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The degrowth propaganda squad

What degrowth thinkers can learn from free market economist Friedrich Hayek and the father of public relations, Edward Bernays.

‘There is no alternative.’ The infamous slogan used by Margaret Thatcher would often be flung in your face, explicitly or implicitly, whenever you tried, in recent decades, to resist the dominant economic system.

You were opposed to ‘capitalism’ because of its colonial roots, because it was a productivity machine that generated extreme social inequality and that was disrupting the climate and the environment at an ever-growing pace.

Readers interested in how knowledge of economics and public relations can assist in environmental activism can contact the newly formed Degrowth Propaganda Squad by emailing rydrawong@protonmail.com.

You were a part of that ‘system’, however, and, for some of us, we were also white middle-class Westerners, and we reaped some of its benefits. You only really stammered when you tried to describe that ‘alternative’.

Degrowth

Jason Hickel’s bestselling Less is More (2021) at least frees us from this sense of discomfort. In it, Hickel, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics, not only shows irrefutably that capitalism – driven by the creation of profit and the reinvestment of that profit and thus by the idea of seemingly infinite growth – is an impossible path for the future.

In purely material terms, the planet on which and off which we live has put up several hard ecological boundaries. Crossing those boundaries, it has become increasingly clear, has extremely destructive consequences.

Drawing on indisputable data, Hickel shows that, as a new way forward, ‘green growth’ – growth decoupled from an excessive energy and material footprint – is just as likely to lead to a dead end and that technological innovation is not going to magically solve the problems.

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Waiting For The Fall

Waiting For The Fall

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, hasn’t it? A Pfizer executive admitted under oath that all those claims that the Covid vaccine would protect you from catching Covid had no data at all backing them.  Inevitably, corporate media flacks are now insisting at the top of their lungs, in the teeth of ample evidence, that nobody ever made the claims in question. Ukrainian agents used a truck bomb to damage the bridge that links Crimea to Russia; Russia, which has supposedly been running out of missiles since about a week since their forces invaded Ukraine, responded by sending a flurry of the missiles they aren’t supposed to have any more to blow up another round of Ukrainian targets, focusing on the energy and transport facilities the Ukrainians are going to need to face the massive winter offensive Russia is all too clearly preparing..

The rate of inflation here in the US has reached levels not seen since Jimmy Carter’s day, while the economy in the US and globally is reeling in ways that normally signal a serious recession on the way.  The mix of inflation and recession is called “stagflation,” for those of you who don’t remember the Seventies, and it’s no fun. The prices of fossil fuels are swinging all over the place, up because supplies are dwindling, down because a failing economy means that fewer people will be able to afford to burn them.  Oh, and Greta Thunberg has come out in favor of nuclear power, because it’s less ecologically damaging than burning coal.  (As you’d expect from a child of privilege, the one thing she can’t possibly imagine is getting by with a lot less.)

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Fourth Turning 2022 — Bad Moon Rising

FOURTH TURNING 2022 – BAD MOON RISING

“Try to unlearn the obsessive fear of death (and the anxious quest for death avoidance) that pervades linear thinking in nearly every modern society. The ancients knew that, without periodic decay and death, nature cannot complete its full round of biological and social change. Without plant death, weeds would strangle the forest. Without human death, memories would never die, and unbroken habits and customs would strangle civilization. Social institutions require no less. Just as floods replenish soil and fires rejuvenate forests, a Fourth Turning clears out society’s exhausted elements and creates an opportunity.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Coronavirus: Is Germany doing enough to slow the outbreak? | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 14.03.2020

“Institutions will be increasingly bossy, limiting personal freedoms, chastising bad manners, and cleansing the culture. Powerful new civic organizations will make judgments about which individual rights deserve respect and which do not. Criminal justice will become swift and rough, trampling on some innocents to protect an endangered and desperate society from those feared to be guilty. Expect a loss of personal privacy. Fourth Turnings can be dark times for the free spirit: Just as one kind of official may have new authority to do something for you, another kind—some hastily deputized magistrate—may have new authority to do something to you.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

It’s been almost a year since my annual look ahead at the upcoming year. Last year’s article FOURTH TURNING DETONATION was a big picture overview of where we stood during the thirteenth year of this ongoing Fourth Turning Crisis. I had given up trying to make specific predictions because the twenty-year length of a Crisis period does not lend itself to specificity within a given year. My comment at the beginning of the article was:

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It’s a Fourth Turning: What Did You Expect?

