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article imageOp-Ed: Social engineering American style

By Paul Wallis     Apr 16, 2011 in Politics
A social engineer is normally a highly motivated, verbose, collection of clichés living in the pocket of someone else. Not any more. The means is now the end. The process now defines the product, and it's a very inferior product.
There is no social vision any more, no bright future, just empty ideologies with prerecorded pabulum. The “modern” version of social engineering started in the 1980s and it’s been real fun ever since. Thatcher’s “children’s children” are committing suicide in record numbers. The “ethos” of Reaganism, based on a series of scripts given to an actor, has practically bankrupted America and allowed Wall Street to stay out of jail.
Social engineers are usually of that vintage these days. They studied psychology for “power”, and joined groups for “power”. They’re mediocrities on a scale which was never before possible. They attach themselves to political groups like think tanks, aka tax shelters. They have no ideas, they simply rephrase old ones, usually extremely old ideas pointed at what is considered by some other out of touch geriatric peasant to be the conscious level of the public.
The methodologies of social engineering
Like all good media folks, the social engineers have protagonists, namely the “left”. Since the fall of Communism, there hasn’t been a “left” in terms of ideology or organization or any other real sense of the word. The “left” is now the disgruntled middle class, that repository of strong minds and stronger backsides that can barely find its way to a remote control.
The “protagonist” approach is a standard media concept. There has to be a bad guy. The theory is that something which makes people take sides is far preferable to facts. In politics, this “galvanizes” the issues, and the safe bet is that someone will be gullible enough to believe in the terrible threat posed by someone or other.
Consider the basic positions in American politics:
Anyone who disagrees with or criticizes the politics of the Far Right is a “lefty”. The only acceptable statement is on in support of these policies. Broadcasters, en masse, abuse anyone that has a viewpoint which doesn’t conform. Goebbels in syndication, in effect. Black lists are obviously in force for authors. At least one author on US social issues went from being a best seller to someone who didn’t even get a review in any US publications, and this move was a very short step.
For a medium without a message, this would be very funny, if it wasn’t so utterly anti-democratic. It’s bordering on actual, fully functional Fascism. What’s important about this situation is that it’s a delivered social engineering product. Unlike the howlings of the mad right and the disingenuous sales pitch from political spruikers, it’s an accomplished fact.
Even The New York Times has been fighting a war with this simple-minded perversion of democratic principles. I was looking at one site which referred to David Brooks, (the NYT columnist on the GOP side of the fence) as too far to the left. Brooks is a very good analytical writer, and his political views are the older style of conservative, before living in a trailer park garbage dump was the main qualification for being an expert on politics and budget finances. Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning columnist, likewise receives a range of brick-like denials of his basic principles which look like they’re written on macros.
All responses, not entirely unexpectedly, are based on "sides". If the world is on fire, it's really more important to know whose side you're on, than to do something about the situation. All this rhetoric, for all these years, has yet to achieve one actual solution to anything, and that situation is getting considerably worse.
More common are the apologists for various corporations and the instant political commentators. If the sky is blue, it’s a right wing miracle. If sick people want medical treatment, it’s communism. If a corporation patents a human gene sequence, it’s their God given right, and how dare anyone disagree.
This is back to the McCarthyist days, a few noisy, self righteous people drowning out everyone else. It means that in a population of 328 million like the US, three people can write letters objecting to something, and it’s “a representative sample of the community opinion”. It’s also an abuse of terminology. Market samples are directed to a working relevant demographics, these letters are just excuses to implement policies.
This is another delivered social engineering product. It’s a light switch, in effect, turning off and on public attention to issues. Very democratic, if you happen to be the one able to use the switch. Otherwise, it shuts off public comment very effectively and lights up the issues the social engineers want to highlight equally well.
The social engineers were originally considered ridiculous anachronisms. Like Ayn Rand, the flying plastic shopping bag of right wing “ideology”, they were also considered trash. They were seen as just subservient animals by intellectuals who should have recognized the revival of some very familiar social mechanisms. Even right wingers severely underestimated them, thinking they were no more than publicists. The result was that many conservatives have themselves been effectively marginalized and disenfranchised in their own political fields.
History says something very different about the simplistic, dismissive view of the social engineers. The minute they got some money behind them, they were able to deliver a range of highly destructive options to major league, well connected political interests. They now have status and credibility they couldn’t have achieved in any normal scenario, and they essentially created the current situation.
They’re now in a position of real power. They’re indispensable to the interests they “serve”. They’re actually running issues, not just ranting about them. They’re dictating what’s an issue and what’s not. The conventional political interests have been far too interested in their own status and position to take note of the fact that the working parts of their political machines have been effectively hijacked.
Like corporate America, which was taken over in the 1980s by accountants and lawyers with extremely narrow areas of interest, US politics has been taken over by the born lackeys. Their perspective is myopic at best, ultra-insular at worst, and they can choose selective blindness on any issue at will.
It was interesting during the financial meltdown to notice that so many rich people came out blinking in the sunlight and wondering if there was something wrong. Apparently everything is fine, as long as someone says so, and only if headlines scream for years about financial collapses will these people pay attention to the real world. That’s not a good sign for US democracy, because it indicates a huge separation between people’s political awareness and actual situations.
In this sort of environment, the “everything’s fine” message is the one people want to hear. “We’ll fix it for you” is the other lullaby. It’s been a highly paid paradise for the social engineers, where empty phraseology can be mass produced, as long as it contains these messages. Add the “protagonist” situation, meaning “These people want to take your money”, and everyone knows who the cowboys and Indians are, so it’s situation normal.
A very primitive situation, but the primitive mental state is also often the default state, when logic doesn’t provide answers. Instinct takes over, and simply distinguishes between threats and non-threats. Simple, insulting, and efficient.
The next political product the social engineers can deliver is arguably the real killer- Total shutout of politicians from the political process. The public is already entirely excluded from any real role in US politics, except the patronizing two yearly elections, at which about 40% of the public deigns to vote, having lost faith in the system. The shutout of politicians from executive power is well underway, and has so far turned many new Reps and Senators into mindless mouthpieces.
People without vocabularies, like the Checkout Chick From Alaska and others have suddenly become experts on economics. People with barely enough IQ to use furniture have become advocates of social policies they’ve never mentioned before in their lives. The all-white, all middle-aged Tea Party, which includes large numbers of people you can find in various roles which are anything but grass roots public activism, has become a sort of billboard for vested political interests.
America used to be the Roadrunner of the world, always too quick and too agile to get caught by the realities. Nobody outside the States really believed all the propaganda, but despite itself, the US used to get away with a corrupt political system, insane ideologies, and utterly irresponsible fiscal policies.
That’s the other problem. The role is changing. Wile E Coyote is now the role, using extremely complex, Rube Goldberg methods to fail to achieve objectives and hurting itself in the process. This is the other contribution of the social engineers, and it’s the one they don’t understand themselves.
The fact is that the social engineers are prime exponents of another well known concept- The Peter Principle. The Peter Principle states that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", and the pecking order of political machines is nothing if not hierarchical. It means that people can progress to a point whereby they can’t do their jobs.
Consider FEMA in New Orleans, consider Wall Street, consider the fiascos of the Iraq contracts, and you’ll find very healthy versions of the Peter Principle happily making billions while bankrupting the US on a daily basis. Washington is at the moment simply a much more visible version of the Peter Principle.
The social engineers, with their endless portrayal of two dimensional forms of issues and lack of substance, are contributing greatly to the rise of the incompetent. This situation is now being delivered wholesale across the US, where mirages are taking the place of reality. Even the incumbent politicians are blandly stepping up to the plate on the subject of the deficit and saying “we don’t believe there’s a revenue problem” when talking about cuts to the budget, because that’s the pre-recorded shutout statement. “There is no problem, so we don’t have to solve it.”
This is like someone lost in a desert saying there are no liquidity problems. If you see any possible competency issues, you’re right, but you’re not likely to get a word in, in the socially engineered environment, particularly if you’re an economist, because you might know what you’re talking about.
As a Green progressive and a foreigner, it baffles me that the social engineers have been allowed to get such power. I’ve met real old school American progressives, and they wouldn’t have even let the social engineers look at their trash, let alone socially elevate themselves to a position equal to it. To me, the social engineers are necrophiliacs playing with the corpse of American democracy. They’ve created an obscene travesty of what used to be a much more human, far less smug, political system.
The solution for conservatives? Bring back the class system. It’s simple. Exclude them. They shouldn’t be making the decisions, anyway. You don’t have to look at the trashy social engineers, and you can just hire experts to get a grip on the issues. The social engineers have also delivered a lot of great reasons for getting rid of them. When the assassin has done the job, you don’t need the assassin any more.
Either that, or expect to be stuck with people who eat with their nostrils and listening to a lot of very verbose crap for the next few decades.
Just before anyone gets on the thread with outraged expressions of whatever-
If you haven’t yet made the equation between “politicians” and “pedophiles”, you haven’t understood the article or the last 30 years. That’s what this is really about- The future, or lack of it, under these circumstances.
Do you want a democracy or a fraudulent, fictionalized version of it, Yes/No?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about social engineering, peter principle, US politics, mccarthyism, Thatcher
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