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Of Fake News and History Suborned (In War and Peace)

by Greg Maybury, from PoxAmerikana

We have blind men, one-eyed men, squint-eyed men, men with long sight, short sight, clear sight, dim sight, [and] weak sight. All that is a faithful enough image of our understanding; but we are barely acquainted with [men of] false sight.” Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary, 1924. Knopf, NY

[M]ost establishment…journalists tend to be like their writing, and so, duly warned by the tinkle of so many leper-bells, one avoids their company.” The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001. © Gore Vidal, Abacus, 2001

It was while making news paper deliveries, trying to miss the bushes and hit the porch, that I learned about the importance of accuracy in journalism.”Charles Osgood

I heard the news today, oh boy…!”“A Day in the Life”, © John Lennon & Paul McCartney. 1968.

Brief: The gulf dividing established institutions—governments, political parties, academia, the judiciary, legislature, bureaucracies, the national security state, think-tanks, lobby groups, and especially the mainstream media—and those within and across the broader body politic, particularly those who’d challenge the chokehold such institutions seek to impose on the information and knowledge that forms the foundation of our political discourse as well as that of the official historical record, is expanding at a rate of knots. With a focus on one man who saw it all coming, it’s time to reflect on the backstory of this bourgeoning, perilous impasse, and what the implications might be for geopolitical stability and security, and indeed, the future of humanity.

Living in a Fog of Historical Myth

With an attendant lack of transparency and accountability, the mainstream media establishment routinely subordinates the basic tenets of ethical reportage in the public interest to the interests, demands, and expectations of what we now refer to as the ‘deep state’. This is largely driven by the failure or refusal of the Fourth Estate to live up to its basic remit in holding the ‘deep staters’ in turn responsible for their decisions and actions. This palpable, vicious circle, downward spiral reality is especially evident in matters of war and peace. Sadly, as we’ll see it was ever thus.

To underscore such sentiments and prepare the ground as it were, accounts of two recent newspaper pieces should do the trick. A Washington Examiner report by one Tom Rogan called on the Kiev regime to bomb the just completed Crimean Bridge. Even given the anti-Russian fervour in the West at present, the unreserved call by any purportedly responsible media outlet of what is after all an unprovoked act of war against that nuclear-armed country might’ve once been unthinkable.

In the Salem-like milieu that beclouds the Beltway though, for British analyst Neil Clark such ‘hate-filled incitement, masquerading as “commentary”’ is now evidently ‘thinkable’. More to the point, it perfectly showcases one of our key premises: the propensity for the MSM to act as cheerleaders for the war mongering ‘deep staters’.

Now we’ll return to the theme of the warmongering press in due course. But a quite different report—as surreal as that of the Examiner, but which also serves to highlight another of the motifs reflected in the opening—appeared via the New York Times (the newspaper Gore Vidal once cheekily noted that ‘prints only the news that fits its not-dissimilar mindset’). The erstwhile Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted expressing deep distress on behalf of America’s democracy, saying amongst things there was a ‘crisis of ethics and integrity’ therein.

Placing to one side the fact he was using the occasion to have a none-too-subtle dig or three at his old boss Donald Trump over the Oval One’s own obvious shortcomings in this respect, and that as the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, he was presumably never troubled by shareholder anxiety over himself prioritising corporate social responsibility (“ethics” and “integrity” being key components thereof) ahead of their pecuniary interests, we might marvel at why it took Tillerson so long to imbibe this reality and then share such disquiet with his fellow Americans.

After advancing a scenario wherein we ‘allow our leaders to conceal the truth’, and/or ‘become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts’, Tillerson went on to say, ‘we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.’ For the ex-oilman, ‘even small falsehoods and exaggerations are problematic…[W]hen we…as a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America’.

Now space herein delimits a thorough unpacking of Tillerson’s profound insights. Suffice to say all manner of pundits would have a field day if invited to do so. Judging by what Tillerson himself doubtless views are heart-felt ruminations on the body politic, he sees this as a recent development. Yet contrary to his remarks, this scenario did not arise with Trump; as Chris Hedges and others including this writer have noted before, Number 46 is much more a product of the malaise Tillerson aptly described than he is a precursor.

As it is, said “malaise” has been a work in progress for some time, with British historian David Andress observing that its roots run ‘deep into our history’. Declares Andress in his recent book Cultural Amnesia: How the West has Lost its History, and Risks losing everything Else, there’s now ‘a crippling void at the core of politics’, most notably in the historically leading nations in the West [Britain, France, the US]. He further says of this “void”: ‘[There is] an absence of reflection so profound it is hard for conventional commentary even to perceive it…[P]olitical perceptions are breaking dangerously free from a mooring in history.’ [My emphasis].

Central to that “malaise” or “void” of course is the corporate media.

In juxtaposing dichotomous themes of trust and suspicion, truth and lies, facts and propaganda, reality and perception, acceptance and denial, reason and unreason, justice and injustice, democracy and autocracy, and to no lesser extent, war and peace, amongst our literary icons it was perhaps George Orwell who captured this “malaise” or “void” best.
This is strikingly evident with regard to the mindset we as ‘consumers’ receive, process, and act on, knowledge about our history and from there, do same with information regarding the more contemporary events propelled by our political, media and bureaucratic elites and their paymasters. We’re not just talking about real news versus fake news; we’re talking about history both suborned and adorned in more or less equal measure.

Of course Orwell has been name checked to within an inch of his not insubstantial repute. But to paraphrase another of the English language’s great wordsmiths Samuel Johnson, the man’s observations about the core rationale behind modern political psychopathy have touched little that haven’t adorned our day-to-day reality. These embrace the hidden motives that propel it into the public sphere and the ‘substance’ of the discourse that frames it. This aberrant rationale has not just suborned our history; by extension, it has diluted our memory and devalued our understanding of it. That it continues to do so is self-evident. At least it is if we allow the ‘evidence’ some ‘breathing space’.

As for Orwell’s insights, what’s not to like about the following, each of which is pertinent in some way to our narrative and authored over 75 years ago?: ‘Who controls the past controls the future…Who controls the present controls the past’; ‘In our time political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible’; ‘Such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in….[T]hey may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions’; ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations’;…and last but not least, that perennial family favourite, ‘Big Brother is Watching You!’ There are many others on Orwell’s broad menu to be sure, but this is enough to propel us on our journey.

From there, Orwell also sought to reveal how “Big Brother” and his siblings endeavour to disparage, marginalise, and then disenfranchise (or worse) those who might offer conflicting analyses outside their own tightly scripted ‘Newspeak’, ‘doublethink’ purview, a template which as noted is very much intact. A diverse range of folks from William Binney, Julian Assange, Coleen Rowley, John Kiriakou, Jesselyn Radack, Jeffrey Sterling, Karen Kwiatkowski, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden amongst others would one suspects provide ample testament to that reality.

One of the most (ahem) memorable of plot devices in his novel 1984 was the concept of the memory hole. This was a process allowing for the modification or destruction of troublesome or awkward information in order to alter history and people’s memory of it or create the impression that something never happened. Two recent examples of the memory hole in action are worth mentioning briefly, both involving incidentally the West’s current bete noir Russia.

The first is the recent documentary film Remembrance – Rewriting history: Red Army’s role in liberating Europe censored in the West, the title leaving one with no uncertainty as to what the narrative is all about. Suffice to say this: Today’s generation is of the general belief it was the US who did most of the heavy lifting in World War II, as ‘that’s what their textbooks tell them’. Yet as the historical record tells it, compared to American deaths in the European theatre (around 300,000), the Soviets suffered around 27 million or more; further their country was trashed, whilst America remained largely untouched by the conflict. Put simply, the US got off light!

Moreover, the Red Army fighting on its own turf killed over four times as many Germans as the US and its allies did on the Western Front. In fact, the D-Day invasion, belatedly opened the second front in Europe in June 1944 after being delayed several times over two years prior largely due to prevarications by the then UK PM Winston Churchill, much to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s justifiable chagrin. By this time, it was clear the Soviets could achieve complete victory over the Nazis on its own, but by no means did this mean the allies were going to let the Soviets claim bragging rights to such an outcome. In any event, it appears this narrative has been quietly ‘memory-holed’. One is tempted to ask: To what end is this being done? It is straight out of the Orwell playbook.

