Hillsdale’s Imprimis: Neocon Propaganda

“Chief among the common misconceptions about the way official propaganda works is the notion that its goal is to deceive the public into believing things that are not “the truth” (that Trump is a Russian agent, for example, or that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or that the terrorists hate us for our freedom, et cetera). However, while official propagandists are definitely pleased if anyone actually believes whatever lies they are selling, deception is not their primary aim.

“The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.”
C.J. Hopkins

I came across an article from Hillsdale, a right-wing college that has come under the influence of neoconservatives. It is How Intelligence Works, in which Herbert Meyer asks and answers:

“So why has our intelligence service suffered so many failures during the last decade or so, losing the trust of so many? Because it’s been run by career bureaucrats and administrators who rose to the top by managing intelligence rather than actually doing it.”

Neocons aren’t actually against bureaucracy, obviously. They just want the right kind of bureaucracy. If anything, they want to turn everything into bureaucracy, an entire society bureaucratized, both public and private sectors.

When I read something like this, it comes off sounding like propaganda to me. It’s what the ruling elite put out to influence opinion. But it’s too simpleminded to be the actual opinion of the ruling elite. The Imprimis publication is respected on the political right. It is one of the sources that helps set the agenda across the Republican Party, right-wing think tanks, and right-wing media.

Read as propaganda, it is fascinating, partly because it is propaganda directed at the well educated upper classes. It makes you wonder what is the goal of their agenda. It seems to be neoconservatism of an extremely aggressive variety. Trump’s placing military figures in political positions is the kind of thing that is probably the hoped for end result. It is the militarization of all aspects of society, from federal agencies to the local police, since the military like the CIA is the bureaucratic to the core, one of the least democratically accountable parts of government.

This piece isn’t just about the CIA. It is creating a vision for how the entire deep state should operate. The purpose is to eliminate the bureaucracy which really means eliminating what little democratic proceduralism might exist. In its place, powerful leaders are to be made decision-makers, a concentrating of authority and control. It is a top-down model of command and control.

Interestingly, there is a critical piece from the Lew Rockwell site, A Warmonger’s Guide to Militarism and Imperialism. It is also right-wing, although of a more radical fringe variety. It is written by Thomas DiLorenzo, a bit of a kook, but he offers maybe useful perspective. What stood out to me is that apparently Imprimis was started by Lew Rockwell, an anti-statist, which makes it interesting that it has become a mouthpiece of statism.

“The Claremont Institute neocons claim to be “the” experts on the U.S. Constitution, with their educational arm now being Hillsdale College, run by former Claremont Institute president Larry Arnn. They hold an annual “Constitution Day” event in Washington, D.C., with this year’s featured speaker being Senator Cotton, who spoke on the subject of foreign policy and the Constitution. The senator’s speech is published in the recent issue of Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College (a publication started by Lew Rockwell when he worked at Hillsdale, long before the neocon takeover). The speech is a textbook example of how the “Straussians,” who claim to have special knowledge of “the real meaning” of America’s historical documents (which is often dramatically different from the literal and historical meaning) distort history in the service of statism and militarism.”

17 thoughts on “Hillsdale’s Imprimis: Neocon Propaganda

    • That’s a good article. Thanks for sharing. I added a quote from it to the beginning of my post.

      Constructing the narrative is the important point. And it must first be directed toward the powerful, to get them all on the same page. The framing and talking points must be made clear for everyone working in government, think tanks, corporate media, etc.

      After all of that is in place, what is left is the entire system to repeat the narrative, sometimes word for word. The language is used very carefully with specific phrasing.

    • I remember those speeches. But I’m not sure I recall that aspect, forcing down wages. Wages don’t simply fall because of market forces. Or rather those market forces represent immense concentrated power promoted by professional politicians like Clinton.

    • If whites are justified in all that they’ve done to gain power in the US, then any other ethnic/racial group is justified in doing anything that it can get away with. When you remove all the bullshit, all that is left is social Darwinism justified by might makes right. So, if non-whites and non-Christians really did successfully invade the US and force their will onto whites and Christians, then by this logic they are justified to take over the country.

    • Why does anyone care? Most non-racist whites would be fine if racist whites left the country to start their own country. People are free to do what they please. They just have to find some land, maybe an island not in possession of any government. Or heck, they can start a colony in space. Or more simply, build a floating colony in international waters. And if some blacks wanted to do the same thing, more power to them. No one gives a flying fuck!

