Towards a Psychological Operations Reading List
Posted Sep 07, 2011
"Psychological Operations are conducted across the operational continuum." -- FM 33-1
Defining Psychological Operations is straightforward enough, but determining where exactly it ends is extremely tricky. The US Department of Defense has infiltrated institutions around the world, they expend billions every year on domestic and foreign propaganda, yet they still only represent a single slice of the spectrum. Intelligence agencies, private think tanks and public corporations are all competing for attentional bandwidth, too. PSYOPS has become ubiquitous, metastasized into Standard Operating Procedure for the entire edifice of Western Culture. Our news and our entertainment, scientific studies, history books, political campaigns and activist movements are all just sponsored messages and paid promotions. From advertisements to astroturfing, everyone's got "desired effects" and everyone's got a "target audience" now.
This is a work in progress, a reading list that attempts to outline how far gone we really are. Suggestions are more than welcome -- they're necessary.
Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann. Propaganda by Edward Bernays. These earlier works are included for the sake of history and history alone. While they clearly outline the mentality and general theory behind Psychological Operations, they're dated antiques and all the really juicy quotes have been strip-mined out by pretty much every subsequent book on the subject.
PR! - A Social History of Spin by Stuart Ewen. Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry and Trust Us We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. For a basic introduction to this entire field, this right here is where to start. Readable, entertaining and packed full of facts, these three are my top pick for general readers and curious mammals looking to get caught up.
The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America by HUGH Wilford. This is certainly one of the best books I've read, period. Wilford takes on an insanely ambitious and important subject that's been obscured by secrecy and history. He does it great justice and the writing itself is amazingly good. Once the premise and reality is established, Wilford kicks things into high gear, providing hundreds of pages of eye-opening connections that will change the way you think about the past six decades of US popular culture. It is a source of great amusement to me that so few self-proclaimed "conspiracy theorists" have even heard of this book, because their paranoia pales by comparison to what Wilford is laying out in abundantly documented detail here.
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky. Unfortunately, the 1992 documentary of the same name is far inferior, an over-long and confused muddle of a biopic that focuses far more on Chomsky as media celebrity and public intellectual than the actual subject of the book.
Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential by James Moore and Wayne Slater. While there are certainly better biographies of Rove in circulation, and I've read them all so far, I'm recommending this one because it's got the juiciest quotes and focuses on what Rove was actually doing to make his unique approach to political science work. I've got six books on Rove in the back room right now, but this is the one that's full of bookmarks, notes and annotations because I keep coming back to it while working on Skilluminati material. Rove is, of course, not the "genius" he's made out to be and his motus operandi is really rather crude. What makes Rove exceptional is his behind-the-scenes strategy and dedication to the pursuit of personal power, not to mention his willingness to take the usual dirty tricks further than most operatives would ever dare. Great reading.
Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington. While I do think Greg Bishop's Project Beta is one of the best-written treatments of disinformation in UFOlogy ever written, Pilkington's book is a more valuable read because his focus is so much broader. He begins at the same point: the sad saga of Paul Bennewitz. From there, however, he traces a national (and ultimately global) effort by the military and intelligence communities to control the entire field of UFO investigation through faked documents, hoaxed "events" and good old fashioned intimidation and violence. How you feel about the "field" of UFOlogy is quite beside the point -- the book's focus on operational and practical details makes it an essential pick for our purposes here today.
The Deep End
Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda, Third Edition by Philip M. Taylor. This is essentially The Textbook. That's why it's so expensive. If you care about this subject and take it seriously, you should buy this and then read it, hundreds of times. That is all.
The Gods of Antenna by Bruce Herschensohn. This deceptively short volume is an in-depth treatment of the subject from an insider of both corporate and military PsyOps, and stays relentlessly focused on the actual techniques of framing, priming, leading and outright deception that makes the magic possible. Loaded with examples and operational detail, this is essential stuff and I'm grateful & surprised it's still in print.
Universities and Empire: Money and Politics in the Social Sciences During the Cold War by Christopher Simpson. This is a collection of historical essays about the role of military money in guiding public research we well as controlling the content of education itself. There is certainly a sequel waiting to be written - hopefully it's already in print? - about how private corporations have taken up the slack as gov/mil money slowed down. I'm including it here because it's very well written and fleshes out the details of something that usually gets brought up as a general theory or vague accusation. Also - it's back in print and far, far cheaper than it was when I had to track down a used copy.
Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 1945-1960 by Christopher Simpson. This is a dense book of original history and, much like the Carroll Quigley classic The Anglo-American Establishment, it frequently devolves into pages and pages of names and dates. So while it's far from easy reading, it's also an essential source document and I'm certain there are thousands of connections yet to be drawn from the material here.
The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion by John Zaller. This is some heavy going and the fact is, I never would have read it unless it was handed to me by a mentor. Years later, I find myself really wishing that I still had a copy because so much of the material was over my head at the time. This is a dense, slow going, top-level academic approach to the central question of Social Control that informs this entire reading list. It's also one of the more thought-provoking books my young brain ever came in touch with. For those of you interested in The Deep End, this is solid source material if you can find it.
A Century of Media. A Century of War by Robin Andersen. One last recommendation, this time second-hand. I've had a number of folks I really respect tell me I had to get ahold of a copy in recent months, but acute delusions of being a rapper have made that impossible so far. I'm looking forward to picking up a copy, though -- looks ambitious and heavy-duty.
...and? I'm betting there's dozens of hidden gems I have either forgotten or never knew about to begin with. I know the reader base here is a rare and strange breed of autodidact, so I'd like to turn the microphone over to you: what else should have been included here?
An Invocation Against the Inevitable
Posted Sep 01, 2011
“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” - McLuhan
Skilluminati Research has been a very cynical project...until now. Change of policy: there are no sufficient excuses for inaction. There is no point to all this research if I'm not capable of using it for something real. What interests me now is Synthesis. How can we build a politics that takes all of this horrible shit for granted and still provides a master plan?
