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Issue #1722      March 9, 2016

Culture & Life

Disinformation – you think?

To state the bleeding obvious, the basis of capitalism is exploitation. Workers are paid less than the actual value of their labour, their working conditions are constantly under attack, they live under conditions of perennial insecurity afflicted by gross inequality, graft and corruption flourish and war has become the norm.

Refugees line up at a port of the Greek island of Lesbos.

Considered objectively, the great majority of people receive little or no benefit from such a system. It is designed to favour a privileged few and that is precisely what it does. From the point of view of the privileged minority, it is a very successful system. However, for everybody else, it basically sucks.

That privileged few, however, holds the power under capitalism, so they control the system to suit themselves. They also control the way the system is depicted and presented, a factor which has become increasingly important as propaganda and agitation has become more sophisticated and scientifically targeted. The role and power of the mass media has been extensively researched by capitalism, which has incorporated these powerful tools into its arsenal.

Riddled as it is with inequality and general unfairness, it is hardly surprising that capitalism has always gone hand in hand with lies. Capitalists have called for “improved relations” between countries even as they have launched bids to take over those countries and loot their resources. And in the course of lining their pockets, capitalists have refined the art of being selective with the truth. In fact they have elevated lying to a whole new level called “disinformation”, a concerted deliberate policy of well-organised false or misleading information.

This is not a new development of capitalism. During the Russo-Finnish War of 1940, when British imperialism was determinedly trying to start a war with the Soviet Union, the world’s capitalist press was awash with hair-raising “eye witness” accounts of Russian military disasters written by correspondents who weren’t even in the same country as the conflict they were supposedly reporting.

And let us not forget the notorious and totally phoney “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” that was invented by US imperialism in 1964 to justify the escalation of the war in Vietnam, or the equally bogus plight of supposedly endangered “American medical students” that was used as a pretext for invading Grenada in 1983. When US and German imperialism set out to invade and break up Yugoslavia in 1999, they first organised and abetted disruption between ethnic minorities then launched the lie of “ethnic cleansing” to justify their aggression.

Four years later, the governments of Britain and the USA were loudly trumpeting the lie that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that necessitated an immediate invasion. The people of Iraq have suffered through a nightmare ever since.

The same process is being repeated today in Syria, where US efforts to overthrow the elected government of Bassar Al Assad mean that all anti-Assad fabrications are reported as unquestioned fact whereas accounts of the Syrian Army’s successes against the IS terrorists are ignored or turned on their head as evidence of Assad-government “atrocities”.

Part of Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, was captured by “rebels” in 2012. These heavily armed “rebels” included Turkish, Saudi and US “special forces” augmented by Jihadists recruited by religious fanatics from as far afield as Chechnya and Australia. Three years later, with the city largely destroyed, the “rebels” are finally being defeated by the Syrian Army supported by Russian air power.

However, instead of celebrating the imminent liberation of Aleppo from the besieging terrorists, the line being pedalled in the capitalist media is that the city is “under attack” by the Assad government which is supposedly “barrel bombing” its own people. Any lie will do as long as it furthers the interests of imperialism.

Take the widely circulated stories of mass starvation in the Syrian town of Madaya, about 25 miles north-west of the capital Damascus. The stories are very reminiscent of the equally colourful tales of mass starvation in North Korea. And like the Korean fabrications they too were accompanied by an array of doctored photographs of “starving” people. Unfortunately for the US propagandists involved in this stunt, the supposedly starving young girl in Madaya turned out to be from the city of Tayr Filsey in south Lebanon. Her name is Mariana Mazeh, and she went on YouTube to refute the story that she was from Madaya. She wasn’t starving either.

In fact, the Syrian government has been supplying food to Madaya, but the armed “rebel” groups developed the practice of looting the convoys bringing food to the town and then selling it to the inhabitants at exorbitant prices. In this way they not only gained political leverage but also supplemented their funds.

As we have said, capitalism is not at all averse to using lies to further its ends. In fact, lies are much more convenient than actual facts, which usually need distorting or twisting before they can be used in the interests of imperialism. One has to wonder, however, at the morality of the legion of bright young people imperialism employs to dream up and circulate the ingenious propaganda that flows from its rumour mills. They know that what they are writing is phoney baloney, but they disseminate it anyway.

Apparently, they are persuaded that they are lying in a good cause, and that the ends justify the means. Just how they reconcile that with the fact that 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict so far and nine million have had to flee from the Islamic State terrorist outfit is anyone’s guess.

Significantly, the Syrian ceasefire hammered out between the Russian and US foreign ministers was immediately rejected by the US creation, the so-called “Free Syrian Army” which is dependent on US support for its very existence. That the FSA could reject a US-brokered cease-fire with impunity is preposterous.

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