Warring Ideas Death Of The Masses
Warring Ideas And Their Environments
Deteriorating Internecine Human Dialogues
I vaguely recall the phrase: "Politics is art of the Possible". Anything is possible now, and technology is forever expanding this reality. In a sense, the crumbling of the economy, people losing jobs and healthcare has exacerbated the social relations. History attests to this behavior which can be traced back to the life-span of this country.
The rising tension of racism and hate have their antecedents in the colonial days to the present. Today, with unlimited access to the Internet and a population unable to shed-off its divided past, cyber babble and cable talking heads are the fueling the discord fast raising to a shrill and crescendo, that in the end some of us do not engage, others up the ante to dizzying heights.
This cacophony of Youtube videos, editorials of the talking heads, comments on the many controversial blogs and hubs and other similarly affected web sites, newspapers, magazine, shows the zine as agitated and somewhat distorted and intended to intimidate and determine the direction and context of ideas.
It is easy to turn away from it all than to know more of the boogeyman called Politics. The media is accused of polarizing dissent, but the flames are fanned from one direction at this juncture, and common sense and cooler heads are desperately needed.
Is it the Reinforcement of Bigotry and Bigots
The Archie Bunker Show, All in the Family was defended by the CBS TV network, which aired the program, commissioned at a study that showed the program could contribute to a lessening of racial bigotry by humorously exposing its shortcomings. The NAACP even gave its 1972 Image Award to All In The Family for contributing to better race relations. The program continued on the network television for more than decade and beyond that into syndication on local and cable stations.
Its basis of humor moved into other areas as the program and characters evolved. Although several research projects dealt with the impact of the program on its viewers, one of the most important was also one of the first. In 1974, psychologist Neil Vidmar and sociologist;psychologist Milton Rokeach published an article analyzing viewers of All In The Family in the United States and Canada and the apparent impact of the program on them.
Noting the debate then taking place over the effect of Archie Bunker on bigotry and prejudice, the researchers tested the audience reaction to the program in terms of the previous studies showing the way audiences use selective exposure to regulate and filter the media. Under the selective perception hypothesis, Vidmar and Rokeach theorized that viewers with different degree of prejudice or racism would have different reasons for watching the program, would identify with different characters, and would find different meanings in the outcomes.
Under the selective exposure hypothesis, the researchers proposed that owe prejudiced and high prejudiced would not watch All In The Family to the same extent. To test the hypothesis, they surveyed 237 high school students in a small town in the midwestern United State and a Canadian sample of 168 adults in London Ontario. The people surveyed were asked to respond to a questionnaire with 11 items designed to probe their reactions to the television program to measure their ethnocentrism or prejudice.
The initial analysis of the results showed that more than 60% of the respondents liked or admired Archie more than Mike, that 40% of the US respondents felt that Archie won at the end of the show, 46% named Mike as the one most made fun of, and 35% saw nothing wrong with Archie's use of racial and ethnic slurs. Results from the Canadian sampled followed thee same pattern.
Vidmar and Rokeach then compared the exposure and interpretations of the program among respondents who were rated as high prejudiced and low prejudiced on the six items designed to measure ethnocentricity and prejudice. Both groups found the program equally enjoyable, but there was a big difference in their reactions to the program. The analysis of data testing the selective perception hypothesis found a number of significant differences showing that people at different levels of prejudice drew different conclusions from watching the same television characters.
"High prejudiced person in both the US and Canadian samples were significantly more likely than low prejudiced people to admire Archie over Mike and to perceive Archie as winning in the end," the researcher wrote. The high-prejudiced US adolescents were also more likely to report that Archie made better sense than Mike and to report their attitudes similar to Archie Bunker's in 20 years.
High prejudiced Canadian adults also condoned Archie's racist slurs more often and saw the show as poking fun at Archie less often than did low-prejudiced viewers. The researchers summarized that they tend to support the selective perception hypothesis — namely, that prejudiced persons identify more with Archie, perceive Archie as making better sense than Mike and perceive Archie as winning. Furthermore, high-prejudiced viewers indicated a number of things they disliked, about Mike and low-prejudiced viewers indicated things they disliked about Archie.
Vidmar and Rokeach also found support for the selective exposure hypothesis, but in a different direction than the one proposed by a report commissioned by the CBS television network. Network researchers, assuming that the program would be interpreted as satirizing bigotry, speculated that low-prejudiced persons would be the most avid viewers.
But Vidmar and Rokeach researchers found that US teenagers who were most frequent viewers of All In The Family were those in the high-prejudice group. No significant differences were found in the Canadian sample. The data also showed that the most frequent viewers admired Archie more than Mike and condoned Archie's ethnic slurs more than infrequent viewers did.
The researchers concluded that the testing of the elective exposure hypothesis showed "All In the Family" seems to be appealing more to the racially and ethnically prejudiced members of society than to the less prejudiced members. Is this the reinforcement of bigotry and bigots or What is it? This maybe can be replaced and reinforced with multicultural understand and racial tolerance by all human beings.
The internet has offered to people what books did to the early US, when books were distributed to the far corners of the land(except for the slave). What this medium of books has done,it has become a library for would be thinkers and thought givers. By this I mean to say that what people could do orally to their fellowmen with their retention skills, today we have people who bully anybody who does not follow their Blog Posts or comments they make in their blogs or in their comments elsewhere.
What the computer with the wired and connected Internet has done was to enable ideas to clash on all converging technologies clearly exposing the latent and undercurrent of the history of war of Ideas. The war of ideas is iconic, on signs, orally as well as on print(Internet, Newspapers or TV, Twitter, Facebook and so forth). The run to the elections, there was a lot consternation with the "change" in the way technology was being utilized to rally votes and collect money.
This still needs to be investigated, i.e., the means and ways, the effects and affects of technology and packaged rhetoric on the intended audience. One of the most interesting aspects to look at is the use, today, of the very technologies, Internet and TV, by Huge Oil Companies and other Mega Financial and Insurance companies to pacify and outflank their opponents.
They have not only invested millions into pitying opposing views within the milieu and upgrading their success level, they are always in the background punctuating all this garbled discourse with memes that agitate and inflame passions. The combination of Big business and racist rhetoric makes for the crumbling of civility, tolerance and humaneness. The main idea here is to divide and conquer.
The Crumbling Facade
The crumbling schools, falling bridges, closing factories, weakened infrastructure in all spheres like abandoned houses, cracked pavements and pot-holed highways, falling and failing schools, millions of jobs lost, healthcare costs raising and millions with no health care; a combative and recalcitrant opposition party; a lynch mob with aggressive and negative demonstration, rowdy and agitated rallies and Town Hall meetings. A division of white and the rest of the colored people on two sides of the divide.
The out shouting and trampling of other American citizen's rights willy-nilly; the threat of violence by gun-totting Gun Rights activists; disrespect of the sitting President which is without precedence. Hospitals with doctors inundated with paperwork and less patient care; spiraling Insurance fees, gas and oil rates, electricity rates, rising house taxes and toxic mortgages; Car industry in state of bankruptcy; corrupt and failing banks with questionable banking practices; calling the President a 'liar' inside the Cabinet At The PoOYUSE'S State Of Union Address.
The opposition is working to make Obama fail' strategies of heightened rhetoric and consistently becoming belligerent and testy; talk-show radio hosts who spew vitriolic and vile denunciations of everything the President does or proposes; poverty lines increasing; unemployed checks coming to an end; many families on food stamps and some surviving on social security checks; rise in diseases, poverty and popping of pills; drug abuse; some are screaming cessation; others announced they will not serve under Obama as the Commander-in-chief; placards or portray him as a "tribesman with feathers; or given the 'sambo'.
Or, as Hitler; a water-mellon-fried-chicken-eating african person; the black population suffering mostly from the depression, incarceration at abnormal rates; Aids more prevalent in the black population, poverty-unemployment and drugs ruining the fabric of that community nationally; this applies in many ways to other brown people of non-European descent and poor whites; there are shouts of "I want my America back" and other snipes best left out of this article.
It is not popular to say that we are a nation of immigrants, and we form the USA. The pertinent ideas here are those of authoritarianism and divide and conquer. The notion that we are still a super Power is not backed-up by any tangible fact. True, we still possess some modicum of greatness, but our ideas no more determine nor rule what the world and civilization is about. We are involved in losing and senseless wars; we have become a credit nation in debt and not producing, with a chronically low GDP and a bloated national debt.
Some members of our population are homeless, and very distressed and angry; Banks that were propped-up have not improved nor learned lessons, and are still in the red; we are still beholden to the Arab, African and Middle East oil; there are signs that there are those that are spoiling for a racial fight or confrontation; Are we at the cusp of some 21 century United States Civil War? I bet and hope not...
History as the Harbinger of the Present
It is important to put this matter into historical perspective In the North, the Civil War and Reconstruction significantly affected the development of race relations and, ultimately racial attitudes. The war brought black men a much needed measure of pride and confidence. When the nation was at war, they had given money and blood to preserve the union and extended the range of liberty.
White men forgot but black leaders could not, and the memory enhance both their self-esteem and their claim to fair treatment in the US. When Southern violence and Northern prejudice prevented the enforcement of laws designed to implement the amendments and the Supreme Court began to interpret them narrowly, the guarantees of citizenship were plainly incorporated in the basic law of the land. Black leaders turned their attention to tactical questions and begun to devise methods for gaining in practice rights already granted in principle.
The era also significantly affected the long-range development of white attitudes. Though Reconstruction ultimately failed to establish a new and civil and political order in the South, it did enable Republicans to include in the Constitution an indelible repudiation of racism-a fact of no small weight in a nation of Constitution worshippers.
White men would long continue to discriminate against black men in clear violation of the Constitution, but the amendments were reminders that at a moment in the past white men had behaved toward black men in a way consonant with the democratic principles of the nation.
The Reconstruction amendments rebuked succeeding generation and established a standard against which men of conscience would continue to measure themselves and their society. If the steps toward creating racial equality during the civil war and Reconstruction turned out to be small ones, they were critically important, as first steps always are.
The Ideas that prevail in latter-day America emanated from a checkered past. Even when laws were passed, the attitudes carried over into the next generation up to now as we can see are the eruption of hostilities, belligerency, shouting and ominous placards and topsy-turvy and agitated racist reactions.
These are spilling out onto the cable and net, that you end up hearing ex-President Jimmy Carter denounced these shenanigans as racism. Some people say it is a fringe element, but it is strangely from the Congress down to the man-in-the-street. This behavior has found it way into the Web and is used in a myriad ways.
Articles like this one touching on these issues and points are somehow conveniently ignored and people would rather see life through rose-colored glasses; the predominant ideas are that one does not want to involve oneself in these 'politics' and so forth. The very politics everyone is running away from, are dismantling and wrecking of the social cohesion we see everyday.
Some people state that ideas of Obama and his people are dangerous and making us unsafe. The preponderance and proliferation of divisive vitriolic cyber babble and talking heads 'talking points' are derailing the social glue that binds us all as Americans. History informs us as to how these attitudes came about and how and why they have been perpetuated.
The explosion of free speech on the net and TV has escalated to the extent no one wants to deal with it. The issue is the first African American President to be in the white house in America. It has not yet been fully accepted that a black man can have his finger on nuclear weapon.
These attitudes can be traced throughout the history and its perception of African people. This does not mean the whole country is against Obama, anyway, a significant majority of voters and large majority of the Electoral College gave him the nod. But the fierce and very loud motley crew and majority white protesters and demonstrators swell the ranks of the angry people.
These lynch-like mobs have been tabulated throughout history, but the verve with which the present ones are manifesting, leaves most people filled with serious uncertainty. Reading history we can better understand the present and its malcontents. Whenever we can look much more clearly and straight into the feared unknown, we become better armed to deal with it, because at close quarters, it is intense, but not scary; although I will hasten to add that the situation out the in the land is becoming 'very, very scary' indeed.