In 2011, Hope and Change are hollow brand names and representative Democracy itself is hollowed out, broken for decades. Distrust of government has gone from a fringe position to a bipartisan consensus. If you think all that adds up to a "Now is the Time" pep talk, you're not hearing me at all. We are more fucked than ever. The situation is not "ripe," it is fundamentally out of control and irreversible. ...so what then?
The Machine is bigger than you can think. It snakes through every aspect of your life, it networks an entire planet of political powerbrokers, banking cartels, intelligence agencies, arms dealers, cult leaders, secret societies and royal families. From cynical operatives to true believers, from corporate boardrooms to secret bases, the Machine is too vast an ecosystem to model accurately. Both in human terms and hardware specs, much of the infrastructure is classified -- and that's just the stuff the military is doing. Every serious effort to reform this system to date has gotten nowhere. ...so what now?
Most dangerously, our language is broken. Not only broken, but weaponized against us. Human beings are depressingly easy to manipulate in large numbers. Your brain, not to get too technical, is a buggy piece of shit. Despite being a three pound patty of Universe-making miracle meat, our brains leave us very vulnerable to each other. Our broken cultural dialog is a cascading feedback loop of confirmation bias, narrative framing, visual cues, and paid disinformation -- and that's just the stuff the Democratics are doing. Even starting the conversation about "fixing the system" or "improving quality of life" is difficult now. This is a testament to the power of demographic targeting, segmented messaging and persuasion engineering. Mind control is a very mundane science these days.
And...so what? I can at least say this: there is a way - in fact, thousands of Ways - and we will find them, and we will use them. I'm still sketching out the details, but it's there and I'm far from the only monkey in the Zoo who sees it.
Every 24 hours, the global situation gets more unstable, and we have less time to fix it. The imperative weight of what our generation must accomplish is crushing, and for most of us, paralyzing. What is being asked of you is both unfair and unrealistic. To be clear: I'm not going to tell you that you have to do it, I'm just explaining where I will be located through 2012.
"One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman: two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad; ten men sharing an idea begin to act, a hundred draw attention as fanatics, a thousand and society begins to tremble, a hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories tangible and real; and why only a hundred thousand? Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth? You and I who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question." -- William Morris
Everybody wants to change the world...and that makes this a dangerous conversation to have. I can understand why bloggers get touchy about being labeled "Enemy Combatants" by DoD documentation like the Information Operations Roadmap, but I also don't think the Pentagon is exactly wrong, either. We all think our motives are pure, so when we talk about "changing the world" we seldom hear the resemblance to, for instance: Christian Dominionists, al-Qaeda, Jeff Skilling from Enron, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In fact, the langauge is identical, and any serious political reform effort is essentially a non-violent revolutionary act.
Enemies are too easy, though. I would like to play a different game now. I am here to learn from everyone, but please don't mistake that for an invitation. I learn on my own terms -- as Wyndham Lewis never said to Marshall McLuhan, "The secret of success is secrecy."
With that approach in mind, I will be tinkering with changes to the format here at Skilluminati Research. This will still be home to long-form essays, but the back end architecture will be changing into something more useful for other researchers. Certainly, my source documentation is more valuable than my moron opinions. I also intend to make this more of a network hub, with more outbound links and spotlights on worthy endeavors being waged elsewhere.
Suggestions welcome. As always: Thank you for your time.
Ronald Hadley Stark: The Man Behind the LSD Curtain
Posted Dec 02, 2010
"...revolutions are not won by enlisting the masses. Revolution is a science for the few who are competent to practice it. It depends on correct organisation and above all, on communications." -- Robert Heinlen
11/30/11 -- The curse of doing research out here in Weirdoland is that the really fascinating people are nearly impossible to do research on. For instance, when you're covertly running the world's largest LSD manufacturing and smuggling operation for the CIA, you're not going to be doing interviews in Newsweek or publishing an autobiography. That's precisely the problem with Ronald Hadley Stark, who is one of the most insane characters in the history of LSD -- and that's really saying something, don't you think?
This article has been updated considerably since I first published it. Stark's life story is beyond belief, so I think it's important to be meticulous. There are, no doubt, still hundreds of errors here.
For anyone unfamiliar with the tangle of political, scientific, cultural and covert forces behind spread of LSD, this article could get confusing. Ronald Stark is a central figure in David Black's book ACID: A Secret History of LSD, but the best overall introduction to this material would be Acid Dreams, by Lee & Shlain. It's short and very readable, laying out the overall history in clear terms. For more serious seekers, I highly recommend HP Albarelli's masterpiece, A Terrible Mistake, which is meticulously documented and considerably broader than mere LSD history.
Stark had been working with US intelligence agencies for at least 9 years by the time of his most infamous moment, a legendary meeting with the "hippie mafia" drug syndicate called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. (no joke.) They were looking for a new supplier and Stark kicked off the meeting by showing them a kilogram of liquid LSD -- for US readers, that's 2.2 pounds of acid. Needless to say, his resume was persuasive. He claimed to have a dedicated lab in France, but it's his political philosophy that really makes Stark such an interesting character:
"He had a mission, he explained, to use LSD in order to facilitate the overthrow of the political systems of both the capitalist West and communist East by inducing altered states of consciousness in millions of people. Stark did not hide the fact that he was well connected in the world of covert politics."
The Brotherhood was sufficiently impressed to bring Ronald Stark into the fold, and what followed was the Golden Era of cheap, high-quality LSD. From 1969 through 1973, Stark and the Brotherhood dosed a generation and got away with it, too.
According to a figure quoted by everyone and verified by nobody, Stark made 20 kilograms of LSD in his career. Hippie lore generally gives Owsley Stanley the crown of the Acid King, but by Stanley's own estimates, his total production was a half kilogram. That might not sound like much -- but it adds up to over 5 million hits of acid. You can see why the Army and Navy were so interested in this compound: it is unusually powerful as drug molecules go.
