Blog Archives

Welcome to the USSR: the United States of Suppression and Repression

When propaganda is cleverly engineered, people don’t even recognize it as propaganda: welcome to the USSR, the United States of Suppression and Repression. The propaganda in the U.S. has reached such a high state that the majority of people accept it as “pravda” (truth), even as their limbic system’s BS detector is sensing there is a great disturbance in the Force.

Inflation is a good example. The official (i.e. propaganda) inflation rate is increasingly detached from the real-world declines in the purchasing power of the bottom 80%, yet the jabbering talking heads on TV repeat the “low inflation” story with such conviction that the dissonance between the “official narrative” and the real world must be “our fault”–a classic technique of brainwashing.

To give some examples: healthcare is over 18% of the nation’s GDP, yet it makes up only 8.7% of the Consumer price Index. Hundreds of thousands of families have to declare bankruptcy as a result of crushing healthcare bills, but on the CPI components chart, it’s a tiny little sliver just a bit more than recreation (5.7%).

Then there’s education, which includes the $1.4 trillion borrowed by student debt-serfs–which is only part of the tsunami of cash gushing into the coffers of the higher-education cartel. Yet education & communication (which presumably includes the Internet / mobile telephone service cartel’s soaring prices) is another tiny sliver of the CPI, just 6.6%, a bit more than fun-and-games recreation.

As for housing costs, former Soviet apparatchiks must be high-fiving the Federal agencies for their inventive confusion of reality with magical made-up “statistics.” To estimate housing costs, the federal agency in charge of ginning up a low inflation number asks homeowners to guess what their house would rent for, were it being rented–what’s known as equivalent rent.

Wait a minute–don’t we have actual sales data for houses, and actual rent data? Yes we do, but those are verboten because they reflect skyrocketing inflation in housing costs, which is not allowed. So we use some fake guessing-game numbers, and the corporate media dutifully delivers the “pravda” that inflation is 1.6% annually–basically signal noise, while in the real world (as measured by the Chapwood Index) is running between 9% and 13% annually. How the Chapwood Index is calculated)

As the dissonance between the real world experienced by the citizenry and what they’re told is “pravda” by the media reaches extremes, the media is forced to double-down on the propaganda, shouting down, marginalizing, discrediting, demonetizing and suppressing dissenters via character assassination, following the old Soviet script to a tee.

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The Gathering Storm

July 4th is an appropriate day to borrow Winston Churchill’s the gathering storm to describe the existential crisis that will envelope America within the next decade. There is no single cause of the gathering storm; in complex systems, dynamics feed back into one another, and the sum of destabilizing disorder is greater than a simple sum of its parts.

Causal factors can be roughly broken into two categories: systemic and social/economic. The central illusion of those who focus solely on social, political and economic issues as the sources of destabilization is that tweaking the parameters of the status quo is all that’s needed to right the ship: if only Trump were impeached, if only GDP hits 4% annual growth rate, if only the Federal Reserve started controlling the price of bat guano, etc., etc., etc.

The unwelcome reality is the systemic issues cannot be reversed with policy tweaks or shuffling those at the top of a crumbling centralized order. The systemic problems arise from the structures of centralization and monopoly capital, theinstitutionalization of perverse incentives and the depletion of natural capital: soil, water, fossil fuels, etc.

We can create “money” out of thin air but we can’t print fresh water, productive soil or affordable energy out of thin air.

Regardless of their ideological labels, centralized socio-economic systems follow an S-Curve of rapid expansion during a “boost phase,” a period of stable expansion (maturity) and then a period of stagnation and decline as the system’s participants do more of what’s failed, as they cannot accept that what worked so well in the past no longer works.

A successful model traps those within it; escape becomes impossible. That’s the lesson of the S-Curve:

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Is Profit-Maximizing Data-Mining Undermining Democracy?

As many of you know, oftwominds.com was falsely labeled propaganda by the propaganda operation known as ProporNot back in 2016. The Washington Post saw fit to promote ProporNot’s propaganda operation because it aligned with the newspaper’s view that any site that wasn’t pro-status quo was propaganda; the possibility of reasoned dissent has vanished into a void of warring accusations of propaganda and “fake news” –which is of course propaganda in action.

