FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Organized Chaos and Confusion as Political Control

There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.

– Buffalo Springfield, 1967

It’s not supposed to be clear, now or then.  If you’re confused by the news you’re hearing, you should be.  They want you to be.  They try to make you be.  But you don’t have to be.

Who are “they”?  They are the corporate mainstream media (MSM) that serve as mouthpieces for the power elites, who are connected through an intricate system of institutions and associations, both obvious and shadowy.  They run the show that the media produce for the masses.  To paraphrase the illustrious American propagandist, Edward Bernays: This is the engineering of the consent of the ignorant herd by the intelligent few.

That this has been going on for a long time should be obvious.  That such propaganda is surround-sound today is a fact.  It is total and non-stop.  Even its critics are often seduced as they are horrified.

But I utter the obvious to explore the obscure.  In particular, the ways the elites try to manage the public mind by confusing contradictions, half-truths, multiple and conflicting narratives, and revelations proffered to conceal more fundamental facts.

The basic way people’s thinking is controlled today is by confusing them and creating a perpetual state of mental vertigo.  Muddled and disordered by double-speak, illogical reporting, and a kaleidoscopic merry-go-round of conflicting reports, the average person is reduced to a mental mess.  “To the average man who tries to keep informed,” writes Jacques Ellul in Propaganda, “a world emerges that is astonishingly incoherent, absurd, and irrational, which changes rapidly and constantly for reasons he can’t understand.”

Take Donald Trump.  He is regularly castigated by the media for his endless stream of tweets and contradictory statements.  He is called a moron, mentally imbalanced, and a clown.  But what these critics fail to grasp is that he is beating them at their own game of sowing confusion.  He is our modern mythic Johnny Appleseed, wildly spewing seeds of bedlam to incite and confound.  He is no anomaly.  He has stepped out of our celebrity reality-TV screened world to carry on the media’s task of what Orwell said was a necessary task for the rulers in a totalitarian society: “to dislocate the sense of reality.”

The mainstream media do this daily.  Think of their reporting of some recent news and ask yourself what exactly have they said – Russia-gate, the Iran agreement, the Las Vegas massacre, Catalonia, health insurance, etc. Gibberish piled upon gibberish, that’s what they’ve said.  A salmagundi of contradictory verbiage that leaves a half-way sentient person shaking one’s head in astonishment.  Or leaves one baffled, devoid of any sense of the truth.

While the gross Harvey Weinstein, buddy to Democrat politicians who took large sums from his deep pockets, dominates the MSM’s spotlight, as if his exploits suddenly appeared out of nowhere, the U.S. war against Syria and so many other countries “isn’t happening,” as Harold Pinter put it in his Nobel acceptance speech when he said the systematic crimes of the United States have been disappeared behind “a highly successful act of hypnosis.” The nuclear threats to Russia and China aren’t happening.  It doesn’t matter right now anyway.  We might get back to that next week or next month, if we are finished with Weinstein by then or if Stephen Paddock’s autopsy report isn’t back from Stanford where they are studying his brain tissue to find the cause and manner of his death – you know what deep secrets brain tissue can reveal.  And yes, we will be exploring a question a brilliant reporter asked the Las Vegas authorities: “Do you think Paddock did it because he could?”

In 2003 the Bush administration blatantly lied about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to wage a barbaric and criminal war against Iraq.  Then Obama glided in on the giddy fantasies of liberals, the same people who supported Clinton’s savaging of Serbia in 1999.  He smiled and smiled and spoke articulately about the need for war, drone assassinations, the bailing out of Wall Street and the big banks, the need to confront Russia over his own administration’s engineered Ukrainian coup, and a crackdown on whistleblowers. For decades the media echoed the blatant deceptions of these men.  From slick to obvious to slick went the propaganda.  And then the shock and awe of Mr. Trump’s election.  How to deal with one of their own, one spawned from the entertainment-media-news complex? Trump accused them of creating fake news.  He relentlessly attacked them, as if to say: you hypocrites; you accuse me of what you do.  Then he continued to tweet out his messages meant to confuse and inflame.  He continued to make statements that were then contradicted.  What were the poor media to do except one-up him.  This they have done.

We have now entered a new phase of propaganda where sowing mass confusion on every issue 24/7 is the method of choice.

But therein lies hope if we can grasp the meaning of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical statement: “When both a speaker and an audience are confused, the speech is profound.”

More articles by:

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely.  He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
March 30, 2020
Marshall Auerback
Washington Uses the Pandemic to Create a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Its Cronies
Ron Jacobs
Going After Maduro
Justin Podur
When Economists Try to Solve Health Crises, the Results Can Often be Disastrous
Thomas Knapp
Decarceration: COVID-19 is Opportunity Knocking
Arshad Khan - Meena Miriam Yust
Dying Planet and a Virus Unleashed
William Astore
How My Dad Predicted the Decline of America
Seth Sandronsky
Reclaiming Vacant Homes in the COVID-19 Pandemic
John G. Russell
Racial Profiling Disorder: the All-American Pandemic
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
As the World Tackles the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. Raises the Pressure on Venezuela
Laura Flanders
Covid-19: Our Health Crisis is Born of Bigotry
Cesar Chelala
The New World of Coronavirus
Lawrence Wittner
The World’s Major Military and Economic Powers Find Happiness Elusive
Ted Rall
My Dead French Grandfather Helped Me with COVID-19
Rob Okun
A Citizens’ Call to Invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Ashar Foley
COVID-19 Proves It: We Need Medicare-for-All
Robert Koehler
The Virus is Our Teacher
Wim Laven
Are You Prepared to Needlessly Die for Your Country?
Jill Richardson
Stay Home, Stay Angry
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
What’s Wrong with Ranked Choice Voting
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Sues Trump’s Bureau of Reclamation for Bull Trout Fatalities in Saint Mary-Milk River Irrigation Project on the east Side of Glacier National Park
Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman
Kathleen Wallace
The End of the Parasite Paradigm
Anthony DiMaggio
Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media
Andrew Levine
Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo
David Rosen
God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus
Evaggelos Vallianatos
In the Grip of Disease
David Schultz
The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change
Edward Leer
Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt
Robert Fisk
What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19
Daniel Warner
COVID-19: Health or Wealth?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism
Ramzy Baroud
BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy
Richard Moser
Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead
Ron Jacobs
Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism
Chris Gilbert
Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures
Richard Eskow
Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout
Jonathan Carp
Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations
Andrew Bacevich
The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom
Peter Cohen
COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail