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Manuf®acturing Consent Printer friendly page Print This
By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III). Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic
Saturday, Aug 24, 2013

“Knowledge being power, the continued existence of the state as we know it . . . requires maintenance of an illusion: That government can know everything it wants to know about us, and that we can know nothing that it doesn’t choose to tell us. …Thanks to heroes like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, that illusion has been shattered over the last few years. As a result some states have fallen, more are failing, and all are besieged. We are on the cusp of the post-state era.”1

 - Thomas L. Knapp

Despite recent news and revelations about the NSA and global surveillance, the control of information has long been a hot topic.

Revisionist history is one of the leading causes of amnesia, and though most people have heard of Slavery and the Holocaust (to name a sad few of humanity’s traumas), not as many are familiar with the Armenian genocide or the genocide of Indigenous Peoples from Canada to Latin America (to name a sad few of humanity’s genocides).

In 325 A.D, at the Council of Nicaea, the Church banned references to reincarnation. Somebody knew something and the official busybodies didn’t want everyone else to know.

A bunch of years ago I watched a show, on the History channel, about the history of sex. The enlightening part was that they mentioned the kinky things that the Church had banned – so they must have known about them (maybe even tried them) in order to ban them! (or at least make people feel ashamed).

The plethora of recent books with titles along the lines of “The Lost Secrets of...” reveal that we are coming out of a dark age of information.

Though I have not read Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, nor seen the documentary film “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media,”2 I am quite familiar with the premise and the process. In essence, The Powers That Do (TPTD) use a variety of techniques to affect public opinion, sway the masses, brainwash people to the effect that they readily consent to whatever The System is promoting; it’s an Industrial Age assembly-line on emotional-mental levels.

How powerful can it be? In July of 2006, 50% of Americans believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.3 Those illusory WMDs were the premise for the instigating of a religious civil war, the loss of countless lives, a slew of PTSD cases and the destruction of relics of an ancient culture.

The Flickering Lightbulb of the Digital Age

Thanks to technology, much of humanity has access to the perhaps bright IDIA (Information/Dis-Information Age). And suddenly a tween can sell you stuff online. Or someone like Julian Assange release gobs of documents to the public eye.

The Digital Age has, in many respects, democratized information and the manner in which that information gets disseminated. The Digital Age has also perpetuated dis-information, as the MainStream Media (MSM) and Global Corporate Empire (GCE) wield even slicker gadgets with which to try and persuade the populace, 24-7.

Because of the electronic democratization of information and social interaction, TPTD have been losing their grip on consent. Thus they are attempting information grabs – going for information in general, personal identity information in specific, and more specifically the information put forward by Manning, Snowden, Assange, and now Greenwald. National security has its place but at what cost to personal freedoms and fair treatment of human beings?

There are cracks in the MSM’s & GCE’s tightly controlled illicit message parlor. And because of those cracks they have been amping up the cracking down.

What the TPTD apparently fear, perhaps most, is the breaking apart of their emotion-mind control apparatuses. With the Internet, alternative news, hand-held gadgets, and the like, there is a fracturing of the demographics of consent. As example, on the heels of a decline in paper newspaper readers, cable news viewership has been reported as also declining.4 People are catching on to the stasi quo.

In the USE (United States Empire), the initial thrust of the Occupy Movement was essentially peaceful yet somehow merited an across the board crackdown with army-like raids, tear gas and clubs. (Compared with the current situation in Egypt, however, that was a picnic.)

Now that the likes of Manning, Assange, Snowden, and Greenwald have reared their ugly files (files depicting the ugliness of The System), journalism is seemingly the new Occupy.

Yet outside this Schrödinger’s Box of a socio-political paradigm there are other ways to relate with each other.

Bloc Parties
Perhaps the best example ever about how to get along with people who are different from you is from the Haudenosaunee Nations/Iroquois Confederacy:

“The Two Row Wampum belt is the symbolic record of the first agreement between Europeans and American Indian Nations on Turtle Island/North America. 2013 marks the 400th anniversary of this first covenant, which forms the basis for the covenant chain of all subsequent treaty relationships made by the Haudenosaunee and other Native Nations with settler governments on this continent...”

And, “Quoted from his longer paper entitled “On Treaty-making,” is Chief Irving Powless on the context and importance of the Two Row Wampum:

‘As we travel the road of life, because we have different ways and different concepts, we shall not pass laws governing the other. We shall not pass laws telling you what to do. You shall not pass a law telling me and my people what to do.

