July 9, 2011
-- by Dave Johnson
In England people "know" many of the same false things that people here "know." Except in England the false things work against English working people instead of against American working people.
I am in England this week and next and am enjoying some pub conversations while here. (Several pubs, actually. Heh.) Here are some of the things that at least some British working people "know." I think you will find them to be familiar:
- The reason so many people are unemployed is because the government spends too much money.
- Public employees get lavish pensions, which is part of why working people are falling behind.
- The government spends a lot of its money helping countries in Africa and other places.
- People are living much longer than they used to, so the retirement age should be raised.
- The government gives a lot of money to people who come here from other countries and then get handouts that the rest of us (British) pay for.
- Also, there are too many lawsuits.
Does this sound familiar? It looks like the same false propaganda is being served up here in the UK -- but with a UK twist. For example, the retirement system here isn't "going broke," it just isn't affordable. (How come no one says our military is "going broke" or unaffordable?) People are coming here from Eastern Europe, not Mexico. The differences stand out for the similarities of the rest of it. Things that work to create anti-government tension and panic get reformatted and used elsewhere. Hey, if it works, why reinvent the wheel?
I did not hear that the problems come from companies not paying taxes, from bailing out the big banks, from the cost of wars, etc. I haven't probed or argued, just asked what people think to see what is on people's minds.
I have to emphasize this is just from some conversations and not with all that many people at all. I'm only writing because of the similarities of the justifications for cutting back on things working people get from their government. Again, this is just a few people. It's like the old newspaper-pundit cab-driver test of conventional wisdom. But I heard echoes of the same stuff that is being dished out in the US.
Things We Know
Everyone reading this has read or is familiar with the premise of The Shock Doctrine (I hope) and maybe Winner-Take-All-Politics and The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy and some of the other key books. Anyway, we all see clearly what is going on behind these things that people "know." We understand how it works, what the public is hearing and why, who they are hearing this from, and how people are being set against each other and distracted from what is really happening. Working people are being tricked into giving up their share of the common wealth, etc. We get it.
What To Do
But what do we do about it? I think our task, as always, is to get more info out to the public. As more people understand how shock-doctrine attacks work they are more able to resist them. But how do we get more info out to the public? And how do we do that without it sounding like WE are the nutcases? I mean, if you try to tell regular people the crazy things the right is planning for them you sound like an extremist for even saying such things. People are really tuned out these days and don't see what is happening.
I think sites like OurFuture.org, AlterNet, Daily Kos, FDL, Crooks and Liars, etc. have developed a progressive information ecosystem where things are being explained a dozen ways, and understood, and reinforced, over and over, and a lot of people spend time there they are getting it. So how do we drive more people to those sites? How do we loop more people into the information ecosystem we have going on?
ONE thing I think we can do is ask our labor friends to start bringing their membership in to this loop. I think we have gotten the blogosphere tuned into labor issues, and it's time for the labor community to start joining back with us now. Join the conversation, help us understand your viewpoint, while we all help; each other understand what is happening to us.
Maybe we can make the blogs and site more accessible to new people who show up to check it out, and explain more about how the comments work, about how to write a diary, etc... Maybe we all need "what this site is about" videos... I think this is a good next step.
What do you think? I think we have to start reaching more and more of the public. We owe it to them. How can we accomplish this?
Posted by Dave Johnson at July 9, 2011 1:06 AM
The conventional wisdom what ain't is often quite a hurdle to overcome. Right around the time of the mortgage bubble meltdown, a department director I'm on friendly terms with was grumbling about how the whole disaster was brought about by "those people" taking out loans they couldn't afford.
Even before all the details of banking and lender malfeasance were fully revealed, I knew enough to know that predatory loans, de facto redlining of minorities with excellent credit, default swap bundling with no idea the ratio of "ninja" loans to reasonably viable mortgages, etc., were also pivotal in bringing about the meltdown. It seemed that his offhand remark was a way to point the blame away from the “suits” whose greedy and reckless actions were the main culprit in bringing the economy to its knees.
I never cornered him later to ask him if he still felt the same, but would guess that his internal filters probably only let in that information that coincided with his preexisting prejudices.
It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so. ~ Will Rogers
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