The election is over and we lost. It seems unbelievable after all the work and money expended but they beat us. In my opinion this has been an information age, propaganda coup d'etat, planned for decades and executed by the wealthy Right Wing. But the people in charge now are neither particularly wealthy nor conservative. They are an extreme brand of antidemocratic, Nietshian/Malthusian ideologues with ruthless, imperial ambitions for the US. How can we beat them?
A small group of extremists backed by wealthy American right wingers has managed to gain control of the Presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives and are poised to take over the Supreme Court; thereby acquiring overwhelming power over the affairs of the country and to a certain extent, the world. What appears to be a democratic election, won fair and square, looks to me like a modern-day, information age, faux democratic take over by radicals with fascist tendencies and imperial ambitions.
Before we start rush to the barricades let us try and understand the nature of these developments. The election of GWB has been variously blamed on Kerry’s poor campaigning, the gay marriage thing, fear of terrorism, unwillingness to change commander-in chief in the middle of a war, the values thing, outright fraud, etc.
What Is Going On?
In spite of GWB’s overwhelmingly bad record; his early alcoholism, his military service, the beginning and conduct of the Iraq war and his conceits of “mission accomplished,” and “bring it on,” bravado, despite prisoner mistreatment and torture, dwindling health care and under-employment, the electorate lent a deaf ear, believing instead the message of Christian, moral certitude presented by the Bush propaganda machine.
The rumors about voter fraud persist. There is little chance that they will have an effect; only the Supreme Court can undo these elections and we know how they operate.
Accusations of fraud aside we have experienced a modern day, information age coup d’etat. The seeds of this take-over were sewn after Barry Goldwater lost his election forty years ago and a group of wealthy entrepreneurs decided to pool their efforts and vitalize the US Right Wing movement with billions of dollars for think-tanks to strategize just this kind of take over, and additional billions for campaign and lobbying money. After forty years of systematic and progressively more successful efforts victory is at hand and, as GWB explained on November 3, they have political capital and they will use it.
How Was This Election Lost?
I am loath, as are many, to make parallels between 2004 and 1933 but the similarities are striking. Hitler was appointed to the Chancellorship of Germany by democratic means after a campaign of persuasive propaganda in spite of his well known propensity towards violence. With the support of major German industrialists he was able to build a mighty war machine with which he ruthlessly pursued his “liberating” dreams. His plan, until he invaded Russia, was rational and well thought out; successful enough to subjugate Europe and eventually drag the nation into complete destruction. The German people never protested and went with him through fire, famine and death, to the last. To this day, Germans live in the embarrassing shadow of their acquiescence, as will we, if we don’t effectively respond to this millennial challenge.
Hitler’s triumph was achieved with cutting-edge technology of radio and posters plus huge anti-Semitic lies. As he pointed out, people:
“…in the primitive simplicity of their minds… more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."
In this election most of the so called “wedge” issues were manufactured and made "relevant" to people by systematic and skillful propaganda. Kerry's so called “flip flops,” gay marriage, the whole morality question; every one of these issues was phony and did not go to the heart of people’s needs. The terrorist threat was especially phony as an issue. Most of the people truly threatened, in the large cities, voted for Kerry, Oklahoma voted for Bush.
“So what?” you may say, “Both sides used propaganda!” Yes, but White House propaganda by ignoring the agreed-upon rules of engagement in political discourse and by telling “colossal untruths,” overwhelmed ours, just as the blitzkrieg overwhelmed the Polish cavalry in 1939.
Who Are These People?
We have been hearing about the “neoconservatives;” Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Krystol. They are also called Bushites, Right Wingers, New Right. Whats shall we name them? Oilopolists? Nietshian-Malthusians? The Corporate Right?
