Part of a series, Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Posts about our roles, relationships and governance. No article in this section is meant to stand alone, there will be a lot more coming soon that will clarify the current posts.
Governance is a force directing actions taken by society. We began governance with small tribes arranging relationships and personal assets between themselves and authority only required to settle disputes. As populations grew, we moved to a variety of government systems with full hierarchies, official authorities and hard coercive force in the form of official military and police. Lately we have moved far beyond these forms to all pervasive and largely invisible soft coercion. While large populations have always been coerced more by propaganda than by armies, the techniques developed by global intelligence and marketing research of the past several decades have escalated this to global coercion controlled by a very few people. Unlike the churches and governments in the past, the new hierarchy controlling this coercion is invisible.
Democracy is a puppet show set up to distract attention from the real governance. Democracy and local governments provide a curtain between the true coercive power and the rest of the people. A politician or ruler is placed on stage and people are made to feel they participate in the show by voting for or against and occasionally throwing shoes at or assassinating them. Then the people leave the theatre and go to the streets where they are the targets of an increasingly oppressive war of coercion by those battling for control of the real governance. It was once possible to monitor our governance but we are now locked in an ideological maze with walls of democracy preventing us from seeing or participating in the true structures of power and debate.
Voting, even in the case of referendums, is a controlled binary input into a preordained structure and question. It is always a front to reinforce the underlying propaganda. ‘Would you like to be ruled by person A or person B?’ is a propaganda exercise and advertising blitz promoting the idea that democracy is good and the voters are in control. In this structure, ‘none of the above’ is never an easy option and doing away with democracy is not an allowable choice at all. The voters are locked out of any control over the coercive propaganda that forms our real governance by a lack of access to information or the time and funding required to participate. Influencing votes by coercion is illegal in democracies but the United States spent $6,285,557,223 in 2012 on seductive coercion proven to be more effective than any violence in influencing outcomes. Despite the obvious and proven effectiveness of this coercion, its effectiveness is denied by the very propaganda which is spending billions on it.
The most important lie those currently in power had to convince the majority of was that they had free will and individual self governance was possible, that they lived free of coercion. It is not possible to live free of coercion. It was not possible even when we were in small tribes as the need to belong, past experience and uncountable other factors influence every decision. The amount of value judgements our minds are called upon to make every day would be impossible without myriad cognitive shortcuts triggering preconceived judgements or by adopting those judgements held by our peers.
All slides of the NSA leaks from Edward Snowden as posted on the Intercept.
Language itself is highly coercive. Each word is a cognitive shortcut to a wide array of emotions and value judgements, so by a simple redefining sleight of hand people can be manipulated into agreeing with ideas they would normally reject. War is billed as peace, police states are billed as freedom, children are billed as terrorists. Few people have made the value judgements they use to assess information on their own and again, no one has the time and very few have the ability to do so all the time. Most base their judgements on emotive responses to words they have been taught to revere or revile by environmental conditioning through social circles, media or education. Reconditioning by radical groups adjusts emotional responses but still seldom results in change of more than a few principles.
People are presented with ideas, events and personalities which are calculated to trigger binary moral judgements. With the amount of judgements we all have to make every day, no one has time for continual nuance and examination of everything. Information is presented by those who have taken time and care to deliver a specific message and narrow the field of options to make the choice obvious. An overload of topics of advanced complexity has resulted in people permitting themselves to be governed by memes and slogans.
The use of memes to evoke entire bodies of knowledge or memory is not unique to the Internet, it has been used in storytelling cultures everywhere. The difference today is the story tellers are not of and from the communities they are controlling.
The vast growth in intelligence communities worldwide is not triggered by a desire to spy on our selfies for any government. The intelligence communities are the government.
Control of the Internet is control of the dialogue which is directing and coercing behaviour worldwide.
We have spent decades watching as governments, particularly those under direction of the five eyes, have experimented with brainwashing and coercion techniques. From brainwashing Canadian women with postnatal depression and secretly drugging US citizens in 1950’s and 60’s they have gone to the advanced torture and coercion techniques we see today. China’s Thought Reform Movement in 1951 was an unusually open example of the coercion practised by all governments to greater or lesser effect. The advertising industry also has invested billions into research to understand motivation and desire, stimulus and response. Non-stop propaganda from media, video games and social programs combines with game theory incorporated increasingly everywhere. All of this research, the vast reach of all forms of media, and the complete corporate control of all essential resources have combined until today we are very near governance by thought control, complete with imprisonment for thought crimes and criminalization of information counter to governing propaganda.
The portions of the leaked NSA documents that the public have been permitted to see show how people worldwide are being governed and in whose interests. Intelligence efforts are directed at coercing your behaviour and response in service to corporate interests. The people preventing you from reading the NSA documents (and every other intelligence document) are preventing you from having any understanding of your own governance.
According to the few PowerPoint slides we have been permitted to see, the UK’s GCHQ study Social Engineering, Digital Tells, Disruption, Strategic Influence, Scams and Deception. Their slides ask Can SIGDEV help us understand and shape the Human Terrain? and describe Having an impact in the real world with Complete Network Information Operations: Propaganda, deception, mass messaging, pushing stories, alias development, psychology. They specify looking for Social not technological solutions and teach “Using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world.” No, these techniques were not used against just ‘the enemy’ whoever that may be.
