propaganda Analysis voluntarily closed up shop when the United States entered the war in 1942, fitting testimony to the old saying about truth being the first casualty. They never reformed after the war, either.

The widespread — perhaps even naive — assumption amongst researchers (including me at the time) was that if people were made aware of the tricks of the propagandist, they would begin to arm and shield themselves against being manipulated or violated. It came as something of a shock to me when, during my studies of the history of Nazi propaganda in Germany, I discovered that many people already knew many of those “tricks”, knew that they were being manipulated, but went along with it anyway, even enthusiastically. Providing them with prophylactics or shields or countermeasures would have made no difference at all. Many wanted, indeed needed, to believe the propaganda despite knowing that it was mostly untrue — fake news and false memory.

This “will to believe” is what is called “symbolic belief”. Harry Enten at The Guardian devoted an article to that phenomenon back in March, 2012 (“Why Obama is a “Muslim”“). Symbolic beliefs are beliefs held with dogmatic and fanatical certainty despite the subject knowing in their “heart of hearts” — tacitly and implicitly — that it is untrue or very probably untrue. Much that is currently named as “fake news”, “false memory”, “post-truth”, conspiracy theory and the problem of “post-historic man” belongs to this phenomenon of “symbolic belief” directly connected with propaganda and the need to believe — even if it leads to “heroic” self-destruction.

This need to believe that takes the form of “symbolic belief” seems to have many propaganda researchers stumped or mystified. It leads into the murky subjective world of inner motivations and intentions. I’ve found Iain McGilchrist’s book on neurodynamics and the divided brain somewhat helpful in that respect: The Master and His Emissary (as well as Erich Fromm’s Escape From Freedom). Despite all the lip-service that is paid publicly to “freedom” or “the truth that sets free” when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, many people — perhaps even most people — prefer the comforting familiarity of “the mind-forg’d manacles” as William Blake called it. The “preference for the familiar” (as British conservative Michael Oakeshott defined conservatism) can indeed be diabolical in that respect, and particularly in respect of what Blake also calls “Single Vision & Newtons sleep”. I’m not entirely persuaded, though, that this “preference for the familiar” (or “loyalty” to precedent or to “the natural order of things” as the conservative Edmund Burke called it) is sufficient to explain “symbolic belief” as a whole.

Propaganda, as we know it today, had its beginnings largely in the First World War, the first “industrial scale” war. Hitler attributed the defeat of Germany in World War I solely to the superior effectiveness of the Allied propaganda weapon, which he then honed to a near science. Some researchers, though, credit the father of conservatism, Edmund Burke and his Reflections on the Revolution in France as being the first modern propagandist. Others credit Napoleon, on the other hand, with being the first propagandist.

But the story of propaganda (its weaponisation, as it were) begins with the Catholic Congregatio de Propaganda Fide or “The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith” (or “the Roman Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples”, or “Roman Congregation of Propaganda”) founded in 1622, the aim of which was to largely combat and roll back the Protestant Reformation. But it has earlier, more benign and auspicious precedents that are truly revealing when we reflect on them in relation to its subsequent history culmination in contemporary propaganda technology.

The very words “propaganda” and “technology” are closely linked historically. The sciences of the High Middle Ages distinguished between what was called “The Trivium” (logic, grammar, rhetoric) and “the Quadrivium” (music, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic). Together these constituted the “seven liberal arts”, but the Trivium constituted the high arts and the Quadrivium the lower arts. The very first use of the word “technology”, I found, was associated with the Trivium as “reasoning about the means”. A later Age of revolutionary disposition inverted all that. Elevating logic, grammar, and rhetoric to the high sciences was judged to be largely irrational, and it is from the Trivium that we get the word “trivial”.

It makes complete sense, though, once you understand the concerns of the most creative minds of the High Middle Ages. They were not interested in the “facts of the matter”, but in the “truth that sets free” — eternal, abiding truth and how to represent it adequately within the secular order in a way that inspired the soul to awaken. Logic, grammar, and rhetoric were all about how to inspire the soul with knowledge of the “truth that sets free” or by planting the seed of faith or inspiration in the human soul. This was the origin of “propaganda” and of the meaning of “technology” as “reasoning about the means” — those means by which eternal truth — or the truth that sets free — could be adequately represented in language via logic, grammar and rhetoric and in such a way that it would arouse the soul to faith by inspiration, or what we call “quickening of the spirit”.

Propaganda and technology have very ironic origins indeed! Having started out as sacred arts and sciences, they were largely weaponised during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, finally ending today as profanations of their original forms — not to awaken or inspire the soul to “the truth that sets free” but rather to enslave it, debase it, and entangle it in “the mind-forg’d manacles”.

Ironically, there is still a thread of a connection between the old means and ends of propaganda and technology as being the sciences of inspiration and their newer technocratic forms. Whereas the old sought to awaken and inspire the soul, the new seeks rather to merely enthuse or arouse the lizard brain and calls this “awakening” (“irrational exuberance” and the engineering of bubbles being a case in point) or to instill “branded behaviours”, or all those matters, like “perception management”, that belong to what Algis Mikunas called “technocratic shamanism” (in his essay “Magic and Technological Culture”).

This is, necessarily, a fairly cursory overview of the origins, history and development of what we today call “propaganda” (or technology). There certainly was a “technology of propaganda” in the High Middle Ages, although it certainly did not mean then what it has come to mean today. Inspiration and enthusiasm are not quite the same thing. One might say that the latter is only the shadow of the former.  And certainly the Catholic Church itself, during the Counter-Reformation, contributed its own share to that profanation.