Now we discover that profit-maximizing data-mining (i.e. Facebook and Google) can–gasp–be used for selling ideologies, narratives and candidates just like dog food and laundry detergent. The more extreme and fixed the views and the closer the groups are in size (i.e. the closer any electoral contest), the more profitable the corporate data-mining becomes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the data-mining gets all the important stuff wrong. As correspondent GFB explains, oftwominds.com was identified as “propaganda” by data-mining, which concluded that any site that posted content that wasn’t pro-Hillary was automatically propaganda:

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What’s Driving Social Discord: Russian Social Media Meddling or Soaring Wealth/Power Inequality?

 


There are two competing explanatory narratives battling for mind-share in the U.S.:

1. The nation’s social discord is the direct result of Russian social media meddling– what I call the Boris and Natasha Narrative of evil Russian masterminds controlling a vast conspiracy of social media advertising, fake-news outlets and trolls that have created artificial divides in the body politic, or exacerbated minor cracks into chasms.

2. The nation’s social discord is the direct result of soaring wealth/power inequality– the vast expansion of the wealth and power of the nation’s financial elites and their protected class of technocrat enablers and enforcers (the few) at the expense of the unprotected many.

Core to this narrative is the view that the elites and technocrats have engaged in a massive, coordinated official/media propaganda campaign of fake news aimed at persuading the bottom 95% that their prosperity and financial security are expanding when the reality is they have lost ground they will never be able to recover.

This propaganda campaign includes official (i.e. gamed/distorted) statistics such as unemployment and inflation, a reliance on the manipulated stock market to “signal widespread prosperity” and a steady drumbeat of corporate media coverage promoting the Boris and Natasha Narrative as the primary source of all our troubles.

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Beware the “The Cultural Civil War” Narrative: You’re Being Played

Remember the “Russians hacked our election!” hysteria–or have you already forgotten? That entire narrative collapsed under a deluge of factual evidence that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) data release was an insider job, and a compelling lack of evidence of any other Russian hacking.

That failed narrative has now been replaced with a new mass hysteria: “a new cultural Civil War is inevitable.” In this narrative, America has succumbed to us-versus-them divisions divided by all-or-nothing ideological bright lines.

Snap out of it, America: you’re being played, just as you were played by the absurd “Russia hacked the election” mania.

The core strategy here is the destruction of any common ground: 

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Fake News, Mass Hysteria and Induced Insanity

We’ve heard a lot about “fake news” from those whose master narratives are threatened by alternative sources and analyses. We’ve heard less about the master narratives being threatened: the fomenting of mass hysteria, which turns the populace into an easily manipulated and managed herd, and induced insanity, a longer-term marketing-based narrative that causes the populace to ignore the self-destructive consequences of accepting the fad/ ideology/ mindset being pushed as “good” and “normal.”

In terms of “fake news,” it’s hard to beat the mainstream media and its handlers’ attempts to whip up mass hysteria via unsubstantiated claims that Russian hackers working for Putin deprived Hillary of the presidency. The campaign to spark mass hysteria was launched with great precision, unleashing the overwhelming forces of endless repetition (the marketer’s favorite tool) and appeals to national security authorities: The C.I.A., F.B.I, and all the other security agencies purportedly concur that Russia “hacked” (whatever that means) the U.S. election.

The intent of the campaign was painfully obvious: by wheeling out the big guns of authority without any actual evidence, the campaign’s designers hoped the public would automatically assume the bizarre, outlandish claim must be “true,” even though no evidence was submitted to substantiate this fact-free claim, and respond as planned, i.e. willingly join a mass hysteria herd in favor of discrediting the U.S.election results.

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U.S. Census Bureau, I.R.S. and St. Louis Federal Reserve Added to Washington Post’s list of “Russian Propaganda” Websites

In case you missed it, The Washington Post’s criminally careless publishing of “fake news” about purported “Russian propaganda” created a backlash–and the Post’s attorney-approved bleating to sidestep responsibility for publishing “fake news” failed to calm the waters.

Here’s The Washington Post’s “fake news” article in case you missed it: Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.

The “experts” claims of expertise were not validated or investigated by the Post, and the Post prominently linked to a list of 200 websites (oftwominds.com among them) that purportedly “wittingly or unwittingly” promoted “Russian propaganda”–but The Washington Post did zero journalistic work to investigate the list or the anonymous “experts” that published it.

Since the list is bogus, the entire story qualifies as “fake news”–exactly what the Post claims to be investigating. Talk about irony….

This criminally sloppy publishing of “fake news” isn’t journalism–it’s propaganda. No amount of slippery legalese can erase the fact that The Washington Post published a “fake news” story and featured it prominently on page one.

Let me explain the “methodology” behind the “Russian propaganda” list: guilt by association. Here’s how this works. Say you’re in a totalitarian state with a media controlled by a handful of state-corporate interests. (Sound familiar?)

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Populism in America: “Follow the Money”

One of the most disturbing failures of the mainstream media in this election cycle was its complete lack of historical context for Trump’s brand of populism.If you consumed the mainstream media’s coverage of the campaign and election, you noted their obsession with speech acts (as opposed to concrete actions), personalities and conspiracy theories pinning American populism on Russian propaganda.

The mainstream media dismisses populism by pushing two absurdly ignorant narratives:

1. Populism (we’re told) always leads to authoritarian rules and/or fascism (i.e. Nazism). All populist movements are therefore tarred with the Nazism brush: no good could possibly come from Populist movements because they always lead to fascism.

This is convenient for the apologists of the embattled status quo, but it’s utterly false: America’s enormous populist movements have never led to fascism.

2. Since the status quo is wonderful and America’s economy is strong, dissent or populism cannot be home-grown–it must be the work of the Devil, in the guise of “foreign propaganda.”

Notice the classic propaganda ploy being deployed here: since dissent is impossible in a regime as well-managed and prosperous as America’s status quo, populism must be driven and controlled by evil foreign agents.

This is laughably absurd: America’s populist movements, including the present one, have been revolts against the concentrated wealth and power of self-serving status quo elites.

If the mainstream media actually employed well-informed analysts rather than empty-headed politically correct parrots, you might have learned that America has a long and rich history of populism that did not lead to authoritarianism or fascism.

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The Washington Post: Useful-Idiot Shills for a Failed, Frantic Status Quo That Has Lost Control of the Narrative

I was amused to find my site listed on the now-infamous list of purportedly Russian-controlled propaganda sites cited by The Washington Post. I find it amusing because I invite anyone to search my 3,600-page archive of published material over the past decade (which includes some guest posts and poems) and identify a single pro-Russia or pro-Russian foreign policy entry.

If anything, my perspective is pro-US dollar, pro-liberty, pro-open markets, pro-local control, pro-free-press, pro-innovation, and pro-opportunities to rebuild America’s abandoned, decaying localized economies: in other words, the exact opposite of Russian propaganda.

My “crime” is a simple one: challenging the ruling elite’s narrative. Labeling all dissent “enemy propaganda” is of course the classic first phase of state-sponsored propaganda and the favorite tool of well-paid illiberal apologists for an illiberal regime.

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Fearmongering Propaganda Is Immensely Profitable–and Distracting

Let’s start by asking: if Trump had lost and his supporters had angrily taken to the streets, destroying private property and threatening police officers while proclaiming “not my president,” would the mainstream media have characterized the rioters differently than it has the pro-Clinton rioters?

Any fair-minded observer knows the answer is yes: the CNN/MSM would have lambasted the “rioting deplorables” as “what’s wrong with America.”

Substitution is a useful tool to expose bias. How come the CNN/mainstream corporate media isn’t declaring the pro-Clinton rioters “deplorables”?

This tells us something else is going on here. I want to explain what’s really going on, but first we need to run a simple experiment:

Turn off CNN, PBS, CBS et al., your Twitter and Facebook feeds, etc. for seven days, and live solely in the media-free real world for a week. If you’re truly interested in understanding what’s really going on in America, then come back in a week and read the rest of the essay.

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The Status Quo Has Failed and Is Beyond Reform

That the status quo–the current pyramid of wealth and power dominated by the few at the top–has failed is self-evident, but we can’t bear to talk about it.This is not just the result of a corporate media that serves up a steady spew of pro-status quo propaganda–it is also the result of self-censorship and denial.

Why do we avoid talking about the failure of the status quo? We know it is beyond reform, and we’re afraid: afraid that the promises of financial security cannot be kept, afraid of our own precariousness and fragility, and afraid of what will replace the status quo, for we all know Nature abhors a vacuum, and when the status quo crumbles, something else will take its place.

