The influential power of narrative story telling throughout human history was a topic I touched upon in the first essay of this series. In the following installments I examined how the Nazi’s methods of mass media communications directly influenced much of what we consider ‘normal’ media relations today. That was followed by an examination of the figures in American Intelligence who spearheaded bringing that style to the American controlled theaters during WWII and throughout the Cold War.
This essay will examine an example of the means by which the e-State went about gathering the data they would use to craft images and narratives that burrowed right to the heart of human cognition. Employing a mixture of advertising, marketing, and psychological warfare techniques the powers that be have raised a Tower of Babel using fiber optics from which it broadcasts its soliloquies 24 hours a day in every direction imaginable.
“The e-State is the transnational collective consisting of powerful financiers, media companies, “mainstream” elite academia, globe spanning political networks and the military industrial complex.”
Key Words: Mass Observation, Sociology, Psychology, Edward Bernays, Ministry of Information, U.K history, US history, Public relations, Public Polling, Gallup, Cold War, WWI, WWII, Mass Media Communications, Propaganda, Narrative history, Media analysis, Social analytics
The introduction to this series of essays, “History in 4D – The Birth of The e-State,” can be found here.
History in 4D is a series of essays examining the concept of the history of the 20th century as presented through the “public forum,” consisting of literature, film and mass media communications. These essays will investigate, analyze and present observations based on the assumption that in the 20th century the influence of state and corporate sponsored propaganda, government information classification strategies and the influence of the military industrial complex’s on television programming, news, and films has left us with hologram version of history which they present as factual.
Narrative history, Philosophy of History, Mass media communications, Media Studies, Narrative History, Literature, Intelligence Community, Military Industrial Complex, Cold War, Stylistics, Psychological Operations, Public Relations, WWII, Nazis, Allies, Axis
Word Count: 3263
THE INFORMATION AGE SHRUGGED
If you had to describe it, what stage of the information age are we in?
Pondering this while running a cursory google search for some quick information served as the impetus for this essay. Following up on something that caught my eye during a documentary I knew that I’d have dig through the results a little bit. The topic was a figure from WWII and some of his exploits after the war. Due to some recent news the searches were only pulling from stories going back to 2015 (within the first 5 pages) and not coming close to stories that provided the information I was seeking. By altering the date settings I eventually found more on the topic. Through this exercise I realized something, Google search is “flattening,” time. Studies show that people don’t often go beyond the first few pages of search results, in fact, Google hopes that your answer is the first result shown to you. With the myriad of articles these days routed through AMP, AP, and Reuters, based on templates, you’ll get literally hundreds of articles based not only on the same topic, but sharing very similar text and story lines.
As a society have we hurtled past the actual desire to know things, and now are in the “utilization or implementation” stage of the Information Age? Never before has the world known as much nor had as much information available to the layman as right now. Yet the signs that, not only are we NOT smarter as a human society, but the wide availability of so much data actually tends to cause people to huddle into information silos. Awash in waves of data, opinions, facts, fake news and alternative realities, the root of all human imagery is the most under attack. That root lies in words. I heard someone say once that “Language is a technology that man uses to trap Time.” Through the act of delineating time via the use of language with terms such as past, present, future, and then planning, wading through and finally arriving at that “time” Man has trapped it, and himself, in language. Breaking time down into vocabulary is actually what created the tableau of time upon which Man measures the past, experiences the present and plans for the future. What is the technology of language being used to do in the Information Age?
I would posit that we are at the realization stage of this Era, where it becomes evident that the Information Age is about one’s ability to discern the true meaning of scenarios and even terms on your own amidst the maelstrom of words and images coming our way with no end in sight.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF MEANING
George Orwell famously wrote, “It’s a beautiful thing the destruction of words.” In this stage of the so-called Information Age that statement rings truer than ever before. Neologisms flood our world and bring with them variants on historical thought, culture and human nature. Intellectualists have always bumped heads with others concerning a perceived elitism regarding intellectual pursuits. One of these pursuits is colloquially referred to as being a “Word or Grammar Nazi.” Such pejoratives are usually deployed to silence the speaker, belittle their point and alienate them from the debate’s observers. However in a language like English the actual definition of a word can not be ignored. The problem is that it can take a quite erudite person to engage and defuse such tactics in open conversations. Part of the Information Age’s effect on language has been the introduction and major of use of terms related to computing, commerce, and political actions. These terms naturally have embedded themselves into the minds of the users and in many ways created tableaus more in line with what the powers that be would like for us all to be thinking and saying.
