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The role of "mental imagery": Giving a "human face" to racism, genocide and war

Denis G. Rancourt | 19.06.2010 11:48 | Flotilla to Gaza | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Social Struggles | World

For the corporate elites to continue practicing genocidal predation for power and profit in developing countries, it is necessary that the predation be cast in a false cover of humanitarian aid, democratic development, solidarity, progress, and the like, and that the most overtly murderous practices be cast as necessary in a fight against evil.

If sufficient care is not taken to secure this cover of mental imagery, then the bosses’ actions will appear more to be what they are, murderous and psychopathic, and the bosses’ children may not feel comfortable sitting on the bosses’ laps and the bosses’ partners may not feel comfortable sleeping in the same bed…

The role of "mental imagery": Giving a "human face" to racism, genocide and war crimes
Psycho-biological basis for image leverage

by Denis G. Rancourt, 15 June 2010

Psycho-biological basis for image leverage – General model

For the corporate elites to continue practicing genocidal predation for power and profit in developing countries, it is necessary that the predation be cast in a false cover of humanitarian aid, democratic development, solidarity, progress, and the like, and that the most overtly murderous practices be cast as necessary in a fight against evil.

If sufficient care is not taken to secure this cover of mental imagery, then the bosses’ actions will appear more to be what they are, murderous and psychopathic, and the bosses’ children may not feel comfortable sitting on the bosses’ laps and the bosses’ partners may not feel comfortable sleeping in the same bed…

Actually, this problem is solved within the elite nuclear family with a strong family culture of elitism and racism. And it is solved in the bosses’ communities of friends with a strong community culture of classism, elitism, and racism.

But these gated communities are not hermetic. The elite classes have contacts and interactions with the more vibrant broader society. That’s where things get tricky. If the broader society sees the bosses as being psychopathic then by reflection the gated community will see itself as defective and this will represent a serious challenge to its self-image and to its sense of security.

One reaction is for the gated community to further isolate itself, to deepen its elitism, classism, and racism and to build higher walls around its community but this strategy is not sustainable [1]. Often, just the potential for the broader community to develop a negative impression of the elite bosses is enough to somewhat keep the elite psychopaths in check.

A main battlefield therefore is the mental environment in the broader society. The elite bosses own the media and control the schools and the institutions. They work hard and continuously at branding themselves and their finance-corporate projects in a positive light. Energy extraction giants are “green”, in fact greener than ever. Finance giants bring development to the world – one wonders why we need NGOs. NGOs alleviate any guilt or second thoughts from the rampages of exploitation and wholesale destruction. An elaborate mesh of lies is constantly constructed and maintained in order to keep the bosses hidden and their dirty work clean.

The mental environment therefore is a place where elite forces cross swords in winning over hearts and minds (read impulses and impressions) and where activists can have a counter influence. People talk. Errors get through. Interpretations go wrong. New communication platforms suffer temporary democracy.

An important tool in the activist’s arsenal is to go for the jugular. Call murder murder and genocide genocide. Call it displacement, extermination, and a war crime when that is what it is and name the exploiters and murderers. Find them and name them. Expose it in the broad society and flyer it in the gated community if you can.

Once the blood on their hands starts to show they will want to escape the mess that they have created. They will be more constrained than before. Having to create appearances always caries a real price – a new standard to which the mental environment must conform... Expose expose expose and they will need to spend more resources than ever defending their image. And the more they spin the more obvious it becomes that they are spinning.

So our job is to keep them honest by bold, creative, radical and repeated affirmations about their crimes, in the hope that their partners and children will leave them until they come to their senses and discover inter-class and inter-race civility, in the hope that their desires to be accepted in the broader society will reign them in.

This model of leverage on the powerful via public image is applicable at every level of a given control hierarchy and in relationships between individuals, institutions, corporations, and sovereign nations…

Individual Example – Terrorist vs. Freedom Fighter

The military understands this. An essential step in creating a killing machine that follows orders is to separate him/her from his/her nuclear family and community and to displace all self-worth evaluation in the individual to the sole standard of following orders, to replace community with an isolated squadron of death legitimized by orders and to demonize the enemy.