(The recent revival of the long dormant accusation the Russians were responsible for the downing of the MH-17 passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014 is no coincidence. Once again it provides further evidence that the West’s march to war with Russia remains very much on the agenda, with my own country Australia being amongst the most vocal in pointing the finger, sans it would appear anything resembling convincing new evidence.)

And the second was an extraordinary interview with Mikhail Poltoranin, former Head of the Government Committee on the Declassification of KGB Archives. He revealed that in 1950, the U.S. Air Force actually attacked Soviet bases just outside Vladivostok and destroyed over 100 aircraft. Poltoranin further disclosed that Stalin himself was poisoned; he didn’t die of natural causes! This assassination operation was carried out on Churchill’s instructions by British intelligence, themselves assisted by ‘some internal forces’ of the Soviet ruling elite, of which Stalin’s later successor Nikita Khrushchev was ‘certainly one’.

On any number of levels this latter revelation is highly credible. Churchill himself was one of the earliest cheerleaders of the as yet unnamed Cold War with his hysterical 1946 “Iron Curtain” tirade, thereby proclaiming one of history’s most portentous of self-fulfilling of prophecies. As well there was no love lost between these two former WWII allies, a reality laid bare in Susan Butler’s masterful 2015 tome Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. It is further noteworthy that when, during the course of this startling exchange the interviewer expressed disbelief at his revelations, Poltoranin responded with a comment very pertinent to our narrative: ‘We hid a lot of things. Actually, we live in a fog of historical myth…’ The “we” here doubtless included the West!

All Wars are Media Wars (Lest we Forget)

To be sure if Orwell were to be somehow resurrected today and allowed at his leisure to take in the zeitgeist, even he’d be at pains to appreciate how insightful his assessment was; how much he’d misjudged the power elites predisposition for orchestrated groupthink, perfidy, malevolence, disinformation, thought control, surveillance, censorship, manipulation, and oppression; and the degree to which the mass of ‘proles’ (that’s us cupcakes!) seem all too willing as it were, to ‘suck it all up’.

This is despite the knowledge and information we supposedly have available today via the internet and especially social media, not least ironically the author’s own prescient admonitions via his writing or vicariously though others in the alternative media who are clued up on what’s happening! We might easily imagine the T-shirt cum bumper-sticker adage doing the rounds at present, to wit: ‘Memo to power elites: 1984 was not an instruction manual!’ would likely leave the fabled wordsmith at a loss for, well, words!

All of the above insights into the psychopathologies of the human condition (to say little about the societies and polities that emerge from the way in which they’re permitted to manifest themselves over time), are interconnected of course. Some of these will become evident throughout.

Let’s continue with another Orwellian maxim not included above, but still nonetheless crucial to our main leitmotif: ‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it’.

With this in mind, in my own study and experience of history and the human drama and utterly avoidable tragedy at its core, I cannot recall a more precipitously dangerous time for humanity than the here and now. More to the point, when any of us spend time thinking about those who previously served, suffered or died for the noble cause (aka the ‘noble lie’), even if they’d done so fighting for freedom, democracy, peace, love, understanding and the pursuit of happiness against the oppression, tyranny, and evil intent of the ‘bad guys’ (the de rigueur cover story for the “noble cause”/“noble lie”), they’d be one imagines furiously spinning in their eternally designated plots of terra firma at what is now unfolding.

Put another way, what would they think of us allowing it all to happen déjà vu like all over again, especially given what we now know about how previous conflagrations unfolded and the real reasons why? To be sure, for its part “fake news” is now the new “conspiracy theory”: It is the political, economic, business, and financial power elites’ and assorted ruling classes’ preferred weapon of choice in their defence against those ‘heretics’ who challenge the official narratives of western capitalist governments and all those who seek via a range of tools (from cognitive infiltration, false consciousness to cultural hegemony and so many others not excluding plain, average, garden variety bullshit), to perpetuate the status quo.

In the final analysis, fake or real, so much of today’s news becomes tomorrow’s history. For their part, the mainstream media mavens and their assorted paymasters cum patrons have adopted this ‘best form of defence is attack’ modus operandi for any number of reasons, not least of which is aimed to claw back the public’s trust and rebuild their credibility.

Along with numerous others before them—the more recent being the former Yugoslavia; Iraq; Afghanistan; Libya; Ukraine et. al.—the above-mentioned conflicts were feverishly championed by the major media outlets with few if any mea culpas forthcoming in the pear-shaped aftermath. Indeed, it is largely because of this they’ve squandered whatever trust, integrity, and credibility upon which they might’ve once claimed bragging rights. The very things of course that appeared to animate the former Secretary of State’s comments mentioned earlier.

And although the road back up on to the high moral ground is invariably a rocky one even for the most redemptively minded, any attempt by the MSM to return there is likely to be little more than a ‘one-step forward, two steps back’ endeavour. And there’d be nothing remotely “moral” about the mission; its end-game will be all about perception management (their stock-in-trade after all), and rehabilitating their generic brand. Which is to say, their fundamental goal is the same as it ever was:

  • a) to create and sustain believable, acceptable establishment narratives by which its elites might justify its policy decisions and thereby solicit public support for their often hidden, self-serving, progressively more dangerous, irrational agendas;
  • b) to provide crucial camouflage for those individuals and institutions (including their very own) they seek to safeguard from public scrutiny regarding their true motives and [thereafter] impunity from legal accountability, and/or ethical and moral responsibility for their actions;
  • c) to preserve and bolster these illusory narratives as well as to burnish the reputations, then solidify the legacies, of those who fashioned the mythologies and deceits that underpin the narratives in the first instance; and lastly,
  • d) to establish an unassailable, yet still bogus, frame of reference (historical, political, educational, economic, psychological, social, intellectual, cultural) allowing for successive generations of elites to perpetuate then ‘recycle’ these “mythologies and deceits” to their own ends.
  • If all this sounds like a purpose built, vicious-cycle, ‘keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em on bullshit’, perpetual motion construct for history repeating itself then that’s possibly because it is difficult to view it as anything but.

    With the possible exception of wealth and poverty (issues themselves which I hope to similarly address in a follow-up, companion essay), in few other matters concerning the human condition and its oft presumed progressive betterment, the history of human endeavour, and the contemporary body politic is this more evident—or of greater import—than those to do with war and peace. For most reasonably informed observers of history and how the media works, if attended by an appreciation of the contemporary political landscape in general, they will immediately recognise it for what it is.

    It’s worth noting here that the origin of the word “propaganda” — a concept that in its variant forms is a recurring motif herein — derives from the era of Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, the then Vatican (ahem) ‘commander-in-chief’ directed his cardinals responsible for foreign evangelical missions to establish the congregatio de propaganda fide, aka ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’, an organisation whose raison d’être should be self-explanatory.

    For some this is perhaps fitting if not surprising. Viewed another way, it’s the Catholic Church (the original “deep state” perhaps?), which might lay claim to having conceived the first ‘psy-ops’ gambit, a Holy See enterprise that around 400 years later is apparently still ‘Johnny Walker’! It is further notable that British philosopher John Gray, in his compelling Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, opened with the following:

    Modern politics is a chapter in the history of religion. The greatest of the revolutionary upheavals that have shaped so much of the history of the past two centuries were episodes in the history of faith—moments in the long dissolution of Christianity and the rise of modern political religion’.

    And when it comes to the subject of propaganda, although he deserves a ‘chapter’ all on his ‘Pat Malone’, we cannot of course not at least name-check Edward Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew—the man generally acknowledged as the father of modern public relations. Which brings us once again back to fake news. The descriptor “fake news” might have only recently entered into political discourse and popular vernacular; but as the indefatigable Scottish authors and bloggers Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor observe, it has ‘a long history’. It’s propaganda frocked up in a different guise.

