Thursday, February 15, 2007

Deculturation: Mass Deprogramming of Global Society

This article is a continuation of a series that includes Mud pies and Dunce Caps - Part 2, Give me a Child Until......, and Waking up, Into the Nightmare!

Can the deprogramming techniques used on those rescued from cults or the mass deprogramming suggested in the "Social Reason" program be looked to as a means of achieving mass global deprogramming for the purpose of achieving a mass disassociation from the modern capitalist paradigm and a shift in worldview to stewardship and sustainability?

What is the source of a nation's culture? Who defines it? How is it transmitted through the nation's population such that it becomes so integrated into the individual worldview and mind set that it becomes "common knowledge", becomes the core of the national identity? There was a reason that large "nations" like China, India, the US, Russia and others did not exist earlier in our history, why nations that did exist were still loose collections of tribal enclaves much like we are finding Afghanistan still is today. The means to create and, most importantly, constantly reinforce a national identity did not exist. People do not inherently identify with "nation" but rather some smaller, more intimate grouping. The key to sustaining a national worldview is media; TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, music and movies. The extension of that reality is the growth of globalization and the establishment of key elements of a global mind set through the agency of global communications; through global television and radio aided through satellites, through globalization in the entertainment industry in music, magazines and movies, and, more recently and far more importantly, the rapid growth of global digital communications that brings into a common technology base not only broadcast media but telephone, the internet, facsimile transmission and image transmission.

One of the first and most important targets of the rebel forces in any revolution since the early part of the twentieth century, and earlier though in more limited fashion, is almost always the communications and media; the radio, TV, newspapers and printing presses. Control of the media, until then in the hands of the government being overthrown, is recognized as a critical part of gaining control of the hearts and minds of the people. Media is always, at least in modern society, at the heart of national culture. It is the means by which government and business mobilize the public support of their goals. As Robert W. McChesney outlines in The Political Economy Of Radio, "As a rule of thumb, if certain forces thoroughly dominate a society's political economy they will thoroughly dominate its communication system, and the fundamental questions of how the communication system should be organized and for what purposes are not even subject to debate. So it is and so it has been with the Communist Party in various "people's republics," and, for the most part, with big business interests in the United States."[(1)] And, in fact, it is the same with business control of the media in every free country on the planet.

We are bombarded by the reinforcing symbols and messages of our culturation and social indoctrination from cradle to grave. But beginning with the various means of mass communication, starting with radio, that culturation and indoctrination has been increasingly and insidiously commercial. Beginning in the 1920s capitalists and business leaders began to recognize the power in radio that they could use to improve their businesses and, more importantly, to "manufacture" and maintain public loyalty to their product and, increasingly, their political agenda. With that recognition, they set out to control these mass communication media. McChesney writes, "It was only in the late 1920s that capitalists began to sense that through network operation and commercial advertising, radio broadcasting could generate substantial profits. Through their immense power in Washington, these commercial broadcasters were able to dominate the Federal Radio Commission. As a result, the scarce number of air channels were effectively turned over to them with no public and little congressional deliberation on the matter."

The dangers inherent in commercial control of broadcast media were the rallying call of a reform movement through the 1920s. They argued that ".....if private interests controlled the medium and their goal was profit, no amount of regulation or self-regulation could overcome the bias built into the system." This reform movement essentially lost their battle with the passage of the Communications Act of 1934, which established the FCC. They did not lose in a fair fight, however. As McChesney explains, "The radio lobby dominated because it was able to keep most Americans ignorant or confused about the communication policy matters then under discussion in Congress through their control of key elements of the news media and their sophisticated public relations aimed at the remainder of the press and the public."

Commercial domination of broadcast media did not end with radio, of course. "When television came along in the 1940s," McChesney says, "the FCC effectively turned it over to the same networks that dominated radio. Almost from the beginning commercial broadcasting has generated criticism that it ignored or downplayed controversial political programming, or entertainment and cultural programming that would not attract huge audiences. In addition, advertisers served as powerful censors of broadcast content, and it was not in their interest to sponsor programming that might undermine their sales messages."[(1)]

