by Lexander / 8 February 2017
Reality isn’t what it used to be — it isn’t even really “real” anymore. In 1945, when the information revolution was just beginning and the seeds of the Cold War about to be planted, Vannevar Bush first proposed the concept of the memex, setting into motion a chain of events that rapidly led to the development of systems and networks that would ultimately form the Internet as know it today. Bush was the first person to understand the paramount importance of providing public access to vast centralized stores of interlinked information through electronic terminals, not simply for the purposes of education and cognitive enlightenment, but for the Orwellian manipulation and control of public knowledge and opinion. Originally greeted with skepticism and derided as “science fiction,” by the late 1960s, coinciding with the development of the UNIX operating system in 1969 and the founding of Xerox PARC in 1970, the memex not only became possible, it was accepted as inevitable.
He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. ― George Orwell
In 1964, the philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan would take Bush’s vision further than anyone would have thought possible, famously proclaiming that “the medium is the message,” identifying the medium by which information is transmitted as being of far more vital social and cultural significance than the information it was designed to carry. At the time, few could have ever predicted to what extent McLuhan’s theories would be proven accurate. In the years following the commercialization and mainstreaming of the Internet in the Nineties, McLuhan’s statement,“the medium is the message,” has perfectly described the inevitable devolution of the mass media into the most insidiously banal vehicle for population control, to such an extent that they can longer even sustain the interest and attention of the average citizen, except for the most mentally defective and intellectually bankrupt members of the herd who are addicted to tabloid garbage and the diabolical absurdity known as “reality television.” We’re living in a day and age where those with half a brain still intact increasingly find it impossible to subject their minds to television for more than a few minutes at a time.
In 1981, another philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, heralded the advent of the post-information age in his classic work, Simulation and Simulacra, the impact of which would not even begin to be fully understood until the 1999 release of The Matrix, as well as Dark City the previous year. The massive universal appeal and influence of The Matrix is a testament to the growing awareness that what we as humans have always understood and perceived as “reality” is being systemically dismantled and superseded by a simulation of that reality, carefully engineered to make humans more stupid and complacent than they ever have been before.
What you have to do is enter the fiction of America, enter America as fiction. It is, indeed, on this fictive basis that it dominates th e world. ― Jean Baudrillard
To understand the nature of this simulation, one need only observe and study what is being sold to the masses as “news” with each passing year. Around the turn of the century, when I first heard mention of a little-known community organizer and state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama, I didn’t think much of this fact. But by 2003, it became increasingly clear that he was someone of incredible significance, not because of his political agenda, but rather how his career was being quickly catapulted toward the US Senate, in spite of a reputation of being something of a maverick and outsider ― “anti-establishment,” as it were.
Of course, as any intelligent person knows, there is no such thing as an “anti-establishment” politician. There never has been and there never will be. Politics, by virtue of its nature as a game of diplomacy and compromise, requires one ― whether as a politician or a member of the voting public ― to accept the legitimacy of the establishment before even attempting to participate within it. Genuine opposition to the status quo necessitates force, which usually manifests in the form of violent and bloody insurrections and revolutions that destroy the old order to make way for the new.
As with every president preceding him, Barack Obama did not and could not go against the establishment. In point of fact, his presidency strengthened it by fusing the neoliberal reforms of the Clinton administration with the neoconservative agenda of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. In this regard, the Obama presidency succeeded, particularly in those areas where the previous two administrations had so miserably failed.
But if the meteoric rise of Barack Obama to the presidency was strange and surreal, fueled as it was by the myth of being an outsider bringing radical change when in actuality he was the ultimate insider, what are we to make of the similar and even more astounding rise of Donald Trump?
The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control ― ‘indoctrination’, we might say – exercised through the mass media. ― Noam Chomsky
Here we have stood witness to an election cycle that was so bizarre, so absurdly surreal that the only sane outcome in the minds of voters was to cast the ballot in favor of the “outsider” candidate, this time Trump rather than Obama, since the alternative presented by the establishment, Hillary Clinton, was widely viewed as being infinitely worse and potentially catastrophic due in no small part to her addiction for igniting new wars and escalating existing conflicts in the name of exporting “democracy,” making her no different, and in many ways worse, than George W. Bush.
From the very moment Trump took office, the perception of his being an unpredictable outsider shaking things up and doing the opposite of what establishment politicians would do has been hammered into the minds of the public again and again without pause. Nothing about his behavior would suggest otherwise. Even the way he communicates with the general public, the strange way he words his tweets, ending almost all of them with exclamation points, is unprecedented in any country. He does not at all come across as a politician, let alone an establishment politician.
