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


sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





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Will said...

I think more people should read this, and am curious to see just how well " Social Reason" works or if it does at all. I am also curious about The Center for Human Deprogramming, and it's goals/reasons for deprogramming. Has anyone heard anything else about them besides their site deprogramming .com?