They say Propaganda! In the West, both the mainstream media and even some of the so-called progressive outlets are shouting: “Those Russians and Chinese and the others like them, they are at it again! Their vicious propaganda is infiltrating our democratic, freedom-loving countries, spreading confusion and chaos!”
Yes, ban or at least curb RT, contain TeleSur, and if at all possible, throw Press TV to the dogs. And put the writers of NEO, Sputnik, Global Times and other foreign outlets on that proverbial Western mass media ‘no fly list’.
How truly democratic. How open-minded, how ‘objective’!
It goes like this:
“We have been indoctrinating the entire Planet for centuries, mostly unopposed, but if anyone dares to bite back, we will do our best to discredit, even to muzzle them, in no time.”
Then if you protest, if you dare to say that kicking out and gagging alternative media sources stinks of the lowest grade of censorship, and of imposing some sort of monopoly on propaganda, you’d be shouted at: “What do you know about propaganda? You really want to see some hard-core propaganda, look at those colorful military parades and political speeches coming out from Pyongyang!” Naturally, these are taken out of context and presented (or framed) in a certain way, and only after that are they always readily available on the BBC and other, should we say ‘reputable’ and ‘objective’, European and North American television channels.
What you will not be told is that if you happen to live in New York or London, Paris or Sydney, Munich or Madrid, you yourself are most likely in the highest bracket of propaganda consumption in the world; that in fact, you could easily be a true propaganda junkie – hooked on it, fully dependent on it, seeking it, even regularly demanding it, at least subconsciously.
Propaganda, what is it really?
We all ‘propagate’ or ‘propagandize’ something. At least we publicize what we think and believe in our emails, we are spreading it in the pubs, or while out meeting friends and loved ones.
Some of us do it professionally. We write essays, books, give speeches, make films. We go to politics. We join revolutionary movements. We want to change the world. We speak, write about what we believe.
It is all propaganda – spreading our ideas, trying to influence others. What is done in the church or mosque, is clearly propaganda as well, although it is rarely defined as such publicly.
All of us have some opinions, some worldview. You know, at least some very basic one… Or when it comes, for instance, to the mainstream media outlets, their bosses and owners definitely have quite clear designs, opinions and goals (employees, those journos siting in plastic cubicles, are simply doing their well-paid job of presenting the ideas of their masters in a standard, elegant and grammatically correct prose).
In brief: whenever we want to influence the world, we try to ‘package’ and present our thoughts beautifully, extracting the most powerful and attractive parts and passages of our ideals and principles.
There is nothing wrong with that. We communicate, we propagate our thoughts and dreams, as we are trying to improve the world. Such propaganda is, I believe, healthy.
The true problem begins when the same tactics and techniques are used for something absolutely destructive and objectively evil: like colonialism, racism, imperialism or the attempt to control and plunder entire nations and continents. And an even greater problem arises, when it happens with almost unlimited funding, and as a consequence, some of the most capable brains get involved, including those of the communication experts, educators, and even psychologists.
When such a scenario develops, it is not suddenly anymore about ‘discussion’ and ‘finding the best way forward for our humanity’. It is about total, full control of people’s brains, about the elimination of all alternatives.
That is brutal, fatal propaganda. And it is exactly the propaganda which has been domesticated in the West, and is rapidly spreading its metastases all over the world.
If unchecked and unchallenged, such developments may lead to the absolute destruction of humans’ ability to think freely, to compare and to analyze, but it may also eradicate the ability to feel, to dream and to dare.
This most likely, is the aim of Western neo-colonialism. Its ‘success’ depends on the total, dogmatic cultural and ‘intellectual’ monopoly imposed by Europe and the United States on the rest of the world. Such a monopoly can only be attained through a one-sided interpretation of current affairs as well as world history.
The main goal is the absolute and unconditional control of the Planet.
After the destruction of the Soviet Union and during the rapid pro-market reforms in China (and the Western infiltration of China’s education system) in the same period of time, the West came extremely close to achieving its goal.
