Our Protected, Predatory Oligarchy: Dirty Secrets, Dirty Lies

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

If you want to understand why the status quo is unraveling, start by examining the feudal structure of our society, politics and economy.

The revelations coming to light about Hollywood Oligarch Harvey Weinstein perfectly capture the true nature of our status quo: a rotten-to-the-core, predatory, exploitive oligarchy of dirty secrets and dirty lies protected by an army of self-serving sycophants, servile toadies on the make and well-paid legal mercenaries. Predators aren’t an aberration of the Establishment; they are the perfection of the Establishment, which protects abusive, exploitive predator-oligarchs lest the feudal injustices of life in America be revealed for all to see.

The predators reckon their aristocratic status in Hollywood/D.C. grants them a feudal-era droit du seigneur (rights of the lord) to take whatever gratifications they desire from any female who has the grave misfortune to enter their malefic orbit.

Anyone who protests or makes efforts to go public is threatened by the oligarch’s thugs and discredited/smeared by the oligarch’s take-no-prisoners legal mercenaries. (Recall the Clintons’ Crisis Management Team tasked with crushing any Bimbo Eruptions, i.e. any eruptions of the truth about Bill’s well-known-to-insiders predation of the peasantry.)

The dirty secret is that the oh-so-hypocritical power elites of Hollywood and Washington D.C. circle the wagons to protect One of Their Own from being unmasked. The first weapons of choice in this defense are (as noted above) threats from thugs, discrediting the exploited via the oligarchy’s paid goons and lackeys in the mainstream media and dirty lies about what a great and good fellow the oligarch predator is. The last line of defense is a hefty bribe to silence any peasant still standing after the oligarchs’ onslaught of threats, smears and lies.

Should the worst happen and some sliver of the truth emerge despite the best efforts of the thugs, corporate media, legal mercenaries and PR handlers, then the playbook follows the script of any well-managed Communist dictatorship: the oligarch predator is thrown to the wolves to protect the oligarchs’ systemic predation and exploitation of the peasantry/debt-serfs.

Just as in a one-party Communist dictatorship, an occasional sacrificial offering is made to support the propaganda that the predators are outliers rather than the only possible output of a predatory, exploitive feudal status quo comprised of a small elite of super-wealthy and powerful oligarchs at the top and all the powerless debt-serfs at the bottom who must do their bidding in bed, in the boardroom, in the corridors of political power, and in the private quarters of their yachts and island hideaways.

Media reports suggest that the real reason Mr. Weinstein has been fired is not his alleged conduct over the past 27 years but his loss of the golden touch in generating movie-magic loot for the oh-so-liberal and politically correct Hollywood gang that was pleased to protect Mr. Weinstein when he was busy enriching them.

What’s truly noteworthy here is not the sordid allegations and history of payoffs–it’s the 27 years of intense protection the Hollywood/ media /D.C. status quo provided, despite hundreds of insiders knowing the truth. Just as hundreds of insiders with top secret clearance knew about the contents of the Pentagon Papers, and thus knew the Vietnam War was little more than an accumulation of official lies designed to protect the self-serving elites at the top of the power pyramid, only one analyst had the courage to risk his career and liberty to release the truth to the American public: Daniel Ellsberg.

Why are we not surprised that Hollywood, the corporate media and Washington D.C. lack even one courageous insider?

If you want to understand why the status quo is unraveling, start by examining the feudal structure of our society, politics and economy, and the endemic corruption, predation and exploitation of the privileged oligarchs at the top.

Then count the armies of self-serving sycophants, toadies, lackeys, hacks, apologists, flunkies, careerists and legal-team mercenaries who toil ceaselessly to protect their oligarch overlords from exposure.

Open your eyes, America: there are two systems of “justice”: one for the wealthy and powerful oligarchs, and an overcrowded gulag of serfs forced to plea-bargain in the other. If John Q. Public had done the deeds Mr. Weinstein is alleged to have done, Mr. Public would have long been in prison.

As Orwell observed about a totalitarian oligarchy, some are more equal than others.

 

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Initial Thoughts on Blade Runner 2049

Upon hearing early reports of a planned Blade Runner sequel a couple years ago, I felt both anticipation and dread. I considered it a singular vision which didn’t necessarily need a sequel, yet could understand the desire to re-immerse oneself in the compelling world it introduced. Re-experiencing the film through its Director’s Cut and Final Cut versions in subsequent years seemed to me as satisfying as watching sequels since even the relatively minor changes had a significant impact on its meaning and the richness of the sound and production design allows for the discovery of new details with every viewing. Also, one’s subjective experience watching even the same movie can be vastly different depending on one’s age and other circumstances.

One of my earliest cinematic memories was seeing the first Star Wars film as a toddler. At around the same time I remember staying up late with my parents to watch the network television premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though I was too young to fully comprehend those films’ narratives, the spectacle and sounds definitely left an impression and established a lifelong appreciation for the sci-fi genre and it’s mind-expanding possibilities.

