In Part 1 we considered the enormous scope of the US power elite’s psychological warfare machine, set up to manage ‘democracy.’ The main lesson: all significant political ‘news’ should be examined for its likely embedded mass-manipulation strategies. The more something seems important to the US power elite, the more suspicious you should be. They certainly seem to care about the nuclear deal with Iran and the ‘Peace Process’ in Israel, our two anchor issues (Part 0).
But mere suspicion is not enough. Ideally, we wish to comprehend how the system of media messages works. In this we are at a disadvantage, because a thoroughly grammatical science of political processes has not yet been developed. This approach holds the exciting promise that those conversant in political grammar, by understanding the logic of mass-manipulation deployed in psychological warfare, will develop countermeasures and escape directed history.
Our present quarry, therefore, is to explain the operations of political grammar.
The first step is more easily taken by analogy to natural language grammars, so let us begin here:
English grammar : set of rules governing the construction of English language units (all the way down to how sounds must combine to make proper phonemes).
Now, consider the following utterance:
Barn ran dog the around the.
This is not a correct or ‘well-formed’ English sentence. It is ungrammatical. We must rearrange the units thus:
The dog ran around the barn.
The barn ran around the dog.
The second, notice, conveys a silly meaning but is nevertheless a good English sentence—it is grammatical.
Sequential order maters: what you say first constrains what you may (grammatically) say next: grammar is ‘combinatorial.’ Thus, if you first say ‘The’ you must follow (combine) with a noun (such as ‘barn’ or ‘dog’) or a noun phrase (e.g. ‘big barn’). If you first say ‘to’ then you must follow (combine) with a verb. And so on. You can certainly play with the rules, but anything you do will have consequences. Thus, if you follow ‘to’ with a noun you will turn that noun into a verb—you will verb it (from the verb, ‘to verb’).
Grammatical rules have their own coherence, quite apart from the meanings we slot into proper grammatical combinations. ‘Colorless green ideas sleep furiously’ was Noam Chomsky’s famous demonstration that something can be proper English and yet mean nothing.
Long before Chomsky, Lewis Carroll had given his own demonstration (from The Jabberwocky):
T’was brillig, and the slithy toves
Carroll showed, moreover, that a text may be recognizably English even without English words.
It bears repeating: provided you follow the combinatorial rules of English grammar, something can be ‘proper English’ and yet mean nothing.
But where do grammatical rules come from? From the distribution of expectations in the heads of millions of English speakers. Grammar is an informal and emergent ‘social contract,’ as the great linguist Ferdinand de Saussure first taught. When the distribution of expectations changes, so does the grammar. This is why speech grammars evolve.
Speech grammars are so interesting to academics that entire university departments—of ‘linguistics’—exist to study them. But there are other kinds of grammars, where the units are complex ‘utterances’ involving whole sentences, or even groups of them, combined with body movements and facial expressions.
This is best appreciated with an unfamiliar grammar, like the one governing host-guest interactions among the Mongolian pastoral nomads whom I have studied. Coming from Mexico and the US, where everything is honey-sweet, these rules were surprising to me.
At a feast, the nomad host barks at his honored guest—‘Eat!’ ‘Drink!’—and leans fiercely in with a threat on his face, as if ready to smack the guest for tarrying to comply. Any vacillation brings more verbal violence from the host, now brooking zero resistance. The host—mind you—is being polite.
If the cowed guest later wishes to stop eating he must gather courage, theatrically set the bowl down, and project even greater violence: “No! That’s it! I am done! I will not eat!”, as if ready to fight the host rather than force another morsel down his gullet. The guest—mind you—is being polite.
In this manner host and guest cooperate to establish that no food has been refused out of shyness, which protects the host’s honor—for he is not doing anybody favors but fulfilling a sacred obligation to satisfy the guest.
Equivocations are therefore impolite. Should the host graciously ask, “Would you like some more meat…?”, he will seem, by giving the guest a choice, to regret parting with the food. Bad form. The guest may then take the next bowl and smile with honey: “Thank you very much.” Ouch. Sarcasm: an imputation that the host is half-hearted.
