The Trump attack on the media continues to grow: not only has Bannon told the media to "Shut up" but now Minister of Propaganda Conway has called for firing media critics. Dailykos reports: "Kellyanne Conway goes on bonkers rant, calls for Trump's media critics to be fired"
"It.... becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." --- Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945
The repression of dissent has two tools: "alternative" facts and intimidation ("Shut up."). If that fails, there is always raw force, the Police State Trump promised. This ultimate mechanism does not repress dissent so much as eliminate dissenters.
Recently, both of Trump's ministers of propaganda have promoted these measures to eliminate or degrade dissent.
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Kellyanne Conway presented the idea of "alternative facts" as a way of sanitizing lies and giving them equal status with objective truth (such as crowd sizes). Steve Bannon, Goldman-Sachs alumni and head of the neo-fascist alt-right, has told the media to "Shut up."
Public intellectuals like Paul Craig Roberts have aided this crackdown on free speech by claiming that both the recounts initiated by Jill Stein are Soros-funded attempts to execute a "coup" and by claiming that the millions of protesters against Trump are being paid by Soros or the CIA. This attempt to delegitimize both the right to fair elections (which requires the right to recounts) and protest is part of the effort to create an intellectual basis for fascism.....and we need to look no further than Hitler (whose speeches Trump studied) and Goebbels, the role model for both Conway and Bannon.
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The major pillars of propaganda are:
1. Make a lie big enough, absurd enough, that few will believe anyone would tell such a whopper. Goebbels asserts that the bigger the lie, the more it will be believed. A good example is that Trump has demonized the undocumented immigrant population as very dangerous ("They are rapists...criminals), while the objective fact is that undocumented workers are the most law abiding and non-violent members of the community: in 2018, there were 14, 138 murders in the US and 8 were committed by undocumented workers.
Yet Trump has promised to make every violent act by an undocumented immigrant headline news, tho their rate of violent crime is 99% lower than US citizens. (Source: US Bureau of Prisons). That is why I suggest that what Jews were for Hitler (ie the most defenseless population), Mexicans are for Trump. The second key feature of fascist propaganda is to repeat the lie over and over until it is believed.
The third feature is in Goebbels Principles of Propaganda, #18, which ties all these lies together:
PROPAGANDA MUST FACILITATE THE DISPLACEMENT OF AGGRESSON BY SPECIFYING THE TARGETS FOR HATRED
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This is exactly how Trump started his campaign, with the Big Lie about immigrants, repeated endlessly and fortified by the promise to build a wall, and then displacing white working class anger at neo-liberal victimization onto the least protected group, the peaceful and hard-working Mexican population of people denied legal protection.
When that target of hatred has been exhausted (ie it worked to elect Trump), create new enemies: "The media is the enemy."
There is Principle #10:
: MATERIAL FROM ENEMY PROPAGANDA MAY BE UTILIZED IN OPERATIONS WHEN IT HELPS DIMINISH THAT ENEMY'S PRESTIGE OR LENDS SUPPORT TO THE PROPAGANDIST'S OWN OBJECTIVE.
With the media itself "the enemy," call it dishonest over and over, call it fake news, and call the journalists "bad people." Scapegoat the media. Demonize all who challenge the mandate of power; declare those whose job is to speak truth to power as enemies of the state, as "the opposition."
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With the media on the defensive, that leaves only the people themselves, 2/3 of whom distrust and disapprove of Trump, to shut down. Those (the majority) who cannot be seduced with lies constitute the main enemy of those who rule without consent.
And that is the basis of the attempt to characterize protesters as paid stooges.
Repeat they are being paid by Soros enough times and.......................the 1/3 who support Trump will believe it. But what about the rest of us, the 2/3 who do not believe it?
This is where Goebbels last principle of propaganda comes into play:
PRINCIPLE 19: PROPAGANDA CANNOT IMMEDIATELY AFFECT STRONG COUNTER-TENDENCIES; INSTEAD IT MUST OFFER SOME FORM OF ACTION OR DIVERSION, OR BOTH.
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The counteraction to public protest can include such actions as calling in the National Guard first to deal with violence in cities like Chicago (which is far from the most violent city) and then later extend it to protests themselves
This can be done by having the police make false flag acts of vandalism at protests (such as Occupy) and then declaring protests as acts of terrorism.
