Caitlin Johnstone says Americans are the most propagandized people on Earth, which is true. People all over the world hate their neighbors, but only Americans hate random people on the other side of the world. How do they even know about these places enough to hate them? This is because propaganda. These are places they simply would not think of were the thoughts not mediated by an entire industry. The military-industrial-media complex that has completely lobotomized their young democracy.
People within White Empire (including kalu suddhas in Sri Lanka) think they are not propagandized because western media is private. But America is an oligarchy and it is precisely this ‘private sector’ that actually rules. To go back to the beginning, the American Revolution was not a victory of people over a king. At founding, a fraction of people on that land could vote. The Revolution was a revolt of propertied white males against taxes, and it was a victory of their class against a king, that’s all.
To go even further back, the White Empire traces its ‘freedom’ back to the Magna Carta, which was merely barons taking power from a king. As Eleanor Janega says, you are not a baron! This mythology has fuck-all to do with you, besides getting to choose what brand of quite publicly bribed (donations) person does the dirty work for the ‘private sector’ that actually pays them. To understand propaganda within the White Empire you have to understand the class structure, and how it has gone from kingly frying pan to capitalist fire while calling it freedom.
Going even further back, Michael Hudson describes the same class tension going back to the Bronze Age. I’m digressing a few thousand years but bear with me. He describes a constant tension between kings (or tyrants) and a class of wealthy families (you can call them nobles or investors, the point is that they concentrate wealth/land/labor in a way that’s a threat to centralized power). Note that nobility isn’t decentralized to the peasant level, it’s just a wider and often more exploitative and rapacious center than a king. Out of this we get the concept of ‘parliamentary supremacy’ which is very different from the direct democracy of Athenian citizens (where, if you were a citizen, you could actually show up at ‘parliament’ and do something). Modern parliaments are almost 100% rich people who just make a show of taking bribes from even richer people in elections and going out to shake hands with the hoi polloi, who they promptly screw over. I’ll quote a bit from Hudson because it’s interesting, though a massive digression:
Hudson’s book is about debt and how private debt-holders (ie slave holders in the ancient times) accumulated parallel control over populations that would destabilize entire civilizations and the entire institution of kingship. To right this, since before biblical times, kings had debt jubilees, where slaves could return to their families, land returned to the people that actually worked it, and where clean slates would ensure that one class wouldn’t cannibalize the whole (and overthrow the king, more importantly). What happened in America, however, is that that class did overthrow the king and now they rule, under the guise of freedom for all. But just look at America. It’s a nation of debt slaves with no hope for a jubilee. They’ve got Freedom™, which is not freedom at all.
The concept of debt relief in the Bronze Age was literally freedom from slavery (the word used was amargi which means ‘return to mother’). Of course in America this didn’t happen for nearly a hundred years in law and still hasn’t fully happened in deed. Indeed, the vast amount of Americans live as debt slaves from student loans to housing loans to credit card debts, which they are forever working off and die with. At least the indentured servants of yore got off after some years. Modern debt peonage is forever. The foundation of America was not ‘power to the people’ as mythologized but ‘power to the propertied’. And the system is still working as intended.
What people call a ‘free press’ is actually very, very expensive. TV stations are literally billion dollar clumps of intellectual and physical capital owned by very few people. Same for radio and even social media. This vaunted free press is really owned by the actual ruling class and it runs their propaganda.
Now to return to propaganda, now that we have a better sense of whom the propaganda serves. Americans think they don’t have propaganda because they don’t have state propaganda, but that would actually be better. There would at least be some democratic controls there. What they have is oligarchic propaganda, which is worse, and also much more insidious. Americans thus suffer from the meta-propaganda of believing they’re not propagandized at all, all while mysteriously hating Vietnam or Venezuela or Libya or whoever they’re supposed to.
I liken the American news to Paw Patrol, or any other ‘Saturday morning’ cartoon. It’s some simple entertainment about good and evil meant to sell you toys. And then sell you toys again the next weekend. Over and over. It’s empty calories that you consume over cereal. The toys in this case are bloated weapons systems from arms dealers like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, etc. The more useless the better cause then they can sell more.
