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Lost Innocence / Vietnam

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....



We, the doubters of the Fear and Hatred programme, were slowly awakening to the vile and cynical travesty of this overwhelmingly one-sided war. We knew the military were stupid, but we didn’t realise the extent to which the global corporations were already dictating and driving policy.

That insufferably long and pointless war became a rude awakening for many of us (unfortunately, not nearly enough of us in nearly enough time). The first televised war, it showed us in graphic terms what our taxes were paying for and many of us were rightly horrified. The rationale was usually couched in terms of the protection of “our interests” abroad, but of course very few of us, and even fewer of the poor young men doing the fighting, had any “interests” abroad whatsoever.

The logic was inescapable. Our taxes were being used to protect our rich by pitting our poor, armed to the teeth with advanced weaponry, against the poor in another country. But the incessant narrative coming from McNamara and the other people orchestrating this shambles was still somehow that we were "protecting democracy”. And that same narrative was telling and re-telling us that we were on the very verge of winning that war outright. This mantra was kept up all the way to the last panic-stricken few days. To the days we saw American diplomats and press desperately and ignominiously scrambling aboard rooftop helicopters as the North Vietnamese, largely barefoot and with none of the enormous technological advantages available to the Americans, rolled into Saigon and took over.

But still my innocence persisted. Still in self-indulgent pursuit of the prime male directive and in sorting through the various “realities” I was encountering, I nevertheless deplored the obscene and inhumane immolation of the Vietnamese people. Mainstream media coverage, some of it still relatively principled in those days, brought us daily images of naked burning third world villagers. Combined with more and more returning American body bags, such images became unavoidable. I joined, as best I could, protests against the latest iterations of the escalating Fear and Hatred programme - which now included vicious and venomous attacks against such protests.

But my sad interventions were encumbered, as I think were the interventions of many of my contemporaries, with a profound lack of knowledge/understanding of what forces were actually at work in perpetrating these miseries. There was a growing realisation of the role of soulless corporations in all this, but we couldn’t see clear patterns of coordination.

I found my innocence slowly eroding as more and more of the investigative elements of the mainstream media began laying bare more and more of such patterns. The primary coordinating pattern was, of course, the universally slavish adherence, by the corporate humans, to “the bottom line”, ie the frenetic pursuit of exponentially increased returns to and bonuses for insatiable shareholders and their “chief executive officers” - to the absolute exclusion of ALL other considerations.

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The global corporations and their rampaging Chief Executives knew legislation and laws were there to be bent in the pursuit of profit. Occasional convictions for these increasing forays into illegality were rarely absorbed by the actual perpetrators, and certainly the occasional corporate fine never impacted “the bottom line”. Such fines were really just another tax deductible “cost” on the Balance Sheet.

The simplicity and commonality of this approach and this objective created the impression of coordination, but we still felt this was largely coincidental. Surely, globally speaking, the whole thing was far too complicated for any kind of systemic coordination, let alone any secrecy. Surely there would be too many people involved to keep the lid on the kind and extent of secrecy required.

But other patterns began to emerge, many retrospectively. Not least among these was the running sore of the Kennedy assassination. It became blindingly obvious to all but the congenitally least curious that not only was it an inside job and but also that it was “investigated” by a dubious “official investigation” - the ridiculous “Warren Commission” - which was itself compromised at every step and at every level. And this led to the sense that “official” narratives couldn’t always - if at all - be trusted.

And there were emerging patterns in the way the mainstream media dealt with such glaring oddities and contradictions. The eerie sense of dark coordination was enhanced by the slavish adherence of the major outlets to “official” narratives. Instead of pursuing some kind of explanation for oddities and contradictions, they simply rounded on anybody who pointed them out - ridiculing them and undermining their very lives and careers.

And then there was the pattern of the growing centralisation of ownership and control. We found that more and more of the corporate media, as with the rest of the global economy, was drifting into the hands of fewer and fewer individuals and cabals.

But it wasn’t until “9/11” that I found that the loss of my innocence, incubating since November ‘63, had become, incontrovertibly, complete.

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© 2021 Deacon Martin

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