Following this, the more community-tied and morally constrained individuals, if they don’t escape or rebel, suffer “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD), no wonder. The more the war is questioned by the broader society and the aggressor home community, the greater the need for soldier and military-community isolation and the greater the incidence of PTSD. “Support our troops” becomes a military exigency.

Soldiers following orders in geopolitical wars of aggression – even if masked in aggressor-nation “self-defence,” like elite finance-corporate boss predators and “facilitators,” are terrorists.

Similarly, an essential step in making a suicide bomber is to kill his/her family, to separate him/her from his/her original community, to isolate him/her both physically and ideologically, and to replace all self-worth evaluation with liberation through martyrdom. The difference is that the suicide bomber is fighting the perceived killer of his/her actually-murdered family and actually-destroyed community in a desperate act of guaranteed death, not playing a video game from the relative safety of a helicopter gunship.

The freedom fighter on the other hand is a self-defence fighter on home territory [2], relatively integrated with the home community during the fighting. The freedom fighter is motivated by his/her ties with community, rather than artificially isolated from it. As a result, freedom fighters do not suffer PTSD but instead are strengthened by the solidarity of a community struggle for survival. This is why the Viet Cong and Northern People’s Army of Vietnam were unbeatable without massive all-out nation-wide aerial and economic destruction.

This is why US-trained and supported “contra” forces kill community. This is why they are trained to root out and murder all community organizers and visible leaders of civil society, to remove the community from the freedom fighters, to destroy the motivation to resist.

Contrary to Empire soldiers and trained killers, freedom fighters readily move from battle to civil society and from defence to community, without suffering overly debilitating adjustments. I have met former civil war freedom fighters with battle scars (including a bullet hole in the head) that were among the most adjusted, rational and authentic community builders I have ever known, including a village mayor, an independent war museum guide, and a community historian. Where are the former Empire soldiers in these positions? – Few and far between.

Nation State Example – The case of Israel

Take the case of Israel [3][4]. It is the local super power in the Middle East and the uncontested military occupier of Gaza and Palestine. From the evidence available, the only thing keeping it from all out genocide of the Palestinians and nuclear extermination of Muslims in the region is public opinion in combination with Israel’s desire to be accepted as part of the broader community of nations.

This is why Israel considers its branding in the world a military priority, because its image limits its military options. This is why the recent flotilla fiasco [1] was a national emergency, because world opinion can tie Israel’s hands and cause the blockade on Gaza to be lifted. This is why jam and crackers are now allowed into Gaza, in order to alleviate public opinion leverage as the international community demands an impartial inquiry.

This is why Israel wants its ballet dancers to tour the world and its scientists to exchange with international laboratories and its perfumes to sell in supermarkets around the world, because positive image is a prerequisite for colonial occupation and indigenous genocide. Ask Canada. Ask the US. Ask Australia. Ask any First World nation that uses immigration labour and practices finance-corporate colonialism.

This is why Boycott-Divestments-and-Sanctions (BDS) for Palestine is such a big deal. BDS alone cannot hurt Israel’s economy. It hurts its image. This in turn produces real leverage regarding Israel’s treatment of Palestinians because it can affect Israel’s relationships even to its closest allies, thereby significantly putting its military economy at risk.

Israel’s image is so low that it is bringing down the credibility of its allies, the US and Canada. How far can this go before the allies want to distance themselves? This is why the Israel Lobby in the US and Canada is part of the real battle [5]. It must constantly fabricate domestic US and Canadian support for Israel and constantly battle infiltration of negative image and opinion from the rest of the world.

Damn it’s hard to practice a proper colonial genocide these days when the indigenous population does not collaborate and has friends in the broader world! It’s tough being Israel.

Our job is to make certain that all colonial exploiters and elite bosses get the image that they deserve. In the case of Israel the violations are flagrant and the leverage is real.



