Fart Power: there is hope after all!
by happy jack Thursday, Dec 14 2006, 5:48am
A woman with an attack of flatulence recently forced a commercial airliner to the ground after other passengers began to complain of sulphur fumes in the cabin! True story, but I wouldn’t attempt to convince the sceptics, too hard! [See link.] There is power in them thar farts, and you’d better believe it – for more reasons than would be immediately apparent.
Ever since childhood I have been in shock and awe of the power of farts; a fart can empty rooms, lose friends, disrupt board meetings, cause uncontrollable mirth and NOW force commercial airliners to the ground! If that isn’t the epitome of asymmetric power then please cite another example, I’m sure we would all like to know!
Those of us who are familiar with the sequence in the movie ‘Blazing’ Saddles chuckle whenever anyone raises the fart sequence in conversation. Who could forget director Mel Brooks’ cowboys taking their plate of beans from the ‘chuck’ wagon and farting all the way back to the camp fire. That particular clip has been immortalised, its power to affect human emotion/behaviour persists!
A number of converging factors resulted in a fearful America grounding one of its internal flights; nonetheless, it was an innocuous fart that was responsible for grounding the jet. Most professionals would attribute the incident to mass or group hysteria; behaviours with which the infamous propagandist, Herr Goebbels, was extremely familiar. Goebbels was known to frequently quote from one of his favourite texts, The Crowd (1923) to illustrate the absolute moronic nature of the masses and the ease with which their behaviour could be managed. I’m afraid the veracity of his claims and his methods of mass manipulation have been verified as the historical record would confirm. It was exactly these same behaviours/crowd hysterias that grounded the American airliner.
A public whipped into a fearful (terrorist) anxiety by neo-con strategists presents an easy target for ANYONE familiar with classic techniques of crowd control. Priming a population with classic manipulation strategies is a two-edged sword, conservatives beware! Post-modern methods of juxtaposing meaning-laden signs and symbols in order to effect changes in attitude or to alter 'world views' has proven extremely effective; the combination of post-modern techniques with classic behaviourist principles results in an exceedingly effective method of population management.
The following is a quote from a previous post:
“Recently, an innocent balloon prompted the evacuation of a number of Washington office blocks; the American people have contracted Bush’s fear virus; or more accurately, the strategy of (neo-con) propagandists has backfired. It is now evident to everyone that the world’s most powerful military is unable to deal with (micro-warfare) the small specific attack.”
One can only wonder what would occur if a group of post-modern artists, hacks and propagandists united in the ‘unholiest’ of all unholy alliances. Imagine combining an Orson Wells, War of the Worlds, scenario with a 'flatulent, balloon-carrying terrorist'; the effect it could have on a highly anxious and reactive population beggars the imagination.
Today's art of reality is the result of juxtaposing incongruous elements to produce mayhem, chaos and mindless unreason; nothing is safe!
The Crowd, Gustav Le Bon
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Psychological Weapons of War
by Cesar Chelala via quill - ICH Saturday, Oct 4 2008, 5:05pm
It is a mystery how the Iraq war was planned and supported for a long time without an effective opposition, despite being one of the worst foreign policy decisions in recent U.S. history. But it becomes less of a puzzle if one applies to the situation some principles of social psychology. In this light, a return to the classic literature is pertinent.
In 1895, Gustave Le Bon, a French social psychologist, published a seminal book on the psychology of crowds, "La psychologie des foules." He probably never imagined that it would become a classic in its genre and a basic source for Sigmund Freud when dealing with the same subject. Le Bon´s ideas, which are pertinent even today, were later further elaborated by other authors and put to use in other tragic historical events, as happened in Germany with the Nazis.
Although Le Bon wrote mainly about the psychology of crowds, his ideas can also be applied to populations. Even though both are different entities, they share some common characteristics. Crowds are transitory and tend to gather because they are homogeneous in their ideas about a specific subject or event. Populations are groups of people with different ways of thinking, living in a place geographically defined but who, like crowds, can be swayed by mass media or by a leader acting through it.
In his analysis of Le Bon´s work, Sigmund Freud wrote, "A crowd is trusting and easily influenced; it is non-critical. The concept of improbability doesn´t exist…. Whoever wants to influence it doesn´t need to present logical arguments. It is only necessary to paint the most alluring images, to exaggerate and to repeat the same concept several times."
According to Le Bon, opposite ideas can coexist and be tolerated in a way that their logical contradictions do not generate a conflict. This may explain why the actions against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan were essentially abandoned when there was a serious chance of capturing him, and how a war against Iraq was initiated without facing serious opposition in the United States.
According to Le Bon, crowds are subject to the magical power of words, which can provoke the most serious storms in the soul of its members, or can also contribute to calming them down. In this regard, what greater insult can be used against a country than to call it part of an "axis of evil"?
As is now widely known, the Iraq war was conducted on false premises, something that became increasingly evident with time. However, as Le Bon pointed out, "Crowds are never thirsty for truth. They demand illusions, to which they are unable to renounce. Irreality prevails over reality, irreality acting almost as strongly as reality. The visible tendency of the crowd is not to make any difference between them."
The George W. Bush administration used the concept of eliminating a tyrant and bringing democracy to Iraq with great effectiveness. The Iraqi tyrant, Saddam Hussein, was eliminated. But Iraq is still in chaos, corruption is rampant and the Iraqi government is clear in its decision to see the United States withdraw its forces from the country sooner than the Bush administration intends.
Both crowds and populations are subject to the influence of their leaders´ ideas. Through his actions and his words, a true leader can bring peace to a country, and to the world. When a leader is misguided, a terrible war can be his most devastating legacy.
Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award for an article on human rights. He is the foreign correspondent for the Middle East Times International (Australia).
Author retains copyright.
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