Jul 2012 18

by Steven Whitney

[The Fighting Back series began with a simple question: given their minority status for most of the last 80 years, why is the GOP so successful at winning elections? Over the next weeks, we’ll seek answers in a myriad of fields and then offer solutions aimed at turning the tables on the party that favors corporations and the 1% over the vast majority of Americans. The series is not meant to be a monologue, so feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.]

Last week’s column sketched out how Karl Rove – the GOP clone of Dr. Evil but lacking the charm or charisma – designed the new Republican model based upon the same four doctrines employed by Joseph Goebbels in his role as Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for Germany’s Third Reich.

The reason is simple: if we can learn from and implement some of his tactics and strategies, albeit without his mendacity and immorality, we should – if only to start winning more elections and to successfully push a liberal/progressive agenda through the labyrinthine halls of government.

Make no mistake, no matter who the Republican candidate or what GOP agenda Democrats are running against, they are also running against Rove, “the Architect” of the modern GOP. This is the man who not only “consults” on practically every race but who also makes and maintains connections to Big Money corporations and the 1% while holding the purse strings of rightwing SuperPACs and the RNC.

It’s also important because propaganda is all that Republicans have. With no substance, no moral high ground, no sustainable policies and no real solutions at hand, it’s just them and their giant propaganda machine. If we can beat that, we can beat them.

So let’s reboot the Goebbels/Rove doctrines of Propaganda – Indoctrination, Intimidation and Revenge, Distraction and Disinformation, and Divide and Conquer – and dig a little deeper into them, one by one.

Generally speaking, Indoctrination is the practice of instilling targeted ideas, attitudes, strategies, tactics, and other thoughts into the conscious, subconscious, or unconscious mind of another. It is different from learning (education), which requires deliberate study, perception, and critical analysis, in that indoctrination can be, and often is, involuntary – occurring almost subliminally, unobserved by the unsuspecting mind – and strongly discourages any questions or examinations of an analytic, or fact-based, nature.

The term indoctrination was originally used to describe the generation to generation passing on of religious doctrine (indoctrinate contains the word doctrine and comes from the same Latin root), a set of core beliefs central to an enclosed community that is based solely on “faith,” not facts. Children of the faithful were born and brought up within the strict guidelines of the religion and often attended religious schools (in addition to worship services and special religious instruction like catechism) where they learned and often had to memorize doctrine. By the time they reached adulthood, most (but not all) identified themselves with the religion in which they were indoctrinated. Children, of course, are particularly vulnerable because they rely on their families and communities for all their basic needs and they trust, or have faith in, the entities that nurture their growth.

Indoctrination to military service, on the other hand, is based on the reinforced concepts of “duty” and “order” to a nationalist (or tribal) entity while also encompassing the mental and physical training factually necessary for soldiers to perform their often unpleasant tasks. The ideal recruits or volunteers are late teens and young adults, largely because development of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain that controls judgment is not complete until about age 25, rendering them more susceptible both to influence and bad decisions.

While there are many forms of political indoctrination, the one successfully practiced by both Goebbels and Rove is based on the concept of “The Big Lie,” a term coined by Hitler himself in his book Mein Kampf:

“…because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily. . . in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie. . . for they could never believe that others would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

When the Third Reich snatched total control of Germany’s media – all print, radio, and film outlets – Goebbels targeted those same “broad masses,” endlessly bombarding them with the Big Lies that led to World War II and the Holocaust. Any alternative view was vigorously quashed – books were burned, professors and other “intellectuals” were jailed, killed, or fled the country, art and music was censored or banned, and all performing arts were under the centralized control of Goebbels’ Ministry (two films produced by the Third Reich – Triumph of the Will and Olympia – are still considered the most skillful and frightening examples of the power of visual propaganda). This relentless blitzkrieg of untruth occurred every single day from 1933 to the Fall of Berlin twelve years later – and, tragically, it worked.

With modern technology, total control over the outward flow of information is more difficult today, but still possible (think North Korea). Yet in America, if the indoctrination begins early enough, continues blaring non-stop 24/7, and if the dialogue can be poisoned just enough to win elections, our entire society can be transformed from inside the government, almost invisibly, from a democracy to a plutocracy of corporations and the 1% with hardly a whisper of recognition.

