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Freedom Flyer 22
Bush is a master at
inducing learned helplessness in the electorate,
writes Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist who specializes in language and
power. He uses pessimistic language
that creates fear and disables people from feeling they can solve their
problems. Brooks makes these
observations in a recent article entitled A
Nation of Victims (http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030630&s=brooks).
Learned helplessness is a clinical condition. It develops when
people come to believe that they have no control over their environment, and
that problems caused by negative events are both permanent as well as complexly
related to other events. Learned helplessness destroys a persons motivation to
respond to outside threats and problems.
Brooks argues that Bush seeks to generate learned
helplessness in order to break down electoral resistance to his agenda. To this
end, he uses several dominating linguistic techniques including empty language,
personalization, and negative framework.
Empty language refers to broad statements that are so
abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. Take
for example Bushs claim in the 2003 State of the Union: "We will answer every danger and every
enemy that threatens the American people."
Brooks counts thirty-nine instances of empty language in that speech.
Personalization places the attention of the listener on the
speakers personality and projects a dependent relationship between them.
Turning again to the 2003 State of the Union, Bush asserts, "I will defend the freedom and security
of the American people." That
statement parallels his language in the weeks after 9/11: I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not
relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American
people. It is as if he is a superhero,
and were supposed to sit back and let him save us.
Negative framework completes Bushs linguistic program. It
is effected by portraying the world as dark and evil. Accordingly in Bushs
terms, America faces an axis of evil. "Americans
should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, he counsels. The fight will be unlike
any other we have ever seen...I know many citizens have fears tonight....Be
calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat." Brooks finds that catastrophic words
and phrases, repeatedly drilled into a listeners head, create a level of
anxiety that overwhelms opposition to the substance of the message. At that
point, it appears pointless to do
anything other than cower.
How, then, will we the people break the spell of Bushs
linguistic dominatrix? Dr. Brooks advises that superior ideas wont win the day
because, people do not support Bush for
the power of his ideas, but out of the despair and desperation in their hearts. People in the grip of a desperate
dependency, she continues, don't respond to rational criticisms of
those upon whom they are dependent. The best way to break
the dependency is to forcefully state plausible alternatives to the status quo
and put the American electorate back in
touch with their core optimism.
That is a tall order. It is a tall order for the three
million people whose jobs have been lost since Bush took office. It is a tall
order for the soldiers engaged in an unwanted and increasingly repressive
occupation of Iraq, as it is for their families and the families of those who
have been wounded and killed in Iraq. It is a tall order for the firemen,
policemen, teachers and public servants nationwide whose budgets have been cut
and workloads increased. It is a tall order for senior citizens facing threats
to Medicare and Social Security benefits while healthcare costs skyrocket.
Where is the optimism to be found?
Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development under both the Bush I and Clinton
administrations, has an answer. During her tenure in government, Fitts learned
that 85 percent of our taxes go to agencies that do not have reliable financial
systems nor audited financial statements, even though a 1994 federal law
transparent accounting. Additionally, in the three fiscal years 1998, 1999, and
2000 the Department of Defense reported $3.3 trillion in undocumentable
adjustments, which as Fitts puts it, is government speak for
theft of real taxpayer money. Fitts discovered a $59 billion loss in HUD for the same
years. When she began raising alarms about this massive fraud, she was fired,
and an accounting software program she developed to track the fraud was
destroyed. Fitts is now a successful financial consultant who has a clear
message of hope for America.
It is the following: America
does not have deficits -- we have a white-collar crime drain that is a
financial tapeworm. If we bring transparency to federal accounts and hold the
federal government legally responsible for compliance with the laws, there will
be money enough to wipe out deficits, fund social services, and attend to
international responsibilities with the generosity that prosperity permits.
This is a way to core American values. This is a way to optimism. Tell your
congressional representatives to get the money back. Tell your favorite
presidential candidate. Tell your neighbor. Contact Catherine Austin Fitts for
more information at http://solari.com/learn.
And break the spell.
The Freedom Flyer
comes out weekly and is designed for free distribution in the streets of
America. To join this new national dialogue, or to contribute to it, send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to
the website of the Alliance for Democracy at www.thealliancefordemocracy.org.
© by Nick Biddle