Although the LSD story is closely associated with the Sandoz pharmaceutical corporation in Switzerland, most of the CIA's supply was actually domestic. Since at least 1954, the Eli Lilly Company was working under secret contract to keep the various MKNAOMI and ARTICHOKE research projects stocked up with magic mindfuck juice. The figures on their total LSD output are classified.
David Black: "Before clinching the deal with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Stark had been making some contacts in England among the radical psychiatry movement of R.D. Laing and the Tavistock Institute."
Obviously this was a big money business, and organized crime involvement was inevitable. Since small batches of LSD have a literally exponential commercial profit margin, technical expertise was highly rewarded. Consider the case of Clyde Apperson, a specialist in quickly setting up a fully functional manufacturing lab just about anywhere. More importantly, he could take them down even faster. For set-up, Apperson would charge $100,000 in cash -- take downs were only $50,000. He was finally busted working in the infamous abandoned missile silo with William Leonard Pickard in 2000.
Everyone's always getting busted, though. The history of LSD is full of incredibly intelligent men making highly stupid decisions. Yet through it all, from Operation Julie to the Sand-Scully case, Ronald Stark just kept on trucking. He was a calculating cameo artist: always on the scene, never holding the bag.
Until he suddenly was: "Whatever game Stark was playing took an abrupt turn in February 1975 when Italian police received an anonymous phone call about a man selling drugs in a hotel in Bologna. A few days later at the Grand Hotel Baglioni they arrested a suspect in possession of 4,600 kilos of marijuana, morphine, and cocaine. The suspect carried a British passport bearing the name Mr. Terrence W. Abbott. Italian investigators soon discovered that "Mr. Abbott" was actually Ronald Stark."-- Source: Acid Dreams, pg. 213
Terrence W. Abbott was holding a genuine British passport, number 348489A, which was issued in 1973. The story of how he got it will never be told -- British intelligence refused to release his files. The FBI refused to share their files on him with the DEA's investigation, and the US State Department has actively interfered with many foreign attempts to extradite or prosecute Stark. The man led a charmed life.
"...the picture of Stark's activities began to broaden with the discovery of a vial of liquid and a cache of papers kept in a Rome bank deposit box. The vial was sent for forensic examination. The scientists reported back that they could not precisely identify the drug it contained. At best, they put it close to LSD. Perhaps it was the synthetic THC Stark had dreamt of creating; the papers included formulae for the synthesis. There were also plans for the bulk purchase of hemp seeds and calculations for shipments, investments and plant installation. Some of the papers went back to the Brotherhood days but they gave no details of his LSD operations after the Belgian episode. They did show that his range of interests in the drug world had expanded to include narcotics. There were details of the synthesis of cocaine." Source: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love
Stark's time in Italy is the strangest and bloodiest chapter of his odd history. Although most accounts frame his 1975 arrest as a "bust," one commentator who does not is worth mentioning here: Phillip Willan. His view of Stark is shaped not by LSD folklore, but through earnest journalism and research into the history of political terrorism in Italy. The Ronald Stark that Willan presents is not a drug lord getting taken down, so much as an intelligence asset deliberately changing venues.
Willan: "Stark's arrest in Italy was prompted by a mysterious phone call to the police and he seems quite happy to go to prison, where his time was gainfully employed in winning the confidence of captured Red Brigades leaders, given that he turned down the opportunity of bail in August 1978."
Stark was no mere snitch, though. He was actively setting up infrastructure, teaching the principles of operational security and preaching the virtues of the "cell" structure. "He also provided them with a cryptographic system for coded radio communications," Willan says, although it should be assumed that Stark was also passing that system on to his secret employers. Prison records show that he met with Italian police and intelligence agents many times while he was networking there. It was in Italy that a large part of Ronald Stark's operation collapsed into the visible world. The facts that emerged are an education in covert warfare and intelligence operations.
Some Heavy Dudes
"...his preferred to keep his range of contacts ignorant of each other's activities. Oftentimes he concealed the fact he was an American. His European associates were not privvy to his affairs in Africa, and those in Asia knew little about his work in the states. The brothers, for example, had no idea he was running a separate cocaine ring in the Bay Area." -- Acid Dreams, pg 250
Researching Roland Stark, I was reminded of people like Porter Goss, Henry Karl "Andijra" Puharich, or Barry Seal: it is unreal how much this guy got around. He stayed in close contact with the founders of "The Process Church of the Final Judgement," which is another hub in the Dark Network of occult history.
They began as a splinter group who broke ranks from Scientology, which meant they were waging spiritual war with L. Ron Hubbard from 1965 through 1974, which was a pretty bad year for "The Teacher," Robert DeGrimston. He was booted from his own cult and his wife divorced him on her journey to starting a successful chain of "Best Friends" animal shelters. (No joke.)
All of which sounds way more lurid than it was. Stark was ultimately a drug dealer so beyond being Very Interesting, his link with the Process Church doesn't imply any shared philosophy...and doesn't exclude it, either. The oddball sociologist William Sims Bainbridge studied the group for months, and he didn't exactly make it sound like a blood magick sacrifice: "there was no violence and no indiscriminate sex, but I found a remarkably aesthetic and intelligent alternative to conventional religion." Then again, the Solar Temple was full of wealthy and sophisticated people who held refined parties and had very high-level conversations right up until the mass murder, mass suicide thing.
(For considerably more detail on the Process, refer to the Bainbridge essay Social Construction from Within: Satan's Process.)
Timothy Leary was a perfect avatar for the Age of Horus: playful, brilliantly creative and blissfully unaware of the bad consequences he was unleashing. Although there is little evidence to tie Leary himself to the drug smuggling and merchandising activities of the Brotherhood, there is no question he quickly became the spiritual center of the group. For what it's worth, Leary himself downplayed their significance:
LEARY: "The whole concept of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is like a bogeyman invented by the narcs. The brotherhood was about eight surfer kids from Southern California, Laguna Beach, who took the LSD, and they practiced the religion of the worship of nature, and they'd go into the mountains. But they were not bigshots at all. None of them ever drove anything better than a VW bus. They were just kind of in it for the spiritual thrill."
