Do 'Memes" matter? Can they be used as a weapon?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by DKR, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    I've talked a bit about this in (multiple) other threads - but thought it might be worth putting this stuff in one spot...

    A meme - Richard Dawkins first defined a "meme" as an idea that spreads among society in an unplanned and effortless way. Merriam-Webster officially defines a meme as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

    (Money quote)
    Meme, taken from the Greek for “that which is imitated” – were once defined as being self-replicating units of culture. This included anything that could be learned, remembered and spread from one brain to another, such as the concept of god all the way to popular commercial catchphrases - "something about the beef", eh?

    Most might think memes are so totally 21st century, I’d like to make the argument that World War I propaganda posters were the original memes.

    Lets pull out the wayback files for a good example of why memes matter.....and just why they can be so damn dangerous:

    WWI and Wilson (The dude was President of all things!)

    W. Wilson had run his 1916 campaign on keeping the US out of the war. That war being what we today call WWI.
    (1916 Election - The President Woodrow Wilson House)

    Folks may remember Wilson for calling for a special session of Congress, whose work culminated in the Revenue Act of 1913, introducing an income tax and lowering tariffs. But that doesn't address memes.

    After he was in office, Wilson wanted the US to be directly iinvolved in the war. Not merely illegally selling arms and munitions to belligerents in violation of our (USofA) Neutrality laws, but boots on the ground stuff. I'm not counting his invasion of Mexico, Wilson really wanted in on the fracas in Europe.

    By 1917, he was pushing for Congress to declare war, odd for a guy just elected the year before, one who campaigned on staying on the sidelines. We didn't have the Internet back then, but we did have posters.

    Most were printed by the current (Wilson's) Administration. To ensure acceptance of this complete about face, posters (memes) needed a little help.

    This was provided by Wilson asking Congress for what became the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, suppressing anti-draft activists. So that song about "Step out of line and the Man come and take you away" had a whole different meaning back then.


    (the net is full of wartime posters - spend a few looking them over on-line - and ask yourself how eerily familiar many seem to be - even today)

    So - Germans BAD. Allies - GOOD. Pretty basic stuff, and the posters really laid it on. They also asked for folks to pony up some cash and buy "War Bonds".

    The memes worked. Worked so well that US citizens of German decent were locked up in "Concentration camps" a British invention, from the Boer wars. BTW - this was in 1917.

    Thousands were interrogated and investigated. A total of 2,048 were incarcerated for the remainder of the war in two camps, Fort Douglas, Utah, for those west of the Mississippi, and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, for those east of the Mississippi.

    Mind blown yet?

    How about this-
    Most internees were paroled in June 1919 on the orders of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Some remained in custody until as late as March and April 1920. This was 6 months to more than a year - after the war was 'over'. It wasn't until Dec 1920 that most of these "War Time Laws" were over turned. (See Sedition Act of 1918 - Wikipedia for more details)

    BTW - The cases of these aliens, whether being considered for internment or under internment, were managed by the Enemy Alien Registration Section of the Department of Justice. From December 1917 this section was headed by J. Edgar Hoover, then not yet 23 years old. (The gift that just kept giving)

    By now most think this is a drunken rant. It isn't.

    Think of it as a call to examine the current memes you are exposed to today. They matter because people's attitudes and belief's can be affected, thoughts changed and then...well, then the bad stuff happens.

    Just as US citizens were rounded up and locked up - Germans and the Japanese - back in the day, doesn't mean it can't happen again. Today.

    What to watch for - classic propaganda stuff:
    A single group singled out. (like Welfare Queens)
    Specific attack words (illegal anything)
    Cartoons or movies that make a special case (Popeye the Sailor vs the Japs is just one example)

    Most dangerous - a call for 'action'.

    Bottom line - words and images matter. Because they can persuade normally rational folks to do crazy things - like lock up their fellow citizens.

    If you see something that strikes you as a bit odd - ask yourself this "Who will profit from this?"

    Stay safe, stay alert.
  2. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Physiology ops is almost as old as warfare it's self.
  3. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu RIP 4/19/2018

  4. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    Dare I say go look at the "Gov't/Banksters to start war clear books/thin herd/make money" over in Inferno? Look at WHO (or should I say "what") owns the banks that fund both/all sides of the wars and ALWAYS get paid. No matter who wins and who loses, the Banksters get paid! You know, Bank of America/Germany/England/Italy/France/etc., etc.
  5. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    What, you mean Jap soldiers were NOT playing catch with babies on bayonets? No lamp shades made from human skin? You mean if you go to the OFFICIAL U.S. Army Web Site and look up WWII propaganda they admit it was all a lie?! How can this be?! You ruined my world view with facts! I HATE YOU!

