How Empires Brainwash their Citizens, Justifying Aggressive Foreign Policies

For some time now, I meant to write on how an empire brainwashes itscitizens with semi-convincing rhetoric, praising what evil is beingdone and portraying it as the ultimate good. Mass media, jingoism, herdmentality and conformance all converge to convince the masses.Two essays I came across recently highlight a difference between the good oldpropaganda in the Eastern Bloc, which is mostly not convincing, and themasses know it is not true, learn to ignore it, and just go on withtheir lives. In a free Western style democracy, this cannot happen.Hence the propaganda has to be convincing.Fabian Pascal, a Database Guru, and ex-citizen of the EasternBloc under communism, has written so eloquently on this. He says in Lenin, Trotsky, and the Freedom from the Tyranny of Knowledge and Reason:

What struck me after living in the US for a while, was thesimilarity, at a very fundamental level, between the US and Soviet systems: while the means by whichthey attain their objectives differ, the objectives themselves are, for allpractical purposes, the same: control and exploitation of the public. Bothsystems indoctrinate with propaganda from childhood. But because the Sovietsystem had coercion at its disposal, the propaganda did not need to beconvincing: if you stepped out of line, the government came hard after you.That’s why propaganda could be blatant and absurd, and the public was fullyaware of it and did not believe it, only pretended to. That is also one reasonwhy the Soviet system collapsed. The US system cannot use coercion (well, not at the Sovietlevel, at any rate, but the way things are going, give it time), so it mustrely solely on propaganda, which must be believed. This means it’s gotto be very subtle and psychologically simple and attractive, rather thanblatant and absurd, to be at once unobtrusive and effective. It’s nocoincidence that the mother of marketing and advertising originates here. Ifyou step out of line, the government does not need to come after you: business,the media, and even the public itself will. They cannot jail, torture, ordisappear you (the system is testing the waters, though), but they will try tomarginalize you, and make it very difficult to function professionally andsocially. And at least insofar as members of the public are concerned, they areenforcers without realizing it. Quite elegant.Otherwise put, under Soviet “communism”, everybody mustbelieve without questioning in the party, which almost nobody did; under US“capitalism”, everybody must believe without questioning in “the market”, whichalmost everybody does (I use quotes, because neither system is the true thing,as they pretend).

He also quotes the famed linguist Noam Chomsky in relation to challenging commonly held dogma, such as "patriotism", "supporting the troops", or the like, saying:

There are people who don't accept, who aren't obedient. They are weeded out, they're "behavior problems". The long-term effect of this is to reward and foster subordination; it begins in kindergarten and goes all the way through your professional or other career. If you challenge authority, you get in one or another kind of trouble. It's not 100 percent the case, and there are some areas of life were it's dramatically not the case, but on average and overwhelmingly in the outcomes, it holds.If something comes along that you don't like, there are a few sort of four-letter words that you can use to push it out of the sphere of discussion. If you were in a bar downtown, they might have different words, but if you're an educated person what you use are complicated words like "conspiracy theory" or "Marxist." It's a way of pushing unpleasant questions off the agenda so that we can continue in our own happy ideology.

Another commentator is award winning reporter, John Pilger. In an article he laments what children are being taught about history, and how political spin comes into play to eliminate alternative views of current and past actions.In a previous article, I discussed Lewis Carroll's parody of the Walrus and the Carpenter laments how words and deeds could be exact opposites, doing evil in the name of good.I drew an analogy of how the walrus was in tears, crying as he eats the clams.What does this have to do with empires brainwashing its citizens? Here is a letter that I got from an American called Kris. This is a testimony of how the brainwashing south of the border has been so effective.

