Manufacturing Terror By William Bowles

5 July 2003

The vast and overwhelming propaganda onslaught that we’ve been subjected to since 911, is indicative of the lengths to which the ruling elites are prepared to go to in order to gain our consent for their actions. Indeed, the nature and scope of the propaganda war indicates just how insecure they feel. Appeals to patriotism and scaremongering tactics (eg the Anthrax attacks) have only short-term effects on the population. Sooner or later, the population is going to demand results, if indeed ‘results’ are possible to produce. And then one has to consider the idea that ‘results’ might have to be manufactured.

Sooner or later, the never-ending announcements of ‘plots’ discovered or advance notice of ‘terrorist attacks’ that come to nothing, will cease to have the desired effect of terrifying the populace. It’s more than possible that 911, Anthrax attacks et al, are in fact, manufactured by the ruling elites themselves in order to justify increased repression at home and the overthrow of the international order.

I know that many people feel that this kind of interpretation is hard to swallow. After all, it’s saying that the US government thinks nothing of sacrificing the lives of it own population in order to justify or rationalize domestic or foreign policy. Yet there are more than enough examples from history that back up this claim, whether they’re faked provocations aka Tonkin Gulf that dragged the US into a war that cost millions of lives or the sacrifice of US sailors during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, so it’s by no means a far-fetched or outlandish assertion.

It’s convenient and easy to dump on ‘conspiracy theories’ because most of us (including myself I might add), find the idea of a government organizing a large and complex coverup simply too outlandish to accept, whether it’s the Kennedy assassination or the WMD fiasco. Yet the reality is, whether one wants to call it a conspiracy or simply government policy, backs up my case. From Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s to the Rosenburgs in the 1950s, to Watergate in the 1970s, to Iran-contra in the 1980s, right through to the current coverups of USUK complicity in the arming of Saddam Hussein as part of a cynical ploy, the evidence is incontrovertible; large scale deceptions involving hundreds of people that cost millions of dollars to execute are, if not part of ‘business as usual’ not so exceptional that they stretch the imagination.

The resources available to government and business are vast and it must be remembered that people are, by and large reluctant to question their leaders and for a lot of reasons. People would rather believe than doubt. Jobs and reputations are at stake and the difficulty of uncovering a complex plan that may spread over months and involve large numbers of people, each of whom may only come in contact with one small facet of the operation, shows just how difficult it is for an ‘outsider’ to assemble all the pieces into a coherent whole. And this is just the beginning of the process of revealing how governments operate.

And of course, the mass media is, for the most part, complicit in the process of pouring scorn on the ‘conspiricists’ as it did for example, on the ‘it’s all about oil’ argument. As the Goebbel’s doctrine so correctly says, repeat a lie often enough, eventually the lie will replace reality. And people are very reluctant to think of their political leaders as nothing more than a bunch of lying scumbags and ruthless opportunists, motivated either by simple greed (aka the Bush family) or by some fundamental flaw in their personality ie, Tony Blair. After all, they all look so ‘normal’ and come across to us as reasonable, ‘civilized’ people, how could they actually deceive us? It’s simply not possible. Yet of course, reality teaches us the complete opposite. And those of us who do admit to thinking their leaders to be liars, often do so for cynical reasons, arguing that ‘it’s always been this way, and it always will; there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.’

Most difficult of all, assuming that people can be convinced that their leaders are indeed, liars and murderers, is where does one go from here? Getting people to actually voice their opposition to their government’s policies even if it’s nothing more than a letter to their representative, especially in the current climate of paranoia, is a step too far for many people. Accusations of being ‘unpatriotic’ or even supporters of ‘terrorism’ is enough to put people off. And of course, we need only look back to the worst days of the Cold War, the House Un-American Activities, where people lost their jobs, were ostracized by their communities, or even ended up in jail, to see that for many, taking that one extra step is indeed, a step too far.

Yet unless one does stand up and be counted, repression will only get worse. What is ‘normal’ discourse and debate slides off the scale. The ‘middle road’ is all of a sudden, the extreme. Reality shifts. Those of us who oppose our governments policies find ourselves ‘out on a limb’. The dominant culture is all-pervasive, all-powerful. It commands the mass media, it compromises vast armies of experts, from journalists to civil servants, from judges to soldiers. Maintaining the status quo, is more than simply ‘not rocking the boat’, it’s peoples lives and livelihoods.

Another result of the vast power of government to alter reality, is the feeling of absolute powerlessness that many of us feel to actually have any effect over government policies. Again, I can only answer this by saying that overwhelming opposition to imperialist aims, resulted in the ‘big lie’ being broadcast. Had we acquiesced in the first place, there would have been no reason to mount an hysterical propaganda campaign to convince us of the need to relinquish our civil rights and freedoms. History shows us however, that once we embark on the slippery road to repression, society becomes cannibalistic; it eats its own. It feeds on itself in an exponential cycle of repression which can only be broken by sustained opposition and exposure of its cynical manipulations.

Ultimately of course, one needs to ask the question whether or not the tactics perfected during the Cold War period will work today? And if they do, for how long? Increasing repression at both home and abroad, justified for example, by the ‘war on terror’, unless it it actually results in some kind of ‘success’ no matter how illusory the success is, will, like the ‘war on drugs’, be exposed for what it is, a war that is driven by ideology, distorted by by economic interests and of course, utterly hypocritical in content.

The occupation of Iraqis a perfect example of this process at work. Driven initially by fine words about ‘human rights’ and ‘ democracy’ and the need for ‘nation-building’, none of which has come to pass, nor is there any likelihood of any of this happening, we now see the rationale shifting as the ruling elite, caught up in its own ill-conceived propaganda war, now forced to admit that it’s going to be in Iraq as an occupier for an indeterminate period of time, perhaps several years, ultimately, for ‘as long as it takes’. Eventually, all pretense at establishing ‘ democracy’ will be quietly dropped as real politik dominates and the larger and longer term interests of US imperialism emerge, in fact, will be impossible to hide. Once a puppet regime is installed, regardless of the lengths the USUK go to in order to create the illusion of a genuinely representative government, it will be clear to all, that as with every other compliant regime installed by the imperialists over the last century or so, that its freedom and ability to actually represent the real interests of the Iraqi people will be severely limited. Indeed, it’s unlikely that anything close to a so-called liberal democracy can be imposed on Iraq, even with the best of intentions. Even worse, is the arrogant and racist assumption that we have the right to do so.

Finally, as it’s unlikely that the ‘international terror network’ will ever be uncovered, as it’s not at all clear that it actually exists anyway, at least not in the way it’s described in the propaganda war, the imperialist agenda is bound to unravel. It is after all, taking place in the context of a global crisis that encompasses the economy, political legitimacy and the impending environmental catastrophe, which unless confronted on a global level threatens us all. As time passes, it will be harder and harder to hide the reality of our situation. Lies and propaganda have a finite lifetime. Sooner or later, they will cease to work, as the underlying reality replaces the illusions.


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