Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Amcap, Amerigood and Marketspeak

Edward S. Herman compares Orwell's 1984 to today's America, and finds that the "catapulting" of the propaganda under today's Amcap (American capitalism) is both more sophisticated and effective than those of Ingsoc (English socialism, which Orwell modelled largely on Stalin's USSR):
[A] good case can be made that propaganda is a more important means of social control in open societies like the United States than in closed societies like the late Soviet Union. In the former, the protection of inequalities of wealth and power, which frequently exceed those in totalitarian societies, cannot rest on the use of force, and as political scientist Harold Lasswell explained back in 1933, this compels the dominant elite to manage the ignorant multitude "largely through propaganda." Similarly, in his 1922 classic, Public Opinion, Walter Lippmann argued that "the common interests [sometimes called the "national interest"] very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialized class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality," "responsible" men who must "manufacture consent" among the thoughtless masses.
The second strand of Amcap thought and ideology is the belief in the "miracle of the market" and the view that the market can do it all. In this system of thought, and in its Newspeak counterpart, Marketspeak, the market is virtually a sacred totem, "reform" means a move toward a freer market irrespective of conditions or effects, and accolades to and proofs of the market's efficiency crowd the intellectual marketplace. This system corresponds closely to Orwell's "goodthink," a body of orthodox thought immune to evidence, and it approximates Orwell's view of the outlook of "the ancient Hebrew who knew, without knowing much else, that all nations other than his worshipped 'false gods'".
If I were to list the two most important priorities for American education, they would be 1) teach children to read; and 2) have them read "1984." Americans desperately need a BS filter, an ability to disassemble the dissembling of their "leaders," and "1984" is one of the best BS filters available.