News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Assessing the Successes of the Neocon Putsch

Monday, September 11, 2006

Assessing the Successes of the Neocon Putsch

We'll all remember Orwell's 1984 descriptions of Winston Smith's manipulating the news, ostensibly history. The current 911 movie that ABC is showing only extends the effort by the neocons to neutralize the massive organs of cultural reproduction that are the MSM and Hollywood. Perhaps more ominously, it is the shadow of things to come as the Pentagon's efforts to "influence" the news stream becomes more integrated with the Internet. ...

It's not news that those who control the telling of history hold the reins of power. That crudely conceived cliché has been a commonplace among deconstructionists for some time. As much as the neocons and other Rightist culture warriors have castigated the Left's attachment to this deconstructionist insight, they put its truth into practice every day. I imagine the neocons and rightists believe that because they practice a historiography that espouses absolute values--versus the relativist ones of the left--their version of history is the most correct one.

It’s been said by some that the modus operandi of the neocon propaganda machine is to take the strengths of the Left and turn them against them. I think the brilliance of this propaganda machine is to take Leftist clichés and turn them on their head by filling them with neocon content. This no doubt reflects the Trotskyist background of many of these same neocons. Concepts such as fascism and international democracy take on a seemingly new and vibrant life when they find a new enemy and a new threat. Such concepts account, no doubt, for how formerly ultra-leftists like Christopher Hitchens joined the neocon cause after 911.

Americans have never liked intellectuals. The "smart-allecky" eggheads make a nuisance of asking too many questions when there's always a healthy need to see things closer to the bone. But the intelligentsia has always played a key role in asking the hard questions, keeping the corporate memory free of errors, and formulating the big issues which then get disseminated to the masses by lesser minds.

The neocons have been very effective, I think, at decapitating the US intelligentsia. This effort began directly after 911 when teachers and professors were scared into silence by threats of losing tenure if they taught a different line or interpretation from the one espoused by the neocon white house. In effect, what the neocons have accomplished is a bloodless version of what the Soviets did in 1940at Katyn to the Polish intelligentsia after it invaded Poland.

Of course, the ivory tower types often only have themselves to blame for this, since their abstruse interests rarely intersect with the reality of the masses. Still, that they would rather engage in their vicious internecine department wars than deal with the freedoms that underpin the republic will only make them less and less relevant.

The neocons have filled the ensuing vacuum left by the decapitation of the intelligentsia with their think tank luminaries like Kristol, Brooks, Perle, et al. Backed by infusions of millions of dollars from conservative backers, they’ve taken over the cultural apparatus that has solidified the basics of the republic’s intellectual heritage for 200 years. Now we face the prospect not of free and open dialog and discussion about the republic’s fate, but an ideologically based regime with effective means of disseminating that ideology.

In a speech before the Nazi Party at Nuremberg, Hitler defined what it meant to be a Nazi. What distinguished the Nazi party from every other political party, he said, was that it was a party of ideology. It would be ruled by ideology and assessed by how well and comprehensively that ideology was put into practice. Obviously, anything or anyone that questioned, opposed, or undermined this ideology was to be exterminated.

While the atmosphere of ideological intimidation that came after 911 has seemingly dissipated, there are warning signs indicating that there’s more ideologically based efforts afoot by the neocon Bush white house. Infusing the reified term fascist with the blood and skin of Islamic jihadists is one such effort. The new 911 film is another. Just as an iceberg is unseen, it seems well to determine how much the ideologically based programme of the neocons has adapted to twist the facts of history to their advantage.

In a little noticed article on the web, sociologist Richard Sennett noted that there are two types of fascism—hard and soft. The hard type is the jack boot in the face and the iron fist. The soft type is an environment of intimidation and fear that squashes all dissent, internal or external. Orwell called it thoughtcrime. We haven’t reached that nadir in ideological austerity. As the disinformation of the Pentagon-based propaganda machine ratchets up its efforts, we will face further confusion and further displays historigraphical fascism.

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