Our own rules of interaction for hosts and guests may be difficult to notice until we have an exotic case, as above, for contrast. But they exist. Every domain of behavior, in every culture, has a grammar. Every nook and cranny of human life has a set of rules, explicit or implicit, to specify ‘well-formed’ or ‘correct’ or grammatical behavior with properly combined units. (Erving Goffman, great genius and father of ‘microsociology,’ delighted in laying this bare.)
Grammar: rules that specify 1) allowed, optimal, obligatory, and forbidden moves in a particular domain, and 2) how certain moves coercively imply or foreclose others (obvious similarities here to Kuhn’s paradigm and Foucault’s discourse.)
In every society, politics, too, has a grammar.
Our topic is Western political grammar. How to spot its constitutive rules? One useful method is to consider violations. Thus, imagine a candidate in a Western democracy who campaigns for the highest political office with the speech:
“My government will be divinely inspired and all its decisions will be mystically wise and final.”
He will not get elected. In fact, he might spark riots. Such statements are entirely ungrammatical. ‘Politically incorrect.’
Because the West has had a liberal political grammar (in the classic 19th c. European sense of ‘liberal’) since 1848, when the peoples of the West—inspired by the erstwhile French Revolution, itself a product of the Enlightenment—took up arms in every Western country (simultaneously!) to demand parliaments, constitutions, civil rights and freedoms for all, suffrage, separation of Church and State...
As any grammar, Western political grammar depends upon the distribution of expectations in the heads of millions of Western citizens. When the distribution changes, so does the grammar. 1848, the Year of Revolution—as historian Mike Rapport calls it —institutionalized a change in the distribution. Ever since, to stay within ‘politically correct’ boundaries, Western presidents and prime ministers—and their patrons and retainers—absolutely must claim in public to uphold the values of the Enlightenment.
But obligatory behaviors—precisely because those who mean them and those who don’t alike will perform them—are uninformative. The point of ritual is not to convey ‘news’ or ‘intention’ but to reinforce social standing and political correctness. The public speech acts of Western power elites are grammatical but, as in the Jabberwocky, they (semantically) mean nothing.
Notice now the problem: if foes—every bit as much as friends—of democracy will ritually force their verbal output into the Enlightenment grammar, then how can we determine the true ideology and intentions of the US power elite? How can we know if they stand with us or against us? We must do historical research.
This can sometimes yield surprisingly straightforward data.
For example, the leading theoretician/practitioners of US psychological warfare explained quite frankly, in the early 20th c., how they were helping the power elites to subvert democracy. Manipulative disinformation, they baldly explained, was the preferred wrench, to be kept handy next to the hammer of selective violence—but no frontal assaults, they advised, except when absolutely necessary (Part 1). Why not? Because power elites cannot easily change the Enlightenment grammar imposed in 1848, so they prefer cunning. This understanding is at the very heart of what I call ‘sloppy totalitarianism’ (Appendix A).
The useful picture here is of a jiu-jitsu black-belt using the opponent’s forward energy to disable him.
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 dragons to be slayed, and the dragons as damsels in distress. In this way, Westerners, spurred by democratic chivalry, will destroy their cherished system while thinking they defend it. But to pull this off, power elites must learn to see the elements of Western political grammar as levers, not obstacles.
I will illustrate.
First, consider a few statements that express obligatory ideas in our modern Western political grammar:
“Imperialism and colonialism are bad.”
“Peace is good—especially world peace.”
“Right-thinking, kind-hearted folk in the West will fight for the rights of oppressed third-world peoples.”
“Freedom of religion is a basic right and governments ought to protect it.”
“Terrorism is bad.”
As in any grammar, such units are subject to combinatorial rules. For example, the phrase:
“The X ____________ must be suppressed.”
is a politically correct sentence if the blank is filled with the word ‘terrorists’ but not if filled with the word ‘religion.’
Now imagine, if you will, an illiberal movement that grows in and around the West, based on war, oppression, and terrorism, and with the following goal: the destruction of parliaments, constitutions, civil rights and freedoms for all, suffrage, separation of Church and State... And imagine that the people in charge, the Western power elites, actually want this illiberal movement to succeed. (Go along with me, this is just for the sake of argument.)
