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The GENOCIDAL ORGAN giveaway contest!

by nickmamatas

Didn’t we just have a giveaway contest? Eh, whatever, here’s another one—this time for the brand-new Genocidal Organ! Woohoo!

The book is by Project Itoh, and basically involves the power of political propaganda to create humanitarian disasters. So, two themes for this essay contest, with two winners from each theme. (Remember, we judge on quality.)

Theme one: Project Itoh. We’ve published his novels Harmony and Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots, and his novella “The Indifference Engine” in The Future is Japanese. If you’re an Itoh fan–and you’ve read virtually everything he’s published by now–tell me what’s so neat about him, about his science fictional themes, why he’s cool, that’s sort of thing.

Theme two: political propaganda. Are we all ultimately just slaves to it. Does the media, and language itself control our thoughts, or just enough of them that we’re suckers for side-choosing and demagogues? Is there a way out of this royal, social, mess? Let me know!

The usual rules apply: leave your essay in the form of a comment. English, Spanish, Japanese, German, and Greek are fine. You can make it a poem, if you like! Noon Friday, Pacific Time, I pick the winners.

9 Responses to “The GENOCIDAL ORGAN giveaway contest!”

  1. Jim says:

    Propaganda.

    While I believe that most people automatically think of Soviet Realist posters advising the people to sacrifice for the Motherland when the word “Propaganda” is brought up, I think it is safe to say that in the years following the Cold War, propaganda has moved from a direct political tool to one of deeper control. Rather than manipulating people to support a war, or a political candidate, or even a national service, propaganda is now leveraged to control the fundamental world-view of “the people.”

    Americans, for example, are exposed to a constant stream of propaganda both industrial and governmental, disguised as entertainment. The fact that every episode of “Cops” or “24″ serves to strengthen the American belief that Terrorists are more common, and more dangerous, than cancer; or that the police are there to protect and serve rather than control and intimidate, is evidence of the effectiveness of propaganda. Even more so, the unofficial propaganda organ of the right wing has actually convinced literate Americans, presumably people with jobs and families and not locked up for their own safety, that their president is a Kenyan muslim, that global warming is a hoax, and that the USA is the greatest country on Earth.

    Propaganda is not only effective at controlling us, it appears to be welcome by many.

    However, there are ways to palliate it. Exposure is one way: widen your experience of the world, broaden your media exposure to less mainstream, and especially international sources, and your reason will start to return. You will see the opposing patterns and narratives, and hopefully begin to question your assumptions about what is true. Another important tool, of course, is to work on your critical thinking skills. If the media insists you believe something, ask yourself what kind of world is necessary for it to be true. If it is the one you see around you, the possibility of factuality goes up. But all of this is at a personal level. To help release society from those using media to control it, something more extreme might be necessary, but what that might be is beyond me…

  2. Benjamin Bauer says:

    Political Propaganda is one of mankind’s most favored weapons. With it one can take control of more minds than simple threat of physical harm could ever hope to. It allows one to really appeal to the more malleable traits of humanity. The need to run with a herd, to have a greater purpose in life. With propaganda, wars are justified, genocides allowed and people are elected. It’s somewhat frightening.
    Why does it work so well? Why don’t people simply shutter their ears and avert their eyes? Simple, it’s only human to want to be lead. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there have been great leaders in the course of human history. In fact, I can’t help but think that the closest mankind will ever come to some pseudo-utopian future planet-wide nation would involve a leader of particular sway. But still, at the heart of propaganda taking root within the minds of the people is the human quest for meaning, among other things. Being given special status, separated from other less desirable folks. Being told that one’s vote, one’s work, has the utmost meaning to one’s country. Not being responsible for atrocities one commits underneath their flag. Patriotism.
    The only defense, and it’s fairly fallible, is education. Fallible because a country that wants to deny it’s people proper education can do so if they’re efficient in their destruction of texts and people who would have the people think on a different tack than their country. And then once they’ve got their claws into the education system, that’s seemingly it as far as free thinking goes.
    However, if one can keep themselves from remaining ignorant, then not everything is lost. Sure, they may have to keep their knowledge secret, but if they can find some way to foment their ideas and point of view within their brainwashed society while evading persecution, things could change. Unlike most of Itoh’s work, at least his work I’ve read (Indifference Engine, Harmony) I’m fairly optimistic about the future. Things change, sometimes for worse, sometimes for better. And much like dogs, every government has it’s day.

