By Elizabeth Dangerfield
Manual for screwing the Earth – Part two: Strategies
Or why we are in the mess we are
In the movie The Hunt For Red October, the American National Security Advisor says “Listen, I’m a politician which means I am a cheat and a liar and when I am not kissing babies I am stealing their lollipops.” The aim of Part Two of The Manual For Screwing the Earth is to enable you to be a cheat, liar and stealer of lollipops with impunity.
There are three key strategies to do this: Whip up support for your anti-Earth policies; create a parallel universe; and suppress any opposition. Please note due to some sort of technical difficulty the links in the text don’t seem to support screwing the Earth.
Strategy One – Whip up support for your anti-Earth policies
The first thing you need to do is to nurture people’s inner demons – their fears and prejudices. Using these demons, you can turn people against any group you like.
You might take a leaf out of Prime Minister John Howard’s tool kit for the 2001 election. Many people thought “I told you so” when he suggested that despicable Muslim boat people threw their kids into the ocean to ensure they could get into Australia. What heartless beasts! Such demonising worked a treat. It allowed the Australian Government to lock refugees on Manus Island and throw away the key – after all, they were criminals and terrorists and unwanted. It also got the Howard Government re-elected.
Trump kicked off his campaign for President by claiming Mexicans seeking entry into the United States were mainly rapists, drug dealers and criminals. He said; “These aren’t people. These are animals.” This strategy won him a lot of self-righteous supporters who could vent their racist attitudes to people of Mexican heritage living in the United States. Some thought ‘getting rid of the dregs of society’ was a great idea.
So, bear in mind that it is always good to have a scapegoat. Hitler had quite a few – Jews, gypsies, communists, homosexuals, disabled people – basically anyone who was not ‘normal’ and therefore made others feel bit afraid or resentful. Then it is just a short step to generating hate and dissatisfaction. Voila! You have a faithful following. None of what Howard, Trump and Hitler said was true but the moral is that if you tell a really big lie and it fits with people’s prejudice, they will believe it and support you even more. This manual should be called The Joys of Propaganda.
If you can convince your followers that they are the victims, that they are the underprivileged, that they are losing out, that they are not getting their full due of respect or rewards, all the better. Just remind them of all those lazy people on social security benefits squandering their taxes, all those demented tree huggers stopping them cutting down every tree on their land, greenies stopping all hazard reduction in national parks. It doesn’t have to be true as long as people feel the world is against them, but you are on their side. You will make them feel great again!
Now, if you want to screw the Earth you just need to demonise anyone interested in preserving the environment and taking action on climate change. Call anyone who protests about lack of action on climate change socialists, misfits, and eco-terrorists or worse – inner city latte drinkers. Blame the Greens for the bushfires.
Now you can’t do all this by yourself – you need help. You need friends in high places and what better place to find them but in the fossil fuel industry. After all you want the same thing, for the status quo to remain the same and none of your interests to be threatened by change. And they are ready and able. In 2017-18, fossil fuel companies openly donated $1,277,933 to the ALP, Liberal and National parties. The actual contributions were likely to have been 5 to 10 times this amount. This is very handy for running election campaigns and well worth a quick trip to a coal mine or bringing a lump of coal into the Parliament.
Of course, you won’t get far without having the print, broadcast and social media on side. So, it is a good idea to sidle up to a powerful media baron and see if you can be partners in screwing the Earth. Never knock back a drink with the likely successor to the Murdoch empire. They can get their favourite climate deniers to spout forth as if they are the greatest experts on climate change in the world. Of course, their ‘facts’ can be challenged but by the time the retractions (if any) appear on the inside back page of the newspaper readers have moved on. Meanwhile, readers will take what the climate deniers say as gospel because it fits so closely with their prejudices which you and the media have so carefully nurtured.
Misinformation is the key here. And there are no greater masters at spreading misinformation than talk back radio hosts and newspaper columnists. Australian Andrew Bolt is sublime at it. You can learn a lot from him. First of all, it pays not to be an expert in a subject and to have no qualifications in the area, that way you don’t intimidate your listeners or readers, you never have to come to grips with the complexity of issues, never have to think deeply about the topic and never have do any painstaking and tedious research. You are free to assert whatever comes into your head, cherry pick the science that fits in with your ideology and prejudice and inflame public sentiment against those who want action on climate change.
Social media can really help to spread disinformation. For example, YouTube is pointing millions of people towards climate misinformation videos and as a result it is making lots of money. Every time an ad is shown on a YouTube video, the advertiser pays a fee of which 55% goes to the video creator and the other 45% to YouTube. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is giving anti-climate change videos free promotion and showing misinformation to millions who wouldn’t have been exposed to it otherwise.
And if that is not enough, you can get the trolls on your side. They are a particularly nasty group of self-righteous vigilantes that enjoy flooding people’s social media pages with unsubstantial ‘facts’, personal opinion and invective. They are God’s gift to the sociopath. Everything they say can be refuted but all this takes a lot of time and effort so most of the knowledgeable people targeted just give up. But unknowledgeable people are very susceptible to this line of propaganda at times of heightened emotion.
We are in the age of the influencer and it is just great that people would rather believe the opinion of anyone other than those who actually know what they are talking about. Influencers pop up overnight but experts like scientists have to spend years learning, practicing and thinking about their subject. Sucks to be them! Which brings me to the next strategy.
Continued tomorrow with Manual for screwing the Earth – Part two: Strategies (ii)
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