The silence of the cows
Expanded from the Sunday, 9-12-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 9-17-2004 Comstock Chronicle
"I think it is dangerous to confuse the idea of democracy with elections. Just because you have elections doesn't mean you are a democracy."
Indian novelist Arundhati Roy
Iraq is about to learn that lesson the hard way. It now appears that elections of any sort will be impossible this fall in the infamous Sunni Triangle. Some sort of balloting may be staged in the Kurdish area to the north near Turkey, a country of increasing fundamentalist fervor just licking its chops to invade the northern Iraq area where Kurdestani separatists form their armies.
The Shi'ites in the south may get to vote and will probably empower a government which wants annexation into Iran.
All this comes close to longtime foreign policy expert Les Gelb's solution posed a year or so ago: break up Iraq into three countries. The Sunni Triangle may be the most militant, but it will be devoid of oil revenues to do anything more serious than kill a few hundred American soldiers a year.
Gelb's idea never went anywhere with the imperialist White House, but it looks like the Iraqi people are doing it anyway. The smartest thing you can do in politics is to ride the horse in the direction it's already going, but our ruling cowboys don't appear to be that smart.
"Media is the plural of mediocre."
Ms. Roy's comments about false elections also apply to this country. We are a nation of dumb cows, easily led to milking and slaughter by whomever calls the loudest.
My Labor Day column of 10 years ago, now available at NevadaLabor.com, warned of the increasing power of corporate propaganda over our daily lives. I quoted from a text entitled "Managing Public Opinion: The Corporate Offensive" by University of New South Wales Prof. Alex Carey. Here's the opening line: "The 20th Century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power, and the growth of propaganda as a means of protecting power against democracy."
That line is quoted in CNN newsman Lou Dobbs' new book "Exporting America." A book by the late Australian visionary, probably incorporating much of that text, is now in print entitled "Taking the Risk out of Democracy: Propaganda in the US and Australia." Links to all of the above will be available with the web version of this column.
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We now have a choir of Cassandras warning us not to let that awesome wooden horse into the gates of the shining city on the hill. Harpers Magazine editor Lewis Lapham, the best public affairs writer in the country, devoted the cover story of this month's edition to the propagandizing of America. "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a Brief History," presents a shorter encapsulation of what Prof. Carey treated at length. Lapham notes that well-moneyed corporate interests have spent $3 billion over the past three decades weakening the tripod of democracy.
The legs of that tripod are already very uneven. Organized labor, which at its peak 50 years ago only represented a third of the work force, has fallen below critical mass at 12.9 percent last year. Ronald Reagan declared open season on unions within three months of taking office in 1981. He fired the nation's striking air traffic controllers, one of the few unions which had foolishly endorsed him.
It was Reagan who focused the fire on the next leg of the tripod. Remember "government is the problem"? Dubya and his dunces put free-market deregulated Reaganism into practice in Iraq. Capitalism unfettered by environmental laws, labor rights, women's rights or human rights hasn't exactly made ancient Babylon a modern day paradise.
The third leg, corporate power, now stands pretty much triumphant. How long can such a lopsided structure stand?
The sham presidential election of 2000 was followed by exposure of the sham security at U.S. airports in 2001. A plethora of Cassandras had warned of both years before but no one in power would listen, let alone act.
The Big Lie works. Just look at the amazing and cost-efficient success of the Smear Boat Veterans Forsooth. It's also happening right here in River City.
A certain local talk radio station was recently handed a huge wad of money, well into five figures, to produce a daily program bashing Sen. John Kerry. They even allow a token liberal to sit in a couple of times a week so that they can plead that they've given the dirty pinko commie faction a chance to rebut. Said liberal is usually outgunned three or four mouths to one, but it doesn't matter. What's important is repetition of the lie.
Legendary newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst once sent a reporter to get a statement from a political opponent.
"He'll never admit to that," said the journalist.
"I don't want him to admit it,"said Citizen Kane, "I want him to deny it."
Nothing's changed in more than a hundred years. Hearst propagandized us into war with Spain just as His Accidency Bush the Lesser did with Iraq.
Arundhati Roy says "I'm still taken aback at the extent of indoctrination and propaganda in the United States. It is as if people there are being reared in a sort of altered reality, like broiler chickens or pigs in a pen."
Despite many voices exposing the truth, they just don't have the dollars to outscream the monopolists and their media machine over a long period of time.
Remember what finally happened to the animals at the end of George Orwell's "Animal Farm."
We've been invited to dinner, not as guests, but as the entrée.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter, call your office.
Be well. Raise hell.
ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
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Copyright © 1982-2004, 2006 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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