Category Archives: propaganda

The NHS teddy-bear

Health service agitprop

No good crisis should go to waste, writes Dalrymple, and

the priests of Britain’s secular religion, its highly centralised National Health Service, have not been sitting on their hands.

There has been so much NHS propaganda during the Chinese flu crisis that one might have believed that the propaganda

was under central direction.

The NHS evangelicals deliberately confound the health service bureaucracy with the devotion and skill of doctors and nurses, but of course

they are not the same thing — very far from it.

Emotional kitsch

Our NHS

Dalrymple points out that the propaganda in favour of Britain’s sovietised health service

has been more or less continuous since its foundation in 1948, though it has become shriller as it departs further from reality. The purpose of propaganda is to forestall any examination of reality in favour of simplistic slogans convenient to power.

There is a striking willingness in many of the people who are the objects of the propaganda

to repeat and believe a slogan without any compulsion to do so, and without the slightest inclination to examine its truth — indeed, without any awareness of the need for such an examination.

There was no oppressive force to deter these people from inquiry,

but they preferred the comfort the slogan offered to the effort and possible discomfort of finding the truth. The idea of the NHS played the role of teddy-bear to a population with many anxieties.

People will have experienced deficiencies in the failing service — long waiting times, offhand or disagreeable interactions with the bureaucracy, etc. But

like Russian peasants who believed that the Czar knew nothing of the oppression which they suffered, and would have put an end to it if he had known, the British continued to believe that the NHS had been born with original virtue and that the defects they experienced were exceptions. Repeated scandals of gross neglect or sub-standard treatment were shrugged off.

Dog in the manger

The British, Dalrymple notes,

were inclined to believe that if the NHS was unpleasant to negotiate, at least (being more or less a monopoly) it was equally unpleasant for everyone. Fairness and justice were equated with equal misery.

He explains that

the uncritical national admiration, approaching worship, of the NHS has required the subliminal acceptance of a certain historiography: before the NHS, nothing; after it, everything. Before 1948, the poor received no treatment but were left to fend for themselves when they were sick, and more or less, to die. After 1948, the ever-solicitous state system looked tenderly after the health of the population from cradle to grave.

The NHS has had no egalitarian outcome, rather the opposite,

yet the belief in its levelling effect persists.

The NHS propaganda

has been so successful that it now accords with the sentiments of the population, a triumph that no communist regime achieved despite Herculean efforts at indoctrination. The triumph has been achieved without compulsion or violence, and ought to be an interesting case for political scientists who study the successful inculcation of political mythology.

The curse of communism

Cumberland Clark, writes Dalrymple, was

an early and ferocious critic of communism.

His

Curse of Communism was vastly more perceptive than many an apologia published at the time.

If he harped with uncomfortable insistence on the proportion of early Bolsheviks who were Jewish,

he was right about the new kind of evil that the Bolshevik state represented.

Dalrymple points out that Clark was more prescient about communism than many a celebrated Western intellectual. Clark wrote:

Wherever a dictatorship of the proletariat is set up, there will inevitably be a Tcheka, crushing freedom and happiness and living on terror and death, overriding the workers’ soviets and concentrating power in its own hands.

Cumberland Clark (1862-1941)

Clark was aware, Dalrymple says, of all that Bolshevism from the first instituted, viz.

  • terror
  • mass executions
  • famine
  • wanton destruction
  • lying propaganda
  • tyranny
  • universal spying

Dalrymple notes that Clark was clear on the means by which the Bolsheviks deceived foreign guests, much clearer than many of the guests themselves, then and for many years afterwards. Clark wrote:

They are given a cordial welcome, and special trains, luxurious lodgings, and magnificent banquets are prepared for them. They are conveyed in comfortable motor cars and attended by courteous guides, who act as interpreters. These interpreters . . . are none other than members of the Tcheka, and it is absurd to believe that a Russian would speak of his miseries to a stranger with one of the dreaded Inquisition to translate his complaint. Even were he fool-hardy enough to do so, the translation would bear a very different complexion from the original remark. . . . The Bolshevists have brought the fooling of the Socialist visitors to a fine art.

Dalrymple points to Clark’s descriptions of

the Potemkin institutions that the willingly duped visitor was shown — the technique that I observed in Albania and in North Korea more than sixty years later.

How socialism works

The Left, writes Dalrymple,

is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that will allegedly be called into existence.

Communism was supposed to

usher in an era of such material plenty, spread not equally but according to what each man needed (as judged by himself), that Man would be all but freed from labour, and the full beauty and potential of his personality would thereafter blossom. Government would wither away; and when it did, let a thousand Mozarts bloom!

What actually happened

was so preposterously different from this adolescent Marxian nonsense that the ideology could not long survive in the hearts and minds of millions its encounter with reality.

As time went on, with no utopia (or even adequate levels of material prosperity) in the offing, propaganda

was no longer an attempt to persuade the population, but became an attempt to humiliate and thus render it docile. Perpetual shortage was represented as unprecedented abundance, either present or to come. Constant intrusion and surveillance was represented as the highest form of freedom.

