Language, objectivity, and political power

August 29, 2022

Source

by Francis Lee

Contemporary politics consists of the usual timeless formula of Machiavelli – namely: rule by force and fraud – but now with the current emphasis being on fraud, writes Francis Lee.

‘’Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, their inhabitants driven out into the countryside, their cattle machine gunned, their huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.’’ (Politics and the English Language – 1946)

‘’There is a high probability that Russia will intervene in the Baltics to test NATO’s Article 5 … ‘’ (Anders Fogh Rasmussen, ex head of NATO, February 2015).

It would be true to say that the language of politics and power – machtpolitik or realpolitik – is patently neither objective, nor particularly interested in the pursuit of truth. Quite the contrary in fact. If we take the above examples, the first is simply an attempt to mask what is an international war crime into a reasonable policy of ‘humanitarian’ intervention. All rather reminiscent of the language which evolved during the Indo-China wars, e.g. ‘we destroyed the village in order to save it.’ The purpose of the second assertion was simply designed to ramp up the current war psychosis in order to justify the eastern expansion and build-up of NATO on Russia’s western frontiers. Please note that Mr Rasmussen isn’t saying that a Russian intervention is possible, or even probable, but highly probable. This seems somewhat strange as Russia couldn’t wait to get rid of the Baltic states when it declared its independence in 1991, and now we are expected to believe that Russia wants to invade those same states!

It is said that knowledge is power, in fact the reverse seems more accurate. Those who control the means of communication are now able to create a virtual reality. This is nothing new. The father of modern Public Relations, Edward Bernays, postulated that ‘invisible’ people create knowledge and propaganda and rule over the masses, with a monopoly on the power to shape thoughts, values, and citizen response. “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” (Propaganda).

One of Bernays’ great admirers was Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels who was to apply his theories with alacrity during the Nazi ascendency 1934-1945. JG was able to convince enough of Germany’s population that ‘total war’ was really quite good fun. He and they were apparently not aware that this would ultimately involve the fire-bombing of German cities like Hamburg and Dresden. This amply demonstrates that skilful techniques of mass indoctrination are able to get people to imagine and support policies which are not necessarily in their own best interests.

In our own time this mass manipulation was identified by Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky in their seminal work The Manufacture of Consent first published in 1988. The mass communication media of the U.S. “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion.” This seems to be the most salient political phenomenon of our times.

Returning to Orwell, it was during his period in Spain during the war against Franco (1936-39) that he first became aware of the political potentialities of modern mass communications systems. Orwell was a passionate believer in truth, and that objective facts existed and could be identified. However, as a result of his experiences in Spain he discovered that mere facts were of secondary or even no importance. What counted was a propaganda narrative which was a function of political expediency. At the time he was serving in the military wing of POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unity) sister party of the British ILP (Independent Labour Party) which he later joined – 1938. This was in 1937 after the Comintern’s right turn, away from the ultra-leftism of the Third Period, towards the Popular Front phase, a move from a policy of international revolution (identified as Trotskyism) to the defence of democracy through alliances with bourgeois political groups. Unfortunately for Orwell he was in the wrong place at the wrong time – this was the time of the big Stalinist push against Trotskyism, and in Spain this meant the POUM. He wrote:

‘’I must say something about the general charge that the POUM was a secret fascist organization in the pay of Franco and Hitler. This charge was repeated over and over in the Communist press … according to the Frenti Rojo (the Valencia Communist Newspaper) ‘’Trotskyism, is not a political doctrine; it is a capitalist organization in league with the Fascists, a Fascist terrorist band, and part of Franco’s 5th column.’’

What was noticeable from the start was that there was no evidence to support this accusation; the thing was simply asserted with an air of authority.’’ (My emphaisis – FL)

Yep, sounds familiar.

Orwell’s pessimism in this respect reached its terminal stage in his disturbing dystopian novel, 1984

This manufacture of a virtual reality is now common currency in the mass media. The press in particular – including the putatively left-wing publications, (more catholic than the Pope) the Guardian and the Independent – pretty much operate as an appendage to the ‘invisible’ people or are the ‘invisible people’ identified by Bernays. A case in point being a recent snippet in the Independent newspaper which read:

‘’60,000 tortured to death in (Syrian) government jails.’’

‘’At least 60,000 people have died in Syrian government jails during the 5-year conflict, according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) which said they died ‘’either as a result of direct bodily torture or denial of food and medicine.’’ The Observatory’s director, Abdulrahman said more than 20,000 had died in Sednaya prison near Damascus. The Observatory claimed it had been able to verify the deaths of 14,456.00 (sic) under the age of 18, since the start of the Syrian uprising since 2011.