IT’S A FOURTH TURNING: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

“Reflect on what happens when a terrible winter blizzard strikes. You hear the weather warning but probably fail to act on it. The sky darkens. Then the storm hits with full fury, and the air is a howling whiteness. One by one, your links to the machine age break down. Electricity flickers out, cutting off the TV. Batteries fade, cutting off the radio. Phones go dead. Roads become impossible, and cars get stuck. Food supplies dwindle. Day to day vestiges of modern civilization – bank machines, mutual funds, mass retailers, computers, satellites, airplanes, governments – all recede into irrelevance. Picture yourself and your loved ones in the midst of a howling blizzard that lasts several years. Think about what you would need, who could help you, and why your fate might matter to anybody other than yourself. That is how to plan for a saecular winter. Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

What You Should Know About Getting Snowed In - CLC Lodging

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction…

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Cascade of Consequences

CASCADE OF CONSEQUENCES

“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” – George Orwell 1984

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“People will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people’s minds.” – Frank Zappa

Orwell and Zappa’s words of wisdom have never been truer than they are today. The level of untruth proliferated by the government, mainstream media, central bankers, military leaders, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Corp., and billionaire oligarchs has reached prolific heights. We are lost in a whirlwind of lies, destined to grow into a tornado of tragedy and ultimately result in a cascade of consequences.

Since the installation of the illegitimate dementia patient as president of this dying empire of debt by the Deep State (billionaire oligarchs, surveillance state agencies, military industrial complex, Silicon Valley censorship tyrants, corrupt bought off state politicians, Soros installed bureaucrats, and their propaganda arm – fake news media outlets), the country has further fractured into warring factions.

It has been driven by political party, moral vs. immoral, black vs. white, criminals vs. police, normal vs. abnormal, capitalists vs. communists, Federal Reserve vs. the people, vaxxer sheep vs. natural immunity realists, authoritarians vs. freedom fighters, critical thinkers vs. non-thinking believers, privileged elite vs. common men and women, citizens vs. traitors, powerful vs. powerless, and evil versus good.

As Zappa realized, people believe the narrative they have been conditioned to believe, and no quantity of facts, data or rational arguments will change their minds. Arguing on twitter or facebook is not going to change the mind of those you are arguing against..

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Anti-Global Warming PR

Anti-Global Warming PR

Biomass plant along the Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Propaganda may very well have been invented by the Catholic Church in the year 1622. Yet it was transported into modernity by a man known as Poison Ivy and, more importantly, by Edward Bernays, who once said, The significant revolution of modern times is not industrial or economic or political but the revolution which is taking place in the art of creating consent among the governed.

Just as the Catholic Church tried to prevent stepping into modernity by fighting the Reformation, Poison Ivy fought modernity by combatting those who disliked capital. He fought an ideological public relations battle for Rockefeller but also advised Adolf Hitler.

Not only after the unsavoury beginnings of public relations, the true mastermind of PR, Bernays, had even bigger goals. With his help, propaganda became the art of creating consent among the governed. German philosopher Adorno called this the process of mass deception. Decades later, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky named virtually the same thing:manufacturing consent.

A piece of gigantic machinery had been set in motion to create mass consent in support of corporate capitalism. Today a large section of capitalism’s public relations machinery is fighting a new battle – the battle to preserve the profits of mineral extracting corporations and fossil fuel giants. This, of course, means fighting the awareness that global warming is killing our planet. Anti-global-warming PR seeks to fight knowledge like this:

There is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which humankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels… There are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered.

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Spirits in the Material World

SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD

Image result for spirits in the material world

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution 

The Police – Spirits in the Material World

As I was driving home from work last week, an almost forty-year-old song began emanating from my radio. I’ve always appreciated the music of The Police, but was never a huge fan. Spirits in the Material World was a relatively minor hit from their 1981 Ghost in the Machine multi-platinum album. I’ve probably heard it hundreds of times over the last four decades, but the lyrics struck me as particularly apropos at the end of a week where lunatic left-wing politicians staged a battle royale of ineptitude, invective, and idiotic solutions, in front of a perplexed public in a Vegas casino. Sting wrote the lyrics to this song in 1981 at the outset of the Reagan presidency. It is less than 3 minutes in length, but says much about humanity and the world we inhabit.

The interpretation of Sting’s (Gordon Sumner) lyrics depends upon your position in the generational kaleidoscope of history. As a boomer, Sting came of age during the 1960s and 70s. He was thirty years old in 1981 as the Second Turning (Awakening) was winding down and Reagan’s Morning in America was about to launch the Third Turning (Unraveling) in 1984.

His passionate idealism and search for spiritual solutions to the problems of the day had not been extinguished. The raging inflation of the 1970s had led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. The Cold War was at its coldest. Politicians had been discredited as criminal (Nixon) or incompetent (Carter). Sting and many others of his generation had lost faith in the political system. His viewpoint fit perfectly into the Strauss and Howe assessment of our last Awakening period (1964 – 1984).

