I did start the fire and this is my confession

Alexandra Alvarova                                                                         3800 words

 

 

(Introduction to the whole book  The Industry of Lies)

The marketing dystopia is going to kill us all
The question is not what you look at, but what you see”  Henry David Thoreau

“It is not important what it is but rather, what it appears to be“ The First Law of Spin

 

Prologue

I did start the fire

This story  is my confession. My penance. I had to write it because, my dear Americans, you are in great peril. Russians used the 2013 Presidential elections in the Czech Republic as a trial run to perfect the methods and means they then applied to meddle in and influence the outcome of the US Presidential elections in 2016.  While my homeland may have lost its hard-won Velvet Revolution democracy, you still have a fighting chance. President Reagan once said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”  You are THAT generation today. I wrote this to elucidate the clear and present danger that surrounds you. I wrote it to warn, prepare and empower you for the battle that lies ahead. I wrote it so that you may forgive me.

 

Do you remember the old Billy Joel’s anthem “We didn’t start the fire?”

…Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc…

Well, I did start the fire. I am one of the them . One of the modern magicians of words tricking your decisions. I am political marketing expert. A trader in rainfall futures. The Wizard of Oz. A con artist. I am a propagandist.

And for the past five years, I have applied my trade in a long string of election campaigns. Local and regional. Parliamentary and senate. Election campaigns to the European Parliament. I have stopped counting how many politicians I have advised, helped, managed to get elected. Some have been truly rare and honorable people who not only belong, but should be in politics. Often times their only transgressions may be a bit of diffidence, certain lack of media savvy, and in today’s world all-but-lethal inability to present themselves as expected. But then I also promoted and sold to unsuspected buyers some truly unsavory characters, the types who really do not deserve a dime had they begged for it. Yet by the time I was done with my brand of creative election campaigning, even you would have been convinced that this was the only candidate who could and would bring sense and order into your own life.  You see, I am an illusion juggler, a bias-and-prejudice trickster, a crafty scribe of slogans that may tug at your heartstrings – or tear out your heart.

Everything started in my tiny country. In Prague, Czech Republic.  Former part of the Soviet communist bloc. A country, which has (according to sociological research) the same human development characteristics as Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky or West Virginia). [1] In country, which made it to NATO and European Union membership and appeared to have left all the dirt behind. This country was chosen as a beta test environment for a new weapon. And the tests went very well, believe me.               Big money was in town. I have started it all, together with thousands of others just like me. That’s how we make a living. To us, your mind is simply a means to an end.  Your prejudices are tools of our trade. Your darkest nightmare an answer to our prayers. We dredge them all up to sunlight come election time to make money and to shape the world, and until 2013, in the world of our making, all had been well. The minds of simple folk afraid of their own shadows gifted us with immense opportunities to mold election results to custom specifications.

We used to be so proud of our ability to sell the intangible and then present it as something altogether different, proud of our skill to induce fear of an opponent, carnal allegiance to our tribe, hatred towards all things foreign, a sense of kinship with the unique culture of the in-group and with the one-and-only perfect leader. Who could have guessed short ten years ago that a few creatively-edited lies, well-lit images and artfully-spun speeches, with a pinch of crafty algorithm hacks added in for good measure, would create such a mess. The leviathan we had birthed and nurtured turned against us and began to devour all we had thought of as certain and available to us forever.

Back in the year was 2013, in a small country at the center of Europe, the clock was ticking towards the presidential election. Since 1989, the Czech Republic was yet again one of the bloc of Western democracies, having been ripped from that fold by the Russians in 1968 and by a Russian-backed master stroke in 1948. (It begs to note that by 1952, four short years after the arrival of the so-called Russian advisers, one of the richest countries in Europe turned into an impoverished, dank pit on the brink of economic collapse and forced to devalue its formerly robust currency.)

Long years before in the name of our victories we helped to push voters mind towards irritation, fear and combat emergency. Because fear sells. A common enemy helps the rednecks forget their own wishes and desires. You have nothing to offer. Your candidates are boring. You have to offer the enemy. Safety and anger. This is how we win. But this time someone else took our weapons.

Thousands of new small servers and Facebook pages began to pop up and churn out massive amounts of doom-and-gloom reports of increased crime rates, bloody tragedies and gory massacres, all purportedly committed either by Muslims or dark savages from primitive nations somewhere in Africa.  Crimes, murders, IS decapitations, violence, no go zones in London, moslems everywhere you go. Millions of hungry Africans, rapists, brutal black faces showing their white teeth with violent gestures on Youtube…Vocabulary like if there was some kind of disaster, hurricane, flooding, earthquake, tsunami.  Albeit surprised at times by thousands of vociferous voices and vicious comments the likes of which I would have never expected from peaceful generally good-natured people like the Czechs.

