#18401
i'm a little skeptical of the sensationalized, Adam Curtis-level stuff about genuine mind control capabilities of CIA torture rooms, corporate advertising, etc.

In a lot of cases the science for these techniques is between sketchy and nonexistent. It's very attractive to general audiences in today's liberal societies to believe that ideology is this overly simplified operation of switches in people's heads, all catalogued and well understood, and that brilliant technocratic experts know all the secrets to changing people's minds for good or ill. But there is not a lot of evidence statistically or anecdotally that any of these techniques work reliably. Advertising campaigns often make mascots or commercial formats recognizable while the products and brands they promote continue to fail. Success is so haphazard that I would consider advertising (and its sister discipline, marketing) not even at the level of pseudo-science. These act more as ideological training programs, much like "business" as an academic pursuit, with all its journals and papers full of meaningless p-values and made-up quadrants.

As for "MKULTRA", it's used nowadays as a large umbrella term to describe a lot of different intelligence/security-agency schemes to influence minds and opinions. This is fine imo, like using "Gladio" to describe similar operations, and for much the same reason: because the name people recognize adheres to a specific and documented operation that proves that such operations really did happen, when most of officialdom in the West continues to deny they happened. So when people talk about "MKULTRA" in general, they may very well be referring to something sound or established.

That said, a lot of the CIA/academic work torturing student volunteers and the like didn't seem to result in anything useful. It seems instead to have been pursued out of a sincere belief that advanced science in the USSR must have discovered some subliminal technique, chemical formula or EM-wave device to control people's minds, because otherwise, so the belief went, the USSR would have collapsed following World War II at the latest. The thinking went that if the USSR's scientists could figure this stuff out, so could the U.S. scientific-military-industrial apparatus, that or discover analogous techniques.

But the underlying, unquestioned assumption at the start of the program was that the USSR couldn't possibly persist as a superpower in defiance of the "natural" order of capitalism, so its continued existence proved mind-control techniques existed, Q.E.D., and because Soviet science couldn't possibly be all that far in advance of Western science, a crash program would put those presumed mind-control abilities into the hands of the CIA. And of course the USSR was not actually held together by KGB-trained telepaths.

This is another aspect where Marxists tend to be smarter than most conspiracy theorists, because the free-flying conspiracy theorist doesn't really have a comprehensive idea of ideology, so there's a tendency on their part to view things like MKULTRA as perfectly masterminded and cynical and never a shaky product of wrong beliefs.
#18402
the MKULTRA fandom
#18403
the CIA engaged in a systematic program of torture for decades on the off chance that it would give them total domination over the human mind. if you do that to enough people you'll cook up a few mansons along the way
#18404

tears posted:

the CIA engaged in a systematic program of torture for decades on the off chance that it would give them total domination over the human mind. if you do that to enough people you'll cook up a few mansons along the way

yeah agreed. Like... clearly Ted Kaczynski is a product of institutional torture and abuse. I just have doubts that the bourgeois police state successfully radio-programmed him as a living weapon 30 years in advance to infiltrate / disarm the #1 existential threat to capitalism, the AmeriKKKan anarcho-primitivist movement, through letters from prison.

#18405

cars posted:

clearly Ted Kaczynski is a product of institutional torture and abuse

#18406

cars posted:

i'm a little skeptical of the sensationalized, Adam Curtis-level stuff about genuine mind control capabilities of CIA torture rooms, corporate advertising, etc.

Great post overall but I'm wonderin if I'm readin this part wrong, but from what I understand Adam Curtis exclusively talked about that stuff being failed pseudoscience. Hypernormalization was a severe turd though and I haven't seen his latest so maybe I'm missing something

#18407
I'm talking specifically about The Century of the Self, where Curtis presents the glib argument that an aggressive attempt to market cigarettes to women in the late '20s/early '30s coincided with more women smoking at the beginning of the Great Depression, therefore governments can control the brains of the populace using perfectly weaponized Freudian psychoanalysis. If he's pulled back on that since then I don't blame him. It's a fun movie but it's also a fawning and naive ad campaign for advertisers / marketing consultants themselves, presenting them as having ludicrous superpowers, the same way that it didn't exactly hurt Cambridge Analytica when the entire left-liberal establishment decided that a bunch of nerd hacks personally fixed the 2016 presidential election through Facebook brainwashing, so no deeper examination was needed of the electorate or mechanism that put Trump's administration in the White House.