The Independent 23-05-2106 By Tom Perry – Beirut.

Closer examination reveals that Mr Abdulrahman has lived in Coventry – a small provincial town in middle-England – since 2006 and owns a shop which he runs with his wife; nonetheless he asserts that his sources were serving officials seeking to expose what is going on.

So, we get one guy in Beirut publishing a report based upon another guy who has lived in Coventry since 2006 and who claims to have contacts at high levels in the Syrian government. Yeah, right!

Yet the Independent, which is said to be a ‘left leaning’ newspaper owned by the Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev who purchased it in 2010, will it seems publish extremely dubious stories without checking the sources but simply takes what they say at face value. No doubt this dishonesty serves a greater cause.

The post-modernist denial of the possibility of objective reality is now firmly entrenched in reactionary elite circles. It involves, 1. ‘Groupthink’ defined as a process where a group with similar backgrounds and largely insulated from outside opinion makes decisions without critically testing, analysing and evaluating ideas and outcomes. 2. ‘Doublethink’ where two incompatible thoughts can be carried on at the same time. It of course follows that if everyone is thinking the same then no-one is thinking at all. Finally, 3. Double standards. Describing the behaviour of your opponents as despicable, inhuman and a violation of human rights, when ‘our’ side is doing exactly the same. Of necessity this involves all of the above mechanisms. Orwell explained:

‘’Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and of course there is no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.’’ (Notes on Nationalism – 1945).

The Goebbels propaganda template was/is disarmingly simple: tell a lie, preferably a big one and then repeat it endlessly until it seeps into the popular consciousness. Taking their cue from this policy the mainstream media messages are relentless, ubiquitous, and obedient to their political masters. This was apparent during the EU referendum campaign and the geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe and the South China Sea. This information war is now the primary political phenomenon of our times, and the mass media speaks with one voice.

As Orwell opined: ‘To begin with, the era of free speech is closing down, the freedom of the press in Britain has always been something of a fake, because in the last resort, money controls opinion.’ That’s the bad news. ‘… still as long as the legal right to say what you like exists, there are always loopholes for the unorthodox writer.’ (Why I joined the Independent Labour Party – 1938). With due deference to Orwell, however, those loopholes are disappearing fast.

Sad to say, however, Orwell actually ended up spying for the British Foreign Office. At the time, 1946, the USSR and Stalin were both very popular amongst the working people of the UK. The Soviet football (‘soccer’ for all our American friends) team, Moscow Dynamo, did a tour of the UK and played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (London); it was a mass sell-out where upwards of 100,000 fans spilled over onto the pitch. Chelsea won by the way, 4-1. (See below).

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Members of my own family were actively involved in the war both in the army, Royal navy and merchant navy. One such, Uncle Tom, took part in convoys carrying armaments to the USSR – a rather dangerous undertaking from Scotland to Murmansk all the time being bombed and torpedoed by German aircraft and U-Boats based in occupied Norway. He was lucky to survive.

But that was then, and this is now.

———————————————————————————————————

Unfortunately, however, and according to Ben Norton of The Greyzone 2016 , the popularity of the USSR was not to the liking of the British political class and intelligentsia. Indeed!

Norton noted the following:

‘’It is fascinating seeing people in the 21st century, especially self-declared leftists, still lionizing George Orwell, the worst kind of reactionary turncoat.

For years, the cat has been out of the bag: George Orwell secretly worked for the UK’s Foreign Office. At the end of his life, he was an outright counter-revolutionary snitch, spying on leftists on behalf of the imperialist British government.

The US government also found Orwell’s work quite useful. The coup-plotting, death squad-training assassins and torturers at the Central Intelligence Agency turned Orwell’s books into a propaganda weapon. The CIA even funded the Animal Farm movie, which is now mandatory viewing in many high schools.

But that happened after Orwell’s death in 1950. What is more scandalous is that he knowingly collaborated with the UK government when he was still alive.

Orwell’s List” is a term that should be known by anyone who claims to be a person of the left. It was a blacklist Orwell compiled for the British government’s Information Research Department; an anti-communist propaganda unit set up for the Cold War.

The list includes dozens of suspected communists, “crypto-communists,” socialists, “fellow travellers,” and even LGBT people and Jews — their names scribbled alongside the sacrosanct 1984 author’s disparaging comments about the personal predilections of those blacklisted.

