CONSTRUCTED REALITY: WHAT’S ‘REAL’ NOWADAYS?

[Originally written on the 8th October 2014]

 

The advent of New Media technologies has opened up a hitherto unknown potential for interactive Human communication. Notwithstanding the fact that, currently, the majority of people on this planet do not have meaningful if any access to these technologies, the potential for a future in which Humanity can more freely interact nevertheless remains.

However, such an exciting and liberated future could easily remain a mirage. Without more than just these technologies to bring it, it surely will.

The purpose of this essay is to address the notion of ‘constructed reality’ – which of course must address the construction of the perception of reality. I will be defending a thesis which maintains that the ability of New Media to enable an increasing number of people to play a meaningful role in ‘constructing reality’ will be squandered if not destroyed unless the nature of our current political reality is better understood and consequently dealt with.

 

operation_mockingbird

 

In its simplest terms reality is what actually is. This can be – and often is – at significant odds to how we perceive what actually is. As an example, we may perceive a ‘friend’ on a social media site such as Facebook, and someone we haven’t actually met, to be an actual friend – someone we can trust. We may perceive them in this way for many reasons such as the friendly nature of comments we’ve exchanged with them; the appealing nature of their avatar or other graphical depictions on their page; various memes they’ve shared which resonate with us; or the fact that they’ve ‘defended’ us in hostile comment exchanges with third parties. All of this may convince us that they’re trustworthy enough to share some personal information with, which we then do. Then – they use this information against us in some way. Brad Warren (2012, p. 147) provides a realistic (if fictional) example of this in the context of web-based scams, and then goes on to explain (p. 148) that such scams prey ‘…on the vulnerable, seeking people willing to hope…’. Of course, it’s important to point out that this basic dynamic isn’t even remotely unique to New Media platforms. Indeed, it is doubtful that there are many people who, in a standard interpersonal context, haven’t had their trust betrayed in somewhat similar ways. The point here is that conduct of a manipulative nature relies for its efficacy on the psychological vulnerabilities and proclivities of the target. As such conduct necessarily works to the detriment of the target, it follows that those who engage in it are engaging in a form of psychological warfare which can only be successful if the target’s perception of what actually is diverges significantly from what actually is.

From all of this, we can begin to see what the notion of ‘constructed reality’ is truly about. In the above Facebook example, our ‘friend’ has constructed actual things – comments, graphics, memes, etc. – which serve to convince us that they’re trustworthy. We then actually impart our personal information to them – that is, we construct a condition whereby we’ve left ourselves vulnerable (as nobody else can). In other words, both we and our Facebook ‘friend’ have mutually constructed a reality in which we’ve acted against our own interest while perceiving the exact opposite. It’s important to point out at this juncture that the notion of constructed reality need not imply malicious deception and manipulation. What is important for the purposes of this discussion is the acknowledgement that when we allow others to play a significant role in determining the nature of our perception of reality, we leave ourselves open to constructing reality on behalf of those others rather than on behalf of ourselves.

 

In his multipart series which provides an analysis of psychological warfare, social scientist Dr. Francisco Gil-White (5th February 2014, P1) drawing on the work of historian Christopher Simpson (1994), demonstrates how the US Power Elite in the post WW2 era utilised the psychological warfare establishment to corrupt academia by creating a ‘communication research’ infrastructure. This infrastructure was utilised to train those who would go on to work in such fields as journalism, advertising, and public relations. The practical effect of all this was the creation of a media superstructure which deploys ‘psychological weapons’ against an unsuspecting public – and all this with many or even most of those working for it doing so quite innocently. All of this may sound quite ominous and overpowering, however it need not, as the path to defeating an attacker begins with knowing One is being attacked and then understanding the nature of the attack.

Gil-White goes a long way in doing this (5th February 2014, P2) by explaining that psychological warfare relies on grammatical rules for its efficacy. By providing examples from English sentence construction and from the culture of Mongolian nomads whom he studied, he provides us with the lesson ‘That every domain of behavior, in every culture, has a grammar: a set of rules, explicit or implicit, to specify ‘well-formed’ or ‘correct’ or grammatical behavior…’. Drawing on Mike Rapport’s (2008) history of the European revolutions of 1848, Gil-White maintains that one of the results of those revolutions – which were inspired by Enlightenment values – is that Western political grammar was substantially altered. Western Power Elites have been somewhat constrained by the change to a ‘left-liberal’ political grammar – that is, as at no other time in history, Power Elites must at least pay lip service to Enlightenment values. I observe at this juncture that Gil-White’s political grammar hypothesis, as well as explaining much about political and media behaviour, could likely play a role in demystifying the seemingly paradoxical collusion between the Military-Industrial-Complex and ‘1960s anarchic communalists’ to effectively create the kind of New Media cyberculture we enjoy today (Turner, 2006).

