September 10, 2011

Seven Steps To A Closed Society

Conspiracy theorists both left and right always think of a closed society in terms of government control. I'm not sure exactly how many steps it takes to close a society but I do know that it's not only the government that can close a society from liberty.  Liberty requires free speech, free thought, an informed public and an engaged public. A society can be closed by an atrophy of those pillars.  It can be closed by a deliberate removal of those pillars.  In America the former course is not only more likely than the latter, it's more evident.  Taken together, seven somewhat inter-related factors (rather than 'steps' because they aren't really sequential as much as they are parallel developments) present a toxic mix for a free nation.

Watch out.

1.  Let the press adjust what the news looks like.

Consider the following news items, via American Thinker, PBS alters transcript to hide Obama gaffe. Go look, it's no exaggeration.  Imagine if Bush, Perry or Palin had made the same mistake?  The implication of deliberate omission to sway the news are very serious and pretty much obvious.

2.  Let the press decide what IS news.

Did you know this was going on?  A wildcat strike turns violent   So violent, even the union friendly serving National Labor Relations Board took action against the union.  It doesn't make the media and is barely even making Fox News with the level of attention it should be getting.  It doesn't fit the pro-Obama, Labor Day, Unions take back America because the other guys are the barbarians meme.  Much like the first point omission of news items is a potent way to control opinion.

3.  Public Apathy.

I'm not talking about the Tea Party.  I'm not talking about those who take an interest.  In fact, with respect to this point I'm not talking about far left liberals.  I'm talking about those who don't know about what's going on, don't pay attention and either don't vote or vote half informed.  Often they fail to make connections between events.  That is why the President can say one thing one day and something diametrically opposed the next day and not have the citizenry angry over it.  The apathy and lack of resulting attention lend themselves to easy manipulation.

4.  Revisionism and Proselytism ad infinitum.

Schools are teaching revisionist history.  Liberals are carrying the revisionist torch.

Hollywood very often is more engaged in politics or idea promotion than entertainment.  They've lost the basic premise of entertainment which is to entertain first.  Instead they proselytize first and entertainment is increasingly relegated to second thought (arguably in some cases are given no thought).  This is all done on an imperceptible level, or it was until the progressives decided they need to move faster and the changes started becoming more obvious.  Control the medium - control the message.

5.  Brain Drain and other drains.

In America, there are a number of leaks - capital is fleeing or being smothered by debt.  Businesses are offshoring jobs or investing elsewhere (not necessarily a bad thing on it's own, there are positives and negatives to it).  Capital is being parked or moved overseas.  Intellectual capital is being attracted elsewhere or stolen by unfriendly governments.  And those with ideas are increasingly coming from elsewhere (see graph 3).  All of this serves to weaken not only the economy but also the individual.  A weakened society is more easy to control.

[As an aside, isn't anyone concerned about the Patent Reform Act?]

6. Misdirection.

Class warfare - blame the rich.  Blame the Tea Party for the debt crisis when they were just pointing out a serious problem.  Blame anyone other than those in power (remember blame Bush?).  Misdirection is a way to have you overlook serious problems by focusing on other issues, perhaps manufactured ones.  It is a way to direct anger or discontent.  It's a way to channel that energy and use it.  Unions represent a classic example of that effort.  Imagine a union member from 1900 or even 1940 looking at how the efforts of unions are being focused nowadays.  They'd be shocked and not happy.

Misdirection is a big but not specifically items part of Saul Alinsky's tactics.  It sort of fits under the last one. It's a tool that can be used, deliberately and often subtly to help steer an opinion in a particular direction.

7. Bewilderment.

This isn't something that is deliberate or attributable to design.  Society has become faster.  It throws more and more information and more and more responsibility at people ever day.  The news stream is both instantaneous and enormous.  The implications of everything are potentially far reaching or completely meaningless.  We often have to absorb something and classify it as important or trivial in a very short period of time.  

With all of our roles in this fast-paced society and all of the information it's easy to overlook something or to simplify the digestion of a piece of information to simply accept someone else's synthesis of it.  This is especially true in a light of what I originally considered as the seventh step - trust.  If you trust a news source, then the mental short hand is to continue to trust them.  If you trust Hollywood to entertain than you continue to not expect or notice a subtle message being included in your entertainment.  If you trust your teacher, you take their interpretation along with their teaching, as their teaching.  Trust leads to mental short cuts.  Some people deserve your trust, the further the separation from you, the more they have to do to earn your trust, rather than abuse it with their own agenda.  Bewilderment at the mass of information allows them to take advantage of your trust.

All of these factors taken together represent a way of a society closing on itself by simply having agenda-driven people in key positions.  It's not a conspiracy, it's a tide enabled by these factors.  We all need to create flood walls for ourselves for protection against the tide.

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