Not Marxist, erases class, etc., but still worth a watch, so long as you keep in mind the materialist concept of ideology, which Curtis lacks for obvious reasons.
#18408
Neurone Fucker Boyz
#18409
The latest one does yes

chickeon posted:

cars posted:
i'm a little skeptical of the sensationalized, Adam Curtis-level stuff about genuine mind control capabilities of CIA torture rooms, corporate advertising, etc.

Great post overall but I'm wonderin if I'm readin this part wrong, but from what I understand Adam Curtis exclusively talked about that stuff being failed pseudoscience. Hypernormalization was a severe turd though and I haven't seen his latest so maybe I'm missing something

#18410

tentativelurkeraccount posted:

The latest one does yes

#18411

cars posted:

I'm talking specifically about The Century of the Self, where Curtis presents the glib argument that an aggressive attempt to market cigarettes to women in the late '20s/early '30s coincided with more women smoking at the beginning of the Great Depression, therefore governments can control the brains of the populace using perfectly weaponized Freudian psychoanalysis. If he's pulled back on that since then I don't blame him. It's a fun movie but it's also a fawning and naive ad campaign for advertisers / marketing consultants themselves, presenting them as having ludicrous superpowers, the same way that it didn't exactly hurt Cambridge Analytica when the entire left-liberal establishment decided that a bunch of nerd hacks personally fixed the 2016 presidential election through Facebook brainwashing, so no deeper examination was needed of the electorate or mechanism that put Trump's administration in the White House.

Not Marxist, erases class, etc., but still worth a watch, so long as you keep in mind the materialist concept of ideology, which Curtis lacks for obvious reasons.

It's certainly a problem if that's what people are taking away from it but I'm inclined to think that might be a symptom of how people share and acquire information more generally these days, looking for vulgar reductive prepackaged explanations for shit on youtube etc. A non naive viewer should be able to understand it as describing the emergence of modern advertising and its common origins with modern western state propaganda, the kind of approaches still used for the kind of ideological engineering involved in producing exactly that kind of left-liberal establishment consensus. That this either or ostensibly escapes Curtis in his recent work certainly doesn't help the situation or his general credibility. I don't think it was particularly blameworthy in that regard at the time CotS came out but he should know better these days

#18412
reading some english plays. finished An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley, now Hobson's Choice by hArold Brighouse
#18413
shenfan update: quite a bit of stuff on the socialist education movement and how, after mao launched it, it was immediately coopoted by rightists in the party who sent giant teams of party members to villages to forcibly search for corruption(in an apolitical way that ignored class struggle totally) among party officials, completely contradicting what mao had actually said. then mao wrote some criticism of this approach which lead to further rectification but it seems like even then the rightists were there to turn things to their own ends rather than emphasising the class struggle that mao was talking about. hinton notes that many people seem to have been uncertain how to actually identify if someone was a capitalist roader or not which made it easier to coopt the struggle. then we're back in 1971 for a bit where cadres are trying to interest the peasants in some rectification, but they mostly seem disinterested, i assume when we cover the cultural revolution proper there will be more detail on why they feel this way. i really can't recommend this book enough, I thought it might not be as good as fanshen given that very few people in comparison seem to read it but it's really excellent, although because of the subject matter much more formless and sprawling.
#18414
also, did you know that famous african american author toni morrison was the editor of shenfan? i didn't, but william hinton thanks her for doing a good job editing it in the introduction. very cool
#18415

i love cyclonopedia but that's a brutal own lol

the brutal cyclonopedia own is that the guy basically copped to paying for a suicide girls account

#18416
#18417

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lu-xun/1919/04/x01.htm
#18418

kinch posted:

i love cyclonopedia but that's a brutal own lol

the brutal cyclonopedia own is that the guy basically copped to paying for a suicide girls account

i'm not personally convinced that the author knows what suicide girls is

#18419

tears posted:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lu-xun/1919/04/x01.htm

there's a good recent penguin classics edition of all his fiction. the introduction has some liberal crap about the tyranny of socialist realism etc etc but it does also contain this fun anecdote:

(Through the 1910s and early 1920s, Lu Xun may well have remained largely celibate; according to one account, he refused to wear padded trousers through Beijing’s bitter winters in order to freeze out his sexual frustration

#18420
reading about U.S. officials in charge of mid-20th-century national policy toward native tribes

#18421
reading cormac mccarthy - outer dark - i gotta read more fiction dudes style is cracked
#18422
every time i read fiction i feel like a little baby who has rediscovered the sun
#18423

tears posted:

reading cormac mccarthy - outer dark - i gotta read more fiction dudes style is cracked

read blood meridian if you ha'nt

#18424

tears posted:

reading cormac mccarthy - outer dark - i gotta read more fiction dudes style is cracked

his style owes a lot to faulkner and faulkner is very good so you may want to read him as well if you haven't.