Flash forward to an evening sometime in early 1982. After viewing a commercial for Blade Runner I instantly knew it was a movie I had to see. In the short trailer there were glimpses of flying cars over vast cityscapes, the guy that played Han Solo in a trench coat, bizarre humanoid robots within settings as strange yet detailed as 2001: a Space Odyssey. My parents, responsible as they were, refused to give in to incessant demands to see Blade Runner and that Summer I must have been the only kid who reluctantly agreed to see “E.T.” as a compromise. I probably did enjoy it more than I expected to, but might have enjoyed it more had I not viewed it as a weak Blade Runner substitute and if I actually paid attention to the entire film.

Back then our family usually saw films at drive-in theaters and the one we went to that night had two screens, one showing E.T. and the other, to my delight and frustration, happened to be Blade Runner. Even without sound and at a distorted angle I was awestruck by the establishing shots of LA in 2019 (which I glanced over to witness just as E.T.’s ship was landing on the screen in front of us, and for the entire duration of the films my eyes would switch back and forth between screens. Even without understanding anything about the plot of Blade Runner it made the most fantastical elements of E.T. pale in comparison. Judging from the box-office receipts of its theatrical run, the majority must have thought otherwise since Blade Runner earned a relatively meager $28 million while E.T. was the breakout hit of the year with nearly $360 million.

Within a few years I’d see portions of Blade Runner on cable TV at a friend’s house and finally saw the complete film after my family got a VCR and it was one of the first videos I rented. The film served as a gateway to many other interests such as cyberpunk, film noir, electronic music, but most importantly, an appreciation of the novels of Philip K. Dick. Like a psychedelic drug, they inspired philosophical questioning regarding the nature of reality, consciousness, society and what it means to be human.

This background, which is probably not too dissimilar to other stories of obsessive fandom, outlines how one’s immersion in media is rooted not just in the work itself but how it resonates with and shapes aspects of one’s identity and personal narrative as much as other memories. There’s also a nostalgia factor involved because, similar to a souvenir or any object with sentimental value, revisiting such media can recapture a sense of the feelings and sensations associated with the initial experience and sometimes the milieu of the content as well. Nostalgia is a longing for the past, even a past one has never directly experienced, never was and/or never will be, often prompted by loneliness and disconnectedness. Because it can sometimes provide comfort and hope it’s a feeling too often exploited by the marketing industry as well as media producers such as those behind reboots and sequels. Though Blade Runner 2049 may not have been solely created to cash in on nostalgia for the original, as with most big studio sequels it’s still a factor.

The type of nostalgia evoked by Blade Runner is singular, for it envisions a (near and soon to be past) future through the lens of the early eighties combining a pastiche of styles of previous eras. The film also serves as a meditation on the importance of memory and its relation to identity and the human experience. In a sense, being a longtime fan of the film is like having nostalgia for distilled nostalgia. Also unique is the fact that it took 35 years for the sequel to get made, just a couple years shy of the year in which the original takes place. The long delay is largely due to Blade Runner being so far ahead of its time it took over a decade for it to be widely regarded as a science fiction masterwork. Also, it took an additional decade and a half to develop plans for a sequel. But perhaps now is the ideal time for a follow-up as aspects of our world become more dystopian and there’s a greater need for nostalgic escape, even through narratives predicting dystopia.

While the future world of the original Blade Runner was definitely grim, it was also oddly alluring due to it’s depiction of a chaotic globalized culture, exotic yet functional-looking technology and hybrid retro/futuristic aesthetic shaped by sources as diverse as punk rock fashion, Heavy Metal magazine, film noir and Futurism among many others. The imagery of Blade Runner 2049 expands on the original by visualizing how the future (or alternate reality) LA has evolved over the course of 30 years as well as the environmentally and socially devastating impact of trying to sustain a technocratic corporate global system for so long.

Blade Runner opens with shots of oil refineries in the city intercut with close-ups of a replicant’s eye. 2049 opens with a close-up of an eye and transitions to an overhead shot of an endless array of solar panels, indicating a post peak-oil world. Despite the use of cleaner energy, the world of 2049 is far from clean with the entirety of San Diego depicted as a massive dumping ground for Los Angeles. Scavengers survive off the scraps which are recycled into products assembled by masses of orphaned child laborers in dilapidated sweatshop factories.

The Los Angeles of Blade Runner 2049 looks (and is) even colder and more foreboding than before. Gone are the Art Deco-inspired architecture and furnishings, replaced by Brutalist architecture and fluorescent-lit utilitarian interiors (with a few exceptions such as Deckard’s residence, Stelline Corporation headquarters and the Wallace Corporation building). Aerial shots reveal a vast elevated sprawl of uniform city blocks largely consisting of dark flat rooftops with glimmers of light emanating from below, visible only in the deep but narrow chasms between.

One of the more prominant structures is the LAPD headquarters which looks like an armored watchtower, signalling its role as a hub of the future surveillance state panopticon. Though an imposing feature of the city’s skyline, it’s dwarfed by larger structures housing even more powerful institutions. Just as a massive ziggurat owned by the Tyrell Corporation dominated the cityscape of the first film, by 2049 the Wallace Corporation has bought out the Tyrell Corporation and not only claims the ziggurat but has constructed an absurdly large pyramid behind it. Protecting the entire coastline of the city is a giant sea wall, presumably to prevent mass flooding from rising sea levels.

