In the article on the Charlottesville unrest and the broader issues of sectarian rifts and societal breakdown, I wrote about the possible psy-op properties and divide-and-conquer strategy being applied.
I also wrote that ‘our hope should be that the majority of people are more intelligent and discerning than that and will refuse to get drawn into the psy-op.’
That is to say I hope that most intelligent people are too discerning to be duped into de-evolving or into being forced into the societal equivalent of an ancient gladiatorial arena.
However, the bigger danger – and this is what I fear – is that things might eventually get so bad, so toxic, that even the most intelligent people (and even those who get that it’s all manipulation) will have no choice but to become part of it (taking one side or another).
In a way, it could be seen as following the model of those famous Stanford Prison Experiments, where, essentially, ordinary people became sadists once they were conditioned into accepting their new social/hierarchical paradigm.
If you examine historical examples, that tends to be what happens – if the bullshit reaches critical mass and too many people are on-board for it, everyone else ends up getting swept along with the tide, even against their better judgement. Accounts of Nazi Germany are full of stories of people who knew better, but lost all sense of ability to go against the tide.
This general idea was somewhat touched on by French Professor Gilles Kepel, who told German newspaper Die Welt not long ago, that the aim of the Islamic State group was to incite hatred towards Muslims (in order to trigger a civil war), but – more specifically – to make it more and more impossible even for moderate, peace-loving Muslims in the West to live comfortably in the West without feeling threatened.
In other words, non-extremists who don’t have any interest in taking sides could, in theory, become so marginalised and threatened by the rest of society that many of them would end up feeling they have to ‘side with their own’ and against those who hate them.
I apologise for the kind of language I’m using here; but it’s difficult to convey ideas like this in language that doesn’t end up sounding a little offensive.
In essence though, that sort of paradigm that Kepel talks about could apply to any of the ‘sides’ in the divide-and-conquer equation – and that’s what I’m talking about when I say that, in a worst-case scenario, even the most intelligent people some day might find thesmevlves being swept into the bullshit.
In those environments, the ‘intellectuals’ are usually the first people demonised or even rounded up and removed from the equation – simply because these sorts of scenarios require intellectuals to be absent and for low-IQ stupidity to flourish. That’s why intellectuals and academics are always targeted early by fascist regimes or totalitarian dictatorships.
For any prospective (manufactured) ‘race war’ or societal breakdown to be effective, it requires a mass reversion to tribalism and, as said already, for everyone to ‘take sides’. Most intelligent people are unwilling to do this; but once the paradigm has sufficiently shifted and a society is reorientated, even those initially unwilling to pariticpate can end up in a difficult position where absolute self-interest or self-preservation replaces any more sophisticated outlooks.
As I argued in the Charlottesville post, the key has been for the media (both mainstream and alt-right) to focus people obsessively on identity politics, so that people are made to identify agressively or even exclusively with those issues (being black, being gay or transgender, being a minority, being a woman, or – in the case of the ‘alt-right’ agenda, being white) so that they *don’t* care as much about broader issues that pertain to all of society.
In other words, the effect is to fragment everyone in society into sub-groups that they identify with and who can then be manipulated into fighting each other and hating each other instead of being invested in the best outcome for all of society.
A sectarian, divided society is much easier to coral and manipulate, and that this is why the divide-and-conquer strategy is played.
What’s happening in the US right now is that everyone – led by the media – stays focused on the race or sectarian issues that the Trump situation has been agitating (while, playing it from the other end, the ‘alt-right’ media online continues to stir up ‘white power’ and demonise all things liberal or modern), all of it based firmly in identity politics, while ignoring what’s quietly going on behind the scenes.
This is because it is much better for the so-called ‘ruling elite’ to manage and manipulate a civil war type paradigm with society divided against itself than to manage more of a revolutionary type paradigm where all of soceity is protesting against the elite interests at the top of the pyramid and the broader problems in society that should concern everyone.