Rednecks have freaked out totally. We lost the control. Palpable dregs of fear began to get the better of me and yet all along, a faint something, an irritation grating at my subconscious, kept haunting me as if trying to claw its way out and reveal what had been contrived to remain concealed.  I – a professional marketer – had become a hapless victim of what had been the best-run marketing campaign of the previous ten years. I took the bait hook, line and sinker.

There was a better guy in the game. But who? Why? Where did he get this huge money?  And how the heck did he get this unbelievable reach on Facebook? Someone played against us and he was the best. Suddenly I started freaking out as well. However, this playmaster was not trying to sell soap or imbed a name of an election candidate into the minds of us common folk. The commodity was a narrative, a strategic collection of thoughts that a subject individual comes to regard as a true interpretation of the mosaic of the world.

It was a terribly good campaign. Disruptive. All in all, top notch.  It challenged all our previous agenda setting. When I look back today, it is with a full comprehension of the narrative’s complex features. It was an original creation custom made for our country, tailored to suit our national traits and mold to anticipated reactions of individual target groups. Moreover, unlike in all previous mainstream election campaigns, this bespoke narrative was not aimed at typical Czech voters, the respectable, better-educated middle class bound by civic duty to participate in the election process. Not at all.

It had something in it from Marx’s Communist Manifesto. It focused on the people who were struck by the fate hard and sent to the bottom. People aggressive, angry, desperate, helpless. We call them scornfully “mud”, because you cannot sell them anything, they always skip the elections. Marxist theory relies on the existence of the so called proletariat, the working-class poor who do not own any of the means of production and who, when properly stoked, will rise up and bring about a revolution. In the heyday decade prior to the 2013 elections, the Czech Republic was a prosperous country with booming economy. No workinng poor. No desperados. Combined with the country’s inherent high standards of cradle-to-grave social protections, there was hardly any proletariat left to stoke. Not much wiggle room for even the most cunning foreign operatives. Or was there?

If you consider, that Russian have had 1.5 million devoted allies in our former communist party members, how could they get this huge support again? The answer is congenial. If you’ve been called the Evil Empire time and time again, if you have unlimited amounts of ready money and if, unlike the profit-oriented Protestant West, your only investment goal is a total destruction of your enemy: You are free to create your own fertile environment. In this case, you lobby, finance and put in place a legal, yet destructive force known in Czech parlance as Executor Mafia.  In the Czech Republic, within a couple of short years, that loyal body swelled the ranks of debtors to one million of desperate and destitute people fallen down by seizures. You’ve just created your own proletariat one tenth of the nation’s population strong. [2]Still, what money lender would be foolish enough to repeatedly loan money to a population segment with a documented history of loan defaults? The lender funded by a wholesaler with unlimited funds and wholly unconcerned with monetary profit. And although it has since become apparent that the two lobbies have reaped huge benefits from a web of collusion tightly woven behind the scenes, it was the latter of the two that it was somehow connected with exorbitant sums of Russian money.

The new army of domestic trolls was born. They were nearly destitute, completely disenfranchised, and utterly voiceless. Filled with inner rage, they would burn any remnant of productive energy left to them by spewing discontent across social networks or internally projecting vengeance against everyone who is better off. Since they couldn’t buy much, there was not much we could sell them, and prior to 2013, not even one measly election candidate because they never made it to the polls. We have spent years dismissing them, refusing to hear them, smirking at them.  We even laughed at them. And now they came and voted. They got their voice back and it was the loud outcry of revenge. Les Misérables at the job. Russians simply got us.

 

In our beautiful peaceful country, where people never move, never travel and never learn foreign languages, everyone started to buy weapons. Czech farmers never knew how to use them. I am afraid my country is losing its freedom and democracy before it realized it has been attacked. I saw the absurd behavior of peaceful neighbors in the village where my parents come from. Their desire to “expel the moslems” in a small area where, for the next fifty years, there will be the only foreigner one Vietnamese who owns the local grocery store. They never ever saw a foreigner, but all of them are sure we are gonna die here, the Africans are going to take our houses and daughters and then the world will end.

