What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Arenamontanus
Control the information, and you control the people.
This political truism is the hallmark of dictatorships throughout the world’s history. To maintain power over a group of people, it is necessary to deprive them of access to certain facts that might influence their actions in a manner that is inconsistent with the power-seeker’s plans. Thus, in corrupt governments it becomes necessary to erect entire departments full of spies, bureaucrats, and other information-manipulating tax leeches to shape events, public opinion, and policy to achieve a more palatable outcome.
In such an environment, whether one realizes it or not, each individual’s mind is the battlefront in a war of information—a never-ending series of scrimmages, where who wins is ultimately determined by one’s access to truth. If a government is engaged in an unpopular action, then its desire to see the action through requires gaining the public’s favor, whether by arguing for the action on its merits alone, or using deception and distraction to manipulate the person’s mind and produce a favorable opinion.
These things, sadly, are not relegated to third-world countries or brutal regimes of a by-gone era, but rather are a hallmark of our own federal government. The most recent example is a stark illustration of how a country supposedly “spreading democracy” and “bringing freedom” to other countries, while engaged in these types of activities, becomes eerily applicable to the situation in which Jesus Christ reacted to such lies in his own day: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Wikileaks, an organization whose sole purpose is to accept and publicize anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents, has, since its December 2006 inception, been a thorn in the side of governments, corporations, and various other organizations. Its most recent publication is an internal, classified CIA report discussing how to rally support for the current military offensive in Afghanistan. Wikileaks’ staff prepared the following description of the document:
After the Dutch government fell on the issue of dutch troops in Afghanistan last month, the CIA became worried that similar events could happen in the countries that post the third and fourth largest troop contingents to the ISAF-mission. The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany’s standing in the NATO. The memo is an recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA. It is classified as Confidential / No Foreign Nationals.
The title of the first main section of text in the document is titled “Public Apathy Enables Leaders To Ignore Voters”. Note here that the desired action—a sustained commitment in the Afghanistan military engagement—is realized by capitalizing upon widespread apathy, not support. The report’s title, however, notes that “counting on apathy might not be enough”, and then goes to describe how to manipulate the public at large in order to develop support for the war.
Wikileaks published the document, alerting the world at large to the latest example of public manipulation in what is, sadly, a long series of similar undertakings by this government-created network of law-breaking spies. Naturally, the government does not like its conspiracies publicized for all to see, and it thus sees Wikileaks as a threat—so much so that in 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report (obtained and published by Wikileaks) which deals entirely with the website in question. Part of this report states:
…the Wikileaks.org Web site could be used to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda; or to conduct perception management and influence operations designed to convey a negative message to those who view or retrieve information from the Web site.
As Glenn Greenwald puts it:
In other words, the Pentagon is furious that this exposing of its secrets might enable others to engage in exactly the type of “perception management” which the aforementioned CIA Report proposes the U.S. do with regard to the citizenry of our allied countries.
The father of modern propaganda himself, Edward Bernays, recognized the inordinate influence one can wield when controlling (and manipulating) information. His description casts a frightening light on what the shadowy dealings of our government imply:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of the country….It remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons….It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world. (Edward Bernays, via Quoty)
In order to organize the masses, though, a central point of moderation must exist to “control the message”. The government’s report on Wikileaks notes that “the governments of China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe” have each worked to block access to Wikileaks by their citizens, or in some other way impede the organization’s operations. Intriguingly, our own federal government willingly joins this list of corrupt nation states—all because it desires to implement certain objectives that others are helping to expose.
In this way, Wikileaks serves as a bulwark in this war for our minds, for if we are to remain free, we must know things “as they really are.” Said Ezra Taft Benson:
The sad and shocking story of what has happened in America in recent years must be told. Our people must have the facts. There is safety in an informed public. There is real danger in a complacent, uninformed citizenry. This is our real danger today. Yes, the truth must be told even at the risk of destroying in large measure the influence of men who are widely respected and loved by the American people. The stakes are high. Freedom and survival is the issue. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)
Whether the disinfectant of sunlight is facilitated by Wikileaks, a whistleblower talking to a reporter, or through some other medium, our ability to wage this war against our own government and hold would-be conspirators accountable for their actions relies heavily upon available information. Father Lehi spoke of either acting or being acted upon—the former requiring agency (and, by extension, knowledge), and the latter implying bondage. To the extent that the American people are prevented from knowing what “their” government is doing in their name, they will be subjugated serfs of an elite, informed few.