Image result for awakening strauss and howe

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See You on the Dark Side of the Moon

SEE YOU ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

Brain Damage, Pink Floyd

Image result for see you on the dark side of the moon"

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

Brain Damage, Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd’s 1973 Dark Side of the Moon album is considered one of the greatest albums of all-time. It stayed on the Billboard 200 charts for 937 weeks. Roger Waters concept was for an album that dealt with things that “make people mad”. The Dark Side of the Moon’s themes include war, conflict, greed, the passage of time, death, and insanity, the latter inspired in part by former band member Syd Barrett’s worsening mental state.

The five tracks on each side reflect various stages of human life, beginning and ending with a heartbeat, exploring the nature of the human experience, and empathy. The themes of this album are timeless and are as germane today as they were forty-six years ago, if not more relevant. The country and world are awash in conflict, driven by the greed of evil men. Decent, law abiding, hard-working, critical thinking Americans see the world going insane as the passage of time leads towards the death of an American empire.

Waters and Gilmour lyrics have always captured the falsity of the world, whether it be the music industry, the ruling elite, educational system, politicians, the military, or our own delusions that keep us from accepting the truth. Their cynicism about our world appeals to my natural inclination towards skepticism about mankind and those constituting the invisible government, controlling the levers of our society.

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The Most Interesting Man in the World: Two Faces on the Same Coin

The Most Interesting Man in the World: Two Faces on the Same Coin

Presidential elections are planned distractions

To divert attention from the action behind the scenes

Like a game of chess when the house is a mess

Or a petty money squabble when your marriage is in trouble

Or a football game when there’s rioting in the streets

It’s just another movie, another song and dance

Another poor sucker who never had a chance

– Timbuk3. “Just Another Movie”, Greetings From Timbuk3 (1986), Mamdadaddi Music/I.R.S. Music, Inc. admin. by Atlantic Music

Before the big game there’s a coin toss and by the luck of the draw, decisions are made even before the teams take the field. It is the same for politics with, perhaps, the exception of luck having anything to do with the outcomes.  Regardless, the games play on our screens and we passively watch; anxiously waiting to see what happens.

It’s an all-or-nothing blitz to score big and winners take all.  In the interim, there are the commercial breaks revealing ads refined by the fires of focus groups and in boardrooms.

Edward Bernays, the influential pioneer of public relations and the nephew of iconic psychologist Sigmund Freud, wrote in his 1928 book “Propaganda” (page 37) regarding an “unseen mechanism of society” that constituted “an invisible government” that was, assuredly,  “the true ruling power of our country”. Bernays added:  “We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”

Bernays was quite proud of his uncle’s work and he accepted Freud’s foundational premises towards the use of emotional manipulation of the masses through advertising. It was Bernays, in fact, who changed the term “propaganda” to “public relations”.

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Technology: Distracting, Disturbing, Deceiving & Deluding Ourselves to Death

TECHNOLOGY: DISTRACTING, DISTURBING, DECEIVING & DELUDING OURSELVES TO DEATH

“What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. 

When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” ― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Image result for huxley amusing ourselves to death

Something as mundane as using the restroom at work sometimes ends up triggering deeper thoughts about technology – its benefits, deficiencies and danger to our culture. I’ve been using the same restroom at work for the last twelve years. They remodeled the restroom a few years ago with the latest technology – automatic flushers, automatic soap dispensers, automatic spigots, and automatic towel dispenser. This technology is supposed to make things better, but from my perspective the technology just added complexity, glitches and unnecessary complications.

First off, these technological “improvements” did not eliminate any humans from the equation. The housekeepers responsible for the restrooms continued to be employed. Prior to the remodel they would fill a metal bin with individual paper towels and fill the soap dispenser with liquid soap. Now they have to insert a roll of paper towels in the electronic dispenser and a cartridge of soap in the electronic soap dispenser.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Integrity Initiative And Affiliates Behind Multiple Attacks On Disobedient Media

The influence of the group and its contacts stretches from news outlets in Europe to Washington DC insiders to Silicon Valley. Multiple reports published by Grayzone, the World Socialist Website and others map this infinite array of relationships, which we will not endeavor to outline in full here.

The revelation is not merely an embarrassment to some factions within the British intelligence community, but represents a glimpse into the inner workings of the propaganda machine that keeps the plutocratic class in control of the public.

John Pilger once wrote of Edward Bernays, the founder of modern propaganda: “Bernays’ influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them] according to our will without their knowing about it. He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government.”

It is this same invisible controlling force that has been exposed at work in the anonymous hack of the Integrity Initiative.