There is some silent confidence within the majority of the Americans, the idea that we will give our President his chance to turn 'this ship around; there is also a silent majority which elected and still believe in Obama, and are seeing the change taking place and see him everyday on TV, internationally and locally, building a different America, that is not fueled by war and racism. History is on his side and the changes that he is implementing are slow, but working.
Why civilizations fail is due to many factors. Ours is not unique in the way things are going. There is always and abundance of hope which stresses goodness over negative rhetoric. Dominant social ideas that have come down with us form the past are those of superior and inferior complexes.
These ideas that one race is above the other, or is better or not properly equipped to deal with the vicissitudes of governance and power, in this young civilization are what have been the cause of the heated reaction which we see today manifest in many forms. The War of ideas, that the old ideas of domination of one race over the other have long been challenged and debunked, the only thing left is for them to become an implemented reality in the behavior and conscience of men of all cultures in the US today.
When a civilization crumbles, it begins to have many loose ends, it buckles, shakes either implodes or explodes unto itself and despite itself. There are many ideas that are purported to be the reason for the state of affairs in our country. There are those counter thoughts that say it has much further genesis, and where it's at, is no more different from whence it originated.
Once we ignore history, we ignore what is happening to us now in the present, because we do not know or understand the past, thus making us uncertain about the future. We know why our Empire is in dire straights, our past informs us why we are who we are. The present is very turbulent, and a lot of ignorance at times passes for knowledge because the Internet has made us to be an interconnected, and the problem is we have not yet had time to fixate on its affects and effects on us and our society.
We have not yet understood the impact we are having on the world and its inhabitants, and how that creates perceptions about us, which in most cases can be negative than positive. We claim that what we do and think is no concern of the world and whoever is our critic, but that's no way of the Empire.
We cannot be perceived as acting like brutes and spoiled children; if we want to be taken seriously, we need to lead by just and fair examples and popular ideas. History teaches us how to hold together a disintegrating civilization by learning both its negative and positive ideas. Warring ideas do not facilitate for harmony and development, but chaos and destruction.
The Idea That We Understand Capitalism, Is Preposterous
People in the United States live in a capitalist society, and this fact has significance not only for Americans but for the rest of the world. The essence of capitalism is the accumulation of capital, the making of profits in order to invest and make still more profits. The first law of capitalism is: make a profit off the labor of others or go out of business.
And the best way to accumulate capital is not to work hard but to get others to work hard for you. Private gain, not social need is the central idea and imperative of this economic system. An erstwhile chairman of Castle and Cooke put it this way: "We are in the business of making profit. We are not in business primarily to satisfy society.
"We're not going to satisfy society very long if we go out of business. So. profits are the number one consideration. In the war of ideas, that is the general idea of capitalism, not what we expect to be the satisfaction of society, but conglomerates accumulating profits for themselves only."
Capital does not grow of itself; it must be mixed with labor to create marketable value. Certainly one can make money by mere speculation — but only because there is a small stratum of people accumulating enough money off the labor of others to invest in speculative things at increasingly higher prices.
One's money must be either spent on direct consumption or invested to accumulate new value from labor. Money can just be saved and one can earn interest on the savings. But savings are a form of investment. And the interest earned on savings are but a portion of the profits once removed.
The only reason the bank will you a percentage on your savings is because it then lends those same funds out to a business at a doubled percent interest to the bank is because it is making quadruple percent off the labor of its employees, and using their money to do it.
Wealth comes from two sources: from the natural resources of the environment and fro the labor that is mixed with those resources 0 the mental and physical labor that produces the commodities and services of our society. Profits are the money you make without working. Investment earnings are wealth created by people who work and distributed to people who take no part in the work, the stock holders.
For small owners who both work in the own businesses and employ others, it can be said that some of their income represent the value produced by their own labor and some portion, usually the larger if they are ding well, represents the value produced by the labor of their employees. Corporate managers also work; they administer and supervise and can be considered employees of the firm, albeit highly paid ones who represent the large investor's interests. Often they themselves are also large investors.
Capital does not produce anything, but capital is produced by labor Putting one's money to work means mixing it with labor to extract more capital for that labor. Capitalists are always running advertisements telling us how to capital creates jobs, commodities, factories and prosperity. The truth is, purely on its own without labor, capital id incapable of making a pencil, let alone building a pencil factory(Karl Marx) Capital is deal labor, the accumulation of past metal and physical effort. It must constantly be mixed with labor to realize its value and increase its sum.
Corporate manager swill tell you that investors will not put their money into anything unless they can extract more than they invested. Increased earnings can only come with an increase in the size of the corporate operation. A central law of capitalist motion and development is expansion. Furthermore, a capitalist economy is an unplanned and competitive one in which security is guaranteed to no one, not even the corporate giants.
A corporation searches for security by increasing its hold over resources, developing new technologies through the applications of mental and physical labor, searching out cheaper labor markets, getting governments to subsidize everything from production to exports, capturing a competitors market, merging with other companies, devising new sales networks, and the like.
As the practical limitations of investments are reached in one country and the margin of profit narrows, outlets are sought in other less advantaged and more vulnerable lands Harry Magdoff states: "What matters to the business community, and to the business system as a whole, is that the option of foreign investment [and foreign trade] should remain available.
For this to be meaningful, the business system requires, as a minimum, that the political and economic principles of capitalism should prevail and that the door be full open for foreign capital at all times. Even more, it seeks a privileged open door for the capital of the home country in preference to capital from competing industrial nations.
There are more than 200,000 corporations in the USA today, but 100 companies control more than half the nation's industrial assets. Fifty of the largest banks and insurance companies won half of all the financial assets. Ten firms make 22 percent of all the profits. Some 400 corporations control about 80 percent of the capital asset of the entire nonsocialist world. One-third of the assets of the US industrial corporations are located outside the United States.
Eight of the nation's nine largest banks now rely on foreign sources for over 40 percent of the their total deposits. Many of these holdings — often the larger portions — are in other industrial countries. But more and more investment is going into the Third World. Citibank, for instance, earns about 75 percent of its profits fro overseas operations, mostly in the Third World.
American and other Western corporations have acquired control of more than 75 percent of the known major mineral resources in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The USA is south Africa's largest trading partner and its second-largest foreign investor, with investments amounting to about $2-3 billion as of 1986. US banks provide the apartheid regime with one-third of its international credit. (New York Times).
Given the low wages, low taxes, nonexistent workers benefits and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, US multinational profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries (Monthly Review) Hence, giant companies like Exxon, Cargill, Coca-Cola, IBM, Honeywell, Woolworth, Upjohn, Mobil, ITT, Gillette, and Reynolds make more than half their total profits abroad. As early as 1963, Business Week noted:
"In industry after Industry, US companies found that their overseas earnings were soaring, and that their return on investment abroad was frequently much higher than in the US. As earnings abroad began to rise, profit margins from domestic operations started to shrink.... This is the combination that forced development of the multinational company."
The idea here is that, Americans today are surprised that the economy has fizzled, by the same companies listed above are making good business overseas. In most of the Countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, one finds all the companies listed above making huge profits, while in the US people are told how poor the US has become.
Yet, it is from the early sixties that the domestic economy of the US has ben falling from what today is known and called "globalization". Globalization is not a new 'idea' but an idea which has long been in place and had started bankrupting America in the early sixties.
In the world of the war of ideas, it is not necessarily what is being talked about today that what has bankrupted America was the exportation of jobs today, but this has long started if we heed what Magdorff wrote about in 1963. In the realm of the 'war of ideas' or contemporary prevailing ideas within the US the American people have always come very late to the issues that plague the nation.
Everybody else in the world knows about the power, investment and wealth of some of the companies in the Third World, and the Americans, to date, are still not aware that these companies hold tightly to the ideas of making profit without having to work for it, not having to be taxed much for it, and not having to pay cheap labor, which is in abundance in the developing countries. The Bankrupting America is an old idea which is not necessarily a new idea as it is being understood today.
It is the observation and belief of this author that any and all war, properly so-called,involving bloodshed is absurd, entering a careful caveat that ideas about and on warfare is not the only, or possibly the most ludicrous, absurdity mankind has long pursued in its long adventure on earth.
Therefore, do we also, like other proper, civilized hypocrites, both despise the idea of warfare and cannot defend rationally its most noble and holy manifestations, granting that any other device or instrument may in other ways, achieve a reasonable quantum of its practical objective. That means we prefer absolutely the substitution of intelligence for brutality in any of its manifestations. And we believe all wars that men have fought have had open before their combatants such pragmatic alternatives.
It is also important to know why wars are fought. That is, why is it that some nations fight those with natural resources and in the end run those poor economies of those countries down, and continue to extract their natural resources… Over centuries, capitalism has been — and still is — a dynamic expansionist, imperialist force, principally beneficial to the owning classes of the world and harmful to the earths people, especially the masses of the Third World.
'More than a matter of "planting the flag," imperialism is a system of forcibly expropriating the land, labor, resources, and markets of other nations. Along with that, it is a coercive and often violent method of preventing competing economic orders from arising.
There exists, answerable to no nation, a plutocracy that can go against almost everywhere, transferring its operations from one country to another, punishing resistant governments. This plutocracy battens on tax-free creditor for increasingly indebted nations. Attached to no country, international finance capital is a distant ruler over outwardly sovereign states.
For example, US imperialism has a harrowing arsenal of nuclear weaponry and a growing accumulation of conventional firepower that is approaching the nuclear level in its destructive capacity. US policy-makers have deployed troops, fleets, and bombers around the world, and waged some of the most destructive wars in Indochina, and now of late in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They have promoted counterrevolutions, counterinsurgency, and political repression — complete with death-squad assassinations, torture, and terror — in scores of nations and have overthrown democratic governments in bloody coups.
They have engaged in massive military spending programs, an outpouring of Anti Soviet invectives(and today anti-muslim tirade), and frightening cold-war confrontations, today's war on 'terror,' saturating the American public with threatening images of the Red Tide, in the past, and today, of Muslim terrorists, today.
Nor is the US policy a captive of excessive moralism or utopia globalism; nor is it compelled by the nation's vision of its role in history. If there is a utopianism or a historical vision, by some strange coincidence it is always directed against popular revolution and socialism or oil and other natural resources and is supportive of global capitalism.
The "vision" may be universal and inspirational but it is also remarkably selective and class bound, capable of putting aside its democratic or utopian idealism to support the worst fascist regimes in the Third World. To be sure, fine sounding ideology and idealism have played an important role in justifying imperialism's man methods, and exploitative goals.
Far from dismissing the role of ideas and ideology, this hub was dedicated to countering the prevailing ideology and war against other prevailing idea about peace, not war. As Gil-Scot heron said, Peace is not the absence of war, it is the absence of the rules of war, because, as I am noting, there is no profit that can be garnered from making peace.
The war of ideas can be seen in the areas of the media and in communications.For instance, According to Thomas Ferguson states that, "The leading US right-wing foundations have devoted nearly all their resources to pushing the media and educational systems to provide more explicitly pro-business positions."
The same "free market" foundations have also highlighted the need to reduce or eliminate the role of organized labor in society. It is also worth noting that the political right leads the fight against any and all forms of noncommercial and nonprofit media; and, failing that, leads the battle to see that public broadcasting stays within the same narrow ideological boundaries as he commercial media.
As a result of this pressure, Public Broadcasting Service refuses to permit labor to sponsor programs about workers, but permits business to lavishly subsidize programs extolling free enterprise" (Janine Jackson)
In the United States, at least, the response of the progressive and mainstream foundations to this right-wing ideological assault has been tepid at best. These groups are uncomfortable about being "political," and most of their funds are reserved for examining disasters produced by the market, especially in an era of reduced pubic spending for the poor and working class.
