“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Strategically, 4GW (Fourth Generation Warfare) attempts to directly change the minds of enemy policy makers. This change is not to be achieved through the traditional method of superiority on the battlefield. . . (4GW) victories are accomplished through the superior use of all available networks to directly defeat the will of the enemy leadership, to convince them their war aims are either unachievable or too costly. These networks will be employed to carry specific messages to . . . policy makers and to those who can influence policy makers. Intifada I showed how a sophisticated opponent can tailor specific messages to several audiences simultaneously based on strategic requirements. Although tailored for various audiences, each message is designed to achieve the basic purpose of war: change an opponent's political position on a matter of national interest. The fights in Iraq and Afghanistan are showing similar characteristics. In each, the insurgent is sending one message to his supporters, another to the mass of the undecided population, and a third to the coalition decision makers. -- The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century, COL. Thomas X. Hammes, USMC, pp. 208-209.
Readers may recall my Independence Day essay on the the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare and Fourth Generation Warfare. They may also recall my post of yesterday The Little Blue Book. Well, I have now finished it and am ready to present an analysis of it. You may be surprised to learn that I have concluded that The Little Blue Book represents the best use of 4GW messaging by our collectivist enemies that I have seen so far. In the interest of Sun Tzu's dictum to "know your enemy," I will be quoting extensively from The Little Blue Book. I ask your patience, for the passages are long but very revealing.
"A new Dark Age made more sinister . . . by the light of perverted science."
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the light of perverted science. -- Winston Churchill.
Long-time readers may recall this article on Obama's Change Agents, Cass Sunstein and the other behavioral economists in the then-new Obama administration. In the words of Time magazine:
The existence of this behavioral dream team — which also included best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge) as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton — has never been publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization. All their proposals — among them the famous online fundraising lotteries that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama — came with footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. "It was amazing to have these bullet points telling us what to do and the science behind it," Moffo tells TIME. "These guys really know what makes people tick."
The authors of The Little Blue Book also think they have a pretty good bead on "what people think." More importantly they use the science of the brain to influence HOW people think, which is a rather more difficult task. As you will read, TLBB does rather a better job understanding how Democrats think than they do conservatives or libertarians, but you'll read more on that as we go. From Page 1:
This is a handbook for Democrats, intended for immediate use in the current political moment. But our discussion goes beyond polls and focus groups and the opinions of pundits: it is based on science and requires some, though not all that much, scientific background.What people say and how they act depends on how they think. Political pundits have access to language and to actions, but they don't have access to thought. This often leads to superficial or mistaken analyses of what the public thinks and what will change public opinion. The cognitive and brain sciences have shown that most thought -- as much as 98 percent -- is unconscious. There is a lot going on in our brains that we don't have direct access to, but what is hidden from us determines a great deal of what makes sense to us and how we reason. Real reason, the unconscious kind, uses a logic very different from that typically taught in departments of political science, economics, law, and public policy. Democrats, frequently trained in those fields, have not commonly been taught the mechanisms of real thought -- the neural processes that characterize phenomena such as cognitive frames and conceptual metaphors. Especially in politics, these can vary considerably between conservatives and progressives, who differ in their values and their mode of reason.Language makes use of these deep modes of thought. In the brain, words are defined in terms of these brain mechanisms and not simply in terms of conditions in the external world. The link between words and the world goes through the brain and uses these largely unconscious mechanisms.Most political leaders and policymakers, perhaps especially progressives and those in the Democratic Party, are not aware of this science. They have been taught, and still believe, that people are at all times consciously aware of what they think and that words are defined directly in terms of the world. They commonly believe that everyone reasons the same way and that if they just tell people the facts, most people will reason to the right conclusion. But since this is scientifically false, it keeps not happening.Fortunately, techniques have been developed that allow us to get at important aspects of unconscious thought, and we will be making implicit use of these techniques throughout this book.Our major point is simple. Messaging is about thinking, not just language. To get language right, you have to understand the thought it conjures up. -- TLBB, pp. 1-2.
