August 23rd, 2013
This week Jad and Kevin explore the ways in which the government has adapted its tactics since the Vietnam War.
Consider two such examples: after people largely rejected the drafting of soldiers, the new method of raising a military has been aggressive recruiting in rural and underprivileged areas. Seems legit because as defined, nobody already cares about these people to begin with.
Another example is ensuring photos and videos of so-called conflict zones are not shown to the general public. This of course is a stark contrast from the Vietnam War.
We think you’ll find the base concept pretty easy to swallow.
Speaker 1: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?
Speaker 2: No, sir.
Jad: Hello, and welcome to the JK podcast, an anti-authoritarian philosophical endeavor recorded in Austin, Texas. We draw our topics from the entire scope of the human experience with central connecting themes focused on the grand ideas of liberty, humanity, and equality.
Kevin: The JK Podcast is hosted by Jad Davis and Kevin Ludlow. Welcome back to another episode. This week, Jad and I explore the ways in which government has adapted its tactics since the Vietnam War. Consider two such examples, after people largely rejected the idea of drafting soldiers, the new method of raising a military has been aggressive recruiting in rural and under-privileged areas. Seems legit because as defined, nobody really cares about these people to begin with. Another example is in sharing photos and videos of so-called conflict zones are not shown to the general public. This of course, is a start[?] contrast of the Vietnam War. We think you’ll find the base concept pretty easy to swallow.
I don’t know if I had put this on one of our recordings, but I used to say – let’s see, this would’ve been in 2001, I would’ve been 22 years old, so I guess when I was like 19, 20 years old, in college – I used to have kinda this tongue in cheek argument that I would make to people to say that a country really needed a war and the reason I said that is because I didn’t really want there to be a war, but I said that the United States has become so distorted in what the values of a governance chain are. I was looking at prison systems and looking at the “war on drugs”, and looking on the way that the United States government was trying to usurp more and more power at that time, and this was kinda the pre-9/11 thing.
And so my thought process was that you know, I had been reading a lot of Howard Zinn and things like that, and thinking back to kinda what happened during the Vietnam era and how it became so bad that you started having – one of the things I found really interesting that I guess Howard Zinn kinda opened me up to was it became so bad that you started having – juror nullification became like a really big deal where all of a sudden, you had people who were actually being accused of crimes and in this particular case draft dodging and things similarly related to the war, and they were getting tried for this and they were 100% breaking what the law was, but the populous grew to find these laws so distasteful and what was happening so outrageous that they didn’t give a shit what the law was and they would just acquit people of everything, so it basically became impossible at the time – at least in more intellectual areas – to convict people for draft dodging and other things, for skipping out on the war because nobody would convict you anymore –
Kevin: – because the population recognized that, “well, fuck you, I’m not sending these kids over to die. What the fuck’s wrong with you”, right?
Kevin: And so my thought process was that if the country had a war, if the country got to some state where it just became so bad again that that sort of thing started happening that perhaps that would finally be some sort of a trigger to wake people up to be like, “you know, what the fuck, really, we’re dealing with people getting killed on a daily basis and we’re gonna worry about fucking arresting some 17 year-old kid because he has a joint and ruining his life?” The imbalance in that is just so far from fucking reality and it kinda makes me think back to that, kinda the gist of the movie – I mean, it’s actually kind of a decent movie, so I won’t ruin it for you – but Pleasantville is what it’s called. Kinda the idea of it is that you know, they have such this utopian type of “society”, everything is so pleasant that you don’t wanna ruin that pleasantness with things that are less than pleasant.
For example, like in reality, like in real life, like marijuana, if you have a really functioning society where everybody’s happy, and everything’s perfect, and everything just runs itself perfectly, then maybe you can make the argument to say that you don’t want to introduce marijuana into that because it’s kinda dirty, some people can have mental addictions to it, you make people really lazy, it’s unproductive, everything cetera. You can draw those arguments and so again, just to kinda further draw my point out is just that my thought was that if times just were so bad, people are literally dying every single fucking day, then something like that you just wouldn’t think that anybody would care about that anymore. Even a police officer would be like, “yeah dude, I don’t really give a shit that you’re smoking a joint, just don’t hurt anybody; we’ve got bigger problems right now”, you know?
Kevin: But the exact opposite has happened.
Kevin: The war has come about and it has further empowered the state agencies and they have actually made those such laws worse and worse, and enforcement against them worse, and worse. So it’s again, kind of a conspiracy theory word that immediately gets you thrown out, but it’s just very fascist[?] driven, frankly.