#18425

Edit: More seriously, i have downloaded blood in my eye, hope to get to it in the near future.

Edited by Peentis ()

#18426
outer dark was pretty fucked up - it did feel like it was an incomplete assembly though. its the second book in a row i have read set in a sort of subtly disrealised reality - whatever the term is for the uncanny valley of setting, outer dark did it for me
#18427
Thus Spake Zarathustra.
#18428
the road was much less the author showing off his brobdingnagian vocabulary and a lot more walking along some roads. it was fine, i preferred the outer dark
#18429
just got the end of the late 60s shanxi unrest in shenfan, we're getting close to the end of the book now. this section gave me some new insight into what happened during the cultural revolution and how wild some of the unrest got(there's a bit where hinton describes the weapons development between the two main warring factions escalating to the point that workers were repurposing their factories to make artillery and diy tanks!) but it's left me a bit mystified about the underlying causes of the events. it seems like in many cases the leaders of the various factions were using language borrowed from mao cynically just so that they could attain power rather than conducting actual ideological struggle, but i'm much less clear about the perspectives of the masses who were part of the various factions. it seems like some of the criticism of the pla by some factions was justified in the sense that while they claimed to be neutral peacemakers in practise they took the side of specific factions and were very much involved themselves in the struggle for power. but then some of the people making those criticisms seem to have been unprincipled and probably would have loved to have the army on their side too. it's such a murky picture and i don't really know what to make of it! on the lighter side though, this section also contained a bit about the time that some of mao's wax mangos got a military escort to prevent them from being seized by a contending faction, which is a great story.
#18430
i finished shenfan. great book and i can't recommend it enough for people who want to learn more about the cultural revolution and china. still trying to organise my thoughts on it but i liked this bit where hinton describes in 1983 basically the exact line that the ccp today has(also similar to the line taken by some pro deng/xi people online):

William Hinton posted:

General Yeh Chien-ying, speaking for the Central Committee in
October 1979, finally denounced the whole Cultural Revolution as an unmitigated
disaster. "Ten lost years," the commentators said—and this formulation,
which matched the personal experience of millions of people
(especially large numbers of intellectuals, who had suffered grievous harm,
long terms of labor in the countryside, even physical torture as political
prisoners and the death of friends and relatives), swept the field.
General Yeh's pronouncement opened the way for a series of articles and
speeches that laid the blame for the "false" revolution squarely on Mao's
shoulders and classified the politics of his declining years as ultraleft. As
they developed this theme, Mao's critics began to delve into pre-Cultural
Revolution history. They then extended Mao's ultraleft period backward in
time to include, first, the Socialist Education Movement, then the Great
Leap Forward and the formation of communes, and finally the wholesale
creation of higher-stage cooperatives in the countryside as well as the
headlong merging of handcrafts and service establishments in the cities
during the middle fifties.
This revision of history finally settled on a post-Liberation turning point
for the revolution, a watershed between progress and decline, between
correct and "left" politics, somewhere in 1956. By denouncing all Mao's
subsequent initiatives, his critics avoided grappling in any concrete way
with the questions Mao raised so insistently after that date—questions
concerning the development and consolidation of China's new socialist
relations of production.* Since they rejected the relations themselves, since
they regarded communes, coops, even production teams as premature, they
found it easy to reject a Cultural Revolution designed to solidify these
innovations. "Ten lost years" needed no further analysis.

hinton thinks that the mass mobilizations, of which the cultural revolution was the culmination, failed, and he tried to explain why that might be. one thing that has been stressed throughout the book is the problem of ultraleft currents that would surface during mobilisations and usually mess things up by saying or doing really dogmatic things that tended to alienate people(and allow rightists to then take advantage and discredit the mass movement as a whole). he notes that mao seems to have been happy to encourage mobilisation against rightist forces, but never directed any popular movements against left deviations, either because he was unwilling or unable to do so. there is some more stuff here that is probably important (particularly about the development of a new bureaucracy among ccp officials and how that tended to stifle the mass movements) but i am still thinking about it and getting it clear in my brain so i will end this post here for now

#18431

cars posted:

reading about U.S. officials in charge of mid-20th-century national policy toward native tribes

so this guy led a policy known as "termination" where the goal was to eliminate tribes as sovereign legal entities

anyway the United $naKKKe$ $upreme Court did that today. well...............................................bye #18432 cars posted: United$naKKKe$Supreme Court opinions don't have to make legal arguments. They're flawless cases for CLS, because when you make it to the top of bourgeois judiciary, you take your mask off and just make the law up from your preexisting beliefs. I regret to inform that$upreme KKKourt Ju\$ti¢e Elena Kagan has adopted my opinion and we must therefore buy her an account.

