World At War


Since the events of September 11th, 2001, the picture of security around the world has undergone wholesale change at least in the public’s perceptions. However, we in the West seem to constantly be skating on the edge between true security and the illusion of security, often pulled to the latter by some not-so-intelligent politicians who merely want to get re-elected. As a result, our fear has generally also manifested itself as xenophobia, in one way or another. A case in point would be the naturalisation laws in Switzerland: you cannot apply for citizenship until you have lived there for at least 12 years. There are few nations that have more stringent rules in this area; in fact, no European nation surpasses Switzerland in this regard. In many ways, Switzerland is one of the most progressive nations on earth, especially with respect to citizens who live abroad being allowed to vote in federal elections. This goes for several nations.

But those same states seem utterly backwards in other ways. Again, a case in point is Switzerland, which in its last federal election re-elected the Swiss People’s Party, increasing their hold on the Federal Council. They ran a despicable campaign, including inflammatory posters depicting white sheep kicking black ones off the Swiss flag. They were nearly all defaced with a single word: shame. Nevertheless, the SPP’s power base is generally in the rural areas, and their immigrant concerns and other issues like joblessness and the economy, appeal to people who feel uncertainty about the future.

Unfortunately, this is spreading, mostly in Europe, which is so used to being a community of nations of emigrants and now must reconcile itself being one of immigrants, but also in North America, where politicians’ fear-mongering runs rampant in the new 24-hour news cycle.

Is the world soon going to be at war with itself? Are we already? And how do economics fit into all of this?

I found Jhally’s claim that modern advertising is th biggest propaganda thing to be very true. And very funny, because that’s exactly what I’m currently reading about for my history class on World at War. The way she went to say that it would end the world as we know, on the other hand, threw me for a bit of a loop. Granted, her claim is simple, but God, is it ever inflammatory! I loved that, which should not surprise you, since I’m fond of being verbally provocative (though not in a sexual way) and I adore “stirring the pot” as it were.

What’s even more inflammatory about this article, at least to me, is the connection between it and my history book. I’m almost finished a little essay called Wartime, written by Paul Fussell. He is a WWII vet and the things he writes about the conflict are damning: his entire premise is that the war was completely repackaged and promptly sold to the anglo Allied public, and that the inconsistencies and inaccuracies continue to this day (the date he wrote it, 1987). Thankfully, that seems to be changing more and more, witness Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line. With the advent of these cinematic offerings in the late 1990s, a little more honesty seems to have been injected into the storytelling surrounding the Second War. Hallelujah. But it’s still marketing.

I know that the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra constantly fights to keep its head above water, in the financial sense. They never seem to be able to get enough, because the government doesn’t support them enough, and they can’t seem to get enough corporate sponsorship either, in spite of constantly knocking on people’s doors. People either don’t want to give, or they don’t give very much. Since when is it acceptable that culture is dependent on the advertising industry?

And speaking of schools selling the sides of their buses, has anyone else noticed that this is a Coca-Cola campus, *not* a Pepsi campus…(do those even exist?). And how many times do we see the Mac apple on computers in movies and on television? I always wonder how much a shot of any logo, aka product-placement, costs. How do they figure out those rates?

It’s pretty freaky how real this article is. It’s rather obvious that the reason that advertising is so successful is because it’s based on selling us non-existent stuff that we desperately want. We desperately want to be happy, and the ingredients for that are sold to us in association with actual physical products. I agree completely with Jhally, even though I’m not a communist and usually find Marx a little irritating.

Okay, I’m done now. I can’t think of anything else to say about this.

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