  3. Rafe B says:

    Mamatas
    is Itoh’s propaganda engine,
    fueled by words,
    driven by ideas,
    compelled by the insatiable,
    unquenchable urge to inflict
    this mind on others.

    Memes are more than cat macros.
    Ideas spread tendrils
    perusing fertile ground,
    and finding fecundity,
    wind themselves inextricably through the substrate
    (willing or unwilling though it may be).

    Brains are word food
    as well as the seeds of germination.
    Reap what you sow,
    and sow widely.

  4. Kevin says:

    Ich würde nicht soweit gehen und sagen, dass politische Propaganda, jedenfalls hier in Deutschland, vorherrscht. Jedenfalls nicht so, wie man es sich üblicherweise vorstellt.

    Vielmehr denke ich, dass Propaganda schleichend durch Medien verbreitet wird. Man muss sich einfach mal nur die Sendungen im deutschen TV ansehen und danach jemanden fragen, wie er z.B. über Hartz-4 Empfänger denkt. Da sagen selbst Studenten, dass H4-Empfänger die faulsten Menschen in unserem Sozialsystem seien. Und das nur, weil bei irgendeiner gescripteten Show im TV H4-Empfänger in einem Licht dargestellt werden, wie sie es einfach nicht sind. Man kann nicht bestreiten, dass es wirklich solche gibt, aber genauso gibt es auch Akademiker, die dort hereingerutscht sind. Aber in den Medien sieht man einfach nur Schwarz-Weiß. Asi-gute Familie…

    Manchmal denke ich aber auch einfach, dass die Bürger sich selbst berieseln lassen wollen, ohne bei einigen Themen selbst ihr Gehirn einzuschalten. Ich habe selbst ein halbes Jahr in China verbracht, wo “Propaganda” teilweise an der Tagesordnung ist. Genauso gibt es aber auch in Deutschland Propaganda gegen das Land. So wurde bei den olympischen Spielen jetzt immer bei China nach Drogenvorwürfen gesucht. Ob ein Brasilianer nun gewinnt, kein Thema. Gewinnt ein Chinese, scheint es für Leute nicht verständlich zu sein, dass auch sie dort Talente haben und die Leistungen werden versucht mit Drogen verständlich zu machen.
    Aber auch sonst haben Leute eine Angst vor dem Land durch die Medien bekommen, indem einfach immer wieder die Menschenrechtsverletzungen, die es da ja gibt, oder die Zensur besprochen wird, aber wenn es z.B. selbst im Land kritische Berichterstattung gibt (siehe Immobilienkrise, verursacht durch einige lokale Politiker) findet man da keinen Bericht.
    Das sollte nur ein Beispiel sein, dass die Medien eine bestimmte Meinung vorgeben und die Leute alles schlucken, was sie erzählen.

    Ich hatte selber versucht en Leuten meine Erfahrungen, die ich gemacht hab, rüberzubringen. Dass ich mich über das Tiananmen-Massaker auch ganz gut unterhalten konnte oder dass ich mit Tibetern auf meiner Radtour gute Gespräche bzgl. der Anektion führen konnte, ohne dass ein Schwarz-Weiß-Bild entstand. Die Leute aber wollten mir nicht zuhören. Sie haben lieber das Bild, was sich durch Medien geformt hat in ihrem Kopf und kommen davon nicht ab. Selbst wenn sie mit Erfahrungsberichten von Leuten, die dort wohnen, konfrontiert werden.

    So bleibt das Bild bestehen:
    Der Hartz-4ler ist ein Asi, der zu faul zum Arbeiten ist.
    Jeder Politiker ist vor Bestechungen nicht geschützt und nimmt alles, was er mitnehmen kann.
    Jeder in China kommt in den Knast, wenn er die Regierung kritisch betrachtet.
    Jeder Hauptschüler ist zu dumm “fürs Leben”.
    Jeder Migrant hier ist agressiv und nicht integrationsbereit.

