Another eventful week
It has now been a week since that fateful incident that has dominated our airwaves – the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris. We must have read thousands of column inches, watched hundreds of minutes of TV & video and been surrounded by a frenzy of views on social media, all devoted to in-depth analysis, debating freedom of speech, defending the cartoonists/Muslims, whichever side of the fence they happen to fall on, or entertaining the notion of foul play, if you read the ‘alternative news’ sites.
First, think about the immediate aftermath of the event. The story was everywhere. The world and his wife were engaged ‘in the conversation’, and we made our judgements about what we believe. Which were then either reinforced by subsequent opinion, or challenged. Perhaps we were compelled to, because we felt helpless or powerless as to why such bad things happen, or maybe we were fascinated with how the drama would play out.
Now think back a little. What was our immediate response to the Peshawar attacks? And the Sydney attacks? And the Ottawa attacks? Oh, and Boko Haram? The ISIS phenomenon? And the Malaysian plane disappearances? What about the Trojan Horse scandal? And Sandy Hook? And the Boston bombing? And Lee Rigby? I’ll stop there.
Exactly the same? Pretty much, I would hazard a guess at. All that time spent, immersing ourselves in the hysteria of the story, examining the angles and motives and questioning the media narrative and complaining about the representation of Muslims, perhaps, or lamenting at the double standards and injustice of the media, etc. And for what? To do it ALL over again, when the next ‘global’ incident happens – a rinse and repeat of our rollercoaster of emotions, as it were.
Welcome, my friends, to the power of distraction in action.
What is the opportunity cost of all of this time spent? Why do we go through the same old charade every time? Is the world REALLY becoming as crazy as it seems? Or is there a more sinister, deliberate agenda at play?
This article is not to say that we should not be emotional, or sad at yet more human deaths, or angry at injustice or oppression, or that Islam is being hijacked or mocked, etc. We are humans, after all, not robots. But it is a plea for us to step back, and to view things objectively, strategically, with depth and from a distance, as opposed to from within the chaos. Things often look different from a distance, when we emotionally detach ourselves.
There are a number of rational questions we should ask about this:
- Why is such bad news happening so frequently?
- Is it actually true?!
- How is it being done?
- Who is benefitting from this?
- What impact is it having on us?
- Who is behind all this?
- What should our response really be?
Over a series of three articles, I will attempt to analyse and dissect these very questions.
Power and Psychology
First and foremost, we need to understand two major themes. Power and psychology.
Focusing on the subject of power first, please watch this five minute clip, from award-winning documentary filmmaker, Adam Curtis’ upcoming documentary ‘Bitter Lake’. In this, Curtis, with documentaries like the critically acclaimed The Power of Nightmares and The Century of Self behind him, looks at the theme of power, and how it works in society
“So much of the news this year has been hopeless, depressing and above all confusing, to which the only response is ‘Oh dear’. “But what this film will suggest is that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control.”
It goes on to discuss the work of a Russian politician Vladislav Surkov, who is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest advisors. He was not a traditional politician – he actually came from the avant-garde art world. But he had an important role: to undermine people’s perception of the world so they never know what is really happening;
“Surkov turned Russian politics into a bewildering, constantly-changing piece of theatre.”
The film claims, to help him do this he funded groups that were in total opposition to one another – neo Nazis and left-wing liberal human rights groups – or even those opposed to Putin. But with one clear distinction – he was very open and transparent about this – and let everyone know what he was doing. But no-one understood why. What were his motives? What was his objective?
The result? As the clip mentions:
“It’s a strategy of power that keeps opposition constantly confused: a ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable, because it’s undefinable.”
The film goes then on to suggest that the lack of understanding of what is happening in the world means that people get away with things. No-one can ever formulate a proper, convincing opposition to the ruling politicians and classes because everything is completely contradictory. We cannot counter with a coherent narrative and therefore our ability to challenge authority or injustice, diminishes. We are told things that aren’t borne out of facts and no-one really stands for anything. It is all hazy, deceptive and keeps those people firmly in control.