The Concept of "THE PUBLIC" as a Substitute for the Marxist Dictatorship of the Proletariate
And that is what is at the core of the thesis of TLBB -- thought control through "moral frames" and proper messaging aimed at the unconscious. The authors explain:
The central issue of our time is what kind of country America is and ought to be, that is, what system of values should govern us. First, we must understand that all politics is moral: every political leader says to us that we should do what he or she recommends because it's right, not because it's wrong or doesn't matter. And today our politics is governed by two very different views of what is right and wrong.The progressive view, mostly in the Democratic Party, is that democracy depends on citizens caring about each other and taking responsibility both for themselves and for others. This yields a view of government with a moral mission: to protect and empower all citizens equally. The mechanism for accomplishing this mission is through what we call the Public, a system of public resources necessary for a decent private life and a robust private enterprise: roads and bridges, education, health care, communication systems, court systems, basic research, police and the military, a fair judicial system, clean water and air, safe foods, parks and much more.Conservatives hold the opposite view: that democracy exists to provide citizens with the maximum amount of liberty to pursue their self-interest with little or no commitment to the interests of others. Under this view, there should be as little of the Public as possible. Instead, as much as possible should be relegated to what we call the Private. The Private is comprised of individuals (private life), businesses owned by them (private enterprise), and institutions set up by groups of individuals (private clubs and associations). The Private is, for conservatives, a moral ideal, sacrosanct, where no government can tread, whether to help or hinder, regulate, or even monitor. No one should have to pay for anyone else. Private interests should rule, even if that means that corporate interests, the most powerful of private interests, govern our lives through a laissez-faire free market. Citizens are free to sink or swim on their own.Each moral worldview comes with a set of issue frames. By frames we mean structures of ideas that we use to understand the world. Because all politics is morally framed, all policy is also morally framed, and thus the choice of any particular policy frame is a moral choice. Americans are now faced with two sets of moral choices, each leading the nation in opposite directions. -- TLBB, pp. 3-4.
The Nice Touchy-Feely Empaths Versus the Violent Misogynist Wife Beaters.
It is when the authors discuss these differing moral values in Chapter Two that they begin to give us a glimpse of who and what they see themselves to be and, perhaps more importantly, who and what they perceive their opponents to be.
In American politics, your values also determine what you think democracy is. For progressives, democracy begins with citizens caring about each other, taking responsibility both for themselves and for their fellow citizens. Individual responsibility is thus inseparable from social responsibility. The basic moral values here are empathy and responsibility, for both oneself and others.This leads to a view of government as having certain moral obligations: providing protection and empowerment for everyone equally. This in turn requires a vibrant commitment to the Public: public infrastructure (roads, buildings, sewers), public education, public health, public parks, public transportation, public policing, an energy grid, public access to water and an adequate food supply, and regulation of commerce. No private business and no entrepreneur can prosper without such public provisions. There is no prosperity and no sense of a civilized and decent life without these things that we have provided together. The private depends on the public.These progressive public values commonly follow from certain ideal progressive family values, projected to larger institutions. The progressive family has parents of equal authority. Their central moral role requires empathy with each other and their children; it requires self-responsibility and responsibility for the well-being of other family members. Respect for parents comes not from fear of punishment but from admiration and a sense of cooperation. Behavioral standards and limits play a crucial role in this model. They are always subject to questioning and explanation, but parents have the last word because they are ultimately responsible. This requires open communication, transparency about family rules, shared decision making, and need-based fairness. The outcomes of family life require the cooperation of the whole family, working together as a family system . . .This is an idealized view. Because our first acquaintance with being governed is within our families, we come to understand ideal governing institutions (e.g., religious organizations, schools, teams and nations) in terms of ideal families. The notion of what is ideal is key. You can learn about family ideals in your own family but also in the families of others and in your culture and community. Thus the issue is not just how you happen to be brought up but what you understand about how an ideal family should function.When this idealized family is projected onto other institutions, we get nurturant versions of religions and schools, rehabilitation in prisons, a foreign policy that cares about "the family of man," and a market in which the role of business is to provide for consumers, workers, and communities as well as business owners and stockholders.
Now if you got a kick out of that collectivist self-image, you'll be less amused by how the authors see you.