Yet, that is exactly what he is. For all the false accusations of “banning” Muslims (which, if that were the case, would involve banning people from all Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and other US allies in the Persian Gulf) and other such manufactured controversies and flagrant hyperbole, no one in the mass media is bothering to address and acknowledge facts. As with Obama, the media have made the myth real, and as with any urban legend, they have accomplished this using what they love to call “fake news,” which has become a running joke that has gotten more ridiculously absurd as the weeks drag on. Never at any time in the history of the United States, or of any other country, has there been so much talk of “fake news,” with both sides accusing each other of spreading “fake news” as a political weapon.
In the weeks leading up to the November election, the Clinton camp and their media puppets repeatedly accused Trump of using “fake news” from Russian sources, as well as lambasting anyone or any media outlet that dared acknowledge the possibility of a Trump victory as pushing “fake news.” For their part, Trump and his team have accused Clinton and the media of inventing “fake news” to undermine his presidency to the point of absurdity where any negative news item is referred to as constituting “fake news.” Negative poll numbers? Fake news. Mass protests against Trump? Fake news. White supremacists praising Trump? Fake news. Trump spending his free time watching television in his bathrobe? Fake news. Trump actually owning a bathrobe? Fake news.
This is all very entertaining and everything, but what this childish and immature behavior on the part of both Democrats and Republicans ― all supposedly grown and educated adults, mind you ― has demonstrated so clearly for the first time in US history, is just how far down the rabbit hole goes when it comes to the insidiously pervasive nature of disinformation. So insidious, in fact, that most of what passes for “news” today in the mainstream almost entirely consists of “fake news” of one variety or another, and even more horrifying, that this has been going on for a very, very long time. The only thing that’s different today is how blatant and obvious the media and politicians are about it.
Just about every conflict the US has been involved in since Vietnam has been predicated on “fake news.” The arming and support of anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan was sold to the public using “fake news,” as was the early US support for the Taliban in 1996. The George H.W. Bush administration and their Saudi partners used “fake news” to justify the first invasion of Iraq, as well as the war in Panama to capture and arrest Noriega. The Clinton administration used “fake news” to violently pummel Belgrade into submission to NATO and force Serbia to give up Kosovo. “Fake news” has been used again and again in each and every single covert operation involving the CIA. They have overthrown democracies and installed dictators using “fake news” ― it’s all standard operating procedure and business as usual.
More recently, the Obama administration, with Hillary Clinton in charge of foreign policy, triggered violent insurrections and rebellions in the Ukraine, Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Syria using “fake news” ― it was only after the so-called “Arab Spring” spread to Bahrain, where the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, and the Benghazi attacks that they realized they had lost control. The birth of ISIS was a direct result of the Obama administration financing, arming and providing logistical support to “moderate” Syrian rebels who, like their Sunni counterparts in Iraq, were anything but moderate.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria continues to be lambasted and demonized in the Western press based on unverified allegations and accusations that are “fake news” concocted by Syria “rebels.” As has been substantiated by various independent parties time and again, most recently by Representative Tulsi Gabbard, almost all of the “news” coming out of Syria, propagated by anti-Assad forces, is “fake news.” The vast majority of Syrians may not love their government, but they certainly support it, especially since it is secular, provides free university tuition and creates jobs for the unemployed. You won’t find very many Syrians worrying about whether or not Assad is a “dictator” or longing for the vague Western promise of “democracy.” What good is “democracy” when it results in a bloodthirsty cancer like ISIS?
The political agenda that establishment celebrities in Hollywood blindly promote is, more often than not, tied to “fake news.” Imagine the braindead insanity of someone like George Clooney, who actively bleeds his heart out for a group of anti-Assad terrorists tied to ISIS called “The White Helmets.” When I first encountered this fact, I couldn’t believe it. No way would someone like Clooney be that hopelessly stupid and ethically bankrupt. But it’s true. The same team responsible for propaganda films like Syriana and Argo, which includes Ben Affleck and Grant Heslov, support ISIS terrorist fronts like the White Helmets. It’s absolutely disgusting and evil.
And it will only get worse.
Where does all this “fake news” end and actual reality begin? It doesn’t. Without “fake news” and disinformation to justify its own existence and the perpetual cycle of warfare and bloodshed it perpetuates, the status quo would cease to exist. Until that happens, the human race will continue to languish in the so-called “desert of the real.”
We puzzle as to whether the universe is bounded or extends forever; whether, indeed, it may only be one universe among many. ― Vannevar Bush