#18433
from the good book on Cuba (We Are Cuba)

Between March and December 2001, the social workers assumed a huge project: to measure and weigh every Cuban child up to 15 years old. The point, Gómez said, was to go beyond the numbers to alleviate the causes. He recalled Fidel Castro insisting:

"I don’t need statistics, I need the name and surname, and the reason the child is underweight. Who knows this? Who is looking after the child? I cannot sleep peacefully and you tell me that it is 3 percent, that it is 1 percent, that it is low in this country; that we have improved. No, no! Who is that child, what are the causes and what should be done?"

The social workers were assisted by members of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP), the Cuban Women’s Federation (FMC), the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs) and government officials, and accompanied by nurses and technicians to recalibrate the weighing equipment. ‘Everyone participated,’ said Gómez, who was by then leading the social worker plan nationally, ‘the country mobilised.’ Across the island, over 2.2 million children were weighed and measured. Children found to be below the average scores were visited at home and their family situation was evaluated to determine possible causes. Subsequently a programme of food assistance was rolled out to 97,733 children and regular check-ups organised. The situation of 28,517 minors was described as critical, catalysing coordinated action from the institutions caring for them.

#18434
i'm reading a collection of badiou writing about movies and a lot of it is not doing much for me at all(possibly because i've never read him before), but there's this one cool 70s essay on progressivism in the arts that says "A progressive work is a work that is not only compatible with Maoist politics but preparatory for understanding and practicing it." later in the essay he talks about artistic form and rejects the idea that specific forms are necessarily tied to a particular class in a way that i found very insightful and much more nuanced than some marxist writing on art that i've come across before(i'm thinking here in particular of some bill bland articles on the arts i read once that were almost painfully conservative in their attitude to form, basically wanting people to do 1930s socialist realism forever which just doesn't seem possible or desirable):

Arising from these issues, the seventh principle of progressivism is connected to what Mao says, namely that if a work with acceptable subject matter is “ugly,” it will change (in terms of the propaganda for its subject matter) into its opposite. So, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, I might then claim that the progressive work must be beautiful. Because they disregarded this rule, the pathetic flops that the militant films of the 1960s often amounted to helped the revolution only marginally and only for a very short time.

If the problem is examined more closely, it could be said that, at the very least, progressivism in art must really be art. It could be said that there must be an artistic credibility of progressivism.

The notion of credibility is itself a historical one: form, let us remember, consists of all the means used to generate enthusiasm for the content. It is clear that at any given moment enthusiasm is only generated by specific techniques, which are therefore located in the history of forms: the history of the great systems of representation (figurative painting, tonal music, the novelistic narrative in the era of the bourgeoisie), the history of their dissolution-reconstitution (non-figurative painting, serial music, fractured prose), the history of movements (in poetry, for example: Romanticism, Symbolism, Surrealism, Ontologism), the history of trends and schools, and so on.

But this history does not just reflect the curve of rise, apogee, and decline of a class. Owing to its innovative versatility, it also expresses the entire evolution of contradictions; art’s mass basis can be seen in it. However petit-bourgeois its explicit philosophy may have been, the Surrealist movement, thanks to its poetic force, also gave expression to the overall effects, the worldwide ideological effects, of the October Revolution, in the face of the reactionary academies. The history of forms is an ideological product, a resultant. Hence the fact that it is one (there are no “popular forms” opposed to “bourgeois forms” or “reactionary forms”).

So the problem is as follows. With regard to the history of form, a credible progressive art (but a revolutionary art as well) must be an art of its time (but the revolution changes time). It must take a stand on current art forms so as to be viewed as being internal to the unbroken progress of art, while putting that topicality to use in the service of mobilization for progressive subject matter.

#18435
#18436
Famishus Famishus
#18437

cars posted:

reading about U.S. officials in charge of mid-20th-century national policy toward native tribes

Just in case anyone isn't aware this is (one of many, along with mass sterilization etc.) U.S. policy since the official end of the so-called "Indian Wars" (not known for south asian participation), so early mid and late 20th century and continuing to this day. Less totalizing assimilation efforts of course began centuries earlier but took a back seat to outright extermination as the main strategy up until 1924.

#18438
Yeah one of those telling things where something known as “Indian termination policy” was seen in Washington as the U.S. government finally beginning to treat natives with fairness and compassion, by destroying the nations with which Washington had signed treaties, a foolproof plan to prevent Washington from violating those treaties any further.