Culture War, Part One: 1950s through 1970s – Politics, Truth, and the Furious Market in Enlightenment Lobotomies
For the author's reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here. [Footnote 1]
Smoke, Lies, and Revelations
I was born just before the collapse of certainty and traditional truths in America during the 1960s. For many that decade, with the Vietnam War as the backdrop, was a time of confusion. The traditional bellwethers for morality and behavior had been undermined from several fronts. Honesty and truth had been–since the McCarthy era of the early 50s–shaky, uncertain, and vulnerable. With the rise of the power of huge corporations during this period, and with competition and profit rapidly eroding all values and making truth the servant of the (always hidden) agenda, truth and honesty were the first of life's pillars to be invaded and occupied. While it was gradual, secretive, and so went largely undetected, some astute observers were not fooled and even tried to warn the nation.
Books were written in the 50s about the changing values influenced or directly the result of the amassing of power in these huge corporations. These exposes increased in number during the early 60s: Organization Man (1956) by William Whyte; David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd (1950); C. Wright Mill's trilogy on power–The New Men of Power (1946), White Collar (1951), and The Power Elite (1956), along with his obviously relevant Character and Social Structure (1953). Books like Erich Fromm's The Sane Society (1955) and Presthus's The Organizational Society (1963) made arguably more serious criticisms that the psychological map of Americans were being negatively affected in important areas.
Prophetic, prescient presidential address. The most significant warning came from the President of the United States who had presided over this post World War Two rise of corporations. Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his final televised address to the nation before leaving office, warned against the power and influence of the military-industrial complex. [Footnote 2]
Prophetic and prescient, his words–often quoted over the decades since–included "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex…."
"Resistance is futile.” With Americans caught between opposing evils of confusion and anomy, on one side, and being assimilated by corporate culture ("resistance is futile"), on the other, many suffered through, or clung to traditional ways, especially the elderly, and ignored the assaults on the credibility of these institutions over time.
There was an astounding era of unity and enthusiasm during the Kennedy years, where corporate culture was subsumed under lofty ideals, which included both technological advance–and thus harnessed corporate energy in a positive direction–and social and intercultural advance, as for example with the Peace Corps. Fragmentation and anomy were forgotten as America believed it was involved in higher causes emanating out of the times that seemed powerful enough to propel everyone into the future with all the fragmentation following and somehow working itself out eventually.
The dream is over. When John F. Kennedy was murdered, arguably by the Mafia but either in collusion or under pressure from powers aligned with that military-industrial complex, of which Eisenhower spoke, the floor fell out from beneath aspiring Americans, leaving them empty, directionless, and therefore vulnerable.
Almost immediately after JFK's murder, Johnson escalated the war and funding for it. America had its first coup; its first massive cover-up and Big Lie. Over the next forty-six years, with Republicans taking over soon enough and holding onto Executive Power for all but seventeen years, including Johnson's five years, the tendencies that began in the Fifties involving the gathering of power into fewer and fewer hands, and the use of that power to influence the beliefs, ideals, and even psychology of the masses, increased and became more severe, pervasive, and threatening up to the point of the outright lunacy and obvious deceptions and manipulations that were evident under George W. Bush.
Only at that point, with year after year throwing up scandals, corruptions, misgovernment, several stolen Presidential elections, an unnecessary war, runaway deficits, and most significantly, right from the start, another massive transfer of wealth upward to benefit that small elite and increase their power, were Americans finally beginning to open their eyes to the ways they'd been lied to, used, and robbed by the rich and powerful. It took all that, which played out on the media nightly, year after year, with no recourse even for impeachment because of an ill-timed agreement between the parties about impeachment that had come out of the debacle of the impeachment attempt on Clinton, to create the cracks in the Matrix, or web of Big Lies built up over nearly 50 years. So that finally an authentic man, a man not of the powerful elite, could win the Presidency handily.
