L7 Opposition

Tools For A New Political Economy

Natural Opposition to Level 7 Proposals

There is an unfortunate intersection of influences and forces that naturally oppose Level 7 — we know this because they have opposed elements of Level 7 that have already been implemented around the world. Remember that a central goal of Level 7 proposals is to diffuse and distribute power and wealth in society. This directly at odds with the agendas of many established and aspiring wielders of power and wealth who wish to consolidate or improve their position. As one might predict, such powers-that-be have not reacted favorably to previous experiments involving more egalitarian civil society and self-governance. Mass society experiments such as the Korean People’s Association in Manchuria, the Free Territory of Ukraine, Guangzhou City Commune in China, and Revolutionary Catalonia in Spain were all brutally undermined and oppressed by those who desired more centralized political and economic control. Dictators despise economic and political self-determination. With such history in mind, we can be fairly certain that a similar intensity of resistance, disruption and opposition to Level 7 proposals and philosophies (or anything like them) will be actively engineered by the wealthiest owner-shareholders of plutocratic crony capitalism.

So far, the nexus of forces sharing these oppressive and disruptive characteristics includes:

  • “Active Measures” of Russia and other State-Sanctioned Information Warfare Efforts
  • Passive Resistance of the Status Quo
  • Neoliberal Propaganda
After some brief descriptions of this opposition, we’ll discuss why it occurs so naturally. . .and how it can be countered.

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State-Sanctioned Information Warfare

The objectives of State-sanctioned information warfare are simple: confuse, occlude, divide. . .and conquer. By fabricating highly toxic disinformation, and then carefully targeting groups with shared geographical, racial, economic or ideological affinities, these well-funded programs can achieve profound disruption within populations both large and small. How is such disruption engineered? By reifying one or more of the following objectives:

1. Deepen and exploit existing divisions within a given population. That is, capitalize on preexisting fears, prejudices, hatred and suspicions, and amplifying them to a fevered pitch, with the express purpose of undermining a perceived enemy’s systems, policies, intellectual capital, economy, civil society and global political capital.

2. Create new divisions. Fabricate new outrage, anxiety, hatred and fear around anything that might actually strengthen a perceived enemy’s economy, civic institutions, global political capital, and intellectual capital.

3. Invent boogeymen, scapegoats and conspiracy theories that energize propaganda campaigns. The oldest trick of this particular trade is to create a fictional “source of all evil” in the world, attribute as many real and fabricated problems and fears as possible to that source of evil, and then incite folks to actions against it — where the actions in fact are intended to worsen their situation.

4. Aggressively discredit, disrupt or silence anything and anyone that effectively undermines efforts 1-3 — including trusted civic institutions. For example, dismissing authentic journalism as “fake news,” discrediting legitimate academic research as biased or deceptive, accusing legitimate criminal investigations of being “witch hunts,” legitimate laws as “unjust” or fulfilling some hidden agenda, fair judicial rulings and judges as being “biased” or “corrupt,” legitimate elections as “fraudulent,” and any attempts to control virulent propaganda as “violating free speech.” Unfortunately, such efforts can cross over from mere character assassination to imprisonment or actual assassination, as many journalists, politicians and activists in places like Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere have experienced. As is plain to see, all such efforts remain focused on undermining legitimate systems, policies, civic institutions, political capital, knowledge, and indeed the concept of legitimacy itself.

5. Continuously perpetuate confusion around what are true facts, and what are false fictions, over many years…even decades. Using fake news outlets, high profile “useful idiots” with status and influence, social media “troll farms” and bots, conspiracy or fringe ideology websites, and by tricking legitimate news media into repeating the propaganda.


What Are Some Examples?


