Narrative Reification: Banana Republics and More!
This is Part 2 of a three part series where we explore function of the Media in the United States and their role with regards to the State Department in accomplishing their foreign policy tasks. we introduce the controversy and explain the role of the State Department throughout history.
The outrage, fallout and chaos within Colombia over this incident, would pale in comparison to what would come in Guatemala when the US State was summoned to do the bidding of the United Fruit Company.Though this time, with the difference that the state apparatus was now operating under the auspices of a young espionage service formed in the tutelage of one Reinhard Gehlen.
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Gehlen’s starring role was as the Nazi head of the Third Reich's Foreign Armies East, an intelligence outfit tasked with the administration of Generalplan Ost—the plan devised to starve the populations of the Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern portion of the European continent into extinction. He extracted from the European continent following the war and given amnesty in exchange for use of his “talents” in developing an organization for the purpose of, what in its effect can only be accurately described as “spreading unending misery across the world for money,” before he was transplanted back to West Germany to oversee the entirety of the “post-”Nazi intelligence apparatus of the BRD government until he retired after receiving the state's highest accolades. This, of course, is but the humble origin story of the Central Intelligence Agency.
In Guatemala, the United Fruit Company and the CIA, would instigate a coup d'etat marked by intense psychological warfare and good old fashioned violence ending with the relatively quick resignation of President Jacobo Árbenz, whose peasant-oriented agrarian land reform policies drew the ire of United Fruit which then plunged Guatemala into nigh-40 years of vicious civil war marked by human rights abuses and genocidal mayhem conducted on the part of US installed butchers that could—and have—filled volumes far beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, based on the human cost set in the market of blood, capital remains clearly priceless.
A silver lining, highly tarnished though it may be in this dark, dark cloud however, is that plunging countries into decades of unmitigated chaos is, more often than not, terrible business. As time went on, not necessarily replacing imperialism by way of the bullet and the blade but certainly being integrated alongside them, providing that needed mitigation to the optics of the brutal violence, if not the emmiserating effects, would be the increasing implementation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The twin organizations serving as the Deimos and Phobos of international finance born for the purpose of loansharking the impoverished countries of the Global South as a result of the Bretton Woods Conference.
This conference constituted a gathering of the world's middle managers of misery at New Hampshire's Mount Washington Hotel wherein they all slit their wrists into the same golden bowl, signifying their unity in the bloodlust of the Balance of Payment deficit before watching John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White strangle the concept of Progress to death with their bare hands, dragging it out into the too-on-the-nose-named White Mountain National Forest and burying it in a shallow grave at the roots of the Magical Money Tree, a sacrifice christening their cult to the insatiable god of war they built in the bondage of the US dollar. New Hampshire's motto demands “Live Free Or Die,” and so this burgeoning neoliberal death cult saw a clear choice.
The IMF, seen as a global lender of last resort (often functioning in tandem with the World Bank) carries with it the modus operandi of attaching to its loans conditions that recipient countries employ austerity measures and so-called “structural adjustments”—the implementation of economic policies and reforms designed to enact deep cuts into public sector and social spending while opening up a country's economy to “free trade,” making it more attractive to foreign investment.
Perhaps most prominently featured on the world stage at this moment in regards to Ukraine, a country that saw the second largest drop in income of all post-Soviet states following the illegal dissolution of the USSR, the country lost more than half of its per capita GDP following the collapse and turned to the IMF (and World Bank) in a bid to at least partially makeup the difference, accruing nearly 20 billion dollars in loans in the ten year period between 1998 and 2008, all largely contingent on the destruction of the social safety and repeal of energy subsidies. A further 15 billion dollar loan planned in 2010 was delayed after then-President Yanukovych vetoed austerity measures related to the lifting of gas subsidies and pension and tax reforms. Three years later, Yanukovych was expected to sign an “Association Agreement” with the European Union, a system of austerity measures tied to a 17 billion dollar IMF loan. Echoes of Guatemala would ring when Yanukovych was to back out of the Association Agreement in favor of a more attractive loan and trade agreement offered by the Russian Federation, leading to a series of violent protests spurred on by US-backed interests that were to end with his resignation and exile that would then see Ukraine enter into now nearly a decade of intense civil war.
World’s Biggest Corporate Lobbyist
Though ultimately these “third-party” financial institutions are not even necessary in many cases, the US State Department can just be wielded directly as a lobbying firm operating exclusively to the benefit of private interests while being paid for from the public coffers. The State Department, between 2005 and 2009 would, at the behest of the pharmaceutical cartel, lobby the government of the Philippines against enacting reductions in patent terms and prescription drug prices, expressing in a communications cable from Manila apparent bafflement regarding public distaste for their end-goals sought on behalf of their “clientele.”
“[S]ome multinational companies failed to recognize that cheaper medicine for the masses is an emotional and political issue.”
