“ Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself” -Georg Wilhelm Hegel
My experience of using the word propaganda is as comical as trying to talk about many things bounding outside of the normal Midwest cultural milieu that I grew up in. Outside those bounds propaganda and ideology are bare necessities of discussing history or the larger thoughts of an age. Where any cultural edifices begin and end outside of operations that revolve around the enticing of the 200,000 year old hardware we all have between our ears is the subject of millions of pages of thought. Psychology itself much like the film industry, just as they had reared their heads out of the ground as it were found themselves coopted and developed by a state as does any new technology. Advertising in America in the 20th century has the likes of Freud to thank for its techniques as much as Martin Scorsese has ‘Triumph of the Will’ to thank for the visual language of modern film. One of the most important books on politics in modern America ‘Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky, by title alone one can see that ideology, propaganda, the medium, and the message is impregnated in our social existence here. Propaganda, Ideology, as it elicits such a knee jerk reaction in our anti-intellectual society is all the more pervasive in it. Where it begins, where it ends, truth, perspective, point of view, all these and other reoccurring buzz words seem to gain more and more pseudo relativism and pseudo individuality in our common discourse by the day.
I’ve had conversations with people who laugh at the idea of talking about certain scientists in a debate at MIT because “nobody cares about that stuff” therefore it holds no merit and has apparently no effect on peoples lives as much as the next Taylor Swift single will, they’re not wrong, where the American populous holds its attention does obviously have enormous effect on our society just not in the way they would want to argue. The next Hollywood scandal that pops off doesn’t hold any cultural weight over for example the goings on of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose developments have and will effect everyone’s lives in innumerous ways. Social discourse on for instance the looming realities of AI is not the same thing as a discussion involving the attention given to a recent Instagram post by a Kardashian. The need for the above conversation itself made necessary because of the rampant celebrity worship ideology in America. The question eventually becomes what's the larger part of the propaganda, the celebrity worship ideology or that celebrity worship doesn’t have anything to do with ideology at all. Discourse on this should be a large part of common discussion and the hundreds of books on the subject read. However in our media drenched century, engagement with the edifices of propaganda and ideology have become so emphasized that our engagement and efforts outside it, which as previously stated is up for debate, have become starved. The question is how and why one should think about the massive culture of distraction in the states and how and why one should ignore it, as getting caught up in it, is its general mechanism.
Everything has become an opportunity for propaganda in our social media age. An ‘influencer’ as its called on social media is the rule for successful propaganda, shrouding itself in the common ideological projection that it isn’t in fact propaganda at all. As Jean Baudrillard one of my favorite theorists on the topic would say, to an extent unknown, propaganda has become a reality, the reality, no longer the map but the terrain itself. As advanced as ‘propaganda’ and ‘ideology’ have become, it’s requirement for existence, the viral nature of it is still the same. It requires the human mind to sacrifice long term engagement and involvement for short term satiation. The cultural war and the battles waged among podcasts, blogs, news articles, etc both merited and those idiotic, they can hold little sway over groups of people in a society coming together to make common decisions.
Propaganda needs you to function it needs your entanglement, your slip up. It needs you to lose your head, it needs a subdued subject. It needs you, it needs your friends, it needs your family. It needs your relationship to your friends and to your family. As powerful as the propaganda machines have become, as elusive and fluid as the realities of them now are, its central operating procedure is still as shaky as a rhinoceros in a row boat. The myriad projections of the multi faceted world of ideology put forth by the corporate entities in control of current America can only resonate and ring ‘true’ as it were as much as long term collective engagement doesn’t get in its way.
This requires of us long term goals, long term work, real engagement of arguing, of debating, of cultural tossing and turning of ideas via art, writing, reading and other forms of expression. It requires all kinds of skill development, especially for us Americans. It requires not hours of watching an impeachment trial that we know will go nowhere or the knowledge of the last thing a president tweeted. Propaganda has an inertia to it, it needs to catch momentum via our general interaction with it. It’s cool someone finds it beyond abhorrent that someone talks about grabbing a woman by her reproductive organs as everyone should but morality alone will not save us, your friends, your family, your children nor any and everyone here. Your hatred for Mitch McConnell, your personal boycotting of some celebrities tequila brand because of something he said to a cameraman on set will not stop the exploitation of farmworkers that aren’t US citizens in the western states. We need to focus on that line of distraction, find it in ourselves and our collective whole in order to see what needs to be engaged in and what is political and cultural noise. The tools we have to confront the whole of the realities of the 21st century in America have to be and can only be implemented beyond the tricks and turns of the everyday fountain of happenings that are fully capable of sinking their teeth into our minds rendering us incapable for the moment and for how many moments of exerting ourselves in real engagement. One could easily use the language of drug addiction to talk about this relationship the American public has to short term interactions of all kinds. America becoming more and more enveloped in ‘information wars’ in conspiracy theories, we need now more than ever real skills, real conversations about practical, real, essential matters. The confusion for some lies in that learning is required to do this and learning requires time, time we seemingly don’t have. Some actions I’m speaking of require enormous amounts of learning, an amount a good many don’t have the resources for. Some don’t, some require skills that anyone may have they just need to be implemented and put in a context the person can’t seem to find.
The bottom line is this, we need to learn how to handle our collective selves as the state further and further abandons us and as we need to get people to understand, that the broadening of that abandoning is going to coincide with the coming disasters and destructions coming our way in the 21st century.
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