re: propaganda, left & right, and beliefs

2005-06-14

Richard Moore

Friends,

I often find that people's questions and comments create a
space in which it becomes easy to explore certain ideas. The
question creates a focus, and that focus somehow facilitates a
coherent line of thinking. Stephanie's comments, below,
provide the inspiration for some thoughts on the nature of
propaganda, the question of how to evaluate sources, and a few
other related items.

ciao,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

--------------------------------------------------------
            From: "Stephanie McDowall" <•••@••.•••>
            To: <•••@••.•••>
            Subject: Question - RE: on radio today: US Concentration
                          Camps: The Preparation for Mass Incarceration
            Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 09:32:57 -0700

            Hi Richard:
            
            Do you have any articles on these Concentration Camps or can
            you suggest a good website? Well over a year ago, I wrote to
            my Federal Member of Parliament, Jean Crowder, on this issue. 
            I even followed up requesting a response etc. etc.  Have never
            heard back.

Hi Stephanie,
     I've seen various articles over the years, but didn't keep 
track of them. Google probably has lots, and perhaps someone out there 
might have a reference to share.

---

            Stephanie > Somehow, I had stumbled on something that caused me
            to do a search on Google.  What I found was pretty horrifying and
            quite frankly, unbelievable to most people.
            
            The problem with the sites I located, it seemed to me they
            were run by right wing religious fundamentalists and the
            "survivalist movement" in the U.S.  This causes the material
            to be viewed with great skepticism. I can understand this as
            even to me this seems to be just too outrageous to be true.

rkm> The question of how to judge various sources of information is
a deep one. Besides the investigative issues of "how to
evaluate credibility", there are psychological issues around
denial, self-image issues around "I'm not competent to judge",
sociological issues about "agreement with peers", issues
around illogical thinking, and propaganda issues around "false
flag" stories.

I know people who refuse to look at certain material on the
basis that the source is sometimes unreliable - and then those
same people watch the TV news and read the mainstream papers.
These are people who agree that mainstream media isn't
reliable, and they don't see the illogic in not using the same
"don't look" criteria for mainstream media as they use for
alternate media. To put the shoe on the other foot, they don't
see the illogic in not using the same "give it a look"
criteria for alternate media that they use for mainstream
media.

There are very few sources that are always reliable, and there
is a great deal of useful information that comes from sources
that are in many ways wacky. If we are seeking truth, then we
ignore potential information sources at our peril. The jewels
must be sought where they are, which may not always be in our
usual haunts.

Right wing sources, particularly on the Internet, are very
interesting to study. That part of the net has a different
feel to it, a different dynamics, than what we are used to on
the left side of the spectrum. For one thing, there are
several different propaganda lines being spewed out, telling people
how to think...directly selling world views. You have
recognizable camps, such as right-libertarians, survivalists,
rabid anti-Zionists, etc., not to mention the fundamentalist
categories. It's a much more fractionated world than we are
used to.

I'm sure that many of the writers and editors of these
propaganda channels are sincere in what they do, spreading
their version of truth, and are not influenced by any sinister
forces. Nonetheless it seems clear to me that there are some
basic lines being distributed from centralized sources, along
with leaked information, photos, insider statements, etc., to
support various claims and theories. Some of these sites do
have some dynamite stuff, and it can often be verified from
more conventional sources. And there is trash as well.

At the macro level, it seems to me that we are living in a
propaganda regime that has two distinct parts, one for
liberals and one for the rest, one single-channeled and one
multi-channeled.

For liberals there is the mainstream media, what I have been
calling Matrix reality. The media doesn't necessarily tell you
what you want to hear, but it tries to justify what it says in
terms of your own values.  Conservatives are correct when they
talk about the "liberal media".

On the right, each of the propaganda streams begins from the
same continental divide: they all begin from the premise that
mainstream, liberal reality is delusionary in some way, and
then they flow off in different directions, tailored for
different personality types and different social groups.

For fundamentalists, mainstream reality is downright evil, in
that God and His Word do not get much air time. For others on
the right, mainstream reality is seen as carrying a socialist
agenda, aimed at selling out our sovereignty to the UN. From
the continental divide, the various world views fall down
many a precipice.

We need to keep in mind that the grassroots right are not
represented by this propaganda regime, rather they are the
targets of it. Perhaps, and this is very speculative, the
thing that most characterizes those on the right is a need to
have a clear, concrete explanation for the 'big questions'.
Perhaps there is an aversion to uncertainty, a need for a
certain kind of security of belief. Perhaps there's a fear of
chaos down there somewhere. By contrast, again perhaps, the
left - apart from the doctrinaire socialist types - is
characterized more by an aversion to certainty, and a need to
constantly re-examine and question. Perhaps there's a fear
down there somewhere of being trapped, a fear of committing,
of being made a fool.