The error

was to be relatively specific about what utopia would look like. Whatever material abundance meant, it could not possibly mean queueing for five hours for a few measly potatoes.

How we are complicit in our enslavement

In the literal sense, Dalrymple notes,

the West triumphed in the Cold War. Nevertheless, a kind of creeping sovietisation has overtaken it as if in revenge.

The process, he writes, is subtle and insidious.

I came to the conclusion when I travelled in what was then the Eastern Bloc that the ubiquitous propaganda was not intended to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate; for citizens (if that is the proper word for them under that system) had not merely to avoid contradicting it in public, but to agree with it in public.

From the point of view of the ruling power,

the more outrageously false the propaganda, the better. For to force people to assent to propositions that are outrageously false, on pain of losing their livelihoods or worse, was to crush them morally and psychologically, and thus make them docile and easily manipulated.

Speaking power to truth

Political correctness is not a neurodegenerative disease, the doctor explains,

but it might as well be, so devastating is its effect on intellection. It appears to be infective, spreading from brain to brain. It is more like a form of chronic mass hysteria.

A little like our economic system, it must be forever expanding to survive.

The capitalist system, Dalrymple reminds us, must

stimulate new desires in consumers and make those desires as quickly as possible seem like needs, without the satisfaction of which life is rendered impossible.

Similarly, political correctness,

to extend its soft-totalitarian hold over the population, must discover new injustices to set right — by a mixture of censorship, language reform, and legal privileges for minorities. The meaning of life for the politically correct is political agitation.

Dalrymple points out that the greater the violation of common sense, the better.

It is like communist propaganda of old: the greater the disparity between the claims of that propaganda and the everyday experience of those at whom it is directed, the greater the humiliation suffered by the latter — especially when they were obliged to repeat it, thus destroying their ability to resist, even in the secret corners of their heart.

That is why the politically correct

insist that everyone use their language: unlike what the Press is supposed to do, the politically correct speak power to truth.

All that is necessary for humbug to triumph is for honest men to say nothing

The politically correct, Dalrymple notes,

never seem to become bored with their thoughts. This leads to a dilemma for those who oppose political correctness, for to be constantly arguing against bores is to become a bore oneself. On the other hand, not to argue against them is to let them win by default. To argue against rubbish is to immerse oneself in rubbish; not to argue against rubbish is to allow it to triumph.

The sport of banker-bashing

Nothing is more tempting, writes Dalrymple,

than to blame the financier, merchant, or banker—in short, the scheming middlemen—for the woes of the world. They are parasites, goes the cry, mere bloodsuckers; they create nothing, but take advantage of everything and everybody. They make profits on the way up as well as on the way down, in abundance and in scarcity, no matter how others suffer in the process.

Such ideas, he points out,

are the stuff of propaganda, both Bolshevik and Nazi. For such propaganda, only the producers of simple tangible goods—the shirtsleeved proletarian in his forge pouring pig iron, say, or the happy flaxen-haired peasant hoeing the land to produce turnips—make a real contribution to wealth, everything else being but a form of hidden confiscation of what the sweat of their brow has produced.

Those who have believed this,

or at any rate acted as if they believed this, have been responsible for a great deal of misery in the world.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-18-29-55

NIDA now believes its propaganda

Example of propaganda put out by the National Institute for Drug Abuse

Example of propaganda put out by the National Institute for Drug Abuse

It has long been pretended by the National Institute for Drug Abuse, writes Dalrymple,

that addiction is a chronic relapsing disease in exactly the same way as, say, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic relapsing disease.

The pretence started

as a tactic to winkle money out of Congress, but as persistent liars often come to believe their lies, so the NIDA has come to believe its propaganda.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 08.27.18

The sort of claims made by the National Institute for Drug Abuse

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 08.33.30Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 12.54.40

Prophylaxis against our own thoughts

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 08.15.00Dalrymple points out that in many public places, electronic entertainment of a deeply unpleasant kind is compulsory, including

The assumption by the management of these places, he writes, is that rather than being left to our devices, we must have the gap in our minds filled with

  • the weather forecast
  • share prices
  • football results
  • sex scandals
  • scenes of war
  • episodes of soap opera
  • cookery programmes

The stimulation

acts on the mind as a food mixer acts on vegetables.

Gogol for the absurdity, Kafka for the menace, Orwell for the lies

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 22.42.23

Mistrust, fear, emasculation, and compliance with untruth in the professions and universities. Modern Western propaganda and the political-ideological correctitude that infects, among many other fields, the medical profession is not, Dalrymple writes, intended to persuade, much less to inform, ‘but to humiliate’. The less true it is, the better, for ‘by not only forbidding contradiction to its claims but demanding assent to them, the human being’s sense of independence and worthiness is destroyed from within….The more preposterous the claims and the more obvious the defects in reasoning, the more effective….This process of human destruction…is far advanced in Britain and…in the rest of the Western world’. To understand what is going on, he says, ‘it is necessary, and probably sufficient, to read three authors: Gogol for the pervasive absurdity, Kafka for the pervasive fear and menace, and Orwell for the pervasive lies’