These arms dealers have so deeply corrupted the American state that’s it’s all legal and in the open. The current Defense (War) Secretary Lloyd Austin stepped directly out of the Raytheon board room into the Pentagon, a conflict of interest if anyone gave a shit. But this is normal. There’s a constant revolving door between the bureaucrats starting wars and the arms dealers supplying them, and it’s all out in the open. The arms dealers produce think tanks as much as tanks, and the latter are more dangerous.
After the think tanks roll out, the mass media dutifully provides air cover. Liberal or conservative, they all love war, which the liberals launder through their ‘good intentions’ while conservatives are more honestly just assholes about the rest of the world. Liberals actually thinking they’re helping and conservatives actually enjoy hurting. But it’s the same result. American media uniformly launders every perceived ‘national security’ threat from anonymous sources and ‘experts’ as a real, even if it is literally on the other side of the world and has fuck all to do with America at all. Even for things that America might have a tangential interest in, they never seem to get the point that their intervention always makes things worse.
The western mass media (liberals at least) is always against the last war and always for the current one, never perceiving that this is a problem. They they are the problem. If this media performed their role as watchdog the actual rulers couldn’t indulge in wars of outright corruption but they are bitches. The violent propertied interests are quite easily able to ‘wag the dog’. The incentives of media, as an industry, are of course wildly misaligned. War is good content for them and makes careers for journalists. There are no consequences for being wrong over and over again, where as being anti-war gets you fired quite reliably.
The sad part is that the small-people-with-large-TVs cheer for this fatal farce as vigorously as Romans cheering slaughter in the Colosseum. The Romans were at least honest with themselves about liking the brutality, westerners don’t even look at the dead and liberals posit that they’re helping. They pretend like all the killing and torture are just ‘mistakes’ and that they’re fundamentally good intentioned. To them it’s all a TV show, specifically a children’s cartoon view of the world (which is where the propaganda starts). In this TV show their military is A) strong and not just bullies and B) fighting for values and not money and power. Democracy, human rights, and assorted bull, trotted out into the Cable-TV Colosseum. It’s all a performance.
This is of course no different than the colonial ruse about spreading Christianity or ‘civilization’, just in a modernized form. They’ve changed the words but the narrative is exactly the same as manifest destiny. As the (Wikipedia) caption to the 1872 John Gast painting reads:
American Progress (1872) by John Gast is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Columbia, a personification of the United States, is shown leading civilization westward with the American settlers. She is shown bringing light from east to west, stringing telegraph wire, holding a book, and highlighting different stages of economic activity and evolving forms of transportation. On the left, Indigenous Americans are displaced from their homeland.
What has changed? What has changed? Instead of ‘Civilization Vs. Savages’ we have ‘Democracy Vs. Authoritarians’, instead of the telegraph we have social media, instead of books we have news, and then of course we have the cancerous economic activity leading to a mass extinction of most indigenous lifeforms.
As my historical thesis goes, same shit different day. It is as it was, just slathered in a different layer of bullshit. The point of conquest is always the money, as it was during colonial rule and as it remains under the ‘rules-based order’ the White Empire calls it now. Then, as now, this global looting by elites is sold to the imperial peasants as some noble, civilizing mission. All of this violence actually impoverishes and endangers them so some war profiteer can profit, but they at least get a story they can be proud of. And they fall for it pretty reliably. Behold, for example, right now.
People that dutifully wring their hands about Iraq and are freshly dipping them in blood over Ukraine. They see no lessons to be learned from the last 12 wars that they supported that all went wrong. This war is always different. It never enters these peoples minds that after this killing in their names they should shut the fuck up and sit the rest of the century out.
Because the imperial center is so physically far from the wars and the imperial debts are so far in the future, the actions remain pure fiction to the population and the consequences are never connected. It’s all entertainment really, to distract them from the results of the looting on their own impoverished, indebted lives. While they get devoured by loan sharks, they can watch someone else get devoured on TV worse, while the security forces also occupying them get lionized as heroes, with magical technological powers. It’s Paw Patrol for genocidal adults. These are the most propagandized people on the planet, they’re absolutely swimming in it, from children’s shows to Hollywood to the news, it’s all the same narrative, over and over. And yet if you tell an American they’re propagandized, they really can’t see it. It’s like asking a fish “how’s the water?”
That’s the American relationship with propaganda. It works so good that it’s invisible. They’re the most propagandized people on Earth, to the point that they think they’re the most free. It’s diabolical.