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Forum Post: Wedge Issues, Fear, And The 1%

Posted 2 years ago on March 28, 2012, 11:32 p.m. EST by GypsyKing (9727)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The method that tyranies have used since time immemorial to defeat the common people have been primarily two-fold. The first and foremost is to instill fear. This can be done in myriad ways, the primary and most obvious of which is their confontation of rebellion with violence and the threat of increased violence.

In the past this was their primary method of instilling fear, but the media age has given them a whole new venue for this tactic. Much of what the established media does now is spread fear and confusion through the things they focus on, the things they don't focus on, the superficial handling of important topics (leaving people with a feeling of confusion and uncertainty) and the random way they move subjects from the serious, to the trivial, to the rediculous, in random and rapid succession.

The resulting lack of reasoned debate, leading to reasonable conclusions, adds to the underlying fog of fear and confusion that we are now expierencing. Instead of logical debate we are relentlessly subjected to the irrational hatred and distortion of paid "talking heads," whose soul purpose is to defeat and deflect reasoned debate, and the sense of security that comes from resolution.

The second ancient method tyranies have used to subject people to their will is the use of wedge issues - that is, the creation of, or focus on, the differences between people - thus misdirecting the rage that would rationally be directed towards the tyranny towards other segments of society who are also oppressed. Because of the almost endless variety of people, the number of wedge issues they can exploit is almost endless, and the media can move among these divissive issues in dizzying succession, so that the moment one division is debunked they have already created two new ones to drive into our collective minds.

Thus as I, a common citizen, write this post in the interest of the comon citizen, there are literally thousands of paid apparachiks in media and government, as well as those working at the direct behest of private interests to divide us with a never ending stream of wedge-issues based upon race, ecomomic caste, ethnicity, religion, education level, generation, etc., etc, ad infinitum. Many of the people charged with the task of division furthermore are highly educated, complex thinkers, from the nations best universities, who are quite capable of disguising their real intentions.

There can be no question about the power and success of their methods, and so the question becomes, How can we fight back?

Firstly, I think, we must improve our own critical thinking skills, read informal logic, and with those skills we can look at a post on this forum, or a segment on the news, or the opinion of a talking head, or a confused and angry family member, or a neighbor, and with improved discrimination see both their underlying intent and the logical falacy they are using to intentionally or unitentionally spread division, disinformation, and fear.

In other words revolutionaries need to be smart, and the study of informal logic, along with serious dialogue with those who's motives can be trusted, is how we become smart. We need an army of people versed sufficiently in their methods to counter this endless stream of lies, fear, and division, and we must become that army, because the battle lies in the field public opinion.

Secondly, we must find unifying figures to rally around, not leaders perhaps, but unifying figures, And we have many, but unfortunately, most are historical figures like Thomas jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Ghandi. Living figures may be hard to find, but they are out there. There is a point, for example, where given the integrity of the individual, left-wing and Liberatarian views could meet. If Liberatarians were advocating Jessie Ventura as opposed to Ron Paul, for example, as a spokesperson, or the left-wingers were putting forward figures that respected the less radical aspects of the Liberatarians or anarchists ideas, we might make headway in unification.

I realize that both of these goals are hard to achieve, but I think we must presue them with fervor to "unite and win" (Thanks DKA). But make no mistake - it is this issue of couteracting fear with reason, and rejecting division over inclusion that is the central question concerning this movement's success or failure.



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[-] 5 points by shooz (26680) 2 years ago

"Because the battle lies in the field of public opinion."

That's it in a nut shell.........:)

I've spoke about this a few times and it got some traction here, yet the movements actions are beginning to repeat themselves, so I must assume that media tactics are lagging in development.

It's all about public perception, or lack of it.

It's how the games been played since there were humans.

[-] 5 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Right on the mark. Our great asset is that we have truth on our side, so we must become very adept at seeing through falsehoods and getting at the truth! The more we do this, the more we simply refuse to go along with the big lie, the brighter will be the torch we hold to light the darkness and ralley others to our cause.

[-] 5 points by shooz (26680) 2 years ago

The question then becomes, how do you market the truth to a society that has trouble discerning it?

To a society that is hungry for the next entertainment?

Moreover, what can be done loudly and peacefully to get their attention long enough for them to fully absorb the message?

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Well, that is the difficult question. I think that we ourselves must try to hone our logic and debating skills, to counteract it as best we can, and also whatever money OWS gets from donations (such as from Ben and Jerrys) should be allocated as wisely as possible to spreading the message. Social media seems key here to me. A lot of it though must also come from our individual commitment, knowing that public opinion is at least as important as protest. We must really laser in on that issue, collectively. I also see the May 1 general strike as very significant in getting the attention of the people in this country, and so that should be our other primary focus.