    Oh, sorry, for a minute there I was channeling the stupid who can't handle facts and want to remain stupid and ignore the truth.

    I really liked that gorilla poster too. Might have to get one!
    Mindgrinder and Motomom34 like this.
  6. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    Could you define "Physiology Ops"? I must admit that is one I never heard of.
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  7. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    Physiology Ops is when you work out a lot and figure out you hate it.
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  8. M118LR

    M118LR Caution: Does not play well with others.

    Well OP4, your psychological warfare did uncover who was paying attention. Let those that have never had a typo be first to cast the ink. LOL.
  9. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Auto correct is never wrong.
  10. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Many more contemporary examples such as propaganda used to get us to invade Iraq after their invasion of Kuwait. It was later proven to be all lies and that the girl, Nayirah, whose last name was never given, later was found to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Got to give her credit though for her Oscar performance... Notice also what organization actually corroborated her story. There is no organization or agency or government that the people can trust - none. Good post BTW...

    "The Nayirah testimony was a false testimony given before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990 by a 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah... [her] testimony has come to be regarded as a classic example of modern atrocity propaganda. In her emotional testimony, Nayirah stated that after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die. Her story was initially corroborated by Amnesty International and testimony from evacuees."
  11. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Propaganda posters, still around today


    Yard Dart and Mindgrinder like this.
  12. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu RIP 4/19/2018

    IMG_1229.JPG IMG_1230.PNG IMG_1231.JPG IMG_1232.JPG IMG_1233.JPG
    Well, I'm going to go a little overboard here! I've always been a big fan of propaganda posters, and the machinations of propagandists fascinate me! Bandit's post supplied me with plenty of reading material, thanks Bandit! :) Dehumanizing an enemy is as old as organized warfare! And, again as Bandit's post illustrates, if you ain't lyin' you ain't tryin'! Posters can be used a thousand different ways, the enemy is evil, he is a vicious animal, he is a cunning spy or, couple any of those to buy war bonds, save your leftovers, don't have leftovers, "loose lips sink ships!"
    I was drawn to the art work when I was a young fellow, the implications followed. Here are too many favorites! :cautious:

    BTW, great thread, DKR!!! Thanks!
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
    Yard Dart, Legion489 and Mindgrinder like this.
  13. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    I know just a little bit aboot this topic.....
    Just a bit....
    Ganado likes this.
  14. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    That last one is so clumsy and grammatically wrong, I am thinking the creator is not an American.....
    "0.25$"....... seriously? Sheesh.
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  15. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017


    Intenshunally misspelling w3rds is tactical.
    It's NLP TBH. Your sub-c pays more attention to it than you might reazlie.
    From my limited still very much "get it" in terms of understanding what the word MEANS....but your SUBCONSCIOUS makes a special note - because it's "different".
    This is mil-spec MIND CONTROL.

    In fact - this message contains a special message.

    neuro linguistic programming
    to be honest
    mind control.


    Get it?

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
    Ganado likes this.
  16. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Ganado likes this.
  17. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    Mathematically wrong as well. It takes 70.3 hrs for a person making $8.25 per hr to earn $580...not 145 hrs.
    Seawolf1090 likes this.
  18. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Found a couple of new to me propaganda/political posters. The one above is pretty inventive.
    I wonder if the author has a job?

    a modern 'vintage poster' the weather was enough, BTW.
    Sgt Nambu, BTPost and Seawolf1090 like this.
  19. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    A classic in every sense of the word - for propaganda....

    And poking fun at all those damn chain letters begging for something or the other....
    Sgt Nambu and Mindgrinder like this.
  20. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Forget fake news — alt-right memes could do more damage to democracy

    This week saw President Trump cross yet another line in his use of his Twitter account. Trump tweeted a meme of himself symbolically beating up CNN. While to some it might have appeared to be a funny way to epitomize Trump’s feud with CNN, to many the meme was aggressive, immature and inflammatory. CNN took the attacks seriously and released a statement stating, “It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters.”

    There are lots of questions to be asked about the tweet, not the least of which is what it tells us about the judgment of the president and those who work with him. But the real story here is not about Trump; it’s about the increasing power and presence of alt-right communication on various social media platforms, from Twitter to YouTube to Reddit to Facebook.

    What is interesting is the way that rants and memes and other alt-right tirades have major success in shaping public opinion. And while there is a through line between these outbursts and fake news, it is important to point out that the rants are likely far more influential than fake news in shaping political perception.

    Ganado likes this.
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