Maybe so -- but probably not. In September 1970, Leary escaped from prison in a complicated deal exposing just how serious the Brotherhood network had become. Money from Ronald Stark was paid to the Weather Underground, which is the precise point where the "hippie mafia" became connected to actual hippie terrorists. Leary himself wound up in Algeria under the (very) armed watch of Eldridge Cleaver, himself in exile. A year later, Leary and his wife were in Switzerland, living under the protection of the arms dealer Michel Hauchard. For a story about spiritual thrills, there's definitely a lot of guns involved here.
At one point, though, maybe the Brotherhood really was just a group of hippies with a couple trunks full of weed. The Weather Underground were harmless student activists for awhile, too. Once Stark was brought into the Brotherhood, he quickly took change of the entire operation, establishing secure shipments and managing every aspect of their finances. "Stark warned them that buying real estate openly, as they had done, was much too risky -- but his lawyers could remedy the situation by hiding ownership in a maze of shell companies."
This is a repeated pattern in Stark's operations: he is always ready to create an organization where none exists. After Owsley got busted and the Brotherhood went international, many of the original bay area chemists got wise to what Stark was really doing. "We were definitely very gullible in believing the stuff he told us," as poor Tim Scully would later observe.
The Brotherhood got plugged into Stark's global underground very quickly: massive marijuana imports from the Middle East, shadow bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, and he was somehow micro-managing everything. Once he had flooded the West Coast with Afghan weed, Stark turned his attention to New York City, which was completely unprepared for the sheer quantity the Brotherhood supplied. From distribution to organizing street-level dealers, Stark was there, establishing Ordo Ab Chao is his own specific way.
Skilluminati readers may already be familiar with Mr. Nice, the Welsh arms trader and Hashish entrepreneur who paved the pipeline that brought Afghanistan's finest exports into the hands of hippies and other connoisseurs all around the world. His real name is Howard Marks and his pioneering work in cultural exchange was the foundation for everything from the Cannabis Cup to Afghanistan's ongoing civil war, although of course neither was actually Howard's fault. Unlike Stark, he's made a modest living telling colorful and contrite stories of his drug dealing days. Part of the Mr. Nice gig, of course, is that he swears he's never used violence or trafficked in "hard drugs" -- which was probably an even bigger factor in his early retirement than getting busted by the DEA. Afghanistan, of course, got very heavy very quick and Mr. Nice was steamrolled out of the picture in short order.
Howard Marks was very much a hippie. Ronald Stark was something else altogether.
Most of what's known about Ronald Stark today is through an Italian magistrate named Giorgio Floridia, who released Stark from Italian prison in 1979. After Stark had gotten himself caught in 1975, he busied himself trying to convince anyone and everyone that he was operating with the blessings of the United States government. Four years later, he finally managed to persuade Floridia, who cited "an impressive series of scrupulously enumerated proofs" that Stark had given him.
At his appeals trial Stark changed identities once again, this time passing himself off as "Khouri Ali," a radical Palestinian. In fluent Arabic he spelled out the details of his autobiography, explaining that he was part of an international terrorist organization headquartered in Lebanon, called "Group 14." Stark's appeal failed, and he was sent back to jail.
But Italian police took a renewed interest in his case after they captured Enrique Paghera, another terrorist leader who knew Stark. At the time of his arrest Paghera was holding a hand-drawn map of a PLO camp in Lebanon. The map, Paghera confessed, had come from Stark, who also provided a coded letter of introduction. The objective, according to Paghera, was to forge a link with a terrorist organization that was planning to attack embassies.
Floridia also claims Stark worked for the Defense Department from 1960 on, and recieved paychecks from Fort Lee, in New Jersey. It is worth considering that Stark might have exaggerated his role and connections, and even fabricated evidence, in presenting his case to the magistrate who was in a position to free him. Either way, it worked. Stark was released on parole....and disappeared days later.
In terms of Floridia's motivation, it's worth considering the fate of the guy who came before him:
In June 1978 a Bologna magistrate, Graziano Gori, was assigned to investigate Stark and his astounding web of associates. A few weeks later, Gori was killed in a car wreck.
That, of course, might be the most "impressive proof" of all.
Somehow Not the End
Ronald Stark turned up in Holland in 1982. There's not a lot of published details, but it clearly involves 16 kilos of hasish and a Lebanese cover identity. He was busted en route to New York City. He got deported the next year and apparently died in custody -- because when Italy requested that he be extradited on terrorism charges, the US replied with a copy of Stark's death certificate.
(You guessed it -- "heart attack.")
His paper trail comes to an end here, although the reader can be forgiven for assuming his crusade continued covertly. There was certainly no retirement for a man like Stark. His mission was too important, too huge for a mere career.
...but then again, what was his mission, after all? Is it a mistake to place any stock in what he told the Brotherhood of Eternal Love? Perhaps not. Although Ronald Hadley Stark was many things to many people, the sole constant that emerges is Revolution. From the Weather Underground to the Red Brigades, from the PLO to the IRA, Stark was consistently moving in circles where the overthrow of government and the liberation of the people were central themes...circles that today would be considered "Terrorist." Certainly, Stark manipulated and lied to his contacts every step of the way, and it's safe to assume the speeches he gave to the Palestinians and Italians were much different from the picture he was painting in 1969 for the Brotherhood.
It's worth revisiting, though: "...in order to facilitate the overthrow of the political systems of both the capitalist West and communist East by inducing altered states of consciousness in millions of people." Now, Hadley's chosen network makes it pretty clear that he viewed automatic rifles and firebombs as equally valid tools for "inducing altered states of consciousness," and it's unlikely that a realist like Stark honestly believed that LSD was going amount to much more than a profitable business. Setting that aside, overthrowing both capitalism and communism sounds like an authentic statement of Stark's overall goals, or at least one that fits his sketchy and fast-moving modus operandi.