[-] 4 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Kudos GK on an excellent and, imho, very important Forum Post. Very few people have exposed themselves to the logical fallacies. Once they have done so, and are awakened as if from long slumber to all of the sea of illogic that so completely surrounds and confronts us every single day, they gain a completely new perspective of the inherent mental disfunction coming from everywhere, including family and friends, not to mention the media as you so correctly pointed out. In particular, television advertising is full of so many fallacies that it is beyond ridiculous, but not surprising as it is intentionally targeted at right-brain emotional appeal to generate purchase desire that totally ignores rational logic. A good training ground, however, in learning to identify a whole host of the fallacies.

I have posted this link before to a list of the most common fallacies and do so again in hope that others who are not familiar with them will at least gain a high-level awareness of them. In the forensic arena in which we are engaged, knowledge of these is practically indispensable.


[-] 4 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Absolutely. Education is indespensible for self rule, and informal logic is the most fundamental element of education. The fact that it is not taught in schools from day one, tells you everything you need to know about what the powers that be want us to know and not to know.

Thanks for the link, and I hope it leads people to a serious study of logical falacies.

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

"tells you everything you need to know about what the powers that be want us to know and not to know."

Truer words were never spoken.

[-] 5 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

What is so strange about all of this, is that the world could be different tomorrow, if we only changed our way of percieving it. It is the tragedy and the irony of human life that our distrust of one another, which is warrented based on our behavior, is the mechanism that fuels the very behavior that we fear. If we could break that cycle the world would be different tomorrow. Nothing could be simpler, or more difficult. It is the test of everything and at the same time of nothing because it is nothing; it does not even really exist except in our minds.

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. 

If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.

If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. 

If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

(traditional  Chinese proverb)

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Very good.

[-] 4 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

One of the best ways to combat vitriolic right-wing fear mongering is through letters to the editor. We can also combat fearmongering by the way we frame issues as I said in a recent post. Most people in their 50s and older are very pro-military, but if you ask them: Do you think we need military personnel in 130 countries around the world, and should we continue our military interventions OR Would we be better off shoring up social security and medicare? We should simply use the same tactics that they used on us, to divide us..to divide them....to further our agenda.

[-] 4 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Very good. Exactly. It is the way they frame such questions that also often produce the poll results that they want to produce, and they are very well aware that saying a majority think this or that is the best way to get a majority to think this or that. But even this approach seems to be failing, as the dirth of current polling data should surely lead us to see.

[-] 2 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Maybe we should come up with our own sound bites to advance our agenda as that is what people are used to.... and keep pounding away like the repubs did with single payer health-care. The difference of course is having a government that is answerable to its people, and not big monied interests is a noble cause.

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Yes, the Republicans call these "talking points," and I don't suppose ours, which are true, should be less effective than theirs, which are not.

I believe I have seen such a list posted at one time on this forum, and it would be very helpful for those who want to promote this movement, but don't yet feel sufficiently versed in the issues to successfully engage in debate.

These are very complex issues, and so there are many who see we are right, yet feel overwealmed by the professional talking heads. Such a list of, let's say "talking facts," would be well worth creating.

[-] 3 points by factsrfun (10721) from Phoenix, AZ 2 years ago

Good post Gypsy, the fear, in my opinion is not just physical but financial as well, it is multi-pronged encourage people to want things or make the basic needs so hard to get, like education, that people go into so much debt that they become indentured servants. Fear of homelessness is the flavor of the day. This is something I wrote to hitgirl on a healthcare post but describes what I am saying. Quite proud of this one, hope you like it and spread it.

“This is also about maintaining a dependent workforce.

Other places I use the word “slave” I use it because I mean to, it best describes what the GOP and the 1% want to achieve, though I admit I also like the word “peasant”, which is really closer to the truth, after all “owners” had to provide something to the slaves, the peasants work your land, you take what you want and leave them what you like.

If people can get healthcare, they might have the freedom to stand up in their workplace, or even quit.

They want you to believe healthcare costs a lot of money, they pay more to keep you dependent, it’s worth it to them, these guys didn’t get rich being foolish with money.”

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Right. One of the most chilling things I ever heard was Bush the 1'st saying that he thought "El Salvador is a model democracy." At that time El Salvador was actually sending out death squads to kill political opponents, or in other words anyone who opposed the regime. Somehow, some way, we must reach the masses of people in America and tell them what we are untimately facing if we remain apathetic.

There will be no end to how far they will push if we don't push back.

