Skip to main content

How the establishment propaganda machine gaslights us into submission

by Caitlin Johnstone

The dynamics of the establishment Syria narrative are hilarious if you take a step back and think about them. I mean, the western empire is now openly admitting to having funded actual, literal terrorist groups in that country, and yet they’re still cranking out propaganda pieces about what is happening there and sincerely expecting us to believe them. It’s adorable, really; like a little kid covered in chocolate telling his mom he doesn’t know what happened to all the cake frosting.

Or least it would be adorable if it weren’t directly facilitating the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people.

I recently had a pleasant and professional exchange with the Atlantic Council’s neoconservative propagandist Eliot Higgins, in which he referred to independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley as “bonkers” and myself as “crazy”, and I called him a despicable bloodsucking ghoul. I am not especially fond of Mr. Higgins.

You see this theme repeated again and again and again in Higgins’ work; the US-centralized power establishment which facilitated terrorist factions in Syria is the infallible heroic Good Guy on the scene, and anyone who doesn’t agree is a mentally deranged lunatic.

This is also the model for the greater imperialist propaganda construct, not just with regard to Syria but with Russia, North Korea, Iran, and any other insolent government which refuses to bow to American supremacist agendas. It works like this: first, the oligarch-owned establishment media, which itself is chock full of Council on Foreign Relations members, uses other warmongering think tanks and its own massive funding to force deep state psyops like Russiagate and “Saddam has WMDs” into becoming the mainstream narrative. Second, they use the mainstream, widely-accepted status of this manufactured narrative to paint anyone who questions it as a mentally defective tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist.

It’s a perfect scheme. The mass media has given a few elites the ability to effectively turn a false story that they themselves invented into an established fact so broadly accepted that anyone who doubts it can be painted in the exact same light as someone who doubts the roundness of the Earth. The illusion of unanimous agreement is so complete that blatant establishment psyops are placed on the same level as settled scientific fact, even though it’s made of little else but highly paid pundits making authoritative assertions in confident tones of voice day after day.

Yes, it is a perfect scheme. But there also happens to be a name for it.

In a lucid essay titled “Gaslighting: State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism”, Vanessa Beeley writes the following:

           The psychological term “Gaslighting” comes from a 1944 Hollywood classic movie called Gaslight. Gaslighting describes the abuse employed by a narcissist to instil in their victim’s mind, an extreme anxiety and confusion to the extent where they no longer have faith in their own powers of logic, reason and judgement. These gaslighting techniques were adopted by central intelligence agencies in the US and Europe as part of their psychological warfare methods, used primarily during torture or interrogation.

Anyone who has been in an abusive relationship is likely to be familiar with this textbook abuse tactic to some extent, because it is such a useful tool for crippling the better judgment and alarm bells we all have which are meant to help us avoid situations that are harmful to us. If someone with confidence in their own clear judgement feels certain that their significant other is cheating, for example, there is likely to be a confrontation and some clothes out on the front lawn. If your significant other can convince you that you are paranoid or crazy, however, you will doubt what you are seeing and accept the stories you’re being told by someone who appears to be a lot more grounded in reality than you are.

Any degree of abuse can be justified in this way. The documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? tells an anecdote of jazz legend Nina Simone once having been tied up, raped, beaten and held at gunpoint by her husband, who left and then returned telling her she’d imagined the entire thing. And it worked.

We see the same thing today with the establishment Syria narrative and the Russiagate psyop, which are both riddled with plot holes and depend on the irrational position that the same establishment which manufactured support for the Iraq invasion using lies is now beneficent and trustworthy. But if you point out the many reasons to be skeptical of these narratives, you belong in the crazy box.

The good news is that there is an easy remedy for this tactic. We need only to be thoroughly confident in our own judgment.

History has testified unequivocally that extreme skepticism is the only rational response to have toward establishment narratives, especially when those narratives are beating the drums of war. The US war machine has an extensive history of using lies, false flags and propaganda to manufacture support for its bloodthirsty agendas, and the adage that truth is the first casualty of war holds up flawlessly in cases of both hot war and cold war. It is simply self-evident that there is no good reason to take these people at their word, and every reason not to.

Your own educated best guess about what is going on in the world is infinitely superior to placing unquestioning faith in an establishment which has a vested interest in lying to you and a demonstrable history of doing so. Trust yourself and have full confidence that your conclusions, however imperfect, are always superior to those of known liars and manipulators.

Never, ever let anyone bully and cajole you for being skeptical of mainstream narratives instead of believing the say-so of malignant deceivers. Trust yourself. You are not being crazy, you are behaving logically. Don’t let them gaslight you.