Stark was an infiltrator, creating back channels for communication between intelligence and police agencies and the underground movements that were trying to fight them. The fact he was so successful and so prolific is what makes him a remarkable character. Throughout his documented life, Stark is relentlessly working with, for and against dozens of competing players. He travels constantly, juggles multiple identities and stays actively involved in multiple conflicts simultaneously.
Looking over his strange, tangled career, it's hard to avoid thinking that LSD was really not the point. The single biggest producer of raw LSD the world has ever known was not a True Believer, he was just passing through on his way to bigger and better things. His work for US intelligence agencies had less to do with blowing minds than establishing connections. Vast quantities of acid was perhaps more of a bona fide, a calling card to establish himself as a legitimate criminal figure.
Which brings us, finally, full circle.
A Harsh Mistress
In 1966, Putnam & Sons published a new novel from Robert Heinlein named The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The plot concerns a worker's revolution on a Lunar colony, organized by a small group of people with considerable assistance from a self-aware supercomputer that controls the colony's infrastructure. Written in a distinctively abbreviated "Moonspeak," the book goes into remarkable detail about secure, secret communication networks. Stark was seldom without a copy and spoke highly of it around the world. Perhaps the closest we can ultimately get to unraveling his motives and beliefs is within the pages of a sci-fi story, rather than the life he left behind.
It's impossible to write about the character of Ronald Stark without discussing the character of Professor Bernardo de la Paz. As the brains behind the Lunar revolution, the Professor has several extensive monologues about the design principles behind covert operations. "Revolution," the Prof says, "is an art I pursue, rather than a goal I expect to achieve."
The end of the novel is pure Chinatown. The revolution gets subverted like revolutions always do, and Heinlein was really writing a love song about The Frontier itself. Revolution is the flame that extinguishes itself, for simple and practical reasons: "Every new member made it that much more likely that you would be betrayed," as the Prof puts it.
"Organization must be no larger than necessary -- never recruit anyone merely because he wants to join. As to basic structure, a revolution starts as a conspiracy; therefore structure is small, secret and organized as to minimize damage by betrayal -- since there are always betrayals. One solution is the cell system and so far nothing better has been invented."
The Professor goes on to propose a mandala of three-member cells, all reporting through a single Leader node back towards the center. This compartmentalized approach allows the founders to both monopolize information flow and insulate themselves against exposure. The concept is simple and effective, and it has been proven here in the real world for decades, from terrorist networks to intelligence agencies to evangelical Christians. It is staggering to think of how much Ronald Stark was connected to, assuming he rigorously pursued the Professor's blueprint, as Art for Art's sake. It is sobering to realize that the long, wide trail of covert history I've outlined here was just a couple of cells that got busted, part of a larger picture that is gone completely here in 2010.
His greatest achievements were the successful conspiracies, the completed operations that will never get traced back to his careful planning and constant hard work. There are too many huge gaps and unanswered questions to leave much doubt that Ronald Hadley Stark had a very impressive batting average. He was in a line of work where invisibility is the goal, and his true legacy is hiding behind headlines we will never understand, out here in the herd.
pg 77 "Correctly organized and properly timed it is a bloodless coup. Done clumsily or prematurely and the result is civil war, mob violence, purges, terror. I hope you will forgive me if I say that, up to now, it has been done clumsily."
Sorry, no LSD recipes here. Handy safety test: if you need to google the instructions, you're not qualified to perform them. Don't play with fire, kids.
Be sure to check out the Cult of the Dead Cow's review of Acid: A New Secret History of LSD" -- full of further information on Stark.
The always-excellent Gary Lachman offers a sober and detailed take on The Process Church.
If you want to learn more about the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, that's good: you should. There's an outstanding book on the subject, predictably titled The Brotherhood of Eternal Love
I recently read a new book on the subject, Orange Sunshine, which wasn't nearly as good.
Finally, for deep background on WTF Ronald Hadley Stark was doing in Italy during those mysterious final years of his life, Philip Willan's book is essential: "Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy
The Revelation of the Method
Posted Nov 27, 2010
I've been in love with that phrase for years: The Revelation of the Method is not my own invention, but borrowed poetry from the world of conspiracy theory. Although it gets referred to as an actual Masonic concept, it's actually a very recent fabrication from a Catholic "Revisionist Historian" named Michael Hoffman. In his original formulation, the Revelation of the Method is an occult ritual, specifically a "Masonic psychodrama."
Used casually, the implication is always the same: when the Cryptocracy commits major crimes, they will broadcast their intentions in advance, through popular movies and television. Hoffman himself was iffy on the actual order of the process: "it's my contention that these are occult rituals and that like the Rosicrucian Manifestos of the early 17th century they are accompanied by anonymous statements of intent like the original Unabom manifesto, as well as scripts that precede the ritual." Later in the same interview, though, he deviates from his own script: "Look at the movie "The Matrix" in the wake of Columbine. Look at "The Wicker Man" movie in the same time frame as Son of Sam. The themes of the killings are in the movies." Whatever its actual merits, the end result of this theory is pattern recognition in the service of a pre-established conclusion. The Revelation of the Method is how the Illuminati, or the Vatican, or the CIA rub it in our faces.
Of course, Michael A. Hoffman II is also a man who devotes a large portion of his life to questioning the historical veracity of the Nazi Holocaust. He's a religious fundamentalist with weird hobbies, and much like myself, badly in need of an honest editor. I'm not discussing him because he's important or correct on much of anything: he is not. He just happens to be the first source using this particular phrase.
As you might expect, he equates Masonry with Judaism and both with pure pagan Evil, which makes for some eloquent and exquisitely researched nonsense. The evidence boils down to drawing connections between violent crimes and violent media, with no actual chain of causality or conspiratorial links involved. Common themes and overlapping symbols are taken as sufficient proof.
