Saturday, February 26, 2011

From Infowar to Propaganda War to Hot War

Someone once said that the first casualty of war is truth. I think that's an astute observation. There are many reasons why this is true, and many excuses. Of course the most prevalent excuse is going to be that of national security. We can't reveal anything to the enemy. We can't let them have an advantage over us. We can't endanger our troops. Of course, during a hot war there is a certain legitimacy to some of those claims, but that excuse quickly becomes suspect when it gets abused. That excuse becomes abused when, among other things, it is used to prevent the populous from questioning the decisions of their government and their reasons for going to war in the first place.

It is no secret that government has been waging an information war against the common folk for a long time now. The mainstream corporate media has been on their side and helping to cover up their dirty little secrets for quite a while now. The founding fathers made it a crime for the government to create laws violating the freedom of the press in an effort to prevent such a situation, but it obviously didn't work. The press was bought up and consolidated by the corporate establishment long ago and has since been used to help mold the masses to accept their way of thinking, a socialistic viewpoint. In this way they have convinced a majority of people to act in ways contrary to their own best interests but beneficial to the elite few.

For decades, the corporate establishment was winning this information war. Their point of view dominated the mass media. People took for granted that what they saw on corporate television news programs and what they read in corporate owned newspapers was true and objective reporting. I remember being taught in the indoctrination center known as school that foreign, communist nations filled their media with propaganda and lies while our "free" press guaranteed that our society was only exposed to objective truth. No one seemed to question that every news source gave more or less the same accounting of newsworthy events. We were all being groomed to be good little American worker bees who didn't question their government and knew we were being brought up in the best country in the whole world.

Then the Internet came along. I wonder if those who invented this marvel of the modern age truly understood its potential for disseminating information. Perhaps more appropriately, I wonder if they realized the human potential for taking to the Internet to discover alternative points of view to the news of the day. I wonder if they envisioned youtube and facebook when they were first bouncing around emails to each other. I wonder if the powers that be understood how quickly they could lose control of the spin because of cheap video cameras and people's willingness to go online and investigate for themselves all sides to a given story. I'm almost certain they didn't. The establishment seems to have become very frightened of the Internet.

With the hearts and minds of too many individuals in danger of slipping through the fingers of the corporate elite like grains of sand, they may very well have decided that it is well past time to rein in the feral Internet and attempt to tame it to do their bidding. But they have a problem. How do you put the genie back in the bottle? Now that people have gotten a taste of real investigative journalism, how do you suppress the appetite to discover the truth about the establishment elite and their crimes? More than that, how do you get the public to trust you again once they have discovered you've been lying for decades if not centuries?

One way would be to ignore those who are aware of your past transgressions and try to convince as many of the others as possible that the Internet, the instrument for delivering truth and alternative points of view, is dangerous. It tells people how to build bombs. It is a cesspool of child pornography. It is a terrorist recruitment tool. It is overflowing with extremists of all stripes whose ideas are warping the minds of our young people. You'll want to get as many of the uninitiated as possible to back you up and demand Internet regulation.

Another way would be to point out that the Internet is more than just a great source of information, it has become an integral part of modern communications and a great generator of commerce, then claim that the Internet itself is endangered from a malicious outside source. The idea is to claim that government should be able to quickly disable the Internet should it come under attack. It is beyond me how someone thinks that shutting down the Internet would protect it and prevent it from, well, from being shut down. This follows along the same line of going to war to keep the peace. It is a concept as Orwellian as war is peace, slavery is freedom, or ignorance is strength.

Taking control and regulating the Internet will not cause people to once again trust the government, but it will make the population dependent upon government monitored sources for their information. Exposure to a lie often enough will cause many to believe it, perhaps even some who understand how propaganda works. The Internet is not in danger as long as it remains decentralized. There is nothing that endangers it more than the government and a "kill switch" they control. The Internet presents a threat to no one other than the establishment who wish to kill the ideas that are taking root right now in the hearts and minds of many and spreading through the population. There is nothing the corporate elite fears more than the competition the Internet can provide.

So it is that governments under siege in the middle east strive to shut down the Internet in their nations. President Obama has asked for the same power, just in case the Internet comes under attack from supposed armies of hackers outside this nation. What they really want is to be able to control the information available to the populous. What they really want is to be able to cut off communications to the common folk should they decide to rise up against their policies and demand accountability. What they may ultimately want is to establish a new Internet, the web 2.0 if you will, where only government approved bloggers will be able to publish their commentary and commerce can only be conducted with the blessings of the established corporate elite and their government cronies.

Of course, should something like this happen, it will all go down in the name of national security. What could be a better excuse for invoking the national security excuse than a hot war? What could be a better excuse for going to war than to help a hapless population trying to achieve freedom from a brutal dictator in some foreign nation? Well, I suppose trying to find weapons of mass destruction to avert a chemical, biological or nuclear apocalypse might be a better excuse for some, but that one may have been worn a little thin with the Iraq quagmire. Perhaps war might be an easier sell if people are presented with the specter of innocents being gunned down by heavily armed soldiers in some far off land. Of course, a larger conflagration could help create the excuse that an open Internet is too easily attacked by the "enemy" and needs to be closed off and regulated for the sake of freedom.

There is no need for an Internet kill switch, nor for any government monitoring of it. Any attack that could be launched against it could be better handled by the capable and diverse community of private servers that we have now, in my humble opinion, than it could be by a centralized government hub. The benefits gained by its openness far outweigh any detriments posed by "threatening" or "dangerous" activity operating on it. Even in time of war we should have at least the opportunity to acquire information alternative to the establishment point of view. Free men should be able to look at as many different points of view as possible and decide for themselves which is closest to truth and reality and which is propaganda.

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