What follow are examples of documented efforts (see “Resources” section at the bottom of this web page) of State-sanctioned information warfare in the form of fairly successful disinformation, divide-and-conquer and conspiracy strategies. At the present time, the boldest activities seem to issue from Russia, under the direction of ex-KGB intelligence officer Vladimir Putin. There are certainly other efforts in play — from China, Iran, North Korea, Israel and others — but these seem to be more focussed on economic disruptions and espionage, military intelligence, and so on. As far as we know, only Russia seems to have perfected the art of shaping public opinion via cyber and information warfare. These are some of those Russian disinformation efforts:
  • CIA linked to JFK assassination (Russian KGB, 1967)
  • AIDS caused by U.S. military experiments (Russian KGB, 1983)
  • Malaysia Flight MH17 shot down by Ukrainian missiles (Russian government-controlled media, 2014)
  • Coordination and funding pro-Brexit campaigns in UK (Russian government and oligarchs 2015-2016)
  • “Pizzagate;” Hillary Clinton running child porn ring from basement of pizza parlor (Russian government-controlled media, Russian government social media ad campaigns and troll farms, 2016)
  • A wide array of other false stories, tweets and memes about Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, false claims about the content and origins of the WikiLeaks email release, the murder of Seth Rich, etc., and inciting divides in the U.S. electorate via “Right Trolls, Left Trolls, News Feeds, Hashtag Gamers and Fear Mongers” (Russian government media, social media bots and troll farms, 2016)
  • Fake “astroturf” pro and con rallies, organized via social media, to pit U.S. voters against each other and promote the candidates and causes preferred by Russia (Russian government social media ad campaigns and troll farms, 2016)
  • Inciting fear, discord and increasing debate around vaccinations (Russian social media trolls and bots, 2014-2017)
  • Amplifying and reenforcing other conspiracy theories such as QAnon, the Rothschild family’s “Master Plan,” the “faking” of Syrian government chemical warfare on its civilians, pro-Russia narratives about Ukraine, and fabricated “U.S. false flag” operations around the globe (Russian government-controlled media, Russian government social media ad campaigns, bots and troll farms, 2014-2018)


The New Propaganda Tool: Addictive Social Media


By analyzing user behaviors and then targeting specific types of individuals and groups of users with misleading information, companies like
Cambridge Analytica were able to strategically influence everything from “astroturf” movements like Brexit to the election of Donald Trump. And because of the underlying addiction model of social media platforms, these strategies have become very speedy and effective, and relatively inexpensive to execute. Once again, although many state actors are in play — including China, the U.S., the U.K., Israel,Turkey, Iran and India — Russia’s “web brigades” of fake accounts across all social media appear to be the most aggressive, well-coordinated and effective. To fully appreciate how these disinformation campaigns really work, I recommend listening to this: Your Undivided Attention Podcast - Center For Humane Technology - “From Russian with LIkes”

What Are Some Common Sources of Disinformation Today?

The following media sources are known to initiate or propagate fabricated conspiracy theories and disinformation that often serves foreign State interests:


How Can We Resist Information Warfare and Influence Campaigns?

Probably the single most effective means of resisting disinformation efforts is to avoid the media in which they propagate. So, for example:
  • Limiting our exposure to social media to just a few minutes a day, and practicing regular breaks from social media that last several days.
  • Avoiding other disinformation news and entertainment media.
  • Changing the topic of conversation when others bring up disinformation they encountered on social media or propaganda news and entertainment outlets.
  • Demanding more transparency around how all media is authored, sourced, targeted and funded. Are the posts in our news feed from a state-sponsored bot, or funded by a think tank, or even true. . .? We have a right to know.

Another helpful inoculation against information warfare is knowing how to obtain good information, and constantly keeping ourselves accurately informed. The following resources may be helpful in this regard:

Some additional sources that I personally like, but which do sometimes exhibit a Left-of-center, commercially-influenced, and/or Chomskyan “propaganda model” media bias:

In terms of evaluating the bias and reliable accuracy of a given news source, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com can be quite helpful, and I highly recommend it.

Level 7 also proposes a
Public Information Clearinghouse that could effectively address this issue as well, by vetting and rating the veracity of information and information sources, and providing sophisticated tools to search and sort that information. Since such a Clearinghouse does not yet exist, I’ve included some useful sources on that webpage to help navigate high-quality information.

Another consideration is appreciating the structural problems in news and information, a “propaganda model” that results from inherent corporate pressures and influences on the industry. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky examine this in their book
“Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” which is well worth perusing.

Another helpful tool is to simply relax the reflex of believing everything we hear or see — especially on social media. There is a phenomenon called “the illusory truth effect” that is astonishingly powerful. Without realizing it, when we hear something repeated over and over again from various sources, we begin to believe it is true. Studies have shown that even well-educated experts in a given field are susceptible to this effect, still coming to believe something that is not true after being exposed to it repeatedly. So simply being well-informed is not enough. We must also be vigilant about how we are constantly being manipulated, and consciously resist that manipulation. The chart below offers a few reminders of how to actively resist propaganda, and I would also offer my essay “Sex at Dawn: The Fallacies of Simulated Science” as a resource for some additional analyzing tools.



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The Passive Resistance of the Status Quo

Essentially we are all a bit like David Foster Wallace’s young fish. When an older fish swims by and says “Morning boys. How’s the water?” one of the younger fishes turns to the other and says, “What the hell is water?” We just don’t realize that we’re operating on a cluster of automatic, unexamined, fairly unconscious assumptions in much of our day-to-day lives. And that unconsciously reflexive way of thinking and being creates tremendous passive resistance to more authentic, honest, truthful interactions with the world around us. So, for example, if we reflexively accept an “illusory truth,” only because that false information has been repeated to us over and over again, then when we are confronted with contradictory but truthful information we will automatically resist it. In keeping with this pattern, one of the most potent disruptors of positive change is our individual and collective belief that we can’t change anything. What we of course do not realize is that this belief is itself an illusory truth that was itself engineered: by the commercialist marketing of consumerism that invites us to solve all problems with goods and services we must buy; by representative forms of democracy that likewise expect us to invest in someone else’s agency to govern our society; by our over-dependence on technology to think and choose and act on our behalf; by a culture of helpless, self-infantilization that cannot grow up and take responsibility for its own well-being. However, if we can reject this externalization of our agency, we can become powerful influencers for change. Indeed if we can just acknowledge that our habitual abdication of agency has become part of the water we are swimming through, we would recognize why it creates such tremendous passive resistance in us all.

(You can read more about a collective abdication of agency in
“The Underlying Causes of Left vs. Right Dysfunction in U.S. Politics”; also The Spectacle page, and the essay “The Stupefaction of Human Experience,” can help frame the overarching themes of the passive resisistance phenomenon.).




Neoliberal Propaganda

The larger issue of neoliberal agendas and methods are covered in the Neoliberalism page on this website. However, it is important to recognize that neoliberal propaganda follows many of the same patterns that we see in State-sanctioned information warfare — this is also about suppressing accurate information, and promoting false information, in order to further plutocratic concentrations of wealth and power. In fact, whether or not there is overt coordination and collusion, the objectives and methods neoliberalism shares with State-sanctioned information warfare are producing similar outcomes. Here is a quick summary with some examples:
  • Generating skepticism and doubt abound legitimate science (climate change, tobacco products, pesticides, ozone, etc.)
  • Discrediting accurate information and information sources (accusations of fake news, media witch hunts, liberal bias, bribed experts and officials, alternate facts, etc.)
  • Attacking and discrediting anyone who threatens neoliberal agendas (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, etc.)
  • Discrediting higher education, academic research, and K-12 curricula (conspiracies of “cultural Marxism,” liberal bias, revisionist textbooks, communist teachers, deliberate destruction of the nuclear family, promoting homosexuality, promoting atheism, etc.)
  • Perpetuating neoliberal falsehoods in the hope of creating an illusory truth effect (“socialism has always failed wherever it was tried,” “markets are more efficient than government,” “trickle-down economics works,” “Ronald Reagan defeated Communism,” and so on)
  • Misattributing the causes of social, governmental and economic problems — while frantically obscuring the actual causes — then implementing policies that force such false causation to become real (see “The Problem of Virtual Causality” essay for more detail)
  • Astroturfing (Koch brothers coopting Tea Party movement, then bussing scripted voters to Obamacare town hall meetings; ExxonMobil pretending to be a private citizen to spoof Al Gore on YouTube; “Working Families for Walmart” blog really just being Walmart; Philip Morris using small business owners to front tobacco lobbying efforts, etc.)
  • Countering most criticisms and concerns with whataboutism, false equivalence and false balance, ad hominem attacks, and other related logical fallacies…rather than actually addressing the critique.




Why Does This Opposition Occur?

In Integral Lifework theory, there is a predictable progression of moral development that correlates with the levels of political economy. “Level 7” is fairly advanced, and relies on a majority of populations having reached collectively-oriented moral maturity. Populations and individuals at lower levels of moral development will understandably be antagonized, bewildered or confused by a more mature orientation — the same way a child may not understand or appreciate adult reasoning. This is why encouraging and nourishing individual development is so important: advanced political economies will not be sustainable without such nourishment and support. This is a primary aim of Integral Lifework, which is why individual development and supportive networking are a key component of Level 7 Activism. As a precursor and companion to revolutionary activity, Integral Lifework (or some other effective form of multidimensional nurturing) becomes an essential ingredient to countering opposition.

To appreciate the correlations between levels of moral altitude and levels of political economy, please consult this chart:
Integral Lifework Developmental Correlations.


Resources

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2018/11/28/the-digital-maginot-line/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/02/22/russian-disinformation-distorts-american-and-european-democracy

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/22/640883503/long-before-facebook-the-kgb-spread-fake-news-about-aids

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Infektion

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/after-a-week-of-russian-propaganda-i-was-questioning-everything

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol45no5/html/v45i5a02p.htm

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/25/technology/usareally-russian-news-site-propaganda.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/opinion/russia-meddling-disinformation-fake-news-elections.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/08/revealed-leaveeu-campaign-met-russian-officials-as-many-as-11-times

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/363/36308.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/24/aggregateiq-data-firm-link-raises-leave-group-questions

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/18/opinions/vladimir-putin-and-his-useful-idiots-opinion-intl/index.html

https://medium.com/s/douglas-rushkoff/how-we-all-became-russias-useful-idiots-4df90bf9dea0

https://eurasianet.org/russias-new-useful-idiots

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/connections-trump-putin-russia-ties-chart-flynn-page-manafort-sessions-214868

https://www.greeneuropeanjournal.eu/the-kremlins-loyal-friends-in-europe/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2016/08/03/headline-halah-t/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2018/05/03/cyber-warfare-the-threat-from-nation-states/#330ba8431c78

https://www.wired.com/2015/09/cyberwar-global-guide-nation-state-digital-attacks/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/07/world/europe/anatomy-of-fake-news-russian-propaganda.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/business/media/fox-news-analyst-ralph-peters.html

https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/03/17/report-confirms-fox-news-napolitano-repeated-russian-media-his-british-intelligence-conspiracy/215751

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/08/astroturf-20/

https://www.businessinsider.com/astroturfing-grassroots-movements-2011-9

https://arcdigital.media/why-are-internet-radicals-helping-authoritarians-824c6d548fe3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problematic_social_media_use

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201209/why-were-all-addicted-texts-twitter-and-google

https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/social-media-use-increases-depression-and-loneliness

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/27/the-disinformation-age-a-revolution-in-propaganda

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/04/09/in-the-united-states-russian-trolls-are-peddling-measles-disinformation-on-twitter/

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-were-sharing-3-million-russian-troll-tweets/

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/salvadorhernandez/russian-trolls-spread-baseless-conspiracy-theories-like

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_web_brigades

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/after-a-week-of-russian-propaganda-i-was-questioning-everything

https://www.europeanvalues.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/What-We-Know-about-RT-Russia-Today-1.pdf
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