The War on Dissent (Part 2): The Spectre of Divisiveness

A spectre is haunting Western democracy — the spectre of “divisiveness.” After eight blessed years of peace and prosperity under the glorious reign of Obama the Benevolent, suddenly, we find ourselves besieged on all sides by Russian-sponsored sowers of “discord,” disseminators of “disinformation,” inculcators of “confusion” and “chaos,” and other enemies of our “democratic values.” These devilish instigators of “disunion” and “distrust” are determined to deceive us into doubting “the truth” by exposing us to “divisive ideas” and seducing us with their cynical skepticism into questioning the integrity of our political leaders, our intelligence agencies, and the corporate media, who would never, ever dream of lying to us … or so goes the new official narrative being rolled out by the corporatocracy.

It is utterly stupefying to watch as millions of Americans conform their beliefs and behavior to this official narrative like Inner Party Members in 1984. Apart from the fact that its storyline is simplistic and childish to the point of absurdity, it has only been roughly sixteen years since the corporatocracy introduced the beta version of this same official narrative, to which millions of Americans obediently conformed … which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the destabilization of the entire Middle East, and the transformation of most Western societies into militarized surveillance states.

As I outlined at length in part one of this essay, the War on Dissent being rolled out currently is an expansion of the “War on Terror” narrative, the storyline of which was equally childish, and simplistic, and blatantly fabricated. Though it is fashionable these days for the politicians and corporate media propagandists who sold the “Saddam has WMDs” story, and the “Iraq is linked to al Qaeda” lie, and the “we’re fighting terrorism in Afghanistan” fairy tale, to regret how they “misinterpreted the intelligence” that led to the “unfortunate blunder” that launched the global corporatocracy’s occupation and restructuring of the Middle East (which continues unabated to date), anyone with half a brain could see what was really going on at the time. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the “War on Terror” was not a war on terrorism (the concept is nonsensical on its face), but rather, was just the official narrative that would allow the global capitalist ruling classes to (a) employ the United States military to pursue their aims throughout the world with more or less complete impunity, and (b) designate anyone opposing the hegemony of global capitalism a “terrorist.”

Several million of us figured that one out … or at least figured out that the US government, the “intelligence community,” and the corporate media were using Americans’ emotional response to the September 11 terrorist attacks to con us into supporting the invasion and destabilization of the Middle East for reasons that had nothing to do with terrorism. So we did what Americans are taught to do. We peaceably assembled to petition our government, as did millions of people across the world, and otherwise raised as much ruckus as we could about how folks were being manipulated, and were denounced as “traitors,” “terrorist sympathizers,” and “conspiracy theory nuts” for our efforts … and not just by the corporatocracy, also by regular Good Americans.

All these years later, knowing what we know, you might assume that all those Good Americans who rushed out to buy American flags to wave as our troops destroyed a country that posed no threat to us whatsoever (and had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) because the corporate media and the “intelligence community” told them Saddam was going to nuke Kansas City … you might assume that all these Good Americans, ashamed at having been made fools of by a bunch of television talking heads and “papers of record” like The New York Times … you might think these folks, who, after all, are not complete idiots the corporatocracy can just hoodwink over and over again using more or less the same bag of tricks … you might naturally assume that these Good Americans would give us the benefit of the doubt this time, i.e., those of us who are challenging the narrative the corporate media has been ramming down our throats since Hillary Clinton lost the election. But, no … nothing of the sort. No, this time, we’re not “terrorist sympathizers.” We’re “Putin sympathizers,” “Russian operatives,” or at the very least we’re “useful idiots” who are helping Russia destroy democracy by “sowing discord,” “disunity,” “division,” and other forms of dissent throughout the West.

This is the essential feature of our new and improved official narrative. The basic storyline has not changed. It’s still “Democracy versus The Terrorists.” The global capitalist ruling classes are simply expanding the already arbitrary and meaningless definition of “terrorism” (or rather, and more broadly, “extremism”). This is a natural, predictable progression, which the ruling classes have been preparing us for. After sixteen years of living in fear of “the terrorists” who “hate us for our freedom,” we are being introduced to a new official enemy. A new, yet familiar official enemy. An official enemy all Good Americans are pre-programmed to hate and fear.

Yes, that’s right, folks, the Rooskies are back, only this time without the Communism. No, this time, their diabolical goal is the destruction of “democracy” itself! Why, exactly, the Rooskies want to destroy democracy is not entirely clear, especially as it would collapse their economy, not to mention precipitate a nuclear war that would wipe out most forms of life on the planet. But, you know, they’re inscrutable, those Rooskies.

