Saturday, October 3, 2009

NPR: America’s TASS

On Friday, September 4th, 2009, Morning Edition aired a report by Jon Hamilton (“In Future, Science Could Erase Traumatic Memories”) about scientific research into the role played by the protective molecular sheath around the brain cells of the amygdala in the creation of traumatic memory. Scientists have developed a drug they can use to dissolve this sheath and erase painful memories thereby. Hamilton notes this research promises a pharmaceutical cure for people who suffer from psychological disorders involving traumatic memories, such as those with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. What Hamilton doesn’t say is that without traumatic memories human culture would be a wasteland and humanity, itself, a thing of the past.

Forget Che T-shirts showing up on the backs of foreign youths in YouTube vids from the Czech Republic. Forget long hours at the library reading and studying The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet or The Tragedie of King Lear. Strike the works of Marcel Proust from all your library catalogues, your college curricula, your book stores, book club offerings and your wish lists; you’ll have no need to understand the relationship between thought and memory and its importance to identity because you’ll have no identity, once your memories – traumatic, or other – are wiped. You’ll be a clean, empty consuming machine, thanks to the scientists manipulating your amygdala, the last step – not the first – in the state control of mass and individual consciousness.

Ernesto Che Guevara’s grand vision to unite the countries of South America to fight 20th century colonization by industrialists came from genuine pain he experienced when he toured the continent and saw the needless, grinding poverty in which people lived, the exploitation of miners and valuable land, the preventable or treatable diseases – not just leprosy – from which he saw children dying. His pain was deep and it was real and it was transformative – just not in the way the powers that be approved. Guevara possessed that ability which is the basis of morality; he was empathic, and that ability to feel the pain others feel is the one that enables us to create ethical relationships and societies based on them – to create just laws, not merely indiscriminately applied law-and-order. It is this legacy of morality that is the thing that makes us human. Without it, we’re merely Homo sapiens. In the painful memory-free future Hamilton giddily introduces to us, there will be no need for revolutionary, or counter-, culture because there will be no revolutionaries, and no voices to counter the messages which the state sanctions, such as those we hear on NPR about how great it is for technocrats to erase parts of our brains. No more Che T-shirts – because there will be no more Ches. No civil society either. Forget the freedom of the individual, which once upon a time included the right to informed consent. New York University’s Joseph LeDoux, whom Hamilton features in his report, claims the potential human subjects with whom he’s discussed his treatment for PTSD are perfectly willing to get rid of a few normal brain cells to be rid of their traumatic memories. To him, this equates with “consent.” But is it?

In 1974 – the same year Sen. Ted Kennedy called for an investigation into the CIA’s programs to destroy people’s minds in order to replace their personalities with psychically-driven messaging – the social engineering work of Dr. José Delgado of Yale University was presented to Congress (U.S. Doc. 506: "Congressional Record Vol. 118, Part 5," 92nd Congress 2nd Session, February 23, 1972 to March 1, 1972, pp. 5567-5577), with his advice for billion-dollar funding of corporations and institutions to produce mass broadcast media aimed at virtual brainwashing. He recommended that children be normalized to this brainwashing beginning in elementary school. His work grew out of the CIA’s program in actual shock treatment and brainwashing techniques, of “shock therapy” -- principally, the program created by Canada’s Dr. Ewen Cameron, who had been under contract to the CIA and was one of the subjects of Sen. Kennedy’s investigation.

Delgado offered Congress some nifty tips on how to get the public to go along with the ‘cultural revolution’ he had designed to erase independent thinking by erasing the self, which he said was a phenomenon that has no basis in either ancient history, or in neurophysiology. He seems to have forgotten, or have been ignorant of the facts, that ancient Rome first conceptualized the ideal of the citizen as a thinking, free individual and that millennia of moral evolution has more or less always come down on the side of individual freedom, which is why so many people around the world have waged revolutions in order to attain it (including, once upon a time, even Americans), giving people such as he the opportunity to make careers out of undermining it.

