FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Interview with Mickey Z

by JOSHUA FRANK

Mickey Z. is the author of two new books: “A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense” (Library Empyreal) and The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda (Common Courage Press). He can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.

JOSHUA FRANK: Mickey, you were one of the few commentators on the left who was skeptical of the “Anybody But Bush” mentality this past election year. What do you think the consequences were for the anti-war movement when so many of its leaders opted to pursue anti-Bush agenda, rather than anti-war agenda?

Mickey Z: The answer lies in your question. The anti-war aspect was co-opted by a personalized attack on one man and, at most, one party. It became Bush’s war…a Republican war. The mantra become so overwhelming that even those who should know better bought into the lie.

This is hardly new, however. Compare the public response to Clinton’s illegal bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 to Bush merely talking about an invasion of Iraq in 2002 and you’ll clearly see the fruits of long-time conditioning. For the next four years, Democrats can confidently posture as anti-war, knowing a large mass of the population will ignore or simply not notice that their actions contradict their rhetoric.

It will be a giant step toward change when more people realize that our two-party (sic) system is like an airplane. It has a right wing and a left wing…but only one pilot.

JF: And who is this “pilot?”

MZ: The pilot, and this is crucial, is not any individual or political party. The “pilot” is institutional. Call it “corporate America” if you like, but we’re talking about an entrenched global financial system unburdened by national borders or allegiances. Bush may be the public face of this predatory paradigm for the next four years, but he is as interchangeable as any corporate CEO. Sorry to mix metaphors here, but he’s gotta keep those shareholders and board of directors happy.

JF: Are you talking about some big conspiracy theory here, like the Illuminati? Or simply, as C. Wright Mills would call them, the “power-elite?”

MZ: When the board of a massive transnational corporation meets to plot ways to maximize profit, it’s not a conspiracy. Multiply that times thousands and you have the “power elite.” They don’t need secret societies…just enough people with a vested interest in maintaining the economic status quo.

JF: You have a new book out, called the Seven Deadly Spins. Can you talk a little about what influenced you to take on the topic of spin and how the government sells the American public “war?”

MZ: An underlying theme of almost all my writing has been the debunking of myths and decoding of propaganda. I believe it’s my entry point in terms of reaching people. After 9/11, with all the talk about the world being changed forever and a perpetual war of terror (sic) being unilaterally declared, I was drawn to the topic of wartime propaganda and felt if I could present an historical perspective, it might provide the context needed to better understand what’s going on now.

JF: And what is going on now regarding the use of spin and propaganda and the Iraq invasion? Is it different, than say, the propaganda used by the government and the corporate press to justify the Vietnam War?

MZ: The spin and propaganda are dutifully following the formula laid out in my book.

Spin #1: The Sleeping Giant: The U.S. wanted peace but was provoked by the evil aspirations of Saddam Hussein.

Spin #2: Good Wars: Having been forced into war, the U.S. is only fighting in the name of democracy and justice.

Spin #3: U.S. vs. Them: The Iraqi opposition is made up of ruthless thugs who hate freedom and threaten peace-loving humans everywhere.

Spin #4: Support the Troops: No matter what we think of Bush or the lies he told before the invasion, we must all unite behind our troops and support the brave men and women fighting to preserve our way of life.

Spin #5: The Devil Made U.S. Do It: During every war, even the U.S. has to play a little rough…when the enemy is terrorists who behead civilians and set up rape rooms, sometimes you have to put the rules of law aside.

Spin #6: Surgical Strikes: Those billion-dollar weapons can differentiate between the guilty and the innocent.

Spin #7: Only Losers Commit War Crimes: Enemies of the U.S. must be brought to justice. Bad behavior by U.S. soldiers is an aberration…the actions of a few bad apples.

While variations must exist, of course, from war to war…for the most part, there’s not an ounce of originality in there.

JF: Why do you think it is necessary for the U.S. government to use “spin?”

MZ: With a few exceptions, most humans are not looking for opportunities to slaughter other humans. However, history has shown that we’re all susceptible to the allure of nationalism, chauvinism, and ethnocentricity. Spin preys on our deepest fears…exploiting the human spirit in a heinous manner. One of the most disgraceful aspects of life in this 21st century white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy is how so many of our best minds are working day and night to conjure methods of mass deception…whether it be state-sponsored propaganda or corporate disinformation.

JF: So what can we do to combat the “spin” we are inundated with? Will the masses ever see through the lies and deception?

MZ: As Neils Bohr said, it’s difficult to make predictions…especially about the future. Will the American population eventually wake up? Hard to say.
I’d say 9/11 was a potential wake-up call and that just resulted in more myopia. However, if we examine our historyÐfrom the abolition of slavery to women getting the right to vote to the civil rights movement and moreÐwe see brilliant examples of large sectors of the populace shrugging off the shackles of propaganda.

In terms of “how” to combat spin, there’s no secret formula. It requires that we use the faculties of independent thought we are born with. On my end, what I can provide is a litany of cases in which we were deceived and duped while demonstrating why the government/corporate nexus has little motivation to be honest.

But nothing will change until we change our minds.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be released in early 2005 by Common Courage Press.

 

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail