Artful Manipulations and Corporate Deceptions – When The Cracks Begin To Show…

A composite image showing the Champs Elysees Arc de Triomphe in Paris under a shower of firework explosions, with a yellow vest demonstrator holding a burning French flag in the foreground.Games of Thrones

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the systematic and artful manipulation of the organised mores and moods of the average population is essential to maintaining democracy.  With well-rehearsed strategies, that is how the decision-making elite maintains its hold on power over the majority of us.  For you see, it’s like this…

Fact of Life:

Power is concentrated.

A side portrait of moral philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790).
Adam Smith (1723-1790), Scottish Philosopher

And power is designed for the sole benefit of its own architects: the powerful few.

Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

Adam Smith (1776) The Wealth of Nations

The Powerful Few

Originally, the idea behind a centralised power, like royalty, was that there was this special class of individuals – so special in fact, they were said to be God-chosen – beyond the norm and understanding of people.  

And initially at least, some of the ways of keeping power at the hands of a minority ruling elite involved wrapping all its proceedings in secrets and mysteries.  And pretend that the decision-making process was substantially above the ordinary person’s comprehension.

The notion that a government must be shrouded in secrecy dates back to Ancient times.

All this secrecy exists today.  But it was never designed for reasons of national security.

It serves only to prevent the average population (you, me, and almost everybody) from knowing what is really going on behind the scenes.  It reinforces centralised power by stoking up the belief that such matters are way above the comprehension of an ordinary person.

At least, that is how political systems used to work.

But things had to change.

Ever since the Age of Enlightenment, and popular uprisings, succeeded in dissolving centralised power to a degree, there has been a deepening recognition among the elites that

As you begin to lose the power to control people by superstition or by force, the logical solution is to start controlling what they think.

Controlling.  What.  They.  Think.

That’s why…

Fact of Life:

Media exist to misinform people.

 

A short animation from animated show Futurama: Philip J. Fry squints his eyes in disbelief.“WOW, you say!!  STOP, RIGHT THERE!  I didn’t know conspiracy theories were afoot in this small corner of the web.  I had no idea.  In fact, I’m outta here.  What was I thinking…?!”

– Dude, WAIT!!  Consider the following…

 

Strategies for the Masses

A cartoon from the New Yorker, showing baseball players inside a Roman circus-like arena.1. Distraction

The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction that aims to divert the public’s attention from the really important issues and changes determined by the political and corporate elites, using a continuous flood of advertising, mindless entertainment and insignificant information.

Keep the public busy, busy, busy.

No time to stop and think.

Nothing to see here…

Distraction strategy is absolutely central to stamping down any public interest in essential knowledge, like science, technologyeconomics or medicine.

An animation of some game action in the (in)famous mobile app Angry Birds.What’s your poison?  Football or soap operas?  Music events and alcohol?  Religion or foodstuffs?  A game of Angry Birds, or the latest Game of Thrones episode?

Now, you won’t find any spoilers here for GOT, but the animation might provide a cheat move for Angry Birds that will keep the player occupied for some time…

A meme depicting Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman as Conrad Brean: "There was never a war." and Stanley Motss: "All the greater accomplishment." in a scene of Wag The Dog (1997) - a black comedy film where a spin doctor and a Hollywood producer fabricate a war to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal.2. “Problem-Reaction-Solution”

The “problem-reaction-solution” strategy creates a problem, a “situation” designed to cause some reaction in the audience.

Let it unfold.  If possible, inflame the crisis.

The strategist then comes forward offering solutions.

You take the fruit of 40 years – hard lessons, mistakes – and you call it wisdom.

For example, stir up urban violence, or why not arrange for a hoax terrorism attack, before tightening up security laws and policies to the detriment of freedom.  Alternatively,  engineer an economic crisis to justify as necessary evil the retreat of social rights and dismantling of public services.

3. The Gradual Strategy

 A meme showing French President Emmanuel Macron and one of his quotes: "Les salaries doivent pouvoir travailler plus, sans etre payes plus."
Poster child President Emmanuel Macron in one of his finest moment: “Workers must work harder, without getting paid more.”

The success of a gradual strategy can be measured by the acceptance to an unacceptable degree of austerity measures aimed at the economically struggling poor.

Just apply the treatment gradually and liberally.

Over many consecutive months and years.

Let the drip-drip-drip effect of harsher and harsher social-economic adjustments fall on the most disadvantaged class.

Cultivate those virtues:

• minimal state
• privatisation
• precariousness
• flexibility
• mass unemployment (or under-employment)
• falling wages
• DO NOT guarantee a decent income…

Apply austerity measures with care, but determination.  So many of those changes have brought about a revolution if applied all at once.

Above all, let the gap between the Haves and the Have Nots grow ever wider.

4. The Art of Deferring

A meme showing the traditional sized Toblerone bar and the reduced one. The commentary goes: "Before Brexit" (old), "After Brexit" (new).
When you suddenly realise that your favourite 400 g chocolate bar has changed shape and is now only 360 g…

Overwhelmingly, it always seems easier to accept a future sacrifice than to settle for immediate slaughter.

One way to legislate for an unpopular decision is to present it as “painful, yet necessary”.

Crucially, the effort is not immediately required.

This gives the public more time to embrace the idea of change and accept it with resignation when the time comes.  And overall, it will gain broader public acceptance at the time, regardless of a future application.

Because the public has always the general tendency to expect naively that ♫ ♫ “Things can only get better” ♫ ♫ and that the sacrifice required may be avoided.

Behold Shrinkflation!

Behold shrinkflation! – a marketing practice that consists in making products smaller while continuing to sell the item at the same price or higher.

Also known as rationing.