Source, links:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

WikiLeaks paper reveals Congressional think tank specific techniques for 'persuading' audiences

This document was obtained by WikiLeaks from the United States Congressional Research Service. The CRS is a Congressional "think tank" with a staff of around 700. Reports are commissioned by members of Congress on topics relevant to current political events. Despite CRS costs to the tax payer of over $100M a year, its electronic archives are, as a matter of policy, not made available to the public. Individual members of Congress will release specific CRS reports if they believe it to assist them politically, but CRS archives as a whole are firewalled from public access. This report was obtained by WikiLeaks staff from CRS computers accessible only from Congressional offices.
globinfo freexchange
A report from April 12, 2007, was "Prepared primarily for congressional staff members called upon to help prepare speeches for Members,” and “provides basic guidance on obtaining speech material, using it to prepare a speech draft, and presentation.”, as we read in the abstract. …

In another bizarre moment, CNN suffers from a real-journalism crisis and exposes the US war crimes in Yemen ... again!

It’s almost like watching The Twilight Zone!
globinfo freexchange
When the corporate media finally decided to dedicate some of their 'precious' time to focus on the war crimes in Yemen, we thought that it was just a smokescreen. The 'unexplained phenomenon' happened after the unimaginable war-crime in which a school bus was bombed by the Saudi coalition, fully supported by the US.
The global condemnation was so loud that the corporate media couldn't avoid it. They had to speak about it. However, we were right. It was just a small parenthesis away from the common agenda. The US-Saudi coalition war crimes in Yemen continue at the same rate, but the corporate media continue to act like if the war doesn't even exist.
Yet, surprisingly enough, we had an unexpected exception to this corporate media norm. CNN decided to return to the issue and condemn the US involvement in Yemen!
In the following video, Kyle Kulinski was also surprised by the fact that CNN covered again th…

Jeremy Corbyn: 'We are in touch with Bernie Sanders and his campaign'

globinfo freexchange
Jeremy Corbyn and Yanis Varoufakis had an interesting conversation in August 20, at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Varoufakis challenged Corbyn to lead an international progressive movement that will end the brutal policies of the dominant neoliberalism.
Interesting parts of the dialogue:
JC: We saw the way in which the European Central Bank treated yourselves and also the austerity that was imposed on Ireland on Portugal and Spain.
YV: It's not just a state. They committed a crime against the Irish people. The head of the Central Bank of Europe put a gun on the Irish Prime Minister's head and demanded that overnight the losses of private investors, mostly from Germany, should be transferred on to the books of the Irish state and the Irish Prime Minister's account. Now, that's, you know, robbery, just daylight robbery. That's what they did.
JC: I actually challenged the whole Maastricht idea, which established the European Central Bank, because it wa…

Τελευταία ευκαιρία για Grexit ... πριν αναλάβει ο Κούλης

globinfo freexchange
Η τελευταία κερδοσκοπική επίθεση κατά του τραπεζικού συστήματος δείχνει ότι ακόμα και όταν υποκύπτεις σε ότι ζητάει η διεθνής χρηματοπιστωτική μαφία, δεν είναι αρκετό.
Το ότι θα δικαιωνόμασταν για άλλη μια φορά και μάλιστα τόσο γρήγορα, πραγματικά δεν το περιμέναμε.
Μετά την υποτιθέμενη έξοδο από τα μνημόνια και το περίφημο διάγγελμα Τσίπρα είχαμε γράψει πως οι μετριοπαθείς 'Αριστεροί' προσπαθούν να μας πείσουν ότι τώρα η χώρα θα έχει περισσότερη ελευθερία να χαράξει τις δικές της πολιτικές. Δηλαδή, η χρεοκοπημένη Ελλάδα (που βρίσκεται σε χειρότερη κατάσταση απ'ότι όταν μπήκε στο πρόγραμμα διάσωσης), θα κολυμπήσει ξεβράκωτη στα ίδια νερά με τους καρχαρίες των αγορών και θα επιβιώσει. Αυτό πάνω-κάτω μας λένε.
Πράγματι λοιπόν, μετά από περίπου ενάμισι μήνα, ένα από τα βασικά εργαλεία του μηχανισμού της διεθνούς χρηματοπιστωτικής μαφίας (το Bloomberg), αποφάσισε να εξαπολύσει επίθεση κατά του τραπεζικού συστήματος και ο πανικός δεν άργησε να εξαπλωθεί. Όπω…

How Bezos tricked Bernie and workers

globinfo freexchange
The truth is that Bernie Sanders fought, and still fights for the workers more than any elected US president combined for decades. And his crusade against Amazon and Jeff Bezos' enormous greed resulted in the unprecedented decision of the company to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour.
But it was too good to be true.
As Bloomberg reported:
           Amazon.com Inc. is eliminating monthly bonuses and stock awards for warehouse workers and other hourly employees after the company pledged this week to raise pay to at least $15 an hour. Warehouse workers for the e-commerce giant in the U.S. were eligible in the past for monthly bonuses that could total hundreds of dollars per month as well as stock awards, said two people familiar with Amazon’s pay policies. The company informed those employees Wednesday that it’s eliminating both of those compensation categories to help pay for the raises, the people said.