The strategy is kind of like a ‘Balkanisation’ – except it isn’t of a geographical country or territory but of society.
In that paradigm, everyone is conditioned to box their thinking and even their sense of identity into narrow camps and then to fight their corner. The image I keep thinking of when reflecting on this is of the gladiatorial arena, where lower class plebs or slaves are pitted against each other in bloody combat, with viscious, bloodthirsty crowds (also mostly plebs) cheering on, while the arisocratic classes – the ‘elite’ – are sat in a comfortable, priveleged box, looking on with detachment and disdain.
The analogy might be a little extreme; but the underlying dynamics feel similar. And, actually, a major part of why Roman Emperors put so much into the games and gladiatorial spectacles was to keep the lower classes entertained and distracted so that they wouldn’t cause trouble or have the desire to rise up against their betters.
As I have said in a number of previous articles, the thing I keep coming back to whenever I look at everything that’s gone in the US in the passed few years (Trump, the Bernie Sanders campaign, the Sanders/Hillary contest, the mass protest movements and the societal tensions) is Occupy – and particularly the initial Occupy Wall Street protest.
Of all the various protest movements that are active or have recently been active – including Black Lives Matter, including Far-Left or Far-Right protests – the one that the establishment was most afraid of was, without doubt, the Occupy Wall Street protest and its off-shoots six years ago: precisely because it wasn’t racial or sectarian, but represented a common movement against the so-called 1% by the so-called 99% (literally, in theory, all of the rest of society – with no divisions of race, gender or sexuality).
This is why the banks, the FBI and other agencies did everytihng they could to discredit, diffuse or undermine that movement. See Yves Smith’s 2012 article here, exposing the cooperation between the FBI and the big banks to suppress the Occupy movement.
Naomi Wolf also reported (see here) on the same subject and the amount of effort and coordination that went into stopping Occupy. ‘The violent crackdown on Occupy… was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves, was coordinated with the big banks themselves.’
Beyond that time, it is now to their benefit that all ‘anti establishment’ sentiment and movement is more divided into different, smaller and less effective protest movements or gangs that now hate each other more than they oppose the unfair systems or the elite classes.
It’s also one of the reasons, as I wrote at the time, that the mainstream media embraced Trump mania (even while claiming to be morally opposed to it), while doing everything it could to downplay or dismiss the Bernie Sanders supporters – because one was tribal and low-IQ and thus easy to manipulate, discredit and demonise, while the other was entirely progressive and dominated by young people who were far more engaged in the 1%/99% paradigm of Occupy than in White Power, Black Power or all the other childish nonsense.
There were two protest movements against the establishment in this US election – one on the left and one on the right; but it was the one on the left that was most dangerous (not for society but for the elite), because it couldn’t be redirected into sectarian or tribal politics and therefore it also couldn’t as easily be used to bring about the societal breakdown or civil war meme.
The one on the right was, on the other hand, easy for the Goldman-Sachs/Trump/Bannon campaign to ride out and redirect (focusing the support base on race, immigration and sectarianism while redirecting all of the attention away from the banks, social inequality, Wall Street crime or the Financial Crisis), firstly because Trump is himself a 1% corporatist and secondly because, Trump or no Trump (and he might still be impeached at some point), the Republicans would get back into power and enact the same 1% coup.
Which is essentially where things appear to be right now.
The point being that it was the Occupy movement that the banks, the corporate interests and the elites were genuinely worried about – for a time at least, it was poised to be a generation-defining moment of communal uprising and non-violent protest based on common interests and aimed at (for once) the correct target.
The mainstream media gave Occupy as little attention as possible, despite its scale and its international reach. Once Occupy was undermined, infiltrated and deflated, all anti-establishment protest fragmented: and the ‘alt-right’ started to be treated by mainstream media as the voice of the ‘anti establishment’, even though in fact the real anti-establishment activity was going on on the Left and not the Right.