Now consider the problem. The power elite mean to be cunning—to use our energy to achieve their ends. So they must solve the following riddle: How can they use the axioms and rules of Western political grammar in order to get us, ordinary people, to assist this illiberal movement, which seeks to destroy the very system that protects us?
Can this be done? In theory yes, so long as
2) the enemy movement is led by people from the traditional ‘Third World’; and
3) the enemy movement can legitimately be called a ‘religion.’
With the above three provisos, the power elite can set in motion a dual strategy, designing one half of it for ‘leftists’ and the other for ‘conservatives.’
The Enlightenment legacy for common Western leftists is the struggle for the disadvantaged against the powerful, so many leftists redeem their shame of Western racist colonialism by rejecting everything Western in favor of anything foreign (‘multiculturalism’).
To recruit them, stress the enemy movement’s status as a foreign religion, the freedom to worship in which is protected by Enlightenment values. Since, thus portrayed, opposition to this movement must be (by grammatical implication) a return to racist imperialism, sell leftists on the moralistic thrill—and the power to compel silence—that comes with crying ‘racism.’
Frame enemy terrorists as radicals who stray from the traditional core message of a ‘religion of peace,’ and moreover as victims of Western imperialism who lash back out of despair. By grammatical reflex, leftists will seek to cleanse their past colonial guilt with ‘understanding’ for this violence, plus demands for economic ‘reparations’ to remove the causes of alleged despair. This comes naturally to leftists, who are ‘doves’ willing to make great sacrifices for ‘peace.’
Though conservatives among common Western folk fear change, the tradition they defend is the Enlightenment, hence their often fierce constitutionalism. Where leftists are suspicious of Authority, conservatives are deferential, believing that our power elites protect our democratic traditions against undemocratic foreign enemies. They are ‘hawks,’ ready to shed blood for the Republic and ‘our way of life.’
To recruit them, conservative media and academic voices must push for a ‘war on terror.’ Since terrorists might be anywhere, the effort to find them implies dismantling important Enlightenment rights and guarantees enjoyed by Westerners, but this is rendered grammatically palatable as a ‘temporary lesser evil’—far better than the alternative surrender to a totalitarian enemy who would simply erase the entire gains of the Enlightenment.
The two strategies articulate. The power elite’s ‘war on terror’ makes conservatives feel protected by Authority, so they continue to support it, but leftist opposition will represent this ‘war’ as flowing from a pathological (implicitly colonialist) misunderstanding of the foreign culture in question, thus fueling renewed leftist agitation in favor of the enemy movement.
Either you oppose the undemocratic Western power elite to support the undemocratic enemy, or you oppose the undemocratic enemy to support the undemocratic Western power elite. Choose your political identity at will; it doesn’t matter. You’ll be assisting your own enemies.
The ‘war on terror’ policies, of course, can be designed to feed the enemy’s morale to ‘fight the West’ and flood the various terror organizations with new personnel and weapons. Thus, with sufficient control and stealth, both the ‘national security State’ and the enemy can support their mutual growth, assisted by the manipulated agitations of Western citizens on either side of the political divide.
Such is the genius of ‘sloppy totalitarianism’ (Appendix A).
But won’t such tricks become obvious? Won’t people easily discover what the power elites are doing to them? Not if most people can be conditioned to ban certain ‘heresies’ from their own minds—such as the view that our own power elites mean us harm—lest others ostracize and ridicule us for expressing ‘radical’ and ‘paranoid’ ideas. Such conditioning would require that, well beforehand, an investment had been made to introduce new elements of political grammar. This is expensive and risky but, with enough power, doable.
First, purge Academia. Brand all manner of inquisitive scholars prone to investigate power elites as ‘traitors’—agents of foreign totalitarian powers that seek to oppress ordinary people. In this way, the witch-hunt against them—by implicative grammatical contrast—can be represented as a virtuous fight to save democracy. Haul the accused before tribunals or otherwise harass and discredit them with the cooperation of the media. Give it two decades or so. Then relax: remaining academics are already domesticated.
