Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Tue

07

Aug

2007

Zeitgeist Zone: Jingoism - Anti-Iran Propaganda - Freedom Myth - Bourgeoisie
Tuesday, 07 August 2007 19:22
by Edward Strong

American Jingoism: Patriotic Belligerence

Jingoism glorifies the military and war, thinking violence is the way to accomplish its goals. It fosters a cult of death (it is heroic to die for the fatherland). It thinks attacking other peoples and nations is just fine.

Wrapped in the American flag and spouting patriotic slogans and speeches

What explains the gullibility of Americans, a gullibility that has mired the US in disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and which promises war with Iran, North Korea and a variety of other targets if neoconservatives continue to have their way? Part of the explanation is that millions of conservatives are thrilled at the opportunity to display their patriotis [jingoism and to show their support for their country. Bush’s rhetoric is perfectly designed to appeal to this desire.

"You are with us or against us" elicits a blind and unquestioning response from people determined to wear their patriotism on their sleeves. "You are with us or against us" vaccinates Americans against factual reality and guarantees public acceptance of administration propaganda.

Another part of the explanation is that emotional appeals have grown the stronger as the ability of educated people to differentiate fact from rhetoric declines.

Emotional appeals to fear and to patriotism have led close to half of the population to accept unaccountable government in the name of "the war on terrorism."

Another reason for the gullibility of Americans is their lack of alternative information to government propaganda. The independence of print and TV media disappeared in the media consolidations of the 1990s.

Today a handful of large corporations own the traditional media. The wealth of these corporations consists of broadcast licenses, which the companies hold at the government’s discretion.

Newspapers are run by corporate executives, whose eyes are on advertising revenue and who shun contentious reporting. The result is that the traditional media are essentially echo chambers for government propaganda.

The Internet and the foreign news media accessible through the Internet are the sources of alternative information. Many Americans have not learned to use and to rely on the Internet for information.

Many Americans find the government’s message much more reassuring than the actual facts. The government’s message is:

"America is virtuous. Virtuous America was attacked by evil terrorists. America is protecting itself by going to war and overthrowing regimes that sponsor or give shelter to terrorists, erecting in their place democracies loyal to America."

Sugar-coated propaganda doesn’t present Americans with the emotional and mental stress associated with the hard facts.

Relentless Anti-Iran Propaganda, Led by the US & Israel

The hardline Zionists [is that a tautology?] have been working overtime to demonize Iran and Ahmadinejad.

With such vicious rhetoric, it's understandable that Iranians would want to develop the means to defend themselves against nuclear threats.

They're afraid America/Israel will invade on any pretext, as the US did with Iraq.

Anti-Iran Rhetoric: Vicious Neocon/Zionist Propaganda

Special interest groups, individuals and specially planted moles in the Bush Administration create policies such as those that dragged us into the invasion of Iraq, and are now paving the way to expand the bloodshed into Iran.

Now Iran is looming bigger and bigger in the crosshairs.

The older, vaguer and less imminent threats of regime change through anti-Iran propaganda, exploitations of pro-democracy and human rights advocates, support for dissident groups inside and outside Iran, and various economic pressures, have now been ratcheted up to a level that might quickly get out of control.

Now we are hearing that Iranian weapons are "killing Americans" and Brits in Iraq, as well as allied forces in Afghanistan. We hear that Iran is training and sending Lebanese Hezbollah fighters to Iraq to commit terrorism and to "kill Americans."

This is a cunningly created new catch-phrase that is meant to generate just the perfect rationale to declare war.

We hear that Iran is sending arms to the Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, and even to Al-Gha'eda terrorists in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Naturally, nobody expects the public to demand some proof of all this involvement; allegations seem to always suffice. After all, it is not like having doubts about who the father of Anna Nicole's daughter was!

Of course, it is common knowledge that American arms are found in the hands of terrorists who kill Iranians in Iran or Iranians on pilgrimage in Iraq.

And it doesn't seem to matter if American Special Forces or the Brits are supplying arms and training to the likes of Jund-Ullah terrorists, among many other groups, to infiltrate Iran and "kill Iranians".