The world fully abandoned to Western imperialism and market fundamentalism, began suffering from a monstrous wave of privatization, theft of natural and other resources, and consequent social collapse of entire huge nations, from Russia to Indonesia.
Then ‘something happened’. The impact on the Planet became so devastating that many parts of the world abruptly stopped following the Western dictate. Russia had risen to its feet. China, under the guidance of the Communist Party and especially under the leadership of President Xi, returned to ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, putting a much greater accent on the quality of human life, culture and ecology, than on financial markets. Latin America began its new wave of the struggle for independence against the US and its own European elites. Many other countries, from Iran to South Africa, Eritrea, Syria and DPRK, refused to surrender.
They got demonized by Western propaganda, demonized day and night, systematically and relentlessly.
Whoever has stood for the interests of his or her people, be they a Communist, a socialist, a patriot, or even a populist, has been incessantly smeared, ridiculed and humiliated. President Assad or Ahmadinejad, Putin, Xi, Duterte, Zuma, Maduro, Castro, it mattered nothing how popular they were at home; it matters nothing! Simple as that: Whoever stands tall and fights for his people, faces character assassination in the Western media, which, in turn, directly or indirectly controls most of the media outlets in the world!
To get all of the patriotic and progressive leaders out of the way, openly serves the interests of the Western Empire and its business offshoots.
No one has doubts about this, anymore. It would take tremendous discipline not to see it.
Yet the opposite is being constantly repeated by the Western television stations, newspapers, magazines, and even the universities.
Ignoring facts, manufacturing conspiracy theories, denying that white is white, black is black, refusing to admit that human blood is red, that our hearts are on the left, and that above all, people are desiring their own identity, culture, justice and safety, isn’t this the highest level of propaganda, of indoctrination, of total brainwashing?
Those who are trashing ‘state-owned’ and ‘state-sponsored’ media outlets in non-Western countries, should be asking some very essential questions: “Is there any difference between those ‘private’ or ‘state’ media outlets in the West? Is there any substantial ideological drift between the CNN, BBC, The Independent, The New York Times, France/24 or DW?”
In Europe and in North America, as well as in their ‘client’ states, business interests control the government. They are actually the ones who are electing, or call it ‘selecting’ the government. Private or state-funded, the Western mass media is towing the same line. It is part of the apparatus.
In non-Western countries, the state-supported media outlets are beginning to propagate various new lines, mostly defending and highlighting the interests of their own countries, which in a way is a revolutionary development.
So, there is finally some global competition, isn’t there, dear comrades imperialists and capitalists? But what do we see… suddenly you don’t like it? You want your global monopoly? Is that your idea of freedom and ‘free competition’? You want your propaganda to be the only one on Earth!
Several years ago, when I was making the film and writing a book with Noam Chomsky (“On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima To Drone Warfare”, Pluto Press), we spoke a lot about Western propaganda.
Noam brought to my attention, that Nazi Germany was extremely impressed by the U.S. advertising industry.
Then, in a way, Western propaganda also became shaped by shameless advertising production, by brainless and outrightly deceiving commercials. The continuous downpour of pseudo-reality has been melting away all human decency and rationality, ever since.
I have written about this issue a lot, too, particularly in the pages of my book “Exposing Lies of The Empire”.
Television, Hollywood, but also indoctrinating, intellectually sterilizing and the grotesque way of ‘spreading knowledge’ by the North American and increasingly also by the European universities – it all has very little to do with the reality in which the world is living, as well as with the true concerns of the people; with their hopes, fears, and desires and aspirations.
Western commercials, entertainment, educational institutions – these are all powerful tools of propaganda. They propagate, force and inject into human sub-consciousness extremely primitive, false but powerful messages: “No matter what, our present arrangement of the world is correct and just. Our economic and social system is the most natural in the world. Our political system is not perfect, but it is the best nevertheless.”
Noam Chomsky seemed to be fascinated with my past, and for some good reasons: I myself was totally indoctrinated, endlessly brainwashed by Western propaganda, when I was a child, and then a very young man.
