Skepticism is a special way of regarding commonly accepted opinions such that doubt plays a central and overriding role. By definition it must always be a minority view. By definition, also, it is the impetus for change. As such it is the attitude that has guided investigators across a wide range of disciplines.
At cross purposes are those that wish to perpetuate orthodoxy. In the interests of preservation, systems of control must be developed. Authority, if it is to remain absolute, cannot allow itself to be questioned.
Control systems range from the more obvious, like that found in the ever present display of force in totalitarian or police states, to the subtle, like that found in what are regarded as liberal democracies, where persuasion is relied on as a tool of control.
Ruling by persuasion is more clever, more cunning. When done effectively, the target population ends up controlling itself. This cannot be admitted by the state doing the controlling or it would give the game away. The targeted population must be completely unaware. What develops is a sophisticated propaganda regime with an apparatus capable of disseminating the proper information, namely, state supported information. The case to be made is that the United States Government (USG) is just such a regime.
Control of information is necessarily imperfect. At any time there will be information that contradicts that which is put out by the state. An unskeptical population provides the necessary counterbalance to ensure that this type of disturbance does not reach a critical level. Contradictory information gradually runs aground.
Standing up for your country, or, what amounts to the same, rooting for the home team, is the default position. It is the position one would be expected to take in the absence of compelling factors in an opposite direction. The reason for its default position is that our country or our team becomes an extension of ourselves. When we cheer it, we cheer ourselves. It’s quite natural but also meaningless.
While the question of meaning is of little consequence for the sports team rooter, this is certainly not the case for building national patriotic spirit. The state must thoroughly imbue itself with meaning precisely because even though we are psychologically predisposed to support the state (because it is us), the meaninglessness of it would proscribe unquestioned support.
To this end, a magnificent construct is created, that of, for the long and short of it, a country that serves as a beacon of light for the rest of the world. We decimated the redskin, subjugated the brownskin, enslaved the blackskin, persecuted the yellowskin, and target the oliveskin. Ours is a land of opportunity.
The ruling elite possess vast fortunes. All are equals under the law. The poor are sick and hungry. Blessed are the meek. Security, eavesdropping, surveillance up/privacy down. The land of the free.
We imprison one-quarter of the world’s prisoners. Justice is blind. Corporate profits up/wages down. Protecting the American way of life. We spread democracy throughout the world. We don’t target innocents.
So long as our people are oblivious to the capitalist exploitation of the worker, workers will remain imperiled. So long as young men and women believe that the U.S. is a force for good in the world, capitalist imperialist war will remain a fixture. So long as young men and women believe they are fighting for freedom and democracy, they will rally to the cry. And so long as they are treated as heroes, others wait to take their place.
An argument is unconvincing if it avoids serious counter-argument, so let’s answer a strong argument for why more people do not become dissidents. It’s ‘if we don’t do it to them, they’ll do it to us’. We’re just getting them first. Virtual self-defense. However murderous we may seem to be, that cannot be measured outside of a context that takes into consideration the utter barbarity of the other side.
This philosophy will easily draw adherents. Who wouldn’t rather get, than be gotten? It’s a simple proposition. So simple it was used with effect by George W. Bush. You’re either with us, or with the terrorists...to which an appealing answer was, well I’m certainly not with you.
So why doesn’t the USG drop the pretense for its serial aggression and lay it on the line for the rabid flag wavers that would support it anyway? Why all the hypocrisy about fighting for freedom and democracy? Why the dance?
A good answer is that an aggressive state will never willingly surrender its most effective weapons. In this case the target is the home population and the weapon is propaganda. We’re on the side of the angels.
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