Also that year (2005), cables would reveal the State Departments efforts to install “reasonable interlocutors” within the Bolivian government on behalf of another capital cartel, this one representing the hydrocarbons industry. As with the prescription drug prices being an “emotional” issue for deeply impoverished and sick Filipinos, a similar baffled concern is expressed for capital's concerns that it the Bolivian government may subject it to basic consequences for things like “tax evasion” and “gross negligence:”
“In addition, the Repsol and Chaco representatives were deeply worried about what they described as the politicized allegations that their companies were selling contraband and/or dodging taxes. (President Evo Morales and VP Alvaro Garcia Linera have repeatedly stated that the GOB would deal harshly with companies guilty of such charges, including by rescinding their contracts and pursuing legal action.) In addition, Transredes (the U.S.-owned pipeline operator), which is facing potential prosecution for a recent pipeline explosion, expressed concern that it could be added to the political hit list.”
The prior year, in accordance with the wishes of various US clothing manufacturers, as part of the “Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act”—a bill named one rung on the civility and legitimacy ladder above the “Nice Country You Got Here, Shame If Something Happened To It” Act—the State Department work to block an increase in the minimum wage being discussed in Haitian parliament to the tune of $1.75 per day (22 cents hourly). Deputy Director of Mission David Lindwall would this time have the honor of expressing the US government's total disconnection from, and hostility to, the notion of humanity that seems to feature prominently in every single one of these correspondences, lamenting that the bill “did not take economic reality into account but that appealed to the unemployed and underpaid masses.”
Follie A Deux
On its face the function of the US press is to disseminate information to the masses about domestic and world affairs and goings-on, its actual function is one, outlined previously, of narrative reification. Reification is a complex concept that, put simply, when “[one's] own labour becomes something objective and independent of [them],” and as such, an abstracted human creation is treated as natural occurrence; self-evident fact. Here we break with the theories of “manufactured consent” and “invented reality,” hinging on mass-manipulation to create a common false perception among the populace and instead posit that the purpose of the US news media is to produce Lies to be exchanged as commodities, and in breaking the relationship between product and producer. This allows the social relations—elements of relations of production that imbue society with its specific character—to appear as cosmic law. Bluntly: “the Lie” is consumed and people believe it; they know they do this and continue to do so.
This is obviously important to the functionality of the system, as such the crafting of these Lies is seen as an important and necessary art, though still dirty work. Given the stomach churning violence and misery produced by these enemies of humanity within the US State Department compelled by capital held by the ruling class, the task of managing the discursive framework and widespread perception of what is perpetrated to those ends cannot be delegated and trusted to simply anyone. The warlord nobles and mandarins of capital's death cult must have their scribes, and those who serve in that capacity come from an exceedingly shallow pool of lackeys from a specific background.
Illuminated in a 2018 study by FAIR, 43.9% of New York Times and 49.8% of Wall Street Journal staff editors and writers attended an 'elite' (as defined here) school. The DC-insider magazine The New Republic had an even more pronounced bias in this direction with two-thirds of its staff attending one of these “elite” colleges, over half at the Ivy League specifically. Most journalists do not have a masters degree in their field though at the Wall Street Journal more than half of their reporters and editors had one, with the New York Times being markedly lower at 14% — though at both papers an MA from Columbia University specifically was most prevalent and according to the authors conveyed “a definite advantage on those hoping to work at elite newspapers.”
A 2017 study found that at many of these 'elite' universities, the number of students from the top 1% income bracket was in excess of the number of students from the bottom 60%. This is reflected in the demographics of the journalists working at these mainstream news publications. Born at the top of the social pyramid in guaranteed comfort, they are, within this system, clearly the best equipped to deliver the Lie commodity to the masses; who better to be trusted with such an indefensible task than with people whose existences have been permeated with every possible benefit of the system they're serving in a way that rules the need to ever truly question it out of the equation of material interests entirely?
Delivered from foundational settings of the McMansion foregrounded by a freshly watered lawn, surrounded by miles and miles of an increasingly sun-parched southwest brutally stolen from the indigenous (the land not worth the speculation then converted into death camp "reservations" and mass graves, repeated as with the rest of the territory of the 50 states), to the more exotic locales, say, sipping Piña Coladas in the lobby of San Juan's Caribe Hilton Hotel, the self-designated origin of the iconic drink, while never thinking too hard about the reasons or implications of a US citizen's relative ease of access to Puerto Rico compared to its neighbor in the Caribbean, Cuba, and what this means for the populations of either island. Candies and cakes with no bitter aftertaste from the residue sugarcane harvested by Zimbabwean or Filipino children, giving oneself pat on the back for "providing" the immigrant gardener with the proverbial "better life" with no mind paid to this opportunity presenting itself solely for the tax dollars used to finance the planning and execution of military coups and the creation of drug pushing, village burning contras and fascist death squads (a la Guatemala?) forcing these "lucky" recipients of First World Elevation™ to become immigrants in the first place.
