Abstract: 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 a hologram version of history which they present to us as factual.
Keywords: 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
Word count: 3002
HISTORY IN 4D:
BIRTH OF THE e-STATE
Narrative history, the practice of presenting history in a story form, is considered separate from traditional history, which is a chronological presentation of events. In the daily lives of the public the discussion of history has been always a mixture of both. Events are chronologically ordered into storylines that express the cultural, social and cognitive touchstones for the public in question.
Since WWII and the ascension of mass media communications the ability to reach the global in an instantaneous fashion has placed the the narrativization of history firmly in the hands of those who control media, academia and global governance. The narration of history to which the public is treated is only a simulacrum of reality, and most importantly it often ignores or hides “actual” history that would alter if not destroy the current long form historical narrative the pubic is given.
These essays pull from interdisciplinary texts and modes of thought in an attempt to purposefully cultivate a meta-view rather than one overly narrow in focus.
NARRATIVIZATION AS A NATURAL FUNCTION
Creating narratives about our personal lived experiences is a foundational activity of human cognition. Viewed through the lens of procedural thinking, a narrative will arise from the natural actions of memory. Human memory serves not only as a repository of experience but as a natural clock. While the persistence and clarity of memory varies with wide range, a person usually remembers events within a linear framework. Even if the age or time of an event isn’t a clear, people will remember whether or not it happened before or after another significant event. Significant events strung together create a natural narrative of ‘development’ of the self. As the self develops and records more memories a narrative, at least of one’s own life, is guaranteed.
The ordering of memories and cataloging of significant moments into a framework based on linear time, invariably build a narrative with important ‘scenes’ which weave themselves into smaller events and contribute to a creating a ‘history’ of the self. This naturally occurring , history of the self, then became a part of a greater narrative of history as man’s social interactions gained in complexity. The personal history joins with the fraternal history of one’s group, culture or nation. A national history may join with that of an empire or coalition of nations. From ancient times to the present, oral histories of early tribes then become oral histories and legends of entire cultures.
Through the invention of writing, oral histories became written ones, and written histories grew into visual histories through the medium of photography, film and finally television. All the while in both oral and written histories, the ordering of events and the decision of which events were to be highlighted was a narrative process.
Narrativization is natural to human beings and is an integral process to the creation of reality. The selection of touchstones in any narrative is usually guided by moralistic, spiritual, or social motivations. The important facets of a grand narrative to one’s culture are quite often in disagreement with the narratives as espoused by others. Therefore we naturally have seen competing narratives timelines of history fought out on the proxy battle grounds of art, ideology, religion and even the sciences.
The “cultural” memory of a group of people as expressed through the selection and ordering of important events within the narrative devices available, can be subordinated by the present narrativization of history, which in a world of interlocking cultures will be dominated by the narrator whose voice is able exert preeminence in the forum of ideas.
MASS MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS AND THE MAKING OF A PRESENT HISTORY
Beginning in the 20th century the forum of ideas became global through proliferation of computing and telecommunications technologies. The idea of being a ‘citizen of the world’ has existed for quite some time however one can comfortably say that the idea didn’t become a ‘virtual’ reality until the post WWII era due to the ascent of mass media communications. The forum of ideas in any culture is the tapestry from which one’s memory is influenced and therefore a crucial part of the narrativization process. The narrative voice of history was able to be heard literally through radio, television and globally distributed movies.
In many ways the history of the 20th century is, metaphorically speaking, the first time that mankind has been a position to create, shape and disseminate “history” in real-time. High speed transmission of narrative based radio and television programming, news broadcasts, and movies intertwine to create a “present” voice of history vis-à-vis the function of their impact in outlining what reality and history are to the public.
Through the methodology of mass media communications the narrator is also the architect. Narratives are repackaged and even repurposed, they are rebooted, and retconned. Narratives about American exceptionalism, Fascist or Communist aggression, triumphs of rule of law, rational vs irrational actors alternate with praise for the “market based system,” claims of mutual global benefit, assertions of “democracy” as the most free and righteous political alignment for all nations and claims of respect for national and personal sovereignty. These large-scale narratives have been “playing” non-stop since WWII.
