Saturday, June 19, 2010

Negative cultural reinforcement.

 Culture is a sociological term for learned behavior: behavior that a person does not possess a priori (innately); behavior that one learns anew from the elders of their generation. A lot of cultural beliefs are essential for the progression of a civilization, while others could be without eruditional merit. The relationship between progression and culture is dynamic and with time most norms in a society change or evolve. Stages at which a society risks devolution – when quintessential traditional aspects of a society are at risk of elimination, movements to reinforce those norms come about. Cultural reinforcement can be described as such a movement that aims to restore, but more often instill culture. With the advent of the radio, television, and internet, ideas can be communicated to a larger demographic more rapidly. The instruments of such large scale communication are known individually and collectively as the mass media. The following passages will examine briefly, the medias role in propagating some negative cultural beliefs and the outcome of this activity. Naturally this would entail starting from the beginning, i.e, from whence consumerism was instilled in the public psyche.

The linking of the subconscious to commodities and, the spawning of what Karl Marx described as “commodity fetishism” in the 20th century, can be traced back to one Edward Bernays. A nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays was responsible for financing some of the earliest translations of Freud into English. During WWI, Edward began work for the Committee on Public Information, a vast propaganda machine commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson to sway American support for the war. It should be noted that at this time the U.S had no offensive army and the majority of the population was pacifistic.

 Away from the political sphere Bernays is also known for promoting cigarettes to women. Most notably during a stunt he pulled at the 1929 New york Easter parade; when he spread rumours about how a few debutantes that he had paid were actually suffragettes, that were lighting their “torches of freedom”.
 In 1954, he was largely successful in creating a media atmosphere in which the United Fruit/CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala was seen as acceptable.

Guatemala overthrow and the U.S war mindset:
Jacobo Arbenz, was a colonel and a reformist leader that progressed from the army to become a democratically elected president in Guatemala. Much like his predecessor, Juan Jose Arevalo, Arbenz was enthusiastic about tackling a vast array of social and economic problems that plagued Guatemala. Arbenz broadened voting rights, established a minimum wage, promoted literacy, health care programs and above all, distributed land to peasant workers to alleviate their distress. The United States recognized such government initiated measures to spread social and economic equality as “communistic and un-American”. Thus, the C.I.A, with the help of Edward Bernays passed psychological warfare, backed by a naval blockade and air support. These actions resulted in a successful coup’de’tat that toppled the Arbenz government. The justification for this: “Guatemala was on the verge of a proverbial Soviet takeover”, was further supplemented by the “Monroe Doctrine”. A doctrine promulgated by President James Monroe in 1823 as a warning to the European powers of the era, that any expansionist activity within the Americas would be regarded as a direct threat to the United States- extended since, by President Theodore Roosevelt and used several times to justify US interventions in Latin America. Bernays’ role from the public relations perspective was to use the “Red scare” or the communist threat to conquer public support.

The American cultural belief in a divine ordinance to free the world, upholding the countries sacrosanct theosophical belief in “Manifest Destiny” was then upheld in this instance. Historian William E. Weeks describes three key themes touched upon by advocates of Manifest Destiny:
1) The virtue of the American people and their institutions;
2) The mission to spread these institutions, thereby redeeming and remaking the world in the image of the U.S.;
3) And, the destiny under God to accomplish this work.

The role of the media has been to propagate against the “terrorist threat” in the 21st century: as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being extensively instigated by it. Ironically, however, the scourging and pillaging of third world countries has served the U.S quite well and in many ways, it has been the epitome of that nation’s hegemonic stature. Without the use of cleverly placed rhetoric in the news, movies and other sources of misinformation, this would not have been possible. The mass Medias negative impacts are quite evident from this example given by multi award winning journalist and humanitarian, John Pilger (relating to the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” that launched the Vietnam war):

The CIA...loaded up a junk, a North Vietnamese junk, with communist weapons - the Agency maintains communist arsenals in the United States and around the world. They floated this junk off the coast of central Vietnam. Then they shot it up and made it look like a fire fight had taken place, and they brought in the American press. Based on this evidence, two Marine landing teams went into Danang and a week after that the American air force began regular bombing of North Vietnam.” An invasion that took three million lives was under way.” (Source)