Although this approach is similar to the recent "Synchromysticism" movement, it's important to note that the more grounded minds in that field reject Hoffman outright. When Christopher Knowles from the (outstanding) project The Secret Sun addressed The Revelation of the Method, he was blunt enough to bear repeating:
"First of all, there is no such thing as "Revelation of the Method," it's a speculative concept coined by a extreme-right conspiracy theorist and has no basis in esoteric history or doctrine. Second, I have no interest in talking to people who automatically identify ancient mythological symbols with conspiracy or evil. I'm talking to open-minded people who are looking for a deeper narrative in all of this." -- source link
Christian and Conspiratainment commentators who take on the weighty topic of Hegelian Synthesis usually present it as something invented, an intellectual technology that was unleashed upon the world. Actually, Hegel was diagnosing a pre-existing condition of the human species. The endless iterations of Thesis and Anti-Thesis stretch back throughout the history of human culture. It is a binary trap that has always shaped us: East and West, victors and victims, war and peace. Us and them.
"History is a nightmare from which we are trying to awaken." It's a great quote, pure poetry, but I can't get with that particular Thesis, when I really think about it. Humans are incredibly adaptable creatures, our brains are robust sense-making machines, and that's how we quickly come to view these nightmares as normal. History is normal days just like this one. "Business as Usual" is exactly what we need to get involved with. You know, just like the Socialists did.
On the Conspiratainment front, as always, we find a new set of answers. In the Infowars archives, the "Revelation of the Method" is a college essay by Hillary Clinton about the work of political realist Saul Alinsky. Alinsky, much like George Soros, has recently achieved Bond Villian Status in the cosmology of popular Mormon/JBS theorist Glenn Beck. Alinsky is the author of "Rules for Radicals," an explicit guide to achieving and exercising power in the tradition of The Prince, The Arthashastra and The Art of War.
Alinsky is worth being afraid of. He is clearly far sharper than any of the conservative propagandists, because in recent years they've simply stolen his material verbatim and re-named it "Rules for Patriots." (Matt Kibbe, you are lazy as fuck.) Besides, no matter what Hillary Clinton thought about Alinsky in College, she got further illuminated during the 1990's orchestrating the push for Health Care reform. Hillary wasn't cynical enough yet, she couldn't process how easily the American electorate could be motivated to become activists against their own interests. Pretty soon, she was talking about "a vast Right wing conspiracy," too. It was documented in a 331 page portfolio of clippings and connections titled "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce."
It's catching. The most remarkable thing about Conspiracy apophenia, to an amoral free agent like myself, is that it's distinctly contagious. Once infected, we always tend toward greater certainty. This is not lost on Michael Hoffman himself, who proclaims: "Give me two hours with any group of average intelligence and I'll have them reading twilight language and decoding occult rituals for the rest of their lives." I see no reason to doubt him.
Of course, Hoffman himself is a Catholic, a willing subject of the single most successful occult conspiracy in the known history of mankind. The Catholics, it should be noted, are the exact reason why the Freemasons and the Perfectibilists were "secret societies" in the first place: because of vulgarians like Tertullian, Torquemada, or Michael Hoffman. Men who could look at Sacred geometry and basic science, the very language of nature, and see only Satanic evil. Men who would torture and murder for the glory of God's Love. It's pathetic. And it's catching.
Then again...it doesn't exactly help that Saul Alinsky dedicated Rules for Radicals to Satan Himself: "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer." You can imagine what the NWO fighters make of a quote like that, but to me, it doesn't read like Sympathy for the Devil...it's more like a sly curse. Perhaps Alinsky was winking at young idealists who are charging headfirst down a road paved with good intentions? Che and Lenin both come to mind, for essentially opposite reasons.
It's not like Socialism has a monopoly on horrifying unintended consequences. In fact, human history teaches something far bleaker: every formalized system of government we've created has been perfectly capable of facilitating mass murder, class warfare and repressive regimes. Conspiracy critics like Michael Hoffman allow themselves the luxury of a solution, an answer, a promised land. An honest study of reality allows for no such sentimentality, and recognizes that the only way out of Hell is through it. This is where we stand in the modern world, and no amount of symbolic connections and "Twilight Language" is going to change these naked facts of our condition. Finger-pointing is a cop out. It is not sufficient to merely expose or destroy the Freemasons: it also falls upon us to replace them.
We don't have to look far for real life examples of power elites committing crimes out in the open, and sneering at the general public every step of the way. It's technically known as the Banking industry and they have been stepping up their game dramatically over the past two decades. More audacious and socially destructive than any "occult ritual crime," the spectacular theft of American wealth by a privileged few has been conducted in plain sight, documented through sober PBS documentaries and bestselling books. These are crimes everybody knows about, yet nobody seems to have the power to stop them.
Why can't the Revelation of the Method be about the actual science of social control? Movies and mass murder is such a tiny, schizoid slice of the entire spectrum of control that shapes our waking lives. Fields like political science and sociology have mostly been philosophy and horseshit, but in recent years they've been able to get ahold of serious data -- sufficient "Big Picture" numbers to start recognizing patterns instead of merely creating theories. The kind of headlines that emerge are grimly predictable but undeniably important: "Low incomes make poor more conservative, study finds" or "UT Professor: Economic Inequality is Self-Reinforcing" or more cheerful material like "The Poverty Trap: Why the Poor Pay More."
"Lee had a great knack to visualize. His whole thing was wedges and magnets. What pulls people apart...and what attracts people? You find ways to bring people to you, and ways to divide the people who are against you. This was his bottom line practical theory." -- Richard McBride
I would like to create a Revelation of the Method that functions as real Political Science, something to replace a field which is currently neither Political nor Scientific. As it stands, it's history, with no science involved, and far too little discussion about actual politics -- the technical details of the ongoing Cold War known as Everybody vs. Everybody Else.
