_____'Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual)' _____
We see propaganda every day in commercials and public relations campaigns. That is called white propaganda because the source of the message is identified and accountable. Black propaganda is when the source is purposely misidentified. Grey propaganda is anonymous, like the chain e-mails featured in this website. It is evident anything goes, when the author is anonymous, ethics are situational, and the stakes are high.
Whether these chain e-mails represent a ground swell of rising right wing authoritarian sentiment, or the proliferation of paid political operatives, these prototype ’fake news’ emails reveal an echo chamber of political indoctrination and authoritarian activation, in the middle of the Obama presidency, steeped in disinformation & insecurity. These emails are a slice of the political history that has led to our present kakacracy. Instead of offering a better deal, authoritarian leaders blame ‘out groups’ and try to build walls, while enriching themselves. It seems to have worked for our 45th president too, so far. Context is required to see through the diversion.
When 60% of our citizens now share less than 5% of the country's wealth,
and income inequality has been getting worse for the last 30 years, it takes a lot of propaganda to convince a enough voters that their share of increasing austerity, joblessness, and shrinking government services, is the fault of poor people of color and the death tax. It takes incessant repetition for a factually challenged privilege perpetuating myth to convince voters another tax cut for the rich isn’t greedy.
The far right conservative narrative leads with fear & loathing of the lower class and other out groups, with stereotypes that provide targets to blame for feelings of resentment and victimization. The goal of political indoctrination is political tribalism, and fealty to the the shared ideology like the ‘job creators’ myth that underpins trickle down supply side economics and bigger tax cuts for the rich. More myths are perpetuated (like hard work is always rewarded, unions are greedy, and government regulations kill jobs) to justify policy goals. Opponents are identified and demonized constantly (liberals, unions, socialists, immigrants, muslims, the undeserving poor, ect.) to define 'them' as opposed to 'us'. Divide and conquer, coupled with pushing privilege perpetuating myths, reaps huge rewards for influence peddlers like (14) Paul Manafort and Roger Ailes.
Some of the less ethical practitioners of the art of persuasion, seem to have refined a host of hooks for manipulating the predictable responses of people who would score high for authoritarian character traits. These hooks include; group identification, concrete thinking, hostility to out groups, prejudice, closed mindedness, and conformity to in group norms. However, the most useful hook remains loyalty and deference to the powerful with distain for the weak and disadvantaged. This is the character trait that defines and shapes authoritarian character structure and predisposes authoritarian followers to be sought after by despots and war lords. Indifference to the suffering of out groups is rationalized by attributing moral superiority to one’s self identified group. The trappings of success, and by extension, the successful, are elevated to a virtue because enhancing power and control are the prime directive of the authoritarian character structure, forged from the existential hell of powerlessness.
Decades of research in social psychology has found that a chronic state of oppressed powerlessness warps character in somewhat predictable ways. Authoritarianism is the Stockholm syndrome on steroids. Authoritarian followers are convinced their oppressor is their defender. Strength and winning are the two main qualities a follower requires of a leader, because being a part of something big and successful is prized. Candidate Donald Trump used the word ‘winning’ and ‘big’ constantly in his campaign. Donald Trump also demonstrated he knows his base when he said he could shoot someone, and he wouldn’t loose a vote. The Don of reality shows seems to have had some help figuring out how to manipulate the masses with feigned populism. The basic research has been academic public knowledge for decades. As with any scientific advancement, knowledge can be used for good or evil. This time, good was a distant second. The academic research on the Authoritarian character was largely shelved as a career ending dead end, even as the application of the research was quietly evolving in most Machiavellian ways. By 2011, the flock proudly traded variously styled propaganda e-mails like prized trading cards. Today, many of us are still blithely unaware our erroneous beliefs are being gleefully reinforced by calculated emotional manipulation, lies, disinformation and distortion, every time we tune into our favorite ideology reinforcers on the (15) internet, (16) radio and (17) tv.
Whether much of this chain e-mail was packaged and distributed by paid political operatives, or these were all just passionate citizen activists getting caught up in the band wagon effect, I can't know for sure. This collection is only a snapshot of a small segment of a vast ongoing network of political propaganda, but it has looked to me like a lot of people have been disingenuously stirring the pot full time, country wide, for a long time. Now we have ample evidence of (2) Russian government propaganda on Facebook, Twitter and in online comment sections everywhere. Opinion manipulation has evolved into a potent tool of anti democratic forces.
Europe was the first to document the exploitation of right wing authoritarian biases to ramp up divisions. (3) ‘Russia has opened a new political front within Europe by supporting the far right against the liberal European Union’, the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, a British Army research group, said in February. (4) The U.S. intelligence community has warned the propaganda page in the Russian grand strategy play-book had been implemented in the Trump election too.
I believe the Trump presidency is the bitter fruit of a decades long and escalating propaganda campaign cacophony of (5) authoritarian forces at home and (6) abroad. The FBI is working to uncover the degree of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, but we have already seen enough to know the Russian government has been engaged in a vast conspiracy to fix the election for America’s reality tv authoritarian oligarch, Donald J. Trump. He was already using Putin’s propaganda tactics of sowing discord and mistrust with lies, so Putin added his chorus of alternative fact peddlers to help create an alternative universe of misinformation that (13) reached well over a hundred million voters in the last election.