    Solche Sichtweisen entstehen nunmal durch viel Scripted-TV auf Privatsendern. In wieweit jetzt die Politik dahinter steckt, da kann man nur mutmaßen, aber beweisen kann man nichts. Da muss auch jeder seine eigene Meinung bilden.

    Fraglich ist einfach, ob man es wirklich ändern kann. Ich denke, da hilft nur Öffentlichkeitsarbeit. Wenn man aufgibt, ist es schon zu Ende. Man muss den Leuten rüberbringen können, dass es nicht nur Schwarz-Weiß ist, sondern jeder Fall individuell betrachtet werden sollte.
    Man sollte hingegen auch versuchen öfter medienkritisch seinen eigene Medien ggü. zu sein. Damit man nicht einfach alles glaubt, was gesagt wird, sondern seine eigene Meinung bzgl. Themen bildet. Und diese lieber durch jemanden, der Ahnung vom Thema hat, als irgendein Klatschmagazin wie Punkt12 oder eine Dokusoap wie Mitten im Leben oder Frauentausch.

    Danke für die Aufmerksamkeit ;)

    Kevin

  5. Scotoma says:

    Trying to come up with anything good to say about political propaganda, but I’m not sure there’s anything really interesting to say anymore about the subject. It worked in the past and still does, not because it’s thought up by some extremely sophisticated mind manipulators who can manage to convince us of everything with sublime messages, but because it exploit human mind heuristics that have been with us longer than written history. Like script kiddies who manage to disable big websites with simple but effective DoS-attacks, political propaganda is most of the time rather primitive and crude, but still works like a charm because our minds are easy to exploit, even when we know our own biases. Working around those is hard: it requires constant mental vigilance, knowing yourself pretty well and being able to be rather self-critical without going too far into the other direction.

    And even then we might realize that we don’t know enough about an issue to decide which side is right, wrong or whether there’s any of that at all. So sometimes it seems to me being an ignorant slave is far more cost-effective (in terms of mental energy) in the day-to-day operations than trying to shield of political propaganda.

  6. omo says:

    The irony of me entering a contest for a free book about the nature of humans in light of being manipulated by propaganda is almost transparent like the simple truth of how people are simply motivated by whatever whims they are after. Indeed, why are we even bothering to do this? The art of politics is the way to deal with humans, multi-motivational entities, in such a way not unlike a complex puzzle. But that’s just one perspective, and one that I believe not only Project Itoh but many Japanese writers subscribe to. Sometimes giving away free books is perfectly smart and great way to get the word out about some new product. It makes us happy, it makes you happy. That win-win scenario is the goal of all political science.

  7. Jody says:

    Garbage in garbage out not one human in a thousand has an original thought in a lifetime no we are not blank slates we are far worse we are in fact collections of graffiti verbal detritus masquerading as ideas we are slates half full of nonsense and begging for more so of course we collect propaganda like a shirt full of static collects lint in the dryer who could be surprised? Who could even ask the question, except someone brought up in the time before No Child Left Behind, No Child’s Brain Left Intact? It is known that a few souls educated in the Time Before have retained the capacity for critical thought that ultimately boils down to the question: How do you know what you know? The question itself is illegal in seven states and may be banned altogether after the November election, depending.
    Can we get out of it?
    In the end the planet will burn like a cinder so yes, of course, but if we want to get out of it sooner than that we will have to encourage our children to think. Ask questions early. Build little tiny skeptics trailing itsy bitsy thought bubbles behind them like carnival balloons.
    Otherwise forget it, they’ll spend their time terrorizing their science teachers until the teachers run kicking and screaming back to industry, taking that terrible scientific method with them. And then we’ve had it.

  8. bes says:

    How long did ITOH have this short list of stories running through his mind? His work while being a reflection of the world around us, also reflects possible near futures.

    Did he lack faith in humankind? Or was he trusting us to understand what we can do to ourselves?

    He does not give us answers but more questions.

    In that, maybe, just maybe he achieved more than an author with three times his stories. Project Itoh might be relevant for a long time. He will become the artist who died too early but produced incredible works. Philosophers of propaganda will ponder what would he have written next? Is this all he really could have given us?

    Just think of the despair of readers who come to his books later and realize he is already gone.

    So much for the autographed hardcover


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