After four generations of commercial control and manipulation of the broadcast media that is the central source of our cultural identity, plus two decades of escalating commercial intrusion into our public school systems, we have become so indoctrinated into a carefully orchestrated worldview that we have largely surrendered and lost both our ability and our desire for critical independent thought. In one of the many online sites called Deprogramming, put out by The Center for Human Deprogramming, it is put this way, "Everything we feel and know inside is gradually replaced with values originating from media and education until we have completely lost our ability for independent, creative, or critical thought. After years of this process, we lose our identities and internal equilibrium and become dependent on the external."[(6)] We have as a population largely fallen into a pattern of follow-the-leader, looking to government and business to solve our problems, satisfy our perceived needs, and to tell and show us where we are supposed to go. To quote myself, from my book Oilephant Down: Canada at the End of the Age of Cheap Oil, "the more you ask your government to do for you the more it will do to you without your asking." Just consider the wholesale erosion of civil liberties in legislation like The Patriot Act passed since 9/11. But we keep asking. As Carolyn Baker says in American Born, Addicted to Happiness, "Americans, even so-called Progressives it seems, appear to be fixated in an eternal adolescence that wants to repair adversity as quickly as possible without living it, or God forbid, learning from it. One facet of maturity is the awareness that the challenges of human existence are rarely simplistic, usually fraught with complexity, and typically last much longer than we ever dreamed we could endure them. ..... Like puerile MTV viewers, we demand that the right politician, the right book, the right motivational speaker, the right spiritual teacher, the right journalist tell us what to do and make it “all better” so that we can avoid suffering."[(2)]

That is not a national mind set and worldview that should give anyone comfort as we rapidly and aggressively push toward the global crises ahead of us, most importantly but not exclusively peak oil and climate change. A problem cannot be its own solution. We cannot expect to avoid, remedy or mitigate these crises with the same government and business leadership that has led us through a global sleepwalk to this cliff and seems to be intent on pushing us off into the abyss with their mindless pursuit of business-as-usual. They are aware of the crises before us. If the average citizen did not realize that with President Bush's "America is addicted to oil" statement in his 2006 State of the Union address, then they simply are not listening. They may, however, simply be incapable of hearing. As Laura Knight-Jadczyk says in Official Culture in America: A Natural State of Psychopathy?, " effective the "official culture" actually is in the US. It isn't just a question of ignorance, but a question of the long-term thoroughness of the propagandizing that began in the early days of the last century. It was proposed that this propaganda is so complete that not only are most people in the US ignorant of what is taking place on the US political scene, and in the world as a direct result of US policy, they are ignorant of the fact that they are ignorant."[(4)] But the solutions consistently put forward by President Bush, his administration, the US government and business leaders is to develop more new technology to solve the problems. It is technology that has brought us to this dangerous point. As Joseph Wilkerson put it in Energy and Psyche: Resource Addiction in the Technological Age, "....if the industrial relationship to petroleum and other energy sources is indeed an addiction, then it will take more than “technology … reliable alternative energy sources and … clean-energy research” (united) to facilitate our recovery." Knight-Jadczyk goes on to say, "...all of us who were raised in the US have been duped via this Official Culture mind control imposed through the educational system and the mass media." [(3)]

As long as those powerful government, institutional and business interests vested in the maintenance of the status quo remain in control of the legislation that creates the laws that govern our lives, in control of the education system that molds the mind and character of our children to their objectives, in control of that national media that creates, manipulates, controls and constantly reinforces the national cultural mind set supportive of their elitist interests, any broad-based, grass roots social movement for change will be very limited in its ability to affect that change. Even the most fervent social movements have been but small blips on the radar of those in control of our culture. Lip service is paid while passions are high and then it's back to business as usual, maybe with a new coat of disguising paint. With the media in the control of such powerful vested interests the opportunity simply will not be "granted" for any popular social change to get off the ground. In a paper titled Seizing the Media put out by a group called Immediast International, the frustration engendered by this reality is clear. "The time has come to veto, overwhelm, and subvert the messages of all airborne commercial broadcast media until they are returned to complete public direction, access, and control. How long should we wait to liberate public spaces from the blister of billboards and advertisements? The air is public domain, and the airwaves are ours to hear our own voices, see our own colors, enjoy our own conversations, and celebrate in the vast community of cultures. Remember: dialogue offsets the hegemony, and intimacy empowers. ..... The time has come to restore the democratic power and public space that have been co opted and colonized by commercial media."[(5)]

If our leaders remain focused on perpetuating business as usual and have no solution to the problems ahead other than ramping up the technology that has been such a key part of our destruction of the planet's biosphere, and if machinery of culturation and information remains firmly in their grasp, how are we to overcome our increasing sense of doom and have any hope of avoiding the crises ahead (Let's call them what they will be, disasters!)? How are we to prepare as a society for the most dramatic and traumatic transition in human history as the impact of peak oil, climate change and other looming global disasters befall us in quick succession? Somehow we have to find a way. This is how it was put in Knight-Jadczyk's article. "A picture is forming of a deliberately contrived society of televised conformity, literate and creative inadequacy, and social unrest and decadence. It is apparent that the media is in charge of propagating these conditions, and the media is controlled by what? ..... Capitalistic, competitive Economics."