In order for a tyrannical Power Elite to give effect to policies which a public operating pursuant to a ‘left-liberal’ political grammar would normally oppose, it is necessary to construct in the minds of that public a misapprehension of what actually is, in order that said public be motivated to construct the reality which said Power Elite require. As Gil-White puts it ‘People want to defend their modern rights and liberties? Let them, says the elite psychological (or political) warrior; we’ll just feed them a false picture of reality. Their natural allies will appear as monsters to be slayed, and the monsters will seem victims in need. In this way, Westerners will destroy their democratic system while believing they defend it.'(5th February 2014, P2).

Fortunately, what may appear to be a bleak situation is not irretrievably dire. Far from it. In his concluding statements to this part of his analysis, Gil-White declares ‘Is this all hopeless? No. The dominant political grammar is still the one forged in 1848—it belongs to the people. The power elites are playing in our field.’

 

Can the advent of New Media technologies aid ordinary people in the fight to prevent the imposition of the misanthropic agendas of the Power Elite? Yes, however such technologies represent a tool, not a solution per se – more is needed.

The Power Elite – or at least, major factions of it – are quite identifiable. Professor Antony Sutton (1925 – 2002) produced an enormous body of work which documented that the major geopolitical forces of the 20th century such as Nazism, Bolshevism and Soviet Communism, were actually sponsored by the same entities which dominate the Western bodies politic and economic – that is, the Power Elite. Many others also have documented the existence and agendas of the Power Elite. New Media has enabled this kind of research and analysis to reach a far wider audience than it ever could before, and has enabled a broad spectrum of ordinary people to contribute to it as never before, leading to the proliferation of conspiracy cultures across the internet. The basic reason for this is that the Power Elite – a small group whose agendas are ungrammatical to most people, and thus must keep their agendas relatively secreted – must quite naturally conspire, thus any analysis of their agendas will quite naturally reflect this.

The scholarly books and articles I have read (Aupers, 2012; Knight,2000; Locke, 2009; Sommers, 2011) which analyse conspiracy culture, while providing interesting insights, are limited in that they essentially make observations and analyses of the sociological reasons for and impact of conspiracy cultures, and the psychological proclivities of conspiracy theorists. They provide virtually no observations or analyses about the quality of what conspiracy cultures actually produce. Even a relatively sympathetic review limits itself to arguing that ‘…conspiracy culture is a radical and generalized manifestation of distrust…produced by processes of modernization.’ (Aupers, 2012, p.22), rather than considering – for example – the possibility that said distrust is produced by processes of radical and generalised analysis of evidence pertaining to a conspiracy. This is somewhat like – if we use the analogy of a police detective who brings some Mafia members before a Court – focussing on the psychological motives of the detective, rather than on whether or not he has a case. It makes a kind of sense that the better elements of conspiracy cultures – that is, those elements which fulfil the roles of detectives, researchers and analysts with integrity, and who are thus constructing maps of reality – would be largely ignored in this way. For reasons already discussed, the Power Elite have an interest in ensuring that scrutiny of their activities is kept to a minimum. It should therefore come as no surprise that the media superstructure has made efforts to ensure that the term ‘conspiracy theory’ has a pejorative connotation (Gil-White, 4th October 2005). Returning briefly to the above Mafia analogy, considering that the Mafia have been known to have their agents inside police departments for the purposes of sabotaging investigations into them, is it not therefore likely that the Power Elite would have agents working within conspiracy cultures for the purposes of rendering them largely useless as a force for holding the Power Elite accountable? It would seem so. Considering that general public access to New Media technologies represents a potential threat to the perceptions management function of the media superstructure, it would be extraordinary if their wasn’t an effort to sabotage this new investigative utility.