Regrettably, organized labor, too, has been snoozing for the most part, providing little counter to this right-wing ideological class war. Liberal and progressive foundations play by the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury; the political right plays to win; labor and the left are hardly playing at all.
All corporate media giants are the direct beneficiaries of pro-business policies, and all are going to be hostile to anything that stands in their way — left governments,organized labor, environmentalist, whatever. Disney is not alone in manufacturing much of its lucrative merchandise in the sweatshops of Haiti and other Third World locales.
In short, in the War of Ideas and For Ideas, any efforts to reform the balance of class power int the United Stats, or any other effort for that matter, has to deal directly with corporate media power. Nor is this merely an ideological issue, as may have ben the case in generations past.
Today, the largest communication firms rank among the most important firm in the global capitalist economy, media, advertising, and communication, increasingly are at the very center of the capital accumulation process and the global market economy. To leave the communication sector untouched, while elsewhere labor and the left challenge the prerogatives of capital — as any left or labor movement invariably must do — is absurd.
There can and should be plenty of left debate over the proper strategy and tactics for media politic, and there should be plenty of debate concerning media reform proposals. But the left needs to accept the necessity of media reform and move forward.
The future cannot be forecast when the mind revolts from reality and the natural laws. Only love of life and respect for reality can provide men of reason and freedom and means to help shape and forecast the faint outlines of the future. The future is what men make it, so long as they never close their minds to the heroic potential of the human mind and ideas.
The Idea of Dismissing "Others" Past And Living The Present In The Past
When I first sat down and wrote this Hub, the idea was to present ideas and their warring nature in the universe of Human ideas. Thus far, I have let it gel and marinate so that at this point and time, I might conjure up some more ideas as to what War of Ideas are those that I am addressing, and how these come into play around the world.
At times this seems like too broad a topic to take up on, but, nonetheless, I will expand on the Ideas in collision and negating each other from different perspective, because, whatever I will write about, is different around the world, but these ideas do form a confluence amongst different people at different times.
These Warring ideas need to be fleshed-out and their manifestations be seen for what they are: discordant entropic disorder or randomness in a closed system; or, an inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.
There are numerous times, to may to count, that nations or people get caught-up with their own ideas and foist them on others and maintaining that their ideas are better, supreme or much developed than the ideas of others. Take for instance, if one were to begin to examine American culture and ideas and its history, just a tad bit, one begins to get the idea of what life is about here in America, and later on will show how this affects others around the world.
We learn the following from Tim wise who states in his piece titled:
"Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority."
"As Lee Greenwood's 'Proud to Be an American" blares from a sound system loaded onto the back of a truck and the yearly Independence Day parade begins, I bide my time. Then, just as the first procession of Boy Scouts passes, I turn to the man standing next to me with the big "God Bless USA" button on his hat, and ask: "Why can't you just get over it? I mean, why do you insist on living in the past? That whole 'breaking away from the British' thing was like more than 200 years ago. Isn't it time to move on?"
Then, before my stunned and increasingly belligerent target can manage to slug me for my apparent apostasy on this, the 'holiest' of all national holidays, I break into a flat-out sprint, hurtling down the block. He gives chase, of course, but having consumed one too many pieces of Mom's apple pie, he becomes winded, ultimately giving up, shaking his fists and calling me names, before getting back to the orgy of Americanism in which he had been engaged prior to my arrival.
Please know that I'm not a sadistic type. I don't actually seek to cause distress, be it physical or emotional, to anyone, even to the kind of person who truly believes, against all visual evidence to the contrary, that the colors(Red, White and Blue), Betsy Ross sewed into that flag so long ago make for an acceptable wardrobe palette.
It's just that every now and then I remember how quick so many of us(he means white people here) are to use a similar line, and I feel as though we should perhaps be required to consider how it feels: all that judgmental arrogance and dismissiveness.
This is, after all, the common response that so many of our people offer whenever someone of Color dares to mention the less than celebratory aspects of our national history: you know, like some of the parts involving them; especially the parts concerning the multiple centuries of human trafficking and racial subordination to which they were subjected, and from which we benefited, at least in relative terms.
Indeed, whenever someone deigns to mention any of those matters — like the national legacy of enslavement, Indian genocide, and imperial land grabs — the rebuttal to which we so often retreat is as automatic as it is enraging.
Oh, that was a long time ago, get over it, or "stop living in the past," or "At some point, we just have to move on."
In other words, the past is the past, and we should't dwell on it. Unless of course we should and indeed insist on doing so, as with the above-referenced Independence Day parade spectacle, or as many used to do with their cries of "Remember the Alamo" or "Remember Pearl Harbor."
Both of these refrains, after all, took as their jumping-off point the rather obvious notion that the past does matter and should be remembered — a logic that apparently vanishes like early morning fog on a hot day when applied to the historical moments we'd rather forget. Not because they are any less historic, it should be noted, but merely because they are considerably less convenient.
Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but when millions of us have apparently chosen to affiliate ourselves with a political movement known as the Tea Party, which group's public rallies prominently feature some among us clothed in revolutionary War costumes, wearing powdered wigs and carrying muskets, we are really in no position to lecture anyone about the importance of living in the present and getting past the past.
All the less so when the rallying cry of that bunch appears to be that they seek to "take their country back." Back, after all, is a directional reference that points by definition to the past, so we ought to understand when some insist we should examine that past in its entirety, and not just the parts that many of us would rather remember.
Truth is, we love living in the past when t venerates this nation (America) and makes us feel good. If the past allows us to reside in an idealized, mythical place, from which we look down upon the rest of humanity as besotted inferiors who are no doubt jealous of our national greatness and our freedoms (that, of course, is why they hate us and why some attack us), then the past is the perfect companion: an old friend or lover, or at least a well-worn and reassuring shoe.
If, on the other hand, some among us insist that the past is more than that — if we point out that the past is also one of brutality, and that this brutality, especially as regards race, has mightily skewed the distribution of wealth and opportunity even to this day — then the past becomes a trifle, a pimple on the ass of now, an unwelcome reminder that although the emperor may wear clothes,the clothes he wears betray a shape he had rather hoped to conceal. No, no: the past, in those cases, is to be forgotten.
Vast numbers of us, it appears, would prefer to hermetically seal the past away in some memory vault, only peering inside on these occasions when it suits us and supports the cause of uncritical nationalism to which so many of us fid ourselves imperviously wedded. But to treat the past this way is to engage in a fundamentally dishonest enterprise, one that, in the long run, is dangerous. Unless we grapple with the past in its fullness — and come to appreciate the impact of that past on our present moment — we will find it increasingly difficult to move into the future a productive, confident and even remotely democratic republic.
Oh, I might add, Tim Wise is White and in the preface he writes that: "This critique is less about white people and more about mindsets; it is less about white people and more about whiteness as a social and institutional force-a social category created for the purpose of enshrining a racially divided polity. To condemn the latter is not to condemn the former."
Ding-Dong Democracy or Shamocracy
The Global Mind-scape Of Warring Ideas
The piece above by Tim White gives us a snippet s to the roots of American imperialism and Imperial culture, and how this dominates the minds of White people, inasmuch as those they disdain or oppress and affect and effect with their mindset and culture.
This point is important because it shows us the genesis of American mind-set and their ways of imposing themselves, not only to the African Americans, Hispanics and Red men in America, but also to the people of color the world-over.
The United State has foisted its ideology and democracy to the world and have fought wars to implement their brand of Democracy and social living. Now that we are seeing the elections of a few days away, the world is witnessing how the white Americans are suppressing the African-American, Hispanic and other minorities right to vote.
They are also seeing how they treat and disrespect their first African American President, Barack Obama; the take not as to the deficiencies that are contradictions emanating from the American landscape and psyche and thee World is left wondering and puzzled.
Now that the whole World is hooked-up with the world through the Internet, there tends to be several discourses and ideas that get thrown around and purpose of the pieces below is to bring to light these exchanges and see what other people around the world are thing about or how they think about things.
The Internet has facilitated for the exchange of talk and ideas, and this has some form of democratic quality and substance to it, but it also exposes the old skeletons of American jingoism and biases embedded within the minds of the people of the world, whether they be right or wrong, but one sees the American effect in many instances and ideas and talks; we also see how the world perceives,or the Americans themselves, see the fate of the present civilization.
The Ideology Process
Domhoff discuses the ideology process thus:
"The ideology process consists of the numerous methods through which members of the power elite attempt to shape the beliefs, attitudes and opinions of the underlying population. It is within tis process that the power elite tries to create,disseminate and reinforce a set of attitudes and values that assure Americans that the United States is for all its alleged defects, the best of all possible worlds.
The ideology process is an adjunct to the other three processes, for they would be able to function smoothly without at least the resigned acquiescence of a great majority of the population. Free and open discussion are claimed to be the hallmarks of the process, but past experience shows that its leaders will utilize deceit ad violence in order to combat individuals or organizations which espouse attitudes and opinions that threaten the power and privileges of the ruling class.
The ideology process is necessary because public opinion does not naturally and automatically agree with the opinions of the power elite. ... Without the ideology process, a vague and amorphous public opinion - - which must often be cajoled into accepting power-elite policies — might turn into a hardened class consciousness that opposed the ruling-class viewpoint at every turn.
In order to prevent the development of attitudes and opinions contrary to the interests of the ruling class, leaders within the ideology process attempt to build upon and reinforce the underlying principles of the American system.
Academically speaking, these underlying principles are called laissez-faire liberalism, and they have enjoyed a near monopoly of American political thought since at least the beginnings of the republic. The principles emphasize individualism, free enterprise, competition, equality, opportunity and a minimum of reliance upon government in carrying out the affairs of society."
The Manufacturing Of Consent
The Ideation of Ideology
The central aim of the ruling elite's ideology process is to define the "Domain of discourse." That is, the corporate elite seeks to define the limits of "acceptable ideas" and to define what is worth talking about, worth learning, teaching, promoting, and writing bout. Of course, the limits of the "acceptable," the "responsible," are set at those points which support and justify the interests of the elite itself.
To a great extent the elite ideology process essentially involves the reinforcement of long-held, orthodox "American" values, perspectives, practices and ideals (which the system of power relations has already indirectly shaped to begin with). These factors are the ideological bases of elite power. It is a well-known fact that propaganda works best "when used to reinforce an already existing notion or to establish a logical or emotional connection between a new idea and a social norm (Hirsch)
It is important to note that many of these pre-existing notions are the products of elite propaganda and conditioning processes harking back to earlier historical eras; to socialization experiences in the early childhood, adolescent and young adulthood years in the family, educational institutions,peer groups; and to media exposures during these impressionable years as well.
The ideas, attitude and response tendencies implanted by these early experiences are often mistakenly identified by their hosts as self-generated; these previous "selective exposures and experiences" become the infrastructure which helps to maintain a later accrued "selective attention," "tunnel vision" orientation.
This orientation serves to resist new ideas and practices not compatible with the old or pre-existing set of ideas and practices(as we read from tim Wise above). This may be the case even when such pre-existing set of ideas and practices are not producing desired or satisfactory outcomes.
Thus, through its monopoly of the media and the means of disseminating and "validating" informations and interpreting reality, the ruling elite not only reinforces and channels those orthodox values which support its supremacy, but also utilizes its monopolies to simultaneously prevent "groups with a different ideology from presenting their interpretation of events. As Hirsch further contends:
In order to preserve ideological hegemony, it is only necessary for the ruling group to reinforce dominant values and at the same time prevent the dissemination of opinion that effectively challenges the basic assumptions of the society. Public knowledge of inequality and injustice isn't so damaging as long as these perceptions are not drawn together into a coherent, opposing ideology."
