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The manipulation of the masses

Formally, we still live in a parliamentary democracy. This does not mean, however, that authoritarian power structures and methods of securing the rule of a small elite would not be effective. Where people cannot be banned from putting obstacles in the way of the powerful in the election, propaganda must be used to get them to want only what they want. A number of strategies have been perfected for this purpose. One of the most successful is the split. They are mobilizing against the poor instead of abolishing poverty. One breaks down the peace and the environment movement and incites ordinary citizens against each other, until finally one thing becomes completely out of sight: that a few profit from all this and rub their hands, because their responsibility as well as machinations never matter. for their “sheep”.

Manipulation

The thoughts of the ruling class are dominant thoughts in every epoch, that is, the class, which is the dominant material power of society, is at the same time its ruling spiritual power. (Karl Marx)

What is to be said when talking about domination? First of all, certainly about the concept of domination itself. So what does she describe and mean, domination? According to Max Weber, the “opportunity to find obedience to specific content for a command in people who can be identified.”

This term therefore means not only the subjugation of people to foreign interests and powers, which is forced by means of a direct threat of violence. What is meant is each, a gradient from above and below, of power and powerlessness, of exploitation and exploitation organizing and legitimizing social and individual operation.

At the moment, the form of domination by which our society is organized may rightly call itself parliamentary democracy, but it does not mean that domination and power structures as such would no longer exist and be effective.

On the contrary, domination has modernized and today goes hand in hand with greater legitimacy among the rulers. In doing so, she subtly organizes herself into the individuals and their actions, which they then experience as their “free choice”:

“What do I know about myself when I don’t know that the image I have of myself is, for the most part, an artificial product, and that most people — I’m not ruling myself out — are lying without knowing it? What do I know until I know that ‘defense’ means war, ‘duty’ submission, ‘virtue’ obedience and ‘sin’ disobedience? What do I know until I know that the idea that parents instinctively love their children is a myth? That fame is rarely based on admirable human qualities and often not on real achievements? That historiography is distorted because it is written by the victors? That emphatic modesty is not necessarily proof of a lack of vanity? That love is the opposite of fierce longing and greed? What do I know about myself if I don’t know that everyone is trying to rationalize bad intentions and actions to make them seem noble and charitable? That the pursuit of power means treading truth, justice, and love? That today’s industrial society is determined by the principle of selfishness, having and consuming and not by the principles of love and respect for life that it preaches? If I am not able to analyze the unconscious aspects of the society in which I live, I cannot know who I am because I do not know in what respect I am not.” — Erich Fromm: From Having to Being

In this sense, our entire society is crisscrossed by partly visible, but mostly subtle-invisible forms of domination:

Women work in low-paid “women’s jobs” and men make “careers”; Whites exploit non-whites; Children are educated in schools more than self-knowledge and led into a self-determined life; the global north exploits the global south, and the West wages wars against the world’s poor but resource-rich countries, but declares this as a civilisational necessity by means of the label “Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights”.

In other words, where we try to live and survive in the social conditions that surround us, we are always, and all perpetrators and victims at the same time. For we are shaped and surrounded by repressive structures and are involved in struggles to maintain or develop the social position, which is often little to be influenced by our own actions.

However, not all of them are equally equal: from a certain socio-economic position, discrimination and disadvantages are compatible between sex, disease, age, cultural and geographical origin or tradition, and thus of no longer so crucial relevance.

Relevant to the question of who rules over whom existentially, is therefore above all one, namely the question of class affiliation: what use, after all, do one benefit from the most far-reaching democratic rights, when the means of production are nevertheless in the hands of only a few and the only way to acquire the resources for each of your own livelihood s/he can find the sale of one’s own labour force.

Anyone who has ever been confronted with the existential threat of unemployment can clearly measure the totality of this rule: one can choose ten times socially oriented parties — if one wants a job, one must consider the conditions of “the market”, its prices and impositions, its competition and uncontrollability.

In this sense, the “99 percent” of humanity, which has now become a saying, and the “other one percent”, i.e. those that possess large parts of the world’s wealth and the global means of production, stand in contrast to each other. — and all the others whose material power of disposal has already been more or less ended when it comes to the disposal of their own labour force.

So when a handful of international corporations dominate the global food industry and decide what we can buy in the supermarket, and when 147 international corporations control the entire global economy, it can be seen that their and the influence of their respective owners on social and economic conditions worldwide is more decisive than that of democratically legitimized parliaments and governments.

This was also the point of Warren Buffet, the third richest person in the world, when he recently stated:

“There is class war, right, but it is my class, the class of the rich, who is waging war, and we are winning.”

But if so, why do the 99 percent so rarely resist? What techniques do domination use to immunize itself against criticism and protect against attacks?

At the moment, these are likely to be mainly the techniques of propaganda, indirect control by means of fear and strategic integration.

