Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 7#3/4 Nenad Fisher 1 Jan 1994


The following excerpt from Cynic's Manual for war making and how to get away with it is taken from the chapter 'How to waltz to the national Anthem.' Despite such a promising musicological and choreographic title, the chapter deals very superficially with that delightful subject of folk dances (particularly from the region of Balkans which was taken as an educational example throughout the Manual).

Instead, the author examines the noble role of press and media as ultimate devices in the ancient craft of brain massage, its proper shampooing and overall mind hygiene


Foreword -


The prospect of war, by its own nature and implications, is not an attractive idea to anyone, especially if one belongs to that 'privileged' group for whose sake the war will be going on and whose flesh and blood will be, eventually, fed to cannons. Therefore, you have to rely on psychological factors which will integrate and homogenise population you are counting on, in a manner that will suit your needs the best. In short, you are facing the problem of finding a convincing cause, and supplying sufficient 'reliable' empirical data as a justification of your intentions.

That brings us to the short inventory of some facts which are true for the majority of normal people, citizens, your fellow neighbours. For instance, every man has a feeling that destiny might have been a bit more (or much more) just and in favour of his own particular life (while someone else always seems to be in an unexplainably better and easier position). At the same time, there is always a level of tolerance and acceptance which won't be crossed over as long as the basic existential values are not jeopardised. The sooner you understand that point, the better your chances to become a top class manipulator. Therefore, your first task is to offer the line of reasoning, the case to fight for, which will apply to each and everyone of your 'army-to-be'. That means, in effect, that you should offer an explanation model which is above anybody's particular experience, which will submerge one's mind into a domain of such a generality that it cannot be verified on the individual level at all -- national chauvinism happened to be proved as the most resourceful in that respect. National chauvinism provides the most of the constituents of fanatical reasoning which E.Hoffer concisely systematised in his book True Believer. It is founded on mythological grounds where all integrative forces are at work; hate, fear, common enemy, 'us and them', blood and soil, historical debts of honour, the past and the future, inferiors and superiors. On that soil the autonomous reflection dissolves, the 'I' becomes 'we', and the only integrity recognised is the one of depersonalised entity of Nation, through which an individual achieves his own, particular attributes. Of course, that doesn't happen by itself: there are many things to be done before you can cook up your pot in such a way that all ingredients react in a desired manner. And whatever they are, the true Chef de cuisine will never forget the crucial spice, the very axis of the rotation of your universe: the media. Therefore, we shall briefly discuss the usage of media within the domain of your political interests (which is just another way of saying 'your cosmic rights').

As an advanced enthusiast in warmongering studies, you are well aware that having the media under control has nothing to do with subjugating the media's alleged democratic powers. There is no such thing as an intrinsic tendency of public media towards democratic, humanistic, civic or whichever set of values you might fear would thwart your intentions. You know better than that: it is a simple fact that media are dramatically more effective within your totalitarian project than in the service of some public mission which counts on expendable entities such as individuals. Of course, these individuals nowadays know all there is to be known about war propaganda, about brain washing, about turning lies into half-truths, and these semi-truths into thoroughbred truths, and vice versa. They all heard about it so many times. They can quote dr. Goebels' case at large, if not out of their historical education, than out of the sheer instinct of a predator. So why there is such a persistent obsession of public by that subject ? What is so seductive in the craft of public deceivers, of canonised deception and its underlying tacit bigotry? Well, whatever reasons one could offer, we can always count on our fellow neighbour's fascination with ethical relativity.

Every (pre-)war propaganda nowadays counts on the fact of general knowledge about its existence. It starts by warning that there are those who try to brain-wash you, (naturally, through the other media)://those who keep us in total darkness like blind cattle led to the slaughterhouse.// Therefore, those who pretend not to see it, or even worse - deny it, these are the ones who are spreading the pest and hiding the crime.

Once the case is set ('to be or not to be', 'it's now or never', etc.) any rational examination of it will be disabled, provided you know that the ultimate foundation of your campaign is the global conspiracy theory, reinforced by the most appropriate mythology. Anything, absolutely anything from quantum theory to kitchen recipes, can be nicely fit within its frame, as long as you don't hesitate to use the creative forces of your imagination. Don't underestimate the 'epistemic hunger' of your consumers. Even if your opposition attempts to discredit you, they are doomed to try it by inferior, intellectual analysis, by boring quotation, examples, facsimiles, scientific proofs, briefly – by means too grey and tedious when compared with your juicy revelations. Don't ignore these attempts – use them as additional proofs of your own case. And remember the most powerful syntactic construction of all, particularly for the most obscure lines of reasoning, or the most unreliable premises: It is well known that...

Never underestimate the law of Moronic resonance: it always operates through dissolution of the individual into collective harmony whose tune, key and pitch you are to provide. Soon, you'll find the tidal wave welling, more and more of the previously reserved and cautious media will start to wriggle and squirm, roasted on the fire of public suspicion, until they blast out their own headlines about 'international conspiracy' and 'cosmic plot'. And right there and then, finding and unambiguously identifying the very source of evil will become their obsessive frenzy of self-justification (you won't even have to stir it up). The only thing you are expected to provide is the cause, but that belongs to another chapter.

