Stupidity as a Weapon of War
One of the great aims of generalship throughout history has been to reduce the will of one's enemy to resist. Usually this employed shock assault tactics, rapid movement and annihilation on the frontiers of a society so that the society would experience panic and internal dissension over the wisdom of resistance. In the current era of mass info dissemination via media outlets and the Internet, more than ever, battles can be won or lost via the many facets of psy-ops- propaganda: idea association, rumor, mis- and dis- information, demonization and a variety of subtle low-intensity cultural manipulations. More than ever in the past, war equates to an info-war where the battlefield is more and more the human mind and less and less a particular patch of real estate. The aim then, is to blind, decoy, confuse and panic the enemy; to make them too stupid to win, or to even know who the actual factions and their alliances are that are fighting, or most tragically, that there is even a war for their minds going on.
History shows that wars are still being fought within two general idealizations- wealth and religion/ideology. These idea constellations deal with degrees of human freedom (ideas about power, priority, truth, purity) which blend and morph into one another in proportion to their perceived effectiveness within various epochs of history. Covertly and psychologically, the basic struggle is between the potential to possess a sentient independent mind vs. the attempt to stifle that mind in the service of pathological authoritarianism (fascism) as a mental as well as economic construct. The practical aim of fascism is to control all strategic world raw materials, including money itself, so that artificial scarcity can be manipulated and used to bludgeon nations seeking autonomy (the control over development of their natural wealth) into conformity. Contemporary fascism is a mafia, run at the top by remnants of the ancient feudal aristocracy which privileged elites can be found in all societies around the world. It wants to be a caste system with a protected revetment of controller oligarchs, plutocrats, aristocrats and other varieties of subtle sadisms, and it wants to base its empire of economies upon either wage slavery or outright chattel slavery.
Achieving this aim of empire based on enslavement is the cause for virtually all human conflict. The cultural tools available for psychological use by fascist think tanks are: media, religion, education and separatist sub-cultures. Tactics employed through these outlets are disinformation, suppression, and panic generation. The process is facilitated by insulated, deniable cut-out agents who receive policy directives from think tanks and various unofficial controlling cabals, sanitize them and make them palatable to local opinion makers who then inform their publics, all the while believing they are acting ethically and independently. This is the playground of yellow journalism where stories are floated to demonize a particular faction or demographic and soften up the public to otherwise unpalatable policies towards that demographic.
Today, we have a political Left that would be considered a joke by any Wobbly, Spartacist or Bakunin libertarian. It is a Left that has been dumbed down to the point that it organized an Occupy movement three years after the banker meltdown while considering this a timely radical intervention. It is a Left that feels no sense of schizophrenia over soft pedaling a radical Islam that commits egregious outrages against women, a Left that denies its armed revolutionary roots by hammering society about gun ownership. A Left that natters about over population all the while knowing that the first victims of any policy of depopulation would be citizens of the 3rd World. These cognitive gymnastics of the Left become implemented by idealists who have lost the capacity to analyze their own chain of command; to employ their own criteria of criticism-self criticism in a radical manner because their interpretive frame of reference is, at this era in history, superficial, reactionary, and robotic.
The primary method of insuring the stupefying of a population is ideology. Being stupid means that a person is incapable of updating and upgrading when faced with better data, i.e., learning. The irony of no dissent among the dissenters is long, wide and deep. The "human microphone" of the Occupy movement was justified as some sort of playful amplification of bull horn technology, when in reality, it was a seriously creepy carnival of conformity straight out of "Brave New World". That sad, three years too late political circus was a prime example of sponging up and deflecting dissent in a useless display of script reading from the Gramsci/Fabian Socialist playbook. Why was this attempt at a general strike not called weeks after the market crashed while bankers gave each other million dollar bonuses? While Rosa Luxembourg turned in her grave, the post New Left generation mounted a far too late attempt, not at forcing the arrest of bankers, but at a nostalgic rekindling Chicago 1968 in the wake of the failed attempt by Cindy Shehan to rouse the 1960's anti-war specter of the Yippies, Black Panthers, CPUSA, Trotskyites et al. Lenin's Bolsheviks won Moscow in 1917 because they moved quickly and decisively with a game plan rehearsed over 70 years of armed strikes and armed uprisings. Occupy made for some entertaining YouTube posts and will be lost in the sound of surf as the next media wave washes over laptops and iPhones.
