TRICKS OF THE OBFUSCATING CLASS
How Aparatchiks Of The DemoPublican Government Mislead The Public
Like their counterparts in the former Soviet Union, the "loyal
Party members" of the Obfuscating Class -- corporate
"journalists," media mouthpieces, and corporate/academic
"experts" -- get their little extra rewards for serving the
Corporate State as "Judas Goats." But one brave professor is
unafraid to truthfully speak his mind. Is this a trend? Will
professors become free to think and speak? Or is it just an
anomaly? Or is some local condition, such as atmosphere or food,
behind the latest in several eruptions of honesty and courage
from Professor Carl Estabrook?
Here is a partial transcript detailing rare, truthful remarks
originating in the most unlikely place: the mind of a college
professor. On November 29, 1997, Carl Estabrook and co-host Paul
Mueth said as follows, on their weekly program "News From
Neptune," courtesy of local volunteer radio station, WEFT. . . .
CARL ESTABROOK: I had a strange argument over the holiday. At
our Thanksgiving Dinner-table there was a long argument about
class. And an old friend of mine actually put forth the notion
of, "America as a classless society." After which, the dinner
table fell into a long discussion of what was meant by "class"
and how that could be defended; and whether the notion of class
was useful or not.
And it surprised me in part, because there seemed to be,
underlying the argument, the feeling that, finally, one wants to
buy another bit of American mythology: that, whatever else you
want to say about this society, well, it really is a society open
to talent, it really is a "meritocracy."  Of course, there
are "difficulties" (you always admit there are "difficulties"
when you make an argument like this), but finally, if people want
to get out there and work hard, well, they can do okay. And the
notion of class, whatever you mean by that, it really doesn't
have much place in a discussion of American society.
Now that seemed to me to be a triumph of the education system
once again. (You have to be "well educated" to accept nonsense
like this.) There is a refusal to deal with arguments against
it. If one proposes, for example, that our society is run as a
struggle between the very small minority who control wealth and
power in this country and the vast majority who rent themselves
to the owners of Capital (and a largish segment in-between those
two, that has the business of obfuscating what is really going
on.) This is Gore Vidal's division: the fraction of 1 percent
control the 80 percent who have their labor to sell. And the
other 20 percent who have to mask what's going on: your
college-educated group, so to speak, whose job it is to
misinterpret what's happening.
If you make an argument like that to, particularly folks from
the 20 percent [the elite-schooled obfuscating class], you're
accused of putting forth a "conspiracy theory." (A "conspiracy
theory" is, that there is any self-interested group in society
whose interests do =not= correspond, and indeed are inimical to,
those of the larger society.) =That= counts as a "conspiracy
theory" and can be dismissed as soon as it's labeled as a
PAUL MUETH: I've heard a number of shows lately, on our sibling
station, that have this "psychological analysis" of the current
political situation. Bizarre, =bizarre= stuff that's going down.
The most recent one was about "political paranoia." A piece of
CARL ESTABROOK: It was incredibly objectionable. A fellow named
Jerry Post(sp?) from George Washington University, who has been
for years "covering sin with a smooth name" (as the Scriptures
put it): that is, giving psychological accounts that justify
American policy. They have a new book now which says, basically,
if you're a critic of American policy on any sort of principled
grounds, or if you hold any analysis =other= than the analysis
that, e.g. Mack McLarty happens to hold at the moment, you are
actually demonstrating signs of "paranoia," that we need to
understand the psychology behind your dissent.
An older man called in on the radio to the show and pointed
out: domestic needs that are served by the military budget. And
this propagandist from George Washington University said, rather
superiorily, "Oh, yes. You're thinking of 'The
Military-Industrial Complex,' aren't you?" And then went on to
explain where such "paranoid" thinking might come from.
I was reminded there was, more than a century ago: American
physicians put forth an account of a condition they called
"dramataphobia(sp?)" Dramataphobia was a "mental illness" that
prompted slaves to run away from their masters. And it was often
found with "efasia ethiopica(sp?)." Efasia ethiopica was a
tendency of people of African descent not to do their work well.