Interestingly enough, the dirtiest things are achieved by citing the highest virtues and aspirations of human being. Therefore, you must appeal to 'history', 'truth', 'roots', 'justice', 'honesty', 'traditional peace-loving', 'courage and pride through the centuries of suffering', and 'incomparable cultural heritage', all the way to 'formative causes of the Universe'. Occasionally, you are free to improvise, even by adding your own personality on the list of ultimate values. Why are we pointing out this phenomenon? Because, it clearly illustrates the necessity of your humanistic education, preferably at the academic level. You have to be able to discuss for hours about all these axiomatic, ontological, ethical, metaphysical and theological issues, both in a scientific and poetic manner. The fact that you know how to operate a guillotine using your left hand only is, of course, very useful, but in this case it can only cheer up your cabinet staff, during the break in some important diplomatic conference. For a larger audience, particularly on the international stage, you need the largest ideas, and your versatility with an axe simply isn't that kind of idea.

Needless to say, since your case is to be an embodiment of these high ideals of galactic evolution, despite previous encouragement that any counterattack potentially serves your cause, it is not recommended to get caught in flagrante. Let's clarify that point on the triangular game board of the recent Balkan championship. Since we are interested only in the art and aesthetic properties of this craft, we won't pay much attention to the inventors and creators, and on which side of the game board they are. For the time being we are more concerned with educational examples, than the judgement of particular players. As in the world of chess, the former belongs to the textbooks, the later to history. The fact that some educational examples are taken from some players more often than, is in effect a tribute to their courageous investigations of the possibilities (and, as in any innovative work, mistakes done by pioneers are later carefully avoided by followers).

Example 1: Co-ordination and Consistency

In the early stages of pre-qualifications for the Balkan championship, competitor A broadcast and published transcripts (highest marks for co-ordination) of a film made by hidden cameras in different locations. The main character was the topranking military man of competitor b, who seemed to be overconfident in privacy of the locations, and hidden camera turned into 'candid camera', recording his arrangements and meditations on the subject of the game variant nowadays known as Knock on the door and shoot the tenants while still in pyjamas. Side b immediately returned the blow by organising a tv show with an idea of denouncing this cinematographic achievement as slander, contrived by malicious synchronising of otherwise innocent chatter. The tv showguests were the top political men, advisors, film experts etc. All of them argued that in principle, it could have been done, and just about when it seemed very firmly established that it was, actually, done, the main advisor of the president of side b, very self-confidently, announced that, actually, the film is authentic, but the characters knew they are secretly filmed and therefore staged counter-intelligence move of pretending to be more dangerous than they are in order to fool the opposite side. Wow ! That was really a splendid turn: not only did it discard the dubious 'falsification story', but it promoted seemingly careless players into a cunning masters of deception. Unfortunately, the day after, side b decided the 'falsification story' sounds better (for whatever reasons), and since then it became the official one. The imaginative advisor of the president moved to another post – in United Nations.

The moral: Once you pick up the story line, don't change it for at least 48 hours. That is the average duration of public memory.

Example 2: Accumulation of Coincidences

Player b announced and systematically covered by media an air attack on the President's residence. The jet-fighter obviously sneaked through radar defence all the way to the capital, fired Maveric rocket from about 10-20 kilometres, hit the palace, and retreated. By coincidence, from a safe distance some tv cameraman was filming the fuzzy horizon of the city, and 'lo and behold !' - he captured the moment of hit. By coincidence, the rocket took strange trajectory and hit the backyard of the palace without passing through the walls. However, the explosion must have been terrific, since the huge and precious crystal chandelier fall down from the ceiling in major meeting room. Luckily, none of its pieces broke. Even more luckily, none was injured by that time since by coincidence there were no usual crowd around: advisors, security, not to mention top political figures. Most fortunately, the video recording of the hit was shown only once. Not because it was too attractive, but because it clearly showed a cloud of white smoke after the hit. And some international correspondents might get the unpolite idea to consult some of pyrotechnic military experts about the smoke features of rocket hit.

The moral: If you are fighting for the ultimate and holy cause, you are allowed to count on transcendental co-operation of coincidence. Just make sure they stay in the realm of a wonder, (at least as proof that even heaven is on your side), but don't make it part of documentary footage.

Example 3: Expertise

The civilians of the player c were hit by mortar shell while irresponsibly and provocatively waiting for bread in a besieged town. Player a, immediately accused of hitting (probably because of his habit to do so in past several months on regular hourly basis) responded by accusing the player c of massacring his own figures, by planting plastic explosive in vicinity of the crowd, and activating it at appropriate moment in order to gain sympathies of the world community. That subtle move is by its nature so tempting, that only the future will show how often, by which master-players and at which occasions it was used. However, in this particular case the line of argument was heavily based on the absence of a shell crater. This is the clear case of unlimited confidence in laymen's knowledge of ammunition and incendiaries: for it is well known... that shells make spectacular holes in the ground when they hit the target. Unless they are equipped with non-impact fuse (doppler fuse), which is used for antipersonnel shells exactly in order to make a shell explode before it reaches the ground (so the effect of the blast won't be wasted in ground digging).

The moral: None.

At the end of this short review, the author wishes to express his gratitude to all those who contributed in the science and craft of truth alchemy, whose effects on de-encephalisation of contemporary man will be highly appraised by future generations of hominoid apes. Those will climb down from their branches as soon as the actual ones finish their evolutionary job.