The price of your favourite treat remains the same.  But… “Oh! Hey!  Experts are warning that the supply of coffee/chocolate is highly dependent on very sensitive climatic and environmental factors.  Of course, the demand also keeps growing.  Therefore, the price will certainly have to increase in the future”.

What you may not realise is that the price already has gone up.

Most customers will not notice their favourite treat keeps getting ever so smaller, as long as the price of the ‘standard’ portion remains the same.

In 2016, Mondelez International again reduced the size of the UK 170g Toblerone bar to 150g, while the 400g bar was reduced to 360g. This was done by enlarging the gap between the chocolate triangles.

Monty Python's Terry Gilliam Cartoon Animation: "My brain hurts..."5. Address the Public as a Little Child

It’s no use waiting for a brainwave from the masses, is it?  At least, that’s what the ruling elite expects you to think.

Most of the advertising directed at the general public uses speech, argument, people and particularly children’s intonation, often close to meekness – almost as if the media viewer were a little child or mentally deficient.  The harder the deception, the more the adopted tone is infantilising.

6. Use the Emotional side

Emphasising the emotional aspect behind an issue is a classic ‘must’ for short-circuiting rational analysis on a massive level. 

It appeals to the critical sense of the individual.

The message behind the classic political ad “Daisy” (1964) still resonates today:

The use of the emotional register opens the door to the unconscious implementation or grafting of ideas, desires, fears and anxieties.

Emotion becomes a trigger for natural compulsions, or induced behaviours.

7. Maintain the Public in Ignorance and Mediocrity

Make the public incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used for mind controlenslavement or however you wish to call it…

The quality of education provided to the lower class of society should be of the poorest sort.  With such an initial handicap, even the brighter of lower class individuals will have little hope of extricating themselves from their assigned lot in life.

This strategy is essential to maintain some measure over social order, peace and tranquillity enjoyed by the upper ruling class.

The Problem with American (Western) Culture explained in a cartoon frame. Four individuals. On the left, the Heroes: an Actor/Celebrity (Plays a doctor on TV, Reads lines somebody else wrote, Is important - he said so, Rich) and a Reality TV star (Famous for being famous, Rich). On the right, the Villains: a Doctor (Invented a drug that saved millions of lives, Employs lots of people, Actually is a doctor, Rich) and a Wall Street Executive (Investments create jobs, Employs lots of people, Rich).8. Encourage the Public to be Complacent with Mediocrity

The public is encouraged to believe it is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated…

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

Adam Smith  (1776) The Wealth of Nations

9. Reinforce Self-Blame

Let individuals blame themselves for their own misfortune because of their failure of intelligence, abilities, or efforts.

Instead of rebelling against the economic system, the individuals undervalue and guilt themselves, feeding a chronic depression that inhibits action.

And always repeat the cheerful mantra that

♫ ♫ Things can only get better. ♫ ♫

 

Fact of Life:

Without action, there is no revolution!

 

10. Know Them Better than They Know Themselves

Over the past 50 years, accelerated advances of science has generated a growing gap between public knowledge and that of dominant elites.

Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology or “social engineering”, the “system” has developed a sophisticated understanding of human beings.

Both physically and psychologically.

The ‘system’ has gotten better acquainted with the common human being than the average man or woman knows themselves.

Nowadays, the agenda-setting institutions are the big corporations.

 

The Curse of Mainstream Media

The curse of the mainstream media is that it must be balanced and concise:

  • Balance is a fundamental requirement of modern, free and integral press.

Published articles are often built around two “balanced” opposing views in keeping with this journalistic tendency.  Stories deal with confrontations between protagonists and antagonists.

  • Conciseness is another requirement of modern journalism.

The mainstream media seek to accommodate the angst of affected citizens, as well as the conflicting interests of large corporations, governments, and the counter-claims of environmental or political activists.  All within a 600-word limit.  No space for background or historical perspective.

Factual Irrelevance

Often, unofficial information or “leaks” give an impression of thorough investigative journalism.  For the most part, those are strategic manoeuvres from the part of those in power.

Underneath all that noise, the aim of the media is NOT TO keep people informed.

Just think about it.

Fact of Life:

Journalists with privileged access to highly placed government and corporate sources must keep them “sweet”: they keep on their side by NOT REPORTING anything adverse to them or the reputation of their organisation.

Those tactics are fundamental to the grooming of entire nations.  But don’t be fooled…

For example, this article unashamedly uses Strategy #6 – Illicit an emotional response (and the enduring popularity of the Toblerone bar) to push forward its agenda.

But, so what?  Everybody does it.

There’s nothing new…

Nothing to see here…

Until…

When Things Start to Heat up

Anonymous is a decentralised international hacktivist group representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitised global network.

The Occupy movement took its inspiration from the 2009 Iranian Green Movement, the Arab Spring (2010-2011) and the Spanish 15-M ‘Indignados’ Movement, as well as from the overall global wave of anti-austerity protests aimed at international governments.

The Gilets Jaunes sprang up online in October 2018… before spiralling into the worst crisis of French president Macron’s presidency.  Tens of thousands demonstrators blocked roads and protested across France.

The “yellow vests” have been split between the moderates willing to engage in dialogue with the government, and a more disruptive faction intent on remaining at the barricades.

But that’s only part of the story.

The modus operandi comes down to organised global civil disobedience.

The idea is to disassemble corporate capitalism through non-violent, yet determined and organised, means of resistance.  And to promote the creation of alternative new institutions that could diffuse power more fairly.  And alternative media to combat the effects of indoctrination.

Getting there can only mean one thing.  But maybe…

Maybe the answer is more solidarity.

At these Orwellian times, the story continues to unfold.  And it puts you (me and almost everybody) at the centre of this narrative…