David Sallach very aptly observes that the ruling elite achieves its ends when it prevents groups with opposing ideologies from attaining a value consensus through its attempt to create confusion, fragmentation and demonstrate inconsistency in their belief systems, or, as Domhoff argues, when it ensures that opposing opinions and values are only partially developed, remain isolated, and are made suspect.
Thus, as Domhoff summarizes, the elite ideology process and network "is not the be-all and end-all of ruling-class domination. ... It does not function to eliminate conflict [thereby maintaining the illusion of "the free flow of ideas," "freedom of speech"] but to keep conflict from leading to an alternative ideology that provides the basis for an anti-corporate, anti-capitalist [anti-White supremacy] social movement.
So that, the contradictions and tensions inherent in ruling class domination and in White global supremacy make such domination vulnerable to a successful challenge from insurgent mass class and ethnic-based movements. An appropriately innovative, united, well-organized, political-economic counterattack by such movements can take successful advantage of the economic or political conflicts and vulnerabilities now present in the White supremacist establishment, or of its inevitable future contradictions and conflicts, particularly in the realm of Ideas.
What is socially constructed is not itself imaginary or illusory, and its evidence gives credibility to the justifications advanced for a given system of power.Yet the fact that it is constructed indirectly by that same system of power is obscured by the complexity of the processes involved; and by the fact that these processes, such as those of socialization, are not necessarily managed by the powerful, but often by the subordinate themselves.
The most ineffective means of disseminating ideas in society, and int African American and Continental Africans, along with those in the Diaspora, in particular, is to have these communities perceive their dissemination and reproduction as the work of disinterested, unbiased, non-manipulative, liberal, yet authoritative, White American or White European individuals, groups, institutions, or as flowing from sources independent of the marked influence of the powerful.
In the final analysis, the rich and powerful,in this context, of all the groups which compose American or Western European societies, have the greatest need for ideology and to see that the other groups are well indoctrinated with it. J. Reiman sums up all what I have been saying above about the War of Ideas in the following manner:
"A simple and persuasive argument can be made for the claim that the rich and powerful in America and Europe have an interest in conveying an ideological message the rest of the [sic world]. The have-nots and the have-littles far outnumber the have-plenties. This means, to put it rather crudely, the have-nots and the have-littles could have more if they decided to take it from the have-plenties.
This, in turn, means that the have-plenties need the cooperation of the have-nots and the have-littles. Because the have-plenties are such a small minority that they could never force this cooperation on the have-nots and have-littles, this cooperation must be voluntary. For the cooperation to be voluntary, the have-nots and the have-littles must believe that it could not be right or reasonable t take away what the have-plenties have.
In other words,they must believe that for all its problems the present social, political and economic order, with its disparities of wealth and power ad privilege, is about the best that human beings can do. More specifically, the have-nots and have-littles must believe that they are not being exploited by the have plenties.
Now, this seems to me to add up to an extremely plausible argument that ours is a social system that requires for its continued operation a set of beliefs [and ideas] necessary to secure the allegiance of the less well-off majority. These belief [ideas] must be in some considerable degree false, because the distribution of wealth and power int the United States and Europe,is so evidently arbitrary and unjust. Ergo, the need for ideology."
Obviously, those most interested and active in inculcating and sustaining such an ideology, that of the fact that despite its gross inequities and inadequacies a critical mass of the populace must accept the ideology used to rationalize and justify its existence, would be those who are the chief and major beneficiaries of the socioeconomic status of those who believe they stand to gain in the future from its continuance and/or who fear losing what they have-though it may be less than they need it the system were to be reconstituted.
Therefore, in sum, the relationship between socioeconomic power and social ideology is an intimate one. For ideology legitimates power systems, hierarchical structures and social relations through its provision of rationales and justifications for the exercise of power and the necessity of certain social relations.
If ideology successfully justifies the distribution and exercise of power within social relations, then it represents itself as a potent source of control over the consciousness and behavior of the participants. The power of mind, of thought, imagination and vision; the power of symbols and the word; the power of ideation and the translation of ideation into action, are manifested in a multitude of personal, social, cultural and physical forms. Knowledge is idea,the product of ideation reciprocally interacting with reality.
Therefore, if knowledge is power, ideas have power. Ideas can be coercive and compelling. Beliefs, symbols, doctrines, and idea systems can enable or empower men through their capacity to induce them into state of consciousness conducive to the achievement of certain personal and social goals which wont be achievable by other means.
If the idea of having a war because of the differences embedded in those ideas, then we need to constantly remind ourselves of what War is really about, and see it for what it is, as an executed idea prompted by the negation of another idea. I will therefore try and utilize the words of Harry Patch, in this instance to make my point about the pointlessness of war. I will cull a bit from an article written by David Randall, the last journalist to meet to meet Private Patch.
Harry Patch, the last survivor of the Western Front, and the man who reminded the modern world of its filthy slaughter, died at the age of 111 (in 2009) His life ended on a fine summer's morning in his native Somerset, many miles and 92 years from the Passchendaele mud where so many of his comrades fell, and where he, but for the aim of a german officer, so nearly joined them.
For decades he the sights and sounds of that butcher's yard to himself. But then, beginning at the age of 100, he began to talk about them. In so doing, he became the very voice of history: the last Tommy, still fighting. But now his campaign is over.
Upon his passing, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, paid tribute to his and his comrades. "The noblest of all generations has left us," he said. But they will never be forgotten. We say today with still greater force, 'We will remember them'. There were British soldiers who were fighting in Afghanistan before Patch was born.
They were still there when he was discharged form the army in 1919, and yesterday, on the day he died, they were still there. And as Harry's life concluded, cam news that a far younger one who wore the British uniform died on the same day. Not on his bed, surrounded by friends and those who cared for him, but on a dusty road in a country that has defied, for generations, all efforts to subdue it in the name of civilization and politically justified armed forces.
Harry Patch had words for an occasion like this — indeed, for all such conflicts. They were spoken with a soreness that lasted all his adult life. "War," he said, "is organized murder, and nothing else."
The experience which shaped that opinion was, as it was for a generation later in 1939-45, forced upon him. He was born in Somerset Village of Coombe Down in 1898. He left school at 14 for an apprenticeship with a plumber, and would, no doubt have lived a life of peaceful anonymity, had the squabbling leaders of Europe been able to resolve their differences. They couldn't. Germany invaded Belgium, Britain responded, and in a wave of patriotism, a whole generation of young men volunteered for uniformed adventure.
Harry was not among them; too young at first, and then, through his brother's tales from the front, too wary. Instead, at the age of 17, he was conscripted. "I didn't want to go and fight anyone, but it was a case of having to," he said.
He found himself translated into No 29295, Private Henry John Patch of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. With a talent for marksmanship, he was drafted into a machine-gun crew, and by his 19th birthday, was in a waterlogged trench in what was to be known by the dread name of Passchendaele
"Anyone who tells you he wasn't scared, he's a damned liar," he would later say. "we lived by the hour ... You saw the sun rise; hopefully, you see it set. If you saw it set, you hoped to see it rise." Many didn't.
One was a young Cornishman whom Patch and comrades found in no-man's land, disemboweled by shrapnel, but still, just, alive. "Shoot me," he said, and then, before Harry could react, he died with the words "Mother!" on his lips. It was but one of the specters from the trenches that Harry carried with him until he died.
He was, far too soon, a teenaged veteran in this open-air human abattoir, a little expert in what happens to the bodies of young men when they are ripped open by hot metal and left to rot in a shell hole. And then, in late September 1917, came the German shell with his name on it. It burst among his mates with such force that the remains of three of them were never found again.
Harry, some yards away, was seriously wounded, his stomach pierced by a jagged lump of shrapnel. He was taken to a casualty station, where he lay, untreated in roiling pain, for 36 hours. Finally, a doctor came, and with no anesthetic, cut out the metal while four men held him down. It was, although he not be de-mobbed for another year, the end of Harry's war. He returned home, to plumbing, marriage, two sons, duty with the fire service in another war, and an old age that saw him survive both sons and his wives.
He had never given an interview nor talked about his experiences until he as 100 years old, and spoke of the waste of conflict. "At the end, the peace was settled around a table, so why the hell couldn't they do that at the start without losing millions of men," he said.
In many instances and cases, wars are fought because of conflicting ideas… and in the end, it all comes out as being utterly futile and useless, as Harry pointed out about the peace, signed on tables, which according to him should have been the starting point than end up with millions wasted life for a futile effort...I think it is when the Cookie crumbles, metaphor, that we end up with unjustified and useless wars and conflicting ideas and take as to what the War of Ideas is all about. Below I cite some sources and "ideas" that are prevalent today and are also "Wars Of Ideas".
War of Ideas
Comparing And Contrasting: The Pros And Cons
Why mainstream and liberal foundations and the think tanks they support are losing in the War Of Ideas in American politics
Andrew Rich's Wrote the following article about the War of Ideas from an unusual perspective which reads thus:
For a century, foundations have been sources of private wealth for public purposes; they have committed great resources to address society’s ills — but they have remained wary of straying too close to the political sphere. Foundations are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity and from lobbying elected officials about legislation. So foundations have often viewed their funding as a counterweight to public spending, supporting, for example, domestic social services or international public health initiatives.
Yet a notable portion of foundation spending — a growing portion for some foundations — is targeted almost directly at the political process. This spending is intended to win the “War of Ideas” under way in American politics. It supports research and advocacy that aims to influence how elected officials and the public think about a broad range of policies.
This “War of Ideas” is fundamentally a battle between liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians, over the appropriate role for government. Some progressive writers argue that conservatives have been winning battles in the war of ideas because liberal foundations are not spending near the amount that conservative foundations are on the war and the liberal money is not deployed nearly as effectively.
My research suggests that while it is true that conservatives have been more effective than progressive funders, this is not because they spend more money. Nonconservative foundations — what might be labeled “middle of the road,” “mainline,” or “liberal foundations” — have devoted far more resources than conservatives to influencing thinking about public policy
. This spending simply has not been as deliberate or effective. Conservative think tanks have quite successfully provided political leaders, journalists, and the public with concrete ideas about shrinking the role of the federal government, deregulation, and privatization.
They are succeeding by aggressively promoting their ideas. By contrast, liberal and mainstream foundations back policy research that is of interest to liberals. But these funders remain reluctant to make explicit financial commitment to the War of Ideas, and they do relatively little to support the marketing of liberal ideas.
It’s Not About Money
The 15 largest foundations are spending more than $100 million a year on public policy institutes, and these are not conservative foundations supporting conservative think tanks.
These are large, mainline foundations often led and staffed by progressively minded people that do not share the agenda of reducing the role of government. In the 1990s, their endowments grew, and their interest in supporting groups in Washington grew as well.
In 2002 these foundations spent $136 million supporting public policy institutes that are mostly in Washington producing policy-relevant work. These foundations do not generally make policy research one of their top funding priorities, but it remains an important part of their annual giving.
An evaluation of how these foundations apportion their funding to policy institutes relative to scores of other categories of spending reveals that funding for public policy institutes ranges from the third highest category to the 26th, with the exception of one foundationRICH that makes no grants in this area.
To put these amounts in context, I updated an analysis done by Michael Shuman in 1998, and I have listed the 2002 assets and spending on public policy institutes by 12 notable conservative foundations and 12 of their liberal counterparts.
The conservative foundations, which have been a focus in three reports since 1997 by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCPR), are often characterized as central to the conservative efforts in the War of Ideas. These foundations are all significantly smaller than the 15 largest foundations in the United States.
The largest one had 2002 assets totaling $580 million, compared with between $2.5 and $32 billion among the 15 largest foundations. The total amount these conservative foundations spent on public policy institutes was about $29.5 million — less than one quarter of what the largest mainline foundations devoted to such work.
