It's official, Dissent is a Mental Illness

If you obsess with or consider stalking political celebrities, personally I think your fixations and potential actions are both ill-advised and in all likelihood counterproductive. Politicians not only thrive on publicity, the media would be quick to whip up a frenzy of hysteria should anyone attempt to threaten their life. An assassination attempt represents a huge a public relations coup for an unpopular member of the ruling elite. Admittedly some milder comical forms of stalking such as egg-throwing or carefully engineered stunts may, if reported accurately in the media, raise awareness of a dissident cause. After all to the best of my knowledge no politicians have ever died of custard pies or eggs being splattered all over their tailor-made suits. The trouble is these days politicians are just unthinking celebs, whose very rise to power depends on the approval of media moguls. A protest may be perfectly justified on a moral plane, but Sun readers will either be none the wiser or will be led to consider the protest as the antics of mentally deranged extremists.

Having instilled in the public mind that all sorts of inappropriate or nonconformist behaviours are caused by genetically determined mental disorders, often marketed as differences with benefits as well as downsides, diagnosing dissent as a mental disorder is the next logical step. According to an article, "Blair's secret stalker squad" penned by Jason Lewis, in the left's favourite bete noire, the Daily Mail, the government already employs psychiatrists to identify potential troublemakers. This is no longer wild conspiracy-theory territory, it's reality. However, it is true that psychological profiling can identify those most likely to channel their powers of critical thinking into active opposition to the agenda of the ruling elite. However, they merely identify people whose critical faculties have remained both intact and focussed on the misdemeanours of their own bosses, rather than on their bosses' enemies. A conformist in Stalin-era Russia would be a loyal Communist Party member happily spying on traitors and evil revisionists. The same mindset translated and adapted to the UK in the early 21st century would use her or his soft skills to identify extremists, conspiracy theorists and mavericks who might become enemies, as they see it, of our wondefully tolerant, dynamic and fun-loving democratic civilisation. Progress towards a neoliberal panacea of all-night smokefree raves and wheelchair-friendly casinos, conveniently located next to your local hypermarket, seems on par with the sales drive of your employer in the insurance business.

Notice how the British media have long described the last few remaining critical thinking politicians as mavericks, a term never used for politicians who toe the corporate or party line. Some even wonder why all dissidents are coincidentally mavericks. "Sure", some think, "I agree with much of what George Galloway/Tony Benn/Michael Meacher says, but he's just a maverick". Sooner or later the Guardian or Independent will do the nasty on any articulate person in the public eye who oversteps the margins of permissible dissent. Maybe this is one reason why so many otherwise rational commentators such as George Monbiot go out of the way to distance themselves from conspiracy theorists who fail to believe the official 9/11 story. Now I've met some of the assorted types who regularly attend 9/11 Truth group meetings. These events attract a fair number of individuals who would meet a psychiatrist's criteria for a pervasive personality disorder. Put simply your average happy-go-lucky working person, immersed in pervasive entertainment culture and preoccupied with their career and family (or whatever passes for a family these days), simply doesn't have time to consider the musings of fringe groups. They're more likely to settle for the conclusions of respected left-leaning commentators like George Monbiot, than actually think for themselves. What matters more is the calibre and prestige of opinion leaders. Read the moderated postings in the BBC's Have your Say forum or even musings in the Medialens forum and you'll soon notice the omnipresence of name-dropping and references to authoritative sources such as the BBC itself. Indeed some people in the UK refuse to believe anything until it's on Aunty Beeb (an affectionate, but often satirical nickname for the state broadcasting corporation). The Beeb is, of course, a massive organisation employing thousands of journalists and producers, many keen to investigate all sides of a story. Nonetheless some good stuff does seep through. BBC documentaries have revealed the side effects of antidepressants (Panorama on Seroxat) or in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq BBC 2 aired a documentary highlighting the role that oil plays in US administration's Mideast policy. But these tend to be the exception rather than the rule, and serve to reassure us, or the critically thinking minority among us, that Aunty Beeb remains a bastion of objectivity. This is the same BBC that consistently refers to the United States as a democracy and regularly talks of Anglo-American plans to extend democracy to Iraq, all without addressing the key issue of control of the country's oil.

Apparently some self-righteous left-leaning opinion leaders suffer a similar delusion, basically truth emerges from a consensus of high-profile experts given access to the BBC, CNN and a handful of other media outlets in the Anglosphere.

So who is more deluded? Those who challenge orthodoxy or those who swallow mainstream propaganda hook, line and sinker? In my humble opinion it is plainly naive to base your assessment of reality on the official or counter-current cult status of those advocating a position. Something is not true because MS-NBC has just aired a documentary debunking the controlled demolition theory for the vertical collapse of the World Trade Center, any more than it's true because Loose Change has some convincing video clips and David Ray Griffin seems an honest guy. What matters is evidence. If the evidence in favour of the official theory were so overwhelming, why would they seek to deny public access to so much incriminating evidence? Apart from applying one's understanding of science and politics, how can millions of mortal souls distinguish fact from fiction? While the motives of mainstream propagandists are clear, those of the 9/11 Truth movement are much less so? Some have suggested the whole conspiracy theory cult is a gigantic diversion from the real issues bedevilling humanity, such as resource depletion, nuclear war and climate change. Others view government complicity in acts of sabotage and psychological terrorism as crucial signs of a civilisation on the brink.

This morning (03/06/2007), the Aunty Beeb's news site leads on PM in Waiting Gordon Brown's support for even tougher anti-terrorism legislation, presented at a stage-managed conference in Glasgow with wonderful reassurances about checks and balances to safeguard civil liberties. Let's get this whole terrorism scare-mongering into perspective. The UK's capital attracts billions from global money laundering with sky-rocketing property prices requiring couples to earn jointly 75,000 just to buy a very humble modest 3-bedroom rabbit hutch, overcrowded transport infrastructure grinding to a halt with tube passengers packed like sardines and literally suffocating in each other's sweat and a huge influx of cheap labour and a steady outflow of native Londoners. To me, this would seem a recipe for disaster, easily exploited by gangsters, criminals and even would-be terrorists with an axe to grind against the financial or military elites. Yet unsurprisingly most residents of the sprawling metropolis are too busy competing in the rat race or coping with the sheer humiliation of not living up to the material and aesthetic expectations set by media role models, to even consider fighting the system. If Brown really cared about the safety of ordinary citizens, he might start by bringing in more socio-economic stability and thus defuse a state of of constant tension that his dynamic consumer-led economic model has instilled in us and simultaneously withdraw British forces from foreign ventures. Instead we get more of the same and worse and anyone who disagrees is labelled paranoid. The message is loud and clear. If you suspect the ruling elite may have it in for you, seek therapy, forget about your misgivings and return to your assigned role as a lowly parrot.

Author: 
Neil Gardner
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