Thursday, February 14, 2013

propaganda is the enemy of the obvious

I was almost finished with a post the other day and couldn't come up with a title so I called it "North Korea" (boo!) and hit publish and went to bed, having also mistakenly strongly implied at one point that all America's deployed nukes are located outside the U.S. (since corrected, though I actually have no idea where they're deployed) and forgetting to make one of the main points I'd had in mind when starting that post, specifically, that while there's nothing difficult about understanding what America is ("the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" in MLK's words and the greatest threat to human life in the short-term), it is quite difficult for an American to understand what America is, for reasons that are well understood on the left (Hermann/Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" and Adam Curtis's "Century of the Self" come to mind). In other words, absent the complex web of institution-perpetuating messages (i.e., propaganda) that we grow up with (and continue to be bombarded by in adulthood), the basic picture would be perfectly clear to everyone by age 10 or so. It's the propaganda that complicates the picture. Deconstructing it takes training and a reorientation of one's intellectual life. Once you figure it out, though, you look around and wonder how everyone else could be so stupid because the most important parts of the story really are simple -- Big monkey beats up little monkey and takes his stuff, then lies about it to avoid getting in trouble with the other monkeys. The end. What 10 year-old can't understand that?

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