It would be really interesting to start really analyzing the propaganda techniques being used in the media these days.
So much as I can see they start rather small, one or two articles, various news casters saying shit like "Well this stuff in Syria is all well and good but what really concerns me is DPRK starting to flex their muscles with these missile tests". Shit keeps growing and growing until the plebs are scared (for no reason) and demand some kind of action. What action do they get? Ban DPRK's exports of coal (and buy them from the US!) McCain's pitching for 4 billion to improve missile defense, SK installing a new missile defense system (and paying the US for it), Japan spending hundreds of millions on missile defense...then once the countries are sold on the need to blow ridiculous sums of money on missile defense...you start to see shit like this:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/worl ... place.html
Scores of marketplaces have opened in cities across the country since the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, took power five years ago. A growing class of merchants and entrepreneurs is thriving under the protection of ruling party officials. Pyongyang, the capital, has seen a construction boom, and there are now enough cars on its once-empty streets for some residents to make a living washing them....and then gradually...everything quietly blows over...huge contracts signed...we're all safe again (for a couple months until the next thing pops up)...it's like a mob protection racket...
Follow the fucking money.
Right. *LET’S* start analysing the propaganda then.
‘Cos there is *SO* much of it about… It is (literally) mind-boggling.
First things first: the definitive work on how propaganda works in the current era, is [url=https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-NekqfnoWIEuYgdZl/Manufacturing%20Consent%20[The%20Political%20Economy%20Of%20The%20Mass%20Media]_djvu.txt]”Manufacturing Consent”[/url], by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. (Also here.
Funny you should suggest that the situation is like a “Mob protection racket”… Because the situation *IS* like a protection racket… Only with a slight difference in the subject being protected.
A “Protection Racket” as operated by an Organised Crime syndicate, extorts payment from victims, in exchange for those victims being “protected”… But the purpose of the rackets operated by governments, public bodies and high-profile corporations and individuals, is to self-protection.
That is the primary purpose of propaganda these days: to conceal and distort actions that if objectively publicised, would at the least cause the collapse of a government or corporation, if not full blown criminal charges.
Propaganda in the Industrial World is primarily facilitated by Mass Communication. Prior to the availability of technology that allowed governments and corporations to influence/manipulate public perceptions, the only real examples of propaganda were to be found within Religion.
But with the advent of mass circulation newspapers, cinema newsreels and “fictional” films, and radio and TV broadcasting, governments and corporations were able to more easily direct and control public perceptions, and the public’s conclusions and judgements.
The best way to track the growth and increasing sophistication of propaganda, is to look at the development of it’s more benign (?) counterpart: commercial advertising.
Commercial advertising in the first half of the 20th Century was very blatant… Not at all subtle. It was usually a claim and/or a demonstration of the superior qualities of a product or service. But once Advertising (and Public Relations) became more industrialised as more people bought radios and televisions, advertising became more subtle… More suggestive… More about the “Soft” Lifestyle Implications of owning a product or buying a service, rather than the hard benefits that would accrue from such purchases.
Government propaganda has followed the same trajectory. In the 1930’s through to the 1950’s, governments’ “Messages” and “Public Information [sic] Broadcasts” were paternalistic, authoritative, and generally quite patronising. You *KNEW* when you were reading, listening to or watching a message from your Government.
But nowadays, governments prefer to use “Media Management” strategies and tactics: “Controlling the Narrative”; “Dominating the News Cycle”; “Shaping Perceptions” &c.
It is a highly sophisticated science, with its own laboratories and lab-rats, in the form of “Focus Groups”, statistical analysis and psephological monitoring. “Messages” are “tweaked”, “nudged” and “spun” until they generate the required response.
Of course, achieving the desired results has become a lot more challenging in the Internet Age.
Blatantly claiming “facts” like, “Iraq has WMDs”, “The Syrian Government used chemical weapons against its own people”, or “Russian Government-backed Ukrainian rebels shot down a Malaysian civilian airliner”, becomes difficult, if not impossible to maintain, without concrete evidence that can survive intact, the Fact-Checking Furnace of the World Wide Web.
Still worth a punt though…
There is little downside to presenting “facts” that later turn out to be less than entirely factual. The object of the exercise is to generate sufficient support for an action (or series of actions) that is pursuant to a government’s (usually unstated) self-interest, but is invariably illegal and/or morally repugnant.