well, that's an interesting thing to put into an analysis of a book.I'm sorry you feel this way, as i find that the fact that you can say such things against your own country without consequence, while inumerable perect citizens of Iraq were gased to death by Saddam. (I apologize if I've miss-spelled anything, I am a terrible speller.) I cannot speak for everyone, but I am positive I would give my own life in a split second for the chance to bring democratic feedom to a newcountry. How do I have any more right to the vote than a person in Iraq? I don't, so to do this for them seems reasonable and like a wonderfully humane gesture since the timing is right (we were already in the Middle East)...anyway, thank you for reading this, please just consider these ideas and how sorrowful you would be to realize yourchildren would have no vote, just like you and how joyful you would be to find that someone is changing that so that you and your futuregenerations will have a voice that is heard in their government! :)(oh, and if you believe that I say this becuase I have nothing at stake, you should know my brother is in the Marine Corp and will bedeployed to Iraq as artillery in July or August and could possibly be killed...anywa, thank you for your time. Have a blessed day. Kris

If we look back in history, both ancient and recent, we find the same trends there. For example, the cry of Cato in the Roman Senate after every speech: "Delenda est Carthago!" (Carthage must be destroyed!) resulted in the Third Punic Wars, which eliminated Rome's only rival in the Mediterranean, and giving rise to Rome's Empire.Similarly, it was Rudyard Kipling who came up with "White Man's Burden" as a motto, justifying the invasion, occupation, and exploitation of natives in foreign land, in the name of civilization.The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Comments

When comparing the

When comparing the "brain-washing" of the two systems, Capitalist/Totalitarian, you forgot to leave out how many of its own citizens the Communist Totalitarian system kills. I'm sure the actual numbers are higher, but it hard when there is no freedom of the press.
Most modern totalitarian/communist states are now moving towards a system where it keeps it citizens "entertain" with capitalistic goods to distract the people from the true liberties of freedom. Kinda like the Romans did with daily gladitators shows during it downfall.

The capitalist system has it own faults...it tends harm more 3rd world, cheap labor people, and not it own citizens. Of course more ethnics should be in place where companies should be force to shut down its sweat shops and not simple fines. Capitalism itself without the few intellectuals and the very few decent politicians, it too may slip to a police-like state or system where companies/corportations control everything.

Is man the sum of the material things he owns or the values that he owns?
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance - Thomas Jefferson.

Sources:
http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/bcaplan/museum/comfaq.htm

Empires, not capitalist or democratic states

In no way was I defending communism, or the totalitarian systems that was established under the guise of creating communist utopias.

My criticism is for empires, whether capitalist or communist, and laments the fact that democracies descend so low as to use tactics that they criticized the totalitarian states of yesterday.

Not having the tightly controlled media of yesterday, the Western empire has to use convincing brainwashing or distraction, rather than relying hiding information, or using overt propaganda.

Empires eventually turn evil and overreaching, whether they were hatched in democracies or totalitarianism, and the USA is fast on this path.

Moreover, the faults of others do not justify our own fault. So, "but we do not kill people" is not defensible. We should be taking the high ground. Two wrongs don't make a right.
--
Khalid Baheyeldin

Similarities- Are we so blind?

I myself served ten years in the U.S. Military(various branches). I was raised by my father to always question authority and their motives. I am so happy that he raised me that way. I ended my great career with a blow to the powers that be...I questioned the whole modern American psyche. They, of course, could not comprehend why I would not follow so many Americans to spread democracy throughout the world. I see the obvious similarities between our government and past dictatorships or empires. These resemblances are strikingly obvious. I have come to understand the grand scheme of things, with regards to our path towards Globalisation. I have done my own research and it is sickening how average citizens just go along with anything that our governments tell them. I will undoubtedly be labeled as a conspiracy theorist and defamed, but i will never stop fighting the good fight. Our globe is riddled with puppets. The powers that actually pull those strings are far out of public eye. Perverted phsycology has permeated every facet of human life. We cannot trust our leadership in any fashion, b/c all aspects of politics actually have a role to play in the desensitization of humanity. I can only speek about my own experiences, but they in themselves are almost unbeleivable to me. We as world citizens have to wake up and see the truth for what it is. Global domination is well on it's way to becoming a reality. The U.S. is but one small peice in this puzzle. Look at our banking systems... look at the U.N. ... And our governments say the whole time that they are doing good. Hidden Agenda..I definately beleive so.

wow...

Well said, summarizing what so many seem to feel now, yet it was 4 years ago you said it!