    Via their website and their two published books (see here and here), Docherty and Macgregor’s excursions into the historical terrain of the most consequential event of the twentieth century—that being the Great War—have not just provided us with possibly the most compelling, far-reaching insight into the causes and conduct of this catastrophic inferno, but its consequences.

    They’ve also delivered us a crucial understanding of how perfidious Albion (i.e. Great Britain) inveigled the rest of the world into fighting this war. With the ancien regime doing everything in its power to provoke Russia into war at present, this observation should not go unnoticed. (Those who think the British Empire as such had passed its UBD by 1945 haven’t been paying attention, need to get out more, or require a check up from the neck-up.)

    Now doubtless many folks will be having a “say wha?” moment at this point, to wit: Wasn’t it the Germans who provoked the First World War? Not so, according to Docherty and Macgregor. Even more than that, for our purposes herein, they have provided us with a telling insight into the key role the media mavens of the era knowingly played in facilitating the grand schemes of the ruling classes (termed the Secret Elites by the authors).

    The campaign to ‘sell the war’ to the British public and to the rest of the world began in earnest at least ten years prior to its outbreak. Although many abound, one example will suffice herein. This was the dogged manner in which various members of the Secret Elites coerced, cajoled and curried favour in the pre-war years with the various dominions and colonies specifically amongst their respective media outlets and leading politicians of the day—Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada to name the obvious ones—to ensure that once war began, there would be unstinting loyalty from all and sundry to the noble cause.

    It was all up of course an astonishing political, diplomatic and propaganda achievement, yet one we can now safely say, came at great cost for all those dominions and colonies, with little or nothing to show for it. To be sure, one of history’s greatest snow jobs perpetrated in the cause of perpetuating empire. This was Great Britain’s great propaganda machine at work, ‘an ‘infernal engine created in war…’ as as described by author Richard Milton in his Best of Enemies: Britain and Germany: 100 years of Truth and Lies [My emphasis]….

    …[b]ut impossible to switch off in peace….The indelible memory of atrocity stories that had taken place only in the imaginations of British propaganda agents proved to be stronger and more persistent than any facts. This curious discovery, the power of myths over facts, was the real legacy of the First World War.’

    History Down the Memory Hole

    Now although it’s been rightly noted that “all wars are bankers’ wars” (underscored by the preceding Orwellian maxim about the “moneyed classes”), few could argue that the “bankers” would’ve had great difficulty selling their wars on their own; a pliant, subservient, gung-ho media is by definition crucial at the outset in mobilising the populace at large and from there manufacturing the collective consent needed to do so.

    Docherty and Macgregor’s follow-up tome — Prolonging the Agony: How International Bankers and their Political Partners Deliberately Extended World War 1, the title clearly underscoring what we’ve just observed—drives home the point. Which is to say, the war against Germany wasn’t just ‘sold’ to the world, with the establishment media at the time leading the charge and indispensible to this propaganda effort. The same media then played their own part in prolonging the war by ensuring the public did not lose their patriotic fervour.

    Moreover, the British political establishment—incestuously intertwined with not just the press of the era but academia, business and finance, and the broader Western intellectual diaspora as well—ensured that through their control over the higher learning and research institutions and the education bureaucracy, they gave enduring, inviolable substance to Winston Churchill’s infamous maxim, ‘history is written by the victors’. Along with being one of official history’s most acclaimed authors (whose genre specialty we might say was historical fiction), Churchill himself of course was a ‘Secret Elitist’.

    So effective was this propaganda exercise that the false narrative still stands today as the official version It’s embraced by just about everyone from our politicians, our mainstream media, our academics, our military leaders, our veterans’ associations, and [to] our school curriculum writers and even those folks who end up teaching the fake history. Those rare folk who’d question this let alone decry it find themselves at best on the outside looking in. Herein, Docherty and Macgregor unambiguously lay out their stall:

    Lies masquerading as news are as old as news itself, with royalty, governments, public figures and the mainstream media purveying it to manipulate public opinion. In an Orwellian twist those very same groups now employ it as a pejorative term against the alternative media, truth writers and bloggers as a way of dismissing inconvenient truths and crushing dissent. We should all be aware of the state as keeper of the ‘the truth’. “Fake History” is another powerful weapon that has long been used by those in authority to retain that power and keep the masses in the dark.’

    Of course we can travel further back in time to the Boer War (1899-1902) and the “splendid” Spanish-American War (1898) to find examples of Western MSM perfidy in sounding the battle cry for freedom as a cover for highly dubious state-sponsored wars of aggression, conquest, dominion, plunder and oppression. In backgrounding their core narrative, Docherty and Macgregor cite the former as primarily a dress rehearsal for the Big One to follow, a war championed by the British establishment press of the era, whose prime objective was laying claim to the huge Transvaal gold mines. Less ‘White Man’s Burden’ then than ‘White Man’s Booty’ then!’ As they note: ‘Their ambition overrode humanity, and the consequences of their actions have been minimised, ignored or denied in official histories.’

    And though opinion remains divided as to the impact the media played in the US declaring war on Spain, there can be little doubt it was decisive. The ensuing conflict has since been classified as the first “Media War”, with the two most notable press barons of the era William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer going toe to toe and above and beyond the call of journalistic duty in their efforts to inflame U.S. public sentiment against the Spanish and incite an otherwise indifferent populace to man the barricades.

    The propaganda onslaught included dodgy stories of atrocities allegedly committed by the Spanish against the Cubans—fortified by a conveniently timed false flag attack on the U.S. Navy ship the USS Maine anchored in Havana harbor thereby providing the pretext for the subsequent declaration of war—with then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, budding imperialist, and future POTUS Teddy “the Rough Rider” Roosevelt being amongst the most hot-to-trot of the leading politicians.

    If the U.S. emerged from the nineteenth century as a leading world power after this war there can be little doubt Hearst and Pulitzer had done their bit to bring this about as great American patriots might have been expected to. The centuries-old blood-soaked Spanish empire was finally ‘deep-sixed’ for good with the U.S. taking control of Cuba and full possession of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, themselves the first baby steps towards expanding its own already considerably “blood-soaked” empire outside of its own territory. For any aspiring hegemonist, this had to be seen as both a good start and an excellent return on their piddling investment, which doubtless contributed in no small measure to its fabled designation as that “splendid little war”.

    That Hearst and Pulitzer sold a shit load of newspapers into the bargain—in an age when doing so actually meant something—and cemented their reputations as media monopolists and political power players to be reckoned with was of course neither here nor there. But they had in a sense pioneered a prototype of the more au courant phenomenon of fake news, in those days called “yellow journalism”. It is perhaps one of the supreme Orwellian ironies permeating the polity that the most sought after award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, is named after one of its most ruthless, opportunistic, and unethical of practitioners.

    Whether by accident or design, they’d moreover done their bit to inculcate firmly into the collective psycho-pathology and historical memory of the ruling classes and power elites in America an incipient, and from there an abiding, sense of ‘exceptionalism’ and manifest destiny, the essence of which has been sustained by and large through propaganda.

    With only occasional lapses, this has framed and underpinned political discourse in U.S. foreign policy, and been a key driver of its interventionist approach ever since. It set the template for the future manner in which the Western media mavens embraced their responsibilities insofar as is they were expected to act in the public interest or guide civic opinion for the common good.

    Another example that is instructive herein of course—and one which Docherty and Macgregor again provide key insights into—is the way in which the British government, once it found the pretext to declare war on Germany in 1914, then persuaded the U.S. to join in the melee. Here again, the media’s role herein was decisive.

    The First World War was a pivotal point in the way in which news and information began to be more formally and precisely, albeit covertly, manipulated—and indeed frequently contrived—to serve the interests of those seeking to mould public opinion towards a certain consensual view. In this it is instructive to note it was the Great War that, if it did not quite give provenance to one of the great truisms in the history of conflict, that being, ‘Truth is the first casualty of war’, it facilitated from there its popular usage.