Languages work in many ways and English is a language where the specific meanings are encoded in specific words. Contrast this with the German language which utilizes compound or multi-syllabic words which communicate a statement. For example, shadenfreude, which is defined as, “is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.” The term is a compound of Schaden ‘damage, harm’ and Freude ‘joy.’ In English we’d probably say the person was evil, a hater, or petty. Yet one can glean from the usage that shadenfreude includes a sense of righteous ‘hating,’ to a degree and that the joy taken from other’s failure is deserved. Therefore it’s akin to celebrating the hubris or arrogance which lead to the failure of a foe.
An example of definitional complexity in English is found in the term, palimpsest, which means “a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document.” Another example would be some walls that contain hieroglyphics in Egypt. Modern scholars have found their prior views to have been misinterpretations of symbols due to the realization that some marks had been scratched out and written over producing designs which our era then mis-read. Walls in ancient Egypt were palimpsests. While you can take the time to describe this concept, if the word is understood by your audience you can save time and space, as well as use the term symbolically and literarily to create further meaning. Colloquial English generally remains divorced from higher level academic and technical English via this mechanism of higher order concepts being encapsulated in advanced ‘terminology.’
HOW WORDS WORK
A study of language in any depth soon uncovers the manner in which all languages continually change and evolve. Slang notwithstanding many terms end up ‘meaning’ something they weren’t intended to. This happens because of the manner in which words and their definitions tend to be treated in our daily lives.
There are three ways in which word meanings are used and understood:
(1) a standard or dictionary meaning,
(2) a colloquial or “average person” meaning and
(3) how the term is used during political or public speaking.
In our times these three layers of meaning are all used quite often due to the high level of media technology and the speed and reach of social media outlets. We are bombarded with a cascade of words and meaning on nearly a minute by minute basis. And while many people today are more aware of media bias, spin and even psychological operations, we can see as the vitriol and debates continue to rise, folks still are not on the same page. Partisanship, especially in the U.S., has promoted further group segmentation, creation of vernacular, and manners of speech meant to connote one’s allegiance to some ideological faction or another. Disturbingly people seem to be more focused on their own lexicon rather than noticing how there has been a national creep towards anti-intellectual discourse.
WORDS HAVE MEANING?
Words have always been weaponized and used as barricades to understanding. A subtle trick of the use of ‘words’ in this stage of the Information Age has been push to use abbreviations of headlines and media speech. This reason this matters is due to the influential part media has to play in colloquial speech these trends invariable become encoded in our language and the catalog of how history is verbally negotiated. Abbreviations serve to communicate a series of words more quickly, yet it also has the effect of minimizing the scope of the matter.
As many a ritual and verbal affirmation across cultures require, the ‘saying of the name,’ the delegating of that action also has an unseen effect. Saying POTUS instead of the President of the United States creates the feeling of big cartoony icon buttons with rounded corners on your iPhone update versus old attempts by Microsoft to look sharp and futuristic with clean straight lines and drab blue and grey default options. OBL just doesn’t sting like Ossama Bin Laden. Watching a journalist or politician say it almost can feel like a comical way of dancing around saying the name of a local bully. These abbreviations and buzz word embed themselves into the architecture of speech and slowly push anti-intellectualism to the fore in our discourse. This happens as the result of simplifying issues and ideas into memes and quips produces very few results, let alone truly enlightening debate or discourse.