We can only understand “propaganda” as it was then and what it has become now, by recognising that there is a valid distinction between the “truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter”, and that this question bears on the relationship of eternity to time, or the infinite and to the finite and all that is temporal or transient. By following that historical trajectory we can appreciate the meaning of the Kali Yuga as an ongoing “fall into time” and terms like “spiritual materialism”.

Jean Gebser’s “ever-present origin” and the “truth that sets free” are practically synonymous. But if we continue on our current trajectory in this matter, no outcome seems likely other than total brutalisation and total dehumanisation of the species.

 

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37 responses to “The Propaganda Weapon: Fake News and False Memory”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    I do not usually hit on those who like the post, but this time I did only to find Antonia Dias expressing his likeness to the post. I enjoy reading Dias just like enjoying Scott, though with Scott is a long story. This mutual enjoyment tell me the story why I am attracted to both. It is sobering to find the soul freeing itself from what it has been enclosed in for a long time. Yes propaganda is nothing but a tool of falsification of truth. It is a fight, no wonder the student of Don Juan called himself warrior or is it the teacher called him so.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, abdulmonem. We’ve been together a long time — at least, since Muntadhar tossed his shoes at George Bush. That was in 2008.

      I just wondered what happened to his shoes. As you might recall, I suggested back then that they put his shoes in a museum. Apparently, there were plans to do just that, but the US and Iraqi forces destroyed the shoes. LOL.

      I guess they though they might become dangerous weapons of mass destruction.

      On December 14, 2008, al-Zaidi shouted, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog”, and threw his shoes at then-U.S. president, George W. Bush, during a Baghdad press conference. Al-Zaidi suffered injuries as he was taken into custody and some sources said he was tortured during his initial detention.[2][3] There were calls throughout the Middle East to place the shoes in an Iraqi museum,[4] but the shoes were later destroyed by US and Iraqi security forces.[5] [6] Al-Zaidi’s shoeing inspired many similar incidents of political protest around the world

      from Wikipedia

      • abdulmonem says :

        Yes Scott, it is a painful history but what makes it bearable is the center in whose ambiance nothing goes amiss. The sufis have different visions of the center, some they say we see nothing but god ,some say we see him in the company of every thing. some say we see him in things,some say we see him behind every thing and some say we see him a head of things. The center is always there. Th hidden middle between the no and the yes is our road to him where the real leaves of knowledge as Ibn Arabi said fly . The imaginal perception between the sensual perception and the intellectual perception where it works to elevate both side to higher spheres where the real pervades everything.

  2. mikemackd says :

    I want to add on the theme of the role of McGilchrist’s and Tweedy’s hemispherics in propaganda.

    Since I last posted here, I’ve been pondering, not posting, along a tangent stimulated by previous posts. For example, if I walk up to someone and say I’m three feet away, I’m not three feet away, I’m a distance away with a measure that could be three feet by one system, a bit under a metre by another, and a bit over a cubit by another, and so on. The distance is one thing; the measure / means of communication quite another.

    It seems to me that distinction applies over a much broader range. For example, our assignment of personality characteristics to gender roles is similar to that measure, appropriately termed the “ruler”, whereby the Emissary becomes the Master. We use gendered assignments of our characteristics as rulers to nominate capacities we all possess as masculine or feminine, and then judge others as, for example, sissies or faggots if they are kind instead of killers.

    Therein lies the difference between Lucifer as light bringer, and Satan as the original meaning of the word “Satan” in Hebrew and diabolos in Greek: the accuser (Tweedy, R. 2013. The God of the Left Hemisphere. London, Karnac, p. 218). Blake therefore insisted that Satan is not a separate person, but a state of being available to us all: “There is a State named Satan learn distinct to know O Rahab / The Difference between States & Individuals of those states” (ibid, p. 242).

    From propagandists in such Satanic states, we find sayings like “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” and suchlike, as if they are fit to judge others. More: if we judge others rather than their acts, because God in Blakean terms is within us all, when in our state of Satan we thereby judge God: as in the crucifixion of Jesus, our preposterously puffed-up Emissaries assume Mastery over God.

    Those in that state of Satan – the program within the brain responsible for accusation of another human being, of separation and superiority (ibid) – may thereby trigger submission in the receivers of such propaganda by using the phenomenon that “threats to social connection may tap into the same neural and physiological ‘alarm system’ that responds to other critical survival threats, such as the threat or experience of physical harm” (Eisenberger and Cole 2012, available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22504347).

    Hence the acceptance of the Emissary as the ruler: hence the empowering of the megamachine by the engendering of authoritarian followers through propaganda; it’s via our possession by the state of Satan in its archetypal Biblical role as the great deceiver.

    • mikemackd says :

      My online journeys while I’ve been away – before the above post – took me down many highways and byways. One took me back to Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom I was at least as much into in the 1970s as I am into Mumford now (I even went to meet him in Switzerland in 1976). It’s interesting now to look back on Krishnamurti through a McGilchristian lens. In these online journeys I found the following quote by Marshall Rosenberg. Krishnamurti had said, “Observing without “EVALUATING” is the highest form of human intelligence.” To which Rosenberg retorted “When I first read this statement, the thought, –“What non sense!”– shot through my mind… even before I realized that I had just made an “EVALUATION”. https://web.facebook.com/acim.now/posts/914291538611020:0?_rdc=1&_rdr

      That took me back to Tweedy, in particular pp. 201ff, where he writes about the dragon Urizen (if you don’t have the book, you can still read the extract online at Google Books, entering either of my quotes below into the search box). Tweedy refers to the Urizenic mind as seeing God as “a white Dot in a perfect Circle”, without reference either to my Star Key’s explanation of Genesis or – more obviously – Dan Brown’s novels, where his hero discovers that a dot in a perfect circle is his “good guys” conception of God. Tweedy further observes that “Blake knows exactly how the rational, the natural, mind thinks: the rational mind has no idea how Blake thinks” ( p. 202).