As a silly but valid analogy – imagine you’re Alice, and you find yourself in Wonderland. How do you navigate yourself home – when nothing at all makes sense? Can you use your trusty logic and reasoning? Good luck getting past Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
All of a sudden it is not a level playing field. You can’t see the wood for the trees. You can’t get your bearings. So how do you make sense of this maelstrom of confusion? The truth is, you can’t. And you’re not supposed to. But we don’t know that – we think we’re in with a fighting chance. Our ego lets us think we understand the big picture.
It is just the latest in a long line of distraction tactics, to keep us busy fools. Keep us working, keep us suppressed. The beauty of this system of confusion is that it is not quite of Mad Hatter and March Hare proportions; that would trigger alarm bells, and would be too obvious. There is just enough subtlety there, for us to be unsure. To make sense of it all is too tiring, and occupies too much headspace, for us to be able to focus on this AND in our jobs and lives. And so that narrative creates just enough confusion to dilute the opposition.
Changing the Perception of Reality
Another interesting story, again to come out of Russia, stems from a KGB Operative, back in 1985.
Yuri Bezmenov said in an interview about the main purpose of Soviet Intelligence:
“The main emphasis of the KGB is not in the area of intelligence at all. According to my opinion and opinions of many defectors of my calibre, only 15 percent of time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage as such. The other 85 percent is a slow process, which we call either ideological subversion, active measures…or psychological warfare. What it basically means is, to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite the abundance of information, no one is able to come to sensible conclusions…in the interests of defending themselves, their families, their communities, and their country.”
He went on to say that there are four basic stages:
- Demoralisation (15 to 20 years)
- Destabilisation (2 to 5 years)
- Crisis (6 months)
- Normalisation; where the masses are essentially slaves to government
Interestingly, the process of demoralisation, he said, was not brought about by force, but rather done from within, by demonising and eroding the morals, values, ethics and principles that America was founded upon.
“Most of it is done by Americans to Americans thanks to lack of moral standards. As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who was demoralised is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him, even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures. …he will refuse to believe it…. That’s the tragedy of the situation of demoralisation.”
All this is not to point fingers towards Russia. Ironically, they are seemingly the good guys in this upside down world we are living in. The real question is – have we ourselves actually been demoralised? Have our perceptions of reality been distorted by the very governments we blindly put our trust in?
I mean, let’s take Western foreign policy, for example. Can you honestly explain it to anyone, succinctly?
The interesting point Bezmenov made was of the impact of the lack of moral standards. Look around you. If you look at our own moral values, they have been degrading ever since the swinging sixties, with sexual deviancy, pornography, drug use, selfishness, consumerism, homosexuality, paedophillia, deception, theft etc. all rife, and as high as they have ever been.
Subduing the Enemy
“The Supreme Art of War is to subdue your enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Russians are known to have produced many chess grandmasters. This long term strategy of chaos and confusion can be likened to a game of chess, and thinking four or five moves ahead of your enemy.
Irish author, Thomas Sheridan has a term for this strategy of confusion. He calls it ‘Trash Magic’ – i.e. bombarding us with information, disinformation, misinformation, all to make us confused and bewildered. The more confused we are, the less likely we are to look to ourselves for answers. He mentions that this trash magic is spellbinding us with nonsense. So much information that we don’t know how to process it, so we just end up taking what is being said that we are able to understand easily.
He goes on to mention different types of mind games, affecting our psychology. One such example is the “pathology of modern art and beauty”. Modern art is often ghastly and not actually ‘art’ (in the true sense of the word) at all. But it is deliberate – to get our minds used to something ‘weird’ and attach it to beauty… so when we see a beautiful billboard, or advert we are actually more drawn to it – as our natural beings know this is what real beauty is to us. Which means we are more likely to buy or consume.
Whether this is true or not, it is certainly an interesting way of looking at things.
In the next article, we will look at the accuracy of what we are witnessing, around us.
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