Caitlin Johnstone begins her post today:
A new Gallup poll finds Americans’ opinion of Russia and China at historic lows, with 79% now reporting an unfavorable view of China, 77% an unfavorable view of Russia …
A recent Mintpress News article, After Years of Propaganda, American Views of Russia and China Hit Historic Lows, points the finger at the obvious culprit:
Last year, American military planners advised that the US step up its campaign of psychological warfare against Beijing, including sponsoring authors and artists to create anti-China propaganda.
Say what? Sponsoring authors and artists to create anti-China propaganda? Here’s the link to the Mintpress article Caitlin cites. Note this passage:
Military analyst David Maxwell, a former Special Ops soldier himself, advocated for a widespread culture war [to] include the Pentagon commissioning … “Taiwanese Tom Clancy novels” 1 to demonize China and demoralize its citizens, arguing that Washington should “weaponize” China’s one-child policy by bombarding Chinese people with stories of the wartime deaths of their only children, and therefore, their bloodline.
[This] tactic was used in the first Cold War against the Soviet Union, where the CIA sponsored a huge network of artists, writers and thinkers to promote liberal and social-democratic critiques of the USSR, unbeknownst to the public, and, sometimes, even the artists themselves.2
My first comment is one I make all the time: news media work to a corrupt model.3 My second is that we the consumers of those media (though not the primary customers) have an inflated sense of our independent mindedness.4
My third is China specific. As Stephen Gowans put it in a What’s Left post of a few days ago on the Uyghur accusations:
… two consecutive administrations have designated China a rival [so] have politically-motivated reasons for slandering their challenger.5 Moreover, apart from using the hyper-aggressive US military to extort economic and strategic concessions from other countries, US administrations have a long record of fabrication to justify their aggressive actions. That “two consecutive administrations” have held that the Chinese are carrying out a genocide is evidence of nothing more than Washington continuing to operate in its accustomed fashion of churning out lies about states that refuse to be integrated into the US economic, military and political orbit. A Serb-orchestrated genocide against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo; hidden weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; moderate rebels in Syria: these are only the tip of the iceberg of US lies and calumnies offered as pretexts for imperial aggression. Genocide in Xinjiang is but the latest.
Off the top of my head the best analogy I can think of, for the folly of taking at face value any US accusation against China, is murderer Christie on the stand at the Old Bailey, 1950, giving the testimony that would send innocent Timothy Evans to the gallows.
Though in truth the comparison is too kind to Washington.6
Please do feel free to wake up.
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- Taiwanese Tom Clancy novels. Though I constantly criticise news media, I’ve long intended to write on the contribution of the entertainment industries in reinforcing ruler-friendly narratives. Simplistic action tales from James Bond to Jack Reacher are one end of a spectrum whose more sophisticated end targets ‘highbrows’. As when the American House of Cards, in many ways outstanding, stoops to vulgar caricature in depicting Vladimir Putin. Ditto the otherwise excellent French offering, Le Bureau, with its crowd-pleasers on Bashar al-Assad. Messages so subliminally absorbed, via the litanic talking points of news media and other agencies of opinion manufacture, are likely to take up deep, because barely conscious, psychic residence. In most but clearly not all cases, active conspiracy of the kind David Maxwell urges need not be assumed. As with news media, discussed in the previous post, a mix of ideology and market forces usually suffices. I’m sure Ian Fleming believed in the essential benignity of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I’m equally sure though that, had James Bond been a committed communist, not one of Fleming’s novels would have been published – far less found their way onto the big screen to create a global icon of derring-do.
- The CIA had artists promote liberal critiques of the USSR, unbeknownst to the public and even the artists themselves. I often cite Lenin’s term, “useful idiots”, now widely used by Left and Right alike. It may seem crude and unkind but has high explanatory power. It’s not that people are innately stupid. Rather, our brainwashing is such that we constantly draw ‘moderate’ Overton Window conclusions, especially when these chime with self interest real or perceived, which would strike the proverbial Martian as perverse – and almost always serve, however winding and decoy-laden the path, the actual interests of wealth and power. ‘Brainwashing’ is emotive, of course. It refers to an evil WE don’t have to endure but THEY – whose aspirations just happen to conflict with Wall Street requirements – do. Unfortunately for such cosy self assurances, deep seated because culturally – ideologically – reaffirmed and renewed daily, there’s a sea of evidence of our being less independent-minded than we like to think. This point is revisited in footnote 4.
- News media work to a corrupt model? The previous post, surprising me with its large volume of visits, asked how much of the corruption was systemic (ad dependency plus bourgeois ideology) and how much the product of bad journalists and editors. A third driver – direct MI5 intervention on matters crucial to our rulers – did not feature but has been aired in other posts. In this regard see these pieces from Media Lens, from OffGuardian and (most detailed and substantiated) from the Daily Maverick on how the Guardian was reined in, after Snowden, then co-opted. This is why the former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray, calls Luke Harding – the Guardian’s Russophobe-in-Chief as well as Assange loathing promoter of the Manafort lie – an “MI5 mouthpiece”.
- That most of us have an absurdly elevated sense of independence is not a matter of opinion but of solidly established fact. If the billions that change hands on Madison Avenue don’t convince you of just how malleable “our” precious opinions and tastes, perspectives and principles truly are, try the social psychology findings of Solomon Asch, Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo.
- The stupendous yet widespread credulity required to buy Western accusations against Beijing – as if these were somehow the fruits of impartial and disinterested inquiry – is one of two themes in my recent post, Critical thinking on China and the Uyghurs. The other, in reply to a Facebook commenter wanting evidence that China is not guilty of genocide, concerns burden of proof and presumption of innocence – both of them vital epistemological, journalistic and jurisprudential principles.
- Too kind to Washington? I’ve aired these quotes a dozen times and will do so a dozen times more. Anyone doubting the bipartisan nature of Washington’s plunder should note, amongst many other signals, three boasts. One is Hillary Clinton – “we came, we saw, he died – ha ha” – on the knife-blade sodomising of Gaddafi, a man whose vilifying in the West neatly coincided with Libya’s Ba’athist state capitalism while the world was being relentlessly privatised, and with this oil rich nation’s plans to ditch petrodollars. His death plunged Africa’s richest country, with universal literacy and welfare provision to match Western Europe’s and surpass America’s, into chaos and terror from which it has yet to emerge, far less recover. Another is Pompeo – “I was CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole“. My third is Trump – “we’ve secured the oil [in Syria, so] we’re going to remain”. Such unguarded candour – all three boasts made in the full flush of victory – could be overlooked in the first two but, in the case of the last, infuriated America’s ruling class. I liken this to a team of skilled burglars, obliged by events they lost control of (in November 2016) to bring along a rank amateur whose heist-jeopardising antics alarm and appall the seasoned pros.