Liberalism itself is a synthetic creation of the power structure, a humanitarian facade behind which the dirty work of policing the world can go on uninterrupted by idealistic spasms in the body politic.
Journalist Eric Norden’s perceptive critique, “The Tender Tyranny of American Liberals,” appeared in the early years of the Vietnam era, accurately identifying how a predominantly liberal worldview projected by the ruling technocracy and its intellectual adherents acted to subordinate genuinely Left-progressive ideas and social movements at home while ensuring the furtherance of US imperial designs abroad. Today Norden’s insights are worthy of reconsideration in light of how the Left remains largely devoid of its own voice or vision and more than ever liberalism provides ideological cover for aggressive Anglo-American militarism, the prerogatives of transnational corporations, and an ever-expanding police state.
This essay originally appeared on September 21, 2001 as an installment of my biweekly Daily Iowan column, “Firing Line.” The piece uses George Orwell’s 1984 as a basis to suggest how from the very beginning the corporate media played a central role in setting the stage for the prevalent Osama bin Laden-Al Qaeda myth, the related “blowback” thesis vigorously embraced by the progressive-left community, and the assemblage of rearguard actions defending such perspectives and reflexively labeling all accounts conflicting with government pronouncements as “conspiracy theories.”
An expertly orchestrated barrage of 9/11 propaganda in the weeks and months following the attacks had a devastatingly traumatic effect on a majority of the US population while simultaneously rendering many of the most legitimate and important questions to the sidelines. Together these discursive elements have helped to create an environment where, as Orwell envisaged, essential civil liberties have been forsaken and perpetual war has become the norm. -JT
In a recent article the influential Council on Foreign Relations declares Americans are “appalled by the depredations of the [Bashar al-]Assad regime and seek its removal from power.” Short of committing troops, the US “[p]ublic wants tough action … including the imposition of tougher sanctions, and the creation of safe havens to protect civilians,” the CFR’s Stewart M. Patrick writes.
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance-it is the illusion of knowledge.”-Daniel Boorstin
In George Orwell’s 1984 the Outer Party comprised a mere thirteen percent of the population and was subject to the ideological filters in play at the Ministry of Truth and the broader bureaucratic structure. A specific language and way of thinking were closely adhered to. Given their political import, Outer Party members were the most heavily indoctrinated and controlled inhabitants of Oceania. The majority Proles who constituted the remainder of the population was of little consequence so long as their political awareness remained underdeveloped.
If anyone needs additional proof of the tremendous censorial control wielded over corporate and alleged “independent” media regarding Western powers’ imperialist projects they need look no further than the thorough news blackout of the August 9 Tehran Consultative Conference on Syria. As this censorship ensued, “progressive” news outlets continued their barrage of dubious and misleading information on the continuing turmoil within Syrian.
The news media’s readiness to accept official pronouncements and failure to more vigorously analyze and question government authorities in the wake of “domestic terrorist” incidents contributes to the American public’s already acute case of collective historical amnesia, while it further rationalizes the twenty-first century police state and continued demise of civil society.
Since the early 2000s US-based “left-progressive” media that purport to be independent have received tens of millions in grants and contributions while they have ignored some of the most important news stories of our time. History suggests a relationship between elite philanthropic sponsorship of such outlets and self-censorship toward pressing events and issues while concurrently maintaining a public semblance of issue-oriented rebellion and dissent.