In a referential nod to the original film, city scenes of 2049 display some of the same ads such as Atari, Coca-Cola and Pan Am, but even more distracting are product placements for Sony, one of the companies which produced the new film. Such details might work as “Easter eggs” for fans (and shareholders), but takes away from the verisimilitude of the world depicted in the film where the Wallace Corporation has such seeming dominance over the economy and society in general, it probably wouldn’t leave much room for competition large enough to afford mass advertising.

While the background characters in the city of the first film seemed rude or largely indifferent to one another, 30 years later citizens are more outwardly hostile. This could reflect increasing social tensions from economic stratification as well as hostility towards replicants because the protagonist of this film is openly identified as one. Speaking of which, Ryan Gosling turns in an excellent performance as the new Blade Runner, Officer K (aka Joe, an obvious reference to Joseph K from Kafka’s “The Trial”).

Ironically, the replicants and other forms of AI in 2049 seem a little more self-aware and human-like while the humans and social institutions have become correspondingly android-like. From the perspective of the future CEOs (and some today), both replicants and non-wealthy humans (known as “little people” in cityspeak) exist to be exploited for labor and money and then “retired” when no longer needed. Reflecting this brutal reality are the largely grey and drab color scheme of the landscapes, interiors, and fashions. Adding to the mood is the soundtrack which, while at times evoking the calmer and more subtle Vangelis music of the original, is more often louder and harsher, sometimes blending with the noisy diegetic (background) soundscape.

2049‘s screenplay is almost a meta-sequel, introducing plot elements seemingly designed to address problems and inconsistencies in the original which have been pointed out by fans and critics through the years. Numerous references to Blade Runner, while nostalgic and crowd-pleasing, are almost distracting enough to break the spell of the film (at least for those who’ve re-watched the original enough times to memorize every detail). Fortunately, just as frequently new revelations, concepts and hints at potential new directions pulls one back in. I especially appreciated the further exploration of the origins and impact of false memories and its parallels to the creation and consumption of media and the way the film expanded the scope of the story beyond the city. Also surprising were references to films partly inspired by the works of Philip K. Dick such as Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, and Her as well as stylistic influences from more contemporary aesthetic subcultures such as glitch and vaporwave.

Like with most sequels, the main draw for fans is the chance to see familiar faces from the original and 2049 doesn’t disappoint too much. Judging from the posters, trailers, interviews, etc. it was clear Harrison Ford would make a return, but unfortunately it wasn’t until after the majority of the duration of the film had passed. Nevertheless, the reappearance of Ford’s character Deckard was memorable, found by Agent K as a disheveled hermit in an abandoned casino surrounded by copious amounts of alcohol and ancient pop culture detritus. Deckard is apparently as much of a drinker as in the first film, but now not just to block out the pain of the past and present but to escape to an idealized past. Though his involvement in the plot seemed too brief it nevertheless plays a pivotal role in resolving the central mystery of the film and providing additional metacommentary.

Ford’s performance is arguably more compelling than his work in the original, though his character’s lack of charisma in the first film could be seen as intentional. Deckard’s character arc in the film, as well as that of Ford’s last two iconic roles from the 80s he reprised, cements his status as our culture’s archetype for the deadbeat father. This seems inevitable in hindsight because for a generation of latchkey kids (many with actual deadbeat dads), stars such as Harrison Ford were virtually surrogate father figures. Thus, it makes sense that the beloved characters Ford drifted away from for so long would be written as variations of a long absent deadbeat parent in their last installments.

An interesting detail about the way Deckard was characterized in the film was how he seemed more in line with a typical baby-boomer today than the gen x-er one would be at that age 32 years from now.  For example, people in their seventies today are probably more likely to be nostalgic for Elvis and Sinatra than a seventy-something person in 2049 who in our actual timeline would have more likely spent formative years listening to grunge or hiphop. A possible subtextual meaning might be that like false memories, nostalgia for media of enduring cultural value transcends lived experience. The referencing of “real” pop-culture figures within the world of the film seemed anachronistic at first, but the way it was done was interesting and worked with the themes and aesthetic (I suppose it’s preferable to having something like Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” shoe-horned into the film like in the Star Trek reboots). Getting back to the point, in the original Blade Runner, nostalgia permeated the film through its themes, production design, costumes and soundtrack. In Blade Runner 2049, nostalgia is a subtext of repeated callbacks to the original film, Agent K’s idealized retro relationship with his AI girlfriend Joi and Deckard’s hideout within the ruins of a city once associated with fun and glamour. The simulacrum of iconic figures from the past like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe (and Ford) haunting the deserted casino like ghosts reinforces the idea of media and culture’s ability to “implant” memories and resultant nostalgia.

As for the finale, I was disappointed that it was so far from the unconventional conclusion of the showdown between Roy Batty and Deckard. One could argue it’s a reflection of the state of the world (in and of film and reality), but it’d be nice to have a little more creativity and risk-taking. Though viscerally exciting and suspenseful, it wasn’t distinguishable enough from countless modern action films to be truly memorable. More satisfying was the epilogue which paralleled the contemplative nature of the original while reconnecting to the film’s recurring themes.