I was born in the beautiful city of Leningrad, Soviet Union. My mother is a Russian-Chinese architect, father a Czech scientist. I grew up in Pilsen, in then Czechoslovakia. Pilsen was only 60 kilometers away from Bavaria. To be a ‘dissident’ there, at the age of 15 or so, was absolutely obligatory, otherwise one would have been considered an absolute loser, even a freak. That was naturally hammered into our brains by the BBC, Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, West German television channels like ARD and ZDF. We were all listening to Radio Luxemburg, to Bavaria 3, we read ‘samizdat’ literature.
Pilsen is a little town of 180,000 people, known for its heavy industry and beer, but when I was a child, it had a permanent opera house, countless libraries including a science one, several small avant-garde theatres (which, yes, all tried to put on stage something that could be read ‘between the lines’), great bookstores, 6 cinemas, including an excellent cine-club where we basically saw all the great existential and experimental films from Europe, Japan, U.S. and Latin America.
Communist Czechoslovakia was to some extend gray, but extremely well educated, cultural and actually, really fun.
When I first visited Italy, I was shocked by its slums around Naples, by the sad lot of African immigrants. But I was conditioned to see the world as it was presented by Western propaganda. I protested against the ‘occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union’, because that is what the World Service of the BBC prepared me to do. Despite being educated on great literature, poetry and music, I saw Rambo as a freedom fighter, and Maggie Thatcher as a liberator of the ‘free world’.
I still somehow believed in the ideals of the Soviet Union, in the internationalism. But my brain was fried – it was a goulash that consisted of pseudo images coming like an avalanche from the West, and of solid and the not too colorful reality of socialist Czechoslovakia.
My two Czech uncles were true internationalists, and they built sugar mills, steel mills, pharmaceutical factories and other great things, in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and China. They did it with honest zeal and the love for humanity. I considered them to be two losers, idiots, ‘fanatics’. In reality, they were great people, and I was simply sick, brainwashed and blind then!
Then, as now, Western propaganda spat at everything pure, altruistic, and honest. Western media is scared of true heroes, of people who are helping others to gain independence, of strong, truly free men and women.
I emigrated. I wrote total shit, my first book of poetry, I got involved in the Solidarity movement in neighboring Poland, hit the bottle while chain smoking some 50 cigarettes a day, and emigrated. Or more precisely, I was kicked out, or whatever… You know, a Soviet kid in Czechoslovakia, writing dissident stuff… It was embarrassing, so they just suggested I go to the West, where I loved it so much.
I went. To make my story short, after I got my political asylum in the US, I was at Columbia University Film School in New York City, when the U.S. performed its first strike against Libya.
That week was crucial. Film Faculty students quickly clarified to me, what was going on, in regard to Libya. Then, in the pub, they asked me about those ‘bread lines’ in Czechoslovakia. I humbly explained about all the sorts of delicious fresh-baked breads available in Pilsen, but they couldn’t believe me. They kept asking about censorship… I was much better read than they were, and apart from Hollywood productions, I had seen more great films, but that, again, was shocking to my new friends.
From the windows of East Campus, we watched the endless fires burning in Harlem. It was pre-Clinton Harlem, real tough stuff.
All around me, in New York, I saw misery, despair, discontent, but also total obedience and resignation. But there was no ‘going back’.
I began visiting Harlem, by car service, as no yellow cab would take me there. I discovered a little wonderful jazz club, the Baby Grand. I would drink there and listen to jazz, and at night I’d cry holding onto the owner, a big African-American mama. I still remember one night; puke all over the floor, and spilt beer. “I was so stupid!” I howled! “I was such a fool!” She caressed my hair and repeated: “Hush… It could be much worse. My people have had it much, much worse… Be strong, young man!” I was 19… Or 20, I forgot. In Harlem, they clearly explained to me, what it is America.
Later I was married into a multi-millionaire’s family in Texas, and I saw what was going on ‘inside’. The oil, the hatred of ‘big government’. As a simultaneous interpreter (I was moonlighting doing that work, supporting my writing), I was present during some of the most horrible negotiations between the Western ‘private sector’ and what was then left of the Soviet Union, and then Russia. What the West did to my country, to the Soviet Union and then to Yeltsin’s Russia, was theft, just shameless looting. In those days, I was making over 1,000 dollars per day. I quickly understood what capitalism was, and imperialism. I wanted to die. I almost killed myself. I ran. I ran away from all that. I ran to Peru, to write about then the most brutal civil war on Earth. I hit the road. I shed all my identity. I became an internationalist. And I never stopped being one.