[1] "Israelis Celebrate IDF Flotilla Attack" - youTube.

[2] "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you." Jean-Paul Sartre.

[3] "Rabbi Weiss Criticizes Zionist Occupation of Palestine" - youTube.

[4] Norman Finkelstein on the Israel-Palestine conflict - website.

[5] "The Israel Lobby (Marije Meerman, VPRO Backlight 2007)" - youTube.


* Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009. [See]

List of other essays by Denis G. Rancourt:


Denis G. Rancourt
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Flashback: The "demonization" of Muslims and the battle for oil

19.06.2010 11:58

"The New Middle East"
"The New Middle East"

Flashback: The "demonization" of Muslims and the battle for oil

by Michel Chossudovsky, 4 January 2007

Throughout history, "wars of religion" have served to obscure the economic and strategic interests behind the conquest and invasion of foreign lands. "Wars of religion" were invariably fought with a view to securing control over trading routes and natural resources.

The Crusades extending from the 11th to the 14th Century are often presented by historians as "a continuous series of military-religious expeditions made by European Christians in the hope of wresting the Holy Land from the infidel Turks." The objective of the Crusades, however, had little to do with religion. The Crusades largely consisted, through military action, in challenging the dominion of the Muslim merchant societies, which controlled the Eastern trade routes.

The "Just War" supported the Crusades. War was waged with the support of the Catholic Church, acting as an instrument of religious propaganda and indoctrination, which was used in the enlistment throughout Europe of thousands of peasants, serfs and urban vagabonds.

America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East

In the eyes of public opinion, possessing a "just cause" for waging war is central. A war is said to be Just if it is waged on moral, religious or ethical grounds.

America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East is no exception. The "war on terrorism" purports to defend the American Homeland and protect the "civilized world", it is upheld as a "war of religion", a "clash of civilizations", when in fact the main objective of this war is to secure control and corporate ownership over the region's extensive oil wealth, while also imposing under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank (now under the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz), the privatization of State enterprises and the transfer of the countries' economic assets to foreign capital. .

The Just War theory upholds war as a "humanitarian operation". It serves to camouflage the real objectives of the military operation, while providing a moral and principled image to the invaders. In its contemporary version, it calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against "rogue states" and "Islamic terrorists", which are threatening the Homeland.

Possessing a "just cause" for waging war is central to the Bush administration's justification for invading and occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Taught in US military academies, a modern-day version of the "Just War" theory has been embodied into US military doctrine. The "war on terrorism" and the notion of "preemption" are predicated on the right to "self defense." They define "when it is permissible to wage war": jus ad bellum.

Jus ad bellum serves to build a consensus within the Armed Forces command structures. It also serves to convince the troops that the enemy is "evil" and that they are fighting for a "just cause". More generally, the Just War theory in its modern day version is an integral part of war propaganda and media disinformation, applied to gain public support for a war agenda.

The Battle for Oil. Demonization of the Enemy

War builds a humanitarian agenda. Throughout history, vilification of the enemy has been applied time and again. The Crusades consisted in demonizing the Turks as infidels and heretics, with a view to justifying military action.

Demonization serves geopolitical and economic objectives. Likewise, the campaign against "Islamic terrorism" (which is supported covertly by US intelligence) supports the conquest of oil wealth. The term "Islamo-fascism," serves to degrade the policies, institutions, values and social fabric of Muslim countries, while also upholding the tenets of "Western democracy" and the "free market" as the only alternative for these countries.

The US led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world's supplies of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region. (See table below and maps above).

Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate. (See table below).

In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves. Western countries including its major oil producers ( Canada, the US, Norway, the UK, Denmark and Australia) control approximately 4 percent of total oil reserves. (In the alternative estimate of the Oil and Gas Journal which includes Canada's oil sands, this percentage would be of the the order of 16.5%. See table below).