Even without Russia’s destabilizing contribution, Huge sums of money are being spent to promote candidates, manufacture consent, and influence votes. Now with “Citizen’s United”, much of these expenditures are as murky and unaccountable as the anonymous chain e-mails on display to your right. The next "swift boat" campaign is constantly being attempted. These emails may have been an early laboratory for (8) the last propaganda campaign strategy (9) or the next big lie.
Although Jeb Bush and the establishment Republicans are troubled by the hyper partisan rhetoric and fear mongering of the primary campaign, they had been complicit until Trump replaced the all too typical conservative racist dog whistle, with a bull horn. Most elected party members kept quiet once Trump gained power because they want to keep their job. Their conservative media partners have recruited susceptible authoritarians and indoctrinated them in an increasingly extreme and isolated conservative ideology that rejects the authority of science, and promotes myths, resentment and fears. (18) Fox News is the U.S. mother ship of partisan propaganda. FOX News has fostered a demographic monster, drunk with the power of mass spin. FOX News even carries the Republican message so faithfully that morning show host Steve Doocey didn't think twice about reading the R.N.C. pundit talking points on air and then elaborating on their suggestions. The party's candidates have found themselves puppets to a litmus test of extremist ideological purity. (7) Two Republican Senators just announced their decision to not run for re-election so they can speak and vote their conscience, to oppose President Trump’s trampling of principles, core Democratic norms, and civil rights. Barry Goldwater would not recognize or approve of today's conservatism.
The critical thinking skills necessary to recognize errors in logic, like over-generalizing, are crucial for a democracy that works for all of us. However, being human, we instinctually prefer to use our reasoning skills more to rationalize our beliefs and maintain our privilege, rather than recognize the evidence of our own hypocrisy and self deception. Confirmation bias is a challenge for us all. I will let you be the judge of the honesty of my quest for the truth.
The amateur distributor of these partisan emails recently revealed his propaganda peddling rationale, in a public post, in an obscure email forum we share. He wrote, ”It's ok to lie if it suits your point of view." Sadly, he reflects the authoritarian ethic of winning at any cost. Hence, our president labels news he doesn’t like as ‘fake news’, but retweets (10) falsehoods, some of it even (11) Russian propaganda. (12)
LINKS TO PDFs OF OBAMA ERA
05-17-12 Fwd: Time Cover
05-13-12 For those of you who like history
03-30-12 Re: Red Kettles & Bell Ringers
03-29-12 Urgent Call To Prayer
03-21-12 POTUS Humor
03-21-12 Obama daughters are senior staff now
03-18-12 Obama Hidden Birth Certificate - NEW
03-18-12 US Debt Story
03-10-12 BEST 2012 Campaign Poster!
03-10-12 Shocking pictures from London
03-10-12 Oil you better be sitting down
03-10-12 Go to this link and watch the video
03-07-12 Barak Hussein's Words, Please Read
03-06-12 Watch out!
03-06-12 Please forward without comment
03-03-12 Please Watch This Guy
02-29-12 Israeli Psychologist
02-29-12 I HOPE I GET AT LEAST 3 BACK
02-29-12 Divorce Agreement
02-24-12 Welcome to Upside-down Land
02-24-12 Reality Check
02-24-12 Occupy Golf Movement
02-24-12 New Campaign - separation of races?
02-22-12 Why ! wasn't this found before he went into office
02-22-12 FOX News: Analysis: 'Fair share' in taxes? Not by the numbers
02-20-12 What is good about an electric car?!
02-15-12 Change your underwear often
02-04-12 Who is on first?
02-04-12 Coming Election
02-01-12 Harley Biker
01-31-12 Agent Provocateur sales boosted by first lady
01-29-12 World's shortest books
01-29-12 Father-Daughter Talk
01-27-12 FORMS ARE GOING FAST
01-23-12 President Obama reveals
01-18-12 Secret Service Comments
01-15-12 Change You Can Believe in
01-11-12 Obama's College Classmate speaks out
01-10-12 WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
12-21-12 Makes you wonder...
12-22-11 Bronze Rat
12-27-11 Best explanation YET
10-18-11 READ IT AND WEEP
09-21-11 I think this will clear it all up
09-12-11 this is deep
09-12-11 Bullshit Bingo
09-11-11 Public housing
09-09-11 Obama un-bridled
09-09-11 IMPORTANT-No Chuckles
09-08-11 The new America
08-29-11 Where to put it
08-13-11 This is what I want
08-13-11 Bumper Stickers
08-13-11 Why is Bernie Maddoff in Jail ? ?
08-08-11 Best Layoff Letter EVER
08-05-11 White House pay raises
08-03-11 YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE THIS...
08-03-11 this is true
07-20-11 This Belongs in the Email
07-20-11 What have we done?
07-20-11 This Wisconsin Racket's Bluff Called
07-19-11 Disarmed by Shariah
07-16-11 B-b-b-but it's his fault
07-01-11 healthcare sales tax
06-26-11 Obama's College Classmate Speaks Out
06-16-11 Thank You America
06-08-11 Archie Bunker for Prez
05-30-11 National Day of Prayer
05-20-11 An Open Letter