The document was declassified by the British government in 2003. The leading neoliberal newspaper The Guardian reported at the time that the blacklist “contains the names of 38 public figures, from the actors Charlie Chaplin and Michael Redgrave to the author JB Priestley, whom Orwell suggested should not be trusted by the IRD as anti-communist propagandists.”

Timothy Garton Ash, the historian who obtained the document, revealed that Orwell gave the blacklist to his close friend Celia Kirwan, who worked for the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department, from his sickbed in May 1949.

Orwell had told Kirwan in April that the list included journalists and writers who “in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists.”

“There seems to be general agreement by Orwell’s fans, left and right, to skate gently over Orwell’s suspicions of Jews, homosexuals and blacks, also over the extreme ignorance of his assessments,” wrote legendary radical journalist Alexander Cockburn, sardonically referring to the anti-communist blacklist as “St. George’s List.”

“If any other postwar left intellectual was suddenly found to have written mini-diatribes about blacks, homosexuals and Jews, we can safely assume that subsequent commentary would not have been forgiving,” he added. “Here there’s barely a word.”

Cockburn’s The Nation article on the subject, “St. George’s List,” is difficult to find today. I have republished it in full below. The article was also expanded into “The Fable of the Weasel,” Cockburn’s foreword for John Reed’s Animal Farm parody Snowball’s Chance.

Apologists insist Orwell simply “sold out” later in life and became a cranky conservative, yet the story is more complex. Orwell had a consistent political thread throughout his life. This explains how he could go from fighting alongside a Spanish Trostkyite militia in a multi-tendency war against fascism to demonizing the Soviet Union as The Real Enemy — before returning home to imperial Britain, where he became a social democratic traitor who castigated capitalism while collaborating with the capitalist state against revolutionaries trying to create socialism.

Sure, the USSR did some objectionable things, but it was also the only large country in the entire world that supported the Spanish Republicans in their fight against fascism (excluding a bit of extra support from Mexico). The Soviet Union understood that one cannot have a revolution if one cannot even defeat the fascist counterrevolution first — a lesson many on the left still have not learned today.

Yet leftists like Orwell and his devoted followers continue to lament Kronstadt and revel in their ideological purity — while conveniently living relatively comfortable lives in Western imperialist country.’’

So, if it is the case that Orwell fell foul of some reactionary impulses in later life, then none of us is apparently immune to this type of propaganda. I think Orwell’s conversion dates back to his political period working for the British Colonial Office in India. His novels – Burmese Days, for example – as well as articles such as (Shooting and Elephant) and (A Hanging) seem to have insinuated themselves into his belief system. This was not at all unusual among intellectuals from the 1950’s onwards – with the honourable exception of C Wright Mills perhaps – who became fervent supporters of imperialism and is still the case today. The blue pill is apparently still all the rage among the decadent and fashionable elite! This much is manifest. Like the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, who in 1918 said of the political/moral degeneration of the West:

‘’The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity…

‘’And what rough beast its hour come round at last slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.’’

(The Second Coming)

But like the carthorse, Boxer, in Animal Farm, we, the western ‘intelligentsia’ (sic! or what passes for it) must try harder.

The Zelenskys’ Vogue Photoshoot Exposes What A Charade The Ukrainian Conflict Has Become

Jul 28 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Westerners have been indoctrinated into believing that the First Family is struggling just like their compatriots. Zelensky, for example, almost never changes his shirt so folks assumed that life must be very difficult for the Ukrainian President if he can’t even practice proper hygiene. The last thing that they could have expected is that he’s actually living a pretty swanky life with his wife, both of whom come off as totally carefree and relaxed.

The Zelenskys allowed Vogue to do a glamorous photoshoot of them the other day in a move that triggered surprisingly sharp criticisms among many Westerners, with even Newsweek (which can’t by any stretch of the imagination be described as so-called “Russian propaganda”) reporting on how many people considered it to be inappropriate. Up until this point, it was considered “taboo” in terms of Western “political correctness” to ever criticize anything that this wartime leader and his family does. Those who did so were condemned as so-called “Russian propagandists” who were supposedly seeking to “divide the West”. Now, however, it’s apparently alright to give him and his wife a tongue lashing.

It’s understandable why many Westerners were so upset by the Zelenskys’ Vogue photoshoot. After all, they’ve been indoctrinated into believing that the First Family is struggling just like their compatriots. Zelensky, for example, almost never changes his shirt so folks assumed that life must be very difficult for the Ukrainian President if he can’t even practice proper hygiene. People imagined that he’s toiling away in a secret bunker somewhere while leading the war with his generals, all of whom are supposedly targets of shadowy Russian assassins. The last thing that they could have expected is that he’s actually living a pretty swanky life with his wife, both of whom come off as totally carefree and relaxed.  