The face of mine enemy, 1984. However, before that last event and over the course of those decades Americans saw essentially the rise of a one-party government, a consolidation of the mass media and its subservience, along with the government's, to that same small group of people and powers, aligned with the huge corporations and serving their interests for profits and for enrichment of the already filthy rich. With most powers and most institutions, including education and publishing, orchestrated to the ends of a mighty few, there existed a pervasive–however very slick and clever–propaganda and cover-up apparatus constantly at work to fill or bend the minds of Americans along lines not in their interests, but rather those of these hidden powers with their corporate and political fronts. So pervasive and overwhelming was this effort at mind control and misinformation that it mirrored that of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Since it provided no comfort, motivating people through the strategic use of terror and the incitement to hatred, it left that aspect wanting and many people–pushed to desperation and irrationality because of the continual terror and hatred campaigns–ran to traditional religions or clung feverishly to any one of the many alternatives offering easy one-stop full-service truth–whether evangelical, political, ideological, or traditional.
Enlightenment Overthrown. (No Smarts for YOU!)
In this context at no time was there an opening for the kind of rational or thoughtful, peaceful and considered pursuit of truth, insight, or enlightenment that had characterized the eras that had actually led to the birth of America and its system of democracy, freedoms, and rights. By this I mean that since 1963, there was little room in America for any of the elements that characterized the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason or Rationalism, or the Age of Enlightenment–whose adherents and tenets spawned the American experiment.
Can't have liberal arts, it's got the word "liberal" in it. Indeed, I personally observed the downfall of the ideal of education in the liberal arts. A liberal arts college education had been regarded, since the birth of America, as a preeminent basis for further education and for life and career in general for those who would be among the educated and eventually the leaders and decision-makers of society.
Its ideals came directly out of the Enlightenment and Renaissance ideals of a well-rounded, diversely educated, and broadly knowledgeable individual and citizen. It was wisely considered that such broadly knowledgeable and broadly thinking leaders would benefit society in the wisdom, social consciousness, and moral conscience, indeed, selflessness, and social service ideals that would be part of that kind of exposure to diverse views.
But the Vietnam War had seen increasingly larger degrees of complaint, criticism, resistance, and defiance to its pursuit from these liberal arts campuses. I was on campus and was part of it. I also saw how the campuses were purged of the liberal thinkers–professors were fired, departments of philosophy, religious studies, history, and the other liberal arts were cut back, often to be eliminated entirely. It had become clear to the people at the top that they could better manipulate the masses without free thinkers in the way. They did not want smart people noticing, that's for sure.
The Vietnam War protests brought the suppression/repression out in the open. They actually fired professors on my campus, not because they were radical or speaking out against the war, but because they were cutting back departments that had anything to do with the Humanities—even the social sciences, religious studies!!!…anything that involved encouraging students to be independent thinkers or to learn anything different from the elementary and secondary school propaganda we’d been taught before. [Footnote 4]
We stormed the administration building and found the documents—the letters from wealthy benefactors and alumni insisting on this change or they would stop their funding. This was a concerted effort by the wealthy elite that hit all the liberal arts institutions/universities in America. We demanded the Dean appear on the steps of the Administration building and answer to the charges and respond about the documents, as a condition of us leaving the building. He showed up, sheepishly, and mealy-mouthed his way through his responses to our evidence. He never denied it.
Some students chipped in (what little they could) to pay for some profs to continue teaching the next semester. We couldn’t use any facilities; we sat on the grass, outside. Of course, we could not afford to continue to do this; nor could the profs get by on the $1—$25 voluntary donations!
The result was that the Sixties Generation was the last educated generation. The result was that free-thinking generations would no longer be. They would not be encouraged; they would not be fostered; they would not be tolerated; they would not be allowed.