None of these labels do them justice. The are not really conservatives nor are they Republicans, actually, as many Republicans are beginning to notice. They have usurped the conservative and Republican mantle. They are not the least bit religious or particularly Christian, they believe in evolution while 66% of Americans do not. They don't care about school prayer, divorce or pornography on the Internet. Nor are they worried about deficit spending, terrorism, gay rights or abortion Their point of view is rather transparent:
Their goal is the takeover of multinational, corporate capitalism to benefit the US and its empire. Their current focus is on oil, hence their interest in the Middle East. But that is temporary; other priorities already exist and will emerge with time.
The are fundamentally anti-constitutional. They consider the strictures of freedom of speech, civil rights, constitutional protections, separation of Church and State quaint and annoying. They disrespect the democratic process and the “will of the people.” For them it is essential that people do not vote in their own self-interest
Their point of view is a blend of vulgarized Nietzsche and Malthus. The world as they see it is divided into two kinds of people. On one hand the clever, intelligent, disciplined, productive people who make things happen and will, if properly rewarded raise, like cream, to the top. On the other hand the incompetent, stupid, dependent, ignorant self-destructive underclass that overpopulates the world and prevents us from achieving our goals and who will and should die, the earlier the better. The program is to reduce the size of government by incurring huge debt and thereby withdrawal of education and services as a way of speeding the process of Malthusian selection.
Their shared views however are never spoken about aloud for they recognize how agitating they would be, but they are expressed in code words and sentences which are perfectly understood by the like-minded. Outsiders who accuse them of holding these viewas are invalidated as class-warfare paranoids.
What are their tactics?
Ask yourself the question: How would a coup d’etat be achieved in a democratic, highly advanced society like the US?
Obviously it would not be possible to march into the White House and--as in the case of Chile in 1973--assassinate the President and take over with the help of the military. The coup has to be achieved in spite --with the help, in fact--of democratic principles and the Constitution
Except for outright voter fraud the only possible instrument of subversion available to them is the manipulation of people’s vote through propaganda-- in the form of mis and disinformation. When blatant lies and state-of-the-art techniques of focus groups and lightning fast response are used, a decisive advantage is gained similar to the power-reversing advantage gained in warfare by powder, automatic weapons, submarines, airplanes or nuclear weapons.
a. As an example, in Tennessee the Bush campaign claimed that if elected Kerry would ban the Bible. No even remotely comparable lie was propagated by the Democratic campaign.
b. The blatant lies of the Swift Boat Veterans--ads that Bush could certainly have repudiated but refused to--are another example without parallel in the campaign.
c. On the other hand, as an example of our side’s contrasting civility, Kerry ran an ad which contained footage of Republican Senator McCain accusing Bush of using smear tactics during the 2000 campaign. This was a very effective ad at the time of the Swift Boat smears, and would have been very helpful but Kerry pulled it at McCain’s request. Polite restraint when telling the truth cannot win against blatant lies.
In this election the lies were directed at Church going Christian, Middle Americans who they evidently convinced that a Godless and lilly livered Kerry and the atheist Democrats would undermine their life-style and security even though the opposite is almost certainly the case.
What Can We Do?
We and all who depend on us will suffer terribly at the hands of this malignant take over. Billions will be wasted and our economy will be destroyed as we build the US into a security/police state. Injustices will be perpetrated; education and health will be further decimated. The health and security of our Nation are at risk.
The situation cries for some sort of action but what to do is not clear. Before we start rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic let us spend some time trying to grasp what has occurred. If this is indeed an information-era propaganda putsch we will have to use information age tools and skills to counter it. Some say we have to tell bigger lies than they do; I doubt that is the answer. Reorganize the Unions. Develop and explain Liberal morality and religious faith; good but not enough. Provide people with an alternative to welfare on one hand and Fundamentalist Christian Churches in the other; sure but can we do it? Something needs to be done. What it is remains to be seen.
For my part I am convinced that, at the very least, it will take truth-telling, cooperation, real person-to-person connections and support to counteract the propaganda and lies of those who now hold almost complete control of our government. How to translate our progressive values into effective reality election winning is the task that lies ahead.
Claude Steiner PhD
Berkeley, November 21, 2004