We are entering our 30th year of publishing the River Cities' Reader. The gravest subjects and issues we have covered as part of our mission to provide alternative news, information, and viewpoints to that of the mainstream media, have persisted. No question: Three decades have ushered an amazing technological evolution, yet accompanied by a severe sociopolitical devolution. The peculiar thing is that I don't think it actually took three decades to get us to this unhealthy place. I would restrict the worst of it to this past decade.
Americans are suffering from a collective psychosis born of constant confusion, frustration, and unpredictability, relentlessly reinforced by mainstream media's paid mission of destabilization using pure political division to trigger socioeconomic chaos. Media delivers all manner of strategic, scripted mis-dis- and malinformation on behalf of its benefactors, government in sync with oligarchical corporations, who pay handsomely to have media do what government, by law, cannot.
It isn't a stretch to believe mainstream media didn't think up this sociopathic information manipulation on its own. There is a larger propagenda afoot. Behind the curtain coordinating media messaging worldwide is the Trusted News Initiative (TNI) managing global continuity and conformity of messaging. However, several changes were necessary before TNI's effort could be deployed in America, especially because up until 2013, thanks to the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, it was illegal for government or media to propagandize Americans.
The first action required the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2013 (as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act) in order to repeal the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 (officially known as the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 - Public Law 80-402), which had, for decades, prohibited the public sector from deliberately propagandizing Americans.
It was a defining moment for 21st-century America that occurred so far under the radar that few Americans to this day are even aware of this destructive systemic change that legalized government sectors, in cooperation with media partnerships, to influence public attitudes and sentiments, and nudge behaviors with messaging that included outright deception of citizens under the “noble lie” notion that it knows best what Americans should think, and by association justifying less transparency throughout government.
President Barack Obama's 2015 Executive Order titled, “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People.” mandated behavioral science departments for each of the 40-plus agencies under the executive branch. This executive order's effectiveness in terms of reach can be measured today with internal programming that flowed from it, such as Diversity Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) training that has now made its way into society at-large.
Yet a majority of increasingly insecure Americans, whose usual solid footing is now unsure due to socioeconomic instability as the direct result of two years of extreme COVID mitigations deployed by our government and health authorities, followed by a deliberate ongoing systematic sabotage of infrastructure supply chains (energy, fuel, food, etc), resulting in growing shortages, rising prices, increasing job loss, and ever higher inflation has taken front stage.
This convergence of events and the circumstances causing them are not random, nor organic in nature – 27 food-related processing and storage plants, 17 in 2022 alone, livestock herds, and flocks; and three fossil fuel production facilities, all destroyed.
Arguably unreasonable new green regulations are piling on (new expensive DEF standards for diesel trucks sans adequate supplies of the new fuel additive, no trucks older than five years allowed on certain interstates, etc), including access to capital dependent on newly implemented Environmental Social Governance (ESG) scoring, largely controlled by the three largest equity funds Blackrock, Vanguard and State Street, are contributing to additional instability based on sheer uncertainty about what businesses can effect coupled with what they have no say in.
Sins of Omissions
For the most part, media's greatest sins are ones of omission. The amount of information that is suppressed and censored from public consumption is staggering in a century rich with spectacular and affordable means of communication. Curiously, it is social media that leads the obnoxiously politicized, more often forgoing all civil rules of engagement. Regardless, it was mostly tolerated until it became politically one-sided, showing deference for left-leaning users and censoring users deemed right-leaning.
Instead of the typical ending to such unfair practices – the marketplace eventually relegating such offending platforms to the ash pile of unworthy – social media providers regrouped and entered into lucrative secret agreements with all levels of government requesting suppression, even de-platforming, of accounts is specifically identified as dis- mis- or malinformation with almost no recourse or remedy for users.
Social media's deceitful business models snowballed into blatant censorship of critical information contrary to the “official narrative” relative to COVID and mRNA experiments, Hunter Biden's laptop, the 2020 election, January 6, and more recently the Ukraine/Russia conflict.
This unconstitutional alliance, exposed to a critical mass by Zuckerberg's admission to Joe Rogan that the FBI (who has a satellite office in Facebook HQ) was indeed directing Facebook to censor all Hunter Biden information before the 2020 election. The suppression of Hunter Biden's laptop is not just illegal government censorship, it is also illegal interference in the 2020 election due to the unsavory content surrounding then-candidate Joe Biden.
Most Americans are not surprised, or even particularly moved by this staggering revelation, thrilling to pieces the cloaked scoundrels behind all this chaos at how complacent and compliant Americans have become.
Thirty years later, this is not a positive direction for our community, let alone our country. There was a time when healthy skepticism of government was respected, even admired and lauded as good citizenship. And per usual, the cloaked scoundrels of chaos are still not satisfied with a submissive society.
Their next move is to redefine mis- dis- and malinformation as contributory to domestic terrorism, augmented with legislation and administrative rule-making to criminalize such utterance/conveyance by ordinary citizens in direct violation of our individual human rights – if we allow it.
The Uncloaking of the Cloaked Scoundrels of Chaos
Americans can easily track the downward spiral of reliable, relevant news ever since the repeal of the Smith-Mundt act. Any competent social scientist could plot it on a timeline. Americans have been fed a steady diet of scripted government-sanctioned messaging, often with a high degree of biased opining. News stations split into one of two party political camps (Democrat versus Republican) to give the appearance of political opposition, with broadcasters feigning alignment with liberal or conservative ideology.
