Sunday, 28 January 2007

3:4 How to persuade people of the huge danger of the enemy.

So far we have mainly concentrated on individual Evil Ones (terrorists) or small cells and networks within your nations. Unfortunately, however, these servants of Satan even come to control a whole nation or state with all its weapons. In that case you must adopt another strategy. What you must do is to attack and destroy that state, depose the Evil Ones, and put in people more to your own liking. Your enemies call them ‘puppets’, but we think you should just call them ‘friends of democracy’.

Though these members of the ‘Axis of Evil’ are infinitely less powerful than your nations, you can fairly easily persuade your populations that they are a real and present threat if you follow a few well tried techniques.

One technique you can adopt was well illustrated by a recent example. A country was known to be a nest of evil people led by an evil dictator. He must therefore, you knew, be plotting against you. He must be aping (a useful animal adjective) your ways and trying to stockpile weapons. These weapons must be really dangerous, carrying mass destruction with them. They must be far more dangerous than anything that had hitherto been discovered, despite extensive searches and a kind of electronic surveillance unprecedented in history. The evil intentions were enough to allay any doubts in your populations.

Obviously in this case you must have known, with your immensely sophisticated surveillance and intelligence and billions of pounds of advice, that there was no certainty that weapons existed or that they were to be deployed. But if you had told your populations that while there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, they must nevertheless attack the servants of Satan because they were an evil-intentioned people (and held much of the world’s precious oil reserves which Christ’s Kingdom needed), the response would have been luke warm. So you used all the approved techniques instead.

You exaggerated the threat, told partial truths (that weapons were battlefield only, for example, was omitted), exaggerated, made vague claims. In a court of law you have to tell ‘truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. But this is not a court of law. By telling partial truths, by being as someone once described a former instance ‘economical with the truth’, and by mixing in untruths and exaggerations, it became impossible for the population to disentangle things. So people in fear and trust partly sanctioned the act of invasion, though even in this situation the majority were still unconvinced.

When all this (in effect) lying about the reasons for the war was revealed afterwards with the total absence of the grounds for fear, or even the links to the supposed ‘enemies’ who had attacked you earlier, you sensibly changed history. You claimed that the real reason was not the declared one at the time. It was really to rid the nation of a tyrant, to ‘liberate’ people so that they can be more like us. You should force them to accept your ‘values’, as one of you recently put it, and to abandon theirs. Since the powerful control history, might is right, this quelled criticism to a large extent.

The lesson from this is that after the event, even if it can be shown that the attack was mistaken and leads to disaster, do not apologize. Do not admit mistakes, or if you do, blame it on some technical mis-information you received. Much better to change history after the event to fit what happens. Go on the offensive. Say to people, ‘Do you want to bring XX’ back again? The threat of the return of Farmer Jones is the trump card used again and again in Orwell’s Animal Farm and is unanswerable. Your critics are put in an impossible position. They cannot say they liked the particular thug or tyrant, but if they lamely say that this was not why you went to war, it sounds a bit feeble.


Gabriel Andrade said...

It is rather strange that, even if we are a civiliation with writing technologies, our memory is largley defficient. I'm sure that if the 2003 justifications for the war were continously re-broadcasted on TV, Bush would have no other choice but to pull out his troops from Irak. It is amazing how no one cares there were never any weapons in Irak. People do forget stuff.

Gabriel Andrade said...

This post has me thinking about Jack Goody's work on literacy. In a number of books he has argued that writing does make a great difference among societies. According to Goody, oral cultures may have a greater capacity for memory than writing cultures, but in the long term, the human mind is not capable of registering huge ammounts of data, thus, in oral societies data is soon lost, or transformed, or distortioned (just think about the famous telephone game in a circle of kids). Writing is supposed to keep words intact, and in such a manner, scribes have been able to go to the record to clarifiy what was said before. Among other reasons, this is why Goody believes that, contrary to etnhological wisdom, literate societies are more traditional than oral societies: writing allows you to verify what was said in the past, orality does not allow you to go go deep back in tradition.
This being so, we must ask: Why have we easily forgotten Bush and Blair's justification of the war back in 2003, when in fact, our technologies are supposed to make remembering easier? Surely, if we kept remembering those justifications, Americans would feel deceived, as there were never any weapons, and the pressure to get out of Irak would be great enough to avoid sending more troops.
I guess part of the answer could be provided in a MacLuhanean sense. Electronic media is making us more 'oral' and less prone to literacy. 'Orality' and 'Literacy' for McLuhan are not just means of communicating, but also ways to conceive the world. And, in a sense, all media images (CNN, Fox, etc.) make us live "the moment" (live battles, political speeches, etc.) in such a manner that, thanks to TV, we easily forget the past. Like Narcissus, TV makes us numb, all those great images on TV make us 'feel' more than 'think', conceive the world 'acustically' more tha 'lineally', and this prevents us from looking to the past and verifying what some lying politician said. If, as Goody claims, memory is empowered by writing, then we can well argue along with MacLuhan that electronic media is a return to the 'oral' world where, precisely, memory is weak. Perhaps FOX and CNN lobbyists and supporters of the war know this only too well.