Rushkoff singles out the immediate era after Edward Bernays - the author of 'Propaganda' - signed on with the corporate state, to promote fascism. As he observes (p. 109):
"American corporatists saw in fascism a counterbalance to FDR's strong-handed tactics and aggressive social welfare programs.....Henry Luce, a co-founder of TIME magazine, put Mussolini on the cover five times and traveled the country arguing that corporations - not government - were really in charge of America. Luce convinced many business people that fascism might be corporatism's best hope for organizing and influencing people."
Rushkoff goes on to note that by the end of World War II fascism had revealed itself as "ruthlessly dehumanizing" so American industry had to take a different tack known as "Americanism. This approach used advertising PR to turn citizens into consumers - driven by spending on all manner of fluff and nonsense- to take their minds off serious politics and economic issues. Combined with this the media empire developed to the point it was able to frame issues, events, ideas to shape the minds of the masses. This followed Edward Bernays' PR description in his work, 'Propaganda':
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country."
If then this power is wielded to split consumers into "brand" factions along with their political affiliations and beliefs, the effect is polarizing and also dissolves any united citizens' front, i.e. to hold the Deep State or corporations to account. It additionally is designed to keep citizens at the infantile level of "consumers" who shy away from examining what their government is up to. If a person then refuses to venture outside this compromised matrix of PR he remains a mental invalid and automaton run by the Deep State. Believing whatever it spouts, or what its talking heads blab, or distort.
It is no accident that Bernays' use of the term 'invisible government' equates to 'the true ruling power of the country'. Today, this ruling power inheres in a military-corporate- security state nexus called the Deep State, and it requires deep politics - not its superficial media counterpart- to plumb its depths. This is irrespective of examining the Ukraine crisis, the JFK assassination, the yen for pretext "wars" as in Iraq, the related monstrous Pentagon budget, or the growing inequality in the country.
It also pertains to the examination of the CIA torture program which went on for years, and which report - of 6,300 pages- will now likely never be seen by the American people. As a Senate committee moves to declassify a landmark report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s descent into torture, among the only certainties is that the public won’t see the vast majority of it. Instead we will be told by PR talking media heads what they want us to think about it, and only dribbles released concerning what we can actually be allowed to know.
True, the Senate select committee on intelligence has waged an unprecedented and acrimonious public battle with the CIA over the secret 6,300-page investigation known as the "Panetta Report", concluding torture is an ineffective intelligence-gathering technique and that the CIA lied about its value. But now they ought to release it in full to citizens wanting to know - so we can at least see what the spook degenerates did in our name. Instead, we're told to expect a similar micro-managing of files as was done previously with the HSCA Investigation of the JFK assassination back in 1978. So the Senate vote has allowed only a slice of the CIA Torture report to be made public. Worse, the CIA will have a significant degree of influence over how large and how public that slice will be. Of course, this is reminiscent of the perverse manner in which information was controlled with the files released by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, once the CIA got control of it, e.g.
Thus, the committee is not going to release the 6,300-page report. Its chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein of
, said on the Senate floor three weeks ago that
only the “findings, conclusions and the executive summary of the report” were
the subject of the committee’s declassification efforts. The vast majority of
the Senate report – effectively, an alternative post-9/11 history detailing of
years’ worth of CIA torture and cover-up – will remain shielded from public
So what gives? Why prevent us from accessing a report we paid for with our tax dollars? The short answer is that part of the Deep State's PR conditioning process - to dissuade any remaining citizens (who haven't mutated into totally infantilized consumers) from pressing the national security state to back off - is framing and omission. Both techniques were first noted by Michael Parenti in his 'Dirty Truths', to do with how the media manipulates the public mind. Omission here serves the same purpose it does with the National Archives refusing to release all the files on the JFK assassination. If we are then prevented from knowing the dark aspects of our history, and the extent of our own government's complicity in it- i.e. in having Kennedy assassinated- then we can't break out of the realm of false tropes and American goody-goody exceptionalism. Hence, it dovetails precisely with the post-WWII corporatists embrace of "Americanism" as a practical substitute for fascism.
The problem with that is that it's still leading us down a path of fascism, which in its most fundamental definition means the control of a nation's destiny by the wealthiest using corporate power. It is also a feature of fascism that it extols expanded military power - because for every dollar wasted in unprovoked conflicts or insinuating American power where it doesn't belong, there is less available for the public commons or the general welfare. It's a 'win-win' for the Deep State because with military expansionism more money is pumped into pockets of defense contractors, corporations while more is taken out of struggling citizens' hides. Thus, everything from the dramatic increase in student college debt to our crumbling infrastructure and the stagnation of middle class wages can be laid at the door of creeping fascism.
Meanwhile, Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, considers the CIA's role in managing the Torture Report file release a conflict of interest. He stated in an interview with the UK Guardian:
" They functionally control the declassification process, and they have an interest in how they as an agency are portrayed in the final product. They’re not an impartial party, and that’s a flaw in the process.”
Of course, neither were they an "impartial party" in the case of the JFK assassination files released by the HSCA. In the latter case, none other than CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator Jim Lawderman – on July 27, 1977- wrote out the terms of the CIA’s control of HSCA head Robert Blakey’s investigation. (Mellen, J., ‘Farewell to Justice’, p. 345). One of the terms cited was (ibid.):
“ Certain areas relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should be entirely disregarded based upon our contention they are without merit or corroboration” (ibid.)
Thus, the CIA was effectively judging the evidence even before there was any. This statement in many ways is as glaring and outrageous as the terms of the document NSC-68 paving the way for perpetual war.
In this way practical citizenship can be kept at bay in the Deep State, and citizens (actually mostly consumers) can be set against each other because each will have different purviews of knowledge, media exposure and extent of research into what's really going on. The Deep State has nothing, nada to worry itself over, since those of us who DO this digging into its nefarious backgrounds will often be dismissed as "tin foil hats" or "conspiracy theorists" or some such misbegotten term. Each of which betrays the inner fear the infantilized citizen has for facing the unsavory truth. That he really inhabits a gangster corporate-militarist state which doesn't have his best interests at heart.
The refusal of the Senate committee to release the full CIA Torture report is in line with all of the above and Feinstein et al regard their decision as justified because they see American citizens are either too dumb or dangerous to place the full report in their hands. Thus, we will likely never know the extent to which we, as citizens, supported a horrific policy of torture done in our name.
Welcome to Americanism V. 2.0 and the Deep State!