The resulting ideological byproduct of this process of narrative reification could be considered (at least a form or iteration of) American Exceptionalism, or: the belief, explicit or implicit, that the United States is a positive force in the universe as a matter of destiny, thereby giving inherent validity and justification to all its past and present actions.
This permanent disqualification from the category of “wrong in any way, ever” facilitates ample opportunity to present commonplace concepts like “freedom,” “democracy,” “authoritarianism,” et cetera, with internally-crafted definitions that hold little resemblance to their popular conceptions, instead twisted into a bait-and-switch scam in terms of the arrangement of the social order (something alternatively—and perhaps more aptly here—referred to as “political-economy”) that allows the mass-media to portray the US's steadfast and hyperviolent servitude to capital in righteous language:
“Freedom” refers exclusively to the lack of restriction, restraint and reproach in the implementation of neoliberal economic conventions, to wit:
Private enterprise must be freed from the yoke of legal and regulatory oversight, from legal and financial liability, from the untenable burden of answering to the public trust
State-owned enterprise must be freed from the clutches of public ownership and privatised;
in its place that same public must be freed from the burden of becoming “trapped” in a social safety-net through the imposition of austerity measures, experiencing the glorious freedom of the absence of healthcare and lack of food security;
“Democracy” no longer refers to the Power of the People, the people having since been freed from any semblances of power as their security and welfare was unilaterally confiscated by international profiteers, instead it refers to the population's ability to “vote with their wallets,” to express power purely though the figure count at the bottom of their bankroll, from the grocery store to the state-halls, on the assumption a person is well off enough for entry into either; it refers to the “power” of the people to elevate in unison the almighty Commodity above all else. Instead now “authoritarianism” takes the place of the old “democracy;” any act taken by a people, party or government that flies in the face of any of the above processes, to regulate, or worse: nationalize, an industry, to in any way attempt to siphon profits (stolen wages) from the privateers and redirect it into the public coffers to provide education, healthcare, anything at all that would go towards the improvement or insurance of the well being of the citizenry is now “authoritarian.
”Any attempt at all to chart a different path from subservience to international capital's petulant demands for “infinite growth”—if it infringes upon the rightful liberty of any and every banknote within a country's borders to be permanently entombed in the silken pocket of an unaccountable don of one of capital's constantly consolidated cartels—it is the grandest oppressor the world has ever seen. Any organization or formation with the temerity to believe it can press its weight against the financiers and their effectively private armies that fight wars for profits paid in public blood that turns red the balance of the budget of the country they plunder to their private and personal ends and exercise the authority to curb their excess, or worse yet, push the parasites out of the banks and the borders, will be designated the iron-fist seeking to smash this newly defined “freedom” and “democracy.”
While this system has succeeding in mostly in impoverishing the majority of the world while providing a few hundred people with wealth no human could spend in several thousand lifetimes, a select strata of the global population, of course, lives within the countries of the world (broadly termed “The West”) that perpetuates this system and its insidious logic on the rest of the world that reaps modest benefits of the cheap commodities, cash crops and labor that the resource and wealth extraction of their capitalist class provides, a cycle of constant consumption constrained to the whims of an unplanned economy cruelly advertised as “living” that can feel like several things up to and including absolutely Nothing At All—but not quite failure as typically understood—and this cunning system of being marginally preferably to abject misery as long as one does not think too hard—or, preferably, at all—about how it is being maintained, allows the system and all its toxic tenets and terror to continue unperturbed.
Employees at the State Department come from a markedly similar background — LBJ once remarked that the CIA was staffed by “boys whose parents sent them to Princeton but wouldn't let them into the family brokerage firm,” and following heir to the Swanson fortune Tucker Carlson's rejection from from employment at the CIA, father Dick Carlson encouraged his son to go into journalism, explaining: “they'll take anybody.” Here we see the formation of a bipartite of blithering bourgeois bastard sons happily locked into their complimentary pathos.
In 2005, a cable was sent from the relevant US Ambassador entitled “Democracy Under Threat In Bolivia.” In keeping with the traditions of what this ambassador represented, the “threat” presented itself as:
the registration of voters in rural areas
aid in acquiring identification necessary to participate in civic life
the creation of the Constituent Assembly
True to the US's convenient redefinitions of the concepts listed above the “Democracy” under threat was the power of capital to have gifted to it rights to phone services, minerals, the rain from the very sky as dictated by the 1995 'constitution'.
In craven difference to the standard meaning, according to the State Department's reified narrative, allowing the people participation in the exercise of power was a threat to the idea of the people having power. Here “democracy” was the right of stuffed suits from the World Bank to descend like vultures and democratically decide what resources would line whose pockets and which government officially would be chosen to gently place the cash there.
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