The largest share of the World's oil reserves lies in a region extending (North) from the tip of Yemen to the Caspian sea basin and (East) from the Eastern Mediterranean coastline to the Persian Gulf. This broader Middle East- Central Asian region, which is the theater of the US-led "war on terrorism" encompasses according to the estimates of World Oil, more than sixty percent of the World's oil reserves. (See table below).

Iraq has five times more oil than the United States.

Muslim countries possess at least 16 times more oil than the Western countries.

The major non-Muslim oil reserve countries are Venezuela, Russia, Mexico, China and Brazil. (See table)

Demonization is applied to an enemy, which possesses three quarters of the world's oil reserves. "Axis of evil", "rogue States", "failed nations", "Islamic terrorists": demonization and vilification are the ideological pillar of America's "war on terror". They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.

The Battle for Oil requires the demonization of those who possess the oil. The enemy is characterized as evil, with a view to justifying military action including the mass killing of civilians. The Middle East Central Asian region is heavily militarized. (See map). The oil fields are encircled: NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN "peace keeping" operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian deployed as part of the "war on terrorism".

The ultimate objective, combining military action, covert intelligence operations and war propaganda, is to break down the national fabric and transform sovereign countries into open economic territories, where natural resources can be plundered and confiscated under "free market" supervision. This control also extends to strategic oil and gas pipeline corridors (e.g. Afghanistan).

Demonization is a PSYOP, used to sway public opinion and build a consensus in favor of war. Psychological warfare is directly sponsored by the Pentagon and the US intelligence apparatus. It is not limited to assassinating or executing the rulers of Muslim countries, it extends to entire populations. It also targets Muslims in Western Europe and North America. It purports to break national consciousness and the ability to resist the invader. It denigrates Islam. It creates social divisions. It is intended to divide national societies and ultimately trigger "civil war". While it creates an environment which facilitates the outright appropriation of the countries' resources, at the same time, it potentially backlashes, creates a new national consciousness, develops inter-ethnic solidarity, brings people together in confronting the invaders.

It is worth noting that the triggering of sectarian divisions and "civil wars" is contemplated in the process of redrawing of the map of the Middle East, where countries are slated to be broken up and transformed into territories. The map of the New Middle East, although not official, has been used by the US National War Academy. It was recently published in the Armed Forces Journal (June 2006). In this map, nation states are broken up, international borders are redefined along sectarian-ethnic lines, broadly in accordance with the interests of the Anglo-American oil giants (See Map above). The map has also been used in a training program at NATO's Defense College for senior military officers.

The Oil Lies in Muslim Lands

The oil lies in Muslim lands. Vilification of the enemy is part and parcel of Eurasia energy geopolitics. It is a direct function of the geographic distribution of the World's oil and gas reserves. If the oil were in countries occupied predominantly by Buddhists or Hindus, one would expect that US foreign policy would be directed against Buddhists and Hindus, who would also be the object of vilification.

In the Middle East war theater, Iran and Syria, which are part of the "axis of evil", are the next targets according to official US statements.

US sponsored "civil wars" have also been conducted in several other strategic oil and gas regions including Nigeria, the Sudan, Colombia, Somalia, Yemen, Angola, not to mention Chechnya and several republics of the former Soviet Union. Ongoing US sponsored "civil wars", which often include the channelling of covert support to paramilitary groups, have been triggered in the Darfur region of Sudan as well as in Somalia, Darfur possesses extensive oil reserves. In Somalia, lucrative concessions have already been granted to four Anglo-American oil giants.

"According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco [now part of BP], Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. Industry sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions are hoping that the Bush Administration's decision to send U.S. troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their multimillion-dollar investments there." (America's Interests in Somalia, Global Research, 2002)

Globalization and the Conquest of the World's Energy Resources

The collective demonization of Muslims, including the vilification of Islam, applied Worldwide, constitutes at the ideological level, an instrument of conquest of the World's energy resources. It is part of the broader economic, political mechanisms underlying the New World Order.

Michel Chossudovsky
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