Manufacturing Consent

...by what means?

I’m sure that most at some point have come across the phrase popularised by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, it is the title to a work in which a description of what they refer to as the “propaganda model” is given and its effects on American society. However little of this relates to what I feel is a more adequate approach to answering the question, if consent is manufactured then by what means and methods are involved in the process and what from this can we use in our own understanding of the world around us and how to engage with it effectively?

The glaringly obvious answer to me is technology, and not just dominion voting machines or skewed advertisement, but the very ideology and managerial techniques that are required to facilitate engagement with a multicultural mass populace.

The necessity for such managerial techniques purely exist as a coping mechanism for those whose common interest is the accumulation and sustaining of power through public perception, this is carried out via masquerading the faults of centralisation behind complex and gatekept language which purports to help in the never ending struggle for panacea’s such as equality, inclusion and safety. This then begins a totalising process aptly described by Sam Francis “Neither control of the economy nor of the state nor of the culture by itself will establish its controlling group as the dominant elite of a society”, whereas Francis generalises these techniques under the umbrella of managerialism I think it is better framed as the use of technology as their must exist an underlying infrastructure through which these techniques can be applied. 

Technology in this framing becomes a synthesis of both the physical technology referred to frequently by Ted Kaczynksi, and the managerial techniques identified by the likes of Burnham and Francis. This synthesis can be easily understood once you begin to see complex abstraction, high level theoretical constructs and ideology as a mental technology that requires development much like physical technology and that they functionally perform much of the same role as one another and originate from the same place, this will become important later, both of these things are then ultimately an extension of human knowledge and understanding, which in turn are all needed to keep up the facade of government by consent.

One of the most insidious high level constructs is democracy, a mental technology required to hide the true nature of any monopolising coercive agency as it subsumes and reconstructs as much of any society as it can and as each new round of plunderers arrive on the scene. This phenomena is known to many and identified clearly in Hoppe’s writing “For a minority cannot lastingly rule a majority solely by brute force. It must rule by ‘opinion’.” Underwritten within this is the notion that public opinion is at the least manipulated if not entirely fabricated. Universal suffrage helps to further legitimise this fabrication by fooling each and every individual voter into thinking that their choice matters and will be reflected in the way in which their nation will be ruled in future. 

What is clearly shown above is that the formulation and innovation of technology generally serves those elites currently in power or those looking to overthrow existing power structures through the circulation of elites, from this it begins to appear obvious why institutions like academia, think tanks and cutting edge multinational corporations must be policed and centralised. In a better sense this process is once again identified by Hoppe in regards to intellectuals “It is thus important that you secure also their loyalty to the state. Put differently: you must become a monopolist.”, the less of a chance that those outside of the state and current circles have to develop both physical and mental technology the less effective they can be in coordinating public opinion. This then lessens the ability of outside groups to manufacture consent and their own sense of sovereignty in regards to shaping the world around them. Without the recognition of the techno-monopoly the issues inherent in any new innovation are harder to hide and therefore do not come to fruition as they must fight against a preexisting mass opinion in regards to prior innovations and the systems used to propagate them.

Mental technologies like democracy help to serve the elites of a society in the same way that the proliferation of physical technology can create a dependency on infrastructure, this is the process that elites actively want to engage in as it further entraps the mass populace into a reliance upon their systems. Even though these systems on both a physical and mental level are imperfect they still facilitate the need for further innovation as each implementation of a complex innovation shows signs of failure elsewhere or creates some variant of social strife through the implementation within mass society itself. At this point a self perpetuating process comes to head as each new development requires a patch work of adjacent “solutions”, this requires a larger portion of society to come in to the fold and no longer just be subject to technological developments but become part of the process that on a basic level plays a part in the sustaining the technological system. This perpetuates the illusion of being part of the process and somehow a necessary component of keeping the machine of innovation turning. A further side effect of this is then the assumption of responsibility on the part of those who play little to essentially no role in the enforcement of these innovations other than accepting their usage, leaving them not only partly guilty in a situation whereby some inherent issue in an innovation goes awry but then ultimately even more dependent on the very same systems, and leaving the elites instituting said technology unaccountable. 

One minor aspect that Chomsky et al. did address in their work was the need for media and more importantly mass media as an integral component for effective propaganda, yet there is still a higher level to this unnoticed by most. Ted Kacyznski explains plainly what this higher effect is the terms of learned helplessness, “Much of modern technology serves to minimise the effort that we have to make in order to accomplish things, and this drastically reduces the benefit that we get from the experience of exercising control even in life and death matters”. This statement is then further elucidated by the demonstration that the simplification of acquiring basic necessities required for a fruitful life via mass food production and centralised security forces, removes us from the harsh realities of performing these functions and the true knowledge required to take matters into our own hands and shape the world around us. This very same argument could be applied to ideological structures and their proliferation in mass media. The application of power and its brutish nature is masked behind the niceties of emotive and heavily simplified world views fed to us day in, day out. We are removed from the truth of what is functionally going on via mystical language that makes us content with the current situation as it is deemed correct to see the world through the hegemonic managerial lense of ideology, this lulls us into a false sense of security or a learned helplessness that all is well whilst simultaneously accepting that we need not apply any genuine and strenuous energy to change the world around us. This then necessitates the development of mental technologies by the elites to underhandedly assert their dominance. Sam Francis also picks up on this necessity for mental technology and further innovation to simplify thought processes in regards to, once again, democracy “The increasing democratisation of the state in the late 19th century and early 20th century and the increasing participation of the mass population in formal political processes did not appreciably modify the emergence of a new managerial elite in government and, in fact, assisted its emergence and its acquisition of power”. Within this statement it is implied that the development of “democrartic ideas” was a conscious and deliberate effort, the effects of which where more than likely understood by the implementers. It creates a comforting dissonance within the minds of the average man, he is fully aware that his vote on its own is meaningless and makes no change to the world, but given the simplicity and detachment from the process he openly accepts that due to each having supposedly their own and equal say in regards to the structure of the world around them that this is the best solution as it avoids having to seriously consider or engage in politics, power and ultimately violence. Learned helplessness takes over and the individual in question is open to accepting and relying on further simplification and detachment.

It then becomes even more clear that the process of manufacturing consent does not originate in a propagandising to convince the populace of one line of argumentation or another, but it is part of a wider all encompassing process to simplify the world we live in and ultimately nullify any impetus to make an effective change in both the physical space of how we interact with the world around us and the mental space of how we perceive the world around us. These effects go hand in hand, and require one another to become anything worthwhile to those who wish to exercise power over a society. Both the physical technology of infrastructure and the mental technology of ideology would grant no power or sway in society without their symbiosis. 

How to combat this symbiosis will however be a subject for later piece.

Referenced works:

Sam Francis - Leviathan and its Enemies

Hans Herman Hoppe - The Great Fiction

Ted Kacyznski - Technological Slavery