What is the difference between Barack Obama and Ignatius Loyola?
Not a hell of a lot.
I’m thumbing through a copy of The Ten Commandments of Propaganda, a book by my academic buddy Brian Patrick. Aside from being a well-rounded review of the dark art, Brain illustrates historical cornerstones of propaganda, which includes Ignatius. The Roman church originated modern techniques for thought control with their Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, known in Latin as “Congregatio de Propaganda Fide” and hence the modern perversion of the word ‘propaganda’. In its purest form, ‘propaganda’ means to propagate information.
It took the Church, the American government and Madison Avenue to brutalize the term.
Which brings us back to the Liar Loyola. He founded the Jesuit order, a monk muckraker squad established to propagate Congregatio Propaganda (that California Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown was a member of that order and learned propaganda techniques first hand should surprise nobody). So enthralled by fertilizing peasants with the Congregation’s fresh theological manure, Ignatius ignored integrity to ensure that faith overrode reason. “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it.”
In other words, if the Pope says white is black, so be it … but avoid being trampled at penguin crossings.
To put even a finer point on this primeval propaganda, Ignatius’ was the earliest instance of institutionalized inaccuracy. Things have not gotten better in the interim. In the first War To End All Wars, the American government had to hide the horrors of how men died in battle lest the public lose their desire to kill Huns. Our own Committee on Public Information was a propaganda machine that Loyola would have loved for it painted the blackness of trench warfare sausage grinders as pure white heroics. With the media and entertainment industries in compliance (as they remain today), what blackness the government emits it spread around to the peasants.
Which brings us back to Barack. Spins gurus for the political left have shown great ability to hijack memes of the political right. Obama, for instance, can wax poetically on American civil rights while squashing the same. This black equals white redirection frustrates his opposition for they cannot use their own language as effectively without first calling Obama a liar (which free thinkers like myself have no problem doing). Yet it keeps Obama two steps ahead of his opponents because he and his propaganda ministries (in Rockefeller Center and Hollywood) set the pace, keeping everyone else in defensive mode.
But this one pillar of elitist control is showing cracks, which will lead to weakening the second and sadly might launch the third.
According to political scientist Harold D. Lasswell, elites maintain power using propaganda, economic disincentives and violence. Propaganda is pervasive because it is cheap, low risk and easy. Yet propaganda is losing power as the citizens’ media changes old hierarchical information flows into an information free-for-all. For every White House utterance, millions of activists are dissecting and redirecting the conversation. We may well see effective neutralization of official agitprop in coming years (and to my Republican friends, take that as a warning – this sword swings both ways, so best to base your party’s political center on naked honesty).
Economic disincentives are more difficult to unwind because they are encoded in law and hence enforced via violence. Take health insurance, which the federal government has gone out of its way to tie to your job. Switching jobs has a significant negative economic disincentive, as does paying for your own insurance. This makes the average wage earner little more than an indentured servant, which indeed helps industry by creating a more stable (i.e., non-mobile) and docile workforce. Obamacare both deepens this, but also shifts dependence of the lowest working classes to government, another organization requiring submissive masses. Yet people are opting out wherever they can, and some states are now toying with similar notions, be it disentanglement, constitutional conventions or outright secession.
Which leaves the elites only violence … and gun control.