Jad: Sure, for sure. Well and I think that’s – you can see where state power adapts, right, and then Vietnam is a good example of that. The draft – and don’t mistake this for a bring back the draft argument, it’s been made like that – but the draft is one of those danger signs, right, or it’s one of those things where you are at risk, you know? It’s not poor people that are taken off to go to war –
Jad: It could be anybody going to war and especially when as the war went on and they started to throw out college deferments and throw out the different ways that privileged people could get out of the draft began to go away, the anti-war movement really got going. They fixed that mistake, right? Now it’s just they find the poorest people in the country and they pay them a pittance to go get shot at and murder people, and so no one cares anymore, right? And the war on drugs – I think a fairly well established fact – they don’t arrest people who possess drugs, the arrest poor people who possess drugs even though – and again, I believe this is the case – that marijuana use is fairly even across the races and the classes, it’s poor black kids that get arrested for marijuana possession. So you do that so that you don’t wake the sleeping giant as it were, right?
You don’t have a Vietnam era thing where the people of privilege are being upset and questioning the validity of the actions of the state. You kind of come at everything from the bottom up, and that seems to be a lesson that’s been extremely well learned so that now people are starting to become upset, but already, everyone who is under the middle class is already just enslaved either in prison or completely enmeshed in the welfare state, or a criminal, like an illegal immigrant or whatever, somebody who can be picked up for a crime at any time, all these people can’t act against state power, right?
Jad: So now you’re beginning to see the bottom of the middle class is being picked away, you know? Police are becoming a lot more brazen, there’s a lot more inconveniences in place for people who historically have been free from having to encounter in negative ways state authority. And that’s where I think you’re seeing – that’s where the Ron Paul surge and the general surge in the enlightenment thinkers and The Constitution, and all that kind of stuff is coming from; people who are newly inconvenienced.
Jad: But the problem is that their allies are all gone, right? Their allies have already been completely neutralized in a historical sense – the revolutionary allies being the poor. Now they will be back once the austerity measures set in, you know? They will be freed from the things that keep them obedient. Anyway, that’s obviously extremely hypothetical, but anyway, I think the state is very clever about and it adapts very quickly to people becoming concerned, you know? They try to avoid that at all costs. Actually, I don’t [?] off of there, so apologies if I took your point in a different direction.
Kevin: No, you took it in exactly the direction I’m thinking about it. I mean, so we can put this on our recording, to people who I think don’t know and correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that the argument is in favor of reinstating the draft frequently do come from libertarian and anarchist type of people, even though those people would in every way, shape, and form radically oppose any type of the draft for obvious reasons. The intent behind it is that if all of a sudden random people started getting picked out of a crowd and say, “now, you’re up next to die”, then all of a sudden it sheds light on exactly the problem in the first place. Those are the arguments I’ve heard in favor [?] –
Jad: Absolutely. Yeah, I think so. Yeah.
Kevin: Yeah. No, I mean it makes perfect sense, what you’re saying, and I guess it’s a little bit of you know, it’s kind of like a conjectured type of argument. I mean I don’t know that you can necessarily assign definitive proof to some of the claims, but again, there seems to be a hell of a lot of evidence pointing in that direction that that’s exactly what’s happening, and God knows the state’s not working in anybody’s favor and I don’t know how long it’ll be before I can get away with saying something like that without people thinking that I’m some sort of conspiratorial type of person because I’ve always very much disliked conspiracy theory, and you’ve heard me often kind of speak against it in a sense. I just don’t feel it’s useful. I enjoy it, I find it interesting, but I don’t find it useful to make any type of conspiracy theory argument because you can – in almost all cases – immediately refute it with something else and to me that just makes a poor argument so why would I talk about it?
But when you start bringing up things like the CIA scandal, when you start bringing up things like the NSA information that’s come about, when you start bringing up things like the constant drone attacks that are occurring, the fact that – one of my favorite ones – the fact that all branches of government at this point have conceded that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, right? And yet that war, whilst it has dwindled down a bit, that war does still persist and the whole basis of that war that we’re fighting. I mean, the entire operation is the only reason that there was allegedly any evidence to go to war in the first place, or any approval of the United States populous to go to war in the first place was based upon that claim, which has been completely taken aback by every single person now, I think, even Bush and Cheney have said so, saying, “well, we went on bad intelligence”, or whatever. So even if you accept that they really were just going on bad intelligence, at very least expect them to say, “Well, yeah, we really fucked up. We gotta undo this now because we made a big mistake.” But even with that, people don’t care. They’re like, “oh, well you know, it is what it is”, and I’m like, “what do you mean it is what it is?” Where’s the rollback? Where’s the exit? Where’s the –
Kevin: – you know, and it just immediately transfers into another argument to say, “well alright, we fucked up but we can’t undo it now so now we just have to work within the bounds that we have now”, and it’s like you’re never gonna win the argument and it’s sad because there’s really no way to lose it. There’s no logical way that any of these dots can be connected and yet an overwhelming number of the population somehow still connects those dots in favor of the governmental side and I can’t for the life of me figure it out other than to accredit it back to things like what we started with, the George Zimmerman trial where nobody really gives a shit about anything that’s going on because they’re just more interested in hearing about some like I said, 1/15,000 case for this particular year.