      Another journey took me to The Groupname for Grapejuice Blog, http://groupnameforgrapejuice.blogspot.com.au/2017/
      Written from “the hermetic left” standpoint, it has 133 references to Blake in it, and includes reference to Enantidromia as “The New Hegelian Dialectic:”

      “As explored in a previous post, McLuhan believed that the global media externalization of the central nervous system might feasibly lead to one of two very polarized outcomes. In a mood of apocalyptic Catholicism he envisioned it as imminently manifesting the mystical body of Christ, the Incarnation universalized in all matter. In a very related but opposed mood, however, this identical electronic media hyper-network could represent the ultimate Antichrist simulacra of the former, a far more insidious tyranny than has ever existed in history. The world kingdoms of Christ and Antichrist are virtually indistinguishable”.

      It also referred to a gentleman I had not heard of before, Julius Evola, who was acquitted of supporting Mussolini because he considered Mussolini and Hitler not fascist enough. He did, however, admit the possibility that some of the Waffen-SS were sufficiently so.

      Reading about Julius Evola took me down some dark roads which I thought to be byways but are really highways, for example: http://greyfalcon.us/The%20Muslim%20Brotherhood.htm. Going back to popular culture again as in Dan Brown above, that page provides some interesting back-stories for The Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, and articulates the resurrection of Evola in Russia’s far right.

      After all that hate and dominance-darkness, it was a relief to discover someone from the younger generation, a rock musician called Eric Goodman, has just started a blog related to his musical “The Spectacle”, with the first entry for his spectacle pantheon being a chap by the name of Lewis Mumford: https://www.thespectacle.net/blog/2017/8/7/lewis-mumford

      • Scott Preston says :

        The Evola Virus. I’m familiar with Julius Evola. He described himself as a “superfascist” and was very influential in fascist circles during the interwar years (and afterwards). He was also an occultist — politics and occultism is a very bad mix.

        Wikipedia has an entry on Evola. He’s a quite demonic type, and probably worth scrutinising closer for that reason.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Evola

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        a rock musician called Eric Goodman, has just started a blog related to his musical “The Spectacle”, with the first entry for his spectacle pantheon being a chap by the name of Lewis Mumford: https://www.thespectacle.net/blog/2017/8/7/lewis-mumford

        : )

        I further note the themes that have been under discussion here popping up more and more in the “mainstream,” e.g. Charles Eisenstein’s appearances with Tavis Smiley and, more recently, Oprah Winfrey. (It doesn’t get much more mainstream than Oprah in the States.)

        I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a much deeper public reflection and interconnection among human beings and, perhaps, even a rather abrupt change in trajectory coming on just yet.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Your mention of Julius Evola gave me nightmares last night. Bannon is reportedly influenced by Evola. So was the Norwegian neo-fascist terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. Evola is probably behind the so-called “alt-right”.

        When it comes to Evola and Gebser, the saying that “only a hair separates the false from the true” becomes very pertinent. They lived concurrently. In some ways their thought is very similar and in others couldn’t be more different. They are antithetical types, so you can learn a lot about Gebser and why Gebser was anti-fascist and counter-reactionary, too just by delving into Evola, as unpleasant as that might be.

        Well, if you read the Wiki entry on Evola, you might see why: his occultism, his apparent obsession with magic, power, violence, and “virility”. There’s quite a bit of Evola, too, in Robert Kaplan’s Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Requires a Pagan Ethos that, when it came out during the Bush administration, raised alarm bells in my head, because it was getting pretty good reviews without the reviewers apparently even realising it was neo-fascism and that Evola’s DNA was all over it.

        It’s been said that Evola is to fascism what Marx is to communism. That’s probably pretty accurate. Evola’s influence is still evident in neo-fascism, and if you’re going to exorcise that spirit, you need to gain insight into it. Gebser, here, is very helpful in providing insight into that.

        • mikemackd says :

          I’m sorry about your nightmare, but I see that someone in Virginia has just given a demonstration of the consequences of Satanic possession (in Blakean terms) via symbolic belief by driving into a crowd and killing someone.

          I’ve looked into the relationship between Steve Bannon and Julius Evola, and note that an apparently Jewish website states that Bannon is not follower of Evola, but that he observed that some Russian rightist are (http://mida.org.il/2017/02/21/media-fabricated-bannon-evola-connection/). It makes sense, if only because Bannon is far from the stock and breeding that Evola considered appropriate to rule. By happy coincidence, that stock sounded rather more like Evola himself.

          Given that Satan is a state, we must be wary of transferred reproach here. On the above-quoted p. 242 of Tweedy, he adds that “if one personalises the psychological State that the term “Satan” traditionally signifies, one merely strengthens it within oneself”. He continues that this State:

          “Is a hugely powerful, controlling force within the psyche of every individual: an enormously destructive, temporarily appealing power that seems to “take possession” of the mind, as Tolle observes, with the most terrifying and destructive results. Humans will murder other human beings rather than relinquish … what might best be called an “Ego Rush”; a momentary left-brain high that boosts the program of separation and superiority within the brain.”

          On p. 243, he then quotes Blake as saying “Learn therefore O Sisters to distinguish the Eternal Human … from those States or Worlds in which the Spirit travels: / This is the only means to Forgiveness of Enemies … Man passes on, but States remain for Ever; he passes through them like a traveller”.