Any idea of a funding edge to the conservative foundations is further diminished after looking at 12 loosely comparable progressive foundations that are members of what’s known as the “National Network of Grant makers,” a network of funders focused on supporting causes that promote social and economic justice.These foundations spent $37 million in support of think tanks. Comparing the two sets of 12 foundations, the progressives spent $12 million more on public policy institutes in 2002.
Given these numbers, it’s hard to attribute the conservatives’ success in the war of ideas to their greater resources. The advantage lies in how the money is spent. Conservatives have found ways to package and market their ideas in more compelling ways, and their money is providing more bang for the buck.
Indeed, a closer analysis suggests that conservatives structure their financing much differently than liberal and centrist foundations. A look at the data from 2002 reveals that conservative foundations consistently make funding policy institutes one of their top three priorities, while the liberal and mainline foundations rarely treat it this way. (Tables 2 and 3, right-hand column.) To understand the significance of this difference, it’s necessary to consider how the different types of think tanks and foundations evolved.
From Science to Ideology
Think tanks made their debut just after the turn of the century with missions reflecting a Progressive Era confidence that expertise from the burgeoning social sciences could solve public problems and inform government decision making. Progressive reformers looked to experts to generate the “scientific knowledge” that would move policymaking beyond rancorous logrolling and partisan patronage.
The first generation of foundations and the industrialists who established them played a critical role in creating and sustaining the first think tanks. John D. RockefellerSr., the Rockefeller Foundation, founded in 1913, became the single greatest contributors to the Institute for Government Research (which became the Brookings Institution). The foundation provided similar core support in the early days for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), formed in 1919.
The industrial magnates who were first interested in supporting social research saw it as wholly desirable for think tanks to become credible voices in policymaking circles without becoming promotional or ideological. Under attack themselves from some corners of government, the industrialists were publicity-shy.
They and the foundations they established actively discouraged the think tanks from including high-profile marketing among their efforts. Until 1970, the total number of think tanks active in American politics remained relatively small (fewer than 70). Those that existed had little public profile, devoting their efforts instead to policy research made available quite straightforwardly — and sometimes discreetly — for consumption by public decision makers.
The founding of the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1973 marked the birth of a new type of politically aggressive and openly ideological expert organization. Ideological, marketing-oriented think tanks modeled after Heritage proliferated, particularly on the right (e.g., the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Progress and Freedom Foundation), although also in the center (e.g., the Progressive Policy Institute) and on the left (e.g., the Economic Policy Institute, the Center for National Policy). The number of think tanks more than quadrupled between 1970 and 2000, growing from fewer than 70 to more than 300.
More than half of the new think tanks that formed in this period were identifiably ideological. Two-thirds of these were identifiably conservative — mostly producing and promoting work supportive of limited government and free markets.
How Conservatives Took the Lead in the War of Ideas
The dramatic growth of conservative think tanks in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s was made possible principally with support from a small corps of newer conservative foundations, such as the Bradley, Smith Richardson, and Sarah Scaife foundations. Before the 1970s, many conservative foundations and their patrons reviled government so much that they refused to support efforts related to what was going on in Washington.
But with the advent of increased government regulation in the late 1960s, the leaders of these foundations wanted to stop the tide of government activism. Funding organizations to fight the War of Ideas became their way of doing it.
During this same period, mainline and liberal foundations scaled back their support of a number of efforts that engaged politics and government in Washington. Many of the older, more progressive foundations were disappointed by what they perceived as the failures of Great Society programs in which they had invested.
Perhaps more important, many of the older, nonconservative foundations were operating with less. The endowments of many of the largest foundations lost hundreds of millions of dollars when the stock market declined in the 1970s.
Many older foundations put the brakes on activities in Washington that seemed overtly or overly political.7These foundations happened to be those that supported what today are often thought of as more liberal or progressive think tanks and public policies. The Ford Foundation is the best example.
For several decades before 1970, Ford was the principal source of support for the Brookings Institution and Resources for the Future, and it provided key support to many more think tanks, including the Institute for Policy Studies. Ford moved to cut much of its core support for think tanks in the 1970s and ’80s.
Yet the financial advantage that the conservative foundations enjoyed in financing policy work as the mainline foundations cut back was short lived. Despite complaints by some liberal advocates of insufficient backing, in the 1990s, think tanks and policy institutes actually became beneficiaries of restored support from mainstream and progressive foundations, as their endowments grew. The data from 2002 are evidence of this trend.
The Conservative Advantage
Funding for think tanks was largely restored, but between the 1970s and the 1990s, Ford and other foundations changed their missions, their structure, and, in some cases, their staffing in ways that affect how that funding is distributed.
For those on the left who desire more support, the problem is that the mainline/progressive/liberal foundations are now often not organized to effectively provide support to progressive think tanks or other organizations in the broad-based war of ideas — or even to see that as their role.
On the one hand, these foundations tend to be organized by issue area. That means that prospective grantees are also organized that way. Think tanks on the left tend to be organized by issue area — around women’s issues, poverty, or the environment — rather than taking on the broad range of issues with which Congress and the president deal.
The specialization of think tanks and advocacy organizations on the left tends to mirror the programs and organization of their main foundation funders. These more specialized groups can be — and have been tremendously effective. But they are not organized to do battle in the same ways as their conservative counterparts, across a broad range of topics.
Whereas a multi-issue, conservative group can redirect portions of its resources and energy from promoting ideas for, say, environmental regulation to Social Security reform as the immediate priorities of Congress and the president change, more narrowly focused progressive think tanks cannot be so nimble – and, as they are currently organized, many would not want to be.
To make matters more difficult, progressive think tanks have a hard time getting general organizational support. Foundations want to support projects — specific, well-defined, discreet projects. The generally progressive Mott Foundation, for instance, gave slightly more to policy institutes in 2000 ($7.45 million) than the conservative Bradley Foundation ($6.53 million), but most of its funding was devoted primarily to specific projects.
By contrast, the majority of Bradley’s funding went to general organizational operating support. In this regard, Bradley outspent Mott by roughly eight to one, investing about $3.8 million to Mott’s $460,000.
By providing general operating support to policy institutes far more rarely than their conservative counterparts, progressive foundations make it difficult for progressive organizations to sustain operating staff and functions.
As James Piereson, executive director of the conservative John M. Olin Foundation, commented about his liberal counterparts: “The liberal foundations became too project oriented — they support projects but not institutions. They flip from project to project. … We, on the other hand, support institutions. We provide the infrastructure for institutions.”
Preoccupation with Neutrality
There is one more distinction between conservative and liberal foundations that affects the disparities in their level of support: Funders on the left appear to have a different view of the role of the researcher — and the role of the research organization — than those on the right. For many of the mainline foundations and the foundations that are more clearly progressive, the primary concern when it comes to funding think tanks is in funding rigorous research that strives to be neutral. For them, think tanks and policy institutes should be homes to the disinterested expert.
Concern for neutral, unbiased research is not a preoccupation of the foundations on the right. As one longtime think tank leader observed, “Liberal foundations are liberal not just in their belief in social and economic justice, but also in their belief in the possibility of neutrality, which makes them uncomfortable with making grants that seem too ‘political.’”
The comments of a research director of a new progressive think tank are even more pointed: “If you’re on the left, you have to go to the foundations and say you’re neutral, unbiased — not politicized. You’re certainly not liberal. If you’re ideological, they don’t want to support you. It’s frustrating — because, by contrast, if you’re on the right, the foundations will only fund you if you toe the ideological line, if you want to do battle for the conservative cause.”
So where is much of the money from the more progressive or liberal foundations going? It is going to think tanks that shun being classified as either liberal or conservative, including the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute, and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). This type of think tank — think tanks of no identifiable ideology — makes up the greatest proportion operating in American politics, and these groups receive the biggest portion of resources that go to think tanks.
In 1996, there were more than twice as many think tanks of no identifiable ideology (96), like Brookings and MDRC, operating in national politics than think tanks that were identifiably liberal (38); the total dollar amount devoted to these think tanks of no identifiable ideology was more than six times more than that spent on liberal think tanks.
For the most part, however, these groups are not major players in the war of ideas. They are not a counterweight to conservative think tanks, and they don’t want to be. The Brookings Institution is qualitatively different from the Heritage Foundation. Brookings and its researchers are not so concerned, in their work, in affecting the ideological direction of the nation. Brookings tends to be staffed by researchers with strong academic credentials, whereas Heritage is staffed by researchers with more political experience.
And while Brookings devotes most of its budget to research, Heritage puts a substantial portion into media and government relations. In 2004, Brookings spent 3 percent of its $39 million budget on communications; in 2002, the most recent year for which information is available, Heritage spent 20 percent of its $33 million budget on public and government affairs.
Reflecting on this difference, Herb Berkowitz, Heritage’s former vice president for communication, observed: “Our belief is that when the research product has been printed, then the job is only half done. That is when we start marketing it to the media. … We have as part of our charge the selling of ideas, the selling of policy proposals. We are out there actively selling these things, day after day. It’s our mission.”
Today, it is not so much that progressive foundations will not support policy research. The problem now is that these foundations will not support progressive policy think tanks that are focused, in the ways that conservative think tanks are, on promoting progressive policy change through research, advocacy, and the Marketing of Ideas.
Ideas Need Strong Organizations
The war of ideas remains a loosely defined phenomenon and more substantial examination of the ways it is (or is not) being won by conservatives demands further research. Yet the preliminary evidence suggests that conservative think tanks have made marketing conservative ideas a priority with the full knowledge and support of conservative foundations. This is what the conservative funders want them to do, and it is what makes conservative think tanks not only well funded but also influential.
Some new evidence suggests that a few more progressive or mainline foundations may be starting to engage the war of ideas in earnest — more or less on the terms set by their conservative counterparts. The creation in 2003 of the Center for American Progress (CAP) by President Clinton’s former chief of staff, John Podesta, is perhaps the best example.
CAP is a new progressive think tank organized to do battle in the war of ideas following a model similar to that of the Heritage Foundation on the right. George Soros and his foundation, the Open Society Institute, provide substantial support to CAP. Still, CAP and several other new progressive initiatives are raising at least as much support from individuals as from foundations, where some of the obstacles outlined in this article are still in place.
New commitments by nonconservative foundations have been modest and suggest that interest in investing in the infrastructure for the war of ideas remains weak. The missions and complicated leadership structures of some of these foundations may make adjusting to the war of ideas difficult or undesirable.
But in light of the stakes for American politics and policymaking, nonconservative foundations should at least reconsider their political role, how they do grant-making, and the return they hope to achieve on their investments.
At this moment, conservatives are still winning in the War of Ideas, and that success cannot be chalked up only to the power of their ideas. It is because these ideas have a winning organization behind them.
And yet, Sultan Knish Blogged:
The Ideological Wars: Why Conservatives Are Losing and Liberals Are Winning
While most people may still identify as loosely conservative and while conservatives continue to win elections often enough, it's hard to miss that conservative politics continues to get watered down and compromised while liberal politics continues to intensify its ideological orientation.
Put simply liberals have been left to the left... but so have conservatives. And that's a serious problem as the drift continues to move the "Center" or what's considered politically moderate to the left. In other words liberalism is winning the ideological and culture wars.
The reason why this is happening is the orientation of legitimacy. For much of the 20 century, liberals demonized conservatives and conservatives demonized liberals. On a national scale though it was the liberals whose negative portrayal of conservatives triumphed with the perception of McCarthyism serving as a turning point. With culture of the culture through entertain, education and media, the liberal image of the bad conservatives has predominated far more than the conservative image of the bad liberal.
The result has created a negative image of conservatives even within conservative movements, a negative image that has created a pressure to "mainstream" conservative parties by pushing them toward a compromise "center" with liberalism.