Jad: Well and again, it’s that much more comfortable to do so, right?
Kevin: Well, right. Right, right.
Jad: It’s disconcerting to think that the people who have absolute power over you are a bunch of sadistic you know, the kinds of people that would travel around the world murdering strangers for money essentially, for no reason at all – not a defensive reason at least.
Jad: That’s really not a pleasant thought to have. It’s really disruptive if you really internalize that and you really think about what that means, it’s too much stuff, right? I mean everything you’ve been told is a lie, like your parents told you that stuff, and your minister told you that stuff, and all your teachers told you that the government is here to help you and, and U.S. only fights just wars, and there’s all these checks and balances to make sure bad things don’t happen or if they do happen they get fixed, and there’s apologies, and there’s you know, the whole narrative of living in a just world, in a just state is gone if you pay attention to that story and that’s a lot to ask for someone on a Thursday afternoon or something.
Jad: So that I don’t know the answer to that. Since that is the case and since people are that dead set on not thinking about something – we’ll we talk about this all the time – I think the only thing you can do is give them the other filter so that they’re aware it exists and then there will come a time when it becomes helpful for them to have that filter, you know? Like, “oh, I wonder why this bad thing happened that I actually care about because it happened to someone I love”, and like, “why were the police so awful to this person that I know even though their innocent?” Well let me take that filter of “don’t trust the government” and take a look at it and now oh, now it makes sense, they did it because they were making money off of it, or he was refusing to obey orders, or you know, whatever it is, there’s just nothing else you can do.
But that’s what I think is positive is if you look at the number of people – and you pointed this out before lots of times – but the number of people who are even aware of that filter existing now compared to 20 years ago, it’s remarkable.
Kevin: I think so.
Jad: And it’s kind of irreversible too because now it’s electronic, you can’t stop the flow of information. You can’t stop – someone who decides they want to look has all of the information at their fingertips. They don’t gotta go to the library, they don’t gotta go write freedom information acts to different parts of the government to try to get papers with redacted information and all that you know, like the classic conspiracy theorists did form J.F.K. on.
Kevin: Right. Right.
Jad: That’s not necessary anymore, all you gotta do is sit down at a computer and 20 minutes later, at least be headed in the direction of some sort of clarity with the nature of power and nature of the relationship between the state and you.
Kevin: Right. It appears to be a losing battle, but I agree with you that there are definitely some positive statistics weighing in the favor of you know, what we’re talking about. So while I may sound very defeated and beaten you know, at this particular crossroads – which I’m certainly not personally – but while I might be looking at it as if the country was beaten and defeated you know, I recognize [?] statistically that at the end of the day again, I look back to the Ron Paul thing all the time and then say well in just even 2008 to 2012, I mean the radical change that came from that and just kinda bringing people into that – never mind the party system – but just bringing people into that libertarian umbrella of that type of ideology, you know and just getting them to think for themselves.
And a lot of them of course are very ignorant about it still and toting all sorts of things that aren’t necessarily the case, but at least like you say, it’s getting people to think about these issues and if I go back to what I was saying about when I was younger, I kinda thought that maybe like a war would fix some of this stuff. That’s exactly the reason that I thought the war could fix these sorts of things is because it would force people to consider issues that go so much beyond themselves and to consider what those state entities are actually doing and unfortunately, I guess the one bit of that equation that I didn’t calculate or I didn’t think of at the time was that – and something you point out all the time, which I wholeheartedly agree with – is that something needs to affect them personally. It’s not enough to know that the United States is dropping bombs on these kids over in whatever. It’s not enough to know that police you know in Tennessee are pulling innocent people out of their cars and strip searching them and things like that. It’s not enough anymore and I don’t know why, but it’s not.
What you need is for – you already know this – but for one of my friends who is on the side of police and all that sort of thing, sadly, I need one of their close friends or family members to get pulled out of the car and strip searched by a police officer, you know, and completely violated in every way, shape, and form, then you’ll have another group of say, 40 to 100 people using that kind of a second and third degree matching system that are gonna get on board with that and say, “well that’s fucking wrong”, you know, “how could that possibly happen?” And at least that filter is gonna break down a little bit in them, but it’s just tragic to me that that’s the level of abuse that’s required in order for people to deal with the situation in an adult manner these days, in a responsible human manner these days.