Grayzone’s Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal summarized the scandal, writing:  

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The Secret Society That Rules The World

The Secret Society That Rules The World

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen machanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”[1]

Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and founding father of modern propaganda, 1928

Since the dawn of civilisation, kings, emperors and other men and women of wealth have wanted to rule the world, but none has succeeded. Every empire that arose on the blood of the people it subjected and enslaved – the ancient kingdoms of Egypt and Assyria, the successive Persian and Chinese empires, the Roman empire, the Islamic caliphates, the Ottoman empire, the various European colonial empires and even the communist regime of the Soviet Union – all eventually fell. Even the United States’ global primacy, a logic result of the end of the Cold War, is now being tested by re-emerging superpowers and increasing calls for a more multilateral world order. But these are all well-known attempts at establishing world supremacy. Since the rise of democracy, people – not tyrants – were suddenly said to be in charge. Therefore, if one wanted to obtain or maintain hegemony, one had to find a way to shape world order through hidden means while simultaneously convincing the people the gradual change was of their own making.

PART 1: THE BIRTH OF A SECRET SOCIETY

One man who understood this early on was Cecil Rhodes, an ardent believer in British imperialism and white supremacism who aside from his lucrative career as mining magnate served as prime minister of Cape Colony and co-founded Rhodesia, a colony established by the British South Africa Company eventually named after himself.

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From Bernays to Trump, Hooked on Misery

From Bernays to Trump, Hooked on Misery

The father of modern public relations and spin, Edward Bernays was a cold, cynical manipulator of mass perception. He knew that by shaping people’s desires in a certain way, governments and corporations could sell just about any notion to the masses and manipulate them at will. Whether it was whipping up fear about the bogeyman of communism or selling the ‘American Dream’ of happiness through consuming goods, Bernays and the public relations/advertising industry, which took its cue from him, did exactly that.

Bernays was an expert in stage managing events to capture the popular imagination. Among his various accomplishments was to get women hooked on cigarettes by associating feminism and fashion with smoking. Calling cigarettes ‘torches of freedom’, he was instrumental in convincing women that cigarettes were trendy and that smoking symbolised emancipation. From getting people to change their diets to putting fluoride in drinking water, corporations knew who to turn to when they wanted to sell their dubious products.

Thanks in large part to Bernays, politicians, the corporate media and the system’s opinion leaders learned to appeal to primitive impulses, such as fear, sex and narcissism, that have little bearing on issues beyond the narrow self-interests of a consumer society. The whole point of such a society is to distract people from the reality of the wider world and train them to desire and want new things that they don’t really need – or for that matter even want – while stripping them of their ability to be self-reliant and independent.

The US government quickly learned that angels and demons could be manufactured from thin air and, from Guatemala and Congo to Vietnam, that wars and destabilisations could be built on packs of lies – lies about evil-doers about to kick down the door, lies about the impending misery they would inflict and lies about the government delivering the world from impending doom.

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Happy New Year: Don’t Be Fooled By the Orthodoxies of the Messengers

Happy New Year: Don’t Be Fooled By the Orthodoxies of the Messengers

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

– Edward Bernays, “Propaganda”

Edward Bernays (1891 – 1995) was a famous pioneer in the field of public relations and is, today, often referred to as the Father of Propaganda.Perhaps Bernays became thus known because he authored the above quoted 1928 book titled with that very term. He was actually the nephew of the famed psychopathologist Sigmund Freud and was very proud of his uncle’s work. More than that, however, Bernays accepted the basic premises of Freud towards the use of emotional manipulation of the masses through advertising. It was, in fact, Bernays, who changed the term propaganda into “public relations”.

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Mind Control: It’s Happening to You Right Now

Mind Control: It’s Happening to You Right Now

Your mind is being controlled by distant strangers who don’t have your best interests at heart. If that sounds like a paranoid fantasy, brace yourself and read on. These are the findings of a series of scientific studies that show how a few dominant institutions have the power to affect how you feel, how you act, and even how you vote – without you ever knowing about it.

Deliberate mind manipulation of the masses is, by itself, nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, our global mania for consumption was unleashed by the malevolent brilliance of  Edward Bernays, known as the “father of public relations.” Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and used his uncle’s insights into the subconscious to develop his new methods of mind control, designed to create the modern American consumer.

Bernays-1
Edward Bernays: the father of modern consumer culture – © Waking Times

“We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture,” declared Bernays’ business partner, Paul Mazur. “People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.” In 1928, Bernays proudly described how his techniques for mental manipulation had permitted a small elite to control the minds of the American population:

[T]he conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government that is the true ruling power of this country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of… In almost every act of our daily lives… we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who pull the wires which control the public mind.[1]

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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