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Fooling the public into another war


Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed. ~Harold Pinter (2005) Nobel Lecture:  Art, Truth and Politics

There has never been a just [war], never an honourable one–on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful–as usual–will shout for the war. The pulpit will–warily and cautiously–object–at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, ‘It is unjust and dishonourable, and there is no necessity for it.’ Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers–as earlier–but do not dare say so. And now the whole nation–pulpit and all–will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. ~Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories

This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in fours to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; unprotected spinal marrow was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism—how passionately I hate them! How vile and despicable seems war to me! I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business. My opinion of the human race is high enough that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the peoples not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press. ~Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions

Why is it so easy to fool the majority of humankind into war? Why is it that facts can be so clear, history so painfully capable of predicting the inevitable outcome, and yet so many continue to buy it? And why? What justification do our leaders make? Those psychopaths in power controlled the messaging in the past as they do now. Little if anything has changed. A precious few have always decided which portraits, descriptions and images of what war looks and feels like we get to see. It was the beheadings of US journalists that world leaders used to persuade a previously disengaged public that the Islamic State should be attacked. After all, bombings good—beheadings bad. They were so good at propagating this moment that support grew overnight, and President Barack Obama and other world leaders got the green light to bomb in Syria.

I was following these events and asking how the public could so easily be fooled back into war, it felt as though we were in a unique time in history. After all, this is the age of the internet. The ability to challenge our leaders’ avowals with facts is merely a few keystrokes away. Not so. How little if anything have things changed. How easy it is to catch an unsuspecting public with its collective guard down and propagandise it into another war. How easy it is to repackage failed reasoning. This subtle propaganda shows, without anyone having to give much thought to who the good guys are and who are the bad guys.

The list of great minds reflecting on the thinly veiled reasons for going to war that are so easily gobbled up by the public is long indeed. But their wisdom was no match for the power of war propaganda—knavery as old as the earliest battles. It has to be shown its lies and platitudes, its pretences; each has to see how they have overtly or covertly supported cruelty, dishonesty, elitism, violence and hatred.

This is an afterthought. Why do the mainstream news media offer little if any hard-hitting investigative journalism? Here’s The Amazing Atheist with his opinion on the subject: Why The News Media Sucks Link

Updated: 30 January 2015


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