Hillary Clinton (6 September 2016): “I believe I have created so many jobs in the conspiracy theory machine factory, because honestly, they never quit. They keep coming back.”
By ann summers
While an elaboration of the “vast RW conspiracy” that has plagued the Clintons, it is a more specific metaphor and suggests an actual assembly line with machinery that represents if nothing else the Chomsky version of the media industrial system. So there will be a couple of pieces in the future that expand on that CTM idea to explicate the meaning of the PMC.
The 2017 likelihood of Militarism: Trump regime’s state-sponsored violence (symbolic/visceral violence)
The Trump campaign has responded to criticism of Donald Trump Jr.’s assertions that reporters would “be warming up the gas chamber” if his father, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, acted like rival Hillary Clinton.
“The liberal, dishonest media is so quick to attack one of the Trumps that they never let the truth get in the way of a good smear,” said communications advisor Jason Miller in a statement. “Don Jr. was clearly referring to capital punishment to make the case that the media continues to take words out of context in order to serve as the propaganda arm of the Hillary Clinton campaign – something that’s only gotten worse as Trump’s poll numbers have improved.”
Since lethal injection is the dominant signified and gas chambers really the secondary image for capital punishment, this goes to the Roger Stone school of messaging. More specifically because Trump jr. referred as a parapraxis to the gas chamber as corporal rather than capital punishment, many other possible interpretations ranging from sexual to carceral become possible.
Genocides could be about Godwin, but they really are more about Pol Pot, Rwanda, or even the Southern hemisphere’s “disappeared” and the Eastern Hemisphere’s military use of chlorine gas barrel bombs dropped from helicopters.
And as much as within some sites there is a tendency to sanction the Godwin tendencies, it is odd that at least one political party openly flirts with it or else its fan-boys. All these aspects of propaganda as the truth/falsity of repeated, crazed messages merge nicely with the products of the Conspiracy-Theory Machine (CTM) factory.
This is the worst possible moment to start hearing these voices in prominent spaces again, because Donald Trump has increased the chances for political violence like no major party candidate in recent memory…
Trump suggested that “Second Amendment folks” might be able to do something about a President Hillary Clinton’s nominating Supreme Court judges. One of his surrogates said Clinton should be executed for “treason.”
And Trump has labored to convince his supporters that the upcoming election might be rigged, which undermines many people’s fundamental faith in the transfer of political power.
The 2017 likelihood of Vigilantism: Trump regime’s state-condoned violence (symbolic/visceral violence)
All of this leads Machiavelli in the direction of understanding the political good as an “economy of violence”. Machiavelli is assuming (not unlike the ancients) that human passion is selfish aggressivity and that its demands know no inherent boundaries. Political action is for him a struggle among a tightly crowded group of actors, each of whom can only benefit from another’s loss. Everyone is out to gain and can only gain at the expense of others. In this situation, if anarchy is not to become the general and permanent condition, violence must both be used and it must be strictly controlled. Political stability and therefore liberty as enlightened selfishness cannot exist without such violence.
If reason cannot tame the passions or transform them, violence may subdue, control and channel them. Machiavelli’s contribution is to understand the political task as setting the goal of an economy of violence. The aim is a science of the controlled application of force, one which will know how to administer just the precise dosage required in the circumstances – like surgery or chemotherapy. To use too much would be just as dangerous as using too little, the wrong kind or none at all. The indiscriminate use of violence would lead to provoking fear and hatred of the kind that drives human beings to desperation. The true test of its right and economical use would be whether it could diminish over time.
Another version of CTM can be seen in the recent banned book scavenger hunt as the PokémonGO-ing of books banned as the result of fantastic conspiracy theories with the potential for unintended consequences.
Chomsky summarizes that anybody or anything deeply embedded in the interests of the industrial system, with power (such as the corporations), is ‘deathly afraid’ of admitting such a state of affairs and that attitudes must be manipulated towards the ‘appropriate’ outcomes. Such manipulation is often best done in an atmosphere of fear and under pretense of external threat.
Edward S. Herman and Chomsky, together, advanced a ‘propaganda model‘ to accomplish this ‘manufacturing consent‘, showing the ways in which power and money filter the news and enable governments and dominant private interests to integrate the behavior of the citizenry into the structures of the industrial system. Earlier, political writer George Orwell had noted, “All the papers that matter live off their advertisements and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over the news.” (‘Indirect censorship’ obviates the need for obvious coercion.)
This observation is at the heart of two of the filters that structure the propaganda model: advertising (of corporations) as the primary source of income for the mass media and the dependence upon information provided by government, business and ‘experts’ approved and paid for by these primary sources.
Herman and Chomsky see the ideas as being cast as testable hypotheses such that they can be held in the light of corroboration through empirical evidence and not merely as assertions out of the blue. Examination of contemporary developments in the context of the hypotheses is encouraged.