Global telecommunications in the 20th century took the writing of history from the hands of the victor and gave an actual voice to the “narrator.” In depth studies of history in book form still play the role they always have yet their effects can be, and are, blunted with age by the torrent of information that is broadcast daily across the earth. From the 1996 paper, “Military Operations in the CNN World: Using the Media as A Force Multiplier,” by Leslie H. Belknap Major, US Army:
Geopolitical events travel the globe in seconds. We are in participants in a technologically animated sonic and visual Living History.
The question remains:
Who is the narrator of this story?
THE NARRATOR(S) OF THE 20th CENTURY’S LIVING HISTORY
The e-State is the transnational collective consisting of powerful financiers, media companies, “mainstream” elite academia, the global political apparatus and the military industrial complex. Command of communications media has always been important since the advent of radio became a powerful too to monarch and rebel alike. Since WWII the e-State has been able to create and commodify the most complete architecture for message projection ever created. This feature of our times has already shown itself to be an enforcer of hegemony, a manufacturer of consent, and at many times a blatant tool for propaganda.
The line between propaganda and news has largely been blurred into fine print. Whether it’s a corporate sponsor promoting or ignoring an issue, a government entity requesting details withheld, all the way to book censorship by Intelligence agencies in the United States, it’s hard to argue that there is a “fair and balanced” offering from any of outlets we’re offered.
“Again I want to emphasize that the study of propaganda must be conducted within the context of the technological society. ”
-Jacques Ellul. “Propaganda.”
Truth is, the public is subject to a bombardment of narratives, large and small, through mass media communications that have their origins with advertisers, state actors, corporate sponsors, military, technology and financial interests. There are always myriad voices competing to be heard in any public space, but on the whole the narration provided by the factions stated above far outweigh their competitors. It is their narratives they continue to promote and protect, and it also through their considerable power which gives them the ability to alter and even remove narratives from the cultural memory.
All of this has been facilitated by the power of global telecommunications and most recently the rising propensity for everything to be put into the cloud.
In order to discern the full story behind any narrative you have to partake in different viewpoints and piece together the narrative for yourself. History has shown us that if your narrative is taken solely from one or mere sampling of news sites it’ll be slanted to a certain point of view. However, even within this partisan split in the narration of history one will find that major events, stories which impact the financial or corporate sector, and in military activity, the outlets seem to all get their stories in a line.
“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis from 1937, inspired by Harold Lasswell defined propaganda as “the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influencing the opinions or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends and through psychological manipulations.”
The narrator of the 20th century is having its claim to being the only voice worth listening severely challenged. Through the expanded access to technology and the ability to share competing narratives the world has also been exposed to increasing evidence that history as we’ve been told (of the 20th century) was a collection of obfuscations, distortions and outright lies. Political, financial, military and corporate interests, the very people who created this worldwide web of mass media telecommunications have been guiding and deciding what is the narrative of history since the late 1930s.
It is true that the Information Age has increased access to the technology of “narrative projection” for people all over the earth. Importantly, the social media spaces which offer the opportunity for narrative construction outside of the actors listed above is a space that the powers that be have had a hand in building, and a hand in manipulating for some time now. The freedom of the world wide web was always a bit of mirage. The origins of the internet go back to the late 1960s with ARPANET a creation that came from cooperation between the US Govt, Ivy League Universities and the Military Industrial and Intelligence Complex.
The ability to use the power of the Internet for commercial activities is only a mere part of its true functionality. The anonymity of being online makes it a natural habitat of those who wish to influence other through covert means. Since the creation of the “World Wide Web” Intelligence, media and government online operatives have spread across the digital world make in order to stay in position to alter or massage the narrativization process.
Getting a clear picture on what is happening in the world requires studying input from numerous sources and an personal ability to decipher underlying narratives within the main one presented. Like most things its an inexact science but something that analysts of a variety of fields have to contend with. The Information Age is not a time of unfettered knowledge and access to the world, but a time where personal judgment and critical thinking become required skills that must be leveraged to separate the noise, false stories and disinformation that undoubtedly clutter the modern landscape.
New voices have sprouted up in the past 10 years and we’ve seen a shift in some of the power of story telling. For this reason the legacy media outlets have attempted to maintain a hold on the modes of narrative construction by expanding further into mostly social media based entities to influence the direction there. We’ve also seen this move from the e-State, through the overt social media profiles of elected official and various administrative departments, and their military and intelligence wings.
