(Continued from Part 2.)
Propaganda can also be very damaging to us as individuals, and especially to us as a nation. Advertising = propaganda is ultimately about controlling us. Controlling us so we’ll quit littering, or controlling us so we’ll hand over our money and buy their products instead of the competition’s, or controlling us so we won’t object when they take away more of our freedoms either in the form of raising our taxes again or by passing more laws pushing us towards a more Orwellian future that awaits us.
The term Military Industrial Complex (MIC) was popularized by President Eisenhower in his now-famous Farewell Address in 1961. When a five-star army general is warning us to watch out for the MIC, I have to stand up and take notice. When a politician who knows the deepest, darkest secrets of his country, who is retiring from politics and no longer has to worry about campaign contributions from lobbyists and Big Corporations, is telling me to be wary of the MIC, he has my fullest attention. Today, this is more appropriately referred to as the MICC, the Military Industrial Congressional Complex.
The people who make up the MICC include the executive branch, Congress and all the various money people associated with them (mainly lobbyists and large political donors), defense contractors, and private military contractors, among others. People who are not part of the MICC include the 1.4 million currently active military personnel, nor the millions of retired military folks.
Phrases in our culture like “Just the facts, ma’am,” “rock on,” and “he bought the farm,” originated innocently enough in one region with one person (or author) and eventually spread throughout the entire country. Other phrases such as, “If you see something, say something,” start out as advertising campaigns and eventually become part of our culture and national thinking. Before long, nobody can even remember when or why they began, yet they remain part of our national culture, and often we are the worse for it. “If you see something, say something.” Cui bono? IMO, Big Brother. These types of slogans leave me very uncomfortable and are way too Orwellian for my taste.
Thank a Vet
The “Thank a Vet,” program is not the result of somebody wishing to be kind to our millions of active and retired men and women in uniform. It’s a propaganda campaign designed with the sole purpose of getting Americans to fall in line and support the MICC’s goal of eternal warfare. After a bunch of dirty, long-haired, dope smokin’ hippies shut down the Vietnam War, the MICC declared, “Never again!” Bell Helicopter alone sold nearly 12,000 choppers to the U.S. government, almost half of which were shot down. When our boys were dying in those downed helicopters, Bell didn’t send letters of condolence to the destroyed families, they shipped more units to Vietnam and then sent letters to shareholders saying, “Profits are way up!” They didn’t send any money to the college funds of the kids who would now grow up without their daddies, instead, they passed cigars around for all the Big Daddies to smoke in the corporate board room. Times were good for the MICC!
Then those dang hippies started turning out in bigger and bigger numbers. Newspapers and magazines published real news back in those days which helped sway public opinion. The Pentagon Papers were leaked and published in 1971. And who can forget the picture of that little naked girl running towards the camera with her clothes burned off and her village burning in the background? I start crying just thinking about it. When Alzheimer’s has robbed me of all else and I can’t even remember my own name anymore, that picture will still be haunting me until I draw my last breath. And to the left in that same photo, the look of total grief on that little boy’s face as he too is fleeing his burning village, accidentally bombed by his own countrymen with MICC napalm.
What would you do if you were a large corporation dependent on war to keep you in business? They need profits to stay alive just like every other corporation on Wall Street. What would you do? You’d advertise. But you can’t just put up billboards saying “Support the War in Afghanistan!” But, why can’t you?
Because deep down inside, we all know that decent people, especially those claiming to be Judeo-Christians, should be against the idea of war and killing in general. Today as I write this it’s Easter Sunday and the Prince of Peace can’t be too happy with the state of Warfare and the MICC in America today. There are always exceptions to the rule. There are good, valid reasons to go to war in certain situations just as there are for defending our homes and loved ones with deadly force when necessary. But most Americans realize, at least subconsciously, that as a country we crossed a line somewhere. We’ve been in places like Afghanistan longer than we were in Vietnam. How did the MICC manage to pull this off without a new generation of hippies rising up and storming Washington DC with torches and pitchforks in their VW buses?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, salesmen and army generals had human nature figured out long before anybody had even coined the term “psychology.” To get people to love war, you need to think vicariously: you get them to love the participants of war instead. The Thank a Vet program is an advertising campaign to get us to love veterans, to think about them more, to appreciate them more, and to actually thank them “for keeping us free.” The MICC knows that the human brain cannot separate the soldier from the war. If the soldier is good, and such a wonderful guy that I need to stop him on the street and thank him for keeping me free, than how can what he is doing be a bad thing? Our subconscious asks that question and comes up with the answer: “If the soldier is good, then what he does must be good also.” Thus, without putting up a single billboard, the MICC has Americans supporting the whole concept of eternal warfare. And Bell Helicopter and their cronies don’t have to worry about busloads of hippies screwing up their profits. It’s beyond brilliant, if you ask me.
When we were told that the best steak to be had was corn-fed beef, none of us had a clue that a large corporation like Monsanto was behind the scenes. When farmers are having their baby bovines, lambs and goats born in winter, nobody suspects that Big Agriculture is behind it to sell them the cures that winter birthing necessitates that the farmers buy. And when Americans are thanking a vet, nobody suspects the MICC is behind the whole thing, protecting trillions of dollars in profits for stockholders and fat paychecks for retired congressmen who are now high-paid consultants.
I long ago quit eating corn-fed beef. If I ever get to the point of having large livestock, Brad has educated me on how to do it properly without getting sucked in by all the propaganda put out by the agricultural supply companies for their profit. But government and political propaganda leaves me feeling much more hopeless. I’m fairly certain we’ll never be able to reach any sort of a critical mass to make a difference against government propaganda. Too many of the ideas which have been propagated over the decades are too well established in our culture. And it’s darn near impossible to get people to take a hard, serious look and reevaluate their beliefs. I’m basing that on my own personal experience, and how difficult it was for me to make the transition from lifelong, conservative Republican to a critical-thinking American willing to go wherever the ugly, unbearable truth was going to take me. As part of my journey, I ended up writing an entire book on the subject of why most people choose not to go there, or psychologically can’t go there. You are possibly one of those people, and that’s okay.
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 3.)
Editor’s Note: Please withhold making comments until you’ve read all three parts of this article.