We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

US military studied how to influence Twitter users in Darpa-funded research

Click here to access article by Ben Quinn and James Ball from The Guardian.
“Through the program, Darpa [Pentagon's research arm] seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information."
However, papers leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that US and British intelligence agencies have been deeply engaged in planning ways to covertly use social media for purposes of propaganda and deception.
Although it is important for all activists to be aware of the issue of our the ruling class government's attempt to engineer favorable public reactions to their policies, it really should not be surprising. To start getting an intellectual handle on this, one needs to be aware of who is in control of the government. It's a fairly simple logical process that proceeds from the fundamental belief that today's societies are class structured with a ruling class at the top that exercises control, although variable from one society to another, over all important institutions. 

I think that there is considerable evidence that the US ruling class has excelled in this control to where it has become pervasive. That belief is founded on my nearly 60 years of adult experience both as an activist and an intellectual who has read widely about related matters. In the US I think that the process of control has advanced to a stage in which the ruling One Percent (based on private ownership of the economy) has obtained overwhelming control over all institutions of socialization and indoctrination: education, information and entertainment media, and government. Thus, nowadays when they want to advance certain ideas favorable to their interests, they use all these institutions simultaneously. There is a history behind this development because it didn't just magically appear one day.

They have attained such success over the last 100 years through their experience with manipulating public opinion to serve their interests of wealth accumulation and power. Their first experience occurred in events leading up to the entry of the US in WWI

Major US banks, particularly the J. P. Morgan bank, had lent enormous amounts of money to England and France to finance military expenditures in their war with Germany and Austria-Hungary which began in 1914. In fact, the "House of Morgan" was designated by both England and France as their agent in selling war bonds to American investors amounting to half a billion dollars in addition to the direct loans by the banks. Thus, the ruling US capitalist class, which had already concentrated their ownership over every important economic enterprise, had a lot of money invested (several billion dollars) or bet on England and France, the Allies, winning the war. By 1917 the war did not look good for the latter, thus the US ruling class led by major banks decided that the US would have to enter the war to insure that the Allies would win, and their debts repaid. However, there was one major problem: public opinion in the US was very much against participating in the war, and something had to be done to change that.

That "something" was a major publicity campaign. J. Pierpont Morgan and Company were not merely a leading bank in the US, they had major holdings in nearly every sector of the US economy. Collectively, all these holdings comprised what was called the "House of Morgan". Major industrial corporations such as Bethlehem Steel saw the potential for huge profits if the US entered the war. Thus, the US ruling class led by financial and industrial corporations initiated a publicity campaign to get the American public on board with their interests. 

The campaign went into high gear after the Lusitania, a luxury passenger ship, was sunk by German U-Boats because--somehow unbeknownst to passengers for some mysterious reason (a type of Gulf of Tonkin incident or 9/11?--it was carrying munitions to England as was much later revealed. Anyway, to make a long story short, the ruling class learned from their success in turning American public opinion around in support of direct US participation in this war the tremendous value of what they referred to as a "public relations". The latter developed into a major industry which has greatly expanded ever since then to what it is now: a very sophisticated and coordinated method used by some kind of directorate of the ruling class to shape US public opinion through news and entertainment media and government official announcements.

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