[ Ed. note – The writer of the piece below argues that, “a disadvantage of being part of the elite is that you must stick to the accepted story.” His thesis is that at least some of those who hold high profile positions in media, or government for that matter, do not believe the lies but simply go along with them in order to preserve their jobs. Of course, this leaves us wondering about the rest. Have they absorbed the propaganda to the point that they have internalized it? If so, a form of “mind control” could then be said to be operative among a certain segment of those who hold powerful and influential posts in America.
The question of whether or not members of Congress, for instance, are in essence under mind control is something I’ve thought about at length–most recently as yesterday when I put up a post about Rep. Mike Rogers, the congressman from Alabama who believes US sovereignty is threatened by the United Nations but who apparently sees nothing amiss in the power wielded over himself and his colleagues by the Israeli lobby. One might of course hearken back (as the writer below does) to the famous statement by Karl Rove, made to a New York Times writer more than ten years ago, regarding the ability to control what people think. “We (the most powerful people in America) create our own reality,” Rove said. In other words, “reality is whatever we say it is.” The people who control the media and the finances of America hold so much power that they can literally create a “reverse reality” as illustrated by the above graphic–this in essence is, or was, Rove’s thinking on the matter.
But a lot has changed since 2004, when the former White House advisor made that statement. One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is the re-emergence of Russia as a major player on the world stage and the rise of RT to challenge the dominant media narrative. Not for nothing are our elites in panic-mode these days over “Russian propaganda.” And in addition to RT, we’ve also seen the coming-to-the-fore of similar news organizations such as Press TV and Telesur, along with a proliferation of “samizdat sites,” i.e. websites like this one, dedicated to spreading the truth. So for this reason I do not think things are anywhere near as bleak as they were in 2004. Still the control over what people are allowed to say, and the fact that some of the most influential people in our society still are forced to “stick to the accepted story,” is a major problem for us. All worth keeping in mind as you read the article below. ]
Karl Rove’s Prophecy
By Karel Van Wolferen
In a famous exchange between a high official at the court of George W. Bush and journalist Ron Suskind, the official – later acknowledged to have been Karl Rove – takes the journalist to task for working in “the reality-based community.” He defined that as believing “that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” Rove then asserted that this was no longer the way in which the world worked:
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (Ron Suskind, NYTimes Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004).
This declaration became popular as an illustration of the hubris of the Bush-Cheney government. But we could also see it as fulfilled prophecy. Fulfilled in a manner that no journalist at that time would have deemed possible. Yes, the neoconservatives brought disrepute upon themselves because of the disaster in Iraq. Sure, opposition to the reality Rove had helped create in that devastated country became a first rung on the ladder that could lead to the presidency, as it did for Barack Obama. But the neocons stayed put in the State Department and other positions closely linked to the Obama White House, where they became allies with the liberal hawks in continuing ‘spreading democracy’ by overthrowing regimes. America’s mainstream news and opinion purveyors, without demurring, accommodated the architects of reality production overseen by Dick Cheney.
This did not end when Obama became president, but in fact with seemingly ever greater eagerness they gradually made the CIA/neocon-neoliberal created reality appear unshakably substantial in the minds of most newspaper readers and among TV audiences in the Atlantic basin. This was most obvious when attention moved to an imagined existential threat posed by Russia supposedly aimed at the political and ‘Enlightenment’ achievements of the West. Neoconservatives and liberal hawks bent America’s foreign-policy entirely to their ultimate purpose of eliminating a Vladimir Putin who had decided not to dance to Washington’s tune so that he might save the Russian state, which had been disintegrating under his predecessor and Wall Street’s robber barons.
With President Obama as a mere spectator, the neocon/liberals could – without being ridiculed – pass off as a popular revolution the coup d’état they fomented in the Ukraine. And because of an unquestioned Atlanticist faith, which holds that without the policies of the United States the world cannot be safe for people of the Atlantic basin, the European elites that determine policy or comment on it joined their American counterparts in endorsing that reality.
As blind vassals the Europeans have adopted Washington’s enemies as their own. Hence the ease with which the European Union member states could be roped into a system of baseless economic sanctions against Russia, much to the detriment of their own economic interests. Layers upon layers of anti-Russian propaganda have piled up to bamboozle a largely unsuspecting public on both sides of the Ocean.
In the Netherlands, from where I have been watching all this, Putin was held personally responsible in much of the media for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner flying over the Ukraine, which killed 298 people. No serious investigation was undertaken. The presentation of ‘almost definitive’ findings by the joint investigation team under Dutch leadership has neither included clues supplied by jet fighter cannon holes in the wrecked fuselage nor eyewitness stories, which would make the government in Kiev the prime suspect. Moscow’s challenging the integrity of the investigation, whose agreed-upon rules included publication of findings only if Kiev agreed with them, were met with great indignation by the Dutch Foreign and Prime Ministers.
As the fighting in Syria reached a phase when contradictions in the official Washington/NATO story demanded a stepping back for a fresh look, editors were forced into contortions to make sure that the baddies stayed bad, and that no matter how cruel and murderously they went about their occupation in Aleppo and elsewhere, the jihadi groups fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government in Damascus remained strictly labeled as moderate dissidents worthy of Western support, and the Russians as violators of Western values. Architects of an official reality that diverges widely from the facts you thought you knew must rely on faits accompli they achieve through military or police violence and intimidation, in combination with a fitting interpretation or a news blackout delivered by mainstream media.
These conditions have been widely obtained in the Atlantic basin through a gradual loss of political accountability at top levels, and through government agencies protected by venerated secrecy that are allowed to live lives of their own. As a result American and European populations have been dropped into a fantasy world, one under constant threat from terrorists and an evil dictator in Moscow. For Americans the never ending war waged by their own government, which leaves them with no choice but to condone mass murder, is supposedly necessary to keep them safe. For Europeans, at least those in the northern half, the numerous NATO tanks rolling up to the border of the Russian Federation and the massing of troops in that area are an extra guarantee, on top of the missiles that were already there, that Vladimir Putin will restrain his urges to grab a European country or two. On a smaller scale, when every May 4th the 1940-45 war dead are remembered in the Netherlands, we must now include the fallen in Afghanistan as if they were a sacrifice to defend us against the Taliban threat from behind the Hindu Kush.
Ever since the start of this millennium there has been a chain of realities as prophesied by Karl Rove, enhanced by terrorist attacks, which may or may not have been the work of actual terrorists, but whose reality is not questioned without risking one’s reputation. The geopolitical picture that they have helped build in most minds appears fairly consistent if one can keep one’s curiosity on a leash and one’s sense of contradiction sufficiently blunt. After all, the details of the official reality are filled in and smoothed out all the time by crafty campaigns produced in the PR world, with assistance from think tanks and academia.
But the question does reappear in one’s thoughts: do the politically prominent and the well-positioned editors, especially those known for having once possessed skeptical minds, actually believe it all? Do those members of the cabinet or parliament, who can get hot under their collar as they decry the latest revelation about one or other outrage committed by Putin, take seriously what they’re saying? Not all of them are believers, I know that from off the record conversations. But there appears to be a marked difference between the elite in government, in the media, in prominent social positions, and ordinary people who in these recent times of anguish about populism are sometimes referred to as uneducated. Quite a few among the latter appear to think that something fishy is going on. This could be because in my experience the alert ones have educated themselves, something that is not generally understood by commentators who have made their way through the bureaucracy of standard higher education.