|Vladimir Putin, President of Russia|
Hail! the House Un-American Activities Committee ghosts of yore, pass the lard, and praise the ammunition!
In the first post of this series I pointed out a hypothesis about a dynamic which I called "the cultural amygdala", then considered the physical amygdala, and also asked readers about their reactions:
Does fear bubble up inside of you, emanating from your subconscious(That is Not My Daddy). The subject matter I am focusing on today is the way we make decisions, other than relying on faith/trust to replace our own cognition or the lack thereof (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).
amygdala, to automate a reaction when you see photo of the President of Russia?
Or does it prevent you from reading an op-ed in the New York Times which he penned?
If so, that is your cultural amygdala, an extension of your physical amydala which develops as your "birth amygdala" before it has been "customized" by your society, the culture around you (The Cultural Amygdala).
We are studied all the time so those who govern us can get their way:
If you have a patient in a doctor's office who's just been told they have terminal cancer but there's this operation they could perform right now that might save their lives. ... They have a 90 percent chance of surviving the operation — if you tell them that, they respond one way. If you tell them ... that they have a 10 percent chance of being killed by the operation, they are about three times less likely to have the operation.(Are You Of Two Minds?). The studies go deeper, and sometimes have a commercial purpose:
If you frame something as a loss — 10 percent chance of dying — as opposed to as a gain — 90 percent chance of living — people respond entirely differently. They make a different decision.
A group of US marketing researchers claim that brand owners can make their customers believe they had a better experience of a product or service than they really did by bombarding them with positive messages after the event. Advocates of the technique, known as "memory morphing", claim it can be used to improve customers' perceptions of products and encourage them to repeat their purchases and recommend brands to friends.(A Structure RE: Corruption of Memes - 3; "Memory Morphing in Advertising"). After that quote, I would be remiss if I did not mention the father of advertising, a.k.a. the father of spin (The Ways of Bernays).
"When asked, many consumers insist that they rely primarily on their own first-hand experience with products – not advertising – in making purchasing decisions. Yet, clearly, advertising can strongly alter what consumers remember about their past, and thus influence their behaviours," he writes in his book, How Customers Think. He says that memories are malleable, changing every time they come to mind, and that brands can use this to their advantage. "What consumers recall about prior product or shopping experiences will differ from their actual experiences if marketers refer to those past experiences in positive ways," he continues.
Now to the point, the nitty gritty of today's post:
We are besieged, readers. As the archives of this magazine make perfectly plain, the spasm of Russophobia now threatening to overcome us is but a variant of the anti-Soviet paranoia that defined the 1950s and early 1960s. “We’re in the most dangerous confrontation with Russia since the Cuban missile crisis,” Stephen Cohen, the noted Russianist (and Nation contributor), said on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! earlier this month. This is just the point—the reality we must now consider with utmost seriousness.(The Perils of Russophobia, emphasis added). Free thinkers of every nation on Earth unite, because in that context there is nothing better than knowing the natural history of government:
The corporate press, from the government-supervised New York Times on over, now hastens to obscure the same shameful collaboration with power that it displayed in the Cold War’s depths. On a shocking website called PropOrNot.com, Salem witch-hunters who refuse to identify themselves list hundreds of media that they assert are manipulated by the Kremlin.
Read these, too, as danger signs. Anyone too young to remember the House Un-American Activities Committee and Red Channels and all the destruction they wrought ought to study up: We are a few short steps away from both. Russia is not destroying (what remains of) American democracy. “Patriotic Americans” are.
It is essential, as I suggest, to understand our moment in historical context. Then each of us must decide, just as those called before the HUAC had to: Do I acquiesce or participate in this freakish exercise in crowd control and fear-mongering, or do I repudiate a propaganda campaign as irrational and morally wrong as any concocted during the McCarthy years? At last the question confronts us, and it is especially acute this time for those self-described as progressives: Is one a descendant of that muddled, gutless lot known as Cold War liberals, or does one insist on clear sight and principle even in the face of the ideological blasts our corporate media deliver daily?
Think it through: This is the imperative of our moment—a significant moment, because the American propaganda machine is now unusually challenged. Its efficacy is no longer the certainty it was during the Cold War decades. My own view, to be clear straightaway, is without ambivalence. It is our minds that are the objects of this onslaught: They are finally what is at issue. Surrender yours to this most flagrant case of scapegoating—hatred and anxiety conjured from thin air—and your place in the history books will be with the ghosts of all the shrill Cold Warriors and cowering chumps of decades past.
“Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas JeffersonThe previous post in this series is here.