We hear that a former politician and part-time television actor, now a candidate (by default, because of the lackluster Republican hopefuls) for presidency of the United States, is also a visionary in foreign policy.

Like his co-campaigners on the Republican ticket, is a proponent of bombing Iran. Leading Democratic candidates for presidency refuse to rule out a preemptive attack on Iran.

They prefer for the Democratic majority Congress to approve and get credit for such a decision, which it surely will.

And, the sly weasel himself, Senator Joseph Lieberman, the so-called Independent (he is definitely independent of true American interests, but fully committed to the mandates of the Israeli regime) believes we shouldn't even wait past the end of this year!

His compatriots and co-conspirators are the top foreign policy advisors to Vice President Dick Cheney (the real decision maker), as well as to the State Department.

We also saw the American Congress almost unanimously (minus only two votes by Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul) approve a resolution accusing the Iranian President Ahmadinejad of inciting "genocide" by promoting the destruction of Israel (against all evidence that he ever said such a thing!).

The other sly fox, the Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, now the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has just championed another resolution to strengthen sanctions against the Islamic Republic in order to strangulate the Iranian people beyond recovery.

American Illusion: The Falseness of Freedom

Ask people what it means to them “to be an American.” Almost every answer will be a variation on the theme of freedom, but in the abstract, as if they each were repeating by rote phrases from a hymn. "We bless you, Lord, for our conditioning."

American Indoctrination 101: Freedom Is a Fallacy

“Freedom of speech” in the media is a fallacy. The spectrum of accepted ideas is embarrassingly narrower than it is in most European countries.

The voices in those media form a small, hermetic, repetitive and self-preserving elite that has less to do with ideology than a form of religious belief in the status quo.

Once again blogs have dented the club and forced it to own up to realities it might not have otherwise, but even the blog world has developed its own class system, its own establishment, conventions and, quite rigorously, its own rules of intolerance.

Conformist America

Freedom of speech is pointless when it doesn’t provoke conversations, when dissent isn’t accepted not only as an inherent value of the liberal mindset, but as its necessity.

I’m tempted to say that we live in a conformist age. But in reality most of American history has been one age of conformism after another, shocked and jagged periodically by brief periods of radical rethinking, by that shaking of the tree of liberty Thomas Jefferson spoke about, often with drips of blood as a consequence.

This is not, by any means, one of those periods. Not even close. Dissent over Bush has formed its own establishment.

But a movement to be rid of something as specific as one presidential administration and its follies isn’t the same as a movement to change the culture, politically and socially.

There isn’t, among viable Republican or Democratic candidates running the slightest desire to question the status quo, to, for example, up-end assumptions about the market economy.

Or to challenge the eminently challengeable belief that American interests begin and end with its business interests. Fire up those engines of subversion and see how far your “freedom of speech” will take you.

False Flag: Virtuous America

The disconnect between the neocons’ Bush-Cheney version of the world and the reality we face is clear enough.

With simple-mindedness that makes George Babbitt seem like a foreign policy whiz, Bush thinks that American power and institutions are innate virtues that the world craves, that no people could want another system.

It’s what drove his assumptions that American tanks in Baghdad could metamorphose into the making of another San Antonio on the banks of the Tigris. He got an Alamo in reverse, writ large.

But he had the majority of Americans’ support as late as 2004. And if he did so, it’s because the disconnect he projected is alive and well in the heart of most Americans.

They have soured on Bush. Yet they haven’t lost their illusions about 'virtuous' America.

Bush will soon be gone. Not so the fatal assumption that to be an American is to be the world.

Death to the Bourgeoisie!

And you thought we lived in a free, democratic, classless society? In fact, we live in a bourgeois democracy, run for and by the bourgeoisie. Its ideology is Capitalism - the method by which wealth is accumulated for the benefit of the bourgeoisie.

Democracy serves the interests of the bourgeois class. Democracy's narrow limits are set by capitalist exploitation. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: Freedom for the slave-owners.

Bourgeois Society (Capitalism)

Bourgeois Society is the social formation in which the commodity relation – the relation of buying and selling – has spread into every corner of life.

The family and the state still exist, but – the family is successively broken down and atomised, more and more resembling a relationship of commercial contract, rather than one genuinely expressing kinship and the care of one generation for the other.

