Maintaining the status quo is an increasingly difficult job. A more informed global public now means that selling war, lying in the media and justifying crony capitalism is met with understandable disdain.
This is a problem for the establishment and the propagandists who work on its behalf.
For propaganda to work, you need people to forget about the last fabrication and quickly move on to the next lie. But what if events begin to overtake official narratives? What if the centre really isn’t holding? What if most people increasingly know that they are being duped? What if we are entering into a period that can be now described as The Quickening?
Writer and retired businessman, Mark Brooks, met up with Renegade Inc. to discuss these ideas.
For Brooks, The Quickening refers to a process that describes the impending economic disaster, a metaphor for which is an always occurring avalanche attributable to a last snowflake:
“Well I suppose it’s summed up best”, says Brooks, “by the old joke of how did you go bankrupt? And the answer is very slowly then all at once. So something like the 2008 financial crash, for example, appeared to come out of the blue. But of course the things that led up to that were going on for a long time.”
The irony of the situation is not lost on Brooks:
“Of course most people going to work, busy with their own lives, just see what’s happening on the surface. So they see that the final bit of it. But actually, if you look at what’s happening now – financially, politically and also morally – I would argue this system is collapsing”, he says.
It’s the factors that underpin the system that Brooks is concerned with:
“I question everything. I used to read and comment at the FT – and I’d be reading something else that wouldn’t gel with this at all so I would respond and say, “Well how about this? There was a lot of people there who felt similar to the way that I felt but if you pop your head above the parapet the mainstream just comes in and says, “This is rubbish.”
Brooks rejects the conspiracy theorist epithet that the above argument implies:
“There’s stuff that the government doesn’t want you to know about. There’s more than one person involved in not wanting you to know about it therefore it’s a conspiracy. They’re not going to say to you, “Oh we want to start a war in Vietnam,” so what we’ll do is we’ll just tell this guy on the boat that he’s been fired at and the captain will say, “Well there’s nobody here.” They’re not going to say, “We did that.” They’re not going to say, “We set up a false flag.”
In order to emphasize his point further, Brooks also highlighted a recently leaked OPCW report. The said report written by an OPCW engineer contradicted the chemical watchdog’s official findings in relation to an alleged April 2018 chemical weapons incident in Douma, Syria. The leaked report which Brooks says exposes the “glaring holes” in the OPCWs official line raises questions about political pressure applied by the US, UK and France on the UN body. In Brook’s view, this does not amount to a conspiracy theory but is about the intention of the establishment to prevent inconvenient truths emerging in the public domain.
Brook’s work, in other words, frequently focuses on the kinds of gaps between the official narrative and the reality on the ground. This is no better exemplified than the Iraq-WMD debacle:
“We had Iraq and people said this whole thing about weapons of mass destruction is rubbish. People knew it was rubbish….The journalists look at a situation like Iraq and they call it a mistake. But I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Blair knew [and] Bush knew [that there were no weapons of mass destruction]. And if they had released those phone calls that the inquiry refused to release we would find out that they knew. Which is why they closed down the weapons inspectors inquiry”, says Brooks.
The writer and former businessman highlights the pathology that underlies this kind of behaviour:
“Wars don’t happen overnight. They’re carefully planned. That was planned months, probably years, in advance. So it was inconvenient when the weapons inspectors came along and said, ‘No, I’m sorry there are no weapons of mass destruction’ but they did it anyway.”
The said pathology has its basis in the neocon strategic foreign policy of Full Spectrum Dominance defined by the US Department of Defense as “the cumulative effect of [US] dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment, which includes cyberspace, that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.”
The FSD policy discourse was laid out in the Project For The New American Century launched in 1997 by William Kristol, editor of the neoconservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, owned by Rupert Murdoch. Its aim, as outlined in its founding statement, is about shaping the world for the next hundred years according to the interests and values of American free market capitalism.
The logical corollary to the notion of Full Spectrum Dominance, that aligns with Brook’s The Quickening thesis, is the concept of eternal war:
“Forever war”, says Brooks, “suits the weapons manufacturers, it suits the banks, it suits the neo conservatives who have a very blinkered approach. They want a unipolar situation. This is where politics and economics come together.”
“If you look at monetary system, money is created from nothing and it’s created as credit, as debt. Consequently, because it’s debt we have to keep printing more to pay the debt but the people at the bottom of the pyramid are soaked. They can’t borrow any more. So it’s a huge Ponzi scheme. Now sooner or later it’s going to collapse. Alongside that, you’ve got a military industrial complex which, you know, they get paid per bomb. You have to have a demand for bombs so you have a war and that’s what’s going on.”