Under Rove, and like Goebbels, Big Lies are mostly absorbed and reinforced through social brainwashing by the media, which diligently reports the GOP’s Daily Talking Points as both real news and, incredibly, the truth. On radio it’s the right wing corps of talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Bennett who receive their marching orders from Rove and the RNC.

But for the last 15 years, the elephant in the big GOP tent has been Fox News, created and autocratically run by Nixon/Reagan crony Roger Ailes, who serves as its president – and owned by none other than phone hacker extraordinaire Rupert Murdoch, the Aussie-turned-Brit-turned-American Citizen Kane. Over the last fifteen years, and by Ailes’ design, Fox News has literally become the unofficial arm of both the Republican Party and the Tea Party, if there’s any difference at this point.

In collusion with Rove – who signed a big money contract to serve as Fox’s “political analyst” – Ailes programs a never-ending cycle of propaganda and fear-mongering, complete with now infamous buzzwords and phrases like freedom, entitlements, elitist, liberal media, smoking guns and mushroom clouds, WMD, Red Alerts, Islamo-Fascist, Muslim, birther, redistribution of wealth, and my personal favorite, death panels.

Hour after dreary hour, the chattering chowderheads of Fox News goosestep in 2/4 time to the Daily Talking Point, using exactly the same words and phrases, over and over and over, like the annoying drip drip drip of a faucet all night long until it becomes part of your unconscious and you can finally sleep.

Jon Stewart frequently pokes fun at Fox’s journalistic reverb chamber, airing montages of every Fox host repeating the exact same words and phrases over and over – from Hannity to O’Reilly to Fox & Friends and everyone else, including every “guest” pundit weighing in on the day’s “news.” But laughs aside, the technique is lethally effective: every single textbook on brainwashing states that exact and continuous repetition is the most effective tool of social brainwashing. Preying on fear and paranoia, Rove and Fox continually repeat emotionally-charged slogans and buzzwords that, although false, favorably brand their far right agenda while painting anyone on the left (or sometimes even the center) as “Un-American,” perhaps their most overused buzzword – and all of it at a noise level that deafens reason.

The other sly ploy used by Fox News from its beginning is: “Trust only us. We’re the only network that will tell you the truth.” Goebbels’ state-run newspapers and radio employed the same ruse, so German children of that period grew up trusting only Nazi media.

And, of course, every time any reasonable objection is voiced from the 99% the Fox puppets repeatedly scream other buzzwords like “Class Warfare” or “socialist” (Goebbels, too, was virulently anti-socialist). How’s that for fair and balanced?

Even the GOP’s horrendous rudeness is a political tactic. Watch almost any installment of Real Time with Bill Maher and you’ll see Republican panelists aggressively interrupt and shout down (or over) pertinent points being made by progressives. While it may not at first seem advantageous to be so boorish, it keeps the audience from hearing the liberal perspective – and like a tree falling in the forest, if no one hears it, does it really exist?

Some might argue that only wingnuts on the right believe and trust in Fox News. But consider this: Because they are so unprepared for analytical thinking and contextual meaning, children are extremely vulnerable to propaganda, especially that which is delivered over a period of years. Think of children born in l993 or 1994 to parents who constantly played Fox News in the den. This year voting for the first time, these young adults have been indoctrinated for most of their lives – and they will likely pass their inculcated beliefs onto their children. That’s a scary thought, and proves that we have a lot of work to do for many years ahead.

During WWII, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) – the precursor to the CIA – issued a report on the Hitler/Goebbels methodology that remained classified until the mid-60s, when its use started to leak into global political indoctrination:

“…his primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

Please, read that passage again. Let it sink in. Then ask yourself if, point by point, it doesn’t exactly describe the strategies of today’s GOP under the aegis of Karl Rove, his corporate sponsors, his media cronies, and Fox News.

As Germans discovered, those tactics can and do win elections, but they are so divisive as to inevitably lead to the destruction of once-great nations and sovereign cultures, just as they have led to the most dangerous political and social crisis the United States has faced since the Civil War – a crisis only we can solve, and only by taking action against those who want “to fool all of the people all of the time.”

Related Posts:
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.


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