"See we're reasonable folks. We can be moderates," say the Conservative Charlie Browns, aiming for the center. And right as they kick out, the Liberal Lucy's pull the football away leaving them in the muck again and toss that football further to the left, leaving the conservatives to follow. On and on the same charade keeps being repeated with the same results leaving not only First World nations but conservative movements leaning further to the left than ever.
The orientation of legitimacy therefore points different ways within Conservative movements and within Liberal movements. Where in Conservative movements the orientation of legitimacy is toward the "moderate" conservatives moving toward the left, in Liberal movements the orientation of legitimacy is toward the "extreme" left whose ideas slowly become mainstreamed.
As conservatives become more moderate, liberals become more extreme. Among moderate liberals, leftist politics, even extremist leftist politics are often viewed as a badge of honor. The unacceptable ideas of a few decades ago are now mainstream consensus not only among liberals but generally among people as a whole. By contrast the acceptable conservative ideas of a few decades ago are today considered extremist even among conservatives.
The result of this unbalanced situation is that there is nothing that exists to arrest the leftward drift. While a stable political culture achieves a balance between extremes, the modern political consensus, like a boat drifting out to sea, continues to float away.
Conservatives feed this cycle by giving up the balance and pursuing liberal ideas. In turn liberals are driven to distinguish themselves from conservatives by pushing further to the left.
The left pushes even further to distinguish itself from the liberals. Like an absurd children's game, conservatives chase liberals, liberals chase the left and the left begins chasing after a new level of extremes by embracing everything from terrorism to a world devoid of human life.
The watering down of conservatism is the bill paid by short term thinking. Conservatives look to win present day elections by seizing the center and driving liberals further to the margins. This has worked well enough for them to be able to win elections by portraying liberal candidates as extreme.
The problem is that a few years later the margins have become the mainstream and another battle in the ideological war has been lost through outright surrender. As a result such tactics lead to the belief that conservatives are advancing when in reality they're retreating. Every step forward turns out to be a Leninist step back.
The price of making liberals look radical by seizing the center is to make your own present day beliefs radical a few years from now. The deeper conservatives advance into liberal territory, the more liberal they become.[Or do they, given the emergence of the Tea Baggers(Party-my addition]
This is the price of going native. The best way to be condemned by a liberal is to be more conservative than him. The best way to be condemned by a conservative is to be more conservative than he is.
As conservatives, even staunchly conservative conservatives drift toward the "center," the people they leave behind to take their place are often on the loony and bigoted fringe. They then become the flag bearers of old conservative ideas and quickly discredit them by association, only furthering the leftward drift.
As the right becomes associated with extremist bigots and Nazi sympathizers, the stampede only intensifies. Meanwhile liberals are never held accountable for their extreme wing, despite the fact that liberalism is actually drifting to meet them.
While conservatives keep winning elections, liberals keep winning the argument by shifting the goal posts. Conservatives mark an electoral victory, liberals mark cultural victories. The voters of today come to the polling station with a definition of mainstream that falls well within the boundary of liberal ideas of a few decades ago. They may cast their ballots for a conservative candidate, but that is only because the conservative candidate has moved well within that boundary himself.
Using Cultural Technology in the Culture War
Again, Sultan Knish Writes:
We often talk about a culture war, but we don't usually talk about what that means beyond protests over movies and art exhibits. Culture is programming. The culture war is a programming conflict. Ideas are code. They're viruses. They're memes.
Our form of code is communication. A man alone isn't an island, he's one of those feral wolf children that sometimes turn up in abusive households or backward countries. And those children are never fully human because they are missing something basic. They have never been shaped by talking with another member of their species.
The communication that we engage in, through reading and talking, comes to define who we are. It programs us with concepts and ideas, which we bash up against other concepts and ideas, both very sophisticated and very simple.
Brainwashing is the hostile takeover of a human mind. The most effective way to brainwash someone is to take a lonely individual and embed him into a peer group which bombards him or her with love and acceptance that is conditional on accepting an idea or belief.
That is how cults do it and it works frighteningly well. Governments attempt to replicate it on a national scale, but it never works as well as it does in a compartmentalized cult or ideological cell. And as a history of Communist groups around the world shows, the two can be very hard to tell apart.
The second most effective way is to take that individual and place him at the disposal of people who have complete control over him. This is how police extract false confessions on a regular basis, sometimes even without meaning to. And at the opposite end of the law enforcement scale, this is how Stockholm Syndrome works.
People adapt to the group. Unlike animals, we are verbal creatures. We depend less on non-verbal signals for flocking behavior and more on direct communication to tell us where the group is going and what we are supposed to do to fit in with it. That is why controlling communication also means control of the group.
Cultural Programming Is A Simple Thing.
Like Pavlov's dogs, people are programmed through emotional control points. Empathy, guilt, love, hate, fear, pride, etc. Instead of associating a ringing bell with food, an idea, attitude or worldview is associated with a particular emotion or set of emotions.
Suppose you want to program your test subjects to hate guns. The simple way is to keep showing them dead kids and guns together. And that's something you can see on every television news hour. Children are a primal control point. It's a button that everyone overlays a message on. In this case, the message is that guns kill but government can keep you safe.
Programming isn't debating. Not in the conventional sense. It's about instilling responses that are emotional, even if the subject convinces himself that they are actually the result of his own careful consideration of an issue. Those responses then short circuit any more reasoned approaches with an emotional response overlaid with a 'shortcut' message.
A 'shortcut' message is code. It encompasses a larger idea in an easily accessible form. Think of it as an anti-virus program for the meme. Once the meme has been implanted, it's used to defend against any competing ideas. An anti-gun meme might be, "Do we care about kids or about guns?" while a pro-gun meme might be, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
People have open idea receptors. The meme's goal is to flip those receptors from open to closed by bonding with the idea receptors. From, "I want to learn more about this" to "I already know what I think and this is it and I don't want to hear any more about it except if it reinforces my beliefs."
The goal of cultural programming is to create an automatic response system for a set of ideas that operates below the conscious level. This is the automatic response system that we farm out work to that we don't want to waste time consciously dealing with. It's a sub-program running on the mind that we have conscious control over, but, like viruses on a computer, whose existence we are not always aware of. The task of a cult deprogrammer lies in removing all these subprograms, these automatic responses, to free the person within by engaging their core emotions and intellect.
If you have ever tried to win an argument with someone who fundamentally disagrees with you, only to realize that it is going nowhere, the reason is because you are spending as much time arguing with his sub-programs as you are with him.
Eventually both of your sub-programs argue with each other and it becomes a festival of cliches. Deprogrammers, police interrogators and other people in a line of work that requires them to get past automatic responses focus on engaging the core person through their emotions while bypassing the sub-programs as much as possible.
Sometimes these sub-programs are consciously programmed by us. We program ourselves to get up at a certain time. We program ourselves to avoid foods that are fattening. We program ourselves to like certain people that we dislike, and to our surprise it works if we are really serious about it. But we're not the only ones programming ourselves. We are also being programmed.
Culture is programming. The moment we link up to other people, we begin getting signals that trigger other signals. This is communication that eventually sets up automatic responses that become the sub-programs that run in the background. We learn to ignore certain people and pay attention to others. And the same goes for the ideas that they communicate.
Mass culture is the same thing, except much bigger. It's a mass group signal from something that isn't a group. NBC News is not a peer group, but its mass broadcasting power makes it seem like one. Lean Forward is flocking information. So is Forward! Even if it is, lemming-style, over a cliff. People automate enough of their behavior so that they can be programmed to do stupid and evil things.
People have murdered babies while following orders. They have jumped off cliffs while undergoing training teaching them to obey unquestioningly. Once the sub-programs run, you can build your own army of suicide bombers programmed to go off when they are told to, even if the programming code is in an ancient book known as the Koran.
Once you persuade an individual to outsource the decision making to a subprogram that is programmed by an outside authority, then you have something that begins to resemble a killer robot that is aware of what it is doing, but does not feel entirely in control of it…
Mass culture however is a slightly different kind of programming. Its form of communication is the ancient one of the narrative.
Human beings are natural storytellers. We tell and receive stories, both real and fictional, and respond emotionally to them. The basic story has a protagonist who seeks to accomplish a worthwhile goal and an antagonist who seeks to prevent him from accomplishing that goal. Mass culture programs people by providing narratives in which the protagonist mirrors its goals while the antagonist has the goals of an opposing philosophy.
Narrative is how we identify with others. The stories that other people tell us enable us to form deeper bonds with them. Mass culture programs ideas by maximizing identification with the hero of the story and by extension with his ideas using existing archetypes.
The plucky underdog struggles against the powerful evil man is a theme that most people can identify with. In mass culture, the plucky underdog becomes an environmental crusader fighting an evil corporation. But to flip things around, he can just as easily be an inventor with a brilliant new technology fighting the EPA. It's the same story with different masks and the choice of masks reveals the agenda of the programmers.
Programming associates the archetype with the idea until the idea becomes shorthand for the archetype so that when we think plucky hero, we think environmentalist or social justice crusader. And while we may not think that way, a generation of teenagers has grown up with that archetype. Association is one of those sub-programs that runs in the background, sorting and classifying items according to their perceived relevance. Manipulating associations is one of the simplest forms of programming.
The narrative forms the personal and 'tribal' identity. It tells us who we are individually and as a group. When media types talk about "Explaining America to itself," they mean using mass media to define tribal identity through narrative. Their choice of narrative is meant to form specific associations. Run enough stories about America's racism and that becomes the association. Run enough stories about America at war and we become a nation of soldiers.
Associations alone do not brainwash an individual. What they really do is shift his affinities. That is what advertisers do with commercials, which don't immediately persuade customers to buy a brand, but build up positive associations with that brand so that when you think of Coca-Cola, you think of Santa and polar bears and traditional Americana, or modernism, new generation and fun when you think of Pepsi. But ideologies are after bigger things than just influencing your preferences.
Affinity shifting prepares people for brainwashing by making them receptive to the actual ideology. It breaks down their boundaries and opens their minds to a more complete program. A trojan in a computer just opens the door for other malicious programs to get in and take over. The goal of any ideology is to open a door. Once the door is open, by any means, a lot of other things can come inside.
True brainwashing goes beyond just running sub-programs. Its goal is total identity reprogramming. Identity reprogramming means that the individual must adopt a new identity that is based on the ideology so that the individual and the ideology are inseparable and the identification is so total that the individual becomes willing to die for the ideology. Then the individual is no longer running "Communism" sub-programs covering a set of responses to domestic repression and foreign capitalism, but he has achieved total identification and has actually become "Communism".
Before this can happen, the sub-programs must begin running linking his emotions to automatic responses. People program most naturally in response to personal experience. A liberal is a conservative who got a drug test. A conservative is a liberal who got mugged. The association generates new sub-programs. Conservatives are associated with authoritarianism. Liberals are associated with crime. Arguments between the two are handled by sub-programs running on the emotions generated by the original experience so that the experience has become the ideology.
Radicalization is the process by which the sub-programs become the program and the individual experience becomes the generalized collective experience of the group. The radical leader embodies the ideology with his ego.
The radical follower subsumes his ego into the ideology. The two are no longer responding to the ideology as a function of their individual or group interests. The ideology is now the group and there are no more individual interests. There is only the program whose perfection of purpose will achieve all their goals in some unspecified way.
Purity of purpose is the difference between the program and the sub-program. Sub-programs are never pure of purpose. They are subservient to the individual and the group. Programs are the pure purpose. They are subservient to nothing. Not even the death of the people running them. The sub-programs become the program as they take more and more of the core functions of the program.
The core functions are how we do things and why. The sub-programs allow us to cope with the external. The core programs are the motivations for the things that we do. Sub-programs automate existing motivations and associate them with ideas.
An environmental sub-program tells us we should vote for Democrats to avoid being killed by pollutants, taking an existing motivation, the avoidance of harm, and linking it to an idea. An environmental program however tells us that we should die sooner to avoid being a burden on the planet. This reprograms a natural motivation, survival, and replaces it with a new group motivation that is suicidal, on individual terms, and even for the species, but that runs on hijacked emotions.