Thanks to whistleblower Jeremy Hammond we also have insight into the activities used against activists from another source, the intelligence firm Stratfor. Stratfor recommended the following methods for dismantling any group interested in participating in their own governance. Taking advantage of the personality based interests of the majority, ideas are silenced by attacking their source. As described by Steve Horn in Popular Resistance:
Divide activists into four groups: Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Opportunists. The Opportunists are in it for themselves and can be pulled away for their own self-interest. The Realists can be convinced that transformative change is not possible and we must settle for what is possible. Idealists can be convinced they have the facts wrong and pulled to the Realist camp. Radicals, who see the system as corrupt and needing transformation, need to be isolated and discredited, using false charges to assassinate their character is a common tactic. …
“If your industry can successfully bring about these relationships, the credibility of the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be counted on to share in the final policy solution,” Duchin outlined in closing his speech. “What Stratfor produces is the information economy’s equivalent of guns: knowledge about the world that can change the world, quickly and irrevocably.” …
“The Pagan/MBD/Stratfor operatives are much more sophisticated about social change than the activists they oppose, they have limitless resources at their disposal, and their goal is relatively simple: make sure that ultimately the activists fail to win fundamental reforms,” he said. “Duchin and Mongoven were ruthless, and I think they were often amused by the naivete, egotism, antics and failures of activists they routinely fooled and defeated. Ultimately, this is war, and the best warriors will win.”
Those not swayed solely by personalities are coerced by events, selected by media and others in power to create an emotional response which will steer public opinion in the direction they wish. For those few who look beyond personalities and events, messages can be easily co-opted by isolating certain ideas out of context. Particularly any idea which challenges deeply held convictions and would require concentrated thought is easily deflected by distracting noise and triggering fear responses.
The manipulation is not restricted to coercing opinions online as we have seen from the many cases of incitement to criminal action by intelligence services. Participation in military horrors and even genocide are also coerced by media packaged for that purpose by groups such as the 969 movement in Myanmar. Wars are now being fought around the world with no declaration or admission of war, controlled solely by fear, propaganda and denial. Wars are declared against enemies no one can truly define as we have seen with shadowy backers behind groups such as the M23 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, various Syria rebel groups and the Boko Haram in Nigeria. Billion dollar multi-national industries such as human trafficking are kept entirely out of the spotlight by diverting interest. The battle for hearts and minds is not just real, it is the only battle that matters, the battle from which all others emanate.
Instead of religious propaganda reinforcing slave morality and obedience as in the past, master morality and free will are now promoted for all along with the delusion that all have the ability to become masters in the current ponzi scheme of power. The myths of equality and self governance have convinced the public that all are responsible for their own actions as long as they attain a minimum level of competence. That premise is as unfair as it would be to hold someone responsible who had not attained that minimum. It is the knowledge differential between those presenting information and those receiving it that matters. People are convinced to defer responsibility for the actions of their government or while deployed in the military but suddenly retain it in their everyday actions which are subject to even greater coercion and lack of alternative choice.
The originator of information also should not be held responsible for the unforeseen actions of those below a level of understanding the original information. The manipulators of information that bring it to the wider public are those that direct acceptance and rejection. These coercive agents deflect blame by claiming they have a right to free speech and all of those following their message have free will and should be responsible for their own actions. This deflected responsibility is insisted on despite all evidence of the power of coercion which the top research efforts in the world have developed over many decades.
Since all are declared to have free will and equal ability, this man is fully responsible for his actions and the media and politicians who placed him opposite his designated opponent and incessantly harassed him with a barrage of highly targeted coercion and false information bear no responsibility. These two brains are equal under the law and the one with fetal alcohol syndrome fills prisons everywhere because they are held to the same level of responsibility as the other. Presumption of equality has ensured enslavement of many to the whims of a few.
Of all the movements attempting to counter government and corporate action, intelligence leaks and releases show none are more feared than the ones the governments prefix with ‘cyber’. The public can be led in circles with laughable ease by whoever controls the dialogue and the only uncontrolled dialogue is on the Internet. The efforts to co-opt it, dilute it, discredit it and divert it have been overwhelming. Interrupting Internet collaboration is interrupting collaborative self-governance, the only real threat to the coercive governance currently in place.
That threat is still very small and is being overwhelmed by restrictions on access, spying, arrests, laws to discourage participation and most of all, a lack of independent decentralized tools for long term governance. An unending meme war is ridiculous and unwinnable. Self governance requires deep knowledge and knowledge bridges emanating from constantly audited and updated cores of information. Quick information and action must flow naturally and transparently from these cores, not just appear as confusing dissociated static. Information must be informed and audited by those on the ground, not as manufactured Kony 2012 type activist product.
Self governance by individuals is impossible in practice. There is too much information for any one person to act at all times without connection to an informed community. Communal auto-coercion or self-governance will need transparent, permeable epistemic communities with knowledge bridges to audit and simplify their messages. Without the ability to trust in transparent collective knowledge, people will be discouraged from taking any action at all. A lack of these knowledge repositories leaves fertile ground for viral hidden and uncontrollable coercion.
In the end, the solution must be to dismantle the structure that creates motivation for the current coercive power.