This had already been suggested by a state Senator, who supports Trump. (the hill.com reports: " ""A Republican state lawmaker who was an outspoken supporter of President-elect Donald Trump is proposing a bill that would allow authorities to charge protesters with committing "economic terrorism." If a window is broken (whether by police provateurs or isolated protesters), the protest can be declared a terrorist demonstration and the crackdown proceeds.
.Diversions can include fake fights with intelligence, insulting foreign nations (The Chinese are "rapists" and Mexico is sending criminals and will pay for the Wall), and fake moves in all directions ( "Nato is obsolete." "I am a big fan of Nato." US intelligence agencies are "like Nazi Germany" and "I love the CIA." ).
It can be absurd attacks on celebrities, beauty pageant queens. I suggest such aberrations are not gaffes but means of diverting attention from real issues. As celebrity in chief, Trump is a master of diversion; he can attract the attention of the entire world with a tweet. He understands well that if caught in a lie, change the subject or kill the messenger. He is, as he has said, a master of "denial." And if denial doesn't work, change the subject to a minor outrage.
Donald Trump, a man who cannot enjoy any satisfaction other than defeating others, has now declared the majority who reject his rule the enemy, and so he sends his hirelings out to attack the truth, the media, and in the end, the people. Sun Tzu says: The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants,
Trump is vulnerable to a fault that Sun Tzu highlights as the first essential of war:
"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."
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Donald Trump is at war....he cannot stop fighting, attacking. This will, if Sun Tzu can be trusted, be his downfall. In picking fights, in creating new enemies at every turn, he sabotages the wise counsel of Sun Tzu which teaches that wise commanders know when to fight and when to hold back. Trump cannot hold back; he awakes in the middle of the night to resume his attacks.
And while he is a master of denial and diversion he lacks the discipline to lead successfully: Again Sun Tzu advises:
"To prepare a sham action with sufficient thoroughness to impress an enemy requires a considerable expenditure of time and effort, and the costs increase with the scale of the deception. Normally they call for more than can be spared and consequently, so-called strategic feints rarely have the desired effect. It is dangerous, in fact, to use substantial forces over any length of time merely to create an illusion, there is always the risk that nothing will be gained and that the troops deployed will not be available when they are needed."
This suggests Trump will squander his power, sending his swarm of ants out to attack the media and the protesters, and that in the real battles, find himself without sufficient force to win. When Russia or China or Mexico or Iran calls his bluff, who will he have with any credibility?
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The presentation of alternative facts (lies) and the message that the press should "Shut up" both reinforce the way that totalitarian states manage lack of support and the resulting dissent: lies and intimidation both re-enforce each other. And if the people rise up by the millions, attack them as paid actors funded by convenient scapegoats like Soros.
In the end, the program to delegitimize the media and dissent is an attempt to invalidate the power of the truth and to characterize the People themselves as the Enemy.
And this takes us back to the primary basis of fascist propaganda: ""It.... becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
At this point, with the majority of the People opposing Trump, the People become the enemy, and we can look back briefly to see how this concept has been the underpinning of totalitarian rule from the USSR to the 3d Reich:
"Vladimir Lenin after coming to power, said: :
::,,,,all leaders of the Constitutional Democratic Party, a party filled with enemies of the people, are hereby to be considered outlaws, and are to be arrested immediately and brought before the revolutionary court"
The Nazis simply abolished all parties (as did Boris Yeltsin in the Russia of the 90's), all dissenting media, and threw the Social Democrats, Marxists, and trade union leaders in the death camp at Dachau all the while claiming to be "the true socialist." The trajectory is obvious: demonize, then exterminate.
In The Solution, Bertold Brecht epitomized the entire totalitarian program of dealing with dissent: "Some party hack decreed that the people
had lost the government's confidence
and could only regain it with redoubled effort.
If that is the case, would it not be simpler,
If the government simply dissolved the people
And elected another?
The effort to dissolve the media, real facts, and the protest of the people has led to this: a regime claiming that protesters are fake, crowd sizes are fake, and the media is fake.
So f*cking shut up! In the Three Penny Opera, Brecht once more catches the flavor of fascist rule:
"The main objective is to learn to think crudely. Crude thinking is the great one's thinking."
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The question that remains is how should we respond to this attempt to make us, the majority, the enemy and to make the media the enemy?
I will leave that question open for others to provide answers.
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I conclude with the words of Camus in
The Rebel: "When I rebel, WE exist."
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