A programmed person does not own his emotions and therefore he does not own his motivations. The program decides what he will feel and in response to what. The program can make death seem beautiful and self-defense seem horrible. It can make children seem vile and the murder of children an act of empowerment.
At the start, the program runs by associating a person's interests with its goals. By the end, the person is utterly incapable of identifying or defending his own interests and the emotions once associated with his interests are welded to the program's goals.
Collectivism occurs when mass culture hijacks group communications. By transforming group identity through programming, mass culture can promote any number of horrors from genocide to mass suicide. People can be taught to kill themselves for the survival of the group ideology. Martyrdom being the idea so compelling that people will die for it.
Collectivism offers the individual immortality and transcendence through the destruction of the self. By accepting the program, the individual becomes more than the self, he becomes the group. With the program he transcends his flaws and takes on the imagined strengths of the collective. His identification with the group is so total that he does not fear death. As Muslim terrorists chant, "You love life, we love death."
The ideology is not truly the group, it is an idealized version of the group that becomes a substitute for the group, even to the point of a willingness to destroy the group for its idealized version. Think of Japan in WW2 or Western liberals today who care more about the moral high ground than national survival. The idealized group is so transcendent because it is elevated above all individual and group limitations. It is impossibly perfect and destined to fail.
By hijacking group messaging, mass culture falsely conflates the ideology with group welfare and survival, so that, for example, being American comes to mean following international laws of war, supporting immigration and international democracy, when it really has nothing to do with any of this.
But by associating America with a set of values, in the hope that those values then come to be shorthand for America, the absence of those values then comes to be defined as the death of America. Those values become the things that we would rather let America die than allow it to abandon.
Programs like these penetrate trojan style, by pretending to be something that they are not. Educational systems disguise Liberalism as Americanism. The ideology gets inside by pretending to represent the group. Ideological programming is conflated with group flocking behavior. Once a sub-program begins running, then group interests become overwritten by ideological agendas. That is what happened to many minority groups in America, including the Jews.
The left has always excelled at using cultural technology like this in its culture wars. It studies the mechanics of how people can be convinced of something with far more intense interest than any car salesman. It is not interested in winning the debate, but in rigging the debate. It does not want to convince you that it is right, but to change you into the sort of person who innately understands that it is right.
It is trying to program you. It has been doing so since you were born. It will go on doing it every time you turn on the television or set foot in a movie theater. It will do it through your interactions with those who are already running its programs or sub-programs. It will target you demographically, by race, sex, income level, regional area and so on and so forth.
It will combine all the information it has about you with all the information about what types of arguments will work best on someone like you and it will hit you with them over and over again.(These are some of the ideas that have embedded in them constant conflict and contradictions)
This election was a warm up. For the first time, the left had the backing, money, power, expertise and technology to really do what it has always wanted to do in this country. And it worked. The left is not any good at policy, but it is very good at controlling people. Like the world's worst car company, they can't make a car that works, but they have a hell of a sales staff.
We are in a culture war and that means it is time to understand the nature of that conflict(And All the ideas inherent and constant Warring Ideas within it). For the left, American identity and any other kind of identity, just scroll through the many options on the rainbow coalition of the Obama campaign site, is a program to be overwritten by their program using their cultural technology. Resisting that effort requires awareness and learning to use those same tools to fight back by spreading awareness, building mental anti-virus programs to fight infection and virus programs that attack the mental programs and sub-programs of the left.
When It Comes to The Battle of Ideas, The US Has No General
“Our adversaries are way ahead of us in the use of the Internet and the use of the media,” said Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, undersecretary of defense of intelligence.
It was a stunning statement.
The United States invented the Internet. Its entrepreneurs in a few short years transformed the world. Google, Yahoo, Amazon.com, YouTube — the list goes on.
Hollywood produces films that generate billions of dollars worldwide each year. Foreign audiences can’t get enough of them. Network television, Cable TV, 24-hour news channels — all born in the USA
The nation possesses enormous human capital as well. Every spring, America’s world-class universities produce legions of behavioral scientists, cultural anthropologists, sociologists, media specialists, film school grads and computer engineers. Its citizenry includes populations of moderate Muslims from every corner of the world.
But despite all of this, when it comes to fighting the ideology of radical Islam, the United States is getting its butt handed to it on a plate.
“The question is on a day to day basis, who is responsible for information operations for the United States government?” Boykin asked. “And the answer is ‘nobody’… There is no one in charge on a day to day basis.”
Although the message hasn’t sunk in with the general population, think tanks, academia and even some at the Pentagon will insist that all the bullets, fighter jets and high-tech sensors aren’t going to win the so-called global war on terror. Bombs can’t kill ideas. (Although they can kill civilians and their tragic deaths can deftly be used as anti-U.S. propaganda.)
The Quadrennial Defense Review spelled it out. The end of the war will only come “when extremist ideologies are discredited in the eyes of their host populations and tacit supporters.”
Thomas O’Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, is among those who are lamenting the nation’s lack of unity in countering the ideas of radical Islam. The enemy is adept at using information technology tools, he said at the conference. He criticized the US and international media, but also laid some blame on the Defense Department.
He described a successful raid by Iraqi forces on a terrorist compound. Insurgents immediately posted a video of the aftermath that showed dead bodies inside what they said was a mosque. It was a prayer room in a house, not a mosque, he contended. There was plenty of evidence uncovered that showed the insurgents there had tortured Iraqi troops and weren’t innocent civilians as the propaganda video claimed.
US Central Command responded to the allegations a day and half later, O’Connell said. By that time, the Iraqi units had already taken a “hammering” in the press, he said.
“We have got to do a better job of telling our story,” he said. “I think we make efforts. I don’t know if they’re efforts that are very well coordinated both on an international and a domestic level.”
The false mosque story was a tactical victory scored on the part of a nimble and sophisticated enemy. Strategically, the nation is losing ground in the larger ideological war. Al-Qaida and its sympathizers are creating their own “narrative,” in which their spin on world events is widely believed, two recent reports have pointed out. The terrorist group now has its own media production arm, dubbed As-Sahab, which serves as an information clearinghouse. Any US public relations firm would recognize its methods.
A recent Senate hearing pointed to the lack of attention being paid to the issue.
On the same day US Central Command’s chief, Navy Adm. William Fallon, sat before a packed Senate Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held the second in a series of three briefings on terrorism and the Internet.
Fallon attracted several television cameras. At the Homeland Security hearing, the room would have been half empty if not for the groups of high school students stopping by for 30-minute intervals. Reporters for the Associated Press and a handful of niche publications were present, but the hearing generated few headlines. Only three senators attended.
Testifying were a Georgetown university professor, a West Point officer and a representative of the Defense Department’s newly formed “support to public diplomacy office,” who had been on the job for three days.
The new office — serving the undersecretary of defense for policy — is tasked with “ensuring strategic communication and information are integral to policy making … developing and coordinating key themes within the Defense Department to promote policies,” and working with other US government partners, particularly the Department of State … to design and facilitate whenever possible strategic communication policies and plans to effectively advance US national security,” the new deputy assistant secretary of defense, Michael Doran told the committee.
The Internet is the “primary repository of the essential resources for sustaining the culture of terrorism,” Doran said. As far as spreading Islamic extremist ideology, the Internet functions “as a kind of virtual extremist madrassa.”
Attempting to shut down web sites is an exercise in futility, those testifying said. They will pop up in a matter of minutes somewhere else. Password protected chat-rooms are even harder to penetrate. The Internet is the ultimate terrorist safe haven.
Boykin said the solution to winning the war against extremists “is not killing or capturing every terrorist ... That’s a never-ending process. We’ll never be successful.”
That presumably also goes for the legions of al-Qaida sympathizers who sit at computers and contribute to the jihad through their technical and media expertise.
The nation must enter a new phase of its battle, said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.
“These myths and falsehoods must be debunked and discredited,” he said at the hearing.
And that means coming up with a compelling counter-message to the violent ideology spreading through the Internet and other means, he added.
Cilluffo came to the committee with a new report in hand — “NETworked Radicalization: A Counter Strategy.” About the same time, Rand Corp.’s Center of Middle East Public Policy released a similar report — “Building Moderate Muslim Networks.”
Both papers argued that the United States needs to do a better job helping Islamic moderates spread the word that extremists are harming the Muslim world and that their beliefs are based on false tenets.
The Rand authors pointed out that the United States does have some experience in this area. During the Cold War, the nation was in an ideological battle with communists, and it eventually prevailed. Comparing Bin Ladinism to communism isn’t always a perfect fit, but there are similarities. America’s cold warriors successfully built networks and coalitions of those who opposed the political ideology.
The anti-communists included those who disliked the United States, and that was okay, the report said, as along as they were on board with the idea of ending communist rule.
“The US government and its allies need, but thus far have failed, to develop clear criteria for partnerships with authentic moderates,” the Rand study said. Despite numerous policy statements, speeches by President Bush and other documents, no consensus on how to identify and support partners in the “war of ideas” has emerged.
There are few existing moderate networks to engage with, the study noted, so they will have to be created. Possibilities include: liberal and secular academics and intellectuals; young moderate religious scholars; community activists; women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns and moderate journalists and writers.
US funds should flow to members of these groups, Rand analysts recommended.
Credibility is the key. If the message is perceived as coming from the United States, then it wall fall on deaf ears.
The State Department is spending $700 million per year on the US Middle East Television Network, better known as Al Hurra, which has been sharply criticized for failing to gain market share. Radio Sawa, part of the same effort, has gained an audience, but it is not clear whether either of them has been able to positively shape attitudes in the Muslim world toward US policies, Rand said. Both stations are seen as proxies for the United States.
The ultimate goal, Cilluffo said, is the deconstruction of the al-Qaida brand. That’s “not to be confused with a public relations campaign to improve the image of the United States,” he added.
Rand said moderates must “reverse the flow of ideas.” The communists attempted to export their ideology into the West, but the United States and its allies turned the tide by infiltrating democratic ideas behind the Iron Curtain.
Some countries are more open than others. Strict regimes in the Middle East may not allow much meddling, but moderate, relatively open nations along the region’s perimeter are a good place to start. Indonesia, North Africa and Turkey, and nations with minority Muslim communities are potential spots to get a foothold, said the Rand report.
Now, all that’s needed is someone to take charge, or at least show some leadership.
If the United States is to help “reverse the flow of ideas,” who is responsible?
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, at the hearing asked the Pentagon’s Doran if anyone was in charge of countering extremist ideology.
Karen Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, was his answer.
Hughes was a close political advisor to President Bush, tasked with reinvigorating the State Department’s public diplomacy sector, which had its post-Cold War budgets eviscerated by Congress.
But within the State Department, Rand analysts said, there is little consensus on what public diplomacy means. Is it changing opinions, garnering support for policies or marginalizing extremists? The sector gets short shrift there. And at the Pentagon, the public diplomacy office didn’t open its doors until more than five years after 9/11.
“This strategic uncertainty ensures suboptimal policy performance,” said the Rand study.
There is no “unity of command,” Boykin said, putting the leadership issue in military terms. “We’ve given up on that. What we do hope to achieve is unity of effort.”
All agreed that waging an effective war of ideas against radical Islam is not the responsibility of one department or agency. In fact, to wage an effective campaign, the effort should reach to the nation’s allies, Cilluffo said.
Meanwhile, Boykin said, “We are coming up short on the whole concept of inter-agency, government-wide information operations and how it’s applied against this ... global insurgency.”
Unfortunately, until the US government gets its act together, the extremists will continue to beat America at its own game-In The theater and sphere of the War Of Ideas.