The idealized conservative family is structured around a strict father who is the natural leader of the family. Because the world is a dangerous place, and evil a force in the world, he has to be strong to protect his family. He is moral and knows right from wrong. Because children are born doing just what feels good to them rather than what is good, he has to teach them right from wrong by punishing them when they do wrong so they will do right in the future. Because he knows what to do, his authority is absolute and unchallengeable. He sets the rules and is, in short, the decider. Physical discipline is necessary to produce moral discipline. The enforcement of rules must be strict or they will cease to be followed. Love is tough love; discipline is a form of love. Toughness is important and a measure of moral strength. Better to discipline too often than too little. The role of the mother is to uphold the authority of the father. If she does not, she may have to be disciplined as well.From this, certain things follow for one's outlook on society. To be prosperous, one must be fiscally disciplined. Thus if you are not prosperous, it must be because you are undisciplined -- which is itself a form of immorality -- and so you deserve your poverty. In this form of direct causation, effects can be traced to a single and straightforward cause.The strict father family commonly, but not always, involves in-group nurturance. That is, spouses and children who are obedient are loved, cared for, and rewarded. When children become adults they become their own strict parents, and no outside authority should meddle in their lives.When this idealized family model is projected onto various governing institutions, we get conservative religion with a strict father God, a view of the market as decider with no external authority over it (such as governments, unions, or the courts), and strictness in other institutions, such as education, prisons, businesses, sports teams, romantic relationships, and the world community.For conservatives, democracy is about liberty, individual responsibility, and self-reliance -- the freedom to seek one's self-interest with minimal or even no commitment to the interests of others. This implies a minimal public system and a maximal private system. It is assumed that it is natural and moral to seek one's own self-interest, that it is natural to compete when there are scarce resources, that it takes discipline to succeed in a competitive world, and that there should be no interference with such a natural mode of life, especially from government. What makes society possible are laws and moral standards, which should be followed strictly. The good things in society are provided by private individuals and entrepreneurs who are seeking their own interests.
Just in case their readers may not have internalized just how bad we violent misogynist wife beaters are, after several chapters explaining how progressives can craft their language to best promote "The Public," the authors devote an entire section of the book to "The Epidemic of Extreme Conservatism." Yes, you read that right, we're a social disease. Sort of like the kind the Nazis said the Jews were.
Traditional American democracy has brought beauty to the world. The idea of citizens caring about each other and taking responsibility not only for themselves but also for their citizens has a moral beauty. The mission of government to protect and empower all equally through the use of the Public. defined as resources for the betterment of life provided by all, is also beautiful. It has made for civilized and humane private lives and prosperous private enterprise.Extreme conservatism is an opposite view. Its political and social implementation would be a threat to what American democracy has brought us, and it is a threat to humane government everywhere. . . The extreme case has largely, but not entirely, taken over the Republican Party. Extreme conservative positions are now virtually required of all serious Republican candidates and of all commentators on FOX News, conservative talk radio, and other conservative media. And extreme conservatives have tilted our public discourse in an extreme conservative direction. The use of extreme conservative language activates conservative moral cascades in the brains of listeners, and as a result conservative circuitry is strengthened and liberal circuitry is weakened.What we are trying to achieve with this book is a neural alternative that is open to important truths: the central role of the Public in American life, the overwhelming power of corporations in our public life, the predatory nature of privatization, the disastrous reality of humanly caused global warming, and the powerfully negative effect of extreme conservative policies on women's lives.Extreme conservative discourse is taken as neutral in the absence of a progressive alternative, but it is anything but neutral. It is dangerous, and it hides truths that are crucial to human well-being, not only in America but throughout the world.We have chosen the word epidemic in this section's title advisedly. The effects of extreme conservative public discourse over decades, but especially within the past decade, is right now having disastrous effects. It shows up in America in the nasty political rift in Congress and in state legislatures, where moral complexity is no longer allowed. It shows up in decision like Citizens United, which allowed unlimited corporate funding to enter U.S. political races. And it shows up in other legislation and court decisions, either passed (sic) or pending, that undermine the most basic aspect of American democracy: the idea of the Public as the means to carry out the care that citizens show for one another. In short, it shows up in legislation that takes away human rights and dignity, in court decisions that allow corporate takeover of public life, and in the use of corporate funds to corrupt the political process.The spread of extreme conservatism must be stopped, and to be stopped it must be diagnosed. -- TLBB, pp. 47-49
Again with the disease model. The authors go on to identify "The Four Effects of Extreme Conservatism."