The state retains its essential instruments of violence, but more and more comes under the sway of commerical interests, reduced to acting as a buyer and seller of services on behalf of the community.

The ruling class in bourgeois society is the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production as Private Property, despite the fact that the productive forces have become entirely socialised and operate on the scale of the world market.

The producing class in bourgeois society is the proletariat, a class of people who have nothing to sell but their capacity to work; since all the means of production belong to the bourgeoisie, workers have no choice but to offer their labour-power for sale to the bourgeoisie.

This system of buying and selling labour-power is called wage-labour and is characteristic of bourgeois society, though it has been around since the Peasant Revolt of 1381.

The classic form of wage labour is payment for work by the hour or week. Nowadays many workers work on the basis of contracts and piece-work but these forms only disguise the underlying relationship, which remains that of wage-labour.

Money and all forms of credit reach their highest development in bourgeois society. As a result, life in bourgeois society “happens” to people in much the same way as the weather happens to people, with money flowing around apparently according to its own laws.

To put this another way, in bourgeois society there is a “fetishism” of commodities.

Just as tribal peoples believed that their lives were being determined by trees and animals and natural forces possessing human powers, in bourgeois society, people's lives are driven by money and other commodities, whose value is determined by extramundane forces.

Bourgeois Democracy

American politics is a form of government that serves in the interests of the bourgeois class.

The word Democratic is attached to such a government, because in it all people in such a society have certain freedoms:

Those who own the means of production, the bourgeoisie, are free to buy and sell labor-power and what is produced by it solely for their own benefit.

Those who own only their own ability to labor, the proletariat, are free to sell themselves to any bourgeois who will buy their labor power, for the benefit of maintaining their own survival, and giving greater strength and power to the bourgeoisie.

The state fundamentally represents the interests of one class over others. On this basis Lenin named bourgeois democracy bourgeois dictatorship.

On the same token, Lenin made no distinction that the socialist state, being a state that represents the working-class, is a dictatorship of the proletariat.

In no civilized capitalist country does "democracy in general" exist. All that exists is bourgeois democracy.

It is not a question of "dictatorship in general", but of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, i.e., the proletariat, over its oppressors and exploiters, i.e., the bourgeoisie, in order to overcome the resistance offered by the exploiters in their fight to maintain their domination.

More from this author:
The media will report on Bush's posture, tone of voice, tie color, and attitude - The trivial will be made into the gargantuan (4670 Hits)
by Edward Strong We know who they are We must do something about them - turn them off, tune them out, and build an oppositional media that...
Stoking Hatred Towards Arabs & Muslims (4735 Hits)
by Edward Strong The unwillingness of American and Western societies to confront naked Islamophobic incitement recalls so many pathological...
American Jingoism: The Patriot GameAmerican Jingoism: The Patriot Game (6115 Hits)
by Edward Strong What could better reflect the collective psychosis of the American Empire than our mass obsession with the NFL, culminating in...
The White House Hillbillies [Clinton Reloaded] (4919 Hits)
by Edward Strong The only people who identify Hillary Clinton as part of the “left” are the wingnuts on right-wing talk radio and Fox News....
Bush SOTU Speech: Pleading, Whiny Act of Desperation (4380 Hits)
by Edward Strong Although Bush has two years to run and still has the power to embark on another war, his SOTU speech marks the point at which...
Related Articles:
Stealing the Midterms and the Power of Myth (26250 Hits)
by Mike Whitney “The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever...
Catapulting the Propaganda with the Washington Post (12200 Hits)
by Chris Floyd The ever persipacious Angry Arab, As'ad AbuKhalil, plucks out the hidden (or not-so-hidden) propaganda in a passing...
Freedom Loved and Hated (8409 Hits)
by Paul Balles Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. --Thomas Jefferson ...
Myth of the brave soldier (5934 Hits)
by Mickey Z. In a recent correspondence, Adam Engel wrote: "One of the greatest myths about America is that it's the 'home of the...
Media Alert: Patriotism as Propaganda (7314 Hits)
by Dave Edwards On December 24, the Independent on Sunday‘s front page featured a portrait of a British soldier gazing pensively into the...


