10 May Hero’s Journey. Mischaracterizing History. Dehumanizing Villains.
Mass propaganda used to aspire to condition group uniformity – everybody marching in line. Nowadays the objective is more complex. Modern propaganda is all about division, atomization and confusion iconoclasm.
Conspiracy in the modern world is a complete red herring. Not because today’s popular conspiracy theories are false; but because the culture around dripfed conspiracy theory is a planned distraction designed to mislead a targeted portion of the public. Disempower, disenfranchise, divide-and-rule.
Conspiracy. Typically these are modeled on versions of evil versus a holy cause – is divisive mass propaganda targeting our hero’s journey conceit to subvert our attention away from the truth.
Conspiracy anti-establishment propaganda isn’t the only hero’s journey misdirection.
Despite appealing to polar opposite demographics, the identity politics of woke-progressivism and critical race theory is a hero’s journey subversion too. Both conspiracy and identity politics are personally aspirational. Both embody a journey to realize a grand, undeniable vision. Both cast the proponent as a hero, with allies and enemies, fighting to make the grand vision into a reality. Both wield a language of codes, as purity tests to profile the world into allies or opposition.
Different branding, same product, the same metric of success: public disempowerment by divisive mass propaganda.
Conspiracy. Identity. Two cheeks flanking (and protecting) a single rectal-circle of concentrated wealth and power.
Every complex society where entrenched factions battle for wealth and power is full of groups conspiring against each other. So what else is new? The bottom line, though, is if you’re partisan in this factional contest and not one of the powerful or wealthy, then you’re a sucker. You’ve been drinking too deep from the bullshit spigot.
Beyond clickbait, there’s just one aim driving conspiracy theory and identarian propaganda; one raison d’être for our world of media-driven, polarized outrage, for all the amplified confusion and all the storms in social media teacups, all the incendiary rhetoric, rallies, mischaracterized protest agenda, coronavirus fear-porn and paranoia about (insert country), etc etc.
Keep the public busy.
Keep the public off guard.
Keep the public from seeing the wood for the trees.
Keep the public atomized – polarized – opposing or policing one another.
In short, ensure there’s no convergence of public energies on the institutions of government with focus and persistence enough to hold authority (e.g. elected politicians, political appointments, corrupt legislation) to account.
Being held accountable is the great unspoken fear of almost every politician. It’s the secret nightmare that lurks behind all the confident performances of Ministers, Senators, Presidents, Mayors and the rest of the so-called public servant class.
Accountability. For what they do and don’t do in the real world. For the laws they make (or support). For the money they make. For the funds they spend. For acting (or not acting) to regulate excessive corporate power, despite personal risk. For how well they regulate wealth, despite the financial cost.
Accountability for wielding their power as a representative of the people’s best interests against those inevitable, unpredictable forces of greed, excess, exploitation, abuse of power, law-breaking criminality, corporate cronyism, institutional corruption, endemic bigotry; all the natural corollaries of the capitalist economics that need exaggerated caricature but form a part (to a varying degree) of the market’s arbitration of business relations between human beings and human societies.
Accountable for safeguarding the citizen’s access to innovation and reward from industry, for constraining the universal profit-motive to obey law and regulation and the sanctity of the individual.
Most of all, the compelled atomization seeks to keep the population distracted – and disempowered – and defeatist – as an essential part of the aggressive self-protection of the ruling class.
Distracted. Disempowered. Defeated. These objectives can’t be achieved by permanent public force. The ruled must consent to their subordination to the rulers. Democracy is the stabilizing pressure valve.
Universal suffrage releases the universal pressure of totalitarian rule; pressure to feel free. It’s the most stable mechanism of mass disempowerment we know. Democracy rests power with the people. Don’t doubt this axiom. Democracy simultaneously distracts and disempowers public interest, so long as it remains atomized.