By Larry Romanoff for the Saker Blog
This essay is an introduction to the topic of Mass Propaganda and, perhaps more importantly, to a brief series of articles detailing how the US has been for more than 100 years the most propagandised and brainwashed nation in the world. The history of this has been buried for generations, but the facts are indisputable. One of the most important elements in this tale, as we shall see, is the employment of propaganda in American war marketing.
To paraphrase Michael Lewis, “One of the qualities that distinguishes Americans from other people is their naive conviction that every foreigner wishes to be one of them, but even the most zealous Japanese patriot has no illusions that other peoples want to be Japanese”. The Americans not only believe everybody secretly wants to be like them, they believe no nation can succeed or even progress without being like them and adopting the entire American value system. It isn’t possible. There are no alternatives to the American way and, if there were alternatives, God would be displeased with them.
The elites in the US government and corporatocracy invented, and for 200 years promulgated, the concept of “manifest destiny”, a theological proposition that “merged religious delusion with boundless hypocrisy and racism” into a popular theory that God was entrusting Americans to rule the world. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that what promised no end of grief was Americans’ arrogant conviction that “Providence has summoned America to tutor all of humankind on its pilgrimage to perfection”. (1) These ideas of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny rest on a cornerstone of a pervasive political culture infused with the religious concept of a kind of covenant with God. “The packaging of wars of aggression, genocide and imperialism in the tattered camouflage of liberty with a Divinely-directed spin are old propaganda tricks which have been used to delude the US masses throughout the history of the country to the present moment.” (2) To this day, most Americans fervently believe all of their nation’s unjustified and criminal wars were conducted to “make the world safe for democracy”.
American politicians and their allies in the military, in Hollywood, in publishing, in business and banking, deliberately created and then exploited the nationalistic loyalty of a gullible and uninformed public to shape perceptions and values on a massive scale. Americans have been programmed with religion-based politics for generations, being taught to see the world as black and white, good and bad, to believe that only American virtues and values were good for mankind and would always triumph. Their fabricated historical myths taught them that they, their leaders, and their nation were moral, righteous and upright, selfless benefactors to the world, battling evil wherever it was found. Everything was distorted, based not only on misinformation but on outright deceit. America’s image of itself, and its image of the world’s nations and peoples, were tragically and shallowly twisted to create the narrative of American moral superiority.
Most American holidays other than obviously religious ones like Christmas are infused with political and religious overtones, many of them reinforcing the historical myths of the founding or development of their nation. Their false historical memories are aroused, as are their patriotic emotions and spiritual convictions, making a kind of adhesive that creates a false sense of social identity. The entire concept of American nationality is based on this perverted political religion, creating an extremely ideological national identity that is reinforced almost daily to prevent its collapse.
But it’s all they have. To be an American is not to be bound by a common race or language, nor by history, nor by culture or tradition. In all these, Americans are empty, devoid of culture and civilisation, lacking common traditions, beliefs or history. Americans have only their substandard political religion to bind them together, and there is nothing else for them, no community or belonging beyond being a member of this “team”, their political ideology being the only adhesive. Their entire American existence is founded on this false ideological narrative, the entire regime predicated on these moralistic political-religious myths and fables. If we expose and destroy the myths, forcing Americans to face the bare truths of their nation, the entire narrative collapses, and if the narrative collapses, the regime cannot stand.
Someone appropriately wrote that American patriotism may be best understood as the biggest case of mass hysteria in history. But again, it’s all they have. There is nothing else. This is all that anchors the individual lives. Their entire society, their identity, the very core of the American psyche, are all predicated on this hysterical orgy of an all-inclusive political religion. Because they have nothing else of substance as a people or a nation, this modern McCarthyism is all that prevents the collapse of the American identity. As someone pointed out, if France dissolves, the French people are still French. If America dissolves, Americans are nothing.
From all these and much more, America is an extremely ideological country with American nationalism forming a powerful fabricated jingoism resting on the twin pillars of a dysfunctional and misrepresented multi-party political system and a brutal and self-serving capitalism, all wrapped in a shroud of a dangerously primitive and sacrilegious Christianity.
Nor can Americans understand or fathom concepts of civilisation in other societies. To them, a nation’s references to culture or civilisation are just cheap excuses to avoid the inevitable, which is to become American clones, adopting American so-called values and institutions. Americans know nothing about other nations or cultures, other than their presumed vast inferiority. Few Americans have the ability or inclination to learn another language, and even fewer know anything of the history or culture of other civilisations millennia older than their own. They understand consumerism and pride themselves on their rights, using belligerence and social Darwinism (the American Dream) as a substitute for civilisation, culture and humanity.
Americans have from birth been so overwhelmed with propaganda, so steeped in their natural superiority and God-given exceptionalism that they simply cannot abide any people being different from them, and their primitive and violent Christianity dictates they either convert or kill anyone who is different. These deeply-embedded attitudes affect the entire spectrum of the human experience, exhibited in the mindless jingoism where every American attitude or belief, no matter how vacuous, is automatically converted to a universal value and human right. An American acquaintance once stated that her pet’s right to dog food was a ‘human right’ and therefore included in the definition of democracy.