Now, we see the fruition of Delgado’s recommendation that “mass media” be engaged in producing “informative and entertaining programs” to indoctrinate the masses to the benefits of mind control in TV programs such as
Survivor, which reinforces the anti-humanistic notion that we are all nothing more than animals, capable only of following the most wily of leaders who entreat us to dispose of others in order to ensure our survival; and the Sci-Fi Channel’s Mind Control with Derren Brown, which shows how fun it is to ‘play’ people by turning their minds against them – making a person bend over five times in a row by dropping five, dollar coins on the sidewalk ahead of them, for example. The proliferation of “reality” TV, which depicts only the most base behavior of H. sapiens.

To this very incomplete list we may now also add Morning Edition’s report about the purported advancement of science in the treatment of wholly man-made psychic problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, not by doing away with the actual events that create the psychic trauma (war) but by erasing the memory of the traumatic event in the mind of its victim – by a new form of “brain” washing – by disabling the amygdala.  In LeDoux’s “advanced,” pain-free future, you’ll have only that identity which the state has given you – the one the state wants you to have so you can go around the world, or perhaps just next door, and oppress and kill other human beings (because you’ve been messaged persistently through mass media culture to believe we’re all animals anyway and this is what animals do; they kill each other) without the messy side-effect of a troubled conscience. You won’t need to know how emotions and the memories they provoke humanize and inform socially-supportive decision-making and behavior because all your behavioral decisions will be made for you (‘Be all you can be -- join the Army!’), and, as is the goal of all brainwashing, you will be told what your perceptions mean to you (‘This isn’t a flour-paste wafer and wine; it’s flesh and blood!’ And, ‘These two planes we inadvertently and coincidentally failed to acknowledge as threats knocked over the impact-resistant twin towers!’). You won’t have to understand proverbs such as, “Pride goeth before a fall” because character, too, will be superfluous, and you won’t have any need for the succor scripture offers when facing moral dilemmas – because you’ll have none. By then, morality and the wisdom about it contained in all cultures’ religious texts will be anachronistic, “Let my people go” replaced with chants of “Let my people go . . . to the mall.”

I bet if Hamilton could track down LeDoux’s alleged group of compliant patients and tell them the actual history of our government’s hand in the programming of our minds on both individual and mass levels they’d be a whole lot more reluctant to hand over their brain cells to people like LeDoux. But that would be informed consent – once, the international standard for participation in medical experiments according to the Common Rule, which has never been adopted by the U.S. Another principle I am sure Dr. LeDoux is aware does not constrain his inhumane research is one also developed at Nuremberg but never adopted here in the United States – the one that dictates a researcher be willing to be his own guinea pig, or refrain from conducting any research in which he is not.