In a sense, the writers and director of Blade Runner 2049 were in a catch-22 situation. Creating a film too unlike or similar to the original Blade Runner would provoke criticism from fans. What director Denis Villeneuve and co-writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have managed to pull off is a balancing act of a film that’s unique in many ways yet interwoven with the original; nostalgic, but not in an obvious or overly sentimental way. Both have their flaws, but while I admire the thought and craft put into the sequel, I prefer the originality, tone, texture and atmosphere of Blade RunnerBlade Runner 2049 will likely satisfy most sci-fi fans, but I’m not sure it proves a sequel was necessary or that it stands alone as a classic.

Though not given the recognition it deserved in its time, Blade Runner was a groundbreaking and visionary film upping the bar for intellectual depth, moral complexity, production design and special effects to a degree not seen since 2001: a Space Odyssey. Its influence can be spotted in countless dystopian science fiction films made since. Though it’s too early to tell how influential Blade Runner 2049 will be, it doesn’t seem to have pushed the genre forward to a similar extent (of course contemporaneous opinions can seem wildly off the mark in hindsight). Regardless, it’s an above-average science fiction film by any reasonable standard so it’s unfortunate that judging from disappointing initial box-office reports, it seems to be following in the footsteps of the first Blade Runner pretty closely in that regard. Time will tell whether it achieves a similar cult status in years to come. Perhaps in 35 years?

 

Posted in Art, culture, Dystopia, Film, media, Philosophy, society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: Night Tide

By Steve Johnson

Source: Bright Lights

The first shot proper in Curtis Harrington’s 1961 feature film debut, Night Tide, situates main character Johnny Drake leaning over a pier in his sailor gear, slightly off-angle, so we understand that there’s something unresolved in his character, something at un-rest. The setting is Venice, California, a long way off from the Poe-like submerged city it’s named for, as are many of the film’s characters from their similar sources. A clairvoyant later calls Johnny innocent and searching, and everything about the moody composition reinforces this notion as he gazes into the reflective waters. There at the brink between land and sea, consciousness and dream, he’s Narcissus regarding himself in the pool, much like the protagonist of Harrington’s attention-getting 1946 short Fragment of Seeking.

In that earlier, experimental film, Harrington’s character — played by the director himself — pursues a robed figure after the fashion of Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon,” only to discover that what he had taken to be a woman is instead himself, in drag. (The scenario is a gloss on such Poe tales as “William Wilson” and “The Assignation”; Harrington’s first short was an adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” a new version of which was also his final film work.) This motif of inquiring into gender and the self is revisited in film after film of Harrington’s no matter how personal or indifferent, from the exploration of the twin-gendered Venus and Mars of his next feature, Queen of Blood, through the various pursuits of his ’70s TV movies The Dead Don’t Die and How Awful About Allan, the latter climaxing in the reverse-unmasking of the lead’s veiled malefactor — whom he had assumed was a male boarder — as in fact his own sister.

This lunar pull toward some split-off aspect of the self is part allegorical, part autobiographical. In Night Tide, the division in Johnny’s object of fascination, the sideshow mermaid named Mora who believes she’s the real thing, represents our peculiarly human nature, being not entirely animal yet not entirely separate, either. In both evolutionary and individually developmental terms, she recalls the amniotic origins Johnny contemplates from his privileged perspective at the start of the picture, which viewpoint the film reiterates at other key points and in other key locations. That tension between our innocent beginnings and present “fallen” state reflects the director’s own attitude toward his ambitions and the course his career would take in the baroque and carnivalesque Hollywood where he found himself working for the next 25 years after this self-written and -financed calling card of a film.

Though Harrington’s character, and indeed the tone of his feature, is naïve, Harrington himself was not. True to the Hollywood Babylon of friend and early co-conspirator Kenneth Anger’s series of infamous industry exposés, the portrait of that town in such later Harringtons as What’s the Matter with Helen? maintains the grime on the city’s underbelly. For the novice filmmaker, Tinseltown was the Mora-like Lorelei whose song lured many a hapless romantic to his ruin. As his career lost its way from the wide-eyed optimism on display here, it bent itself to an increasing sordidness, the decadence that underlay his scenarios become less and less berobed with the illusion of glamor. By the time of his penultimate theatrical feature, the Exorcist knockoff Ruby, the putative Golden Age apostrophized throughout his work in the casting of mostly played-out Hollywood luminaries was at last seen as a nest of gangsters reduced to working for the title singer at her drive-in theater, her daughter the innocent supernatural woman of Night Tide become the actual agent of the violent deaths of which Mora, in her film, is falsely accused.

In conversation with David Del Valle on the latter’s cable interview program, The Sinister Image, Harrington described his first studio film, Games, as concerning the seeping of “European decadence” into innocent America. In that film, Night Tide‘s boardwalk attractions are literally internalized in the pinball-filled apartment and juvenile, prank-prone relationship of its socialite couple — based on Night Tide star Dennis Hopper and his Hollywood-royalty wife, Brooke Hayward — all of which turn malevolent under the influence of a French mystic played by Simone Signoret. In Night Tide this figure appears in the form of the Greek-speaking Mystery Woman (played by Marjorie Cameron, a consort of reputed Black Arts practitioner Aleister Crowley) and in Queen of Blood the vampiric cod-European extraterrestrial; in later tele-films The Dead Don’t Die it’s the zombie leader Varek, Killer Bees‘ queen-bee Madame von Bohlen, and the witchy Martine Beswick character of Devil Dog: Hound of Hell, as well as the soigné Nazi psychologist of theatrical career-closer Mata Hari.

