Thursday, March 20, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 12: Force and Opinion Segment 8/20
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A properly functioning system of indoctrination has a variety of tasks, some rather delicate. One of its targets is the stupid and ignorant masses. They must be kept that way, diverted with emotionally potent oversimplifications, marginalized, and isolated. Ideally, each person should be alone in front of the TV screen watching sports, soap operas, or comedies, deprived of organizational structures that permit individuals lacking resources to discover what they think and believe in interaction with others, to formulate their own concerns and programs, and to act to realize them. They can then be permitted, even encouraged, to ratify the decisions of their betters in periodic elections. The rascal multitude are the proper targets of the mass media and a public education system geared to obedience and training in needed skills, including the skill of repeating patriotic slogans on timely occasions.

For submissiveness to become a reliable trait, it must be entrenched in every realm. The public are to be observers, not participants, consumers of ideology as well as products. Eduardo Galeano writes that "the majority must resign itself to the consumption of fantasy. Illusions of wealth are sold to the poor, illusions of freedom to the oppressed, dreams of victory to the defeated and of power to the weak."34 Nothing less will do.

The problem of indoctrination is a bit different for those expected to take part in serious decision-making and control: the business, state, and cultural managers, and articulate sectors generally. They must internalize the values of the system and share the necessary illusions that permit it to function in the interests of concentrated power and privilege -- or at least be cynical enough to pretend that they do, an art that not many can master. But they must also have a certain grasp of the realities of the world, or they will be unable to perform their tasks effectively. The elite media and educational systems must steer a course through these dilemmas, not an easy task, one plagued by internal contradictions. It is intriguing to see how it is faced, but that is beyond the scope of these remarks.

For the home front, a variety of techniques of manufacture of consent are required, geared to the intended audience and its ranking on the scale of significance. For those at the lowest rank, and for the insignificant peoples abroad, another device is available, what a leading turn-of-the-century American sociologist, Franklin Henry Giddings, called "consent without consent": "if in later years, [the colonized] see and admit that the disputed relation was for the highest interest, it may be reasonably held that authority has been imposed with the consent of the governed," as when a parent disciplines an uncomprehending child. Giddings was referring to the "misguided creatures" that we were reluctantly slaughtering in the Philippines, for their own good.35 But the lesson holds more generally.

As noted, the Bolshevik overtones are apparent throughout. The systems have crucial differences, but also striking similarities. Lippmann's "specialized class" and Bernays' "intelligent minority," which are to manage the public and their affairs according to liberal democratic theory, correspond to the Leninist vanguard of revolutionary intellectuals. The "manufacture of consent" advocated by Lippmann, Bernays, Niebuhr, Lasswell and others is the Agitprop of their Leninist counterparts. Following a script outlined by Bakunin over a century ago, the secular priesthood in both of the major systems of hierarchy and coercion regard the masses as stupid and incompetent, a bewildered herd who must be driven to a better world -- one that we, the intelligent minority, will construct for them, either taking state power ourselves in the Leninist model, or serving the owners and managers of the state capitalist systems if it is impossible to exploit popular revolution to capture the commanding heights.

Much as Bakunin had predicted long before, the Leninist "Red bureaucracy" moved at once to dismantle organs of popular control, particularly, any institutional structures that might provide working people with some influence over their affairs as producers or citizens. Studying Bolshevik development programs from a comparative and historical perspective, Alexander Gerschenkron comments that "Marxian ideology, or any socialist ideology for that matter, has had a very remote, if any, relation to the great industrial transformation engineered by the Soviet government," including the "approximate sixfold increase in the volume of industrial output" by the mid-1950s, "the greatest and the longest [spurt of industrialization] in the history of the country's industrial development," at an extraordinary human cost, primarily to the peasantry.36 That the same was true of the organization of production and of social and political life generally is too obvious to require comment.

Not surprisingly, the immediate destruction of the incipient socialist tendencies that arose during the ferment of popular struggle in 1917 has been depicted by the world's two great propaganda systems as a victory for socialism. For the Bolsheviks, the goal of the farce was to extract what advantage they could from the moral prestige of socialism; for the West, the purpose was to defame socialism and entrench the system of ownership and management control over all aspects of economic, political, and social life. The collapse of the Leninist system cannot properly be called a victory for socialism, any more than the collapse of Hitler and Mussolini could be described in these terms; but as in those earlier cases, it does eliminate a barrier to the realization of the libertarian socialist ideals of the popular movements that were crushed in Russia in 1917, Germany shortly after, Spain in 1936, and elsewhere, often with the Leninist vanguard leading the way in taming the rascal multitude with their libertarian socialist and radical democratic aspirations.

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34 Galeano, Days and Nights of Love and War (Monthly Review, 1983).

35 See Turning the Tide, 162f.

36 Gerschenkron, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective, 146, 150. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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