People like to dismiss efforts such as mine and those of my cohorts at this time as trying to dredge up the battles of the Sixties, to relive or redo the past. This ignores the fact that this battle is has not gone away at all but is simply being ignored…and consciously dismissed. It is as much here as 200,000 people were there in Wisconsin recently, though the media ignored and dismissed that in keeping with their insidious obedience. Meanwhile the media exaggerates every Tea Party twitch involving handfuls or at the most hundreds of people and broadcasts far and wide every trivial pronouncement coming from their gang of cartoonish figures.
So yes, we are still fighting this culture war. For not only did it never go away, not only has our side not been heard, not only has the other side pounded our positions into rubble; and shouted down, ridiculed, slandered, and misconstrued our points to their own malevolent ends, but… We ain't won yet!
Filthy Rich, Nobility, Peasants, Slaves. And before the corporations there were the rich of other economies—the filthy rich nobility that kept the peasants as virtual slaves.
The point, I guess, is that we are all taught something quite different about America, from kindergarten on up. So since it is all untrue, I wonder how different it is from the brainwashing and propaganda that we heard that totalitarian societies engage in, especially the Communists in the Soviet Union that were used as examples for most of my life. [Footnote 4]
But is it corporations that do these things, the enslaving? Let’s say it exactly so we can pinpoint who are really the actors. Is it not the people who own/run the corporations? So, that, in my opinion, makes it what one network (CNN, I think) who did a documentary a couple years ago on the obscenely increased wealth and power of this class (occurring during the Bush Administration) termed “the Filthy Rich.” I think it is high time we started being specific about who is running this country into the dirt.
White collar slavery and rat racing. At the same time, it was deemed a good idea to train people for corporate niches that were becoming increasingly complex.
So liberal arts ideals were bulldozed away to make room for the career tracks leading directly into positions in management, medicine, law, and many new and highly specialized niches—usually the kind of specialization that would not occur until the postgraduate years, or after graduation directly on the job. I'm talking about such tracks as international finance and the like.
Students were no longer taught the great ideas of the millennia, ideas that had stood the test of time and influenced numerous societies and nations and individuals. Rather, if corporations were seen or heard to be needing, say, people knowledgeable in inter-managerial, mid-corporate, communicative intercourse and response, well entire four year programs were built around that. Add that kind of narrowly focused citizenry with its ephemeral knowledge and you have the kind of population that will do the bidding of the overseers and be happy for their fat paychecks—until their narrow niche of "knowledge" becomes obsolete because of the development of a new way of approaching or handling things, equally as ephemeral, but more efficient or something, and itself to become outmoded eventually.
Slaughtering smart folks. They will be happy for their paychecks, not knowing of any higher ideals than greed and accumulation. They will not know of their manipulation, would not know of the historical predecessors to it or the like. They would not have training in original thought but rather in training in decided upon processes and procedures and the jargon accompanying it. So they would become rote learners of narrowly applicable and short-lived "knowledge." This would remove the educated class as a barrier to any kind of totalitarian efforts.
So we can consider ourselves to be better in America. For totalitarianism—as, for example, under Stalin, Mao, or the Khmer Rouge—is usually accompanied by the slaughter of the educated. In my own lifetime, in Cambodia at least one million were killed wantonly, anyone with education was slated for death.
Enlightenment Lobotomies. But in America, we are better because we just seduce folks away from higher aspirations of the soul to the lower base impulses that are satisfied with what money can buy. The corporations buy their talent and their potential for high achievement and all the rewards that come with rich lives of insight and personal growth. In exchange for their moneyed positions they receive an enlightenment lobotomy.
Should people feel dissatisfied—as we psychologists and liberal arts thinkers know they will sooner or later—others of their kind who took the medical or pharmaceutical tracks have conveniently produced the sedatives, palliatives, and opiates to keep them numb. I guess you could say these are the "breathing holes" that Kurt Cobain talked about. They may put you in a jar, but they'll give you "breathing holes," and you'll think you're happy, he sang.
1984 Comes to America – Slick, Gradual, and Perfect
So this look into American history notices a decades-long and increasing suppression of truth.
