Deception by Edgeworth Johnstone

The World Wants to Be Deceived

by Edward Curtin | Feb 17, 2023

My title comes from a 19th century author whose name does not matter nor would it mean much if I mentioned him.  It’s an old truth that has not changed a bit over the centuries.  I think, however, it would be more linguistically accurate to say that most people want to be deceived, for the world, the earth doesn’t give a damn, as the French poet Jacques Prévert reminds us in “Song in the Blood”:

There are great puddles of blood on the world
where’s it all going all this spilled blood
is it the earth that drinks it and gets drunk
funny kind of drunkography then
so wise . . . so monotonous . . .
No the earth doesn’t get drunk
the earth doesn’t turn askew
it pushes its little car regularly its four seasons
rain . . . snow
hail . . . fair weather
never is it drunk
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It doesn’t give a damn
The earth

But people, the thinking reeds as Pascal called us, we, who through the support of wars and violence of all sorts, care just enough to want to be deceived as to what we are doing by making so much blood that is inside people get to the outside for the earth to drink.

I could, of course, quote liberally from truth tellers down through history who have said the same thing about self-deception with all its shades and nuances. Those quotations are endless.  Why bother?  At some very deep level in the recesses of their hearts, people know it’s true.  I could make a pretty essay here, be erudite and eloquent, and weave a web of wisdom from all those the world says were the great thinkers because they are now dead and can no longer detect hypocrisy.

For the desire to be deceived and hypocrisy (Greek hypokrites, stage actor, a pretender) are kissing cousins.  I write this to try to say something of value about the mass idiocy of the media’s daily barrage of lies and stupidities that pass for news on the front pages and newscasts of the corporate media.  And the people who believe them.

It is not easy.  No matter how obviously absurd the claims about Chinese “spy” balloons, the shooting down of unidentified flying objects, reports of how Russia is losing the war in Ukraine, all the support for presidents and prime ministers who shill for the war industries, etc. – a list that could be extended indefinitely on a daily basis – these media are relentless in presenting government propaganda juxtaposed with trivia.

When you think they must realize they have gone too far since even a moron could see through their fabrications, they double down.  And I am referring only to what they do report, not what they omit – e.g. how the U.S. has restricted aid to the earthquake victims in Syria or Seymour Hersh’s report on the U.S. blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines, two examples of terror by a terrorist state that must be protected at all costs.  This is the protection racket by omission and commission.

Maybe an anecdote would help. A week ago, I ran into an old friend at a coffee shop.  Hersh’s article, aspects of which I question, had just come out and I asked him if he had seen it.  He said he hadn’t but didn’t know anything about such pipelines being blown up.  I was stunned.  A devout consumer of mainstream media, yet he somehow missed this major September 2022 event in the U.S. war against Russia that was reported widely by the media he relies upon.  Those media went on to suggest that Russia blew up its own pipelines, a claim beyond ridicule but one that was part of its war propaganda narrative.  My friend is a guy who has strong opinions about everything and finds NPR, The Guardian, The New York Times, CNN, etc. to be credible news sources.  How could he have missed one of the major stories of 2022, one that The New York Times, etc. was reporting on into December, still suggesting that Russia did the deed?  How could he have missed the pipeline story whose reverberations spread through all aspects of the U.S. war against Russia via Ukraine when it was referenced in so many reports of gas and oil prices, a cold winter for Europe, and so many other issues?  Its ramifications are manifold and have been reported as such, but he had never heard of it.  I was stunned.

I wanted to quote him Dylan’s facetious words from “The Ballad of the Thin Man”: “’Cause something is happening/And you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mister Jones?”  But I did not.

I have spent a week wondering how it is possible that he didn’t know anything about the pipeline explosions.  I am sure he wasn’t lying to me.  So how explain it?

In the interim, as I have been trying to comprehend these matters, the Super Bowl with its mesmeric half-time spectacle replete with crotch grabbing has come and gone, and I have read an interesting article by Ethan Strauss, a sports journalist, “Why America Needs Football. Even its Brutality” that raises important questions.

Much has been written about football’s violence and the injuries it causes, the most recent example being the near fatal injury to Damar Hamlin of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills that garnered headlines for weeks (even though why he suffered cardiac arrest has been left unanswered since that would raise the COVID vaccine problem, which is also taboo).  Strauss notes the many arguments calling for the banning of football – the war game – because of its violence.  He notes that it is very true that football is very violent but that this is part of its great appeal.  He writes:

And the NFL gives Americans that war, as spectacle, week after week.