      • Racist whites would not be happy if they could not have a servant class to take along with them. If they can’t take them (probably out of prisons), then they’ll be forced to fall back on reinforcing the subjugation of their women.

        • That is the truth. If racist whites didn’t have minorities, immigrants, Muslims, etc to hate, they’d wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. They’d probably end up turning on each other, as they would have to find someone to hate or simply someone to oppress. In that case, they would instead obsess over gender or class or ethnicity. The kind of mentality that needs to divide people up would quickly focus on other divisions or even invent some new ones.

  1. It’s been a few years since I wrote this. I’m still on the Imprimis mailing list and so still get the publication, as does my conservative father. I briefly looked at the recent edition and there was a propaganda piece about the Chinese government, including a claim about indoctrinating young American leftist activists and supporting their movement and organizations.

    “It is also believed that Chinese operatives in the Houston consulate provided intelligence to Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters in Houston as a way of demonstrating their solidarity. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the CCP’s United Front includes these groups, and that some of the funding for BLM and Antifa is coming from CCP-sponsored or affiliated groups: Liberation Road, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the Chinese Progressive Association.”

    This comes straight out of the rhetorical playbook of the early Cold War. So, it’s basically repeating the propaganda my father would have heard beginning in childhood. The only difference is that China has replaced the Soviets as the global bogeyman. His mind obviously is already primed for it.

    From the above post, I quoted C.J. Hopkins:
    “The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them.”
    My father has swallowed this “official narrative” hook, line, and sinker. The other day, I heard him in his study and he was on a phone call or maybe in a Zoom meeting. He was repeating the “official narrative” straight out of the Imprimis piece.

    He belongs to and is often in leadership positions with various local groups, from being on church boards to being the president of the local Kiwanis organization. His social circle involves many in the local capitalist class and professional class, the movers and shakers in this town. In this capacity, he acts as a thought leader and influencer. He could easily spread this propaganda to dozens of other people.

    If I shared this Fox News poll with my father, would he likewise spread the info in it that shows Americans are liberal, progressive, and radical? Probably not. I’m quite confident he wouldn’t. Yet why is he willing to push propaganda from sources he is unaware of. Imprimis is one of the main propaganda rags of the neocons. It’s backed by powerful and wealthy interests. Yet that doesn’t concern him, even as it concerns me greatly.

    The author of the Imprimis piece is Brian T. Kennedy, a fairly influential figure if not a well known name, although he is personally associated with other infamous people like Steven Bannon.
    He is president of the American Strategy Group. He is also a Senior Fellow, board member, and former president of the Claremont Institute, a neocon policy center or what is more commonly referred to as a right-wing think tank. Even more interesting, he is the chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger(CPD), an old Cold War organization with powerful political ties, of which Wikispooks says:

    “The Committee on the Present Danger denotes a series of hawkish US establishment pressure groups. The original committee founded in 1950, was revived three times, in 1976,2004 and most recently in March 2019. Both the first and second incarnations of the Committee sought to use public pressure to influence debates already underway within the Government, concerning the NSC-68 document in 1950, and the Team B exercise in 1976, each of which exaggerated the Soviet threat. The 1976 Committee was the first in which the neoconservatives emerged as a significant force within the hawkish coalition. They would go on to be the dominant strand in the 2004 Committee which attempted to apply a similar logic to the war on terror. The 2019 version is directed against China.”

    Basically, those like Kennedy have been longing for a new Cold War. If that requires pushing propaganda, Kennedy is probably fine with that. About the CPD, according to the Militarist Monitor,
    “the group has been largely dormant for many years.” But that might be changing. They sought to promote war hawk polices and military imperialism during the War on Terror. Now they see another opportunity with perceived conflict with China that has been a major part of President Trump’s message.

    To understand what kind of organization is the CPD, look at it’s leadership as described by the Militarist Monitor: “Reagan-era secretary of state George Shultz and Clinton-era CIA head James Woolsey are CPD’s co-chairs. They are joined by two honorary co-chairs, the hawkish former senators Jon Kyl and Joseph Lieberman.” So, it’s obviously all tied into the war state.

    As a side note, the CPD seems to represent a powerful stream of political force that likely is linked to what is referred to as the deep state. It involves important figures that worked in the government. The push for a Cold War with the Soviets actually goes back further than the CPD. Even while WWII was still going on, the pre-neocons were already angling to make Stalin into the new enemy, despite Stalin hoping to maintain the West as allies.

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