If these flights of speculation are valid, then we can
understand why the propaganda regime is set up the way it is.
The mainstream gives us liberals lots to think about: we hear
various viewpoints, and there are never any clear conclusions
about anything. We live in a paradise of uncertainty.

On the right, there is a menu of certainties - a church, so to
speak, for every type of person who might be looking for
certainty. There's a cultish element in these belief systems,
where those who accept certain basic assumptions are
considered 'family', and everyone else "just doesn't get it."

From these kinds of observations, we can see why many of us
steer clear of right-wing sources. And that provides an
opportunity for a certain kind of propaganda maneuver. It
becomes possible for the Establishment to discredit a
viewpoint, or a line of investigation, by putting it in the
mouth of right-wing sources. If the facts can't be covered up,
this maneuver provides a convenient mechanism for damage
control in the world of the Matrix.

As a result, I've found, among right-wing sources, quite a few
jewels of information, which if mentioned in the mainstream at
all, would be readily dismissed due to association with
'known crazies'. In this vein, I've seen more concern
expressed on the right about Constitutional issues, the
all-powerful FEMA bureaucracy, the threat of mass internments
- in short facing up to the real threat of fascism - than I've
seen on the left. Along with the various propaganda channels
there are also sincere people, with whom we may differ in some
beliefs, who have put up some very informative websites.

The search for truth requires exploration, practice in the science 
of discernment, and an openness to entertaining new perspectives.

---      
 
            Stephanie > One of my greatest disappointments at age 62 is how so
            many of my friends do not wish to hear anything about what is really
            going on....concerning issues which should be of vital concern
            to them.

rkm> I've come to the conclusion over the years (I'm also 62)
that discussions at the level of big issues and beliefs are
seldom productive, if there is fundamental disagreement to
begin with.

You've experienced this, as per above, and I believe it is
understandable why this happens. When it comes to big issues
we are dealing with the outer layer of an onion. Underneath a
certain belief is a lifetime of unique experiences, slanted
media, prejudices of social group, childhood conditioning,
etc.

When we ask someone to reconsider certain beliefs, we are
asking more than we know. It is not just a matter of evidence
and logic; it's a matter of commitment to assumptions, perhaps
barely conscious, which someone considers vital to their well
being, their sanity, their sense of security. They might say,
"I can't believe that our leaders would do that to their own
people!", and they would really mean it, they CAN'T believe
that: it would destroy them, or at least they fear that it
would. What is some 'dubious' piece of evidence in the face of
such forces?

Consider yourself. When you try to tell your neighbors 'the
truth', are you open to the possibility that they will talk
you out of it, convince you that the Iraq war is good? They
couldn't, because you know you're right!  That's really the
big conundrum, how do we know we are the ones who are right?
Neither certainty nor depth of feeling can be the test, as
they can be found in equal measure everywhere on the spectrum
of beliefs. Agreement with others is no better yardstick, as
every bird can find a compatible flock somewhere, a place
where the "sensible" birds gather.

We need to accept as a fact of life that we, as a society, are
divided by our beliefs. This may be a natural state of affairs
in any pluralistic society, and in our case it is a state of
affairs that is intentionally cultivated by a systematic
propaganda regime. But we are so divided only as long as we
focus on our beliefs. We will never all agree on God or
Socialism or Iraq or any Big Beliefs, no matter how much we
try. That is fact, but it is only an obstacle as long as we
allow it to be.

What we really want, deep down, when we approach someone from
the "other" camp, I believe, is to make a connection, to find
common ground. By habit, we assume this common ground can be
found "if only" the person can see this or that fact, if they
can "see the light" that we have seen. Why do we persist in
habits that always fail? Even a mouse soon learns not to go
down the fruitless part of a maze!  Let us seek connection,
common ground, but let us try some new approaches. Let us stop
beating our heads against the wall.

If you come from a consciousness of "wanting to connect", then
trying to sell your beliefs becomes an obvious non-starter.
"Wanting to connect" is a friendly social activity, as one of
its aspects, and pushing beliefs is a bit anti-social and
aggressive, when viewed in that context. A more fruitful
approach might be to inquire as to the other person's concerns
and beliefs. Not to evaluate, or to gather ammunition, but to
understand that person. In debate we are always skating on the
skin of the onion. If we allow a person to explain themselves,
to tell their story, and if we listen, we can understand
what's in the core of their onion, and we are likely to find
there another caring human being, with whom we can connect at
a meaningful level. From that place, common ground can become
visible.

best regards,
rkm











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