          I add to Tweedy and Blake an “Or not”. Some at least appear to have been arrested or fixated in the State of Satan. Just like one can get addicted to drugs administered from outside, so one can get addicted to those Ego Rushes. In cases of drug addiction, victims usually have to hit rock bottom before they can do anything about it. Maybe so with this as well, particularly for post-historic man.

          Of course I have no knowledge or understanding of the victim of this killer, but while the killer must be held to account for the act perhaps compassion for the victim and his or her bereaved ones is more important. Perhaps in turn that would be best served by all of us becoming less easily seduced by Blake’s State of Satan?

          As David M has already noted here, the most vulnerable to this “deceiving bully” (Tweedy p. 42) are the insecure. On p. 246, Tweedy goes on to quote Blake as saying “Thou knowest that the Spectre is in Every Man insane brutish / Deformd that I (the Spectre) am thus a ravening lust continually craving”, and that the ravenous appetite is for ‘the Divine Body’. Sadly for the Satanic State though, it can’t ever catch the ever present origin; only in love can we dwell there.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            I have no knowledge or understanding of the victim of this killer, but while the killer must be held to account for the act perhaps compassion for the victim and his or her bereaved ones is more important.

            Although I am convinced that “white supremacists” are a tiny minority in the US, it’s obvious current events have uncorked a bottle of seething hatred, malice and ill-will and I tend to agree that gaining more insight into it might behoove us all.

            What is it that those “in power” are “tapping into” to have unleashed such a beast?

            It seems whenever this subject is broached, it’s always framed in terms of either the Civil Rights Movement (too recent) or the shameful history of slavery in the US, but I think there may be more to it that might even help to explain some of the current tensions over US immigration. No one, however, wants to bring up the most sordid part of this history for obvious reasons.

            So, I will.

            Aside from the indigenious peoples who were already living here when “Columbus got himself lost,” as our indigenous friends like to put it, the US is a country comprised entirely of immigrants and the descendents of immigrants, not least the Irish who came here in large numbers during the Great Famine. When they arrived on American shores, they immediately found themselves the most abhorred and outcast “class,” but not just because they happened to be the newest arrivals. Once here, they had to make a living and began performing the jobs the “upper crust” felt were beneath them and/or deemed too dangerous to risk a slave. Needless to say, many of those jobs had before that time been occupied primarily by those self-same slaves.

            The competition among Irish and black laborers failed to lead to unity because it did not take place under normal labor market conditions* but was distorted by the color line. However much the Irish were oppressed as a race in Ireland and exploited as workers in America, once landed in Boston, New York or Philadelphia, they enjoyed one marked advantage over refugees from Southern slavery: No one was chasing them with dogs. – The Divide Between Blacks and the Irish

            “*Normal market conditions” aside (“market conditions” in which we’re all, in some sense, “slaves”), this particular “color line” perhaps persists to this day in the form of generational inheritence.

            If no one is willing to dig up this sad and sordid history or even broach the subject, however, I’m quite unsure how we’re to address it properly.

            One other thing that occurred to me today is the racial pejoratives we’ve all likely heard enough of. I once asked an African-American friend why so many (especially among the young) in the African-American community had adopted that most ignominious “n—–” pejorative so often cast their way for use on each other. He said, “because taking it back from our oppressors robs it of its power over us.”

            Hmm.

            The Irish were branded with a pejorative of their own, of course: “redneck,” which many “whites” appear to have appropriated for the same reason. I’ve quoted it myself in the context that it takes on its “satanic” form: “redneck and proud of it.”

            “Pride goeth before a fall,” as the saying goes.

            While I shudder at having to bring this up at all, perhaps it will serve to shed some light on the roots of the issue.

            • mikemackd says :

              It was interesting to read your post from the perspective of my earlier posts in this string, about the Lucifer vs Satan distinction re the ruler and the Ruler, and watch my own Satanic State’s seduction technique within my egoic identity repairs and maintenance processes in action.

              The vast majority of my ancestors were Irish. While I don’t know if any migrated from Ireland during the Great Famine, or how they were affected, I do know that there was more than enough food exported from Ireland during the famine to feed them all, just as there was in India while millions died under British administration. Wicked Poms! THEY did that to US!

              Then your narrative of the arrival of those desperate refugees in the USA, only to be treated so vilely. Wicked WASPS! THEY did that to US!

              Then your narrative of the Irish treatment of the African-Americans. Wicked …. Oops. Wayyyt a minute …

              Judging, judging, judging … applying traumas to my identity today over now things that happened long ago and far away to and by peoples all now dead and gone and over whom my “I” had absolutely no control by dint of non-existence.

              What a crock of shit. It’s a species thing, not a nationalist, religious or whatever one, about dominator and dominated. It’s a Satanic State seduction.

              With one proviso. We have to be somebody before we can be everybody. Can we be the oppressors and the oppressed? Can we love our enemies as ourselves? Because they are.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              It’s a species thing, not a nationalist, religious or whatever one, about dominator and dominated. It’s a Satanic State seduction.

              With one proviso. We have to be somebody before we can be everybody. Can we be the oppressors and the oppressed? Can we love our enemies as ourselves? Because they are.

              Well put. It is, indeed, and if it’s ever going to change, our focus as a species must be trained on the real issue. If we’re to overcome the “divide and conquer” mentality/egoic-identity trigger constantly “pulled” for the express purpose of perpetuating those historic “divides,” we must become both proficient and vigilant in the “mental hygiene” practices Scott keeps bringing up. This is the potential bouy I see inherent in the “mindfulness revolution.”

            • Scott Preston says :

              Unfortunately, “mindfulness” by itself is no prophylactic against fascism. We saw that with Japanese fascism, and there are plenty of fascists who think of themselves as Buddhists. Evola was well-versed in Buddhism, yoga, and tantra but that didn’t prevent him from being a “superfascist”. He took things away from Buddhism that I would never have thought possible. So, too, “Imperial Way Buddhism” or “National Buddhism” in Japan.