At the level below the voices of the media and the State, rival intellectual factions have always had their own code words and vocabularies. In our current age the interplay of social media promotion and cable news networks fanning the flames of partisanship by the winds of gusts they create attempting to keep up with new truth of online news preeminence, coalesce into purposeful Orwellian attempts at word alternation in real time. Certain groups attempt to repurpose invectives from Trump into slogans, terms like “woke” are used by numerous factions both in mocking and duplicitous ways. In addition you’ll notice blatant Orwellianisms like “Patriot Acts,” “Regime Change,” and “Humanitarian Interventions,” applied to legally repugnant legislature, military backed coups, and preemptive wars, funneling into the speech patterns of regular men and women on the street. Once couldn’t ask for a greater infiltration of thought through language than to have someone who claims they are a lover of peace defending one President’s “wars of humanitarian intervention,” as more just than a President’s wars for “regime change,” and “nation building.” Over the years the media has injected evermore terms from the worlds of advertisers, corporate financiers and the military that many of us speak in the voices of the those entities without knowing it. How does one express disagreement with the powers that be when you’ve subtly become to communicating amongst yourselves in their language?
To be continued…
At present, sexual assault disclosures are a feature of the news cycle:
Speaking from a place of personal integrity and principles, and not from the modern incarnation of “-ism,” politics I say:
Men have to do better.
I say that concerning our discussions of events and our mental view of things such as sexual abuse, pedophilia and domestic violence. Said simply, it’s not a joke. Instead of reaching for examples of false alarms (of which there are many) can we not do our part to examine the situations and types of men who commit these acts? Can we not use introspection to see how we may have been complicit in such acts or promoted ideas which feed this disgusting appetite in others? These men are not all of us and we need not defend them or attempt to destroy the women who come forward. But what we need to do is stand firm on grounded principles that wrong is wrong and that certain actions deserve scorn, hate and no helping hands. Perpetrators of abuse disgust me, and I support none of them, no matter what they look like or where they come from.
The idea of a man becoming more aware to such issues if/when they have a family is an old one. Even more pressing is the change in worldview that many men undergo if they have daughters. I’ve personally always despised any person who uses their power to oppress, subjugate and consume the bodies of those unable to resist or avoid them for whatever reason. Of course there are cases where a person could have done more to bring their truth to light or to not continue to serve the desires of some sick S.O.B., but that doesn’t negate the proactive agency shown on the part of the perpetrator. That person DECIDED to take these actions and inflict pain upon another person. Other cases of abuse are examples of naked power, threats and nepotistic protection that the perpetrator is aware of.
That being said, how we ‘feel’ about abuse, rape and molestations effect our thinking and analysis of them. How often in all-male circles does someone make a joke, make light of, or attempt to ameliorate a discussion on these matters? Are men cursed with a bicameral mind concerning these issues? Does the great god of “The Man Code,” still hold so much sway that we can’t see how horrible these acts are in general and that our families are just as susceptible to attack as anyone? Maybe people’s reactions to this topic are colored by their pasts, that I do not know, but I do know we can do better. It’s not a game, it’s not a joke. The reality of wide spread sexual, physical and emotional abuse by men of power upon men, women and children is real and it’s something we all must SERIOUSLY engage in order to make a better world. If you don’t do it for your mother, your sister, your aunt or your wife, do it for your friends mother, your brother’s wife, your sister’s friend and your daughter’s friends.
Just, do it.
(This is a short post just to jot down some thoughts about. It may be revised and updated in the future.)
It’s quite possible that our infatuation with the US presidential election is in part due to something we’re not discussing. What does the passing of a Torch to the New Generation actually look like? This ‘world,’ is the product of the efforts of the Baby Boomer generation and their parents. Out of the kiln of world conflicts this cohort attempted to, and succeeded in, creating a new world. At the pivot of the world has been nation of America, and at its helm are Baby Boomers of many different stripes. Yet, what that also displays is a dearth of new energy into the artifices which we rely on to run this nation. The Boomers have been somewhat greedy, for a lack of a better term. Most positions of real power in this country are held by people in their late 50s and 60s, as the median age of the country stands at less than 40 years old. It begs the question if ageism, or attempts to alter the social structure by focusing on age may not become a focus of social activism in the future.
