What is a “merchant of chaos” you ask. The phrase comes from an article published in the New York Times November 17, 1946. The article discusses the book Under Cover by John Roy Carlson:
My four years in the Nazi underworld of America. The Amazing Revelation of How Axis Agents and Our Enemies Within are now plotting to destroy the United States.
The book tells the highly detailed story of American groups that were allied with the Nazis before and during World War II and the damage chaos they tried to sow during the war.
More importantly it documents how groups like the “America First Party” and other extreme right wing and racist organizations like the KKK were actively working to increase their numbers. But their numbers were only one part of their intent. The overall purpose was to create division and enmity amongst fellow Americans—enmity based on skin color, religion and political outlook. Sound familiar?
Indeed, the article describing what Carlson documented for his book reads like a summary of our current scene. Same players, a few variations in how they are named.
The Haunts of History
The pattern used by the Nazis both in Germany and here is important to understand—because it is still being used today, in exactly the same way.
One of the chief tools used to overthrow the government of Germany and then begin both the war and the long reign of terror, chaos and murder was propaganda. This provided an avalanche of disinformation that tended to swamp the thought processes of millions.
The players then were Joseph Goebbels aided by the likes of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and the Nazi’s total control of the country’s 4700 newspapers.
Today we have different names spouting the same script of enmity toward almost the same targets. Now they use code words like Elites instead of Jews. The Nazis targeted homosexuals and transsexuals—another coincidence with today.
The people selling the chaos today are people like Rupert Murdoch, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, Donald Trump, Stephen Miller, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson—though he has at this time lost his pulpit—and a host of others. Entire “news” networks are dedicated to this pursuit. Why?
An Addiction to Fake News
There is a LOT of money to be made by people who promote hate. Murdoch has shown us this for decades. Like Hearst and others before him, facts play second fiddle when it comes to “reporting” for people who have come to expect a steady diet of lies and innuendo.
As the FOX ratings at the end of the 2020 election cycle showed—and showed again when Tucker Carlson was dropped—FOX’s viewers have to a large degree become addicted to being force fed lies and propaganda. When FOX stopped—even for just a moment—these addicts changed the channel and went to other outlets peddling the same propaganda. These channels, OANN, Newsmax, Breitbart (a prior haunt of Steve Bannon, from which he launched the rebranding of Nazis as the “alt-right”) show even less restraint at forwarding the messages and agenda of chaos.
The United States has pretty much always had a dark underbelly of bigots, racists and psychotics who hate everyone—and who are also terrified of literally everyone, while trying to hide that fact. From 2015 onward, Trump exploited these hatreds and fears and gave this hateful crew enough confidence to crawl out from under their rocks and coalesce into a voting block.
The net result has become a bigger Nazi problem than Germany had, in terms of numbers, in the 1930s. And these addicts apparently need daily or more frequent fixes to keep up their fake courage of hatred.
The Real Fake News
It has become a widely recognized fact that criminals accuse others of their own crimes. In their minds it is a way of diverting attention. In reality it is a clear signal to any observer or investigator. And so it is with the hurled accusations of “fake news” by Trump and his allies that they identify themselves.
FOX’s practice of coloring and editorializing facts to make them appear to be something else is the actual faking of news. This same activity happens at all of their wannabe competitors like OANN, Newsmax and the like. Others even lower on the truth scale like Alex Jones just shout lies repeatedly to try to give them an impression of veritas.
The major bastions of actual reporting did not do themselves any favors in weathering fake news accusations because of their own past incidences of false and colored reporting. Not having fully clean hands, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and others were trapped in a “do you still beat your wife” situation when accused of faking news.
The criminal cries that all who accuse him are liars, but when the evidence happens to match those accusations—as seems to be the case for Trump and his not so merry band—that cry signals a confession.
Surviving the “Firehose of Falsehood”
The Firehose of Falsehood is the Russian propaganda model. It involves coordinated multi-channel propaganda messaging. The link at the start of this paragraph takes the reader to a Rand Corporation study on this—no need to repeat it all here. But it is important to understand that it exists and this model is being used daily by rightwing propagandists against the American public, day in and day out, 24/7, 365.
It is actually not hard to tune your awareness to this kind of messaging. When you start hearing the same concepts or even the same words from multiple sources at once, you’re in front of the firehose.
What should you do?
This is the ridiculously easy step. Ignore that source from there on out. Turn them off, tune them out. Your day will be a lot calmer without the consistent messages designed to instill hate and fear. Hilariously, one could invoke an altered version of Timothy Leary’s druggy mantra: “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out”—but without the LSD insanity he intended:
- Turn on something else, something with unvarnished and untwisted facts.
- Tune in to what makes you and other people happy, calmer and productive.
- Drop out of the hate media consumer market.
Companies like FOX hate this kind of idea. It costs them money. Millions of people tuning them out can actually accomplish putting them out of business and put their hate propaganda out of our lives.
Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. As founder of Interest Factory and View360, he brings more than 30 years experience in effective online communications, social media management, and platform development to the site. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.