When I look back, I am capable to see the narrative now. This narrative has the same potential as the immunodeficiency virus. You need just to implement it to the human mind and the civilization disappears.                It is as follows: „Trust nobody, truth doesn’t exist. Everyone has his own truth. Truth is elastic, relative. Do not take it too seriously. Everyone lies. It is the new normal. Truth isn‘t truth. (Greetings to Rudy Giuliani!) Do not get involved.  Stay on the sidelines because it is all pointless anyway. The crooked elites will always beat you. You are weak and powerless. You are bewildered. The intruders looting your core values and truths come from the walled havens of leftist universities. They are the corrupt elites from the thermophile, Muslim-infested West. You need security.  You need a protector. You are afraid and for a good reason, because debased trespassers are set to usurp the land that feeds you. You do not need freedom.  You need a protector. Someone rude, regardless, brutal. He will kick and stomp in your stead. He will be you cry, your vengeance. May he be your salvation, your safety and your redemption. The world as you know it will come back.”

 

 

And so in 2013, the first ever openly pro-Russian candidate in the history of my country was elected President. A man who has since managed to embarrass us in the eyes of the world more profoundly than all the drunken tourists, brawlers and shoplifters raiding the supermarkets of neighboring countries combined. A man whose actions and words have slowly but surely made us realize that hell and shame have no bottom. Our sitting pro-Russian president was elected by a country with no love for Russia, since in our recent history the Russians have crushed us twice: once underhandedly, in 1948, and later openly, with tanks, in 1968. As simple as that. It was a war. They turned our marketing game into their war. We were just fame gamblers. They are real soldiers.

This man is everything they promised us. Simple, brutal liar and manipulator, destroyer of relationships with the entire world around, narcissist and cognitively unfit exhibitionist, his mouth is full of insults. The unthinkable becomes casual. We adore him whatever he says. We know he is all of the above, but we don’t care. It’s suddenly so deliciously sweet to brake a long imperative of good behavior, respect and moral. He’ll give our enemies the hell. We are the virgin champions. What a feeling.

The campaign was not organized like what we know. It remains more on the way how the Chinese Triads operates. There was no obvious sponsor, no commander in chief, no invoices, no spending limits, no rules.  Newly recruited desperados on our territory are provided by small amount of money, by resources, services, counselling and recognition. Exactly that what these people missed.

New domestic trolls are very devoted to their new jobs. Very motivated. They have no clue who is playing this game. They are just happy to be a part of it. They have their own tribal culture. They emphasize we are all Slavs and relatives of Russia. They see themselves as eager patriots, all fired up to protect their homeland. Correspondingly, their paleocortex is in a constant state of a perceived permanent territorial threat. Battle ready, they shout  incoherent war cries, just like any other mob about to get into a fight.  Such mental state renders any debate impossible. The neocortex goes offline, cut off, because it tends to get in the way. Nassim Taleb says that our instinct is to run first and only later think about whether the tiger really thought of us as supper.  Defence of the Tribe is more than fucking truth!

Marketing experts have known this rule for decades and we have exploit it shamelessly all the time. We speak about “common sense,” but what we really mean is “make this choice, dude“. If you pronounce the word “common sense,” your voter has for a small moment the feeling he uses the critical thinking. He has no clue what is it all about. He just follows. And your goal is to keep him in in the mood.  You know it’s not fair, but it’s your job, right? Everyone has to make money. One day you wake up and someone better than you drives the business. But he is not interested in money. He wants the destruction. It is far away from what white protestant bankers consider profitable and what makes any sense. It is kind of the dark dirty arousal.

It is better than sex. When propaganda hits you, you want more. It hits almost everyone without being noticed. People who read inattentively. People who did not enjoy the facts at school. Secondary students who do not have enough information and do not know how the information needs to be verified. Elderly people who already feel that the body is not responding so well and the fear is haunting them – the eternal weak point somewhere in the belly that can be grasped and misused. People from a small village, where no foreigners have ever lived in history. People prone to impassioned narratives about “patriotism”, which they cannot define. It gives you feelings for the “right thing”, makes you connected, engaged.

Propaganda has hit our lives so strongly because of three factors have met at the same time. The first assumption was money. As usually. Putin invested in the propaganda the biggest financial amount in the history of masscult. His channel Russia Today alone costs hundreds of millions dollars a year[3]. The second lucky coincidence was the arrival of the Internet and social networks, where – as many of you foolishly believe – are giving birth to information free of charge. The third good judge was the most inventive use of social and mass psychology, very topical, scientifically grounded and clever. Indeed, I have to admit- good job. Actually, hats off!