Vogue went too far in their contribution to his cult of personality and thus inadvertently triggered an unprecedented backlash against the man who the West has painstakingly attempted to present to the public as a “secular god”. They’ve already failed to convince Africans to join their new cult as evidenced by only four of their leaders tuning in to listen to his virtual address to the African Union in late June, which was a major snubbing of the man whom the West demands that everyone pays their respects to without exception. Even so, American perception managers took for granted that their cult will continue to thrive among the Western masses, yet Vogue just messed everything up for them in a huge way.

Many Westerners have come to resent the tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds that have been given to Zelensky without them having a word in this process, let alone there being any oversight whatsoever regarding how he uses their money. Still, they mostly remained silent out of so-called “solidarity” with his “cause”, while those who spoke out were mercilessly smeared as “Russian agents” like was earlier explained. Now, however, the multitude of people who’d begun to resent Zelensky are finally speaking out after how disgusted they were with his and his wife’s Vogue photoshoot, which showed that he’s just another entitled member of the elite who isn’t struggling at all.

Any decent person would be furious to see a self-proclaimed wartime leader living the life of luxury that the Zelenskys enjoy, some of which is presumably funded by Western taxpayers. He’s supposed to be an icon of struggle, not elitism, yet he, his wife, and Vogue were so tone-deaf and caught up with taking his cult of personality to the next level that they didn’t think for a second how the Western masses would react to his photoshoot. All they wanted to do was make him and his wife out to be the most glamorous people on the planet, which incensed many Westerners who are openly disgusted with the easy life that they have at others’ expense while their own people are struggling.

This scandal is emblematic of what a charade the Ukrainian Conflict has become. Everything that Westers were told by their media has turned out to be false. From Snake Island to the Ghost of Kiev and now the “folk legend” of the Zelenskys supposedly “suffering in solidarity with their people”, the whole thing has been nothing but an unprecedented perception management operation waged by their own governments with the intent of misleading their people. Now that the Western masses are waking up and are no longer afraid to speak out and condemn the Zelenskys’ lavish excesses in life (some of which are presumably paid for with their tax dollars), other perceptions might soon change too.

For instance, it’s only a matter of time before some of these same newly enraged people start wondering why the conflict began in the first place if everything else that they’ve been told about it has proven to be false. Others might ask whether the Zelensky deserve any more of their taxes after seeing the life of luxury that they enjoy despite supposedly living under Russian missiles. All told, the “official narrative” over the Ukrainian Conflict is beginning to crumble after Vogue went too far in its attempts to take Zelensky’s cult of personality to the next level, which counterproductively inspired the Western masses to finally speak out against him and start asking uncomfortable questions about the conflict.

Sitrep: Here Comes China – Propaganda and BRI

April 26, 2021

Selections from Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China.   You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Further selections and editorial commentary by Amarynth.  This will be a short one, as some links that are necessary cannot be used.  This first video will give you an idea of why.


In a video by Daniel Dumbrill, the true hegemonic ‘other war with China‘, the one of propaganda, becomes crystal clear.  He talks about the true intentions behind the anti-China propaganda campaign push, explains why it will soon increase, and further warning signs.   He plays clips from an Australian think tank who clearly expresses that even in the very unlikely event that China accepts the full US Constitution today, they will gladly put China back to the stone age, as they ‘should not have a peer competitor’.  A good video for everyone (not just those interested in China), on propaganda and power today.

Only one of the questions in the clip and I paraphrase:  Can we get the American people ‘exercised’ enough that they are willing to fight in specific situations?  The United States is so good at thread inflation and fearmongering that we have no problems with that issue.

Biden’s nuclear threat. President Biden and Japan’s PM Suga said China actions “are inconsistent with the international rules-based order peace and prosperity in the region. “The alliance between Washington and Tokyo has become a cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. Japan resolved to bolster its own national defense capabilities…The United States restated its unwavering support for Japan’s defense… using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear”Read full article →


And to contrast the warmongering message in the previous two reports, Belt and Road Studies:

This is the overview of Belt and Road.  The thinking that BRI is simply a trading mechanism, is not accurate.  It is an alternative development path for the world that works in a multi-lateral and non-hegemonic framework and it is a Zone B initiative. Xi Jinping states that “the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a public road open to all, not a private path owned by one single party.”

This first link is a thorough overview, almost up to the minute as to the progress of this massive initiative.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/silkroad/english/index.htm

And here is a fact box style – where most questions can be answered.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/silkroad/english/factbox.htm


As some of us expect a sea change in the economics of the world, this is a not-to-be-missed reading from Asia Times, with the headline of China’s digital yuan displaces the dollar.