Ideology is like religion in that it creates a method of interpreting events which does not include itself as one of those events. It is, therefore, incapable of self awareness and self analysis. Consequently, ideology cannot be improved, and is doomed to be surprised every time by its own obsolescence. Nobody saw the end of the Soviet Union coming, including the CIA or the Soviets themselves. Nobody foresaw China becoming a global economic and technological powerhouse within a single generation. Nobody foresaw the rise the most powerful source of liberation the planet has yet seen, the whistle blower phenomenon. Ideologies and religions are absolutist and consider themselves to be functional against any background, even a rapidly changing technological one. Ideologies and religions are a triumph of reactionary reality modeling with zero sense of shelf life. An interpretive framework that does not include within its structure allowances for new and better data is doomed. Not being able to learn, or more to the point, not being able to want to learn, fulfills the definition of stupid.
Dumbing down projects can be covert or overt. The overt guises typically are presented as progressive programs. "Outcomes Based Education" (OBE), for example, of the 1980's, and echoed heavily in similar pedagogical rhetoric today, almost became the next wave of education reforms. Fortunately it became clear that OBE was designed to create a generation of burger flippers and receptionists in a complete abandonment of principles of excellence for a pragmatic relativist approach whereby industries could submit request lists for X number of assembly line drones, Y number of bookkeepers, and Z number of janitorial staff and the local school systems would obligingly churn them out with the requisite I.Q.'s. The feudal Middle Ages was a dumbing down paradise where the Church monopoly on education insured that independent thought was anathema. Feudalism IS fascism. You didn't need much in the way of a mind back then to harvest wheat or mine coal. Technology, for all its ills, created a demand for an educated work force, and, more importantly, an army of clerks who could read, write and entertain the possibility of a better, more ideal future. But the feudal effort to channel those skills into benign compartments continues albeit in far more covert and sneaky ways.
Covert dumbing down of a technological population can occur with great subtlety, using psychological profiling, polls and psychological statistics. These techniques range from the fostering of self-identifying sub cultures, existential pessimism and a panorama of irrationalities, to the creation of appetites for such parasitic concepts as astrology, ancient aliens, Big Foot, and Chupacabra. Included in this arsenal of mental oblivion is tabloidism in media, fundamentalisms of every denomination, pop-psychology and new age spiritualism or worse, to overt fear mongering via a spectrum of Armageddons such as nuclear, biological, environmental, economic, and racial apocalypse.
A dumbed down population will chronically overlook the root causes of civil disorganization and corruption. A lobotomized public has bad target acquisition. For example, a dumbed down population is unable to effectively end practices such as the lately forgotten destruction of the tropical rain forests because they are chronically unaware of its root causes due to a cartoon perception of the situation handed to them by their own media cadres. Targeting the landowners or governments involved is futile. Without understanding, for instance, international debt servicing via cash crop agriculture, the multinational debt holders will continue to operate free and clear of scrutiny. Cash crop monoculture for export is how debts to the IMF are paid off, period. When was the last "60 Minutes" segment you saw dissecting the inner agendas of the World Bank or the Federal Reserve system or the IMF or the Bank of International Settlements? You never heard of the Bank of International Settlements, right?
Progressive humanity must learn to disassemble the mechanisms of stooge creation and puppetry. Towards this end the Internet provides the most powerful weapon for the amplification of human intelligence the planet has yet experienced. Not owning a computer with an internet account should be a punishable offense for anyone claiming to possess a brain. As a national policy to clear up digital inequities, we should give laptops away free and connect everyone to the web as a gratis birthright. We have an inalienable right to be informed. The information we need to defeat fascism in all its guises is only a mouse click away, yet unblinding oneself is never easy. It takes an ability to confront facts from sources that have not been filtered for you, that are not safe, that are not on some ideological permissions list. What needs to be realized now is that data is data, no matter where it comes from and that data can be manipulated to serve the empire; to create wars; to destroy rain forests, and the brains of children or not, depending on your own personal skill at investigating, cross checking and validating. Creating a rational, informed and independent interpretive frame of reference is the only thing keeping us from becoming someone else's tool. We must throw ideology into the dustbin of history and let data, all the data, speak for itself. Anti-Bilderberger and anti-bankster Occupy cadres must learn how to aim for the brain of the beast rather than its butt cheeks.
Walter Alter is a poet, author and filmmaker living in Northern California. His latest book is Panoply ex-Machina
"The Battle of Camden, Death of DeKalb". Engraving after a painting by Alonzo Chappell. National Archives.
"Winston Smith" by Chris Weston