The messaging has gotten sloppy, but still unaccountable, because once the public has picked a side, we never change the channel or follow others with different viewpoints. That has left most of us largely unaware that media's scripts are nearly identical in both political camps, only the names and party affiliations have been changed to depict the villains. In many cases, reporting (aka messaging) is verbatim because the scripts use the exact same verbiage/phrases across all channels for every news segment.
For nearly a decade, this national news apparatus has functioned as controlled opposition, politicizing everything under the sun using sophisticated communication techniques to corral the minds of the public into one of only two political arenas (it cares not which one). And that is where the cloaked scoundrels of chaos running this psychosocial operation finally irrevocably lifted the curtain.
A point of clarification (or two) is needed. When I refer to the two political parties, I am referring to cloaked liberal democrats and conservative republicans. But first: Which classical ideology is described below?
The two most important core concepts in this ideology is recognition that, (1) Every human being inherently possesses dignity and should be respected to pursue their individual plans and purpose; and (2) Individual liberty. Human dignity and individual liberty informs the notion of justice, which means that each of us has a duty to respect the individual rights of other people. Governments also have a duty to respect every individual. The intersection of these concepts in turn inform the concept of equality, that all human beings have equal standing within society and before the law. These concepts provide the foundation of a functional society.
Founding documents embraced this coherent system of values. Economic and intellectual progress is based on openness, toleration, a commitment to peaceful and voluntary engagement, and mutual respect.
The view that focusing on the individual leaves no room for community or the larger society is a misperception. It is the foundation for creating an environment of openness and interaction that makes up a flourishing society.
But society needs rules of scale that are just. The cultural norm of mutual respect dictates “mine and thine” rules of property, while expectations of others to keep promises to one another sets the rules of contract. Respect for the bodily integrity of others defines rules of consent over force.
A good society is good because of individualism, not in spite of it. Collective goals are enthusiastically welcome as long as there is choice, based on voluntarism, and include an exit option, all of which provide rules of association and disassociation.
If you guessed Classical Conservatism, you guessed wrong. This description is taken from American Economist Emily Chamlee-Wright's Big Think lecture. It is a brief but lovely description of Classical Liberalism. And it mirrors Classic Conservatism, if not by precise definition, then certainly by most conservative hearts and minds.
The typical American voter is trapped in the Democrat-left/Republican-right paradigm, a political arena of righteous rigidity masquerading as ideological solidarity. I wager most Democrats and Republicans have no clue what today's Democrat and Republican political ideologies actually are, let alone if the Ds and Rs we are electing to office represent any of it.
Most of my friends are traditional liberal democrats, while most of my family are traditional conservative republicans. I grew up amid the ideological mantra “I'm a social liberal, but a financial conservative.” That is essentially still true for many, and why we have always been able to communicate despite liberal and conservative ideological differences. Boiled down, Americans are approximately 80-90 percent on the same page politically, regardless of party affiliation.
Until now. So what's really changed? Not me. Not my family or my friends. Perhaps its the politicians and the bureaucrats who have changed? Every election, I know I feel less and less represented. So do my family and friends. Why is that? If we all feel less represented than ever, regardless of whether our party has control, what explains this? If most Americans are on the spectrum of liberal democrats and conservative republicans, then I would also wager they are feeling less and less represented, too.
Why does it feel as though neither the Democrat or Republican leadership is not committed to basic principles as outlined in our Constitution, let alone the parties' platforms? Have the ideologies of the two major political parties in the 21st century changed without disclosure? Or are the candidates allegiances elsewhere, to some other ideology not disclosed. (Hail, Hydra … kidding.). Do the “Ds” and “Rs” behind candidates' names signify something different than the voters' perceived values of liberal democrats or conservative republicans?
I wager absolutely.
What if both establishment Democrats and Republicans adhere to Progressivism, an ideology measures of magnitude different than liberalism or conservatism, while only fabricating a liberal or conservative identity just to win elections?
It adds up. Progressivism advocates first and foremost that everything is political. All social and economic problems, no matter the size or scope, are best solved via government-driven political solutions using private-public partnerships that are centrally coordinated and managed by a self-appointed body in perpetuity. Yet Progressives cloak themselves in liberalism for expediency, exploiting the components of liberalism that bend to its progressive agenda. Progressives also cloak themselves in conservatism, but not as easily and that would explain the GOP's inaction in so many current affairs.
Of more concern is the structural aspect of Progressivism as it relates to humanity. Progressivism concerns itself with groups and their highest functions. Progressives consider human beings to be group components, resources for groups' highest functioning. Components of groups are tightly controlled and expendable as necessary. This is in direct opposition to the core individualism driving both classic liberalism and conservatism.
Therefore, it only follows that liberal and conservative individualism is an existential threat to Progressivism and must be eradicated. Individual human rights must be expunged as they would have to be necessarily subordinate to groups' rights for efficiency and continuity. And that is not likely, especially with a Constitution specifically protecting said individual rights. Scholars describe progressive societies as being akin to beehives. It would certainly explain a lot.
There is a palatable disconnect between our elected representatives and voters. They are increasingly removed from us, from our real world problems, but of late, even from the rule of law. Simply put, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Why would a single politician or bureaucrat protect our rights, if we won't? That is the critical question requiring an answer for these times. We need to reclaim our birthright, and the authorities that accrue to us by identifying as Americans once again.
Finally, please explore Progressivism. It has a dark side. More importantly, it has precious little in common with liberalism or conservatism. Make sure you really know the differences before you align with it. And please please start talking to people with different viewpoints than yours. More than anything else, I miss robust rational discourse, shredding differences while laughing and learning and loving no matter what.