Which is not to say that this influence need necessarily be European. The director just as easily gave it a domestic face in the form of Helen‘s radio evangelist played by Agnes Moorehead and her disturbed disciple Shelley Winters, and The Killing Kind‘s mother, Ann Sothern — symbols of Golden Age Hollywood, all, as was Bees‘ Gloria Swanson. The decadence, if any, is organic to its milieu; if it hails from any Old World to speak of, it’s a world within.

Harrington has said that all of his films are tragedies. Night Tide, at least, ends hopefully. When Ellen Sands, the land girl who vies for his affections, sees Johnny off, the implication is that she’ll be a soft place for him to land when he comes down from his guilty obsession over Mora; her offer of coffee on his way out is as Ariadne’s gift to Theseus of the thread of consciousness that would lead him out of the minotaur maze. With the more exotic love of Mora suggesting the primitive, deep and unfathomable artistic nature (she being first encountered in a subterranean jazz club and later doing an improvisational dance to a bongo beat) that Harrington would leave behind in the pursuit of bigger budgets, greater technical resources, and a wider audience, Ellen’s boardwalk merry-go-round suggests the simple, commercial (if mechanical) pleasures of an “innocent,” old-fashioned entertainment, and Night Tide the chronicle of a passage from avant-garde mother to the feature-length mainstream cinema Harrington would spend a quarter of a century courting with varying degrees of success.

We take solace in Johnny’s being escorted out by the Shore Patrol, suggesting that the questing sailor has found his feet and will one day return to the merry-go-round girl. It’s an odd early endorsement of heterosexual love and normality for a director the overwhelming bulk of whose later work describes such relations and their familial expression in grotesque terms — the undead marathon dancers of The Dead Don’t Die, the forced rape-participation of The Killing Kind, the suburban kennel that is Devil Dog‘s home and family (with its figurative “breeders”), as the ancestral-home hive of Bees. It’s no surprise, then, that the further Harrington came from the hopes of establishing the kind of career he may have envisioned, the harsher the satire became, until the disaster of the attempted Sylvia Kristel vehicle Mata Hari crumbled under the weight of its disinterest in the softcore couplings that were its generic reason for being. Afterward, it was series television for him, the likes of which — Dynasty, primarily — offered a more comfortable haven for his outright cynical — no longer conflicted — attitudes. It was as if Johnny had returned to find Ellen had given up the wait for him and gone. All that was left now was to join the amusements.

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Manufacturing Panic: Social Engineering, Domination and Control

By S.C. Hickman

Source: Techno Occulture

In the 21st century, the social engineering of dread and longing have evolved into a bio-political arena of terror and a psycho-political culture of internalized domination. The globally deployed technology of the spectacle transforms to a creative panic industry, the pacification of the self and the silencing of multitudes. With no visible alternatives to universal pancapitalism there seems to be no need for payoffs for the disenchanted, no necessity to bribe the dissenting segments of the population and no incentive to grant extension of freedoms.1

Instead of peddling hope and visions of mutually shared commonwealth, authority is maintained by the production of synthetic fear and the need to secure property against some other. Deimos and Phobos, the gods of panic, angst and terror dominate the omni-directional realm of geo-psychological strategies in an asymmetric world war against invisible enemies without qualities. Market concentrations benefit neo-feudal power structures that know how to use access to media, private security and intelligence services to advance their interests. Austerity, power, and impersonal anonymity interface with a world replete with vast global migrations, desperation, and panic victims who willingly comply and give up liberties for shared security. An Orwellian world of competing agencies, wars, famines, and pestilence drive the panic cities of current criminal elements to traffic in sex, drugs, and war.

Private oligarchic networks of finance and business cartels cultivate relations to governmental entities controlling state agencies and military units. Media narratives and public relations strategies transform synthetic fear into advantages that produce windfalls of power and profit. This theater of fear is a skillful interplay of compartmentalized information units, privatized command centers, loyal officials and gatekeepers as well as professional Special Forces. Technocommercial Black-Ops programs that infiltrate both governmental and public spheres through experimental use of technics and pharmakon in collusion with DARPA and other shadow or Deep State agencies across the globe provide a base infrastructure for a 21st century society of control. Productions of artificial angst call for scenarios of counter-terrorist theater rehearsals and paramilitary actors as well as the professional staging of scapegoats and dupes. The dark networks draw on privatized intelligence units, so called “asteroids”, business entities which provide cover for compartmentalized operations.2

Space was formerly known as heaven and manned space flight from earth could be understood as mechanical equivalent to an ascent to divinity. Johannes Kepler suspected paradise to be located on the moon and Konstantin Tsiolkowsky, the Russian pioneer of modern rocket science, saw manned space flight as a freeway to the supernatural. In his novel “Gravity’s Rainbow” Thomas Pynchon contemplates the ambiguous interrelations between sex, rockets and magic.