Brooks also acknowledges that the media play a crucial role in helping sustain this unholy alliance:
“The way I look at it, there’s three sections of [journalists], says Brooks – “there’s young rookies who don’t really know what’s going on, then you’ve got people who are scared and you’ve got people who are bought and you’ve got people who are ideologues. The thing that keeps it stuck in place is that your average person does not want to believe that their government can be that evil…Nobody wants to believe their political leaders are liars.”
However, Brooks believes that technology which enables people to access alternative forms of information that reject the establishment narrative implicit to full spectrum dominance, is leading to change.
Ultimately, political and monetary capital rely on trust. When that trust breaks down so does the credibility of an establishment and, with it, an entire house of cards built on foundations of sand sustained by a narrative of deceptions and lies.
“The day you look at your £10 note and you think that’s not worth anything, is the day that it collapses. It’s all built on trust, on confidence. When that confidence erodes the system starts to wobble. So it’s wobbling monetarily, it’s wobbling because America can’t get its own way”, says Brooks, who further illustrates his point with reference to Iran:
“John Bolton wants a war on Iran – there’s no secret about this. If you watch the guy’s speeches he says things at the end of conferences like, ‘I’m sure this time next year we’ll all be in Tehran celebrating.’ He wanted a war in Iraq, he wanted a war in Libya. There’s never been a war that he hasn’t wanted. This is the guy who dodged the draft because he didn’t want to die in a Southeast Asian paddy field, who’s very happy to send other young men and women to go off and do the killing and the dying. The hypocrisy and the lies in the system is rampant”, says Brooks.
The extent to which public consciousness has shifted to levels sufficient enough to bring down an existing system predicated on hypocrisy and lies, is unclear. But, as Brooks says, “when it goes it will go very quickly. It’s unsustainable. When you’ve got a monetary system that requires constant debt to keep going and you’ve got a political system that requires constant war in order to keep itself in place, it has to collapse and it will collapse. Rome collapsed. The Soviet Union collapsed. And psychologically they all collapse in the same way.”
“There’s this huge denial and the politicians do crazier and crazier things. Media like The Guardian are in denial over Syria, they’re in denial over Julian Assange and they blindly accept that Assad has gassed his people. The Syrian Arab army are on the verge of ridding al-Qaeda and all the other alphabet terrorist groups that we have there – they’re on the verge of a major victory. The only thing that can stop that is a massive intervention from the Americans. So I’m Assad and I’m sitting there one day and I think, I’m on the verge of this victory. I know. I’ll gas my own people. I don’t need to do that but I’ll gas them anyway because that way the Americans will bomb us and that’ll be great. The media don’t think, they don’t challenge, they won’t tell the truth.”
The nature of the reality of war is a case in point. Young people denied mental health treatment, who are barely able to function, have killed themselves shortly before being deployed to Iraq. “We’ve got John Bolton who dodged Vietnam before confessing that he didn’t want to die in a Southeast Asian paddy field. Bill Kristol and other neocons are gung ho for war and these draft dodgers are sending kids off to go through that”, says Brooks.
This kind of ‘chicken hawk’ autocratic mentality is often justified by the powerful on the premise that they have a god given right to act in this way on the basis of what they perceive to be the ‘greater good’. Brooks argues that it is the media who are mainly responsible for this state of affairs because they perpetuate a fabrication:
“The responsibility of what used to be called the Fourth Estate, is to speak truth to power. “
“The Guardian’s idea of speaking truth to power is speaking truth to Putin, regurgitating what the government says to Putin but that’s not the power they need to be challenging, they need to be challenging their own governments”, says Brooks.
The writer pin-points the reasons why the media has lost its way:
“I think CNN is bought and paid for. The Times is bought and paid for – it regurgitates whatever Murdoch wants. The Guardian was a busted flush when they wouldn’t print Pilger anymore. John Pilger is unwanted at The Guardian. They won’t touch him. Now he’s a real journalist in the sense of the definition of the Fourth Estate – he speaks truth to power, he speaks truth to his own side. So they won’t print him because they know he’s going to question the Syria narrative, he’s going to question what they’re saying about Russia, Iraq, wherever the West is meddling he’s going to question it.”