Since Kennedy's time and because of the Vietnam War protests, I have seen an increasing web of deceit cover this land. I have witnessed things with my own eyes that have been changed when reported to the country and written into history books. I have watched the 1984 of George Orwell creep into America unnoticed—slick and gradual and perfect—as only the best minds, paid handsomely by the people with the wealth, can concoct.
American dictatorship. A well-regarded book about Bush's America published shortly after George W. Bush left office, and tallying the actions and events of the W's eight years, concludes without equivocation that America had become a dictatorship.
I believe that to be true. But even if it did not rise to that level, whatever it did rise to did not happen overnight and just because of one administration. Bush's dictatorship was the end result of the slick suppression of truth and manipulation of the masses that had its roots in the 50s, took the helm after killing Kennedy, and went into all-out war stance when confronted by the backlash of the educated in the late 60s and very early 70s.
As for what follows from here in this narrative: This is the story of one person's informed take on those times. This is the perspective of one person intimately involved in those times. For, Forrest-Gump-like, I found himself caught up in all the major trends over the last sixty years either through first hand observation or through the fact that as a writer and avid follower of the events of the day—in an era that seemed my whole life to be peppered with national and international surprises and upheavals, some positive; others mostly not—I could not look away.
In particular, it is the story of my quest for truth during those times. Through a coincidence of birth, genetics, and upbringing, and because in general a quest for truth requires too much time involvement and is usually not a higher priority over things like family and community, my quest for truth, foregoing family, wealth, and community ties, was unusual for my times. I found few fellow travelers. In my quest for truth, I could feel, and was quite carried along with, the ebbs and flows of the tides of my times.
I had a life different from most—one which took me to live, to study, and to participate with groups and in places around and around the country for forty years. Many of these groups and places and the activities and thinking of them would be considered exotic or alien to most Americans. And when folks heard about these developments, for average person it was something that was happening far away from them with people they did not know…and was on top of that reported to them in a way to distort and misinform.
I, For One, Can Tell You Why We Stopped Building Nuclear Plants in This Country…I Helped Make it Happen.
So many of the events of my life would not be well known, although some of the things I was involved in had major influences on our country. For example, the cessation of the building of nuclear power plants in the early 80s. Not many people could tell you why or how that happened. I was one of the people involved in bringing that about. I was not one of the major players up front. But I was involved full-time over a couple year period that led up to the events that stopped nuclear power construction to this day. I can tell you what happened.
What's instructive is that at least one of the other persons involved once tried to get the story of what happened published. He wasn't a writer and nobody cared to publish the story. It is one of those stories that you will only hear from our opponents and for most people it will have been chalked up to some confusing, mysterious, and random events. It was not.
No nukes is good nukes. The cessation of nuclear plant construction was something that was desired, worked for, and hoped for by people who knew the dire consequences of nuclear energy and understood the motives of the people behind nuclear energy who had no concept of that, or conscience.
To put one leg of this narrative on terra firma I can tell you this at this time: Peter DeFazio, Democratic congressman from Oregon, was one of the players. This happened just before he won his seat; and if memory serves me it was one of the reasons that he won. He was one of the people who came in at the conclusion to play a critical role.
I knew him casually, as an acquaintance. He was my neighbor at this time, too, living in the house across the street from me, in Springfield, Oregon. I personally canvassed him at his house on this issue for the organization I was working for which was tackling this problem, Oregon Fair Share . We had a nice talk about the nuclear and other issues. He contributed and was a member of our organization. He is a very, very good man.
I rarely heard of him on TV in the twenty-five plus years since I left Oregon. He is one of the people who would tell you the truth, so obviously he would not be one of those speaking to you on TV. Interestingly, I have seen him on TV a number of times since Obama took office. I don't consider it to be coincidence in either instance.
