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Monday, November 10, 2014

Political Bunraku

Political Bunraku

By John Chuckman
Dissident Voice
November 10, 2014

For those who are not familiar, Bunraku is an old form of Japanese
puppet theater, its distinctive characteristic being that the
puppeteers are on the stage with their puppets, dressed in black so
that the audience can pretend not to see them.

While many old art forms have conventions that are unrealistic by
modern standards, there is something particularly unsatisfying
about bunraku: you can pretend not to see the puppeteers but you
cannot fail to see them.

Bunraku, as it happens, offers a remarkable metaphor for some
contemporary operations of American foreign policy.

So many times – in Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Venezuela, Egypt – we see
dimly the actors on stage, yet we are supposed to pretend they are
not there.

We can’t identify them with precision, but we know they are there.

Most oddly, the press in the United States, and to a lesser extent
that of its various allies and dependents, pretends to report what
is happening without ever mentioning the actors.

They report only the movements of the puppets.

One of the consequences of this kind of activity is that many
people, including many of your own, come simply not to believe
you, no matter what newspapers and government spokespersons
keep saying.

Another consequence is that because many knowledgeable people
no longer believe you, when it comes time to enlist the support of
other nations for your activities, you must use behind-the-scenes
pressure and threats, stretching the boundaries of alliance and
friendship.

After all, your major government friends and allies have
sophisticated intelligence services themselves and are
often aware of what you are trying to do.

Still another consequence is that many people start doubting
what you are saying concerning other topics.

In the United States, a fairly large segment of the population does
not believe the official version of a great deal of comparatively-
recent American history, including explanations of John Kennedy’s
assassination, of events around 9/11, of the downing of TWA Flight
800, of what Israel was doing when it attacked an American spy
ship in 1967, and of the CIA’s past heavy connections with cocaine
trafficking – just to name a few outstanding examples.

Government in America feels the need only to go so far in it's
efforts to explain such matters because the doubters and
skeptics, though many, are not a big enough segment of the
population to matter greatly in political terms, and it is
simply brutally true that the great passive mass of people are
never well informed about anything outside their own lives.

America is a place, as relatively few people abroad understand,
where people must work very hard.

It's industrial working class went through a great depression since,
say, 1960, many of them now holding low-paid service jobs.

It's middle-class workers have seen real incomes decline for
decades, something providing part of the incentive for both
parents in a family to work and for them to move into America’s
great suburban sprawl of lower land costs as well as to embrace
stores such as Wal-Mart with their bare-bones costs.

Many Americans work so hard, they have little time to be concerned
or informed about government, satisfying themselves that a few
minutes with corporate television news is adequate, a phenomenon
favoring the government’s interests since on any important and
controversial subject the television networks (and the major
newspapers) do the government’s bidding, mostly without being
asked.

American corporate news, especially in matters of foreign affairs,
resembles nothing so much as nightly coverage of a banraku
performance.

Selling stuff, whether it’s widgets or religion or political ideas, is
at the core of American life, and America’s one unquestionably
original creation in the modern world involves the disciplines of
marketing, advertising, and public relations – all highly artful
aspects of selling stuff.

The success of these methods has long been proved in American
commerce, but they are no less effective when applied to other
areas.

So, it should hardly surprise that the same “arts” are heavily
employed by, and on behalf of, government in propaganda
and opinion-manipulation around its acts and policies.

Indeed, we see America’s entire election system today having been
reduced to little more than a costly, massive application of these
crafty skills, and no department or agency of government is ever
without its professional, full-time spokespeople and creative back-
up staff, making sure that whatever words or numbers are spoken
or printed never slip beyond what those arts have conjured up.

Unacceptable photos, say those of women and children smashed
by bombs or missiles hurled into the Mideast, are made simply to
disappear much as they were in 1984.

Government knows, too, that the American political system is
heavily stacked against people with doubts ever gaining serious
influence.

Ninety-five percent of Senate elections go to incumbents, and
because only one-third of the Senate faces re-election at any
given election, a majority on some new matter is virtually
impossible to build.

The presidential candidates of the only two parties with a hope of
being elected are almost as carefully groomed and selected as the
party chairman of a former communist-bloc country, and generally
about as surprising in their views.

And always, time makes people forget, even with the most
terrible issues.

After a generation or two, there are relatively few people
who are even aware there was an issue.

In the case of the most overwhelming and terrifying event of
my life, the Vietnam War, polls show a huge number of young
Americans today don’t know what it was or when it occurred.

These are the key factors permitting an American government to
commission horrific acts abroad resembling those of the bloodiest
tyrant, all while it smilingly prances across the international stage
as democracy’s self-designated chief representative and advocate.

As for the great mass of people, the 95% of humanity living
outside the United States, no one in America’s government
ever gives them a moment’s thought, unless they step out
of line.



John Chuckman lives in Canada and is former chief economist
for a large Canadian oil company.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/11/political-bunraku

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