Not only do Americans universalise most everything but, because of the infusion of Christianity into their political beliefs, they moralise everything, which translates into “Your way is not only different, but it’s wrong” – as in morally wrong. And this attitude, which permits them to take the high moral ground on every debatable issue, obtains from their Right-Wing Christian heritage – the belief that everything they do is “right” because God is on their side. They therefore take an unassailable (in their mind) position that whatever they do, however brutal, repulsive, inhumane or dishonest, is justified by their inherent moral righteousness stemming from God’s approval. Given the Americans’ natural belligerence, these attitudes manifest themselves in an alarming eagerness to use violence to impose their values, institutions, and their will, on all other nations.
This is partly why Americans meddle so much, and the reason for their pathological focus on other forms of government. That’s why a newspaper editorial recently pronounced about Syria, “Even if it were illegal for us to interfere, it would still be right”. So, we should overthrow a legitimate government simply because it doesn’t hold our American values – God’s values, and we can ignore man’s laws because we answer to a higher authority. The death and misery inflicted are irrelevant in this context. The American people see meddling in the affairs of other nations because “it’s the right thing to do”, and it’s the right thing because it is the will of God.
American people are nothing if not naive, gullible and simple-minded, at least in their nation’s foreign affairs. Their government always lies, and they always believe the lies. The hundreds of foreign interventions, wars, coups, invasions, have always been presented as missions to rescue less fortunate people, and Americans always cheer, apparently oblivious to the carnage and misery they inflict. US President McKinley said he was going to war in Cuba to stop “oppression at our very doors”, and they cheered. President Taft said he was overthrowing the government of Nicaragua to promote “real patriotism”, and they cheered. George Bush destroyed and enslaved Iraq to “find WMDs”, and they cheered. Obama destroyed Libya to “liberate” it, and they cheered.
An identical public response obtains with America’s state-sponsored killings and assassinations. In days past, these were darkly secret covert operations but today they are carried out openly and converted into PR events. American law has been rewritten to permit the US President to order the killing of individuals in any country without providing any evidence whatsoever to anyone, and do so without charge or trial. Just as with torture, the propaganda machine has re-defined ‘democracy, freedom and human rights’ to include these killings as part of the American political-Christian religion, certified by US Attorney-General Eric Holder flatly stating that these government killings “are not a departure from our American laws and values.”
This propaganda is effective. The same gullible simple-mindedness from generations of intense programming has created widespread public support for these murders. Bush had Saddam Hussein executed in a public hanging, and Americans cheered in the streets. Moammar Khadaffi was captured, sodomised with a huge knife, then shot in the head, and they cheered in the streets. Obama faked the killing of Osama bin Laden, and they cheered in the streets. Americans fabricate their history by creating popular myths and making even a criminal assassination a celebratory occasion for being on the winning team. Only in America will hundreds of thousands of people party in the streets on the news that their leader has just killed someone in another country that he didn’t like.
In this as in virtually all other aspects of foreign affairs, it is necessary to never forget that democracy is a coin with only one side. You will recall the situation in Iraq where the US deliberately set up Saddam Hussein on the matter of invading Kuwait, and then betrayed him. Following the “liberation” of Kuwait the US propagated allegations that Saddam had put out a hit contract on George Bush for the double-cross. No evidence was presented but if the accusation were true it would hardly be a surprise. In response, the US bombed the bejeesus out of Iraq because, according to US President Clinton, the bombing “was essential to … affirm the expectation of civilized behavior among nations.” – the bombing of innocent civilians apparently conforming to the definition of “civilised behavior”. I can kill you, but you can’t kill me. I love democracy.
Let’s return to Libya for a moment. We saw the outline of the real reasons the US government destroyed that nation and had its leader killed – it was for commercial, military, political and financial advantage but, in the shallow depths of the gullible American mind, their government overthrew a brutal dictator and liberated its people on humanitarian grounds. Listen to Hillary Clinton: “I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya. The United States was proud to stand for you in your fight for freedom and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey. This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory and the future belongs to you.” President Obama, the great American Christian and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was equally charming, declaring Kaddafi’s death “a momentous day” and breathlessly telling the American sheep that because of Libya’s utter destruction “countless lives have been saved.” Lies of this magnitude should be punishable by hanging.
And herein lies part of the tragedy of America, and the reason the country will eventually have to implode: the enormous disconnect between the propagandised ideology of the people and the brutal reality of the thin layer of elites that run their government and military, their corporations, banks and mass media. There is no other nation whose population has such a large gap between myth and reality, between what the people believe their government has done and what it has actually done. When the people one day put the pieces together, the US will have another revolution; I don’t believe anything can prevent it. It was not for nothing that George Bush Sr. said, “If the people knew what we were doing, they would hang us in the streets”. Perhaps one day soon, they will.
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 28 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English-language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes‘. His full archive can be seen at https://www.moonofshanghai.com/ and http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) I have lost the source of this quote.