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Deprogramming the Masses in the USA

by John Spritzler

March 12, 2018

What does deprogramming the masses look like? To see one outrageous recent example, read (h/t to S.F.) how a person--Craig T. Smith, Senior Advisor to Hillary for America--working for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton proposed to do it in 2016 in his own words in his "Concept Paper," which is the Word document in the attachment to this email (click its "Attachments" tab) from sent to the DNC's

What did Craig Smith propose? And why is his proposal something that should be called "deprogramming"?

In his own words Craig Smith proposed this:


Use young elected officials and entertainers to build a “grassroots” movement of under 40 voters as a vehicle to migrate support for Bernie into activism for Hillary.


Identify young elected officials (YEOs) across the country to become the face of a new organization that is focused on a progressive future.  These young elected officials would promote both the organization, the ideas embraced by it and the need for civic engagement with an immediate focus on involvement in the 2016 election.   They would be seen as the faces of a new progressivist movement that combines noble goals with political realities resulting in real progress.

The organization would be built around a group of ideas or concepts as opposed to parties or individuals.  The ideas should always reinforce the message that the under 40 generation needs to engage politically to shape their own future. Building the New Economy, Creating an Empowerment Society, Transitioning to a Sustainable World, Tearing Down Barriers are all phrases which might be included in the messaging. 

Why is "Deprogramming" the Right Word to Describe This?

A program is a means of accomplishing a specified goal. A computer program does this, but so does an effort by people to make any specified economic or political change. Deprogramming means to undo a program; prevent it from achieving its goal.

The program that Craig Smith's Concept Paper was designed to undo was the program of countless mainly young people in 2016 to win a particulsr goal, namely to fundamentally change the United States and thus make it more equal and democratic. Bernie Sanders got enthusiastic support from these people only to the extent that they thought he was giving good leadership for this goal, i.e., only insofar as he was seen as an important component of their program.

Craig Smith's plan to deprogram these Bernie Sanders enthusiasts was to use a classic ruling class device. Here's how it works. When people are programmed to win a goal that the ruling class opposes (such as making the U.S. more equal and democratic) make people forget this dangerous (to the ruling class) goal by arranging for their leaders to declare their goal to be a safe (to the ruling class) goal instead. Make the goal something that the ruling class does not object to, something that is stated with so much vagueness and ambiguity that the ruling class can easily make some trivial changes and declare that the goal has been achieved and so "Everybody can go home now."

This is why Craig Smith provides some "ideas or concepts" to be the new safe goals: "the under 40 generation needs to engage politically to shape their own future" and "Building the New Economy, Creating an Empowerment Society, Transitioning to a Sustainable World, Tearing Down Barriers" are, as Smith says, "all phrases which might be included in the messaging."

What Can Prevent Deprogramming from Succeeding?

When people are crystal clear on their true goal, then they cannot be deprogrammed. When people know exactly what their true goal is, when they say what it is explictily and unambiguously, then they will spot any effort to replace their true goal with a phony "safe" (for the ruling class) goal. They will reject any leader who tries to do this. They will respond to such a leader the way I did to Bernie Sanders back in July of 2015 in this article.

This is why mass movements eventually win their explicitly and unambiguously stated goals, despite efforts by the ruling class to deprogram them. Thus the Civil Rights Movement won the abolition of the Jim Crow laws. The Labor Movement won an 8 hour day and the right to form a labor union. The anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa won the abolition of apartheid. The Anti-Vietnam War won U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

But when a mass movement lacks an explicit and unambiguous goal, it is a sitting duck to be deprogrammed. The people in the movement will not notice that their true goal has been replaced by a "safe" (for the ruling class) goal because the difference between the two goals--the difference between two vague and ambiguous goals--will simply not be readily apparent.

The moral of the story is twofold. First, a mass anti-establishment movemen can win its explicit goal. Second, it can never win more than its explicit goal. And this is a HUGE problem.

To see the problem, note that while the Civil Rights Movement won the abolition of Jim Crow laws, it did not explicitly aim to abolish class inequality (i.e., the anti-democratic rule of the very rich over everybody else) and as a result after Jim Crow was abolished the New Jim Crow of racist prison incarceration took its place and was arguably worse (see here for some details).

Likewise, the labor movement won the right to form a union and the 8 hour day, but it did not aim to abolish class inequality and as a result the big labor unions are controlled by the ruling class and are used to control the rank and file (read about this here) while conditions for most working class people are made worse by the ruling class's outsourcing better paying jobs to cheap labor elsewhere and use of automation to make workers increasingly insecure about having any job at all.

Likewise, the anti-Vietnam War movement ended the Vietnam war but for lack of abolishing class inequality we have had more unjust Orwellian wars of social control subsequently.

In South Africa, apartheid was indeed abolished but not class inequality because the movement never made that its explicit goal. The same corporate elite is thus still in power; it just uses black politicians and black middle management now to keep the vast majority of black South Africans in what is arguably worse conditions of oppression than before (read about this here and here.)

Deprogramming USA

In a very real sense, when a movement fails to make abolishing class inequality its explicit and unambiguous goal--even though, as is today (see here and here for example) and as it has always been in the past, the peope in the movement definitely want this goal very VERY much!--then the movement is deprogrammed. Whether it got deprogrammed by a jerk such as Craig Smith with his clever "safe" phrases, or by the ruling class-controlled mass and alternative media persuading its rank-and-file to self-censor themselves about their with to abolish class inequality because supposedly nobody else would support this aim, is less important than the fact that it got deprogrammed.

The reason a small but extremely wealthy minority is able to rule over everybody else so anti-democratically is because the largest mass movements in the United States, composed of people who hated class inequality, were deprogrammed--persuaded not to aim explicitly to abolish class inequality.

Perhaps the largest mass movement in the United States that was not deprogrammed was the IWW--the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the Wobblies). The IWW opposed class inequality with these fairly explicit and unambigous words in its Preamble (here):

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.

The story of how the ruling class eventually defeated the IWW is an important one for us all to learn about so we can see what mistakes to avoid. The IWW did make fatal mistakes, but letting itself be deprogrammed was not one of them, and this is a positive lesson we should cherish.

A Website Devoted to Preventing Deprogramming

The website that I edit is about preventing our movements from being deprogrammed and about discussing how we really can remove the rich from power and abolish class inequality. I hope you will visit it.



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