Pakistani culture:
In Pakistan and previously India, a bearded chap by the name of “Syed Abul A'ala Maududi” is credited with a lot of negative cultural influence- most of which was achieved via the print media. Maududi was the founder of the ultra-right-conservative party known as Jammat-e-Islami which originated in pre partition British India. Before the formation of Pakistan, Maududi was fervently against the establishment of the State that was the secular fantasy of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. After the independence of Pakistan Maududi aptly moved his party head quarters to Lahore. The Jammat-e-Islami then proceeded to push with all its bearded might to promote a clause in the upcoming and maiden constitution of the State of Pakistan: “the objectives resolution”. The passing of this clause lamented the future of this State as an “Islamic” republic; making the 25% non-muslims of East and West Pakistan, second class citizens.
However, Maududi wasn’t quite done with the minorities of Pakistan yet. The cantankerous “saint” that he was, he made it his duty to spread vast propaganda against the Ahmadiyyah sect. Starting with the pamphlet “qadiyani masla (the qadiyani problem)”, Maududi began convincing muslims of other sects to take up arms against what he deemed the despisers of the last prophet of the Quran: the Ahmadiyyah Muslims. Maududi was sentenced to death after the resulting violence that he had instigated during the 1953 Lahore riots (about 2000 Ahmadi’s were killed in these riots). This punishment was commuted and then later pardoned altogether.

Maududi was an admirer of Shariah law and believed that a society could not be Islamic without it. He promoted active Jihad to bring about Shariah governance the world over:

 “- It must now be obvious that the objective of the Islamic jihad is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system, and establish in its place an Islamic system of state rule. Islam does not intend to confine his rule to a single state or a hand full of countries. The aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution. Although in the initial stages, it is incumbent upon members of the party of Islam to carry out a revolution in the state system of the countries to which they belong; their ultimate objective is none other than world revolution. Source.

Various commentators have alleged that the intellectual ancestor of “the muslim brotherhood”: Syed Qutb of Egypt (coincidentally another international country where Ahmadis are persecuted as in Pakistan) was radicalized after reading Maududi. This radical and very violent cultural tenet still permeates in Pakistani society today, with the latest of these incidents taking place on the 28th of May 2010, when an Ahmadis worship place was attacked by terrorists (most likely radicalized by the ideas of Maududi). 98 people were killed in the attack.

The Pakistani authorities blamed the Taliban for the attack- when the Jammat-e-Islami is ripe and functioning still in the subcontinent. Every time one see’s images of a protest in Pakistan against Western Imperialism or Israel- you see the Jammat carrying banners with the most bigoted slogans. 

The truth is that the Ahmadiyyah community is still widely viewed by a majority of muslim coalition parties as wajib-ul-qatl (deserving death). Using this sort of propaganda earns politicians competing for election with these parties easy votes; simply because Maududi’s thought is embedded in much of the Pakistani mindset, and he himself, is venerated as a hero. The Pakistani media has however, seldom given the voices against this theocratic mindset any limelight. The status-quo it seems here is to be maintained, and it is most likely that sooner or later; if anything were to try and change this, then they could be dealt with by either the cultural reinforcement of the media or the terrorists that define vice and virtue. However, rest assured that even still, history will see these times through the same lenses that it views the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

So if culture is learned manner, especially via the teachings of ones elders, promoting this mindless ethic that makes anyone deserving of death because of their religious/political beliefs is nothing short of preaching terrorism. Once raised in this manner,  it's already too late for most people that have this belief ingrained in their psyche. However, this is a call to the future generations (parents and children inclusive) of not just Pakistan but the world over to think for themselves and not let some bearded dunce or the telemarketer mold their mindset. Be critical of information until you feel convinced of its infallibility. Do not embrace another persons opinions blindly. Break away from the "heard"!