The Effect on DemocracyExtreme conservatism inflicts its damage in multiple venues: it chips away at democracy and the Public; it poisons the human spirit; and in the world community, it contributes to human agony and damages both America's standing in the world and America's friendships with other nations. Extreme conservatism is not merely about abortion, the size of government, or gun control. Extreme conservatism is an all-encompassing worldview, and its adherents want to bring into its compass the lives of every citizen.The consequence is intransigence, a refusal to compromise, a high level of aggression toward other moral views, and the ambition of total control by the ideology itself. (MBV note: Shucks, and here I just thought we wanted to be left alone by these nanny-state tyrants.) This intransigence showed up in the 2010 House of Representatives, controlled by extreme conservatives, who have refused to compromise with President Obama. Not only does their moral system not allow compromise, but extreme conservatives believe that if this intransigence leads to a nonfunctioning government, so much the better, since that would prove that government doesn't work. And if that leads to a failure to fund ongoing social programs, so much the better, since those programs need to go.Extreme conservatism's all-encompassing nature and ambition are usually hidden from view. Much of its work is done in think tanks, which are tasked to come up with strategic initiatives to take control of major areas of public life. . . At the same time, conservative communication experts find language for those initiatives that seems simple and intuitive but hides the major effect of the issue on American democracy and the public . . . Democracy is not just about government; it is about all areas of life: family, religion, education, and business. When extreme strict father values are imposed, extreme conservatism comes to run institutions of all sorts, including the following:Family: As we have seen, extreme strict father parenting is often destructive and abusive. Children in such situations, if they do not rebel, often grow up reproducing authoritarian family life and imposing it in other areas of their lives. Women who are natural nurturers may have a hard time speaking up when disagreeing in important matters.Religion: Extreme forms of conservative religion, whether Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, have authoritarian organizational structures . . .Education: Extreme conservatism can occur in the classroom. . . Teaching is spoon-feeding: students are not taught how to think critically or how to think for themselves, but are taught to recite the right answers without questioning the teacher.Business: Extreme conservatism is common in many areas of business. There is a boss, and you do what he or she tells you to do. Employees hold no voting rights in company decisions, including decisions that affect them and where they are more knowledgeable than their bosses. Unions are discouraged or forbidden.Government: When a government comes under extreme conservative control, democracy goes out the window. For example, under George W. Bush, publicly questioning presidential decisions became an unpatriotic act. Informational websites were changed to fit conservative orthodoxy. Government regulation of private industry was not funded and there were fewer regulators. The nation started a war on false premises because it fit conservative ideology. Civil liberties were suspended under the Patriot Act. Energy policy was decided in secret. And so on.Democracy in the American tradition operates with the honestly informed consent of the governed. Discussion of alternative viewpoints is not merely tolerated but sought. Unilateral decisions made behind closed doors are appropriately perceived as undemocratic. Democracy is not alive if it does not exist throughout society. The encroachment of extreme conservatism is various domains is therefore a threat to democracy.The Effect on the PublicExtreme conservatives ciew democracy as providing the liberty to pursue one's self-interest without commitment to the interests of others. When they speak of "small government" and "spending," they are really talking about their deep antagonism toward the Public, toward the use of government to protect and empower all citizens equally by providing public resources. This includes all aspects of the Public: infrastructure, education, health, the economy, and the environment. All the public resources that allow for maximizing a decent life and prosperity for all our citizens are threatened by extreme conservatism.The Effect on the Human Spirit.By the human spirit we mean those positive aspects of humanity that people show toward one another: empathy, respect, generosity, connection, emotional bonding, and identifying with the other. These elements require a sense of equality and a demand for human rights and justice in all domains of life, especially social and economic justice. Extreme conservative righteousness leads to conflict, not cooperation; to fear, not hope; to aggression, not mutual respect; and to suspicion, not trust.The Effect on the World Community. . . Extreme conservatives want to withdraw from the United Nations because they see the United States as superior to other nations and believe that it should not be judged by them. They will not allow the United States to be subject to the World Court or allow U.S. troops to be under the control of international commanders. In many cases, extreme conservatives refuse to support humanitarian causes. Indeed they have largely been against supporting humanistic agencies like UNESCO. They have also been against the United States abiding by international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. And they have largely been against nuclear disarmament. This follows from the strict father model applied to the family of nations. The United States is seen as the strict father who cannot allow anyone to a higher authority. Strict father values must guide the family as whole, and so conservative values must guide the family of nations. -- TLBB, pp. 53-58.
That's some sort of social disease we are to these people. From here to strategies to eradicate us cannot be that far behind.
Part III is entitled "Ideas We Need." It includes the following chapters: Maintaining Democracy; The Public; The Shift From Public to Corporate Government; Corporations Govern Your Life; Predatory Privatization; Workers Are Profit Creators; Public Education Benefits All and Protects Freedom; Rethinking Food; Systemic Effects in Nature and Economics; and An Infrastructure for Eternal Energy. Each describes the problems with progressive messaging and suggests "Here is What to Say" at the end of each.
Part IV is "A Phrasebook for Democrats," which is designed to get progressive communicators speaking in their own language and terms rather than "extreme conservatives."
Chairman Mao would be proud of the authors of TLBB. The old propagandist and mass murderer would understand such an American blueprint for collectivist communications. This is a dangerous book, a self-revelatory book. But as Ho Chi Minh once said, "Cherish your enemies, they teach you the best lessons." This is no more true than in Fourth Generation Warfare. And a weapon, even one such as The Little Blue Book, can be picked up and used by either side.