The economic penny is dropping.  You will find comments by all the western self-styled ‘economic greats’.  Although you should read the article, it can be summarized with this quote:

China’s dominance in digital currency will follow naturally from its position as the world’s top exporter. And because the digital yuan will be the largest currency in international trade, and China will have a market leader advantage in introducing CBDC’s, other exporters will use the digital yuan as a matter of convenience.

This would be of minor consequence to America’s world position, except for the fact that the United States now must borrow 15% to 20% of its GDP each year to finance its internal budget deficit, and also must attract about $1 trillion of capital inflows to finance its growing current account deficit with the rest of the world.

So no need to spell out where this is going.  https://asiatimes.com/2021/04/chinas-digital-yuan-displaces-the-dollar/

A quick clip from a tweet to illustrate:

And finally Sino-Serbian relations:

Sino-Serbian relations under the “microscope”: China’s footprint In Serbia

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2021/04/14/sino-serbian-relations-under-the-microscope-chinas-footprint-in-serbia/embed/#?secret=35v0PkRReP


Cover Image:  The “O” Tower – Danish architecture studio BIG has designed the O-Tower for Chinese smartphone manufacturer OPPO in Hangzhou.The circular skyscraper will surround an open courtyard. It will be built within Hangzhou’s Future Sci-Tech City and act as an “iconic landmark and gateway” to the business district. The tower will be built alongside a natural lake and a 10,000 square-meter park. Read full article → 

This is but a fraction of what I gleaned from the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

By Andrew Korybko

Source

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same.

The Biden Administration is following in the footsteps of the former Trump one by exercising hypocrisy towards unauthorized and violent protests. Both his and Trump’s condemned the violent storming of the US Capitol earlier this month, yet neither has any compunctions about endorsing similar destabilizations whenever they happen in Hong Kong or Russia. The former administration gleefully supported unauthorized and violent protests in China’s Special Autonomous Region against its national security legislation, while the present one is doing the exact same thing regarding imprisoned anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.

That individual was recently detained for probation violations upon his return to Russia from Germany where he was receiving treatment after being mysteriously poisoned over the summer. He and some Western governments accuse the Russian one of attempting to assassinate him using the banned chemical weapon Novichok, a charge which Moscow vehemently denies. Navalny called for his compatriots to protest nationwide on Saturday in response to his detainment, which several tens of thousands of them did. Approximately three thousand people were detained for participating in these unauthorized protests, which quickly turned violent.

In the run-up to those riots, the Russian government strongly criticized its American counterpart for publishing the locations and times of unauthorized protests on its embassy website. It later slammed embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross for describing the security services’ response as a “concerted campaign to suppress free speech [and] peaceful assembly.” It should be noted that Russian media has shared footage of some participants attacking police and even beating up counter-demonstrators. Russia was also shocked that the unauthorized protests were being advertised to minors through social media.

It’s very disappointing that the Biden Administration is picking up where its predecessor left off, albeit by directing weaponized protests against Russia instead of China like Trump’s did, at least for now. America is further sacrificing its already dwindling soft power standing across the world through such blatant displays of hypocrisy. It cannot condemn similar manifestations of violence disguised as protest at home while enthusiastically supporting such instances abroad. In addition, the Biden Administration’s demand to unconditionally release Navalny and the protesters is a textbook example of meddling in another state’s affairs.

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be all that surprising for observers. Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same. This in turn ensures policy continuation in the strategic sense, though it can of course be altered depending on the political will that the president at the time has to do so, like how Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal for example.

Evidently, President Biden and his team had no such will to stop their predecessor’s plans to support — and arguably even organize to a certain extent — this latest anti-Russian destabilization. They’re notorious Russophobes in the political sense who wouldn’t ever consider the pragmatism of easing pressure on Russia or the soft power benefits inherent in having a consistent stance towards unauthorized and violent protests. This is the absolutely wrong policy to practice since there’s never any excuse for violating international law. It also further erodes the country’s image abroad and could lead to unintended international consequences.

Whether someone’s protesting against national security legislation, allegedly rigged elections, or for the release of a detained blogger, they must always do so peacefully and follow the law. Illegally assembling and committing acts of violence against the security services and counter-protesters, especially while encouraging impressionable youth to de facto function as human shields, is absolutely unacceptable. It’s all the worse when a foreign power is politically supporting these events and even publicly organizing them through its embassy website. If President Biden is serious about change, then he must immediately stop these double standards.

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