Jad: Yeah, I agree with you. The other part – and we’ve talked about this before too and it goes back to your Vietnam point and I think Tom mentioned this one time we were talking about it, I totally agree – is that the – and it goes back to the media as well – the media being complicit in the stability of the status quo has a lot to do with it. Like during the Vietnam era, I think just as a hangover from the Second World War, they were like, “oh, we’ve got this great technology, let’s film all these soldiers being soldiers. Everyone likes that, everyone likes to watch that on TV and newsreels and stuff”, but then you know, what they were filming were these awful atrocities and that was what – people were getting that information. So even though it was someplace far away, it still was something they had to process –
Jad: – because it was presented to them every day. “Here’s how many people died in Vietnam today”, you know, and, “here’s a child covered in napalm running down the street, screaming”, and just another adaptation that the state made is that that doesn’t happen at all anymore, you know? That doesn’t happen at all with foreign occupations at all. There’s never a video of anyone dying, even if they’re the enemy they’re not showing those pictures and no one’s talking about cases where a policeman rapes or beats somebody on the side of the road. Those stories aren’t covered and if they were, you might be able to see some more clarity among the thinking of your every day person.
Jad: And I think that the multi-faceted nature of the system is really important to focus on because that definitely has a lot to do with it.
Kevin: Right. Right. I couldn’t agree more with all these points. I don’t really know where to go with any of them because it’s just kinda the same depressing notion over and over, but it’s I guess, if I try to tie it back to what we initially started talking about, it’s just I do agree that a lot of – you know when we were talking about Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and people being interested in watching this and why they’re watching it and I think you made some pretty good counterpoints to me – but I guess the overall picture that I always know is there is that it’s the media entities that are complicit in all of this, and they are ultimately the ones getting to control the flow of information to begin with and it used to – even when I went through college, I think I’ve told you before, I spent several years in film school.
That was actually what I did my first three years of school and even went up to NYU for a semester to study film there and everything and I was really into it and I’ve always really liked doing film, and arts, and things like that. But I had to take a lot of – not just filmmaking – but you know actually like learning about media, and film, and histories, and things like that, and one of the things that they just pounded into your head and I swear to God I still know people who have degrees in radio and television, film, and things like that who still hold this view is the notion of what media is and what they would repeat to you over, and over, and over is that the media doesn’t tell people what to think, it tells people what to think about, right?
And it becomes like this kinda very – I forget what it’s called, it’s like a reasonably important law or theory of radio, television, and film sciences – but as I’ve matured, I’ve just kinda come to find that that’s just the biggest fucking heap of bullshit I’ve ever heard in my life and the fact that it’s repeated so consistently and in an academic environment just bothers me to no fucking end because it’s total horse shit to suggest that the media doesn’t tell you what to think, they tell you what to think about. I believe wholeheartedly that the media tells you exactly what to think and I think you just have to abstract that one level, maybe Fox isn’t specifically telling you that you need to think that George Zimmerman is innocent or that CNN, or MSNBC needs to convince you that George Zimmerman is guilty maybe without making that definitive claim, but to say they’re not telling you what to think I think is a really far stretch from that because what they’re telling you to think is to think in this very myopic view of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin rather than some of the much larger issues that are going on.
So I think that it’s almost kind of a cop out when they say they tell you what to think about, not what to think. There is a pretty fucking small line between that preposition and the lack of a preposition and anyway, I think the media tells people exactly what to think and I think that’s a large part of where my complaint gets lodged to begin with. Here I am complaining about people being idiots when in fact, you’re still at the mercy of the information that you’re being provided, you know?
Kevin: And if that’s the shit that’s pounded into your head literally 24 hours a day then what can you do?
Kevin: So it’s real sad, but I guess one answer to that is you try to engage in things like what we do and maybe do your best to provide an alternative to talking points and say, “well, we don’t believe these things so here’s what we believe”, and the three people that listen to it maybe get something out of it, but –
Jad: Sure. Yeah, that’s all you can do.
Kevin: Yeah, I think so.
Jad: I mean, that’s not all you could do I suppose, but that’s all we’re gonna do. That’s the extent of our activities.
And that’s where we leave it for this episode. Thanks to Lee Caffey[Sp?] and Chris Baton[Sp?] for providing us with quality sound engineering and editing – we wouldn’t get far without them. Hosting services are provided by CityCore, LLC. Our graphical caricature was provided by our friend, Sayeed Mod Badril Sham [Sp?] in Malaysia, and transcription services are provided by Deidra Alexander of Galaxy Creative Media.
If you have any questions, comments, ideas for a show, or just wanna say hello, we love receiving email. You can find Jad at www.Jad-Davis.com, and you can find Kevin at www.KevinLudlow.com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll be back with another episode soon.