    Thus was the age of public relations born, and it was from there Bernays and his ilk never looked back. At its most basic “public relations” was/is “fake news”; indeed PR became the new terminology designed to replace the increasingly repellent phrase “propaganda”. Such was the decisive impact of this new mode of communication, it’s difficult to see how Americans might’ve been convinced to enter the war on the side of Britain, and by extrapolation, how Britain and its allies could have avoided defeat at the hands of the Germans.

    Fake News Good, Real News Bad

    As the mainstream (or corporate) media—as deservedly much-maligned as it is malignant—descends further and further into deceptive arrogance and dangerous incoherence, it increasingly seeks, in indirect proportion it seems and with an equal mix of hubris, dishonesty, chutzpah, and hypocrisy, to double down in its attempts to preserve and maintain its façade of credibility and integrity. Western political, intellectual and media elites are veritably hyperventilating at the prospect that their own “fake news” is being viewed for what it is: a desperate attempt to paper over the cracks in the wall of a crumbling Anglo-American-Zionist empire.

    It’s instructive here to consider a few of the recent, most preposterous narratives that have been—or are being—breathlessly promulgated. These stories are ones amongst many that no serious media outlet claiming a modicum of integrity or credibility should be touching with the proverbial forty-foot barge pole.

    That is of course unless it’s to refute the generally always evidence-free claims that frequently attend them and ridicule then discredit the person(s) making them. Here are just three of the ‘greatest hits’ as it were, currently topping the MSM charts:

  • a) the farcical, transparently duplicitous anti-Russian propaganda onslaught emanating from Britain and America that seeks amongst countless other high crimes and dastardly deeds to blame that country and its leader for constant interference in the affairs of other countries, whilst ignoring their own respective, and destructive track records in this regard;
  • b) the illegal seven-year old, seemingly endless war currently being waged by Britain, America, and Israel against Syria and president Bashar al-Assad, one which he’s successfully fought with all the resources at his disposal despite the combined forces of the empire pulling out all stops to malign him and then terminate him with extreme prejudice; and, last but not least
  • c) the increasingly deranged Israeli despot Benjamin Netanyahu reprising once again his tried and true dog and pony show to sell-out audiences advocating war on Iran because he claims they’ve not adhered to the 2016 agreement not to build any nukes, whilst refusing point-blank to answer questions about his own country’s nuclear program.
  • Whether in the U.S., Britain, Australia or anywhere else in the West for that matter, few of us should be under any illusions that the monolithic Fourth Estate remains steadfastly devoted to the ongoing betrayal of its purported brief by supporting the hidden—and not so hidden—agendas of those to whom it is, and indeed has always been, beholden.

    It’s notable that one of the U.S. establishment media’s flagship marques the ‘venerable’ Washington Post—whose high-minded, yet pedestrian positioning statement, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is so positively Orwellian one suspects its authors were wearing ‘Freudian slips’ at its moment of conception—was given a deliciously outsized serve of ridicule recently by the media watch organisation Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

    And rightly so we might opine. The article, by Adam Johnson, chronicles the Wash-Post’s ‘top ten’ columns that he’s characterised as “sociopathic” in tone and temper.

    For ‘casually threatening economic ruin, inciting violence against entire populations, pushing for bombing faceless Muslims, or downplaying racism and child rape, there’s no better outlet’ Johnson says of the Post, ‘than [this] long-time echo chamber of power-serving conventional wisdom…’

    In the pages of the Post’s opinion section, you can say the most sociopathic things and get away with it, because you are, by definition, Serious People offering Serious Solutions in a Serious Paper. The human cost of these extreme, reactionary opinions is of little matter; what matters is packaging calls for violence, sexism and racism in a nice, official-sounding tone.’

    Along with ‘pointing the bone’ at the paper’s editorial board itself for its own track record of sociopathic sensibilities when opining about the Big Issues, Johnson name checks several of their high profile ‘by-liners’ past and present for special attention. These include Joshua Muravchik, John Bolton (now the White House’s Chief Chicken-hawk-in-Residence), and Richard Cohen amongst others. For Johnson, if there’s “one thing” the Post opinion editors love—and which is highly pertinent to the here and now along with being instructive in respect of our narrative—‘it’s columns threatening, plotting and advocating war against Iran. It’s the little black dress of foreign policy punditry—[it] never goes out of style’.

    To bolster his assertion, Johnson showcases a piece written in 2015 by Muravchik, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Muravchik’s op-ed piece was titled “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option”. Johnson responded with the following:

    [Muravchik]…argued nonchalantly that launching a war of aggression against Iran was “probably” “our” best “option.” He doesn’t explain who “our” refers to, or why a military attack was even an “option” to begin with….He [Muravchik] then asserts that Iran is uniquely irrational and cannot be compelled with material needs, asserting that “ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime” and concluding, as if he were settling on a Thai food order, that a bombing campaign that would kill tens of thousands is the “best option.”’

    From this above ‘catalogue’ of dodgy Post reportage we might draw the following conclusion: It is in matters of war and peace that perhaps the MSM is most at conflict with the now decidedly old school journalistic canons, these being of course: accuracy, fairness, public accountability, objectivity, truthfulness, and impartiality. The current state of geopolitical affairs and international relations—as existentially precarious as it is—should be ample testament to this reality. The mainstream mastheads are not—and have never been known for being—bastions for the promotion of peace, love and understanding amongst nations, anymore than they have been known for their adherence to truthfulness, accuracy or any of the other “canons” cited earlier.

    As anyone who has delved into the real (unofficial) backstory behind virtually all of the major wars and conflicts over the years knows, the “noble cause” is never, ever the real reason, the “noble lie” never, ever justified. And the “cause” will never be the real reason—or the “lie” rationally justified—whilst we as a species continue to tolerate those within our midst whose congenital and moral defects push them towards these ends.

    It’s critical for this reason alone then we all disabuse ourselves of the notion that what’s happening now has anything to do with making the world safe for democracy and freedom; enforcing the tenets of international law in the cause of human rights; ridding the world of evil men with evil ambitions as if inspired by some vague quasi-Manichean apocalyptically-minded desire to make the world a better place; or some other such transparently fatuous nonsense. The only thing we’re making the world safe (or better) for is an entrenched, ruthless plutocracy.

    The reality though is this: We should all try to open our eyes to how we as ordinary people allow our political, financial, intellectual, media, and corporate ‘elites’ hoodwink then railroad us into supporting—mostly without question as if collectively driven by some inner, yet inexplicable, Pavlovian suicidal impulse—their grandiose, self-serving, and wholly disastrous schemes.

    Such “schemes”—political, military, financial, economic, psychological, social, cultural, educational—are engineered entirely for the preservation of their own personal material fiefdoms and the collective fiefdoms that were then, and remain, those of power, ambition, wealth, control, dominion, and above all, empire. And in this “empire”, as in all, the benefits are few for the many and many for the few, with “power” (as noted again by Orwell) an end in itself, not a means. In the process, this ‘deep state’ cabal—whom Voltaire might’ve referred to as “tyrants of the soul”—have embraced ever more cunning, manipulative and (in every sense of the word) violent intrigues—and let’s not shy away from it, out and out gambits of the conspiratorial kind to cover their respective and collective asses—making them increasingly less transparent in their motives and therefore increasingly less accountable, before, during, or even well after the fact, for their actions.

    As a contrasting corollary to this, they’ve sought—ever so successfully and as noted, with our increasing acquiescence—to exercise ever-greater control, influence and power over us, at the expense of not just our privacy, but our social, economic, and political security. This is evident not least in the backlash that is taking place against those folks and groups who dare to challenge the conventional wisdom, or more aptly, the conventional lunacy!