Jack Parsons, a key figure in American rocketry, lost his reputation and security clearance in obsessive pursuit of occult rituals and sexual mumbo-jumbo before he diffused into space in a lab explosion in 1952. A crater on the dark side of the moon is named in memory of Parsons, a tribute to the shady cofounder of the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The 19th century spiritualist pseudoscience of a world of ghosts and occult belief in spirits, a complex adaptation to modernity, has morphed into 20th century sciences. From social theories and “optimization” of the workplace, from operations research to scientific communication and applied psychology, many genres of academic disciplines and the influence business are rooted in the twilight zone of the netherworlds.

When Norbert Wiener, who developed his work on cybernetics from ballistics research, writes that “Communication and control belong to the essence of man’s inner life, even as they belong to his life in society” he evokes the ancient art of assessing the human personality and exploiting motivations. Developed out of clandestine mind control programs in the 1960’s, the methodical application of Personality Assessment Systems became standard operating procedure in business and intelligence. Systems of discipline and control which took shape in the 19th century on the basis of earlier procedures have mutated into new and aggressive forms, beyond simplistic theories of state and sovereignty. In the past, the science of power branched into the twin vectors of political control and control of the self.

In the 21st century the technologies of material control and subjective internalization are in a process of converging. The traditional twin operations, with which the authorities aim to win the hearts and minds, the binding maneuvers of law enforcement and the dazzling illusionist control of the imagination, are transforming into each other. Not unlike werewolves using the powers of the moon for a violent metamorphosis, contemporary agencies of power turn into shape shifters and fluctuating modes of dominance. Star Wars technology shape-shifts into applications of creative industries, into the domain of desire, imagination and mediated lunacy.

Technologies of individualization bound to controllable identities and the global machinery of homogenization are superimposing to a double-bind of contemporary power structures. The renaissance heretic Giordano Bruno anticipates these developments in his visionary treatise “De Vinculis in Genere” – a general account of bonding – on operational phantasms and the libidinal manipulation of the human spirit. The disputatious philosopher of an infinite universe, beyond his unique investigation into the imaginary and the persuasion of masses and the individual, also challenged the ontological separation between the spheres of the heavens and the sublunary world of his time.

Today, in a technological marriage of heaven and earth, there is a full spectrum military entertainment fusion of global conflict management. A strategic analysis of the enforced colonization of space and mind will certainly provide a more comprehensive understanding of the parameters of life and death on planet Earth. The extraterrestrial highway in the United States, is near the zone 51, a top secret area of the American army. In this zone “black projects” subjected to the secrecy defense are carried out. In 1994 a Congressional subcommittee revealed that up to 500,000 Americans were endangered by secret defense related tests between 1940 and 1974. They included covert experiments with radioactive materials, mustard gas, LSD, and biological agents.3

Disneyland and the global media sightings of men on the moon are exemplary for the universal power of imagination management and the spectacle. Receptiveness for the spectacle is deeply embedded in human desires for excitement, stimulation, knowledge acquisition and the construction of self esteem. Largely based on the biocybernetic exploitation of human response mechanisms that influence emotion, excitement and thrill, the technological spectacle in its play with danger and disorientation is rooted in the biology of ancient neural patterns. But its arena has been dramatically extended through technology. The machinery of the spectacle generates affect by triggering failures of orientation and control. This can be loss of physical balance, a rollercoaster ride or cognitive dissonance. The intensity of affect is directly correlated with the depth of disorientation and the more that vital human response structures are touched, the deeper the effect. Contextual parameters of relatively secure environments allow appreciating these disorientations as hedonistic experiences instead of discomfort and panic. These mechanisms trigger delight and numinous experiences, moving and enthusing audiences.

Aldous Huxley once remarked that there are two kinds of propaganda— rational propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with the enlightened self-interest of those who make it and those to whom it is addressed, and non-rational propaganda that is not consonant with anybody’s enlightened self-interest, but is dictated by, and appeals to, passion. 4

In the years and decades ahead both invasive and non-invasive technologies will enslave the uneducated masses, luring them with technologies of delight or fear to do the bidding of the Oligarchs without little or any resistance since for the most part people will willingly give up there freedoms for comfort, security, and happiness. Of course not all will give into such notions, nor condone the power of persuasion through both extrinsic propaganda and public relations, nor intrinsically through technological pharmakon or invasive forms of implants or nanobots. But these resistant anti-bodies will like any virus be hunted down and annihilated in a society that will have become a unified fascist enclave, a mindless world of automated machines both inorganic and organic. For in the end there will be no barriers between them, only the merger and enhancement of their twined potentials. This is the dark truth-condition of our future… can we stop it?


  1. Konrad Becker, Hypno Politics, Hyper State Control, Law Entrainment and the Symbolic Order. Center for Cognitive Liberty (2015)
  2. Lofgren, Mike. The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. Penguin Books (January 5, 2016); Englehardt, Tom. Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Haymarket Books (September 15, 2014)
  3. Valentine, Douglas. The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World. Clarity Press (December 31, 2016)
  4. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World Revisited. Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (July 1, 2014)
Posted in Authoritarianism, conditioning, consciousness, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, education, media, Neoliberalism, Philosophy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Psychology, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, surveillance state, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Power Corrupts: A Culture of Compliance Breeds Despots and Predators

President Bill Clinton and Miramax Chief, Harvey Weinstein at Hillary Clinton’s Birthday Party at the Hudson Hotel in New York City. October 25, 2000 (Photo: Nick Elgar/ImageDirect)

By John W. Whitehead

Source: The Rutherford Institute

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”― Frank Herbert

Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.