And I never returned to Europe or to the United States in order to live there. I only come to show my films, to launch my books, or to give one or two insulting speeches, as I did two years ago at the Italian Parliament in Rome.
It took some time to understand. I did. After living and working in more than 160 countries, after listening to tens of thousands of real stories, after almost losing my life on at least ten occasions, I understood.
I understand perfectly well, and I despise profoundly, what Western propaganda has done to the world. And I fight it, with all my might, day and night, for those millions, for billions of boys and girls, who are now, like me so many years ago, getting thoroughly indoctrinated, lobotomized and brainwashed by brutal professionals in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles.
I say and write what I want to say, what I want to write.
I also say and write what thousands of people whom I have met, in Asia, Oceania, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, want me to convey. They cannot do it themselves, they are too lost, too debilitated, too confused. They tell me the stories, not even hoping that anything can ever change or improve. They believe that their misfortune is permanent and fatal.
Then, I write my ‘propaganda’ pieces! I take sides. I speak of the horrors created by the Western neo-colonialist regime. Am I ‘subjective’? You bet! And I am telling you openly that I am.
I am an Internationalist, a Cuban-style internationalist. I am not hiding what I am. It is all honestly spelled out in my essays, in my profiles, in my books.
I ‘propagandize’ what I think, in what I believe. In fact, I’d much rather be called a ‘propagandist’ than a journalist, which is, lately, synonymous with ‘the oldest profession’.
People who are like me, are free, and they write, speak, make films, precisely as they want.
If we join the Russians, Chinese, Cubans, Venezuelans – we do it because that is what we want, because we think that what they are doing right now is generally right. It is not a job, it is a struggle, a battle, a true life!
Tough, not easy, but life, which I’d never trade for anything else.
But they, our adversaries in the West, those journos, are simply cowards, hypocrites or much, much worse!
They pretend that they are ‘objective’, while no ‘objectivity’ can really exist in this time and age, particularly not in the West. They are hiding their true shameful trade behind their impeccable Oxford accents. They are still getting great mileage from being white.
They simply lie, openly and shamelessly, solely by refusing to openly admit who is paying them, what is expected of them, and what would happen to their careers in case they’d dare to tell or write the truth.
My propaganda is my own. Or it is designed (by myself) to help my comrades, and the countries and governments that I admire and support.
Am I fully objective? Please read this carefully: “NO! Definitely not. And I am not aiming at any false objectivity! I select the places where I go, I select the stories that I want to cover. That is how I ‘maneuver’ politically. But once there, once at the frontline, I tell the truth, and I produce images that simply cannot lie!”
My opponents from the Western mass media, from their governments, multi-nationals and advertising companies, are lying day and night. And they never admit what game they are playing.
That is why their propaganda is ‘bigger’ than mine.
I freely write what I think is correct, and my readers are reading my stuff freely (or sometimes even despite great obstacles).
My adversaries from the West, are using the lowest state and business apparatus, even fear, to penetrate people with their lies. They have psychologists, demagogues, business gurus at their disposals: to help with spreading their fabrications all over the world.
Technically, they are so good at what they are doing, that even the poorest of the poor, even those who have already been robbed of everything, are readily buying into their ‘worldview’. Just go to Kenya or to Indonesia, go to the slums there, and you will see.
For many of the victims, the greatest honor is still to become as indoctrinated (and well-spoken) as those who have already robbed the world of almost everything.
This, my dear Comrades, is an outcome of perfectly successful propaganda!
I’m terribly sorry, but I’m sticking to my own. My propaganda may be perhaps transparent, Imperfect and raw, but it is sincere.
And I’m not afraid, at night, to look at the mirror!
Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books. His latest book: The Great October Socialist Revolution. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”