“I think only partially tongue in cheek – they work for MI5 & MI6. They never question anything that emanates from our security services… I mean these are spies, they are paid to lie about stuff but our newspapers present it in such a way as you’re supposed to believe Russian spies lie and our spies tell the truth. Right.”
Brooks sees hope for the future in the form of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement:
“That’s fantastic. And it would be even more fantastic if the BBC or our media covered it. But that is fantastic because they’re not all the same political persuasion. They’re different ages. You’ve got kids. There’s different cultures, there’s different nationalities involved. You’ve got the old people who can’t go on the marches so they camp on the roundabouts. So yeah. It’s fantastic. I mean there’s a list of things that they’ve said this is what they want but essentially this is a backlash and it’s not surprising that it’s happened in France. I can remember Paris in 68 when the students came out and said, ‘No, Vietnam is wrong.’ And I think there is a spiritual awakening because this is people saying, ‘No we’re not going to take this lying down.’
The said awakening embodies an understanding of the systemic, structural issues at play – a feature, for example, that Marxist economics professor, Richard Wolff acknowledged –is often missing in a country like the United States.
However, at the point at which fundamental awakenings do gather pace, is correspondingly, the point at which the establishment tends to double down. In the view of Brooks, this takes the form of an increase in the use of control mechanisms:
“So we see in France at the moment, the police are more brutal. There are a lot of people that have lost limbs and eyes and been very severely damaged. We don’t see that on the news but that’s happening. People want the truth. People are sick of being lied to”, says Brooks.
The writer and former businessman likens capitalism to a disease:
“As Richard Wolff says, it’s a systemic thing where you’ve got a monetary system that’s geared for the banks and for corporates. That’s what we might call capitalism. Then you’ve got a military-industrial complex that needs war. Then you’ve got the third leg of the stool – politicians who are bought by one and two. Then a media that is complicit with all three of them. You could call that crony capitalism, you could just call it capitalism. That is the thing that’s going to collapse.”
Brooks predicts that the said collapse will morph into something else akin to the story of The Emperors New Clothes – a narrative that ultimately draws parallels with Brook’s The Quickening concept:
“There’s a dynamic involved here”, says Brooks. “In that story, everybody in the crowd knew that the emperor was naked but it took a little boy or little girl – I can’t remember which – to say, ‘Why has he got no clothes on?’ After the initial attempt to hush it down, everybody went, ‘Yeah, he’s got no clothes on’. So I think it happens at the crowd level but also at the level of the individual. Eventually, it becomes something called common knowledge, i.e I know that you know that I know.”
Given that the logical extension of such a notion is the recognition that in order to address the problem you first have to identify the factors that cause it, “The Quickening”, says Brooks, “is a piece about hope.”
“Having identified the problem”, says Brooks, “we can sit down and we can say, ‘Right. Okay. How do we want this to be? How do we want to conduct our foreign relations? How do we want to do our banking?’ There has to be a period where we sit down as a society and say, ‘What do we want.’ At that point though the people – the powers that be – to use that old cliché – are going to have a very strong idea of how they want it to be. They don’t want you having an opinion that’s different because when you’re sitting at the top of the pyramid and you control governments, the finances and what the population thinks about some guy in Libya, you’re not just going to give that up.”
In other words, in Brook’s view, power is never given it’s always taken.
The problem in relation to who takes power for the next cycle after the dust has settled following the collapse of the existing system, stems from the current democratic deficit, which as Brooks acknowledges, is “driven by a hidden agenda”:
“You can’t have a conversation about the truth when all you’re dealing with is lies”, says Brooks. The writer points to the example of the treatment meted out to Julian Assange:
“There is a majority of the people in this country who if they were aware of it and engaged with it would be absolutely appalled by what the government is doing to Julian Assange. They’ve locked him up in Belmarsh prison – our Guantanamo Bay – which is full of murderers, rapists and terrorists. They’ve denied him medical attention. You’ve got the newspaper saying, ‘We’ll send him to Sweden, ship the problem over there.’
“Essentially what’s going on is he’s upset the American government telling the truth about their war crimes. That’s the beginning, the middle and the end of what’s going on here. I agree with what Pilger says about him that he is a journalist who – in fact, you don’t even need to call him a journalist – he’s a human being who has made a personal stance and he has said, ‘This should not be happening. It’s happening because nobody knows about it and the only way to stop it is to actually publish it and be transparent about it.’ So he’s doing mankind a great service.”
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