According to experts in the corporate media, and our corporate-sponsored representatives in government (and, it goes without saying, the “intelligence community”), the primary weapon the Rooskies are using to destroy democracy, and life on Earth, is this sowing of “divisiveness” and “discord,” and “distrust” of our government and corporate elites, who love us as they love their own children, and who would never try to manipulate us, or treat us like interchangeable commodities, or bankrupt us with their Ponzi schemes, or debt-enslave our families for profit, or any other horrible things like that.

This is the type of mindless hogwash Americans are being pressured to swallow, and in fact are swallowing, millions of them. But then, this is how propaganda works. It doesn’t have to make any sense. In fact, it’s usually more effective if it doesn’t. In profoundly authoritarian cultures like the contemporary USA, people tend to believe the authorities, particularly when they’re all repeating the same simple message over and over. People want to believe the authorities. They want to because they’ve been conditioned to want to from the time they were children by their parents, teachers, political leaders, the corporate media, television, Hollywood, cultural icons, and more or less every other ideological organ of “normal society.”

This is why, when it’s time to whip up popular support for a war of aggression (or a war against anyone expressing dissent), all the ruling classes have to do is make up an emotionally-loaded narrative with a halfway-believable official enemy and have their “authoritative media sources” repeat it, over and over and over, in a thousand different iterations, each repetition reifying the others, until the narrative becomes the axiomatic “truth,” which no respectable, normal person would ever even think of wanting to question. In fact, once an official narrative has become the axiomatic “truth,” it can be rather dangerous psychologically if these “respectable persons” are confronted with evidence that demonstrates that the official narrative (or, in other words, their “reality”) is based on … well, a load of horseshit, as by this time they’ve forgotten it is fiction, and thus genuinely believe the lies they’re telling.

If you’d like to see an example of this in action, take a few minutes and watch what happens to Luke Harding, author of the book Collusion, when he is interviewed by Aaron Mate. What you will witness is Harding melting down as his “collusion” narrative (i.e., the premise of his book) falls to pieces under Mate‘s questioning, which remains collegial and calm throughout. Clearly, it had never occurred to Harding that anyone would question the “RussiaGate” narrative, and especially not someone else in “the business,” as mainstream journalists are trained to accept and parrot whatever the ruling classes tell them. When he finally realizes what is happening, (i.e., that his “reality” is melting away like your face in the mirror on a bad acid trip), he calls Mate a “collusion rejectionist,” and abruptly ends the interview.

This is just the kind of thing the corporatocracy wants to eliminate, or relegate to the margins of the Internet. They can’t have journalists like Aaron Mate running around punching holes in their narrative, or at least not where normal Americans can see it. It’s all fine and good to have folks like Hannity and Alex Jones jabbering about deep state conspiracies, as normal Americans don’t take them seriously, but rational journalists like Mate, if they’re not going to cooperate with the official narrative, well, then they need to be censored, or algorithmically deranked, or otherwise marginalized, and the sooner the better. Which is exactly what the corporatocracy is doing, and what they intend to continue doing until “unity,” “harmony,” and “trust” is restored.

And this is just the beginning, folks. If you want to get a glimpse of our dystopian future, read this recent piece in The Atlantic. It’s by Representative Will Hurd, of Texas, but it conveys the sentiments of the corporate ruling classes and their loyal servants in government, generally. I won’t spoil it for you, but here’s one quote:

“To address continued Russian disinformation campaigns, we need to develop a national counter-disinformation strategy. The strategy needs to span the entirety of government and civil society, to enable a coordinated effort to counter the threat that influence operations pose to our democracy. It should implement similar principles to those in the Department of Homeland Security’s Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, with a focus on truly understanding the threat and developing ways to shut it down.”

The emphasis is mine. The Orwellianism is Hurd’s. The message couldn’t possibly be clearer.

If you’ve enjoyed the Department of Homeland Security over the course of these last sixteen years, the constant low-level paranoia, the invasive searches, the body scans, the TSA agents groping your kids, the cops and soldiers standing around in public places in body armor with their assault rifles in the “sling-ready” position, the NSA listening in on your phone calls, and all the other features of The War on Terror … you’re going to love The War on Dissent.

CJ Hopkins
Photo: Irish Defence Forces CC-BY 2.0
First published in CounterPunch, February 16, 2018.


CJH 2017 300DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its management, staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reasons, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page and give him as little $1 a month (or send your donation to his PayPal account), so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his debut novel, Zone 23, which we hear is pretty funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, or come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent a number of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg. Here he is at Datscha, waiting to seditiously eat a plate of pelmeni or something.