Once university students are learning from their prestigious (already domesticated) professors which ideas are obviously ridiculous (not dangerous, exactly, as there is no longer an obvious purge) it all becomes entirely innocent, assimilated into the discipline’s ‘paradigm.’ Presto: suspicion of power elites is now ungrammatical. (According to Simpson, many who helped create the US psychological warfare regime were apparently afflicted by such ‘innocence.’)
Then, in the high-prestige mass media, produce daily reminders about which ideas are (obviously) ridiculous, thus making suspicion of power elites generally ungrammatical with the public as well.
In this new culture, to think differently—to become ‘inordinately’ suspicious—is now politically incorrect: evidence of stupidity (perhaps insanity) and certainly of ill breeding, reeking of the lowest (‘redneck’) social origin. For no educated (university-trained!) person will be caught dead expressing any such ‘conspiratorial’ ideas. Nobody wants to be laughed at. This is a great deal more effective than overt censorship (which is prone to stir rebellion) and becomes a sort of ‘mind control.’
Since US universities have a crushing influence worldwide, and academic success is largely determined by how the US system evaluates you, the effect becomes international.
But of course, some people—especially in the college-age bracket—will just have to express a more radical suspicion of power. They must be given a suspicion to agitate around that will—perversely—in fact assist those in power. The Nazis already figured this out: blame everything on a powerful Jewish conspiracy that allegedly strangles our governments.
To make this politically correct—in other words, to give mobilized leftists a grammatical defense against the charge of judeophobia, which is a form of racism—they’ll need a Jew to lead them. That’s Noam Chomsky, known for his work on… grammar!
Chomsky will teach them to protest, with vehemence, that they don’t oppose Jews as such; they are defending Third-World Muslims from “[US] support [for] Israeli violence and aggression.” The silent implication—that the Jewish state has too much influence with the US government—can remain unstated (everybody will get it). And leftists will never doubt Chomsky, because the same media that he supposedly criticizes, and which in fact turns him into a rock star, never shares certain embarrassing facts: at the height of the McCarthyist purge, Chomsky was vetted as a power-elite loyalist by the highest levels of the US military (Appendix B).
Thanks to Chomsky, the US power-elite once again escapes scrutiny. Would-be rebels focus on ‘the Jews’ (pardon me, on Israel!).
Is this all hopeless? It is not. That our power elites should have to exert themselves so very much in order to manipulate us via political grammar betrays that the dominant grammar is ours. It’s the one forged in 1848—it belongs to the people. The power elites are playing in our field.
But Western citizens are living in a media Matrix, and must awaken if they are to resist. As a first step, we must first glimpse how our very education is saturated with psychological warfare strategies that work to stunt our political reasoning.
I turn to this next.
 See, for example:
Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual: Essays on face to face behavior. New York: Pantheon.
 In the case of Kuhn, he is talking about the grammar created by scientists working in a particular scientific discipline, tethered by the foundational assumptions that are taken as ‘givens’ during the period of what Kuhn calls ‘normal science,’ which regulate which scientific questions (or ‘problems’) are legitimate and proper for practitioners of that discipline, and also which methods are appropriate and reasonable. But the grammar of the discipline in fact will involve a great many things beyond those which are included in the paradigm itself, though of course the paradigm is a crucial aspect of it.
The Foucauldian use of the term discourse is really quite close to how I am using the term grammar, but I prefer to say grammar because I wish to emphasize that combinatorial rules are at work, homologous to the operation of grammatical rules within a language, and this is something that the term ‘discourse’ does not convey too dramatically. Also, I would like to avoid any association with the ‘postmodern’ literature that leapt from Michel Foucault’s concept of discourse to make all sorts of nihilistic assertions about the impossibility to produce knowledge and hence about the futility of science. I will have nothing to do with that. In fact, I believe it is possible—and urgent—to do science concerning various important grammars that rule our lives.
Foucault’s insights, anyway, are a direct consequence of developments in structural linguistics, chiefly innovations by Ferdinand de Saussure and other members of the Prague School of Linguistics. I prefer to ground my terminology in the original linguistic roots.