The Haudenosaunee have never violated this treaty…

We have never passed a law telling you how to live…

You and your ancestors, on the other hand, have passed laws that continually try to change who I am, what I am, and how I shall conduct my spiritual, political and everyday life.’”5

Recently a Two Row Wampum Renewal sent canoes on the Hudson River, symbolically re-enacting the agreement.6

Tadodaho Sid Hill, Spiritual Leader of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations/Iroquois Confederacy) addresses people taking part in the flotilla of canoes and kayaks as they start their trip down the Hudson River to New York City on Sunday, July 28, 2013 in Rensselaer, NY. The trip was held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between Europeans and Indians, the Two Row Wampum treaty between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Six Nations. The group of paddlers arrived in New York City on August 9th. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

The tradition of Andean social philosophy, now coming to the fore in Latin America as “Buen Vivir,”7 puts forth a blueprint of pluri-national respect. Rather than trying to fit all people into a manufactured consent mold, “Buen Vivir” draws on the inclusivity that Indigenous Peoples have espoused for thousands of years – the respecting of different types of peoples and nations, whether the nation is another country or a species of birds.

Contrasting Venezuela’s flavor of “Buen Vivir and its “human-focused and solidarity-based ‘social economy’”8 are the autocratic responses of NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelley and Mayor Bloomberg. While touting crime-reduction statistics (whose accuracy is questioned by many) in an effort to appeal U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision on stop-and-frisk, what seems missing from their presentation is how the people of the minority neighborhoods feel about the situation.

From the longstanding endurance of the Haudenosaunee to the more recent broad-based community of Latin American countries, there is much to be said for the solidarity of neighborhoods, groups of people and various nations. As Mark Weisbrot points out in his article addressing the UK’s information grab of the guardian, Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda:

“Brazil’s action over the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner shows South American nations no longer toe Washington’s line . . . US officials also still fail to understand that they are dealing with a team: they can’t be hostile or aggressive towards one Latin American nation and expect the others to give them a big hug. . . . the world will be a better and safer place when more European countries, like most of Latin America, declare their independence from Washington.”9

Cracks in the Concrete Consent

The age of abusive ® trademark exclusivity is facing its demise. Brand-name and logo products (which includes the theo-fascism of corporate states) are bearing more and more scrutiny as people strive to determine whether the production of goods promotes fair trade or sweatshop-slave labor; whether food products are local-farmed/organic or agri-business genetically modified; whether a pharmaceutical drug has been produced wisely or the sacred herbs of an Indigenous People have been robbed; whether the people making the laws are in bed with the people who the laws are supposed to effect (e.g. “The data casts an ominous shadow on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where imperative consumer regulation of GMOs is handled by former Monsanto executives”10 or whether there is a separation of corporation and state.

Though Edward Bernays helped usher in an era of dark side Freudian psychology public relations, his uncle Sigmund made a contribution to the better understanding of the human psyche.

In this high-tech flickeringly bright IDIA it will take a whole lot of accurate information, clear thinking and respect for others’ psyches to withstand the potential onslaught of dis-&-delete-information.

Yet, take heart, for even within the halls of TPTD are signs of cracks:

“The paranoia about secrecy of surveillance is so bad in the House of Representatives that an elected member of Congress was threatened for passing around copies of the Snowden disclosures which had been already printed in newspapers worldwide. Representative Alan Grayson was threatened with sanctions for passing around copies of the Snowden information on the House floor, the same information published by the Guardian and many other newspapers around the world.”11

After the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and elsewhere, the populace was told to ‘fear not and go shopping.’ As more and more people wake up to the reality that some of Mother Earth’s resources are getting scarce and Her well-being is threatened by capitalist consumerism, the manufactured consent base will dwindle and the number of educated citizens taking right action will rise like weeds and blades of grass through the concrete consent.


Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. He edited and published the book, The (Un)Occupy Movement: Autonomy of Consciousness, Practical Solutions, Human Equality, and hosts an audio show "Between the Lines: listening to literature online." You can contact him via his literary website.Notes

  1. The Tantrums of the American Ruling Class
  2. “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass
    “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
  3. Percentage of Americans Believing Iraq had WMD Rises
  4. Nearly A Million Americans Have Ditched Cable for Online TV”.
  5. Two Row History
  6. "Two Row Wampum Epic Canoe Journey on Hudson Begins" "Living-well in harmony and balance with Mother Earth
  7. Buen Vivir: A brief introduction…”
  8. Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions by Roger Burbach, Michael Fox and Federico Fuentes. Fernwood Publishing/Zed Books, 2013.
  9. Miranda's rights: how Europe can learn from Latin America’s independence
  10. Horrific Results of New GMO Food Study Reveal Obama Has Abandoned FDA Regulation to Chemical Industry Profits, Says Occupy Monsanto
  11. 13 Things the Government Is Trying to Hide from You
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