              When D.T. Suzuki was called upon to justify why so many Japanese Buddhists became racists and fascists, he could offer nothing in response except to say that “enlightenment” didn’t specify whether one would become a liberal, a conservative, a socialist, a communist, or a fascist. That wasn’t a very satisfactory answer. And, after all, the Nazi swastika was a Buddhist symbol also.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I did say “potential” and “bouy.” Fortunately, we have those histories of nationalistic fascisms to remind us of the potential pitfalls. “Mindfulness,” properly understood, is just another term for “mental hygiene,” after all.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    False Memory and Fake News have, quite evidently, something to do with time, and one can look at it also as an attempt to adapt the temporal milieu or historical environment (the culture) to be a safe place for the identity. I think it still all boils down to identity politics in one form or another.

    I was browsing over at Antonio Dias’ blogsite this afternoon, and in one place he mentions Jung’s advice,

    Jung admonished us from attempting to foil someone in the grips of an illusion. He did so not as a warning that we might get caught between a fool and his obsession, but more significantly, that in so doing we were blocking their only path to the possibility of any further development or integration. “We should assist them in fulfilling their delusions!” he said, or something to that effect. For it is only when they reach rock-bottom that they may begin to find a way out.

    https://antonio-dias.com/2017/08/04/what-drives-me-looking-back-at-looking-back/

    That reminded me, too, of part 4 of the Prologue of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra,

    https://genius.com/Friedrich-nietzsche-zarathustras-prologue-annotated

    Since Fake News and Falsified Memory are temporal phenomena, and quite likely reactions to the fact that the “times they are a’changin'” and that this is felt as threatening to the cultural and historical identity, you can understand them as attempts to force the temporal-historical milieu or environment to be an hospitable place for the identity.

  4. davidm58 says :

    The eager readiness to take in and symbolically “believe” propaganda is a sign of insecurity, and a grasping for security. Unfortunately, this kind of security is a self-imposed prison-like security. These are Blake’s “mind forg’d manacles” that you refer to. The other Blake quote on your masthead describes it perfectly: “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

    In Gebser’s words, “We have lost our inner security; we have gained cage-security.”

    This is from Gebser’s last book, “Decline and Participation.” Excerpt translated to English by Hans Heimer.

    “Sometimes it is deduced that origin and the present are simply and irrefutably neither duality nor sequence, but equal, but the whole.

    All this appears to be endangered. And it is. Endangered by our own complicated cage-thinking, by our cage-security… We have lost our inner security, we have gained cage-security.

    …Illuminated, we can as illusion move aside the bars of the cage. Nothing other than the power of inertia prevents the removal of the bars of compulsive images. The tiny seed of participation empowers us to overcome.

    …Let us make it transparent, then, because of the illuminated participation, the simple will become reality. It is the ever-present. The unreachable is the very near. And it is always present. In order to see it, the pictures and imaginations of the cage have to be moved aside, all the heaped up rubbish that with its high points chaotically threatens to asphyxiate humanity; in other words, the peaks of psychotic and mental-rational processes. Rightfully those who lack knowledge revolt against this, but with the wrong means: terror, anarchism, force – outgrowths which still carry the characteristics of the cage-life, from which they want to free themselves.

    …The long suppressed memory of the tiny seed to awaken participation… If only the remotest presentiment of this encompassing reality and always already present future could sprout in us because of these, then the two hours spent on these pages would be the gain of participation.”

    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/535ef5d8e4b0ab57db4a06c7/t/541f74f7e4b0394ddbf5a0aa/1411347703270/integrative_explorations_6.pdf

    • Scott Preston says :

      We have lost our inner security, we have gained cage–
      security

      Yes, as some of my indigenous friends might say: “comfort is a feeling of strength within”, much to the same effect.

  5. dadaharm says :

    Hi,

    I fear that propaganda has been around for a long time. In fact as long as civilisation has existed. Maybe even longer.

    Pharao Ramses II (a.k.a Ozymandias) who can be considered the Egyptian Napoleon was not only a military genius but also liked to boast. In that respect he was the ancient Egyptian version of Trump.

    Here a funny description from badassoftheweek:

    On top of being a powerful military leader, what’s probably even more badass is his ability to run a propaganda machine that would make Rupert Murdoch blush. He made every effort to prove to everyone that he was the biggest, most kickass motherfucker to ever live. Even if he lost a battle, he would still tell all of his subjects that he won the fight single-handedly and then have his artisans build a hugeass statue depicting Ramesses riding alone on a chariot firing arrows and bashing peoples’ skulls with a huge club. He would go to temples and statues built by Pharaohs who came before him, cross out their names and write his own over top of it. Then he’d claim that it was HIS statue. When he built cities he named them after himself, such as Pi-Ramesses.

    Here is a somewhat more serous description of Ramses use of propaganda.

    Of course, nowadays propaganda has become much more sophisticated and more ubiquitous. I would even say that everything has become tainted by it. In that sense it has indeed become an infection that distorts our knowledge of reality.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’m not sure that this qualifies as propaganda so much as self-aggrandisement or cult of personality. Sure, some of that certainly existed in the case of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and others — the cult of the strong man. But propaganda has other aims than cult of personality or the self-aggrandisement of the propagandist — today it exists as a technology of what we refer to as psychological and social engineering, which requires a complex technological infrastructure to support it.