Saussure, F. (1959). Course in general linguistics. New York: Philosophical Library.
Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Foucault, M. (1972). Archaeology of knowledge. New York: Pantheon.
 Rapport, M. (2008). 1848: Year of Revolution. New York: Basic Books.
 See also:
Did the National Security Act of 1947 destroy freedom of
The religion of peace?
Dhimmitude and slavery
 In his chapter “Internalization and Enforcement of the Paradigm of Domination,” Christopher Simpson includes extended documentation and discussion of how McCarthyism worked to discipline academics into accepting the new political grammar.
“The social pressure on mass communication researchers to take a strong stand against any variety of critical thinking that sought to puncture widely held preconceptions about the role of the United States in the world was reinforced by another important factor: the growth of McCarthyism in U.S. society. During the early 1950s Senator McCarthy and his political allies launched a series of attacks on U.S. information programs and on the social sciences in general.
(. . .)
The price tag for scholars who refused to support the cold war consensus could be quite high: shunning by colleagues, firing, loss of tenure or prospects for promotion, forced appearances before collegiate and state investigating boards, FBI inquiries, hostile newspaper stories, or worse. Even very prominent academics were not exempt. . . . FBI and U.S. military intelligence agents kept American Sociological Society conventions under surveillance in an effort to smoke out radicals;30 Charles Beard, the longtime dean of American historians and former president of the American Historical Association, was drummed out of the profession when he refused to readjust his work to the new political realities; and Harvard, MIT, Columbia, UCLA, and a score of other leading universities purged alleged Marxists and leftists from their faculties, often at the instigation of their ideological rivals among the professors. Maryland became a trend-setter with regard to driving leftists from academe; in 1949 it passed the Ober Anti-Communist Act, which became a model statute for about a dozen other states. . .
. . .This decade-long campaign of repression had a substantial chilling effect on the social sciences. Paul Lazarsfeld's 1955 study for the Fund for the Republic on the impact of political censorship on the social sciences found that 27 percent of a sample of 1,445 college teachers had begun to go out of their way ‘to make it clear that they had no extreme leftist or rightist leanings.’ About 20 percent of the sample had altered the subjects they were willing to discuss in university classrooms, the reference material they assigned, or the research projects they undertook. Almost half of the teachers indicated that they were concerned that students might deliberately quote them out of context or otherwise garble the teacher's point of view in order to report them to school administrators or to the FBI. Some 394 respondents asserted that they believed their ‘point of view on a political subject [had been] reported unfavorably to higher authorities.’ ”
SOURCE: Simpson, C. (1994). Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare. New York: Oxford University Press. (pp.101-104)
 For an explanation of the ‘spiral of silence’ that a conformist psychology sets in motion, and which may cause generational changes in political grammar, especially if rich political entrepreneurs engage in the effort, see:
Gil-White, F. J. (2005). How conformism creates ethnicity
creates conformism (and why this matters to lots of things). The Monist,
“Leading mass communication researchers. . .internalized and reflected the values of the agencies they had been hired to assist for reasons that seemed to them to be proper, even noble.”
This speaks to the internalization of the cover story provided to at least some subset of useful academics (perhaps the majority). Some cover story is necessary because most people don’t become academics in order to find ways to sabotage the modern Western political grammar of democracy and human rights. The cover story is a forced move, forced by the grammar itself, which requires the ostensible reasons to be consistent with the grammar and thus—in some qualified sense—“noble.”
What was the cover story?
“ ‘Public opinion analysts are helping to combat the forces which currently threaten freedom and democracy,’ POQ told its readers in its summary of Samuel Stouffer's AAPOR presidential lecture of 1954. ‘To continue serving the needs of their society. . . social scientists must take a long-range view of history and work hard at improving their instruments of measurement.’ ”
SOURCE: Simpson, C. (1994). Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare. New York: Oxford University Press. (pp.94, 99)
 For documentation and discussion of how “conspiracy theory” is discussed in the mass media, see:
What is conspiracy theory?
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