There will always be an eye in the pyramid. The human race is a global superorganism managed by a self-selected Elite, thousands of competing and conflicting conspiracies. The goal of Skilluminati Research is to encourage active engagement instead of opposition and resistance...or as Graham Summer observed: "If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee." I'm not talking about "Democracy" so much as the whole corrupted and invisible System itself. Money, power, religion and war. We need to be engaging with it, because there is no question of working outside of it -- that's a rhetorical flourish, a concept that exists only on paper. Here in the flesh and blood, bombs and bullets, money and food Real World, the System is everywhere at once and consumes all that it touches.
The most dangerous thing about excuses is that they're technically true. There's not much difference between Democrats and Republicans, there's not many avenues to exercise our power safely, and there's way too many problems to deal with simultaneously, it's all true. There's not much hope for the forces of peace. It's also true that all human innovation happens in that tiny space between "not much" and "nothing" -- because we are powerful, and tiny differences will be enough to enact huge changes. Remember, you only ever need 51% of the vote...and best of all, actual voters are already a minority to begin with.
Mark Meckler, the datamining and direct sales guru who created the Tea Party Patriots, has a 40 year plan. Over the weekend of October 2nd, 2010, he got to give a sales pitch the Council for National Policy, asking for a head start on the $100 million dollars it will cost to save America. His "in" was Gary Aldrich, who now sits on the board of TPP. Meckler claims to have 20 million email addresses and he's clearly stated his goals: "Tea Party Patriots plans to convert sixty percent or more of the population to support our core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets."
I know: Braindead horseshit. This frat boy has a 40 year plan, though.
The Conspiratainment Complex
Posted Nov 19, 2010
Conspiracy Theory lacks credibility because it has no history. Original research doesn't get cited so much as looted, refitted as filler content to feed new revelations to a hungry audience. They know what they like because they like what they know. It is a product that gets updated for new audiences through a self-selected succession of upstart entrepreneurs. Mae Brussel becomes Lyndon LaRouche becomes Alex Jones.
As a published field, though, Conspiracy Theory has a surprisingly strong foundation. Consider Carroll Quigley's "The Anglo-American Establishment," a masterpiece that completely unravels a powerful, and very real, conspiracy. It's written by an internationally respected Georgetown professor, and it's content has never been disputed. Indeed, it is so meticulously and absurdly detailed that nobody has ever read it. There are lists of names and dates over 10 pages long throughout the text and I find myself skipping whole chapters every time I try and dig in. The information here is seldom referenced today, but it has been co-opted and integrated into the marketplace, too. Professor Quigley becomes Cleon Skousen becomes Glenn Beck.
The signal always gets distorted, degraded...and more popular every time. Dumb is accessible, people like dumb. They like aliens, they like Satanist bad guys, and they like to buy products that signify their secret knowledge. It's hard to exaggerate how hollowed out the Conspiratainment Complex has become in 2010. Conspiracy Theory is literally being taught to Americans on a chalkboard now. Remote Viewing has gone from a classified project to a mini-industry of competing DVD training packages. Even Tila Tequila is tracking the Illuminati's every move these days. This is an emerging demographic and it's going to be extremely important in the next decade.
Consider the rise of Evangelical Christianity as a political force, from the fringes to the frontline. It took decades of negotiations to turn dozens of theological disputes into a single policy platform. Once that machine clicked into place, though, things changed very quickly. This is the social movement that brought us Jimmy Carter and Ralph Reed. It's also the story of a conspiracy, involving hundreds of people, to infiltrate powerful organizations and advance a political agenda. How it happened is the real Political Science.
Jeff Sharlet: Key to the growth of evangelicalism during the last twenty years has been a social structure of “cell groups” that allows churches to grow endlessly while maintaining orthodoxy in their ranks. New Life, for instance, has 1,300 cell groups, or “small groups,” as Pastor Ted prefers to call them. Such a structure is not native to Colorado Springs; in fact, most evangelicals attribute it to Pastor Paul Cho, of South Korea, who has built a congregation of 750,000 using the cell-group structure.
Pastor Ted's insight was in adapting this system for the affluence of the United States. “Free-market globalization” has made us so free, he realized, that an American cell-group system could be mature enough to function just like a market.
In devising New Life's small-group system, Pastor Ted says that he asked himself and his staff a simple question: Do you like your neighbors? And, for that matter, do you even know your neighbors? The answers he got—the Golden Rule to the contrary—were “Not really” and “No.” Okay, said Pastor Ted, so why would you want to be in a small group with them? His point was that arbitrary small groups would make less sense than self-selected groups organized around common interests. Hence New Life members can choose among small groups dedicated to motorcycles, or rock climbing, or homeschooling, or protesting outside abortion clinics.
What, are you too good to learn from Ted Haggard? Anyone who can harness millions of supporters is worth studying and taking seriously. His beliefs are probably not your beliefs, but his goals absolutely are.
In any market, the focus is on "Conversion" -- Baptists want more Baptists, Catholics want more Catholics, and the whole point of 9/11 Truth is to "wake up" the sheeple who haven't seen the light yet. Conversion is a numbers game, and it's been studied scientifically for several centuries, here in the Land of the Free. From Charles Grandison Finney's clinically detailed market testing to the strange duo of Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge, there's always been a quiet elite studying how minds get changed. Preaching has been a precise science for longer than modern medicine has even existed. Behind the scenes, from the Great Awakening to the Moral Majority, men have been watching closely and taking notes on everything. Measure, Model, Calculate, Control. Dwight L. Moody taught John Wilbur Chapman taught Billy Sunday.
Real power moves through crooked lines like these. The secret lineage of World Government is more important than the public history. It is more than coincidence that Al Gore and Newt Gingrich were both taught about Toynbee by Alvin Toffler, before they memorized their scripts and walked onstage in the 70s. Alvin Toffler had some zingers of his own, especially the concept of "Ad-hocracy," which describes the flexible and informal power structures that get created by default during times of change and crisis. Conspiracy theory tends towards monolithic explanations, attributing far too much power to far too few people. Political Science assumes the existence of hundreds of co-existing and conflicting conspiracies in any group of over thousand people.