    *

    In order to bring things to a close, it is both prudent and relevant to name check the esteemed and courageous Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. As he cogently frames it in his tellingly titled book Ten Myths about Israel—the nation that arguably best embodies and reflects the Orwellian verities we’ve visited herein along with being the one nation to which the deference of the mainstream media seems to recognise few limits: ‘…history lies at the core of every conflict. A true, unbiased understanding of the past offers the possibility of peace…[T]he distortion or manipulation of history…will only sow disaster…’

    Of course Pappe herein is referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, along with the subjugation —and what amounts to the ethnic cleansing—of its original, long-time inhabitants. ‘Historical disinformation’ he continues, ‘even of the most recent past, can do tremendous harm. This wilful misunderstanding of history can promote oppression…’ [My emphasis]:

    It is not surprising, therefore, that policies of disinformation and distortion continue to the present and play an important part in perpetuating [the occupation of Palestine], leaving very little hope for the future. Constructed fallacies about the past and the present…hinder us from understanding the origins of the conflict. Meanwhile, the constant manipulation of the relevant facts works against the interests of all those victimized by the ongoing bloodshed and violence.”

    Yet Pappe could be referencing any current ‘work-in-progress’ conflict, such as that which is brewing now for example between Israel, the U.S. and Iran; the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia; or the never-ending Anglo-American-Zionist campaign of regime change against Syria, whose allies are of course, Russia and Iran. Anyone of these ‘hotspots’ could trigger a larger geopolitical conflict, and if it so happens this way, it will be largely because of “policies of disinformation and distortion”, especially those which have been facilitated by the Fourth Estate.

    In his seminal book Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Canadian author John Ralston Saul noted that ‘[R]eason is a narrow system swollen into an ideology. With time and power it has become a dogma, devoid of direction and disguised as disinterested inquiry. Like most religions, [it] presents itself as the solution to the problems it has created.’

    Now whilst it’s reasonable to assume our corporate media elites and those to whom they are most beholden would be reluctant to view themselves in any such light, from this writer’s vantage point, it seems like a pretty good ‘fit’ to me.


    46 Comments

    1. Jim Scott says

      This morning on Australian radio news I heard that the Ukraine Government has staged the murder of a Russian journalist to save his life because Russia was planning to kill him. However rather than building on the Russia phobia it seems to have had the reverse effect with the ABC quoting journalists saying the stunt was putting doubts in people’s minds about the validity of the findings of the investigators that Russia had shot down the Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine.

      • reinertorheit says

        Naturally people will be asking how a country like Ukraine can ever be trusted again after this disgraceful pack of gorilka-fuelled LIES.

    2. mikael says

      Finaly something really good.
      They, yup ,lie about everything, and the rest, is bullshit, but their goal, havent changed, and thats power, raw political power, the ultimate killing field, where everything is and will be burned to the ground, and what comes, is what They tel us is the truth.
      One of their best tools is the simple, briliantly displayed, belived to the core by many, propaganda at its best, is Narratives, smell it and taste the word, ugh….. nasty shit.

      Lets take an strol down the lunatic shid row, and stard with Narratives, one of their tools is the loaded word Minoritys, nice one, highly pre-loaded with everything from Holohoax to Amercian Natives been killed, and that, is what is been used to hide cases as this hideous one the Joojo bitch TR was highlighting, not that I protest against that, but again, we cross into another hard pimped Narrative, Islam, and when AJones, the Netherlands dushbag/windbag is howling, etc, I know one thing, its all fake, not what happened, that is one of the good thing this shit head managed to show and expose, but again, sticks to the bashing of an religion where everything they know is based upon writings coming from ISISraeli Hasbaratnjiks and everything they know is an flat out lie, they are as f…. up as the even more despicable pack of scums, the Wahabis, this should be given One option, leave, nothing less, or rott in prison.

      The second, Narraive, as Minoritys to protect is an fallacy perverted and raped to oblivion, when Pakkis arent an Minority, in Manchester, yess, but thats because its Britain, not Pakistan ( with all respect ), they arent an Minority, they hide and pushes their own religion, cultural traits, as exuses, to me it makes everything much worse, because nowwhere in Pakistan can you do anything even close to what They do here, how, is that possible, by controlling the Narrative, the left missuse it, and the right do the same, and their whining about Minoritys, like Gays, is become an farse, and where the f….. what the womens right pack of pussys whining quir, vaporize into, or did they just die, the truth is, the only Minority in this case is two fold, the victims of this systemic rape culture, and those that protect it, by various means, but never the less cases like this is berried under gag orders, like in Norway, Sweden etc, incl Finland where gang rape is de facto legalized.
      Their claims, rests on something even more obscure than the fake care of Minoritys, rests upon culture as They claim, when They state as an legitim cause, that this person/s, regarding their back ground, didnt know raping children was iligale in Our land.
      Yeah, beat that, and they whine about Me been an rasist.
      Dunka, dunka, go try an rape someone down there and claim your inocense by stating you think this is Ok.
      Yup, how long do you think it will take before you hang there in the wind, after been mutilated beyond recognition.
      Our tollerance is been meet with gross intollerance.

      But, of course, its always an but, wars, the left/right have never cared about ending wars, never, in the 60s, yeah, but it never went anywhere, and their own people, the sick and the poor, is been ooverlocked and scurn, but both sides, and but sides use their own Narratives against the ppeople, and now against imigrants.
      They never cared, took some few, focused upon them, and ignored the rest, did not make any fuss, even when in Norway Finish was an forbidden language, like others have expirienced, nothing but silence, since they cared about Gays, etc, to the freak show we have to day, where the perpetratores are treated like nothing happened, and the victims completelly ignored, by the left/right and the Political theater, to the even more rotten MSM.
      Never forget that.
      I know some of them, the protesters may be genuine, but to me, its about The Law, that one, like in Italy, is both briliant ex. on what corruption and greed is capable to do, and get away with.
      They piss on us and call it, trickle down, yeah, why not, it looks like it works, in this, days of drooling something about high and low, IQ and never the less this people are blind to the reality, arrogance and ignorance, the perfect tools to f… up everything, eventually, wack em self, the problem is again, the cost of it.
      Greece should stand out as an horrible case, and that, is whats coming to the PIGSA.

      Read, the Lord of the Flies, instead, and for the more, ugh…. sofa, sorry, sofisticated, one of my favorites, The Hart of the Dog, writen by M. Bulgakov, relevant then, relevant now.
      A book even Trump can read, it have everthing and is also packed with humor, russian humore.

      peace

    3. RealPeter says

      Unfortunately, I have to disagree with other Off-Guardianistas about this essay, whose arguments are smothered in the sludge of its overblown verbosity. Greg Maybury doesn’t seem to have learned much from his mentor George Orwell, the master of clear, plain English.

      The essay would have been twice as effective if it had been half as long.

      3
      4
      • reinertorheit says

        And three times more pertinent, if it had been trimmed to one-third of its rambling length.

      • Vien me says

        The arguments in this piece are pertinent and strong. It’s about the life and death of democracy.
        More about death of democracy than life, though.

        Yes, some verbosity was not necessary. I’d start by removing Lennon & McCartney’s quote at the beginning of the article. I think that was silly to quote one the ‘Establishment’ entertainers in this context!

    4. reinertorheit says

      In the annals of fake news and fake reporting, there can be few stories so fetid as a journalist capitalising on the murder of another journalist, as grist to their hatemongering neocon mill.

      Andrew Roth – the latest shill to fill the Fraudian’s seat in Moscow – reports today on the murder of war correspondent Arkady Babenko in Kiev, yesterday. Babanko had fought in the Chechen campaigns as a conscript, and published a well-known personal account of those wars. In Kiev he was working for a Crimean broadcaster at the time of his murder.

      Whether he was shot (in the back – the usual Ukrainian way) by the SRU, or Azov/Svoboda/Pravy Sektor forces loyal to the SRU, or by individuals from behind the revolving door between the SRU and the Roshen Bakery isn’t known, and will never be known. Because there is no rule of law in Kiev, and the government actively colludes in the terror and mayhem that now rule in Kiev.

      Andrew Roth chanted his NATO-ite jibes over Babenko’s death from the cowardly safety of Moscow. After all, it’s one thing capitalising on another journalist’s death. But it’s a quite different thing abandoning the sun-kissed pavement cafes of French patisseries here in Moscow, to put your own life on the line to report the actual truth.

      10
      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        Roth, being of the self-declared cream of human intelligence, MUST be correct to infer that Babenko was killed by Russia. Surely.