Every time a government – any government -- develops a new, more inhumane, more surreptitious technology to control groups of people or to kill them (incrementally or outright), it does so to use it. Why do you think the world is on pins and needles over every contract North Korea has with a manufacturer whose products have the potential to be used as nuclear components? Everyone tacitly acknowledges this universal truth. Our government didn’t make the atom bomb to not use it. It didn’t develop mind control techniques and technologies to not use them to oppress its citizens, as a review of attorney Brian Glick’s 1989 War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It demonstrates. It hasn’t spent billions of dollars to create the behavior-modifying mass media tools it so clearly has developed to not use them. Hamilton adds a perfunctory note that the brain dissolving technology has detractors who fear misuse by governments and others, as if that fear isn’t more than adequately justified, and to him, perhaps they’re not. Perhaps he’s too young to know the U.S.’s history of persecution of its activists, of its development of biological weapons that include those which destroy the human mind as well as brain. It’s a little difficult to believe, though, that mere age has blinded him so that he cannot even do a little critical thinking and investigating. NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling said in a recent AIR program regarding his story about an immigrant who died in administrative custody in New Jersey that the truth isn’t objective (something I.F. Stone said repeatedly throughout his career). Consequently, it also is not innocuous – something else of which Mr. Hamilton seems to be blissfully unaware. The truth about the ways in which American government scientists have been socially engineering American society is that they’ve been doing it on both individual and mass scales, and for quite some time, to weed out revolutionary voices, facts about which there is more than ample evidence – much of it, as attorney Glick shows us, in the government’s very own words. Perhaps Mr. Hamilton needs to spend some time as Mr. Zwerdling’s protégé and learn how to recognize the truth – or at least learn how to investigate a subject to uncover it. A little education in the humanities couldn’t hurt him, either. I’m not talking about science fiction; I’m talking about a survey of literature, history and philosophy: Lord of the Flies and War and Peace, the Federalist Papers and A People’s History of the United States, Kant and Buber. And don’t, for heaven’s sake, forget the Proust. Advocates of any technology should understand the consequences of their advocacy given the fact such technology is always misapplied by governments. At the very least, Hamilton needs to visit a federal depository for congressional records and start reading up on the truly heinous “science” our government has funded over the last 60 years, if he’s going to report on science issues truthfully.  As for LeDoux, if an amoral person such as the one LeDoux proposes scientists create were writing this rebuttal, this would be the point at which the author would suggest that a brain such as his be the first to be destroyed. Since such a person is not writing this rebuttal, I can only pray LeDoux’s paymasters have no more monstrous projects in which to engage his vapid intellect -- not for the sake of his own immortal soul, but for the sake of his children’s and grandchildren’s imperiled future. More amoral people the world does not need; no one remains untouched by them.

I’ve suspected for a while now that National Public Radio is truly just the mouthpiece of our fascist government ever since it began airing sympathetic coverage of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which it persistently and inaccurately labels a “war,” thereby obscuring the true empire-building raison d’étre of our military missions and the designs for world domination of our government leaders who promote those missions, two facts more than well established through decades of research by academics, activists and former insiders such as Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and John Perkins, respectively. I dismissed NPR as utterly irrelevant when it aired a story by a talk radio host and southern college professor who claimed some virtue to the demands she made on her husband for remuneration with expensive jewelry after she’d had his baby. Diane Rehme, with her “push presents!” Once upon a time, a crude sector of middle-class white America routinely charged poor African-American women with creating children solely to procure welfare “benefits,” which justified Congress’s whittling of those benefits until Bill Clinton did away with them entirely. From a moral standpoint, in what way is Ms. Rehme’s behavior any different? A caller from Virginia on a mid-morning talk show has prominent airtime to voice his opinion that the aid about which Congress was then voting to send to Afghanistan after the U.S. invaded Iraq was unjustified because, according to him, all the Afghans knew how to do was to have children they couldn’t afford, and the host neither countered that Afghanistan has one of the most persistently high infant mortality rates of any country, nor challenged the man to confine his opinions to the topic under discussion (which was whether the U.S. should essentially offer the Afghans this bribe for the use of their country to wage overt war in Iraq and covert war there). I think now, though, it would be a mistake to write off NPR as either irrelevant, or harmless, or inept because with its airing of its “science” report September 4th it’s clear “National Public” radio is neither of national benefit, nor public, but merely a state tool run by mindless, uncritical bureaucrats in the employ of the fascists that run our country; bureaucrats paid to prosecute inhumane and anti-American mind-control programs such as those proposed by Dr. Delgado. It is as reliable a source of truthful reporting as was TASS and exists only to validate whatever propaganda the U.S. government wishes to inculcate in the minds of Americans.

Freedom cannot exist if it doesn't exist at least in the human mind as an ideal to which humans may aspire.  When all the revolutionary voices have been chemically altered not to respond to genuine tragedy appropriately by questing towards ideals such as freedom, the revolutionaries will be gone for good, and so, too, will all freedom.  Our society will be a mawkish morass of culture perpetuated by tragicomic innocents such as those depicted in David Byrne's True Stories.  Nice people -- but not the folks you want fighting dictators that chemically alter human minds. The bureaucrats who run NPR should be ashamed of themselves, but perhaps they can’t be. Perhaps they’ve already had fatal exposure to the LeDouxs of this world.

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