Most real, successful conspiracies are mundane and barely covert: consider the Council for National Policy, an invitation-only Evangelical Conservative influence network with a membership list so powerful it defies belief. What happens when you get Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft into the same room? Throw in Oliver North, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jesse "33°" Helms, James Dobson, and big money sponsors like Richard DeVos, Holland Coors, Richard Mellon Scaife and Nelson Baker Hunt. Strangely enough, Lawrence McDonald was also a member -- one of the most vocal and powerful members of the John Birch Society was rubbing shoulders with members of the CFR and Trilateral Commission while publicly demanding those same organizations be investigated for treason. He was assassinated in 1983 and like everyone else in this movie, his lineage becomes sadly degraded, as Ron Paul becomes Rand Paul becomes...well, what do you see coming? Look closely.
In 2010, The Watchmen is a superhero movie. In 1918, Les Veilleurs was a superhuman movement. The roots of conspiracy theory and modern Political Science emerge from Synarchy and Fabian Socialism -- but names like Antoine Fabre d'Olivet are not easy on American audiences. Which is unfortunate, because the original Watchmen centered around René Adolphe Schwaller de Lubicz, one of the most amazing non-fictional characters of his age. There will be more like him, though. Things move too fast for history these days, so the saga of super-scientist Camille Flammarion's secret mission for Rudolf Hess amounts to little more than a neat story now that we're almost a century downstream from aftermath of the first World War. Besides, Les Veilleurs fell to pieces, like most conspiracies do.
Maybe the secret lineage doesn't matter so much after all. Perhaps the dead hand of the past has less influence than we think. The details of how Synarchy was established as a concept, then implemented around the world by dozens of competing conspiracies, probably have no relevance to our situation today. The simple fact It Happened will suffice, as a briefing, because there are more important subjects for us to interact with. Synarchy is not a secret commodity, it's a best-selling business book called The Spider and the Starfish that's been embraced by CEO's and Tea Party organizers in the past year. The New World Order of H.G. Wells has grown into the generic and very exoteric New World Order of market globalization. Fabian Socialism was so successful it became ubiquitous, and even institutionalized as the Council on Foriegn Relations, who openly celebrate their infiltration of US government, business and media.
This is not about which conspiracies are "real," though -- this is about the bigger picture, where dozens of different subcultures have converged into a single market. It was a 20 year process of enterprising graphomaniacs, like Jim Marrs, Graham Hancock and David Icke, synthesizing hundred of books into "Unified Field" conspiracy theories that offered readers a secret history of the entire world.
Today, these competing meta-narratives are blending into a Conspiratainment mainstream, where the largest possible audience meets the lowest common denominator. Roswell is an article of faith, JFK is holy scripture, and 9/11 is the wedge issue and the litmus test. The Apollo 11 mission exists in a Schroedinger-style quantum state where it simultaneously did and did not land on the moon, although the priesthood agrees there was a cover-up, either way.
The concept of the Overton Window is essential, especially now that it's being whitewashed into a generic civics lesson. Joeseph Overton created an important blueprint for successful conspiracies, the Window of Political Possibility. The civics lesson whitewash positions Overton's concept as a theory about public participation in government. The reality is that the Window represents a sandbox which is owned and operated by a small, powerful conspiracy. The job of PR and government operatives is move the Overton Window by establishing the limits of "Acceptable Public Discourse." The conversation should be about how we go to war with Iran, not if we go to war with Iran.
This is an explicit statement about media control. Overton never saw this as a natural process, but as a managed project. It wasn't a social theory so much as it was ad copy for his Mackinac think tank. It's a visualization of what Think Tanks do: taking privately-funded business goals, positioning them as important public policy reforms, and then working with the media to push the message until it becomes normalized enough to pass into law without controversy.
The window is a scale that claims to run from "More Freedom" to "Less Freedom," but this is not a system of measurement. You simply position the policy you don't like as "Less Free," and then you designate your current sponsor's goals on the other end of the spectrum...and through the magic of Framing, Americans aren't less safe, they're "More Free."
That much is true. We're more free every year.
So what will the Conspiratainment Complex grow into? Who is doing the polling work to determine where this emerging demographic stands on The Issues? What is the common ground between Alex Jones and Glenn Beck and Rand Paul? Will Stanton Friedman ever pay for his sins?
More importantly, could all this have played out any other way? People are wise to mistrust "Marketing," but naive to think they'll be able to know it when they see it. Marketing has consumed everything in our culture, and there is no way to build a mainstream political movement without some serious merchandising involved.
"From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." That's Andrew Card, talking about the Iraq War. It's too late to mistrust marketing: We won. It's too late to lament about how far we've fallen. Everything is marketing and we have to engage reality. Stickers and shirts, baby. Business cards and style guides and databases, too. The metrics of conversion.
I don't like Ed Dames and Richard Hoagland, but I don't hate them, either. I understand why Richard Dolan made the decisions he's made to get a larger audience for his work. Every single guest on Coast to Coast AM is a true American entrepreneur, trying to find a business model that clicks with the masses. Conspiracy Theory has no history because it's never been about history -- it's about product testing.
These guys are all just doing their jobs. Ultimately, that's the worst I can say about any of them. They're building their email lists and trying to get as much media coverage as possible. They're all doing the same radio shows and conferences. They're all showing up on each other's blogs and podcasts. Thus do you make money in the Conspiratainment Complex. It might be less profitable than mortgage modification, but it's more interesting.
I'm not pointing fingers, I'll sell out eventually, too. Skilluminati becomes MSNBC becomes TMZ. And I'll be selling your email address to the highest bidder, every step of the way. Tell Warren Tompkins I'm coming for him.
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