To be clumsy and break things, you see. Now these were "mental
conditions," you see. These were "mental illnesses" that
accounted for the fact that some slaves ran away from their
Now it seems to me, what we have here is, the direct medical
descendants of the "good medicos" of the mid-19th century are to
be found in the late-20th century, in people like the man we're
speaking of. They're giving you a psychological reason why all
the criticisms of the powers-that-be stem from "mental illness."
PAUL MUETH: This was the second in a series. The other one was
suggesting that there's something in our psychological structure
that is primeval, that causes us to mistrust the political
CARL ESTABROOK: [Laughs] It's called "intelligence." Yeah, I
think that's right: once the brain gets big enough, you realize
that you're being had. 
---------------------------<< Notes >>---------------------------
 The American "meritocracy," class supposedly based on merit.
The supposed "meritocratic" process is described by Noam Chomsky,
in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine, May 28th,
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever wonder about the psychology of
these American commissars? You've written about the
filtering process by which the obedient rise to the top and
the disobedient end up elsewhere, but I wonder what goes on
in their heads.
CHOMSKY: I don't think it's that hard to figure out. All
the people I've ever met, including me, have done bad
things in their lives, things that they know they shouldn't
have done. There are few people who say, "I really did
something rotten." What people usually do is make up a way
of explaining why that was the right thing to do. That's
pretty much the way belief formation works in general. You
have some interest, something you want, and then you make
up a belief system which makes that look right and just.
And then you believe the belief system. It's a very common
Some people are better at it than others. The people who
are best at it become commissars. It's always best to have
columnists who believe what they're saying. Cynics tend to
leave clues because they're always trying to get around the
lying. So people who are capable of believing what is
supportive of power and privilege -- but coming at it, in
their view, independently -- those are the best.
The norm is that if you subordinate yourself to the
interests of the powerful, whether it's parent or teacher
or anybody else, and if you do it politely and willingly,
you'll get ahead. Let's say you're a student in school and
the teacher says something about American history and it's
so absurd you feel like laughing. I remember this as a
child. If you get up and say: "That's really foolish.
Nobody could believe that. The facts are the other way
around," you're going to get in trouble.
 Besides psychological-sounding attacks on conspiracists, two
other supposed "counter-arguments" are in vogue nowadays amongst
the "obfuscating class" (mass media mouthpieces, establishment
journalists, "experts," etc.)
(1) "If there were really a cover-up, any good reporter would
jump on the story. Think of how much money one could make if
these conspiracy stories were true!" The myth is that an honest
investigative journalist would be rewarded for efforts in
bringing out the truth. But look what =actually= =happens= when
such rare, honest reporters emerge. For example, Gary Webb whose
"Dark Alliance" story broke news on CIA drug-smuggling
connections to a wider audience. His reward?
Try calling Gary Webb these days at the San Jose Mercury
News, and you're in for a surprise. After suffering close
to a year's worth of ridicule from his mainstream
colleagues for his three-part series "Dark Alliance: The
Story Behind the Crack Explosion" (Aug. 18-20, 1996),
Webb's paper in early June pulled him from the story he'd
been investigating for two years, and transferred him to
its bureau in Cupertino, California. There, a recorded
voice answers your call with the greeting: "You have
reached the San Jose Mercury News West Bureau editorial
office and the home of the Community Focus Calendar, birth
announcements and Lend-a-Hand Volunteer Column. No one is
available to take your call right now." We wonder why
Oliver North's career hasn't taken so ignominious a turn.
(From Chicago Media Watch Newsletter, August 1997)
Other examples of "rewards" for good journalists who dare trying
to get at the truth are Pierre Salinger (investigating TWA 800)
and Robert Parry (investigating "October Surprise.")
(2) Another supposed "counter-argument" in vogue amongst the
obfuscating class is, "And how did you know about such-and-such?
You found it in the newspaper, that's how." Sometimes that's
true: items are published in the back pages, in obscure stories;
and sometimes the truth even makes it to page one. =But it's not
emphasized=. It appears briefly and then is gone. Nonsense gets
major emphasis from the obfuscating class; the truth is "just
passing through and excuse the visit."
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