The result has been a false or subordinate reality that is presented to the public and echoed through literature and film, and various campaigns online. The truer reality remains the purview of classified files, corporate media archives, and web servers. The narrator of our present history, the e-State, is more ubiquitous than at any point in human history and the preceding essays in this series will examine the origins, the effects, and offer a theoretical framework for use by those interested in getting a grasp on our new ‘history.’
LIVING HISTORY AS A 4th DIMENSION
“We cannot see in 4D but we can see the 3D shadow that 4D objects cast…”
Imagining the concept of 4D space, only from a visual perspective, as a metaphor for the totality of the historical grand narrative the public is aware of forces us to acknowledge that there is an extra dimension to history in the 20th century. It is an invisible level that occasionally is apparent to us through its shadow. That shadow is made of new research into old materials, declassified government documents, leaked corporate and political memos, and the admissions of various actors and agents over the years. The shadow is acknowledged via limited hangouts, purposeful leaks, and ironic admissions in the press about past wrongdoings, conflicts of interest or pertinent connections to characters in a narrative they neglect to mention.
The public is treated to a version of narrative history that we will call 3D. History in 4D is the acknowledgement of the reality that, namely in the post WWII era, the e-State has an unmatched ability in crafting and presenting narrative history, in near real time, to the world. WWII rolled into the Cold War, a time of covert action, subterfuge and espionage.
Reading through some of the books written on the history of the Allies, Nazi’s and Communists after WWII I came across a narrative. It was a narrative which gave me a firmer understanding of how Russia went from allies to arch enemies in the span of a few short years. It was a narrative of both Allied and Communist collaboration with Nazi’s after the war. It was a story about the origins of the Cold War and the ideologies behind it.
It was a narrative of British, American and German corporations daisy-chained all over the planet dating back to even before the war. It was a narrative of cooperation by elite institutions all over the planet working in concert when it came to making profits or maintaining control over the means of the production. It was a narrative of technological and medical advancements often made at the expense of average citizens while the profits flew to already gigantic global corporations. It was a narrative of obscene profits being made, stolen and hidden from the public.
It was a story of how much of the current’s world architecture of global finance, corporate-military-industrial alliances, mass communications and banking were created and implemented. In short it was a narrative far more robust and closer to a ‘reality’ than the narrative of World War II you’re normally presented. The black hats and white hats all became a shade of gray.
Not so much a matter of hidden or suppressed information but a matter of narrative plot points which would destroy the existing and desired narrative. The heroes and villains both look different in the light of day. It was like seeing the reflection of an shadow of an object of great size hovering near to you that had no physical object that you could see to justify its existence.
The shadow of 4D History becomes “visible” to us in amidst the myriad of images and narratives about ongoing geopolitical movements, financial and corporate activities, and never ending wars across the planet. The narrative stories were are told today in many instances stem from this time, the end of WWII and on through the Cold War. The IMF, BIS, the U.N., the European Union all either were critical in this time period or arose directly from it. Camps of political and ideological divisions, capitalism vs. socialism, nationalism vs. geographic unions, and religionists vs. secularists. These interlocking debates and their geographic theaters are what make up the living history narrative of today.
As the nation and world experience a paradigm shift based on public outcries over issues like economic prospects, civil and social rights concerns, and nationalism vs. globalist foreign policies many of us are a part of some faction or the other and subsequently have an ongoing narration of reality of their own.
SEEING THE SHADOW OF HISTORY
During the Cold War the Western states and their intelligence agencies fought a covert war against the right wing fascists and Communists elements around the world. The planet was a lawless battleground for the “big nations,” as a path of death and destruction was wrought. Hidden agendas and front companies littered all over the planet as agents, actors and officials engaged in a grand dance for the hearts, minds, and commercial value of Earth’s nations. Due to the desire to avoid open conflict and possibly thermonuclear war the Cold War was one fought via proxies. The resultant version history of the 20th century is one that is missing many episodes due to government classification of secrets and the desire to shield themselves and their corporate collaborators from the eyes of the public.
Yet most importantly to my personal research is that the suppressed narratives contribute to maintain the specific images and motifs supported by the “official story” of history as promoted by the e-State when they should in fact contribute to revisionism.
The next essay with deal with the origins of the military themed narrative projected into Americans minds since the middle of the 20th Century.