49 thoughts on “The War on Dissent (Part 2): The Spectre of Divisiveness

  1. Thanks C.J. – I needed that! It’s truly disheartening to find that even when talking to “liberal” family and friends about what is transpiring everyday all around us feels like the equivalent of perhaps suggesting to a European peasant in the Middle Ages that – “uh, the Pope might not be like totally infallible,” or that “perhaps the earth isn’t exactly the center of our solar system.” If one challenges the Russiagate narrative one is met with total incredulity! It is literally completely incomprehensible to most of my “liberal” friends and family that the Russiagate nonsense is simply evidence-free propaganda, a la – “incubator babies,” “WMD,” “Gulf of Tonkin,” “Gaddafi’s viagra fueled rape camps,” etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. Your dark incisive humor in discussing the topic is quite deeply appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, Mr Hopkins is absolutely right. I see exactly the same thing here in England. I’m reasonably well educated, and most of my friends and relatives are too. Fairly smart, successful, reasonable people – I would have thought. When I have tentatively tried to open their minds just a tiny little bit to what is going on, I have been utterly shocked at the violence with which they shut me down. In the interest of keeping a few people to talk to, I now avoid all political topics – except online.


  3. I enjoy this site. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t plotting against you. We certainly live in “interesting times,” possibly dangerous times, especially for free speech and independent thought. The attacks are from both left and right. Where does that leave us? Our choice is the stalag or the gulag.


  4. I just finished reading all the posts on this web site. I am unqualified to say whether they are brilliant or timely or accurate or even fake news or real news, but as I was reading each piece, I had sort of a rush or emotional high and when I was done I couldn’t wait to wade through the comments and click on the next post. I hope there are a lot more, and in the mean time I’m going to start reading Zone 23 and any of the plays I can find.


  5. Above you mentioned the anti war demonstrations on February 15 2003. I’ve been remembering it a lot since reading this. I was among hundreds of thousands of people penned up on the streets of New York City. We were packed together like sardines and not allowed to move or go anywhere for I think about three hours. It was freezing cold, but I thought I was doing something important and I thought it would make a difference that the people around me where not just typical protesters, but young families with their children, old people, the whole gamut of citizens. Later in the afternoon, the cops decided it was over. I saw them coming down Third Avenue where I was. They were on horseback and on foot with their batons. It was clear what they were doing, but we couldn’t move. I was close to the intersection, so I saw it all clearly. On my side of the street, they just rode the horses into us like we were cows, on the other side of the street, the cops on foot waded into the crowd swinging their batons and knocking people down on the ground. I was close enough to the horses that I could have touched them. After that I just walked back to the train. It was very upsetting, not merely because I had almost been trampled by a horse, but because the State had made it quite clear that those of us who were there had no rights, had no say, and were of no importance to the people who were running things. Since then, I have no respect for anyone in government, and consider people who think that supporting one candidate over another will make any difference to be naive.

    For a better report of that day see this from the ACLU,

    Click to access nyclu_arresting_protest1.pdf


  6. You’ve hit the nail on the head, so long as you have defined your target correctly – it’s hard to determine whether or not that’s the case because you use the word ‘capitalist’ all the time as if it specifically means ‘crony-capitalist’ (or ‘neo-liberal corporate capitalist’ if you like): in other words, you use a quite general word to describe a very specific nexus between the State and owners of large-scale capital – banks, arms manufacturers and so forth.

    If the term ‘capitalist’ is given its more usual meaning (someone who believes in the private ownership of capital, in voluntary uncoerced exchange, and an absence of constraints on markets) then your thesis has the wrong target.

    Ask yourself how many carrier battle groups would be built if they were funded by voluntary subscriptions.

    Or how many overseas “adventures” (which are absurdly lucrative for politically-connected Death Merchants) would be launched.

    Or how far the F35 could over-run its budget before it ran out of funds.

    Or how much influence AIPAC, JINSA and their ilk would wield if the political class did not exist (or if it was somehow comprised of people who were not grasping, venal, parasitic megalomaniacs: perhaps if they were selected by sortition there would be a chance of that happening… at which point the grasping types would angle for senior positions in the bureaucracy).

    The problem is not markets – for the simple reason that the crony-corporatocracy does not believe in markets. It believes in subsidies, which are not possible in markets (because nobody will willingly pay in order to enrich the already-rich: you need a political system for that to happen, and it happens in all political systems… it’s part of the design). It believes in wealth transfers from the polity to the crony-corporate leadership (with some crumbs being used to pay for the required thug-drones to keep the tax livestock – the proles – in line).

    Do away with States, and wars end. And since States do not solve any genuine economic problems (or do so at a cost that dwarfs the putative amelioration of ‘public goods’ problems), aggregate and per capita economic activity would also be expected to rise.


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