The average age in Congress stands in the low 60s, the average age of CEOs is similar. Much of the collective power to run this world still remains firmly in the hands of the Boomers. Hillary Clinton is 68, Donald Trump is 70, and Bernie Sanders was 74. As we discuss the mental health of Mr. Trump, and the possible physical issues with Hillary, what are we actually alluding to? We are alluding to the possibility of one of the either becoming physically or mentally incapacitated, or expiring, while in office. This somber event would initiate a succession of leadership, which would take place according to standing law, as is the purpose of a Democracy. However, the issue at hand can be seen as referring to the passing of the torch to the generation after the Baby Boomers. As sobering as a thought as it may be, people alive today will witness a rare event, an actual generational ‘hand-off’ of the globe. The baby boomers will slowly dwindle down before our very eyes until it is the generation of their children who are in the ruling seats. How would that world look?
In addition, the revolving door of CEOs, politicians, presidents and judges are made from this Boomer cohort and in many cases have not “allowed” younger people to gain experience in leadership through traditional modes of power. Most of the young stars of the world have been entrepreneurs in the tech spaces and other avenues considered outside of the historic power structures. As we have seen during this campaign, issues such as police activity, patriotism, racism and the economy, continue to polarize America across age ranges. So there is a possibility this ‘shift’ in culture that most expect to come, never materializes, or in the end isn’t as different as expected. And more importantly as this nation moves deeper into the ‘Social Justice Era,’ its most important apparatus, the Supreme Court, has a media age of 67 with lifetime appointments.
There is an old proverb, “May you live in interesting times…,” I for one see the future of America as one of the most interesting times we’ve ever lived in.
As President Obama nears the end of his presidency, many of the usual issues are at the forefront of national discussion. Topics such as war, civil rights, and the economy, remain the major fossil fuels for discourse in this country. While much of the media discussion is focused upon society and the election, the “economy,” as an idea and a reality are probably more important to the average American. Remarkably, one can find pundits and polis alike who are touting an economy recovery for the everyday American based upon metrics such as the level of the S&P 500, median incomes, and other statistics released predominately from governmental institutions. (CBO, BLS, et al.) They are all complicit in one of the many media scams concurrently running in our fine republic. Pundits parrot the idea that if the market is trending up, it is a sign to consumers that economic prospects are bright and will spur them to invest more.
This is a bit of play on terminology that can be missed by the lay person. The consumer is not who you think it is. This statement refers to merely a notion, held in economic circles, that rising prices and a bull market is a sign to investors, business owners and the purchasers of securities, ie customers, that the future looks for financial investments, which spurs them to invest more. The so called customers are often the central banks who promote the idea of rising markets benefiting most people by the very nature. Yet in reality, rising prices to an average American, or any person, is rarely a good thing. Juxtapose that against our nation’s historically stagnant wages, drop in home ownership, crippling student and credit card debt and its most certainly a bad thing. In many ways we are all sitting in deck chairs on the S.S. 401(k) Titanic, but we don’t have any other options.
The 1980s saw the Federal laws restructured resulting in most of the population being loving herded into the 401(k) system of retirement planning. 401(k)’s differ from their pension plan predecessors in a few ways, the most important being varied returns and potential for loss, versus the fixed scheduled payments of a pension system. For the bulk of the population the 1980s saw the end of jobs with pensions in the private sector.
By the mid-1990s pensions were largely a thing of the past. Due to the influx of new investors via the 401(k) adoption by major corporations, the indicies rose to reflect both the in surge of money into the markets but the economic performance of America at the time. Those of us who only have a 401(k) are exposed to movements of the markets. Those people who were promised pensions have it made, right? Not exactly.
Pension are promises that must eventually paid out. However a corporation would be doing itself and its shareholders a disservice to fully fund pension liabilities before they are due. One of the greatest financial threats in the near to medium future is unfunded pension liabilities of municipalities, states, and corporations. Those monies are due to Baby Boomers and subsequently almost everyone reading this piece. (By relation or direct receipt). These pensions are invested in securities which trade on various global stock exchanges. In order to pay out these sums in the future in the amounts promised they need a continually rise market. The math at present shows large gaps in funding for massive pension/retirement funds such as CALPERs which should be unsettling for the millions of people who most likely have planned to receive all they’re owed. Our futures are tied to the market even if we don’t know it. The question is, does the market being “up” during a presidency or a period of time actually benefit large groups of people? Is the market representative of the economy?