[-] 3 points by factsrfun (10721) from Phoenix, AZ 2 years ago

Now wait a minute let's be fair being an ex-CIA director would Bush Sr. really be in a position to know or understand such things?

err maybe, evil is evil, I think of Ford pardoning Nixon and how everyone said, “It’s for the best” like hell it was, happened again in 2000 when we had to “heal the nation” if we don’t start paying attention and taking names, we’re out of luck.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Damned right!

[-] 1 points by factsrfun (10721) from Phoenix, AZ 2 years ago

Thanks Gypsy, all we can do is tell the truth, people can only hear it if they want to.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

And yet . . . "Our spirits soar like a hawk."

[-] 2 points by Inthesky (5) 2 years ago

Good point. I think one major issue is that there is less community in America these days. Most people live in isolated worlds and they go to their job, go home, wave to their neighbor and get their news from the T.V.

Directly going out and talking to people in the community door to door could help. For example...I am from OWS did you know Obama recently passed a bill allowing him to jail any American? Defeating few trying to take over government is about taking back the community.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Yes, there is an awakening going on right now, and that is inevitably going to frighten the people in power. But I think if they really understood the nature of this awakening they wouldn't fear it. The police brutality is an expression if their fear, but it is unnecessary. We don't want to destroy them, although their provocation sometimes makes us want to. What we want is an awakening to a higher order for all, including them, although they are ruled by fear and cannot believe in such a higher state of consciousness. That is the current state of human failing that is threatening our very survival.

[-] 2 points by CCNN (8) from Walla Walla, WA 2 years ago

Reason is what is sorely lacking in our national discourse.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Yes! And I am sure intentionally so.

[-] 1 points by CCNN (8) from Walla Walla, WA 2 years ago

You very well may be right!

[-] 4 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Our 'leadership" has A LOT to hide at this point, and the problem with rational discourse is that it brings things to light. Therefore Bill O'Riley, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, ect., ect. - the whole point of their existance is to thwart rational debate, and that list of talking heads could go on and on.

[-] 1 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 2 years ago

Besides reading and preparing ourselves intellectually, I think everyone needs to be as active in the decision making bodies of the movement, which are the local general assemblies, as time allows them to be. Most general assemblies meet on a weekly or monthly basis or less, so it is possible for most of us to be active at that level. If there is no local general assembly within easy commuting distance we should do our best to try to build one near us. This will improve both our intellectual and organizational skills as well as getting us out to meet co-thinkers in the community.

As far as leaders go, I think there are already leaders in the sense of public intellectuals and media celebrities who have announced their solidarity with the movement. Those "leaders" include people like Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein.

In terms of an organizational or bureaucratic leadership in a sense even that already exists among the more talented and devoted people working in local general assemblies and working groups and to the extent that OWS develops a more traditional organizational structure such individuals will become more publicly visible.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Agreed, but what is the objective? I think the objective must be clearly articulated. Is it to reform our democratic institutions, to overthrow those institutions and replace them with something else, and if so what?

These questions must now be answered, or the sacrifice of all those who have participated in confrontations with the establishment may go for naught. You simply cannot achieve what you cannot define.

[-] 2 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 2 years ago

On September 17, 2011 when a couple of thousand people gathered in lower Manhattan to occupy Wall Street the objective was to occupy Wall Street. Within two weeks there were hundreds of encampments all over the world which grew up in solidarity and the objective was still to occupy Wall Street. The movement had no slogans and it made no demands and raised no slogans. More and more people came to the OWS encampments. Thousands came every day and hundreds stayed over night. People were encouraged to develop there own slogans and to write them on the back of pizza boxes that had been sent to the encampments by supporters to feed the multitude.

And the movement continued to grow. In particular a handful of OWS activists came out in solidarity with a few labor struggles and as a consequence OWS inspired and energized every other social movement.

It did all this and its only stated objective was to "occupy Wall Street." If Occupy Wall Street has been able to accomplish all this without any objective other than to "occupy Wall Street" it might well be asked, why does it need any further objective than that. People come to the movement by the hundreds and the thousands and precisely because the objectives of the movement are so limited, everyone comes with their own objectives and everyone is welcome with their own objectives.

About a week after the occupation of Zuccotti Park began the New York City General Assembly passed the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, pretty much the only political document that the movement has yet produced. In it there are no demands, only a list of over 20 grievances. It is hard to say whether this is a revolutionary or a reformist document. It depends on how you look at it. It is, however, clearly anti-corporate. So far, in terms of movement building, that would seem sufficent.

Back in the 1960s the largest radical student organization was Students for a Democratic Society, SDS. It argued that the movement needed both liberals and radicals, "liberals for their relevance and radicals for their vision." I think the same is true today and that is exactly what OWS is all about.