  6. Scott Preston says :

    Came across this TEDx talk by Rupert Sheldrake this morning. Quite interesting. I haven’t looked at Sheldrake’s writings yet and his theory of “morphic fields” or “morphic resonance”, which would actually fit quite well with Bohm’s theory of the “holomovement”. Again, Heraclitus is revived also in Sheldrake.

    • davidm58 says :

      I have Sheldrake’s “The Presence of the Past: The Habits of Nature” on my shelf, as well as Terrance Deacon’s “Incomplete Nature.” But haven’t gotten around to reading them. Sheldrake’s ideas around formative causation (Aristotle’s ‘formal cause’) are influential in Tim Winton’s theories behind PatternDynamics.

    • mikemackd says :

      I have read – -studied – two of Sheldrake’s books, and more of his works besides. The two books are “A New Science of Life” and “The Science Delusion”. While I consider he has much of value to say, I do not consider myself qualified to make a judgement about morphic resonance. I can say, though, that I have found no reason to believe it.

      Much of what he considers the science delusion is actually the religion of scientism, which pervades some levels of the servitors of the megamachine, and I consider there is much powerful evidence in support of his contentions about that. As the brilliant comedian John Cleese succinctly put it, “science is a method of investigation, and NOT a belief system”.

      Unkindly, Sheldrake’s speech reminded me of an article the late Alistair Reid (a Scot who, like Mumford, was a contributor to The New Yorker) wrote about a certain English accent. I mention it here as an instance of the extraneous influences we may encounter and should be conscious of when we make the evaluations referred to by Krishnamurti and Rosenberg:

      QUOTE:
      Every time I hear a Scot speaking with an Englishman, I am acutely aware of how different are the two modes, the manners of speaking the language. The “official” English accent, called variously “Oxford”, or, “BBC English,” or “Nobspeak,” is a curious phenomenon. It is a left over from the Empire, an accent that is clearly designed to command, and implies a whole morality and view of history, and carries a certain condescension, a superiority, a distancing. It is not a regional accent, though it became the accent of the ruling class. It can be acquired, and is, by Scots as well as English, through the agency of institutions such as the English public schools. It is in utter contrast to the manner in which the Scots use English – direct, vigorous, unadorned, even blunt. The different speech modes embody all the differences of history, of nature, of human manner, and although on an everyday level they co-exist easily, they still speak across a distance of being.

      Thatcher was mightily indifferent to the Scottish situation, but, worse than that, she patronised the Scots. Curiously enough, it was her accent, which she had gone to great pains to acquire, that she owed much (though certainly not all) of her extreme unpopularity in Scotland, an accent that grated on Scottish ears. Hackles rose at its presumption of rightness, its lofty self-assurance, its dismissiveness – all Scots have endured similar English schoolteachers, similar public pomposities, to the muttering point. I have heard Thatcher’s voice on the evening news suddenly cut through the clishmaclaver of an Edinburgh pub, abruptly stilling the conversation, and causing a dark flush to spread collectively up the necks of its grim listeners. Such moments are at the inexplicable core of nationalism; it is at such moments that it occurs to me all over again that THE Union, from the beginning, was not really a very good idea.
      UNQUOTE. From “A Scottish Condition”, Wilson’s Quarterly, Winter 1994.

      “A certain condescension, a superiority, a distancing … presumptions of rightness, lofty self-assurance, dismissiveness …” Yet I know people who speak that way who otherwise convey no more hint of those Satanic strategies than anyone else, and to attribute those qualities to them from their speech alone would be quite as unfair as any other kind of stereotyping or symbolic belief can be. While both are noteworthy, perhaps Krishnamurti’s advice is sounder here than Reid’s.

  7. Scott Preston says :

    Forty years ago tomorrow, in August 1977, marks the anniversary of “the Battle of Lewisham” in the UK, when the residents of the borough stopped the fascist National Front from marching through their neighbourhood — something from which the fascist National Front never recovered. Coming as it does coincident with the events in Charlottesville yesterday, there may be lessons in The Battle of Lewisham.

    The article in today’s The Guardian marking the event also comes with a film made of events on that day. Quite interesting. It’s about 41 minutes long, but there is quite a lot of revealing material in it.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/13/battle-of-lewisham-national-front-1977-far-right-london-police

    It’s actually a pretty inspiring example of a community coming together to collectively protect itself from provocateurs, although that didn’t turn out quite as expected, since they were the ones the police attacked. You might notice some of the astonishment of residents of the borough that it was them, and not the National Front intruders, who took the brunt of the police actions.

    • mikemackd says :

      40 years ago Thatcher was Prime Minister there. On the basis of “by their works ye shall know them”, in her case, Alistair Reid’s description of what her accent conveyed appears to have been a quite accurate description of her workings when in her Satanic State.

      The fact that she remains revered by the far right not just in the UK but elsewhere has explanatory depth in the case of Lewisham, and gave a glimpse of the megamachine’s true colours.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    The ultra-nationalists are following Hitler’s and the Nazi Party’s script for the path to power (die Machtergreifung)– including melodramatic acts like torch-light parades. There are a lot of similarities between the Lewisham incident and the Charlottesville incident.

    They are picking symbolic targets with the same thing in mind — Berkley, Charlotteville, etc. And no doubt they will also be looking to cultivate a “martyr” like the Nazi’s Horst Wessel.

    This has nothing to do with “free speech” really. The Nazis too insisted on their liberal rights only as long as they could weaponise them and use them to their advantage. As the organisers of the Lewisham National Front remarked in that film, there intention was to intimidate, to apply “psychological pressure” on non-whites, and to break “race relations”. Lewisham’s multi-ethnic character became a symbolic target for that as well.