If (as is usually the case) such “facts” later become exposed as unequivocal falsehoods, the action that was predicated on those “facts” has already been taken… The worst that might happen is a long, drawn-out “Public Enquiry” into allegations of deliberate attempts to mislead… But such enquiries are designed and constructed to ensure that nobody is ever held to account, with judgements rarely more damning than a suggestion that the perpetrators were “misguided”.
Mass Media organisations *ARE* the Propaganda Arms of all Governments, wherever they operate.
It is through the Mass Media that Public perceptions are primarily shaped. And whether a “News” outlet is owned and operated by the State (e.g. the BBC, Russia Today (RT), PressTV &c), or merely “Licensed to Operate” by a State Government, it is beholden to the Government of the nation within which it is headquartered.
All governments have the facility to “Lock Out” any Media Organisation that does not “Play by the Rules”. And those “Rules” are principally based on the understanding that a certain amount of dispute is permitted between tightly defined polarities… But any discussion of issues outside of the defined “Field of Play”, will result in the Media Organisation that strayed off-pitch, being excluded from further participation.
It is acceptable to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation within the boundaries of a “Co-Equal Conflict”. Israelis and Palestinians must always be presented as equal protagonists (or antagonists…). It is not permitted to discuss the conflict in the Occupied Territories as a conflict between a Military Occupier and the militarily occupied.
With a “Co-Equal Conflict”, Israeli actions can be presented as necessary for self-defence. But if the situation in Palestine were presented and discussed as what it is (a Military Occupation), then the actions of the Israeli Government (the Military Occupier) would have to be discussed in the context of what International Law has to say about the actions of people living under Military Occupation.
Contrast the (Western) Government and Media treatment of Palestinian “Terrorists”, with the treatment of Syrian “Rebels”.
The Syrian “Rebels” are members of ISIS, Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and other Jihadi groups. They are funded and trained by foreign governments, with the expressed intention of bringing down the Sovereign Government of Syria. And yet, the “Press” these “Rebels” get in the West, is far more favourable and benign than the (Western) Media treatment of Palestinians living under Israeli Military occupation.
What about North Korea then?
The “Official” bi-polarity that controls (Western) Mass Media discussion on the “Situation” in North Korea, is between (a U.S. initiated) War against North Korea, and North Korea’s unconditional surrender and acquiescence to U.S. demands. All stick and no carrots. All with the implicit (and often explicit) “understanding” that the North Koreans are irrational and there is therefore no point pursuing a diplomatic resolution to “The Problem”.
“The Problem”, of course, being that the North Koreans will not submit and acquiesce to U.S. demands.
That “The Problem” might be the fact the U.S. continually threatens and tries to provoke North Korea, is not a permitted subject for (Western) political discourse. That North Korea’s *SOLE* demand for the past four decades has been that the U.S. signs a Non-Aggression Pact with North Korea, to guarantee its safety, is not a fit topic for discussion.
I hesitate to use the treatment of nuclear-armed Israel as a comparator again… So I won’t: I’ll use Pakistan.
North Korea signed and ratified its membership of the ”Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”
in December, 1985.
On the 10th January, 2003, shortly after being included in George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, North Korea announced that it was withdrawing from the NPT, and recommencing its nuclear weapons program.
Pakistan has never signed the (Nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty.
North Korea is bounded by the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and across the Pacific Ocean, the United States. This is a politically and socially very stable area, and due to the totalitarian nature of the North Korean Government, there is no social or political dissent or instability within North Korea.
The same cannot be said of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Yet… Pakistan is a “staunch ally” of the United States, prepared even to overlook the illegal invasion of its airspace by the U.S. (and the potential for conflict between the two nations’ militaries) during the operation to assassinate Osama bin Laden.
Whilst… North Korea remains the United States’ bête noire
The purpose of Propaganda is to present the subjective treatment of certain entities by other certain entities as “objective”. Propaganda is the sticking-plaster used to conceal hypocrisy.
I, and I am sure any human being with an ounce of intelligence, would dearly love my children to grow up on a Planet where nuclear weapons are a distant and regrettable memory.
I have absolutely no problem with steps being taken to require North Korea, Pakistan, Israel and India to dismantle and surrender their nuclear weapons; for Iran to abide by it’s commitment to not develop a nuclear weapons capability; and for the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom to fulfil their obligations as signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and eliminate their own nuclear weapons stockpiles.
But none of this will be possible whilst the strongest governments behave hypocritically; and hold different nations with nuclear weapons capabilities with different standards, according to their strategic self-interest.
A self-interest that continues to be masked by the persistent and sophisticated use of propaganda, to conceal the true and objective facts about these species-threatening situations.