Deprogramming is a technique developed and fine-tuned over this past half century originally intended as a program to undo the indoctrination and brainwashing of individuals rescued from cults of various descriptions. It is a very intense, one-on-one process that seeks to supplant inculcated beliefs, "truths", triggers and signals and replace them with a renewed affinity for the mainstream culture. The process uses, out of declared necessity, some of the same techniques of indoctrination and brainwashing that was used to draw the subject into the cult in the first place. Both the strength and the weakness of the technique is that it is one-on-one. If the masses are to be deprogrammed out of the mainstream culture in order to effect a change toward a post-energy sustainable world it is not likely to happen if it relies on intense, one-on-one reculturation of every individual. There is a technique called Social Reason developed by Milton W. Raymond and presented to the Ethical Society of Boston, School for Ethics. This paper purports to be a technique for broad social deprogramming during traumatic social changes such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-absorption of Hong Kong into Communist China and introduction of western Democracy into conservative Islamic states.[(6)] To my knowledge the theory presented in the paper has never been put into practice. Most practitioners and experts on deprogramming are quite insistent that it can only work on an intense one-on-one basis. I remain intrigued, however, whether Raymond's technique has any merit and whether it could be the key to effecting the social transition from our current high-energy, high-tech world into the sustainable world that must follow the collapse of the global energy bubble.

1) The Political Economy Of Radio by Robert W. McChesney
2) American Born, Addicted to Happiness by Carolyn Baker / Research on Globalization (CRG)
3) Energy and Psyche: Resource Addiction in the Technological Age By Joseph Wilkerson
4) Official Culture in America: A Natural State of Psychopathy? by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
5) Seizing The Media: The Immediast Underground Pamphlet Series
Immediast International - New York City / Amsterdam / Seattle (Looks quite good)
6) Resolving "Irreconcilable" Differences by Milton W. Raymond

Monday, February 12, 2007

Waking up, Into the Nightmare!

Much of what I have written on the blog lately ("Give me a Child Until...." and "Mudpies and Dunce caps Part 2") has to do with the degree of social indoctrination and brainwashing in support of current society. I have always been and still am most concerned with government, business, media and religious indoctrination in the elementary levels of the public school system (a phenomenon which is now increasingly creeping into private schools as well), the degree to which those institutions take control over the formation of the character of our children to suit their aims, the role of media through television, radio, music, movies and magazines in targeting our children and reinforcing that institutional indoctrination. There is a solid reason for that concern. This article should be seen, therefore, as a continuation of the above series of articles. Many of the other articles on the blog also are musings on various specific aspects of the same line of thought (e.g. "The Right to Pursue Powerdown").

We are arguably headed into the most difficult struggle for survival that our species has ever had to deal with. We and our children are, in this new century, going to have to deal with some combination of serious global problems any one of which by itself could force a serious readjustment of human society. To have to deal with a number of them within the same century is a more onerous prospect than the problems underpinning any of the major turning points in human history. What are those problems?

* Global population growth that has already pushed us well beyond the natural carrying capacity of this planet and continues to push us even beyond the artificial carrying capacity achieved through the use of fossil fuels. 20-40,000 people die globally every day from starvation and nutrition-related illness. A full third of the human population is, by our western standards, malnourished or undernourished.
* Peak oil and peak energy or, more importantly, the decline in oil, natural gas and other forms of energy following the global peak in oil and natural gas. Professor Richard Duncan, in his Olduvai Theory, draws a direct link between the peaking in oil and natural gas and the comparatively rapid depletion of other sources of energy that will follow.
* Global warming and climate change and its attendant issues of desertification, ice cap and glacier melting, sea level rise, shift of growing zones, possible shutting down of the Atlantic thermal conveyor and the strong potential of an associated new ice age in Europe, a steady dramatic global increase in storm severity and unprecedented aberrant weather patterns, etc.
* Global loss of soil fertility through top soil degredation and depletion through the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizer, over irrigation, over cultivation, over cropping, loss of organic matter and humus, etc. Once the artificial fertility afforded by fossil fuel inputs is no longer available (it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel input to produce one calorie of food using western agricultural methods) we will have only natural fertility to support us.
* Accelerating global decline of fresh water resources through pollution, aquifer depletion, loss of ground water through global warming, overuse of fresh water for irrigation for agriculture, golf courses, unnatural desert cities, etc.
* The increasing global loss of viable agricultural land to urban sprawl, infrastructure spread, soil salination and toxicity, erosion from wind and water, etc.
* The increasing global loss of food security through unfettered population explosion, loss of soil fertility, nutrient loss in increased photosynthesis due to global warming, inexorable encroachment and destruction of traditional farming practices by multinationals like Monsanto, Dupont, ADM, etc.
* Runaway global species extinction through increased competition from the growing human population, wholesale habitat destruction and destruction of natural migratory routes, habitat destruction through global warming, shifting of critical climatic ranges toward the poles through global warming, breaking the ecological links between different species through isolation, reduction of species gene pools to critical levels, human monopolization of insolation to grow our crops at the expense of natural food sources for other species, etc.
* The growing potential of endless terrorism and resource wars, very possibly including nuclear and biolgical weapons.
* The dramatically increasing probabability of a major global pandemic (bird flu, HIV/AIDS, ebola, hanta, marburg, west nile, etc.) due to human encroachment on disease reservoirs in Africa, South America, and elsewhere, on global degredation of human immune systems due to overuse of antibiotics and vaccines, the continuing avoidance of breast feeding in developed and, increasingly, developing nations, the increasing use of antibiotic cleansers and other products in the home and its impact on impairing the immune system development in our children and causing a global epidemic increase in childhood illnesses, etc.
* The strong potential of a global economic meltdown following peak oil and other disasters listed above.