Today, at 6:30 p.m., eastern time, begins the biggest spectacle of them all: the Super Bowl, where we channel those ancient animal spirits into a highly commercialized event that ends with fireworks and a shiny trophy.

We should celebrate that.

He doesn’t argue for the celebration of war, which he opposes, but for the war-like game of football.  To Malcolm Gladwell’s statement in support of the banning of football as “a moral abomination” – “This is a sport that is living in the past that has no connection to the realities to the game right now and no connection to American society.” – he responds quite rightly that Gladwell is wrong:

In 2022, 82 of the top 100 TV shows in America were NFL games, and the top 50 most viewed sporting events were football games or events that immediately followed football games. By contrast, in 2016, only 33 of the top 50 were football-related. The country has lost interest in so much else, but football remains a huge draw and, in fact, is gaining relative market share.

Americans love violence, not just the military propaganda that precedes the Super Bowl game, but the smashing hits that players make and take in the games.  It is hard to deny.  Strauss goes on to show how over ninety percent of former NFL players who suffer from daily lifelong pain say they would do it again.  The violence is intoxicating and Americans get drunk on it.  It is the American Way.

I don’t agree with all of Strauss’s points or assumptions, especially his imperative that “we have war within us, whether or not there’s one to wage,” but he clearly is right that despite all the rhetoric about how terrible violence is, there is something about it that Americans love.  D. H. Lawrence’s point a century ago still applies: “The essential America soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.  It has never yet melted.”

But this killer soul must be hidden behind a wall of deceptions as the U.S. warfare state ceaselessly wages wars all around the world.  It must be hidden behind feel good news stories about how Americans really care about others, but only others that they are officially allowed to care about.  Not Syrians, Yemenis, Russian speakers of the Donbass, Palestinians, et al.  The terrorist nature of decades upon decades of U.S. savagery and the indifference of so many Americans go hand-in-hand but escape notice in the corporate media.  The major theme of these media is that the United States government is the great defender of freedom, peace, and democracy.  Every once in a while, a scapegoat, one rotten apple in the barrel, is offered up to show that all is not perfect in paradise.  But essentially it is one massive deception.

There’s a make-believe quality to this vast spectacle of violent power and false innocence that baffles the mind.  To see and hear the corporate masked media magicians’ daily reports is to enter a world of pure illusion that deserves only sardonic laughter but sadly captivates so many adult children desperate to believe.  This is so even as the propagandists’ trial balloons are popped in the society of the comedic spectacle.

But back to my friend I mentioned earlier. He hates violence in all its forms, is strongly opposed to war, and has a most compassionate heart, yet he remains devoted to the media that have lied us – and continue to do so – into war after war, a media that clearly fronts for the warfare state.  I still can’t explain how he knew nothing about the pipeline explosions.  Nor can I explain his allegiance to the media that lie to him daily.

Even as his government, led by that very media, leads the world toward nuclear annihilation, he remains true to his media informants.

I am stunned.

In the Blood

Born in a normal time,
The periodic slaughter of millions
By the civilized nations of the earth
I grew to adulthood half-crazed
With fear and numbed wonder.

I always wished to believe otherwise,
That people were good at heart,
Wanted to live in mutual peace
And tend the green earth as if
It were a garden
As if pity vivified all living things.

Somehow the blood that was in me
Said otherwise,
Spoke truth to the power
Of my wish,
While everywhere around me lay the lie.

But my blood, this blood that became me
While millions were being butchered
And Bing Crosby crooned I’m dreaming
Of a white Christmas,
This red blood said otherwise.

Do not accept the way they say
“Good Morning”
And the way they nod as they pass,
As though they didn’t want to kill
Each other.

Do not believe their eyes
And the way they pray to the skies
To save them.
Do not believe their beliefs,
All lies woven to deceive.
For at heart they truly hate
The green earth.

Do not believe the way they say
“Good Evening”
For they wish the darkest night
To descend upon us,
The nothingness of their knowledge
To swallow all.

That is what will release them,
That is all.

Thus my blood spoke to me,
A child of a sanguine century,
Born in a normal time,
The periodic slaughter of millions
By the civilized nations of the earth.

And despite all appearances,
I have never believed them.
Never.  Not at all.

Read Beyond the Curtin

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