The easy way to rule: leading a weak people by feeding them disinformation

Summary:  Why do political regimes die?  Perhaps because of accumulated false memories, incidents in the past with which they cannot bring themselves to see.  Too many of these can cripple a people’s OODA loop (observation-orientation-decision-action loop) and hence their ability to cope with the present and chart a realistic course into the future.  We may have reached that point.

A common — almost ubiquitous — element of political debate today is conservatives faux history.  Pleasing, often flattering, lies.   Here is a partial list (ten thouand words might not suffice for a complete list).  The links provided show only illustrations (detailed descriptions are beyond the scope of this post).

In all of these conservatives often exhibit a combination of amnesia and outright falsities.  It makes rational discussion difficult, often impossible.  Worse, this heavy overlay of myth makes rational decision-making difficult on affected issues.  Perhaps impossible.

This has not just happened.  Our leaders (both left and right) have discovered that they can easily and successfully lie to us.   Insights like this change the course of nations.  It is our responsibility to be stronger.   That they exploit this weakness of ours is the natural course of life.

Although a bipartisan tactic (because it works), the most enthusiastic application of this appears (for now) on the right.  As in the lies about Obama’s birth certificate.  More importantly and astonishingly, they consistently describe Obama  as a radical leftist.  While bizarrely false, repetition works!  On sheep.

Update:  Every society has this to some extent.  Everybody’s history has a mythological element to it, covering up dark deeds of the past.  That’s the essence of “Whig history”, rearranging history as a tale of progress leading to the wonderfulness of us.  But, as always, magnitudes matter.  What might distinguish us is the degree of fantasy, so great that it degrades our ability to see and understand the world.

The history of counter-insurgency by foreign armies

It’s not encouraging.  Only by exaggerating and distorting history can one make a case that it’s a reasonable thing to attempt.

Posts about this bleak history

  1. How often do insurgents win? How much time does successful COIN require?, 29 May 2008
  2. Max Boot: history suggests we will win in Afghanistan, with better than 50-50 odds. Here’s the real story., 21 June 2010
  3. A major discovery! It could change the course of US geopolitical strategy, if we’d only see it, 28 June 2010
  4. A look at the history of victories over insurgents. How often do foreign armies win?, 30 June 2010

Also — about the Brit’s suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya:

Posts about propaganda

For a complete list see the FM reference page about Information & disinformation.

  1. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009
  2. Successful propaganda as a characteristic of 21st century America, 1 February 2010
  3. More propaganda: the eco-fable of Easter Island, 4 February 2010
  4. The hidden history of the global warming crusade, 19 February 2010
  5. Forensic analysis of propaganda: “Michelle Obama Keeps Socialist Books in the White House”, 19 February 2010
  6. A note about practical propaganda, 22 March 2010
  7. About the political significance of the conservatives’ health care propaganda, 23 March 2010
  8. The similar delusions of America’s Left and Right show our common culture – and weakness, 26 March 2010
  9. Programs to reshape the American mind, run by the left and right, 2 August 2010
  10. The US government successfully smears Wikileaks, while America sleeps, 22 October 2010
  11. We have trouble coping with our present because we’ve lost our past, 23 October 2010

3 thoughts on “The easy way to rule: leading a weak people by feeding them disinformation”

  1. Idiocy too fun to ignore, update

    No day is long enough to cite every Republican lie or misrepresentation (we could hook up William Buckley’s grave to a turbine and power New York City from its spinning). But here’s one to fun to ignore.

    Albert Einstein was a Friend of Mine, and I Can Tell You, Representative: You Are No Albert Einstein*
    by Tom Levenson

    From Think Progress (h/t Daily Kos) we learn that in the midst of yet another creationist eructation, a Tennessee state representative has invoked the ghost of the good Dr. Einstein to defend the teaching of woo to the unwary:

    Rep. FRANK NICELEY (R-Strawberry Fields): I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Enstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

    I don’t have much truck with the argument from authority, but just this once, let me let it rip. …

    Levenson gives heavy documentation refuting this idiocy. Short version:
    (1) He was by birth a Jew.
    (2) His personal faith was like nothing in the Judeo-Christian realm.

  2. Today's lie: the rich pay far higher tax rates than the middle class, update

    The pay more because they earn more, but they pay only a slightly high tax rate (including all taxes). For details see “America’s Tax System Is Not as Progressive as You Think“, Citizens for Tax Justice, 15 April 2011. A host of earlier studies have shown similar results. Paul Krugman states the bleak but obvious truth:

    The overall system is barely progressive at all.

    And here’s the thing: the people peddling this stuff about those lucky duckies who don’t pay tax because their incomes are low know all this, because it has been pointed out many times. They are deliberately trying to deceive you.

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