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December 17, 2007

The Shepherds Discuss How To Guide Their Flock

Here's an internal Costa Rica government memo about their campaign for CAFTA that was leaked and is now in the latest issue of Harper's. Any connoisseur of government lying should read it:

What I like about this is how it demonstrates how few tools these people have. They have to use the same ones over and over again, now matter what they're selling: trade deals, tax cuts for billionaires, wars. In fact, it's so predictable that this is exactly what I would have come up with if I'd had to guess at what they were saying to each other. Here's how it always goes:

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! You might remember this previous leaked memo from the National Association of Manufacturers in 2001, which went out to lobbyists who were going to attend a photo op pushing for Bush's tax cuts for the top 0.1%:

"The theme involves working Americans. Visually, this will involve a sea of hard hats, which our construction and contractor and building groups are working very hard to provide...But the Speaker's office was very clear in saying that they do not need people in suits. If people want to participate -- AND WE DO NEED BODIES -- they must be DRESSED DOWN, appear to be REAL WORKER types, etc. We plan to have hard hats for people to wear."

So it's no surprise this was exactly the plan in Costa Rica.

Be afraid! As with the selling of the Iraq war, so too with CAFTA. There's something scary out there, and you need us to protect you from it.

Be especially afraid of outsiders! The people who run the world are sophisticated internationalists. So as in this memo, they're embarrassed to appeal to atavistic fear of strangers. But if that's what it takes to sway the "simplest people," then they'll use it. They may vacation in Gstaad with the Saudi royal family, but to sell the Iraq war they'll tell you scary stories about Teh Muslim Darkies. They may themselves take orders from Citibank, but to sell CAFTA they'll scream about "foreign influence."

It's not all about the Benjamins! It's not enough to confuse and terrify the rubes—you've also got to give them something to believe, some larger cause. As they write here, "No one is willing to die for free trade, but maybe they would for democracy." I'm sure there are also White House Iraq Group memos saying, "No one is willing to die for American Hegemony in the world's greatest oil-producing region, but maybe they would for democracy."

All in all, this is a great template for keeping power if you believe human beings are sheep.

INTERNET BONUS: You can send email to one of the authors of this memo here.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 17, 2007 07:50 AM

It links to Harper's, but I cannot find the article. And when I copy and paste this post on word, instead of the article, I get "boo, you morons".

Is this a joke?

Posted by: dancewater at December 17, 2007 09:47 AM

Yes, but do they need more tools?

Apparently not this time. You're right, it did pass. But when this memo leaked, as Harper's notes, the authors had to resign.

It links to Harper's, but I cannot find the article.

It's not online, at the Harper's site or anywhere else. I scanned it in from the print version.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at December 17, 2007 10:02 AM

This is beautiful—so perfect it's hard to believe it's real. Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: John Caruso at December 17, 2007 12:02 PM

Here's the complete memo in Spanish.

My Spanish is rusty but here's a portion:

Ese miedo es de cuatro tipos:
This fear is of four types:
1. Fear of loss of jobs
2. Fear of attacks on democratic institutions.
3. Fear of foreign influence in a NO vote
4. Fear of the effect of a triumph of a NO over the government

Posted by: Don Bacon at December 17, 2007 02:25 PM

I forgot:
Estimular el miedio
Stimulate fear

Posted by: Don Bacon at December 17, 2007 02:29 PM

Enough of this fluff and trivia! The real issue is: would any of these fine men want to have a beer with me? And what are their thoughts on the invisible cloud being? Do they have a direct line of communication with Him?

Posted by: bleeaarrgghh at December 17, 2007 04:32 PM

¿Estimular el mielda?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at December 17, 2007 06:14 PM

I think it was Clifford Geertz who semi-jokingly classified the tactics of state as fourfold: pluralist, populist, great beast and great fraud. In the first, the state is seen to achieve legitimacy by ostensibly embracing a manifold of viewpoints. In the second, the state convinces the people it has legitimacy and the people are convinced the state has their interests. The third is basically rule through terror, and the fourth is basically rule through a big lie that convinces the people that the state has a right to existence (ie. we are descended from the Atlanteans etc..). Any state, therefore, is a combination of the four.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at December 17, 2007 06:18 PM

WHAT, you didn't think rich and greedy would conspire TOGETHER TO ROB YOU? KARL MARX told US as much in the 1800'S.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 17, 2007 09:58 PM

Mike - Since Karl was writing in German, and at a time when religion was more important to the peasants and proletariat, and the mass media less so, than now (the newspaper, although it already existed, was not as good at overcoming boredom as radio, the cinema, tv, computer games, and internet porn are) he didn't have a chance to coin the term MICFiC as a quick and easy way to refer to the rich and greedy.

*MICFiC is an acronym for

M ilitary
I ndustrial
C ongressional
Fi nancial
C orporate Media Complex

a conspiracy to "milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple", in a figurative sense - except the "slaughter" is literal.

I'm a little disappointed that people aren't picking this term up. I am going to have to start reading and posting at dKos?

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 20, 2007 10:34 AM