        • JudyJ says

          Clearly the Russians have learnt the error of their ways…why go to the bother of using a Novichok with all its drawbacks when straightforward, ‘old school’ bullets In the back do the job far more effectively.

          • reinertorheit says

            I doubt it was Russians who shot Babchenko. Why would they want to do that? Don’t believe the shite you read in the Fraudian.

            Remember that Babchenko was working for a Crimean broadcaster in Kiev. That would easily be enough for some knuckledragging Azov paramilitary nutcase to take a potshot at him. Or for Porky to order his murder. Babchenko was, sadly, just the latest in a string of murders of Russian journalists and political figures in Kiev.

            • JudyJ says

              reinertorheit – I agree, I don’t for one minute believe it was the Russians. I couldn’t resist the temptation to be facetious. @Mulga’s ironic style is influencing me! I certainly don’t read any mainstream newspapers in the UK these days as it’s not good for my blood pressure. The mainstream TV broadcasters keep my stress levels as high as I can tolerate.

              • reinertorheit says

                Nebbermind, as it turns out this scrote Babchenko is alive and well and grinning about his clever little stunt.

                Because when Ukrops can’t find any real evidence against Russia (Crimea ‘invasion’, MH17 incident, etc) they resort to the Trivium of classical Ukrainian education – Lying, Cheating, and Stealing. Ukraine’s principal conrtibutions as a putative EU member.

              • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                Oops, sorry Judy-you’ve fooled me twice today. And there I was thinking that the SIS had kidnapped you and made you go full Fraudian. Sorry, it’s early, and I’ve just been screaming at the TV, with the latest revelation that Russia DELIBERATELY shot down MH 17, to ‘give it leverage’ (??!!), according to a slimy, sleazy, greasy Yankee lawyer looking to shake down Russia for ‘compensation’, Lockerbie-style.

                • JudyJ says

                  No problem, Mulga. No more attempts at irony from me from now on! I’ve failed miserably. Please shoot me if I ever lose my marbles and start to believe anything that May or her cronies tell us.

                  Cheers.
                  JJ

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            Yes, Judy, but the Russians did not use ‘Novichok’, now did they. Do you believe EVERYTHING Theresa May tells you?

      • reinertorheit says

        Apologies for misspelling Babchenko’s surname earlier. Still no Edit function on this messageboard, sadly ;-((

    5. Tony M says

      Great article, fake news and fake history are one and the same thing

      “Such was the decisive impact of this new mode of communication, it’s difficult to see how Americans might’ve been convinced to enter the war on the side of Britain, and by extrapolation, how Britain and its allies could have avoided defeat at the hands of the Germans.”

      I don’t get that last bit though, the extrapolation.

      Propaganda played no part in the actual defeat, all that was required was to actually use the powers, particularly naval and economic, which they had had from the start of the war but had not exercised, to simply begin fighting the actual war instead of putting profiteering above every other consideration, including the millions of lives wilfully destroyed without a care.

      If the naval blockade had been anything more than a sham for the first three years, if Britain itself and the rest of the world hadn’t been exporting war materials such as coal, gun-cotton from the US, metals and rarer metal ores, indirectly to Germany from the start of the war through Sweden and Denmark; if ‘Belgian Relief’ hadn’t been feeding the German army and nation; if Germany hadn’t been given possession, abandoned and left intact by the French, the iron and steel forges producing pre-war more than 80 percent of German needs, on French territory at Briey and the ore-rich countryside surrounding, they could not have lasted past early-1915, the Germans themselves said without it ‘the war would have been over in a matter of weeks’, in a memo the French obtained in September 1915. So many ifs, it was clear that despite the wholesale slaughter of trench warfare, during the period 1914-1917 war simply was not being waged with any serious intent of winning it or concluding it, but instead in stringing it out for as long as was desired. There were even clues and hints that the actual symbolic finish date of 11 November 1918 was pencilled in two or more years earlier, with financial arrangements made years before having an end date of 20th November 1918, though economic warfare, far in excess of that deployed against Germany during the war itself, continued right up until Versailles and acceptance of the infamous War Guilt clauses.

      All this US benevolence had been facilitated by loans for which the British and French taxpayers were on the hook and those banks would not be repaid if allied victory was not made doubly certain and there was much money to be made in equipping the US forces. American bankers’ self-interest made intervention probable, even if it were unnecessary militarily, without it they could not have played any part in dictating the peace terms, particularly the financial aspects. It was not so much that Britain manipulated US public opinion, but helped the US dupe their own citizens. It was hardly necessary to make a promise of Palestine for the Zionist religious-supremacists, to secure US participation as legend might have it. Long before the Balfour Declaration the seasoned core of the British Army and their equipment were being steadily removed from Europe to Egypt, many were sent from the UK directly to Egypt though the situation in France always appeared the more pressing, their boots having never touched mainland Europe at all, for an coming attack through Palestine on Turkish forces, Jerusalem in the end fell with hardly a shot fired but was more a triumphal entry, but Turkey really began to fight as its homeland and nearer-home oil-rich possesions came under threat.

      American military intervention was not seen in any practical sense on the ground in Europe until early-1918 and its main impact was on German morale, which was weakening already as the long belated naval-blockade began having the potential effects it could have had from the outbreak of war.

    6. cat sick says

      It is really worth reading Orwell’s intended preface to Animal farm, in which he discusses the difficulty he had in getting it published due to the influence of the state over the press, it is a chilling reflection of todays situation and a rare first hand account of his interaction with the hidden role of the state in the media. At the time the USSR was Bolshivik and above criticism, we now have an almost 100% reversal in the situation as certain elements have now fled Russia and seek its destruction …

      http://orwell.ru/library/novels/Animal_Farm/english/efp_go

    7. Tony M says

      Great to see Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor’s epic work getting mentioned above the line, I’ve been reading through their blog version of it online for weeks now and look forward to continuing for many weeks yet doing so, a life-changing read, I suggest readers start here and keep going:

      https://firstworldwarhiddenhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/lies-damned-lies-and-commemorations-2/

      If there were two books I could go out and purchase outright, right now, and not break the bank it would be these.

      I’ve not digested the rest of this article yet, still to get through it all. Loving it so far.

      I’m wondering if Off-G is having more technical trouble? A post on the 29th May, about 10 hours past has failed to appear and another earlier comment of a couple of days ago was truncated, missing its last, an important and a quite lengthy paragraph. I have doubts too if this comment will appear.

      • Thank you for your insightful comment. I am unable to purchase the books by Doherty and Macgregor because for some bizarre reason Amazon won’t send them to the Netherlands!
        It would have been more convenient to have them on my Kindle but I’ll track them down in paperback.

      • Yes, we’re still experiencing technical problems. Our apologies about the glitches you’ve noted.

    8. Fair dinkum says

      It all began way back when:
      Sex supplanted Love.
      Testosterone fuelled violence.
      And avarice fed the beasts.

    9. Mulga Mumblebrain says

      I recently heard an Austfailian ‘social researcher’, a real favourite of the fakestream propaganda machine, representing a sort of outer edge of ‘progressive’ acceptable opinion, observing that across the political spectrum in Austfailure, there were just ‘good’ people trying to do their best, but differing on the ways and means of achieving the ‘good’.
      That, I fear, is the fatal flaw that has doomed us to destruction, that has seen sixty million excess deaths caused by US malevolence since WW2( in which we have been eager accomplices)and the planet driven to an ecological Holocaust. The refusal to, or the inability to, recognise that the Right, to use a familiar euphemism, represent moral and spiritual Evil, and that their ‘good’ represents death, destruction and suffering for all others. How he could contemplate the rabble of hate-crazred zealots who constitute the current Federal regime, its State counterparts, their fakestream media allies and enablers and the dullard, greedy imbeciles who vote for them, time after time, and declare them ‘good’ defies explanation.
      Of course, that realisation is a very bleak truth. Humanity faces a few alternative possible futures. Either perpetual neo-feudalism, with serfdom for the 99% and riches beyond the dreams of avarice for a tiny, psychopathic elite, enforced by high-tech surveillance and repression, but eventual extermination as the rabble become too threatening and surplus to requirements, or an apocalypse for all in thermo-nuclear war or bio-warfare, or the ecological Holocaust running away to some End Permian ‘Great Dying’ wreathed in hydrogen sulphide gas, or even a Venusian runaway greenhouse, all represent negative futures-at least for the morally sane. On the other hand, a glowing future of real humanity, with planetary comity and amity and ecological restoration, is also just conceivably possible, if only in one’s optimistic interludes. This possible future, of course, relies on some sort of defeat, once and forever, of the psychopaths who torment and terrorise humanity, but how can that be achieved when they control all the organs of power, political, economic and military/exterminationist? Must we become like them in order to be rid of them, or is there some peaceful way to convince them to change their very nature? Is our species even capable of such a transformation? We’ll find out in the next fifty years, at most, and I’m not at all optimistic.