Domination and propaganda

Noam Chomsky, the world’s most quoted intellectual, has addressed and proved in several brilliant books that the media in bourgeois democracies primarily have the task of “control of thought”.

This is particularly evident when it comes to war: during the first Gulf War, the lies of a US witness before the United Nations that Iraqi soldiers had taken babies out of the incubators in Kuwait in order to kill them were spread, as was the later march of concentration camps and the so-called “horseshoe plan” during the Kosovo conflict in Yugoslavia. And years later, iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction served as a legitimation for the US attack on Iraq.

The impact of this information policy was confirmed by the apparent journalistic diversity of daily disinformation. In this propaganda machine, the journalists did not act as the “forgers” of news, but rather appeared as objective reporters who simply carried on what they themselves generally thought was “true” and “right”.

However, an examination of the truthfulness of reports, a principle enshrined in the German Press Code of 1996, was omitted in favour of discursive opportunism as well as “journalistic speed”. And also protest actions, demonstrations and statements of opponents of war were hardly reflected in the media. Rather, the demise of the peace movement was explained.

However, more and more people are becoming aware that such controlled information is not only a problem in times of war. Almost all campaigns to privatise public services have been taken up, reinforced and multiplied by the leading media; Politics that would force the expansion of the barely existing welfare state was demonized, and the constant “We must tighten our belts” became the defining guiding principle of opinion-making. Companies are doing badly, billionaires are top-performers from the kleptocratic tax state, while the poor are unashamedly or even late-decadent, unforgettably, unforgettably, guido Westerwelle’s statement. These are and are the core messages of media reality.

The millions of people in poverty and fear, the second-class citizens living in precarious situations and marginalised, all this is, if anything, only filtered through the lens of a neoliberal ideology in the mainstream media.

Thus it is insisted that there is immense social abuse, that Hartz IV recipients are notorious deniers of work, or that they simply have many “barriers to placement” in their person, so that their situation is primarily to blame: themselves.

Noam Chomsky outlined in his “propaganda model” how and why this works, why freedom of the press in capitalism is above all synonymous with the freedom of a few owners to spread their ideology.

The main components of this message filter set are:

  1. the size of the main media companies, their concentration, the assets of their owners, their profit orientation and advertising as the main source of income for the private media;
  2. the dependence of the media on the information provided to them by the government, the economy and the “experts” alimented and approved by the centres of power, as well as their influence by professional PR, spin doctors, lobbyists, etc.
  3. “critical barrage” (i.e. attacks on the seriousness, image and credibility of the media; Calls from top posts; campaigns of complaint and boycott and so on) as a means of disciplining the media,
  4. “anti-communism” (e.g. USA) or any other predominant ideology as a national religion and effective control mechanism.

These components work together and reinforce each other. The primary message material must always go through a series of filters until the cleaned remainder, which is considered publishable.

It is these components that define the principles of discourse and interpretation and define what can, may and should have a novelty value in the first place. They also explain the reasons and the processes of outright propaganda campaigns.

Domination and Fear

But it is also and above all through fear that prevails. At the moment, two essential aspects need to be emphasised here. On the one hand, this is the fear of social decline, of poverty and job loss, of social exclusion and cultural exclusion. This is produced primarily by establishing “the best low-wage sectors (…) that exist in Europe” (former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder) and the associated ideology.

As poverty in the country increases, the media no longer scandalizes poverty against the background of a supposed “job miracle” and “lack of skilled workers” but rather scandalizes the poor themselves.

The number of people living in poverty despite working is higher than ever before. In fact, some 16 million people in Germany are now barely able to make a living.

The other pillar of the practiced “strategy of fear” is that of the production of images of enemies, which goes hand in hand with that of social division. For more than a decade now, but at the latest since 911, “Islam” has been sold to us as a threat to “our civilization”.

Numerous front pages of magazines repeatedly titled with xenophobic onset, which depicted men with beards and women with headscarves as a threat to “our Western values”. And the Social Democrat Thilo Sarrazin not only received an almost unthinkable edition from the outset for his racist and social-eugenic theses about the infiltration of the German welfare state by incapable of learning, genetically determined stupid and lazy Muslims. . He also received a massively fueled media attention, which could only be wished for by any radical-humanist discourse.

A kind of official prelude to global Islamophobia was the speech in 1990 and the essay by Bernard Lewis, “The Muslim Rage”, the theses of which his friend and colleague Samuel Huntington later wrote in book form under the title “Clash of Cultures” on the worldwide spread.

That this was not an accidental time becomes clear once one realizes that after the end of the East-West conflict in the 1990s, the enemy image of Islam has now almost completely replaced that of communism. And with geopolitical impetus, as Daniele Ganser outlines in several works with regard to resources and resource paths.