We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.

A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and a school and gets away with it.

Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sexual harassment, government corruption, or the rule of law.

For instance, 20 years ago, I took up a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of a young woman—a state employee—who claimed that her boss, a politically powerful man, had arranged for her to meet him in a hotel room, where he then allegedly dropped his pants, propositioned her and invited her to perform oral sex on him.

Despite the fact that this man had a well-known reputation for womanizing and this woman was merely one in a long line of women who had accused the man of groping, propositioning, and pressuring them for sexual favors in the workplace, she was denounced as white trash and subjected to a massive smear campaign by the man’s wife, friends and colleagues (including the leading women’s rights organizations of the day), while he was given lucrative book deals and paid lavish sums for speaking engagements.

William Jefferson Clinton eventually agreed to settle the case and pay Paula Jones $850,000.

Here we are 20 years later and not much has changed.

We’re still shocked by sexual harassment in the workplace, the victims of these sexual predators are still being harassed and smeared, and those who stand to gain the most by overlooking wrongdoing (all across the political spectrum) are still turning a blind eye to misconduct when it’s politically expedient to do so.

This time, it’s Hollywood producer Harvey Weinsteinlongtime Clinton associate and a powerhouse when it comes to raising money for Democrats—who is being accused of decades of sexual assaults, aggressively sexual overtures and harassment.

I won’t go into the nauseating details here. You can read them for yourself at the New York Times and the New Yorker.

Suffice it to say that it’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.

From what I’ve read, this was Hollywood’s worst-kept secret.

In other words, everyone who was anyone knew about it. They were either complicit in allowing the abuses to take place, turning a blind eye to them, or helping to cover them up.

It’s not just happening in Hollywood, however.

And it’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Harvey Weinstein (or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.

The cop who shoots the unarmed citizen first and asks questions later might get put on paid leave for a while or take a job with another police department, but that’s just a slap on the wrist. The shootings and SWAT team raids and excessive use of force will continue, because the police unions and the politicians and the courts won’t do a thing to stop it. Case in point: The Justice Department will no longer attempt to police the police when it comes to official misconduct. Instead, it plans to give police agencies more money and authority to “fight” crime.

The war hawks who are making a profit by waging endless wars abroad, killing innocent civilians in hospitals and schools, and turning the American homeland into a domestic battlefield will continue to do so because neither the president nor the politicians will dare to challenge the military industrial complex. Case in point: Rather than scaling back on America’s endless wars, President Trump—like his predecessors—has continued to expand America’s military empire and its attempts to police the globe.

The National Security Agency that carries out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ internet and phone communications will continue to do so, because the government doesn’t want to relinquish any of its ill-gotten powers. Case in point: The USA Liberty Act, proposed as a way to “fix” all that’s wrong with domestic surveillance, will instead legitimize the government’s snooping powers.

Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.

Police officers will continue to shoot and kill unarmed citizens. Government agents—including local police—will continue to dress and act like soldiers on a battlefield.

Bloated government agencies will continue to fleece taxpayers while eroding our liberties. Government technicians will continue to spy on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors will continue to make a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.

As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”

After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical. They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”

Power corrupts.

And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.

As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”

That sense of entitlement and immunity from charges of wrongdoing dovetails with Richard Nixon’s belief that “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

For too long now, America has played politics with its principles and allowed the president and his colleagues to act in violation of the rule of law.

“We the people” are paying the price for it now.

Americans have allowed Congress, the White House and the Judiciary to wreak havoc with our freedoms. They have tolerated an oligarchy in which a powerful, elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots. They have paid homage to patriotism while allowing the military industrial complex to spread death and destruction abroad. And they have turned a blind eye to all manner of wrongdoing when it was politically expedient.

This culture of compliance must stop.

The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.

For starters, let’s go back to the basics: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Let’s recommit to abiding by the rule of law.

Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.

Let’s demand scrutiny and transparency at all levels of government, which in turn will lead to accountability.

We need to stop being victimized by these predators.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, I’m not just talking about the political predators in office, but the ones who are running the show behind the scenes—the shadow government—comprised of unelected government bureaucrats whose powers are unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and beyond the reach of the law.

There is no way to erase the scars left by the government’s greed for money and power, its disregard for human life, its corruption and graft, its pollution of the environment, its reliance on excessive force in order to ensure compliance, its covert activities, its illegal surveillance, and its blatant disdain for the rule of law.

“We the people”—men and women alike— have been victims of the police state for so long that not many Americans even remember what it is to be truly free anymore. Worse, few want to shoulder the responsibility that goes along with maintaining freedom.

Still, we must try.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, divide and conquer, Dystopia, Economics, Empire, History, Inequality, Law, media, Philosophy, police state, Social Control, society, Sociology, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

CIA-Connected Google Aims to Weaken RT

By Stephen Lendman

Source: StephenLendman.org

Google transformed itself from a search engine to online censor.