[-] 4 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Very good, very good. Now I finally know what you are saying! I would interject this one point however, and that is that the velosity of change is ever increasing, due to many factors, and because of that I still think OWS needs to define it's final objective. This movement is no longer in its nascent stage. Due to the pace of change today we are already approaching our crucial stage, and I don't think OWS can stay on the fence regarding what exactly it is after.

I think this is where we differ. Movements, backed by popular will, in the internet age, can spread like wildfire, and we must be thinking about outcomes now, as well as process.

[-] 0 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 2 years ago

Of course everyone has a right to an opinion and to express an opinion. On the other hand if we are not in a position to put our opinions into practice their expression can look mostly like carping. We end up "shoulding" (or shitting) all over the movement. The movement should do this or should do that, etc., etc. We all do that sort of thing, but it's also important to put some effort into thinking about how to concretely get the movement to do what we think it should do and short of that, if we can't, adopt a live and let live attitude and be happy to go along for the ride.

For example, I personally find the decision making processes of the movement maddening, but I'm not in a position to do much about it, so I don't talk about it much. What I am in a position to do is encourage as many people as possible to be as active in the movement as it is possible for them to be. Even there I don't consider myself an especially effective organizer. But the difference is that on the one hand I really have very little control over movement decision making processes while I do have control over my own behavior and efforts to recruit people. I'm not saying that is the only thing to do. I am saying that it is a way to think about what we can do as individuals.

Ultimately the whole debate over reform or revolution is fairly abstract. The real issue is how does it manifest itself concretely. There is no question that OWS is a direct action movement. Both moderates and radicals agree on that. There is a moderate tendency that would want to move OWS more toward electoral politics, but looked at in that way such an effort would be divisive as there is no consensus on it between the reformers and the radicals. There is consensus on the issue of direct action.

I do think that there is a gradual tendency toward raising specific demands, but that cannot be rushed and is likely to emerge in peculiar ways. For example the NYC GA really has raised its first specific demand: the dismissal of police commissioner ray kelly.

It is also the case that various local general assemblies around the nation have raised demands specific to their own communities.

Also, the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City is a great place to start. Its grievances could more or less easily be reformulated as demands. There is an argument among some that there are too many grievances in the Declaration and taken in there totality are too sweeping, but that is exactly the point and I think any effort to expunge any of the existing grievances would be extremely divisive to the movement.

[-] 4 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Wow, what a long, insulting, and circuitous way of evading the question. Okay I really tried. I think you're hopless.

[-] 1 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 2 years ago

I am very sorry. I most certainly did not mean to be insulting. I know I lack social skills and sometimes I feel like I am dying of improvements. That said, part of my lack of social skills is I really don't know what it was that I wrote that was insulting. If I did I would not have written it (I don't think). And I didn't see a question, at least not in your last exchange.

I see that you are concerned with the current level of development of OWS and that it might affect the very survival of the movement. I don't think things are quite that drastic in that OWS arose addressing issues that I think were systemic, not cyclical and to the extent that they are systemic they are not likely to go away. So long as we are not confronted with a genuine police state, and those issues do not go away, OWS may ebb and flow, but I don't think it will disappear.

For me, the important thing is what I can do in OWS as an individual and I think the most I can personally do is participate in it and encourage other people to participate in it. There are many aspects of OWS that I personally find very frustrating but if there is little I can do about those things I try not to fret about them. That's not carved in granite. For example, frustrating as it is, I see the decision making process of OWS gradually changing and to the extent it is, I can participate in those changes, in the general assemblies where those changes are considered and in discussing them with other people involved.

Sometimes people are coming from such different places that they are like ships passing in the night, but I do think it is important to try and find points of contact.

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Well RedJazz, I think the thing is with you and me, that we agree and yet we don't understand each other. Isn't the human condition a strange thing!

After all of our exchanges, I have come to respect you as a sincere person. I believe that in our hearts we want the same thing, but we just cannot grasp each others perspective. I don't actually find that sad - I find it strangely uplifting - it speakes to the wide variety of human intelligence, the tremendous variability of human expierence, and the great mystery of life, and these are a great part of what makes life worth living.

I wish you well, but we are indeed ships passing in the night. I cannot comprehend you, other than your sincerity, and in the end that is all that matters. But we can't understand one another, and so I will simply let you persue your fight while I persue mine:)

[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

It seems that DKA is right again. Another possibly interesting conversation monontonized into oblivion. Oh well . . .

[+] -5 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

It says that it is for OWS, but every time ( or nearly ) it always comes up with gloom or belittling the movement. Not ready this. To small that etc .etc. subtly depressing.