In truth the alleged connection between the markets and the actual economy are far overblown, and is in fact a ploy to shape support for the FED’s money debasing excesses. Financial markets rising is in no way a direct correlation to positive real economic activity. Institutional investors, corporations, and central banks are the oil of our financial markets. Their large scale market decisions are due to a variety of factors, many of which have to do with financialization and profit seeking. Not necessarily cogent investments made on detailed research and proof in the actual economy to warrant a valuation.
In order to clarify this, we’ll work our way through a few statistics.
“According to a study from Fidelity Investments, the average retirement savings for 11.8 million 401k balances in America is just $74,600. In most cases, that is maybe the equivalent to a year’s salary. Certainly not enough to keep you in the life to which you have been accustomed for the twenty five or so years you will likely have left to live.”
“The median household income in America is $59,039 and around 56% of people living in America has less than $10,000 saved for retirement.”
If someone has the choice to buy individual stocks in their 401k it is guaranteed they are being ‘passed through’ some sort of price and fee adjustment. Any mutual funds you’re invested in are managed by professionals who have to find returns in an increasingly difficult environment. You lack the advantage of day trading or churning your own account to skim profits, due to rules of ERISA and your individual firms. In many ways the average American with a 401k is only near enough to the market to feel its burn, and they aren’t even the majority:
“53 percent of Americans have no money in the stock market, including retirement accounts. 62 percent of all US wealth owned by top 5 percent.”
The market works as an price, not value, aggregating mechanism. Prices are bid “up” as part of how the system is structured. There is an assumption that a “rational investor” will sell if they can make a profit, can do so to achieve flexibility or to raise cash. The latter two examples can include taking a loss on the exchange. Generally we all would like to make money on an investment we entered for that reason. However this very mechanism kills the average 401k participant who doesn’t have access to hedging tools or the ability to negotiate bid prices. A loss of 5% of your portfolio will not be recouped by a 5% gain. The reason being the 5% you made back is based upon your current balance or the current stock price (which had dropped by said 5%.) Therefore we see the average investor, time and time, again double down on losses or attempt to catch trends to late because their actual ability to earn alpha while in a 401k is hampered by their plan rules.
The financial markets can move up due to variety of factors including, trading volume, the closing of short positions, rumors, geopolitical turmoil, or the simple fact that the most traded stock on the index, Bank of America, has a big swing day. Literally none of those factors directly plug into the everyday American’s personal life and wealth. To make reality worse, the historically low savings rates the globe has been forced into by profligate central bank policies is the result of those same banks in turn have lowered rates in order to stave off the mounds of government debt all over the world from exploding. The savings rate that central banks have dropped to zero, in order to make their payments on the interest smaller, is the same rate you receive interest in your savings accounts. So while you’re not truly reaping the gains of the market, you do feel the repercussions of actions committed by financial monks in the ivory towers of finance.
The market, economy and consumer are all economic theoretical concepts that can’t truly be outlined or depended on to function as the books like to state. Greater knowledge of the reality of the economic system is extremely important as we make our political decisions and future plans. We are all staring down the barrel of a generational hand-off the scope of which the modern world still isn’t prepared for. Within the next 20-30 years the Boomers will literally leave the earth. Their assets will be liquidated or inherited and those who have entitlements owed to them will supposedly collect. The economic shift based upon these mortality events alone have the potential to rock our entire geopolitical edifice. The actions of the FED, the IMF, and ECB, portend they will continue to Lionel Messi the can down the road until it slams into a wall of protestors at the gates of power.
Unless America finds the political will to deal with government spending, corporate profiteering and the health of the market its future is tired to, the joke may be on us.
How the stock market is a sham for the working and middle class. 53 percent of Americans have no money in the stock market, including retirement accounts. 62 percent of all US wealth owned by top 5 percent.