David Ronfeldt writes:
"Western strategists and policymakers should stop talking about a clash of civilizations and focus on the real problem: extreme tribalism. Recent events — riots in many nations protesting cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Sunni-Shiite warring in Iraq, the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan - confirm that the West is not in a clash with Islam. Instead, Islam, which is a civilizing force, has fallen under the sway of Islamists who are a tribalizing force.
Unfortunately, the tribalism theme has difficulty gaining traction. After the end of the cold war, many American strategists preferred the optimistic "end of history" idea that democracy would triumph around the world, advanced by Francis Fukuyama in 1989.
A contrary notion — reversion to tribalism — made better sense to other strategists, such as France's Jacques Attali in 1992. Indeed, the emergence of ethnic warring in the Balkans and elsewhere confirmed that when societies crumble, people revert to tribal and clan behaviors that repudiate liberal ideals.
Perhaps partly because the idea of "tribalism" sounds too anthropological for modern strategists, it has not taken hold. American thinking has shifted to revolve around a more high-minded but less accurate concept: "the clash of civilizations" articulated by Samuel Huntington in 1993.
But what troubles the world is far more a travail of tribalisms than a clash of civilizations. The major clashes are not between civilizations per se, but between antagonistic segments that are fighting across fringe border zones (like Christian Serbs vs. Muslim Kosovars), or feuding within the same civilization, such as Sunnis vs. Shiites in Iraq.
Most antagonists, no matter how high-mindedly they proclaim their ideals, are operating in terribly tribal and clannish ways. Some, such as Al Qaeda terrorists, are extreme tribalists who dream of making the West start over at a razed, tribal level.
This travail is sure to persist, fueling terrorism, ethnonationalism, religious strife, sectarian feuds, and clannish gang violence and crime. Thus, the cartoon protest riots pose an effort to mobilize an Islamic global tribe, not a civilization.
Al Qaeda and its affiliates comprise an information age network, but they, too, operate like a global tribe: decentralized, segmental, lacking in central hierarchy, egalitarian toward kith and kin, ruthless toward others.
What are tribes like? The tribe was the first major form of social organization. The hierarchy, market, and network forms developed ages later. Classic tribes are ruled by kinship principles about blood and brotherhood that fix one's sense of identity and belonging. Tribes are also egalitarian and segmental.
Everyone is deemed equal and must share. Each part, such as a clan, is structured similarly, aiming for self-sufficiency. And there is no formal chief, though a "big man" may arise. Democracy may appear in tribal councils, but it is not liberal, since it does not tolerate minority rights and dissident views once a consensus emerges.
What maintains order in a tribe is not hierarchy and law — it is too early a form for that — but kinship principles stressing mutual respect, dignity, pride, and honor. Reciprocal gift giving is essential. Humiliating insults upset peace more than anything else, for an insult to one is seen as an insult to every one of that lineage. And there are only two ways to restore honor: compensation or revenge. Finally, a tribe may view itself as a realm of virtue, but see outsiders as a different realm that may be treated differently, even brutally, especially if they are "different."
Much of the world is still like this. Of particular concern to strategists, a dense arc of tribal and clan systems runs across North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, up into the "stands" of Central Asia. Even modern societies still have tribal cores and impulses.
That shows in their cultures, nationalisms, identity politics, kindred glues like sports clubs and social fads, and in cronyism, nepotism, and gang life. Tribalism, for good and ill, is alive everywhere, all the time. We just don't think about it much, and use other terms.
So let's shift away from the civilization paradigm. The tribalism paradigm is better for illuminating the crucial problem: the tribalization of religion. The more that extremists create divisions between "us" and "them," vainly claim sacredness solely for their own ends, demonize others, revel in codes of revenge, crave territorial and spiritual conquests, and suppress moderates who disagree — all the while claiming to act on behalf of a deity — the more their religious orientation becomes utterly tribal and prone to wreaking violence of the darkest kind. They can only pretend to represent a civilization.
The "War Of Ideas" should be rethought. Western leaders keep pressing Muslim leaders everywhere to denounce terrorism as uncivilized. But this approach, plus counter pressures from sectarian Islamists, has put moderate Muslims on the defensive, stymieing them from speaking out. An approach that focuses on questioning extreme tribalism may be more effective at freeing up dialogue and inviting a search for common, ecumenical ground.
Shifting to a travail-of-tribalisms perspective would have to be carefully thought out. The point is not to condemn all tribal ways. Many people around the world appreciate (indeed, prefer) this communal way of life and will defend it from insult. It is not always uncivilized to be tribal. The point is to strike at the awful effects that extreme tribalization can have — to oppose not a terrorist's or insurgent's religion, but the reduction of that religion to raw tribalist tenets.
Permanent Wars In Africa
In these type of wars without ideologies and no definite goal, Jeffrey Bettleman writes:
"There is a very simple reason why some of Africa's bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don't have much of an ideology; they don't have clear goals. They couldn't care less about taking over capitals or major cities -- in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes.
Today's rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people's children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. Look closely at some of the continent's most intractable conflicts, from the rebel-laden creeks of the Niger Delta to the inferno in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this is what you will find.
What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else -- something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you'd like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times' East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.
I've witnessed up close -- often way too close -- how combat has morphed from soldier vs. soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier vs. civilian. Most of today's African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they're predators.
That's why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo's rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.
This is the story across much of Africa, where nearly half of the continent's 53 countries are home to an active conflict or a recently ended one. Quiet places such as Tanzania are the lonely exceptions; even user-friendly, tourist-filled Kenya blew up in 2008. Add together the casualties in just the dozen countries that I cover, and you have a death toll of tens of thousands of civilians each year. More than 5 million have died in Congo alone since 1998, the International Rescue Committee has estimated.
Of course, many of the last generation's independence struggles were bloody, too. South Sudan's decades-long rebellion is thought to have cost more than 2 million lives. But this is not about numbers. This is about methods and objectives, and the leaders driving them.
Uganda's top guerrilla of the 1980s, Yoweri Museveni, used to fire up his rebels by telling them they were on the ground floor of a national people's army. Museveni became president in 1986, and he's still in office (another problem, another story). But his words seem downright noble compared with the best-known rebel leader from his country today, Joseph Kony, who just gives orders to burn.
Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don't want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they've already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?
The short answer is you don't. The only way to stop today's rebels for real is to capture or kill their leaders. Many are uniquely devious characters whose organizations would likely disappear as soon as they do. That's what happened in Angola when the diamond-smuggling rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was shot, bringing a sudden end to one of the Cold War's most intense conflicts.
In Liberia, the moment that warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor was arrested in 2006 was the same moment that the curtain dropped on the gruesome circus of 10-year-old killers wearing Halloween masks. Countless dollars, hours, and lives have been wasted on fruitless rounds of talks that will never culminate in such clear-cut results. The same could be said of indictments of rebel leaders for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. With the prospect of prosecution looming, those fighting are sure never to give up.
How did we get here? Maybe it's pure nostalgia, but it seems that yesteryear's African rebels had a bit more class. They were fighting against colonialism, tyranny, or apartheid. The winning insurgencies often came with a charming, intelligent leader wielding persuasive rhetoric. These were men like John Garang, who led the rebellion in southern Sudan with his Sudan People's Liberation Army.
He pulled off what few guerrilla leaders anywhere have done: winning his people their own country. Thanks in part to his tenacity, South Sudan will hold a referendum next year to secede from the North. Garang died in a 2005 helicopter crash, but people still talk about him like a god. Unfortunately, the region without him looks pretty godforsaken. I traveled to southern Sudan in November to report on how ethnic militias, formed in the new power vacuum, have taken to mowing down civilians by the thousands.
Jihadism Versus Democracy
We learn more about this topic from Walid Phares that:
"One of the strangest, but not unexpected,battles of words and ideologies is over the claims made about the Muslim perception of jihad and Jihadism and their impact on public speech. I will introduce here some tenets and the essence of the ideological confrontation. In the tree Wars of Ideas from 1945 -2006, the heart of the Western engagement in the conflict was the understanding of two issues: what jihad was historically and what Jihadism is in modern times. These are tow different by related phenomena.
"Jihad, like a number of other historical developments throughout the world, was religiously based geopolitical and military campaign that affected large parts of the World for many centuries(From the history on this the reader can read my Hub called: "The History And The Age of The Moors in Spain: How The Moors Civilized Europe - The History Of Africa.") It involved initial theological teachings and injunctions, followed by 14 centuries of interpretations by adherents, caliphs, sultans and their armies, courts and thinkers. The historical reality of jihad is intertwined with the evolution of the Islamic State since the seventh century.
It is emphatically not a modern, recent, and narrow creation by a small militant faction. It has to be seen in its historical context. But on the other hand, this giant doctrine, which motivated armies and feelings for centuries, also inspired contemporary movements that shaped their ideology based on their interpretation of the historical jihad. In other words, today's jihadists are an ideological movement with several organizations and regimes, who claim that they define the sole interpretation of what jihad was in history and that they re the ones to resume it and apply it in the present and future.
"It is equivalent to the possibility that some Christians, either convinced believers or those with a sociological Christian bent, have gone beyond the Christianity of the times of the Crusades. Today's jihadists make the assertion that thee is a direct, generic, and organic relation between the jihads that they and their ancestors have engaged in from the seventh century to the twenty-first century. But historical jihad is one thing, and the jihad of today Salafists and Khumeinists is something else.
"As with all historical events, literary, analytical, and documentary efforts to interpret and represent past episodes frequently influence the psychology, imagination, and passions of modern-day humanity. Textbooks across the world detail battles, discoveries, and speeches that are the benchmark of the formation of the national or civilizational identities of peoples. But even if the events in some nations' eyes are proud episodes, they are often considered disaster by other nations.
"The Native Americans[Red Men] do not celebrate the Spanish Conquests; the British Empire is a matter of pride to the English, but not to the colonized peoples; and Napoleon's 'liberations' are not fondly remembered by those who were conquered. And this is the perception of jihad among classroom pupils in the Arab and Muslim world: it is a matter of historical pride.
"For example, in the books which I was tested for my history classes, a famous general of the Arab Muslim conquest, Kalid Ibn al Walid, is treated as a hero because he conquered Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon's shores. But to Aramaics, Syriacs, and Jews, he was a conqueror. He was what Cortes was to the Mexican Indians-and invader. In the same textbooks, Tariq Bin Ziad, the general who led the Muslim armies into Spain, is presented as the hero of heroes; but in the eyes of the Iberians, he was a conqueror, and in the modern lexicon, he would be described as a colonial occupier.
"So, historical perception is really int he eye of the beholder. This is about Western guilt here.While the latter culture has largely demythologized its own conquerers and ideologies, once described as heroic-Napoleon, Gordon of Khartoum, "Manifest Destiny, Etc.,-it has accepted docilely ideas like the 'spread of Islam,' the benevolence of Arab occupation, etc. Westerners are schooled to repudiate the errors of the past in their own culture, but to overlook those of other cultures today. This is where jihad propaganda campaign deliberately harps on "Muslim resentment of the Crusades," in order to play upon this "guilt complex."
"Historical Jihad doesn't escape this harsh rule of history. Those who felt their ancestors' deeds were right-see jihad as a good thing. This is the drama of the invading Arabs on the one hand and conquered Persians, Assyro-Chaldeans, Arameans, Copts, Nubians, and Berbers on the other; of conquering Ottomans and conquered Armenians, Greeks, and Slavs. It should be noted that many of the conquered had been conquerors earlier, such as the Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, and Egyptians(On the Egyptians see my Hub: "The Military Leadership of Egyptian Pharaohs: The Creation Of Dynasties.)"
World history is made up of such reversals. But the emotional perception of the past should stop at contemporary reality. Feelings and passions about tragedies of the past cannot be erased and should not be forgotten, but they have to give way in the end to International Law and doctrines of Human Rights.
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