Comfortable Ignorance of Grade-School Propaganda Gone Forever
As for my life and my quest, I can tell you that the pursuit of truth is a solitary journey. But, as I've alluded, I have an unusual and particular personal history in childhood that turned me a particular way. I also have a very common set of experiences in growing up that led me to the average American's thorough belief in the transcendence of America, its superiority as a nation and a form of government, and as the leader of the free world, based on individual rights. I was brought up believing that freedom of the press and the other rights and institutions–such as shared powers in government, a balance of powers–gave our country a foundation to provide like no other the discovery and the reporting of events most closely in alignment with the facts, the actual truth. That is the way I was taught; I had no basis or evidence to believe otherwise.
So Much for Being Comfortably Dumb. However, when I had my first personal experience with a major national lie at the age of nineteen–one that involved an obvious collusion of State Department, Department of Defense, and all the major newspapers in America–I was shaken. When I saw that one day later all the local media followed up by headlining stories that further misinformed, and that nowhere was the truth of what one million people experienced on a day that would go down in history ever reported accurately, I was further changed.
Indeed, I have checked the history books and they tell the story of what I saw with my own eyes inaccurately, following the newspaper reports, which followed the reports from unknown sources in the Department of Defense. Even the idea that anyone would take the Department of Defense's version of the largest anti-war demonstration in history as the basis for the story of that day is telling.
Then I was to find out that the story of that day and its coverage was bigger in some arenas than it should have been. Howard K. Smith lost his job at ABC over the telling of the truth of that day. People remember him from the PBS channel. Some of us who are older remember that he was one of the major anchors at ABC.
What would cause such a precipitous event as his firing? Well, it had to do with the fact that ABC news was scheduled and fully prepared to do dawn to dusk coverage of Moratorium Day on November 15th, 1969. One million people flooded into Washington, D.C., the largest gathering for an event, save Woodstock, in American history, and for the purpose of stopping a war. Mom, Pop, and the kids and the students came from all fifty states. The buses were lined up and I personally saw buses that came from the West Coast, from Wisconsin, from Washington State, and so on. It was phenomenal. [Footnote 5]
If a million appeared in DC, and the media didn't cover it, did it really happen? Well, before coverage could begin over at ABC, as it turns out, word came down from "on high," meaning outside of the news department. People like to say that it doesn't matter who owns a media outlet, like, say Rupert Murdoch now owns the Wall Street Journal. They say editorial policy is not affected by who owns it.
Well that day whoever controlled and owned ABC decided that their personal interests were going to be hurt by showing a gathering of that many people amassing against the war–one out of every 200 people living in America managed to personally show up, how many more would have come if they could, how many more would be at home watching and would be stirred and influenced by such a sight?
When Woodstock saw such numbers it was talked about in the media and it became history.
Media masters. But the people who pull the strings in this country pulled the strings at ABC that day and changed what would be reported as history. And it would be a lie.
As for the News Department at ABC having independence: Well, Howard K. Smith, veteran and senior news reporter at the time, was so incensed and so insistent on finding out who and how and why this coverage was changed from dusk to dawn to practically nothing that it led to his dismissal. If he was angry about it, angry enough to get fired over it, can you not imagine that the entire News Department was against the change?
Where'd Wisconsin go? While this is history not news, it is current news as well…though we can't call it "headline" news for reasons that have to do with the media. Something disturbingly similar happened more recently regarding media coverage of the Wisconsin pro-union rallies. While the largest rallies in Madison, Wisconsin history were going on–an estimated 100,000 showed up on one day, 200,000 people a week or so after that–hardly anything about them was mentioned in the mainstream press or media.
Tea Party patsies. Keep in mind that this same media has covered and continues to promote and "tout" (even) rallies of (often paid) Tea Party proponents attended only by crowds in the HUNDREDS! These folks in the photo below have friends in high places, obviously.
Convenient (for the "filthy rich") "Truth." So who determined what would be the truth that day. Well, it certainly wasn't news reporters.