Activist Andrew Johnson has produced a scholarly online book which documents inter alia the ‘…ongoing censorship of Dr Judy Wood’s research’ and expresses the view that ‘It is perhaps impossible to overstate how profound and far-reaching the implications of Dr Wood’s findings truly are.’ (Johnson, 2011, p.2). Dr. Wood is the author of the seminal book Where Did the Towers Go? (2010) – an enormous body of evidence pertaining to the destruction of the World Trade Centre on 9/11 which has yet to be rebutted by any of her detractors. The censorship which Johnson refers to  pertains to the efforts of Wood’s detractors to stifle distribution and discussion of her work, misrepresent it, as well as censor mention of her or her work on Wikipedia (Johnson, 2011, p. 285-287). Significantly, those identified as being responsible for this are leading figures and organisations within the so-called ‘9/11 Truth Movement’ (Sommers, 2011) – a movement which is certainly part of conspiracy culture and which purports to ‘expose the truth about 9/11’ and demand ‘a new investigation’ into the 9/11 attacks. Considering that Wood’s work represents largely what this movement purports to desire, the key agenda of her leading detractors is quite clear. Regardless of all this, thanks to New Media, numerous video presentations and podcast interviews featuring Wood and Johnson are readily available to anyone with access to New Media technologies and the ability to use a search engine, so their work still likely reaches an increasing audience albeit at an attenuated rate.

 

In concluding, I would ask my noble readers to give thought to ways and means by which we can work to improve the quality of user generated content and thus improve the quality of the reality we are constructing together. As we have seen, the dominant constructors of reality have values which are at significant odds with the values most of us possess. While New Media technologies have lessened the power of the media superstructure at least slightly, it is clear that more than the mere proliferation of these technologies is required. It is axiomatic that there is a lot of extremely bad information available on the internet, and that this has real effects in the real World. If all New Media does is merely enable more people to spread more bad information, then it will have failed as a tool for Human liberation. Maybe, some kind of voluntary merit-based system needs to be created – something which can effectively provide an ethical and quality anchor for ‘produsers’. While obviously more thought needs to be given to this, it seems clear that something along these lines needs to be created if we are to create a New Media infrastructure which enables us to construct a reality we can be proud of.

 

WORD COUNT: 2180

 

                  LIST OF REFERENCES

 

Aupers, S. 2012, ‘ ‘Trust no one’: Modernization, paranoia and conspiracy culture’

European Journal of Communication, vol 27, no.1, pp. 22-34.

 

Gil-White, F. 4 October 2005 ‘What is conspiracy theory? Is this website doing it?’

http://www.hirhome.com/conspiracy.htm

 

Gil-White, F. 5 February 2014 (P1) ‘Psychological warfare, communication research, and the media’

http://www.hirhome.com/political_grammar01.htm

 

Gil-White, F. 5 February 2014 (P2) ‘Political grammar : How does psychological warfare work?’

http://www.hirhome.com/political_grammar02.htm

 

Johnson, A. 2011 ‘9/11: Finding the Truth’ 3rd Edition

http://www.checktheevidence.co.uk/pdf/9-11%20-%20Finding%20the%20Truth.pdf

 

Knight, P. 2000 ‘Conspiracy Culture: From Kennedy to the X-Files’

Routledge, London

 

Locke, S. 2009 ‘Conspiracy culture, blame culture, and rationalisation’

The Sociological Review, vol 57, no 4, pp. 567-585.

 

Rapport, M. 2008 ‘1848: Year of Revolution’

Little, Brown Book Group, London

 

Simpson, C. 1994 ‘Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare’

Oxford University Press, New York

 

Sommers, S. 2011 ‘Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies?’

Skeptic Magazine, vol 16, no 2, pp. 13-16.

 

 

Sutton, A. ‘Published Works of ANTONY C SUTTON’

http://www.antonysutton.com/suttonbibliography.html

See also ‘Antony Sutton-1976 Lecture (Full Length)’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEipMmxSlGU

and ‘The Best Enemies Money Can Buy – An Interview with Professor Antony C. Sutton’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSVWXmZB1wc

 

Turner, F. 2006 ‘From Counterculture to Cyberculture’

The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

 

Warren, B. 2012 ‘Constructed Reality: What’s ‘Real’ Nowadays?’ in

Chapter 13 ‘Communication, New Media and Everyday Life’

Oxford University Press, South Melbourne

 

Wood, J. 2010 ‘Where Did the Towers Go? Evidence of Directed Free-Energy Technology on 9/11’

The New Investigation, http://wheredidthetowersgo.com/

See also http://drjudywood.com/

 

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One Response to “CONSTRUCTED REALITY: WHAT’S ‘REAL’ NOWADAYS?”

  1. IDENTIFYING THE CHANGELING: | Changeling9au's Blog Says:

    […] an essay which I penned last year (2014) I posited the notion that New Media technologies have the potential to be a tool for Human […]

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