    There are a lot of similarities between the German Weimar Republic and today’s crises of liberal democracies, which is concerning, and it very much affected Gebser, too, and influenced his thinking about the catastrophes in waiting and the “maelstrom of blind anxiety”. If you are going to interrupt the schemes of the Ultra-Nationalists, you’ll have to respond to fascist movement differently, more creatively, than the German antifascists did — why the German liberals, the conservatives, and the socialists were so ineffectual in arresting that.

    That means, in some respects, being more than just “anti-fascist” but being “counter-reactionary”. There’s a difference in emphasis. Being “antifascist” is just not enough, because it often looks like no more than a defence of the status quo. That is, I think, what’s behind Naomi Klein’s new book No is Not Enough. I haven’t read it, but that’s what it means to be “counter-reactionary”.

    You can’t let this go on for too long. If you saw the sci-fi movie Life, the analogy is pretty much the same. The movie might even be a parable about fascist movement. It’s not the fascists you need to be concerned about so much as the “fence sitters”, the apathetic or the Silent Majority. They are, after all, the target of propaganda of the deed and propaganda of the word.

    Yes, you need to deny fascists ownership of the streets or public spaces. But you certainly can’t do that by being just “anti-fascist”. You also need to understand the circumstances that make for fascist movement and the need for transformational change to channel the energies in another direction than the merely reactionary.

    I could write up something about the historical failure to overcome fascism last century. By the time push came to shove, the liberals were discredited, the conservatives were compromised, and that left only the socialists as an effective resistance to fascist movement, but the German socialists were pacifist and too afraid of civil war to act decisively (ie, what is now being referred to as “snowflakes”).

    Forget about “turning” fascists from fascist movement. It’s rare and usually can’t be done. It’s those the fascists are attempting to appeal to that you have to concern yourself with — the “fence sitters”, even liberals who serve as the proverbial “useful idiots”.

    I have the sense that Charlottesville was a “watershed” event, like Lewisham in 1977 was a watershed event. I could write up why that’s so, but it would take more than a comment.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I should probably add something — a cautionary tale — to this little history of the Machtergreifung in Germany, and why it succeeded.

      As mentioned, neither the liberals nor the conservatives could serve as effective resistance to fascism. The liberals were discredited, and the conservatives had compromised themselves and had been co-opted by fascism. That pretty much left the German socialists as the only potential effective force to counter the Nazis, and yet they wilted in the face of that. Why?

      It’s quite bizarre. The socialists had all called for a social revolution in Germany, and yet when it came right down to it, they couldn’t get it up. They ceded those revolutionary energies to the fascists rather than risk civil war. Despite all the rhetoric about the need for a social revolution, they backed down, and they looked, in consequence, weak, indecisive, and directionless and (worst of all to Germans) effete.

      Rosenstock-Huessy, despite himself being conservative in inclination, blamed the socialists and their failure of will largely for the failure to stem the tide of Nazism. An interesting remark for a conservative (although Rosenstock-Huessy described himself more as “counter-reactionary”). Pretty frank testimony that liberalism and conservatism were already both compromised by fascism.

      Gebser, of course, was fleeing from fascism and men like Juiius Evola most of his adult life, almost as if it were specifically pursuing him. I suspect it was for the sake of completing his book, The Ever-Present Origin which would have probably been suppressed by the fascists. It certainly wasn’t because he was Jewish (at least, I don’t think so). It’s because he represented everything that the fascists despised.

      • Scott Preston says :

        That is, by the way, one reason I find Wilber’s recent comments on “Trump and the Post-Truth World” limp, amounting to little more than “why can’t we all just get along”. Wilber has seemingly no idea about the social earthquake that is about to descend on us — worlds in collision, times in upheaval.

        I can’t help but look at Trump (in fact, many contemporary world leaders) and see what a lot of German’s saw in Hindenberg: “A zero paving the way for a Nero” who is prepared to burn it all down rather than make the transformational leap — the necessary metamorphosis. A lot of people, it seems, are resigned to this being a fate for us. I’m not so sure that there isn’t a possibility of averting that still. As Gebser put it, everything now hinges of knowing when to let happen and when to make happen, and that’s really crucial.

        I read, yesterday, that the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is growing by leaps and bounds. We all know why that is, and whether it can serve as an effective counter-reactionary movement is another question. In my experience, though, socialists are generally much more receptive to Gebser’s cultural philosophy than others. But if it ends up like Canada’s New Democratic Party or like Britain’s “New Labour” I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it. It would be wiser if it remained more a social movement and did not seek to become itself a political party. David Loy’s “Buddhist Revolution”, while admirable, is pretty unlikely, isn’t it? Except, perhaps, as part of a larger social movement seeking transformational change.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      It’s not the fascists you need to be concerned about so much as the “fence sitters”, the apathetic or the Silent Majority. They are, after all, the target of propaganda of the deed and propaganda of the word.

      The “target of propaganda” is each and every one of us and any and all overt or latent psychic “triggers” of our egoic identities whether religious, national, “party,” gender, liberal, conservative or what have you.

      I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience, but I have no “egoic identity” when in solitude. The only time I have need of one is when engaging my fellow human beings in any way, especially via thought and language. Otherwise, “I” am refreshingly discarded in the process of admiring the stars; the beauty of the natural world; music, art, literature, science; comparative religion; and everything else that is calling to my soul and not just my head.

