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The Rape of the Mind: Televised Interrogation (Excerpt)

9 Jul

Televised Interrogation

An open official interrogation affects those who watch it—and the fact that they are affected may influence its outcome. Various crime hearings in this country, for instance, were brought before the people by means of television. Citizens sitting comfortably at home far from the scene could see how defense lawyers maneuvered facts or instructed their clients (among whom were wee-known crime bosses) so that they would appear in a favorable light. Even though their actions may have been transparent tricks with the appearance of a fixed wrestling match, the result was that some of the not-so-jovial-looking victims of the criminals were made ridiculous, while the criminals, calm, assured, self-possessed, seemed more admirable. The victims often couldn’t stand being in the limelight; it made them feel ill at ease and embarrassed. The criminals, on the other hand, either denied every accusation in tones of righteous indignation or mad confessions which degenerated into hysterical quests for pity. The magic effect of all the anonymous onlookers—because the witness or defendant imagined their approval or disapproval—influence the outcome of the hearings. All of us who watched them brought our own subjective expectations to bear on these hearings.

 

The Rape of the Mind: The Trial as an Instrument of Intimidation (Excerpt)

9 Jul

The Trial as an Instrument of Intimidation

 

 

Man’s suggestibility can be a severe liability to him and to his democratic freedom in still another important respect.  Even when there is no deliberate attempt to manipulate public opinion, the uncontrolled discussion of legal actions, such as political or criminal trials, in newspaper and in partisan columns helps create a collective emotional atmosphere.  This makes it difficult fro those directly involved to maintain their much-needed objectivity and to render a verdict according to facts rather than suggestions and subjective experiences.

 

In addition, any judicial process which receives widespread publicity exerts mental pressure on the public at large.  Thus, not only the participants but the entire citizenry can become emotionally involved in the proceedings.  Any trial can be either an act of power or an act of truth.  Am apparently objective examination may become a weapon of control simply by the action of the suggestions that inevitably accompany it.  As an act of power by a totalitarian government, the trial can have frightening consequences.  The Moscow purge trials and the German Reichstag fire case are prime examples.

 

We do not, of course, have such horrifying travesties on justice in this country, but our tendency to turn legal actions into a field day for the newspapers, the radio, and television weakens our capcity to arrive at justice and truth. It would be better if we postponed discussion of the merits of any legal case until after the verdict is in.

 

As we have already seen, any man can be harassed into a confession.  The cruel process of menticide is not the only way to arrive at this goal; a man can be held guilty merely by accusation, especially when he is too weak to oppose the impact of the collective ire and public opinion.

 

In circumstances of abnormal fear and prejudice, men feel the need for a scapegoat more strongly than at other times.  Consequently, people can be easily duped by false accusations which satisfy their need to have someone to blame.  Victims of lynch mobs in our own country have been thus sacrificed to mass passion and so have some so-called traitors and collaborators.  In public opinion, the trial itself becomes the verdict of “guilty.”

 

The Rape of The Mind: The Cold War Against the Mind (Excerpt)

9 Jul

At this very moment in our country, and elaborate research into motivation is going on, whose object is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him tick? The aim is to bypass the resistance barriers of the buying public. It is part of our paradoxical cultural philosophy to stimulate human needs and to stimulate the wants of the people. Commercialized psychological understanding wants to sell the public, to the potential buyer, many more products than he really wants to buy. In order to do this, rather infantile impulses have to be awakened, such as sibling rivalry and neighbor envy, the need to have more and more sweets, the glamour of colours, and the need for more and more luxuries. The commercial psychologist teaches the seller how to avoid unpleasant associations in his advertising, how to stimulate unobtrusively, sex associations, how to make everything look simple and happy and successful and secure! He teaches the shops how to boost the buyer’s ego, how to flatter the customer. The marketing engineers have discovered that our public wants the suggestion of strength and virility in their products. A car must have more horsepower in order to balance feeling of inner weakness in the owner. A car must represent one’s social status and reputation, because without such a flag man feel’s empty. Advertising agencies dream of universitas advertenisis, the world of glittering sham ideas, the glorification of mundus vult decipi, the intensification of snob appeal, the expression of vulgar conspicuousness, and all this in order to push more sales into the greedy mouths of buying babies. In our world of advertising, artificial needs are invented by sedulous sellers and buyers. Here lies the threat of building up a sham world that can have a dangerous influence on our world of ideas.

This situation emphasizes the neurotic greed of the public, the need to indulge in private fancies at the cost of an awareness of real values. The public becomes conditioned to meretricious values. Of course, a free public gradually finds it defenses against slogans, but dishonesty and mistrust slip through the barriers of our unconsciousness and leave behind a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. After all, advertising symbolizes the art of making people dissatisfied with what they have. In the meantime it is evident man sustains a continual sneak attack on his better judgment.

In our epoch of too many noises and many frustrations, many “free” minds have given up the struggle for decency and individuality. They surrender to the Zeitgeist, often without being aware of it. Public opinion molds our critical thoughts every day. Unknowingly, we may become opinionated robots. The slow coercion of hypocrisy, of traditions in our culture that have a leveling effect—these things change us. We crave excitement, hair-raising stories, sensation. We search for situations that create artificial fear to cover up inner anxieties. We like to escape into the irrational because we dislike the challenge of study and self-thinking. Our leisure time is occupied increasingly by automatized activities in which we take no part: listening to piped-words and viewing televised screens. We hurry along with cars and go to bed with a sleeping pill. This pattern of living in turn may open the way for renewed sneak attacks on our mind. Our boredom may welcome any seductive suggestion.