The story is only that it came from "on high." I guess from that you can discern that ownership made the decision that day; and we have no idea how many other times it has done that. We can only conclude that just the threat of interference will keep the media in line with the interests of ownership.
We decide, you react. We can only conclude that when senior people, household names, are fired on the spot, that it sends a message that only grows stronger with the years, especially as ownership will make the decisions behind the scenes as to the kind of reporters it will even have working for them.
Rather hear from Dan? By the way, a more recent example of such a thing happening has to do with the dismissal of Dan Rather. You've probably heard the ownership's slant on that story. You should listen to him tell the story some time. It's quite different from the "official" version.
President Al Gore. Sorry, I was dreaming about a democratic America. Dan Rather's version, if it had not been undermined, might have led to Al Gore, not George Bush, getting the Presidency in 2000 (even with "filthy rich" and Supreme Court support at that time to begin "installing" our presidents). That's another thing to think about when you think that we have a free press in this country; or if you should think that any ownership involvement in the news has little or no consequences.
Back to my story, this incident has to do with my understanding of the truth, and of history as it relates to the media and their coverage. For on the days following what should have been one of the major events on American public record, and should have been influential in the course the war would take after that day, my belief in America's premier role, because of its supposed rights, such as "freedom of the press," in being the most reliable in getting to the real story and reporting events as close to actuality as humans are capable of was shattered forever. Never again would I look at a story out of the mainstream press, no matter how widely reported and/or held to be fact, without looking for the possible agendas and forces that would affect the veracity of what was being said.
Things Ain't Bad Enough? This Leads Me to Uncover the Most Horrific, Hidden in Plain Sight, Truth of All Time
So, again, this perspective is rooted in my life experience. It rises up and out of my personal, passionate quest for truth; and it details a good deal of truth's many aspects–personal, historical, social, cultural, political, especially spiritual, and so much more.
Unfortunately while this quest was and is personally gratifying, it led me to the most disturbing truth of all time, something widely known, something dire, something so big that most people–in keeping with the times of smoke and lies–are fearfully distracting themselves from, even at the cost of their lives and those of their children.
Related posts on this include
Culture War, Beginnings: Trauma at the Top: “Our Youth Have Gone Crazy! They Actually Believe That Claptrap About Freedom That We Put in Schoolbooks To Keep the Masses Complacent! They’re Daring to Use Them!” (on another site)
1. From the Collection of Audio Presentations by SillyMickel Adzema titled: History Unspun—the Smoke, Lies, and Revelations sound bites
2. Eisenhower gave this address only days before his term was to end. The significance of Eisenhower waiting till he was about to leave office to inform the American public just hit me.
We wonder what has happened to Obama since he took the presidency. We wonder what happened to his ideals, his promises, the change he promised. We suspect something dire, for we have watched as Democratic president after Democratic president—especially Clinton, to some extent Carter—changed once they assumed the presidency. Jesse Ventura, speaking on CNN recently, said Obama was no doubt "taken out to the woodshed." It just never occurred to me till now that those unseen hands might have even been there in 1961, too.
Certainly the forces of the military-industrial complex weren't as powerful, bloated with power, as they are now. Still, why else would Eisenhower not speak about this until his term was just about over? If he didn't feel pressured (threatened?) previously, why would he not have been making this an important issue? It was, after all, the summary statement, culminating viewpoint, of his eight years.
Also, if he did feel pressured (threatened?) not to reveal or let some truth be known during his time in office, yet felt it was something of extreme, even dire, importance, might he not have "risked" it at the very end, for the good of the country?…feeling that his conscience needed to relieved as he saw the end of his influence and of his own life in sight (he had gone through several health crises during his term that could have been terminal), that his legacy would be completely blackened, his influence totally skewed in a way he did not wish if he did not "spill the beans" at some point…the end being his last chance to come clean and the only time, perhaps, that he could feel he could go through with it without immediate personal, or some other kind we don't know of, repercussions? There may be much more to this warning to the nation than had previously been brought out.