      How do we know what the supposed “Silent Majority” are actually doing? Contrary to popular belief, we’re not telepathic to the extent that we can possibly know everything that is actually taking place in the “Grand Silence.” We know only what is reported, such as this curious “mindfulness revolution;” the the “quiet realization
      of…the…Commons
      ;” the “eco-spirtuality” phenomenon; the “Integral Permaculture” movement; the propogation of living systems theories; the popping up (or “irruption”) in the “mainstream” of the themes discussed here over the years; the un- and under-reported (not to mention un- and under-appreciated), incredibly patient work (as opposed to “fight”) of those pursuing existing avenues of law to restore the voices of our Peoples; spreading messages (or “seeds”) of peace and mutual understanding rather than the Authoritarian “you must do this” and “you must be a member of this faction (in reality simply a “facet”); spreading “seeds” pertaining to the “transcendence” of the “labels” which have the potential both to unite and divide us; spreading “seeds” pertaining to the moving aside of collective illusion; spreading “seeds” that point out our faults as well as our virtues; spreading “seeds” encouraging the utter suspension of the “egoic self”….

      I could go on.

  9. Scott Preston says :

    (Maybe I should have made this a regular post, because I need to add that there are no permanent answers or responses to historical circumstances valid for all time. A liberal response, a conservative response, a socialist response, or an environmentalist response may be required at different times, therefore it’s a mistake to become identified with any one of them exclusively. It’s always a question of what is most needful in the circumstances, and the most appropriate response may vary, and wrong responses usually prove fatal. Our identities — our consciousness — must remain fluid.

    If our intuitive nature is functioning properly, we know the needful in the circumstance. We don’t need to be experts in the various “isms” to decide which is most appropriate. We just need the “emissary” to articulate and to communicate it. That’s why it’s called “emissary”.

  10. InfiniteWarrior says :

    Timely article on this subject from Bill Moyers today: The Power of Ordinary People Facing Totalitarianism.

    Arendt’s name has been mentioned several times in these pages.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. That is a good brief summary of Arendt. Pretty much concurs with what my comments above. Could have added a few things.

      At the time of the Weimar Republic, the “slumbering majorities” were pretty much exhausted by the post-war chaos, the Great Depression, etc. They were thus in the mood to back anyone who looked “virile”, vigorous, decisive, and promised renewal. The Bolsheviks had briefly siezed power in Bavaria, forming the Munich Soviet, but they were as brutal as the Nazis and didn’t last long.

      Since the liberals and the conservatives had discredited themselves, that left only two major forces — the Nazis and the Socialists, and the Socialists proved the hollowness of their own rhetoric of renewal by backing down from the fascist challenge. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and they got out of the kitchen. The going got tough, and they didn’t have the stomach for it. To put it crudely, the Socialists looked the Devil in the face and crapped themselves.

      Even Ghandi knew that civil disobedience would be ineffective against fascists.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Brings to mind Theoden King’s exclamation of despair when they were trying to defend Helm’s Deep from the Urukhai army: “what can me do against such reckless hate”, and gave up the fight. The German Socialists were similar.

      Gebser does speak of the “menacing configuration” of events that seems to be unfolding now, but left open the possibility of attenuation through some unforeseen or unexpected event. Unexpected events are usually what we call “miracles”.

      Theoden King got his “miracle” in the form of the White Wizard charging in with the cavalry at the last minute, and so the story continued.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Haleth, son of Háma: The men have said that we will not live out the night. They say that it is hopeless.

        Aragorn: There is always hope.

  11. abdulmonem says :

    Once we get submerged in the below forgetting the above, the criterion,the pathfinder that guide our journey in this difficult life and substitute the divine criteria by human fabricated labels, division,hatred and all kind of ills set in. It is always arrogance of separation and humans imposed criteria that erect the path to death. The stories of all previous civilizations testified to that. Humans can not feel breezed all the time ,ill wind will come across to capsize everything. Love is the only reason for creation,once we divert our attention from that axiom the devolving toward the abyss starts its calling. It is the stabilizing divine embankment that protects us from the deluge of misleading words of fake news and false memory. There are always counterfeit forms and genuine forms and these are part of the human test, the trail that the humans have to churn their way through to ward their destination. It is an art of memory to remember the bond that bind us to the source and save us from getting bind to other misleading artifacts. They say meaning is the business of the spirit and its cargos, that is why all mystics emphasize the importance of aligning the soul vibration with the vibration of its spiritual source to gain the security the soul aspires to, entering the abode of peace and god do call people to such house. Security is a spiritual state and not a physical state. Satan is not a human psychological projection without an actual outside entity that feeds that projection. Is not this the same satan that refuses to obey the divine command claiming he is better because he is of fire and the other is of clay. Is it not the same logic used by those who raised the flag of the white man burden. Denying that is a question of conducting the human within the realm of truth and justice. There is always the yes and the no , the in and the out to move the process of understanding to its fruition. To look to the in between, the connector of everything. God consciousness and human consciousness are in a continual interplay to perfectify the human understanding, No wonder all these expressed visions across the screen of out living cosmos. It is the dynamic of the pairs that mostly exercise their activity in a cooperative mode and the opposites that play their roles in an affirming negating mode. God makes humans speak thus humans have to understand why he makes them speak, without forgetting their role as being an addressee. We are both receivers and creators of ideas and never get fixated in one pole and never forget that god is our source for all our knowledge and never get lost in the fragmentation. It is the necessity to elevate the human eye to the level of the divine eye where the state of separation vanishes. It is an experiential exercise felt through the imaginative, artistic creation of forms and words.

  12. Cesar Monatti says :

    Dear Scott,

    Today they posted an article on this brazilian blog “freely inspired” by this brilliant (one more) reflection.

    I tried adapt its mainly reasoned to chaotic situation we are living in Brazil nowadays, after the parliamentary-mediatic-judicial coup of 2015. I put this page’s link there, cause I translated and used some text parts without your previous permission. I’m sorry, but its a just cause!

    Um abração! (‘a big hug’)

    Cesar

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