Research by the Center for American Progress, which studies the funding of American think tanks and uses the example of Middle East policy, shows that this has not happened without the control of the political elites. influential Middle East Forum of a Daniel Pipes:

The interest in the Middle East, whether its geostrategic significance on the one hand, and the enemy image of Islam on the other, must be thought and understood as belonging to each other. For the racist images and stereotypes that are created here and served as the basis of their political practice are clearly one-sided and financed by very specific circles, because they are wanted.

Richard Pipes, Daniel’s father, once served as director of the Center for Russian Studies. During the Cold War, the Center analyzed the Strategic Goals and Capabilities of the Soviet Union for the CIA, and was responsible for U.S. anti-communism and the enemy image of Russia. Now his son is apparently this for the enemy image Islam. So the images change, but the strategies remain the same.

This “made” fear of terror on the one hand and poverty on the other is certainly one of the most important means for social and political division at the moment and thus securing domination. For the fear produced by the media helps to weaken resistance to poverty, oppression and exploitation.

Wolfgang Frindte and Nicole Haußecker have presented the proof that state and politics play a not insignificant role in this respect with their extremely elaborate investigation “Staged Terrorism”:

The constant publication of terror alerts since 911 has demonstrably fuelled not the fear of terror, but that of Muslims, which has further exacerbated the apparently intended anti-Muslim resentment.

In the meantime, however, it has also led to a shift in discourse, the effect of which is to be redefined as “terrorists”. An ideological manifestation of the global class struggle from above, which now serves and sells wars, bombings and mass murders to the populations of the warring countries of the North as “defense of one’s own civilization”.

Domination and strategic integration

In this “climate of fear” the social balance of power has shifted significantly in recent years: neoliberal thinking and the prescribed anti-Muslim racism have become entangled in people’s minds and are now having an effect. not least in relation to political action.

Thus, against the background of a growing socio-economic divide and a foreign policy that is becoming more and more militarised, two social movements are currently to be identified in particular, but both are immediately based on a ‘strategy of integration’ or , where this was not possible — demonization and discrediting have been pushed from above: on the one hand, there is the rejuvenated peace movement and, on the other hand, the Pegida movement.

The former has been publicly discredited almost entirely in recent years thanks to a massive media campaign, played out in particular through media with a progressive image. Apparently, the analyses and from them derived demands of the peace-movers were so contrary to the interests and guidelines of the political media establishment that this movement was written as unbind by predominantly unfair means in the ground. has been.

The stigma of anti-Semitism has been constructed from the demand for compliance with international law all over the world, explicitly also with regard to the Palestinian conflict. The willingness to be open to politically inexperienced people even beyond left circles was reinterpreted as a cross-front strategy and the movement was thus placed close to National Socialism and fascism.

The stigmas of nationalism and anti-Americanism were constructed from the accusation that NATO was an immense threat to peace. And the stigma of conspiracy theorists has been constructed from the scientifically proven finding that politics and the media in the country are permeated by elite networks that deliberately set their own agendas here.

“The so-called peace movement unifys the rejection of liberal society”; it finds its offspring among “right-wing populists, nationalists, conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites”, for example, the supposedly left-liberal Frankfurter Rundschau headlined on December 12, 2014, thus driving the biggest possible wedge into the political progressive social circles in the country. The latter are now increasingly swearing off their own political power, as they are by no means associated with “such” and want to be “co-responsible” for this.

The pegida protest movement in Dresden, which mobilized up to 20,000 people in some cases, is proceeding in a similar and yet different way: the media almost exclusively addresses the openly visible, anti-Muslim racism of many participants. On the other hand, all those statements that point to the social motivation of the demonstrators are not addressed.

Pegida is politically instrumentalized: the racism, which has been written for years and instrumentalized for “anti-terror laws”, is addressed, here one is “ready to talk”, if necessary even willing to even tougher asylum and immigration laws. to say goodbye. On the other hand, the social hardship for which this racism is and above all is a catalyst is not addressed. The political scientist Werner J. Patzelt also criticized this approach recently:

“What comes out of xenophobia turns out to be a social conflict. With him, the upper class, proud of its education and humanity, stands against the ordinary people, who seem to be lying and therefore deserve rebuke and instruction from the better circles.”

Simply dismissing Pegida and Co. as “fascist” or something else, or even declaring racism here exclusively the engine of parliamentary-political action, would not only amount to a “semantic expropriation” of the lowers by the superiors, who always reinterpret our resistance to them in such a way that it can never affect them and therefore cannot change anything for the better.

It also and above all continued to push the social spiral of ideological propaganda, xenophobic fear and strategic integration of everything “usable” while at the same time completely demonizing and tabooing what is probably more urgent than ever at the moment. is necessary:

Criticism of social, racism and capitalism.

In the meantime, however, “system critique” ranks even among the stigma, right next to anti-Semitism and conspiracy theory. No good times, then, for social-emancipatory, enlightening agitation. Good times, on the other hand, for an article on the subject of criticism of domination in supposedly non-rule time.