As a pure product of the neoliberal culture, Bezos found the op…

The Podesta emails - top US plutocracy group attempted to approach Hillary Clinton under newly elected chairman Jeff Bezos

WikiLeaks series on deals involving Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta. Mr Podesta is a long-term associate of the Clintons and was President Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff from 1998 until 2001. Mr Podesta also owns the Podesta Group with his brother Tony, a major lobbying firm and is the Chair of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington DC-based think tank.
globinfo freexchange
An email by a Business Council* representative to John Podesta was expressing the desire of the group to 'approach' Hillary Clinton.
The email was sent nearly two years before the 2016 presidential election at the time where Jeff Bezos was the newly elected president of the group. Also, according to the email, the group consisted of more than 120 "of the biggest CEO's in the US.", meaning, the elite of the American plutocracy.
According to the email, the group was interested for a speech by Hillary Clinton in their meeting, but also, for some informal contacts of he…

This is the real EU ...

failed evolution
When the European Parliament voted recently to sanction Hungary for neglecting norms on democracy, civil rights and corruption, we wrote:
This is the Union that exhibited some "humanitarian sensitivity" by packing thousands of refugees in Greek islands under inhuman conditions and paid Turkey to keep them in its soil. And now, these hypocrites want to punish Hungary for neglecting norms on democracy, civil rights and corruption!
We were right.
According to a recent article by the NY Times:
There is growing acrimony — and now an investigation — over why the camp [Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos] is so bad when so much money has been provided by the European Union to help improve the Greek asylum system since migration levels started to rise in 2014.
[...]
Aid groups have been warning of a need for expanded facilities for several years, however. For some, the failure to improve the camp and hasten the asylum process suggests neglect on the…

Rapid drop of the recruitment rates may accelerate hyper-automation and privatization of the US army

globinfo freexchange
Younger generations have been 'trained' by the dominant culture to act in more 'pragmatic' terms in the arena of a brutal economic cynicism. As the fight for a place in this system becomes harder and harder, more and more people are being left out of the game. More and more of the them struggle to survive.
Despite these perfect conditions for the US empire components to exploit the growing numbers of the 'brigades of the poor’, not everything went well for the empire.
After 9/11 disaster, the Internet, the WikiLeaks, the alternative sources of information, the whistleblowers and the powerful combination of all these, brought some unprecedented changes. They managed to destroy the deceptive facade of the US deep state narratives, propagated through the corporate media.
With all the big lies, war crimes, war propaganda exposed to great extent, millennials and new generations are not easy targets for "war on terror"-type narratives.
As a con…

In Brazil too we see what has become now neoliberalism's common practice: recruit the far-right to do the dirty job

globinfo freexchange
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, professor of sociology at Coimbra University in Portugal, and a distinguished legal scholar at the University of Wisconsin Madison, spoke with Greg Wilpert of the Real News, about the shocking rise of neofascism in Brazil through presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro.
Santos explained:
It’s very well documented that the United States is - through several organizations - really advising, financing Bolsonaro’s campaign. Bannon has said that he had talks with the Bolsonaro’s son and they have particularly advised him in terms of digital strategies. That’s what they are doing. But we know that the Koch brothers have also been helping fund him.
We are in a society in which the class inequalities go together with the racial prejudice. In this society, which in fact for a long time it was very conservative and run by the oligarchies, in the last 15 years, there was a revolution in terms of the social policies - particularly the identity policies.…

Financial crises: a tool for the banking cartels to become more powerful

globinfo freexchange
Ten years after the last financial meltdown, very few spotted and mentioned (even until today) an astonishing admission by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC).
In the conclusions on chapter 20 of the report, the Commission implies that trillions (with a T) of taxpayer dollars were mobilized to stabilize the system.
Yet, perhaps the most astonishing conclusion that drawn very little attention, lies in the last sentence in which the Commission actually confirms that the financial sector is even more concentrated in the hands of very few powerful institutions:
A series of actions, inactions, and misjudgments left the country with stark and painful alternatives—either risk the total collapse of our financial system or spend trillions of taxpayer dollars to stabilize the system and prevent catastrophic damage to the economy. In the process, the government rescued a number of fi- nancial institutions deemed “too big to fail”—so large and interconnected with oth…