AND MORE...................

None of this is news, of course, at least not if you are a regular reader of my blog or Energy Bulletin or any of the hundreds and thousands of online websites, newsgroups, e-mail groups and other sites that have been discussing these issues, or any of the hundreds of books available on peak oil, global warming, overpopulation, and other imminent global disasters. If you do a google on "peak oil" you will find that there are over six million links available, and that number grows by thousands every day. A global warming google will net you more than 65,000,000 links. So if all of this is so readilly available why can I still run across tidbits like this in The Cheap Oil Mirage in The Daily Reckoning - Weekend Edition:

"Recently . . . the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an extraordinary session, heard testimony that the nation is in grave danger of a permanent oil crisis. Some of these senators affected to be shocked and surprised. What planet have they been living on? What is the nation getting for the hundreds of million of dollars paid to their staffers? Outgoing Republican chair, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), said to the witnesses that "what you told us today is absolutely startling with reference to the future." Is it too early for a dumbass of the year award?"

If our national and global leaders are ignorant of the crises before us, either intentionally or unintentionally - and I am very much not suggesting that they are ignorant of these crises - is it any wonder that the vast majority of average people likewise remain unaware of the crises ahead? I would strongly suggest, however, that the vast majority of our politicians and leaders are very much aware of the crises ahead of us. So why aren't they talking? Would you? If you were in George Bush's shoes and you were aware of the imminence of peak oil and the implications of a declining global oil supply would you admit it publically? The thing with being a politician is that admitting to an awareness of a problem imposes upon that politician expectations that something will be done about. The politician who talks about a problem must have solutions for that problem. Does any politcian or leader on the planet have a viable solution to peak oil, global warming, or any of the other global disasters that are likely to assault us over the course of this century?

I would suggest the answer is a resounding NOOOOOOO.........

So think about it. You're George Bush. You know peak oil is fast approaching. You know you have no solutions, probably know there are no solutions. You know you can't admit that you know these things because you don't have answers. So what do you do? All of this information is out there in the public arena so more and more people will gradually find out. You can't shut down the sources of that information. They're too numerous and global in nature. If a critical mass of awareness develops it could lead to uncontrollable civil unrest. You can't let that happen. What's your best course of action? Fall back on tried and true methods. Deny, deny, deny! Never utter the words. Spearhead a campaign of misinformation and disinformation to discredit such information, to cause confusion. Capitalize on social loyalty of the sheeple to authority. Use the words "theory" and "conspiracy" often, always accompanied by a smirk or a laugh or a lifting of the eyebrows accompanied with a shrug. Keep the populace focussed on other problems like terrorism, political scandals, corporate scandals, WMD and if there aren't big enough problems already then create some. Keep waving the flag and reminding the sheeple that you are the only truly patriotic leader they have available. And most importantly, you ratchet up the indoctrination and brainwashing of the nation's children to ensure that they perpetuate the compliance of the masses to the desires and directives of the national leaders. And most importantly, you keep the focus away from the problems long enough to leave it to the next president to solve.

Our government, business, religious and media leaders are doing absolutely everything they can to keep us sleepwalking toward the cliff ahead. Bereft of solutions they are doing all that they can to ensure they at least continue to have control of the masses. But there is an absolute nightmare ahead of us. More and more people everyday are waking up to the nightmare of an increasingly uncomfortable reality. When the spell of the global hypnosis is finally broken and a critical mass of the population realize that the nightmare is real we will be at potentially the greatest turning point in human history. Leaders who have maintained their hold on power by keeping the masses ignorant of a serious and unpreventable and unsolveable problem always eventually fall to the overwhelming will of the people when the subterfuge is revealed. The longer and more aggressively the masses are kept ignorant of the problem the more passionate and voilent the backlash when it comes. But leader after leader has still naively followed this path. Manipulating public apathy and ignorance of the truth can only be carried on for so long.

Awareness is building. The more it does the closer we get to potentially a global day of reckoning. To quote, I think, P. T. Barnum, "You can fool some of the people all the time, all the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." With a global erosion of civil liberties leaders are playing a very dangerous game. Be careful dealing with a people who have nothing left to lose.

I will return to this theme again and again. Stay tuned.