We all prefer the comforting promises of vast central states. No wonder so many Russians pine for the glory days of the Soviet Union, warts and all.

But the central bank/state model has failed, and history can’t be reversed. The failure is not rooted in superficial issues such as which political party is in power, or which regulations are enforced; the failure is structural. The very foundation of the status quo has rotted away, and brushing on another coat of reformist paint will not save our societal house from collapse.

Yet those who benefit from our status quo (or hope to benefit from it upon retirement) naturally deny it has failed, for the reason that it has yet to fail them personally.

So we pretend to not understand that all unsustainable systems eventually collapse, and hope that the next central bank policy–negative interest rates, or bank bail-ins or helicopter money–will postpone it.

But the writing is already on the wall for us to read: these are the tell-tale signs of systemic failure leading to systemic collapse:

 

  • We keep doing more of what has failed spectacularly.
  • What began as emergency measures are now permanent policies.
  • The returns on status quo solutions are diminishing to less than zero.
  • Social mobility has eroded.
  • We have lost social cohesion and shared purpose.

 

But the failure runs even deeper: Our status quo is not only failing to solve humanity’s six core problems– it has become the problem.

To explain why this is so, I wrote Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, a new book that’s focused (90 pages) and affordable, i.e. the cost of a latte ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition).

Why can’t our status quo be reformed? There are two primary reasons:

1) Those benefiting from the current arrangement will resist any reforms that threaten their share of the pie–and meaningful reforms will necessarily threaten everyone’s slice of the pie.

2) Reforms that actually address the structural flaws will bring the system down, as the status quo can only continue if its engine (permanent expansion of debt and consumption) is running at full speed. Once the engine stalls or even slows, the system collapses.

This is unwelcome news not just to privileged insiders–and the harsh reality is thatour status quo exists to protect the privileges of the few at the expense of the many–but to everyone who hopes to benefit in some way from our status quo’s cornucopia of promises.

So we cling to the dangerous hope that all the promises can be met by some future magic, and cocoon ourselves in an equally dangerous denial that collapse is inevitable. We don’t just want to avoid the decay and collapse of all the happy promises–we want to avoid the responsibility of taking part in shaping the replacement system.

We all want to wallow in the false security of one form of the old Soviet Union or another. Call it Japan, or the Eurozone, or the U.S.A., or Russia, or the People’s Republic of China–they’re all versions of the doomed Soviet model of central planning, propaganda and supression of anything that isn’t supportive of the status quo, i.e. dissent.

The truth is the usual menu of reforms can’t stop this failure, so we have to prepare ourselves for the radical transformations ahead. The decay and collapse of our status quo is not the disaster we assume; rather, it is good news for the planet and everyone who isn’t in the privileged elites, as the collapse will clear the way for a much more sustainable decentralized system that is already visible to those who know where to look (crypto-currencies, local community economies, etc.).

The decay phase of the status quo (i.e. the present) offers us a magnificent opportunity to fashion alternative systems that operate in the shadow of the status quo, making use of technologies such as the Internet. Alternative systems can arise without challenging the status quo; indeed, sustainable, decentralized systems offer open-minded elements of the status quo new models and new partners.

My own proposal for a replacement system is called CLIME–the Community Labor Integrated Money System. Whether you agree with my proposal or not, the point is that we have to wake up from our propaganda-induced slumber and take responsibility for being part of the solution rather than passively clinging to the problem, i.e. our status quo.

You can find our more about Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform($3.95 Kindle ebook, a 20% discount thru May 1, $8.95 print edition) on the book’s website. The book is #2 on Kindle short reads -> politics and social science.

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Our Crazy-Making Economy’s Endgame: Festering Frustration Seeking an Outlet

The consequence of policies that exacerbate injustice, inequality and double-bind demands is a madness that will find a social and economic outlet somewhere, sometime.

We all know crazy-makers: people who make contradictory claims about reality, who say one thing and do another, who change their stories constantly to justify their own pursuit of self-interest, who demand the impossible of others while giving themselves unlimited excuses.

When they can’t change reality to suit their purposes, they change their accounts of reality, and stick with the revised stories even when they are contradictory.

This describes the entire financial structure of the U.S.: crazy-making.

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