      • The situation is so grim, optimism can seem like the worst kind of privileged insult or wilful naivety. And yet it is true that we create the future. Where we are now is the natural constellation of Might Makes Right, Materialism and that legacy of religio-dogmatic arrogance that sees Man as Master of Mechanical Nature. Somehow humanity’s intellectual and psychological health, as it were, produced this very incomplete worldview … and here we are. We created this. Now we get to create our way out of this. That’s going to take a lot of things, one of which is necessarily optimism. Which we choose, insanely, against the material evidence. Without any optimism at all, getting started is very difficult, probably impossible. There is of course Doing The Right Thing regardless of the outcome, but that requires moral optimism, a kind of faith in the unprovable.

        Another aspect, I believe, will be viewing all parties as potential allies, including psychopaths. I see psychopaths (psychopathy) as a kind of vanguard or extreme expression of whichever worldview happens to dominate. In ecology, there are certain species that act as disruptors. They constantly needle and test the resilience and flexibility of ecosystems. I suspect psychopathy plays a similar role in human social ecosystems. Hence, love the sinner, reject the sin. Or even better, love the sick, address the sickness.

        It’s the Us Against Them mindset that is part of the problem. There’s no Final Defeat. Doesn’t that sound dangerously close to Final Solution? In the myth of Hercules and the Hydra, Hercules had to learn that simply chopping off heads made matters worse. He had to dive into the muck to raise the whole beast into the sunlight. This is a metaphor for disclosure, and that we are all steeped in the muck.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          You see, Toby, I must apologise, but I see you (on brief acquaintance) as I did the ‘social researcher’ I mentioned above, ie hopelessly Panglossian. There was a report yesterday on which professions attract the most psychopaths and the most psychopathic. The fakestream meeja tried hard, in the two reports I heard, to paint psychopathy as not necessarily negative, probably because presstitutes, masquerading as ‘journalists’, rated very high, but behind CEOs and the rest, in sixth place to be precise.
          I can’t think of a precise equivalent in Nature of the human psychopath. Perhaps the soldier or army ants as portrayed in ‘The Naked Jungle’, marabunta, that eat everything in sight and leave nothing alive behind them. Sounds awfully like the capitalist overclass to me. As for the psychopaths’ evolutionary usefulness, I rather see their ‘disruption’ as being on the brink (if we are not over the edge and free-falling towards oblivion already)of causing a very severe mass extinction, which, while unlikely to end Life on Earth, will surely diminish it greatly, and it will take millions of years to recover the biodiversity that existed before our arrival. I do agree with hoping that people might give up their destructive ways, but I have rarely seen it occurring in public life in this country, and far more common is the descent into psychopathy of those who had presented as non-psychopathic while rising to power. Whether that presentation was real, and power corrupted them, or was always a pretense designed to mislead, I don’t know. Probably a mix of the two.

          • It’s not a Panglossian take at all. I arrive at these evolving perspectives after much personal struggle, including depressions. I know keenly of what you write, the “optimistic interludes” that seem, in hindsight, to be delusory and foolish, hideous even. No, mine is a logical approach that comes after over a decade of study, and also much personal experience including loving a sociopath. The press report you reference sounds far away indeed from my understanding, as it presupposes the rightness of the system first.

            My comparison between disruptors and psychopathy is not direct. It is clear there is no precise equivalent, only mathematics has those. Everything is unique. Think of the comparison as an option that inhibits too inflexible an approach. None of us understands everything, not even remotely. Aren’t you, Mulga, at least partially susceptible to a negative Panglossian approach in your certitude? And if we two, and many others here at this site, fail to understand each other when our interests are so closely aligned, how on earth are we going to be wise and intelligent guardians of the biodiversity that is this planet’s greatest wonder?

            But this is precisely what we need. Disagreement that, handled properly, produces better ideas on how to proceed. Of course this is just comments on a site in the internet, nothing like action on the streets, etc. But, as a playground, it is helpful. So I do appreciate your honesty and directness as an expression of the democracy I favour, and also personally, human to human.

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says

              Well, Toby, I still have my optimistic interludes. The fact of existence is grounds for optimism, and I had it in bucket-loads for years, seeing humanity progressing to something fine and noble. Unfortunately reality intervened, because I came to adult-hood just as our one and only decent Federal Government, that of Whitlam, came to power, then was destroyed in an orgy of Rightwing hatred, sabotage unprecedented in our political and Parliamentary history, and the prototype Full Spectrum Murdochite fakestream hate campaign, capped by a US ordered constitutional coup by the US intelligence asset (since WW2) John Kerr. It has all been downhill since then, with each new generation of Rightists more vicious, psychopathic and plain Evil than the previous, the Murdochites now almost inconceivably vicious and deranged, the Government-owned ABC, once a site of some diversity of opinion, now hard Right and run by Murdochites,and the ‘Left’ long ago sold out, gutless and ever eager to grovel to our ‘great and powerful friends’ in the USA and Israel, even to the extent of prosecuting a vicious, deeply racist, hate campaign against China. I could go on for hours with all the manifestations of social and spiritual Evil, the racism, the class hatred, the vicious sadism inflicted on the poor and defenceless, the depraved ‘kultur’ of ‘reality TV’, the groveling to the rich, the economic perversity of making all economic policy greatly favour the rich over the rest, the hereditary parasite bankster we have presiding as PM, the sheer, bottomless, hatred of the environment and Greenies-but that’s enough. I see my optimism ebbing away, again.

              • I stopped watching TV and reading the nooze in 2008, when it became clear to me that propaganda is the name of the game. Nothing that has happened since then has done anything other than to confirm it was a good decision. When, as now, I’m in a household where the TV does play and I catch some of its content, it angers me. I think it boils down to how impotent one is – the TV, radio and papers can just ignore our righteous, well-reasoned anger.

                I humbly suggest you don’t expose yourself to that cynical mendacity at all. What’s the point? You already know plenty enough, way more than I do. Don’t feed the beast. Don’t be fed by the beast.

                What I get from your posts is profound concern. That’s optimism in a negative form. That the violence, lies and cruel, boundless ambition of the system upsets you means you care. The vast majority of us do. That’s where the hope is. To make that potential do something constructive means learning how to work together, how to work with our differences, and how to build viable alternatives. Plural, not singular. It will never be the case that some huge percentage of people suddenly know exactly what to do. My approach is to find projects that give me hope and do what I can to help them. And work on my own issues at the same time. And not expose myself to the system’s highly manipulative output. Its output is designed to repress, frustrate and immobilise, and does so excellently.

                You know all this I’m sure. I don’t for one minute think I’m telling you something original. I’m just reminding you, politely.

                • reinertorheit says

                  Entirely agreed. I haven’t had a TV for over ten years. It’s like agreeing to have your thoughts and ideas controlled by thugs.

    10. Francis Lee says

      Strange how history repeats itself, as does human frailty and the ever-present propensity to sin. Thucydides had a handle on it in the History of the Peloponnesian War. He argued that basically Empire and Democracy were at root incompatible which is a statement of the now obvious.