Some References:

For details on Committee on Public Information read: "How we advertised America; the first telling of the amazing story of the Committee on public information that carried the gospel of Americanism to every corner of the globe"; written by George Creel (Chairman of the Committee on Public Information). You can download the original publication from:

Bernays, E, 1928, Propaganda, (available at

Documentary to watch on Bernays: Century of the Self. Available for viewing at:

Maududi' influence on Qutb:

Maududi on Shariat and Jihad:
Jihad Fi Sabillilah: Jihad in Islam by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi “– Chapter 3, Pg 10
Maulana Maududi, Haqiqat-i-Jihad, Pg 64, Taj Company Ltd, Lahore, Pakistan 1964

U.S intervention in Guatemala:
Chomsky, N, 1989, Necessary Illusions: (pg 56), (pg 72)  (pg 264); South end press, Cambridge, Massachussetts


  1. Mr. Quagmire

    From circle to circle a universe grows
    One step at a time and one step behind
    Many more, they grow through eyes of deceit
    Through smiles that flee; and goes one more
    Day that passes comatose still and silent

    A circle blows within itself to survive another
    To an illusion belong, lost in a wondrous stride
    Strangest of all; the defenses around my castle
    Protecting the unique sounds of life reproach

    From circle to circle for solidarity shows
    In questions befriend us and offer our souls
    A sudden shadow caressing the fragile apostle
    Welcoming the frenzy of a dysfunctional thought
    For a massacre about to begin only to conclude

    The rising of mutuality following subdued noise
    In faint and fading tones our shouts of despair
    Caught up in a pattern repeating itself, over
    Voices echoing in a bottled jar; coerced

    From a circle initiates another, a universe
    In acceptance of the tense moment as a symbol
    Through fantasy dwelling within the deity
    As divinity acknowledges its needs, so do I

    Yet around and round between cause and desire
    A mortal realization of the finite in the sky
    For the seemingly explicit structured in limitations
    Driven in culture surfaces, a forgotten beneath

    Similarities faking difference in subjective deeds
    Though morality feeds my mind of its consumption
    Bought and sold in name of reason and feat
    Fantasy and dreams; of greed and creed

    From circle to circle a universe grows
    One step at a time and one step behind

  2. so well-written Tashfin! =)
    you should send this to be published in the news, if you haven't already

  3. quite a post. wilson's involement in ww1 was a bit more accidental since his presidential campaign was based on staying out of the war *especially given the involvement of german origin americans in american business activities.

    it boiled ted roosevelt goading him into condemn the 'german acts of piracy' that got the ball rolling (not to mention the mexican bit).

  4. dude, liked it! but you should quote your sources a bit more. thats a mistake ive been making as well. love the photography support. now check out my blog and comment on it. cause i just started it and while ive gotten a few hits, very few poeple have commented on it so far.

  5. Very well compiled and thought out. Specially agree with the part where you talk about lack of freedom of speech/thought in Pakistan. This is the stifling mindset extremists and Mullahs take advantage of. But on the flip side of the coin they promise you 72 virgins in heaven which i for one won't mind at all. Makes you think if there's a huge warehouse where they manufacture them or maybe they've outsourced it to China lolz.

  6. well written buddy!
    lets have some moe.

  7. Brilliant piece of work... Keep it up!!!!!!

  8. The bullshit factory called religion is imploding on itself these days. The reason is that too many liars are telling a different lie. Ultimately only someone looking for truth will find it.

    Great Article.

  9. A Million Dollar question to be asked from the the followers of Jaamat Islami of Maududi, who are so much in the fore front in Pakistan by inciting hatred agsinst USA in the streets and every other media forum that WHY Qazi Hussain the Ex-Chief of Jaamat Islami's relatives and other hate mongers bearded Maulvis and the so called religious leaders (who are funded by different Western powers) as to why their children and relatives are studying and living in the USA....??? This exposes their character to the hilt if the educated class in Pakistan can explain this to the un-educated followers of these Maulvis, so that they can understand their nuferous that they can be fully exposed. Mak Khan

  10. dude great speechless imperishable description and theory of religion, a religion which they maulvis and so called religious leaders like Maududi depraved our so called nation Pakistan, they all maulvis are highly submissive and sodomite people who playing with all muslims just becoz of their own influence (sake of lawful authorities).
    Muhammad Raza Khan.

  11. Very well written. It is worth mentioning here that the constitution of Pakistan declares Ahmadis Non Muslims and for an Ahmadi to portray himself as a Muslim may land him charged under the infamous blasphemy laws. Resulting in punishment as scary as death sentence.

  12. Great Stuff Tashfin! The research and facts are well tied together. I also like the tone, not panicky and rabid like a lot of the writing one finds on the subject ...

  13. You are a retard!