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (3)add comment

a guest said:

0
There is one American Presidential candidate challenging the status quo...
Ron Paul
 
August 07, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Domestic Terror in Iran
http://www.opinionjournal.com/...anging.jpg
http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010434
TEHRAN WATCH

Domestic Terror in Iran
Iran has just carried out the largest wave of executions since 1984.

BY AMIR TAHERI
Monday, August 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It is early dawn as seven young men are led to the gallows amid shouts
of "Allah Akbar" (Allah is the greatest) from a crowd of bearded men
as a handful of women, all in hijab, ululate to a high pitch. A few
minutes later, the seven are hanged as a mullah shouts: "Alhamd
li-Allah" (Praise be to Allah).

The scene was Wednesday in Mashad, Iran's second most populous city,
where a crackdown against "anti-Islam hooligans" has been under way
for weeks.

The Mashad hangings, broadcast live on local television, are among a
series of public executions ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
last month as part of a campaign to terrorize an increasingly restive
population. Over the past six weeks, at least 118 people have been
executed, including four who were stoned to death. According to Saeed
Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people,
including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in
the coming weeks.

The latest wave of executions is the biggest Iran has suffered in the
same time span since 1984, when thousands of opposition prisoners were
shot on orders from Ayatollah Khomeini.

Not all executions take place in public. In the provinces of Kurdistan
and Khuzestan, where ethnic Kurdish and Arab minorities are demanding
greater rights, several activists have been put to death in secret,
their families informed only days after the event.

The campaign of terror also includes targeted "disappearances"
designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists,
journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime. According to the
latest tally, more than 30 people have "disappeared" since the start
of the new Iranian year on March 21. To intimidate the population, the
authorities also have carried out mass arrests on spurious grounds.

According to Gen. Ismail Muqaddam, commander of the Islamic Police, a
total of 430,000 men and women have been arrested on charges related
to drug use since April. A further 4,209 men and women, mostly aged
between 15 and 30, have been arrested for "hooliganism" in Tehran
alone. The largest number of arrests, totaling almost a million men
and women according to Mr. Muqaddam, were related to the enforcement
of the new Islamic Dress Code, passed by the Islamic Majlis
(parliament) in May 2006.

Most of those arrested, he says, spent a few hours, or at most a few
days, in custody as "a warning." By last week, 40,000 were still in
prison. Of these, 20,363 men and women are held on charges related to
violating the Islamic Dress Code. According to the Deputy Chief of
Police Gen. Hussein Zulfiqari, an additional 6,204 men and women are
in prison on charges of "sexual proximity" without being married.

The wave of arrests has increased pressure on the nation's inadequate
prison facilities. At a recent press conference in Tehran, the head of
the National Prisons Service, Ali-Akbar Yassaqi, appealed for a
moratorium on arrests. He said Iran's official prisons could not house
more than 50,000 prisoners simultaneously while the actual number of
prisoners at any given time was above 150,000. Mr. Yassaqi also
revealed that each year on average some 600,000 Iranians spend some
time in one of the 130 official prisons.

Since Mr. Ahmadinejad ordered the crackdown, work on converting 41
official buildings to prisons has started, with contracts for 33 other
prisons already signed. Nevertheless, Mr. Yassaqi believes that, with
the annual prison population likely to top the million mark this year,
even the new capacities created might prove insufficient.

There are, however, an unknown number of unofficial prisons as well,
often controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or militias
working for various powerful mullahs. Last week, human rights
activists in Iran published details of a new prison in Souleh,
northwest of Tehran, staffed by militants from the Lebanese branch of
Hezbollah. According to the revelations, the Souleh prison is under
the control of the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi, and used for holding
the regime's most "dangerous" political foes.

The regime especially fears the growing free trade union movement. In
the past four months, free trade unionists have organized 12 major
strikes and 47 demonstrations in various parts of the country. They
showed their muscle on International Labor Day on May 1 when tens of
thousands of workers marched in Tehran and 18 provincial capitals. The
regime retaliated by arresting scores of trade unionists and expelling
many others.