More than that, the most high-profile protests, protesters or professional protest groups are much more easy for the media to categorise as ‘extreme’ – in a way that Occupy wasn’t. It is much easier for corporate media to ridicule or demonise ‘extreme’ protests (be it on the extreme Left or Far Right) and for such protests to provoke suspicion or ill feeling – and it was much harder for the same media to demonise Occupy in the same way, which is why the general strategy was to ignore or downplay Occupy protests.
As it now stands, arguably, that so-called 1% doesn’t have to worry about the so-called 99% anymore, because the 99% is at war with itself.
Far better that the kind of people involved in Occupy – and the kinds of people who were so passionately for Bernie Sanders, which in a lot of cases would’ve been some of the same people – are rendered powerless and without a voice for as long as possible and that, instead, the idea of ‘anti establishment’ politics is dominated by Nazi salutes, KKK rallies or the alt-right.
Meanwhile, as everyone in the middle or at the bottom is caught up in toxic idealogical conflict or sectarian tension, everyone at the top can quietly get on with their business and their agendas, with the corporate media ignoring them entirely.
Read More: ‘The Trump White House & the Revenge of the 1%‘, ‘Islamist Extremists & White Supremacists – The ‘Civil War’/’Race War’ Psy-Op‘, ‘Charlottesville & the Race-War Programme‘, ‘The Dallas Shootings & the Divide/Conquer Operation‘…
“Identity Politics, the Gladiatorial Arena & the Balkanisaton of Society”…insightful succinct analysis of what appears to be happening. The 99% are being manipulated and herded into groups to facilitate control by the 1% – so sad and does not bode well for the future.
Having just recently watched Divergent and it’s sequel I was struck by how similar it was to the Hunger Games and Elysium – where humanity/society has been divided into groups with an elite group reaping all the benefits. I would say your theory of mass pre-programming of humanity through the medium of film and television is pretty accurate.
And you’re also right, Occupy was the biggest threat to the 1%. If the void that it left remains unfilled the 1% will retain control even after the next financial crash/crisis. Without a unifying movement the 99% will be too divided and possibly devastated to realise that it could have been avoided and the inequality addressed before it was too late. Despite groups such as Robin Hood Tax and Positive Money there is no single organisation or movement today that can reach the 99% with the message that Occupy was trying to convey. Even the traditional political parties, eg Labour, are beholden to their corporte controllers and are internally divided by the politics of identity.
Elysium was a very striking film; particularly, I guess, because I watched it just as the refugee crisis was escalating and it seemed to speak to that a great deal.
I agree with you about Occupy being the moment that passed us all by, but differ a little about the reasons. It wasn’t only because protests were brutally put down by the authorities. Sadly, Occupy was beset by its own problems from the very beginning . Perhaps it was captured to some extent by infiltrators (many believe it was and I’ve always been suspicious – indeed, there was already talk of infiltration in the Los Indigados movement that gave birth to Occupy). Unquesionably it was quickly derailed by daft notions about never outlining an agenda, or actually making specific demands, and with no leadership allowed whatsoever. I was excited by Occupy and seriously considered joining the ranks of those who bravely camped out here in Sheffield in mid-November. But it became evident rather too quickly that this was going nowhere. Enduring the hardships just made the event insular and cliquey – after about the third week they didn’t even speak with me when I visited again. Such a pity that Occupy got stuck in such strange ruts because, as you intimate, it had all the makings of a revolution.
And thanks for another very thoughtful piece.
God, this is all so disheartening. You raise many good points, from which you draw very reasoned conclusions about the political and societal realities we’re now facing.
Thanks, EML. But don’t be too disheartened – no eclectic music lover should be too disheartened.
I really like your site, btw – and need to make a note of a whole bunch of artists i’ve seen you review, but who I’ve never heard of before.
Thank you. Many of them are indie artists with only a local following, but I’m doing my best to help them gain more fans.
That’s awesome. I had similar intentions when I started this blog – but I ended up in a different direction.