The Rape of the Mind; Joost A.M. Meerloo M.D.
The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing
(The Universal Library, Grosset & Dunlap New York ©1956) pp. 98-99

 

 

The Rape of the Mind: Training Against Mental Torture (Excerpt)

30 Jun

The U.S. Code for Resisting Brainwashing

By executive order of President Eisenhower on August 17, 1955, a new code of chivalry was made up governing conduct of American fighting men in combat and captivity.* Six precepts of conduct for combatants were enunciated:

1. I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

2. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.

3. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me, and I will back them up in every way.

5. When questioned should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statement disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

6. I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

The Rape of the Mind; Joost A.M. Meerloo M.D.
The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing
(The Universal Library, Grosset & Dunlap New York ©1956) pp. 259-260

 

The Rape of the Mind: Technology Invades Our Minds (Excerpt)

22 Jun

Technology Invades Our Minds

It is rather difficult to describe the onslaught on our minds made by the intrusion of technical thinking. This is so because technology has such contrasting influences. The Influence can be a blessing, making us more independent of threatening forces of nature; but at the same time the tool and the machine can dominate us. This inner antimony of technization we must master—will we not otherwise be dragged down into the maelstrom of ever-increasing technical development to final atomic catastrophe! The peculiar paradox of technology lies in this: gradually the well-being of the machine (autocar, factory) assumes greater importance and value than the well-being of man and mankind.

 

 

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The Rape of The Mind: Medication Into Submission (Excerpt)

21 Jun

 

A democratic society gives its citizens the right to act as free agents.  At the same time, it imposes on them the responsibility for maintaining their freedom,  mental as well as political.  If, through the use of modern medical, chemical, and mechanical techniques of mental intrusion, we reduce man’s capacity to act on his own initiative, we subvert our own beliefs and weaken our democratic system.  Just as there is a deliberate political brain washing, so can there be a suggestive intrusion masquerading under the name of justice or therapy. This may be less obtrusive than the deliberate totalitarian attack, but is it no less dangerous.

 

Medication into submission is an existing fact.  Man can use his knowledge of the mind of a fellow being not to help him, but to hurt him and bog him down.  The magician can increase his power by increasing the anxieties and fears of his victim, by exploiting his dependency needs, and by provoking his feelings of guilt and inferiority.

 

Drugs and medical techniques can be used to make man a submissive and conforming being.  This we have to keep in mind in order to be able to make him really healthy and free.

 

 

The Rape of the Mind (Medication Into Submission)

The Militant Gospel: Revolution (Excerpt)

23 Feb

Moving in the opposite direction to the morality of nonviolence, and also away from the traditional criterion, is Marcuse’s ethical reflection on revolution. In his opinion the fact of revolution, judged by the concepts prevailing in normal state of affairs, is always immoral by very definition: for basically revolution attacks the legitimacy and morality of the established order. But revolution is designed to do just that; it seeks to generate some new moral order and set up a different moral order. The ethics of revolution decides between the “right of the existing order” and the ‘right of what might and perhaps should be” on the basis of “historical calculus” that is rational and basically empirical. It is an inhumane calculus insofar as it operates in quantitative terms, counting up the victims of the revolution on one hand and those of the established order on the other; but its inhumanity is the inhumanity of history itself.

Aside from some purely expository remarks on the arithmetic of Marcuses’ historical calculus theologians have not paid much attention to his reflections.
Only Trutz Rendtorff seems to echo Marcuse here, when he quotes and then adds his own comments “Change itself is an ethical category, a category of the morality that is possible and real here and now.”

 

In the dialectical conception of reason, scientific knowledge is possible only as a knowledge of totalities; it is not present when reality is artificially dissected and split up into small pieces which may well happen in certain particular “sciences”.

The distinctive Marxist feature shows up when these totalities are viewed as erected on a material base involving production processes and relationships–more specifically when concrete totalities are understood in terms of the relationship between structure and superstructure. The structure results from sensible and material necessity, from society’s work to meet that necessity, and from the industrial and economic organization of that work. The rest of the human realm–politics, law, art, morality, religion, ideology, and culture–belongs to the domain of the superstructure, which is determined by the material and economic base.

“All scientific knowledge ends up being revolutionary knowledge.” That is how Castilla del Pino sums up the contrast between authentic and innovative scientific knowledge on the one hand and conservative knowledge (or mere erudition) on the other hand. In the latter case there is a tendency to leave things just as they are to maintain the status quo. hence “all erudition is a traditionalist form of knowing” It is a pseudo-knowledge that changes nothing and disturbs no one. Genuine knowledge, by contrast, is problematic and creative. Free of myth, dogmatism, and prejudice, it is capable of introducing a new truth and therefore is often uncomfortable for those in power. Everything that a scientist does “if it is authentic and valid, is also revolutionary,” not only in his own particular field but also in the rest of reality in many instances. That is the great pleasure one derives from authentic knowledge and understanding: helping to undermine what is false, stupid and cruel.

p. 93

 

Alfredo Fierro, The Militant Gospel A Critical Introduction to Political Theologies (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York (c) 1977)

 

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