      Certainly, Athens didn’t maintain their empire for very long. Thucydides puts its founding at about 470 BC, after the war with the Persians. As is usually the case with empires, that founding was more about security than greed. By 431, when the war begins, Thucydides tells us the hostility against Athens is fairly widespread, “whether from those who wished to escape from her empire or were absorbed by it.” The empire that one generation won, the next generation lost.

      The never ending expansion of the AZ-empire in its quest for global dominance was as misguided as the Athenian’s ambitions, albeit more limited, of imperial dominance. Thucydides depicts the manic exuberance in the run-up to the Sicilian Expedition (cf Iraq, Libya, Somalia and now Iran) justified partly by alliances but mostly by the idea that an imperial power should keep the machinery of conquest going, even though the strategic advantages of conquering Sicily in the midst of duking it out with the Peloponnesian League were absolutely nil:

      “And we cannot know the exact point at which out empire shall stop; we have reached a position in which we must not be content with retaining but must scheme to extend it, for if we cease to rule others, we are in danger of being ruled ourselves.”

      Yep, sounds familiar. An early version of neo-con doctrine. In terms of modern equivalents to the Athanian ill-fated Sicilian Expedition (pick any of Wesley Clark’s 7), it’s easy to find examples of great powers getting swept up in the excitement of we-just-can’t-lose military endeavours. In this supercharged emotional high it was easy to sweep the populace into a war fever.

      He writes:

      ”“The ancient simplicity into which honor so largely entered was laughed down and disappeared; and society was divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow… In this contest the blunter wits were most successful. Apprehensive of their own deficiencies and of the cleverness of their antagonists, they feared to be worsted in debate and to be surprised by the combinations of their more versatile opponents, and so at once boldly had recourse to action: while their adversaries, arrogantly thinking that they should know in time, and that it was unnecessary to secure by action what policy afforded, often fell victims to their want of precaution”.

      The ‘blunter wits’ in the media, deep-state, CIA, Congress NSA and the rest are adept at making ‘their own reality’ which is in fact a form of psychosis.

      • @Francis Lee. Beautiful precis cum analogy of two classic Democracies turned Empires. Plato lived through the lot: Democracy (“Land of the brave, home of the free”), Empire, Defeat, Dictatorship, Injustice, Decay; and it convinced him that “Democracy is the best form of bad government; but it is still a bad form of government”. Unfortunately he never found a better, though he devoted a great deal of time, thought, practical energy and money to the quest. We are in the same boat.

        • Don’t you think that part of the problem is striving to establish some near-perfect social machinery? Perhaps it would help to see democracy (or anarchy) as the most transparent and revealing social structure. This means we are exposed to our own failings sooner, which means we have richer opportunities of sound information to address what isn’t working. So it’s not that we need an external structure like some kind of cultural exoskeleton moulding our individual behaviours completely, but rather a direct relationship from each individual to the operating of the whole. The internet is doing this sort of thing, but is also being coopted by the obsessively controlling elites in their fear of losing control.

          In other words, what Plato conceived of as bad is in fact good in that we see most clearly where work needs to be done. Democracy generates the cleanest information about where we are, as individuals, being unhelpfully and unhealthily motivated by fear. It’s a matter of how we choose to perceive our options and opportunities for qualitative growth.

          Change is the only constant. Human nature is not fixed.

    11. Yonatan says

      The Gore Vidal quote is pretty good but this one is a keeper!

      “It was while making news paper deliveries, trying to miss the bushes and hit the porch, that I learned about the importance of accuracy in journalism.”- Charles Osgood

    12. This is spot on and thanks to Greg Maybury who always is a pleasure to read. He combines lucidity with humour and inimically cuts the legs from under the dross infecting the so called media and their masters. These “bar stewards” of history in the making, by that I mean the hacks who inhabit the ever decreasing realm of what we were once led to believe was the fourth estate…

      Greg homes in on the poignant fact when he states…

      “…how we as ordinary people allow our political, financial, intellectual, media, and corporate ‘elites’ hoodwink then railroad us into supporting—mostly without question as if collectively driven by some inner, yet inexplicable, Pavlovian suicidal impulse—their grandiose, self-serving, and wholly disastrous schemes”

      Brilliantly put and YES many do succumb!

      Helped along by simplistic but repetitious fodder provided many times daily by dumbed down media bites. Like crumbs from the masters table. These hacks who long ago lost any semblance of principle now sell their wares for the king’s shilling daily.

      I have to end with another reference to the Graun [as we are here at Off G and that’s the whole point!]

      They have now had commissioned what appears to be a series of articles to appear by the “Rockefeller Foundation
      https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/may/29/russia-stray-dogs-world-cup-cull-sochi-yekaterinburg

      What I think we will regard as “Shaggy Dog Stories”, in a cheap pseudo-activism come Russo-phobic vein to create a weird psychotic Hardingesque view of Russia ahead of the World Cup.

      These people are prepared to live in the past and clearly on the payroll of oligarchs with long historical warmongering roots!

    13. Gary Weglarz says

      A well reasoned and well documented look at our Western oligarchic madhouse along with its powerful systemic propaganda structures. We are every bit today captive to the myths of our ruling oligarchs – posing as “reality” – as our Medieval ancestors were to the myths spun and enforced by Mother Church. Here in the U.S. the choice for decades now has been to vote for a member of the Bush family as the Republican face of the CIA/deep state, or the Clinton/Obama families as the Democratic face of the CIA/deep state.

      We refer to this rigged game of total control by oligarchy as “democracy” here in the U.S. We of course immediately intervene in any nation that might have a true popular democratic moment as the litany of CIA sponsored “regime changes” and election rigging testifies to. But of course to speak of such actual “reality” today is as frowned upon among the true believers and the enforcers of myth here in the West as was once suggesting that the earth is round and perhaps not the center of the solar system when Mother Church was still the final arbiter of acceptable mythic belief.

      Perhaps 500 years of the Holy Inquisition resulted in the complete and utter psychological domestication of Western populations. How else to explain that we continue to stubbornly refuse to think for ourselves and instead allow our psychopathic elites to lead us all toward the slaughter?

      I’m having trouble again posting, so I’m hoping this doesn’t post twice. Sorry.

    14. Norcal says

      I’m so pleased to see Greg Maybury published here. His voice is unique for our time in that it seems to reflect both experience and outrage in just the right combinations to move the topic forward. Thank you Greg and OffGuardian for posting it.

    15. Gary Weglarz says

      A well reasoned and well documented look at our Western oligarchic madhouse along with its powerful systemic propaganda structures. We are every bit today captive to the myths of our ruling oligarchs – posing as “reality” – as our Medieval ancestors were to the myths spun and enforced by Mother Church. Here in the U.S. the choice for decades now has been to vote for a member of the Bush family as the Republican face of the CIA/deep state, or the Clinton/Obama families as the Democratic face of the CIA/deep state.

      We refer to this rigged game of total control by oligarchy as “democracy” here in the U.S. We of course immediately intervene in any nation that might have a true popular democratic moment as the litany of CIA sponsored “regime changes” and election rigging testifies to. But of course to speak of such actual “reality” today is as frowned upon among the true believers and the enforcers of myth here in the West as was once suggesting that the earth is round and perhaps not the center of the solar system when Mother Church was still the final arbiter of acceptable mythic belief.

      Perhaps 500 years of the Holy Inquisition resulted in the complete and utter psychological domestication of Western populations. How else to explain that we continue to stubbornly refuse to think for ourselves and instead allow our psychopathic elites to lead us all toward the slaughter?

    16. One doesn’t have to agree with everything in this essay to recognise it as an exemplary display of balanced analysis, beautiful English and tremendous insight. It is, in a word, civilised.
      This site is getting better and better: if only one could fashion it into a form of crucifix to be pointed at the Wishful Unthinking Tendency, the scorched Earth produced by hobgoblins racing back to the safety of their coffins would be a small price to pay for sanity.
      The normalisation of the surreal as described by Mr Maybury is applicable to every contemporary situation from Brexit via North Korea to Italy and Syria. My personal metier is to laugh at the output, put this is not always enough:
      https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/the-european-bunion-referendums-are-so-last-year-but-hot-air-is-an-ever-expanding-sector/

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