Many years ago we started the dangerous game with information. Information was turned to infotainment, books to pictures, education to news headlines, truth to infotainment. Entertain ourselves to death, wrote Neil Postman. He really nailed it. We lost the sense of truth and forgot its immense value.

If the neurons in your body transmit for a long time the wrong information, you will die. Truth is a reference value, there is no fuzzy logic allowed. There is only one true information which could be transmitted. If you touch a hot stove, your neurons must not transmit “lukewarm”, “almost warm” or “cold”, because major burns are dangerous. Correct information is what saves your live. It keeps the system running.

The worst sign of this deception war against our survival instincts is its asymmetry. Their soldiers are businessmen, oligarchs, bankers, hackers and marketing experts. They all have the unspoken license to kill the truth. They are disabling our decision making at the highest level to inhibit our old fashioned armies and secret services. Their combat fields are our brains and ballots. They invented a perfect human immunodeficiency virus.  The invisible threat with potential to destroy everything.

They are still many enemies and obstacles left for the Industry of Lies. Neocortex. Education. Logic. Journalists. History.  Human solidarity. Morality. Independent billionaires. Democratic institutions. Constitution. Good working justice system. You need to eliminate them all step by step. Every day one more step forward. If you cut the meat by a cleaver slice by slice, every day the piece gets smaller. These enemies are beaten every day in small invisible battles.

Winston Churchill said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. Lie is allways sexy. Truth is grey. Just compare the red hot lips of the professional Facebook troll Angelina Reagan Turner and the pretty much humdrum appearance of Rachel Maddow.  Lie sells.

 

 

They succeeded in my country. They almost succeeded in many other countries. Because we were prepared to accept this all. Marketing and Entertainment Industry, all that visual stuff produced to attract our attention changed the game. Attention became the strongest currency of our world. We already love entertainment more than facts. We love presentiment more than evidence. The esoteric more than science. Prejudice more than openminded thinking.

Since this time I have been studying propagandists methods every single day. It was almost like breathing in their rhythm. I understand who they are and what are their motives.  I decided to switch on the light. It is my revenge and repentance at once. It is not so diabolic as it looks. These methods have been here since the ancient China, the new aspect is just the cyberwar multiplicative effect. Russians are not behind all our stupid mistakes we do, but they are masters in how to misuse them.

Take this as a short lesson of 1.0.1. propaganda basics. It is for free. It is your survival training. Make truth great again. Believe me, I’m the best. Terms and Conditions apply.

 

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[1] Subnational human development index. In: Global Data Lab: Sub-national HDI [online]. globaldatalab.org, 2015 [cit. 2018-08-31]. URL: https://hdi.globaldatalab.org/areadata/shdi/

[2] Czech and English interpretations of the term “executor” vary significantly. Czech legal system defines  executors as private persons entrusted with the enforcement of civil and commercial judicial decisions and awards. To most Czechs, the word reeks of pugnacious and seedy connotations. Over the past ten years, two seemingly-adversary lobbies have turned debt-collecting practices into a rich source of revenue for both. The Executors’ Chamber   a self-governing professional organization of court-appointed executors, with mandatory membership prescribed by law, has worked relentlessly to curtail the rights of debtors and to widen the smorgasbord of legal and attorney fees. Resulting increases in compounded amounts owed corresponded with inevitable increases in the numbers of foreclosures and repossessions. Subject real estate or repossessed personal property is often sold to friends of friends for a fraction of its real market value. The other, less-conventional lobby of non-conventional money lenders and quick-loan artists has been free to pursue the less sophisticated, less educated, mostly rural population segments with limited access to standard bank products. For people lacking in adequate financial prudence, a quick small loan turns quickly into a heavy burden, especially if a ostensibly-fair interest rate jumps to a usury rate ten times higher, all justified by pages of small print. The end result is that each and every day, disproportionate numbers of people loose everything to wage garnishments, liens, repossessions, and foreclosures. In a nation of ten million people, more than one tenth is currently subject to enforced debt collections and foreclosures, and as a textbook example of conditions ripe to spawn a revolution, they have nothing to loose but  “the chains of oppression.”

[3] Budget of Russia Today 2015 was 400 mil.USD. See: Nelson, Elizabeth; Orttung, Robert; Livshen, Anthony (8 December 2015), “Measuring RT’s Impact on YouTube” (PDF), Russian Analytical Digest, Forschungsstelle Osteuropa Bremen, Germany, Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zürich, Switzerland, Institute of History, University of Basel (177), retrieved January 23, 2016 – http://www.css.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/pdfs/RussianAnalyticalDigest177.pdf.