According to Rajab-Ali Shahsavari, leader of the Union of Contractual
Workers, 25,795 unionists have been fired since April. He estimates
that now over 1,000 workers are losing their jobs each day, as the
regime intensifies its crackdown.

Worse still, the number of suspicious deaths among workers has risen
to an all-time high. According to Deputy Labor Minister Ibrahim
Nazari-Jalali, 1,047 workers have died in "work-related accidents"
since April. Labor sources, however, point out that none of the
accidents have been investigated and, in at least 13 cases, the
workers who died may have been killed by goons hired by the regime.

The biggest purge of universities since Khomeini launched his "Islamic
Cultural Revolution" in 1980 is also under way. Scores of student
leaders have been arrested and more than 3,000 others expelled.
Labeling the crackdown the "corrective movement," Mr. Ahmadinejad
wants university textbooks rewritten to "cleanse them of Infidel
trash," and to include "a rebuttal of Zionist-Crusader claims" about
the Holocaust. Dozens of lecturers and faculty deans have been fired.

The nationwide crackdown is accompanied with efforts to cut Iranians
off from sources of information outside the Islamic Republic. More
than 4,000 Internet sites have been blocked, and more are added each
day. The Ministry of Islamic Orientation has established a new
blacklist of authors and book titles twice longer than what it was a
year ago. Since April, some 30 newspapers and magazines have been shut
and their offices raided. At least 17 journalists are in prison, two
already sentenced to death by hanging.

The regime is trying to mobilize its shrinking base by claiming that
the Islamic Republic is under threat from internal and external foes.
It was in that context that the four Iranian-American hostages held in
Tehran were forced to make televised "confessions" last month about
alleged plots to foment a "velvet revolution."

Over 40 people have been arrested on charges of espionage since April,
20 in the southern city of Shiraz. Khomeinist paranoia reached a new
peak last week when the authorities announced, through the Islamic
Republic News Agency, the capture of four squirrels in the Western
city of Kermanshah and claimed that the furry creatures had been
fitted with "espionage devices" by the Americans in Iraq and smuggled
into the Islamic Republic.

Mr. Ahmadinejad likes to pretend that he has no worries except
"Infidel plots" related to the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions.
The truth is that, faced with growing popular discontent, the
Khomeinist clique is vulnerable and worried, extremely worried. The
outside world would do well to carefully monitor and, whenever
possible, support the Iranian people's fight against the fascist
regime in Tehran.

Iran today is not only about atomic bombs and Iranian-American
hostages. It is also about a growing popular movement that may help
bring the nation out of the dangerous impasse created by the mullahs.

Mr. Taheri is author of "L'Irak: Le Dessous Des Cartes" (Editions
Complexe, 2002).
 
August 08, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Iran and the Left
On Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran
http://www.postelservice.com/archives/000044.html
The website of journalist and critic Danny Postel
« Pretzel Logic on Iran | Main | The geopolitics of an ominous arrest in Iran »
February 13, 2007
Reviews and interviews

Some reviews of Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran are coming in, and there have been a few interviews with me about it. Janet Afary and Kevin Anderson review the book (along with four other new books on Iran) in the July 16 issue of The Nation. Andrei Codrescu wrote this very generous review for his syndicated column appearing in several alternative weeklies around the country. Robert Birnbaum penned this short but sweet review in the Morning News (scroll down a little). This review, published as an editorial in a newspaper in Guyana (the Stabroek News), is delightfully nice. Scott McLemee devoted his "Intellectual Affairs" column in InsideHigherEd.com to this interview with me, and followed it up with this very thoughtful post on the group blog Crooked Timber. I was also interviewed by Alan Saunders for his excellent Australian radio show The Philosopher's Zone, which you can download here , and by Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, for its radio show, which you can download by going here. This review, by the Pakistani writer and human rights activist Rafia Zakaria, appears in the Indian magazine Frontline. (Zakaria has since discussed my book in this column and quotes me in this article.) I was recently interviewed by Goudarz Eghtedari on his radio show Voices of the Middle East, which you can find here. The distinguished critic George Scialabba wrote this review for the Spring issue of the magazine Bidoun: Arts and Culture from the Middle East.
 
August 08, 2007
Votes: +0

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top