Silencing dissent and the mastery of fear. We all have an obligation to SPEAK OUT

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The power elite are using well-worn, time honoured methods of silencing reputable sources of dissent to keep ordinary Australians in a docile, compliant state of perpetual fear, writes Kellie Tranter.

FROM THE review of the National School Curriculum to the relentless claims of bias by both our public broadcaster and in our academic institutions, there is a concerted campaign playing out in this country to implement a model of thinking that occupies the entire intellectual and cultural space.

Whether or not you call it social engineering, its purpose is to aggressively block unwanted progress, to maintain tribalism and to insulate the power elite. The mechanism is fear, and the main vehicles are media of all kinds and government policies.

No one can make progress or speak out until they master their fear; until they isolate which fears are worth listening to and how that fear is engendered in them; and until they understand how the political class and the power elite manipulate those fears in order to maintain discipline and control of the population.

Howard Zinn ‒ American historian, author, playwright and social activist ‒ suggested that collectivity reduces fear. Community reduces fear. Doing something with other people reduces fear, because being part of a movement you believe in and being associated with other people who believe in the same thing, helps to overcome fear.

Perhaps it is fear of a critically thinking population who have mastered their fears and who join together to challenge the existing political and economic system that scares the power elite the most. Particularly if, as some experts suggest, the goal of state terror is to isolate and separate social movements.

In Australia, we have witnessed the gradual introduction of a range of laws which affect non-violent resistance — including anti-protest laws, the expansion of National Security laws, Preventative Detention Orders, ASIO and AFP spying on environmentalists, proposed bills disallowing political activists from disrupting companies and the gagging and punishment of public servants and whistleblowers. Riot police are even called in to university campuses as a ‘precautionary’ measure.

The list is more extensive than most of us probably realise.

Of special relevance in understanding what’s happening today is a 1971 memorandum from Lewis F. Powell Jnr to the Chair of the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Titled ‘Attack On American Free Enterprise System’, the memo outlined ways in which business should defend and counter attack against a ‘broad attack’ from ‘disquieting voices’.

It seems that the ‘hostility of respectable liberals and social reformers’ is what the elite fear the most because, according to Powell:

Powell’s tactics to maintain the status quo and block change can be clearly seen throughout Australia today: concerted attempts to try and silence critical comments from ‘respectable elements of society’.

Conservative think tanks yield a constant stream of critics of progressive ideas, who are given disconcertingly regular and disproportionate airtime. The Australian newspaper regularly disparages intelligent critical commentators and their opinions.

But the attacks aren’t limited to publishing opposing views on television or in print.

A perfect illustration is social media sensation Father Rod Bower’s interview with Chris Kenny on Sky News in August this year during which he was accused of directing his church signage to the Green/Left end of the political spectrum, for not being able to separate religion from politics, for favouring the former government instead of the current government and for criticising the current policies of the government.

Kenny litters the interview with false premises and unjustified assumptions, as Father Bower attempts to point out.

Whether its trouncing the views of Cate Blanchett for participating in a climate change advertisement, litigation against Professor Jake Lynch for his refusal to sponsor an application for a fellowship in Australia by an Israeli academic because of Lynch’s support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, or continued complaints that conservatives are not employed in prominent positions, all are tactics raised in the Powell rule book.

When you understand the tactical rationale of this institutional criticism and its methods, it becomes an object of contempt, and something that can be dealt with rather than a source of fear. The same applies to publications online and in social media which always attract similar disparaging comments from pseudonymous trolls — and there’s an army of them out there.

Speaking out almost always attracts some sort of criticism, but different viewpoints and rational criticisms are a fair price to pay for being able to say what you need to say. Living your life without ever speaking out, suppressing your need to be heard in support of things you regard as socially good and your need to express your questioning of or opposition to things that are socially bad, is no way to live at all.

We all have an obligation, both to ourselves and to society, to speak out and to act when we see unfairness, injustice and the orchestrated manipulation of true discussion of issues that affect us all.