Last July, the World Socialist Web Site reported “changes to its search service to make it harder for users to access what it called ‘low-quality’ information such as ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘fake news.’ “

It’s Google’s code language for blocking what’s most important to know, what reliable sites like WSWS report daily, publishing vital information conflicting with the official narrative the corporate media feature, all rubbish all the time on vital world and national issues.

RT is the most widely viewed news operation on YouTube, owned by Google – no surprise it’s using it to censor truth-telling content, considered detrimental to the national security state because it exposes what it wants kept secret.

RT’s popularity keeps growing, why it’s considered a threat. Last month, its multi-language videos were watched over five billion times on YouTube.

Google declared war on the operation in cahoots with Washington, pulling it from its YouTube prime ad list in America without notification, a despicable action. RT’s deputy editor-in-chief Kirill Karnovich-Valua commented saying:

“RT has been Google’s premium partner since 2010 and accredited to an official status of the most watched TV news network on YouTube.”

“The fact that RT is no longer included in the Google Preferred advertising list in the US in itself does not affect RT distribution and monetization on the platform.”

“Yet, it is absolutely unacceptable that, while there were no notifications of any policy changes sent to RT, such internal info appears to have been leaked to the US media by Google.”

“This speaks to the unprecedented political pressure increasingly applied to all RT partners and relationships in a concerted effort to push our channel out of the US market entirely, and by any means possible.”

Censorship is a flagrant First Amendment violation, Russia, its officials and English-languish news operations prime targets for vilification and undermining – notably after Moscow was falsely accused of US election hacking, no evidence ever presented proving it.

RT and Sputnik News are threatened. Washington demanded a company providing services to RT America register as a foreign agent.

The FBI is investigating Sputnik, unheard of actions, perhaps prelude to preventing them from reaching a US audience.

Both are highly respected news and information services, media operations, not Russian propaganda as falsely claimed, nothing fake about their reporting – worlds apart from deplorable US media, disinformation operations.

Vilifying Russia persists on many fronts, a recklessly dangerous situation, risking direct confrontation – what’s coming if things continue on their present course.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, Empire, freedom of speech, internet freedom, media, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Two for Tuesday

Kiwi Illafonte

The Allen Dulles Band

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

And empires die

Source: Intrepid Report

Nothing ever seems to last, everybody changes oh so fast,
promises made promises lost and pride is kept at any cost,
And flowers die, and children cry, and lonely people carry on.
—Palermo & Farruggio 1970

That was from the song And Flowers Die, by prolific composer Michael Palermo and this writer as lyricist. How appropriate to compare this song with the ‘death song’ of our Military-Industrial Amerikan Empire, now in only its 72nd year of prominence. How great and powerful our empire was for so long. We controlled the economies and governments of so many countries, even continents. Now it is the autumn of our status as Number One. The Asian rim, as many refer to it, being led by China and all those other nations in that region, will become the future economic powerhouse of this planet.

This writer will leave it to the many progressive scholars out there for the explanation of the how and why of this equation. Let me just say that we all, from grade school on, have been fed the pabulum of America as a democracy, benevolent to the entire world. Many sadly still believe that lie, and that strengthens the reason why this empire is in freefall.

Since we became the preeminent world empire at the end of WW2, two things held the greedy ones who run things in we’ll say half check: The progressive federal tax rate and the union movement. The top tax rate from 1953 to 1963 was 91%. Now, we know that the super rich did not pay at that rate, but even after their accountants sharpened a few pencils, many still had to pay at least 50%, for argument sake. Today’s top rate is 39.6%, meaning that folks like mega millionaire Mitt Romney pay at around 15%-20%. Do the math and see how much more went into the treasury then as opposed to now. The second factor that held this empire in half check was the stronger union movement in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. In the 1950s, about 35% of American workers belonged to unions. In 1983, it went down to around 20%. Now, the percentage is around 12%. So, that means that three times more working stiffs in the recent past had the protection of a union, however weak or compliant that union may have been. Today, this empire can breathe easily as fewer and fewer working stiffs even have a union!

To this writer, with all the many factors that have contributed to the demise of our nation via this Military-Industrial Empire, the number one factor is our foreign policy. When over half of your spending goes for military reasons, how can a nation sustain itself at home? When you have over 1,000 military bases in over 100 countries, and you consistently are involved in these phony wars, the home front must feel the strain. Our myriad of domestic bleeding is so obvious . . . yet so few here will acknowledge it. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our health care is a mess, too many mediocre paying jobs (with too many being part time with NO benefits), our political system is controlled by Big Money, our media is controlled by the same Big Money . . . and the fools still fight amongst each other over the Two Party/One Party con job.

Let’s face it: All the major industrialized nations are controlled by their super rich. There are really few exceptions. Sadly, with over 99+ % of the populace in all these countries being just simple working stiffs, it is time for a change of mindset. The mindset must be simple: The super rich need to go back to paying their fair share, and government needs to become what Mark Twain prescribed: ‘To protect us from the crooks and scoundrels.’

Posted in Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Economics, Empire, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, Health, History, Inequality, Labor, Militarization, Recession, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments