Sunday, November 30, 2008

Government suppression of health research is scandalous

Australian governments -- federal, state and territory -- often mislead the public about important health issues by suppressing the results of research.

That's the conclusion of what is thought to be the first formal study of government suppression of information in the health sector.

When University of Western Australia researchers asked 302 public health academics in 17 institutions whether they had seen research findings suppressed by governments, they were told of 142 such incidents occurring between 2001 and 2006.

Twenty-one per cent of academics had personally experienced such a problem over that period.

Governments most commonly suppressed research through sanitising reports, or delaying or prohibiting publication.

The effect of the suppression was, not surprisingly, to protect the interests of government by, for example, keeping potentially damaging information about health services under wraps.

The researchers found that 87% of attempts to suppress information succeeded "and, consequently, the public was left uninformed or given a false impression".

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“People have never thought that way about breast cancer"

Dr. Kaplan and his colleague, Dr. Franz Porzsolt, an oncologist at the University of Ulm, said in an editorial that accompanied the study, "If the spontaneous remission hypothesis is credible, it should cause a major re-evaluation in the approach to breast cancer research and treatment."

The study was conducted by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a researcher at the VA Outcomes Group in White River Junction, Vt., and Dartmouth Medical School; Dr. Per-Henrik Zahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; and Dr. Jan Maehlen of Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo. It compared two groups of women ages 50 to 64 in two consecutive six-year periods.

One group of 109,784 women was followed from 1992 to 1997. Mammography screening in Norway was initiated in 1996. In 1996 and 1997, all were offered mammograms, and nearly every woman accepted.

The second group of 119,472 women was followed from 1996 to 2001. All were offered regular mammograms, and nearly all accepted.

It might be expected that the two groups would have roughly the same number of breast cancers, either detected at the end or found along the way. Instead, the researchers report, the women who had regular routine screenings had 22 percent more cancers. For every 100,000 women who were screened regularly, 1,909 were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over six years, compared with 1,564 women who did not have regular screening.

There are other explanations, but researchers say that they are less likely than the conclusion that the tumors disappeared.

The most likely explanation, Dr. Welch said, is that "there are some women who had cancer at one point and who later don't have that cancer."

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The 30 greatest conspiracy theories - part 1

1. September 11, 2001

Thanks to the power of the web and live broadcasts on television, the conspiracy theories surrounding the events of 9/11 - when terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington - have surpassed those of Roswell and JFK in traction. Despite repeated claims by al-Qaeda that it planned, organised and orchestrated the attacks, several official and unofficial investigations into the collapse of the Twin Towers which concluded that structural failure was responsible and footage of the events themselves, the conspiracy theories continue to grow in strength.

At the milder end of the spectrum are the theorists who believe that the US government had prior warning of the attacks but did not do enough to stop them. Others believe that the Bush administration deliberately turned a blind eye to those warnings because it wanted a pretext to launch wars in the Middle East to usher in another century of American hegemony. A large group of people - collectively called the 9/11 Truth Movement - cite evidence that an airliner did not hit the Pentagon and that the World Trade Centre could not have been brought down by airliner impacts and burning aviation fuel alone. This final group points to video evidence which they claim shows puffs of smoke - so-called demoliton squibs - emerging from the Twin Towers at levels far below the aircraft impact zones and prior to the collapses. They also believe that, on the day itself, the US air force was deliberately stood down or sent on exercises to prevent intervention that could have saved the lives of nearly 3,000 people.

Many witnesses - including firemen, policemen and people who were inside the towers at the time - claim to have heard explosions below the aircraft impacts (including in basement levels) and before both the collapses and the attacks themselves. As with the assassination of JFK, the official inquiry into the events - the 9/11 Commission Report - is widely derided by the conspiracy community and held up as further evidence that 9/11 was an "inside job". Scientific journals have consistently rejected these hypotheses.

2. The assassination of John F Kennedy

The 35th President of the United States was shot on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas at 12.30pm . He was fatally wounded by gunshots while riding with his wife - Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy - in a motorcade. The ten-month investigation of the Warren Commission of 1963 to 1964, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) of 1976 to 1979, and other government investigations concluded that the President had been assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald - who was himself shot dead by Jack Ruby while in police custody.

But doubts about the official explanation and the conclusion that Oswald was the lone gunman firing from the Texas Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was hit surfaced soon after the commission report. Footage of the motorcade taken by Abraham Zapruder on 8mm film supported the growing belief that at least four shots were fired - not the three that the Warren Commission claimed. The moments of impact recorded on the film also suggested that at least one of the shots came from a completely different direction to those supposedly fired by Oswald - evidence backed up by testimony of several eye witnesses. Many believed that several shots were fired by gunmen hiding behind a picket fence on a grassy knoll overlooking the plaza.

The assassination is still the subject of widespread speculation and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories, though none of these has been proven. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) found both the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed. The HSCA also concluded that there were at least four shots fired and that it was probable that a conspiracy existed. However, later studies, including one by the National Academy of Sciences, have called into question the accuracy of the evidence used by the HSCA to support its finding of four shots.

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Legislators taking hard look at oil trading

Democrats, who led the charge for increased oil market regulation, will return to Washington in the new year with solid majorities in Congress, a friendly White House and the determination to tighten regulation across America's financial markets. They will likely take another look at oil.

"This will remain an issue," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who introduced oil market legislation this year. "Because when the price of oil has gone from $50 to $147 and back, it's clear to me and everyone else that this has nothing to do with supply and demand. It has to do with speculation."

In addition, the investment banks that have opposed oil market regulations in the past have far less clout than before.

"The banks are in a much weaker position right now, and they were the ones really fighting this," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at the Public Citizen watchdog group.

President-elect Barack Obama even made cracking down on oil speculation part of his energy platform during the campaign. But he offered few specifics and gave the issue far less attention than he gave to renewable power and alternative fuels.

Among possible changes, Congress may try to assert more authority over unregulated oil swaps that don't take place on any formal market. Limits on the number of oil contracts a speculator can hold could be extended to cover those swaps as well as trading on electronic exchanges and overseas markets.

There's still disagreement over how much speculators influence oil's price.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a federal agency that regulates much of the American oil market, tends to downplay the role of speculators. A commission task force concluded that the tight worldwide balance between petroleum supply and demand caused the price spike, not speculators.

Plenty of oil analysts disagree. Many factors helped shove prices higher, including the growth of China's economy and the decline of the American dollar. But oil kept rising even as gasoline sales fell in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer. That wouldn't have happened if supply and demand really were driving the market, many analysts say.

"The entire move from $70 (per barrel) to $147 was people fleeing the dollar and looking at oil as an asset class," said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy research fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. "It was speculators, so when they exited the market, we went right back to $70."

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The 10 worst corporations of 2008

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Multinational Monitor's annual list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the year.

In the 20 years that we've published our annual list, we've covered corporate villains, scoundrels, criminals and miscreants. We've reported on some really bad stuff - from Exxon's Valdez spill to Union Carbide and Dow's effort to avoid responsibility for the Bhopal disaster; from oil companies coddling dictators (including Chevron and CNPC, both profiled this year) to a bank (Riggs) providing financial services for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; from oil and auto companies threatening the future of the planet by blocking efforts to address climate change to duplicitous tobacco companies marketing cigarettes around the world by associating their product with images of freedom, sports, youthful energy and good health.

But we've never had a year like 2008.

The financial crisis first gripping Wall Street and now spreading rapidly throughout the world is, in many ways, emblematic of the worst of the corporate-dominated political and economic system that we aim to expose with our annual 10 Worst list.

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Can George W. Bush 'self-pardon' himself?

So -- can Bush do it? Can he pardon himself before leaving office?

According to attorneys whom I asked, there is no definitive legal answer.There is no case law on the subject and not even much legal analysis of the possibility. All there seems to be are three law review articles that analyze the self-pardon power with arguments for and against its legality. (I am convinced by the arguments against its legality, but given the present Supreme Court, who knows?).

You might be interested in a much less troublesome -- and perfectly legal -- route that Bush can take to avoid prosecution.

He can simply pardon Cheney (and everyone else) and immediately resign. Cheney then becomes president and pardons him. Short, sweet, and -- after consulting with an attorney -- perfectly legal.

Would the entire country freak out over such brazen self-dealing? No doubt. Would Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., care? Not a bit. After all, given the choice between a trial for high treason and murder (resulting in a possible death sentence) versus millions of people thinking badly of them (which 82 percent of the public already does), the answer is obvious.

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conspiracy vs. Conspiracy in American History

The notion that the parliamentary democracy of the industrial nations is a sham, and that the real power lies not in the hands of the people (or their elected representatives) but in the hands of a small, ruling elite is a view most closely associated with Karl Marx. This is one meaning of the word "conspiracy": the ruling class knows what its interests are, and it acts to protect them. In this sense of the term, conspiracy is equivalent to elite theory, because the implication is that the ruling class acts with a unified consciousness. Indeed, Marx argued that the emergence of conflicts within the ranks of the elite was a sign that the system was ripe for revolutionary overthrow.

Elite theory, then, holds that the people (or masses) are under the illusion that through their vote they control the direction of the ship of state, whereas the real captains of the ship–the captains of industry, the eminences grises–are not themselves on the ballot. The public does not get to vote for them, but rather for their paid representatives. Thus the post-election euphoria in the United States over Barack Obama is nothing more than a bubble, an illusion, because the lion's share of the $750 million he collected in campaign contributions (according to the Australian journalist John Pilger) came from Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and the huge hedge fund Citadel Investment Group. These corporations, it hardly need be said, do not have the welfare of the American people as their top priority; and it is also the case that having invested in a president, they expect a return on that investment once he takes office. And if history is any guide here, they are going to get it. It is for this reason that what we have in the United States, according to Harvard political scientist Michael Sandel, is a "procedural democracy": the form, the appearance, is democratic, but the actual content, the result, is not. As the eminent sociologist C. Wright Mills put it in 1956,

"In so far as the structural clue to the power elite today lies in the political order, that clue is the decline of politics as genuine and public debate of alternative decisions….America is now in considerable part more a formal political democracy than a democratic social structure, and even the formal political mechanics are weak."

While it is undoubtedly true that elites occasionally act in a deliberate and concerted way, it was Mills in particular who pointed out that the reality was significantly more nuanced than this. For the most part, it is not that the rich or super-rich get together in some corporate boardroom and ask themselves, "Now how can we best screw the workers and the middle class?" No, said Mills, what in fact happens is that they socialize together, in an informal sort of way, and recognize their class affiliations:

"Members of the several higher circles know one another as personal friends and even as neighbors; they mingle with one another on the golf course, in the gentlemen's clubs, at resorts, on transcontinental airplanes, and on ocean liners. They meet at the estates of mutual friends, face each other in front of the TV camera, or serve on the same philanthropic committee; and many are sure to cross one another's path in the columns of newspapers, if not in the exact cafés from which many of these columns originate….The conception of the power elite, accordingly, does not rest upon the assumption that American history since the origins of World War II must be understood as a secret plot, or as a great and co-ordinated conspiracy of the members of this elite. The conception rests upon quite impersonal grounds."

We are not, in short, talking about some sort of organized brotherhood, some quasi-Masonic financial clique, as it were. However–and this is the crucial point–in terms of concrete outcome, we might as well be.

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NYC churches ordered not to shelter homeless

City officials have ordered 22 New York churches to stop providing beds to homeless people.

With temperatures well below freezing early Saturday, the churches must obey a city rule requiring faith-based shelters to be open at least five days a week -- or not at all.

Arnold Cohen, president of the Partnership for the Homeless, a nonprofit that serves as a link with the city, said he had to tell the churches they no longer qualify.

He said hundreds of people now won't have a place to sleep.
 
 

GM crops 'to be grown in secret'

Trials could also be conducted away from the public in the Government's Porton Down military research site in Salisbury, Wiltshire, it is claimed.

There are currently no GM food trials underway in the country and the more than 50 that have been conducted since 2000 have been affected by vandalism. Opponents of GM benefit from current rules, which dictate that all trials must be disclosed on a Government website.

However, a review of security arrangements for trials has been ordered by Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary and Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary.

The Independent reported that ministers are preparing to scrap the disclosure rule.

A Government source told the newspaper: "We need to review the security arrangements. The rules are a charter for people who want to stop the experiments. A lot of information has to be put in the public domain and that makes it very easy for people to trash them."

Mr Benn said: "We need to see if GM foods have a contribution to make, and we won't know the answer about their environmental impact unless we run controlled experiments. It's important to go with the science."

Lord Mandelson acted to loosen rules on GM licensing in his previous job as EU Trade Commisioner, and it is thought he favours a relaxation of the conditions in Britain.

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Aldous Huxley - The Mike Wallace interview

Aldous Huxley, social critic and author of Brave New World, talks to Wallace about threats to freedom in the United States, overpopulation, bureaucracy, propaganda, drugs, advertising, and television.

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


THE MIKE WALLACE INTERVIEW
Guest: Aldous Huxley
[18 May, 1958]

WALLACE: This is Aldous Huxley, a man haunted by a vision of hell on earth. A searing social critic, Mr. Huxley 27 years ago, wrote Brave New World, a novel that predicted that some day the entire world would live under a frightful dictatorship. Today Mr. Huxley says that his fictional world of horror is probably just around the corner for all of us. We'll find out why, in a moment.

(OPENING CREDITS)

WALLACE: Good evening, I'm Mike Wallace. Tonight's guest, Aldous Huxley, is a man of letters, as disturbing as he is distinguished. Born in England, now a resident of California, Mr. Huxley has written some of the most electric novels and social criticism of this century.

He's just finished a series of essays called “Enemies of Freedom,” in which he outlines and defines some of the threats to our freedom in the United States; and Mr. Huxley, right of the bat, let me ask you this: as you see it, who and what are the enemies of freedom here in the United States?

HUXLEY: Well, I don't think you can say who in the United States, I don't think there are any sinister persons deliberately trying to rob people of their freedom, but I do think, first of all, that there are a number of impersonal forces which are pushing in the direction of less and less freedom, and I also think that there are a number of technological devices which anybody who wishes to use can use to accelerate this process of going away from freedom, of imposing control.

WALLACE: Well, what are these forces and these devices, Mr. Huxley?

HUXLEY: I should say that there are two main impersonal forces, er... the first of them is not exceedingly important in the United States at the present time, though very important in other countries. This is the force which in general terms can be called overpopulation, the mounting pressure of population pressing upon existing resources.

WALLACE: Uh-huh.

HUXLEY: Uh... this, of course, is an extraordinary thing; something is happening which has never happened in the world's history before, I mean, let's just take a simple fact that between the time of birth of Christ and the landing of the May Flower, the population of the earth doubled. It rose from two hundred and fifty million to probably five hundred million. Today, the population of the earth is rising at such a rate that it will double in half a century.

WALLACE: Well, why should overpopulation work to diminish our freedoms?

HUXLEY: Well, in a number of ways. I mean, the... the experts in the field like Harrison Brown, for example, pointed out that in the underdeveloped countries actually the standard of living is at present falling. The people have less to eat and less goods per capita than they had fifty years ago;

and as the position of these countries, the economic position, becomes more and more precarious, obviously the central government has to take over more and more responsibility for keeping the ship-of-state on an even keel, and then of course you are likely to get social unrest under such conditions, with again an intervention of the central government.

So that, I think that one sees here a pattern which seems to be pushing very strongly towards a totalitarian regime. And unfortunately, as in all these underdeveloped countries the only highly organized political party is the Communist Party, it looks rather as though they will be the heirs to this unfortunate process, that they will step into the power... the position of power.

WALLACE: Well then, ironically enough one of the greatest forces against communism in the world, the Catholic Church, according to your thesis would seem to be pushing us directly into the hands of the communists because they are against birth control.

HUXLEY: Well, I think this strange paradox probably is true. There is, er..., it's an extraordinary situation actually. I mean, one has to look at it, of course, from a biological point of view: the whole essence of biological life on earth is a question of balance and what we've done is to practice death control in the most intensive manner without balancing this with birth control at the other end. Consequently, the birth rates remain as high as they were and death rates have fallen substantially. (COUGHS)

WALLACE: All right then, so much, for the time being anyway, for overpopulation. Another force that is diminishing our freedoms?

HUXLEY: Well another force which I think is very strongly operative in this country is the force of what may be called of overorganization. Er... As technology becomes more and more complicated, it becomes necessary to have more and more elaborate organizations, more hierarchical organizations, and incidentally the advance of technology is being accompanied by an advance in the science of organization.

It's now possible to make organizations on a larger scale than it was ever possible before, and so that you have more and more people living their lives out as subordinates in these hierarchical systems controlled by bureaucracy, either the bureaucracies of big businesses or the bureaucracies of big government.

WALLACE: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Now the devices that you were talking about, are there specific devices or er... methods of communication which diminish our freedoms in addition to overpopulation and overorganization?

HUXLEY: Well, there are certainly devices which can be used in this way. I mean, let us er... take after all, a piece of very recent and very painful history is the propaganda used by Hitler, which was incredibly effective.

I mean, what were Hitler's methods? Hitler used terror on the one kind, brute force on the one hand, but he also used a very efficient form of propaganda, which er... he was using every modern device at that time. He didn't have TV., but he had the radio which he used to the fullest extent, and was able to impose his will on an immense mass of people. I mean, the Germans were a highly educated people.

WALLACE: Well, we're aware of all this, but how do we equate Hitler's use of propaganda with the way that propaganda, if you will, is used let us say here in the United States. Are you suggesting that there is a parallel?

HUXLEY: Needless to say it is not being used this way now, but, er... the point is, it seems to me, that there are methods at present available, methods superior in some respects to Hitler's method, which could be used in a bad situation. I mean, what I feel very strongly is that we mustn't be caught by surprise by our own advancing technology.

This has happened again and again in history with technology's advance and this changes social condition, and suddenly people have found themselves in a situation which they didn't foresee and doing all sorts of things they really didn't want to do.

WALLACE: And well, what... what do you mean? Do you mean that we develop our television but we don't know how to use it correctly, is that the point that you're making?

HUXLEY: Well, at the present the television, I think, is being used quite harmlessly; it's being used, I think, I would feel, it's being used too much to distract everybody all the time. But, I mean, imagine which must be the situation in all communist countries where the television, where it exists, is always saying the same things the whole time; it's always driving along.

It's not creating a wide front of distraction it's creating a one-pointed, er... drumming in of a single idea, all the time. It's obviously an immensely powerful instrument.

WALLACE: Uh-huh. So you're talking about the potential misuse of the instrument.

HUXLEY: Exactly. We have, of course... all technology is in itself moral and neutral. These are just powers which can either be used well or ill; it is the same thing with atomic energy, we can either use it to blow ourselves up or we can use it as a substitute for the coal and the oil which are running out.

WALLACE: You've even written about the use of drugs in this light.

HUXLEY: Well now, this is a very interesting subject. I mean, in this book that you mentioned, this book of mine, “Brave New World,” er... I postulated it a substance called 'soma,' which was a very versatile drug. It would make people feel happy in small doses, it would make them see visions in medium doses, and it would send them to sleep in large doses.

Well, I don't think such a drug exists now, nor do I think it will ever exist. But we do have drugs which will do some of these things, and I think it's quite on the cards that we may have drugs which will profoundly change our mental states without doing us any harm.

I mean, this is the... the pharmacological revolution which is taking place, that we have now powerful mind-changing drugs which physiologically speaking are almost costless. I mean they are not like opium or like coca... cocaine, which do change the state of mind but leave terrible results physiologically and morally.

WALLACE: Mr. Huxley, in your new essays you state that these various "Enemies of Freedom" are pushing us to a real-life “Brave New World,” and you say that it's awaiting us just around the corner. First of all, can you detail for us, what life in this Brave New World would you fear so much, or what life might be like?

HUXLEY: Well, to start with, I think this kind of dictatorship of the future, I think will be very unlike the dictatorships which we've been familiar with in the immediate past. I mean, take another book prophesying the future, which was a very remarkable book, George Orwell's “1984.”

Well, this book was written at the height of the Stalinist regime, and just after the Hitler regime, and there he foresaw a dictatorship using entirely the methods of terror, the methods of physical violence. Now, I think what is going to happen in the future is that dictators will find, as the old saying goes, that you can do everything with bayonets except sit on them!

WALLACE: (LAUGHS)

HUXLEY: But, if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in “Brave New World,” partly by these new techniques of propaganda.

They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so, making him actually love his slavery.

I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn't to be happy.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you this. You're talking about a world that could take place within the confines of a totalitarian state. Let's become more immediate, more urgent about it. We believe, anyway, that we live in democracy here in the United States. Do you believe that this Brave New World that you talk about, er... could, let's say in the next quarter century, the next century, could come here to our shores?

HUXLEY: I think it could. I mean, er... that's why I feel it so extremely important here and now, to start thinking about these problems. Not to let ourselves be taken by surprise by the... the new advances in technology. I mean the... for example, in the regard to the use of the... of the drugs.

We know, there is enough evidence now for us to be able, on the basis of this evidence and using certain amount of creative imagination, to foresee the kind of uses which could be made by people of bad will with these things and to attempt to forestall this, and in the same way,

I think with these other methods of propaganda we can foresee and we can do a good deal to forestall. I mean, after all, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

WALLACE: You write in Enemies of Freedom, you write specifically about the United States. You say this, writing about American political campaigns you say, "All that is needed is money and a candidate who can be coached to look sincere; political principles and plans for specific action have come to lose most of their importance. The personality of the candidate, the way he is projected by the advertising experts, are the things that really matter."

HUXLEY: Well, this is the... during the last campaign, there was a great deal of this kind of statement by the advertising managers of the campaign parties. This idea that the candidates had to be merchandised as though they were so-called two-faced and that you had to depend entirely on the personality.

I mean, personality is important, but there are certainly people with an extremely amiable personality, particularly on TV, who might not necessarily be very good in political... positions of political trust.

WALLACE: Well, do you feel that men like Eisenhower, Stevenson, Nixon, with knowledge aforethought were trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public?

HUXLEY: No, but they were being advised by powerful advertising agencies who were making campaigns of a quite different kind from what had been made before. and I think we shall see probably, er... all kinds of new devices coming into the picture. I mean, for example, this thing which got a good deal of publicity last autumn, subliminal projection.

I mean, as it stands, this thing, I think is of no menace to us at the moment, but I was talking the other day to one of the people who has done most experimental work in the... psychological laboratory with this, was saying precisely this, that it is not at the moment a danger, but once you've established the principle that something works, you can be absolutely sure that the technology of it is going to improve steadily.

And I mean his view of the subject was that, well, maybe they will use it up to some extent in the 1960 campaign, but they will probably use it a good deal and much more effectively in the 1964 campaign because this is the kind of rate at which technology advances.

WALLACE: And we'll be persuaded to vote for a candidate that we do not know that we are being persuaded to vote for.

HUXLEY: Exactly, I mean this is the rather alarming picture that you’re being persuaded below the level of choice and reason.

WALLACE: In regard to advertising, which you mentioned just a little ago, in your writing, particularly in “Enemies of Freedom,” you attack Madison Avenue, which controls most of our television and radio advertising, newspaper advertising and so forth. Why do you consistently attack the advertising agencies...

HUXLEY: Well, no I... I think that, er... advertisement plays a very necessary role, but the danger it seems to me in a democracy is this... I mean what does a democracy depend on? A democracy depends on the individual voter making an intelligent and rational choice for what he regards as his enlightened self-interest, in any given circumstance.

But what these people are doing, I mean what both, for their particular purposes, for selling goods and the dictatorial propagandists are for doing, is to try to bypass the rational side of man and to appeal directly to these unconscious forces below the surfaces so that you are, in a way, making nonsense of the whole democratic procedure, which is based on conscious choice on rational ground.

WALLACE: Of course, well, maybe... I... you have just answered this next question because in your essay you write about television commercials, not just political commercials, but television commercials as such and how, as you put it, "Today's children walk around singing beer commercials and toothpaste commercials." And then you link this phenomenon in some way with the dangers of a dictatorship. Now, could you spell out the connection or, have... or do you feel you've done so sufficiently?

HUXLEY: Well, I mean, here, this whole question of children, I think, is a terribly important one because children are quite clearly much more suggestible than the average grownup; and again, suppose that, er... that for one reason or another all the propaganda was in the hands of one or very few agencies, you would have an extraordinarily powerful force playing on these children, who after all are going to grow up and be adults quite soon. I do think that this is not an immediate threat, but it remains a possible threat, and...

WALLACE: You said something to the effect in your essay that the children of Europe used to be called 'cannon fodder' and here in the United States they are 'television and radio fodder.'

HUXLEY: Well, after all, you can read in the trade journals the most lyrical accounts of how necessary it is, to get hold of the children because then they will be loyal brand buyers later on. But I mean, again you just translate this into political terms, the dictator says they all will be ideology buyers when they are grownup.

WALLACE: We hear so much about brainwashing as used by the communists. Do you see any brainwashing other than that which we’ve just been talking about, that is used here in the United States, other forms of brainwashing?

HUXLEY: Not in the form that has been used in China and in Russia because this is, essentially, the application of propaganda methods, the most violent kind to individuals; it is not a shotgun method, like the... the advertising method. It's a way of getting hold of the person and playing both on his physiology and his psychology until he really breaks down and then you can implant a new idea in his head.

I mean the descriptions of the methods are really blood curdling when you read them, and not only methods applied to political prisoners but the methods applied, for example, to the training of the young communist administrators and missionaries. They receive an incredibly tough kind of training which may cause maybe twenty-five percent of them to break down or commit suicide, but produces seventy-five percent of completely one-pointed fanatics.

WALLACE: The question, of course, that keeps coming back to my mind is this: obviously politics in themselves are not evil, television is not in itself evil, atomic energy is not evil, and yet you seem to fear that it will be used in an evil way. Why is it that the right people will not, in your estimation, use them? Why is it that the wrong people will use these various devices and for the wrong motives?

HUXLEY: Well, I think one of the reasons is that these are all instruments for obtaining power, and obviously the passion for power is one of the most moving passions that exists in man; and after all, all democracies are based on the proposition that power is very dangerous and that it is extremely important not to let any one man or any one small group have too much power for too long a time.

After all what are the British and American Constitution except devices for limiting power, and all these new devices are extremely efficient instruments for the imposition of power by small groups over larger masses.

WALLACE: Well, you ask this question yourself in “Enemies of Freedom.” I'll put your own question back to you. You ask this, "In an age of accelerating overpopulation, of accelerating overorganization, and ever more efficient means of mass communication, how can we preserve the integrity and reassert the value of the human individual?" You put the question, now here's your chance to answer it Mr. Huxley.

HUXLEY: Well, this is obviously... first of all, it is a question of education. Er... I think it's terribly important to insist on individual values, I mean, what is a... there is a tendency as a... you probably read a book by Whyte, "The Organization Man", a very interesting, valuable book I think, where he speaks about the new type of group morality, group ethic, which speaks about the group as though the group were somehow more important than the individual.

But this seems, as far as I'm concerned, to be in contradiction with what we know about the genetical makeup of human beings, that every human being is unique. And it is, of course, on this genetical basis that the whole idea of the value of freedom is based.

And I think it's extremely important for us to stress this in all our educational life, and I would say it's also very important to teach people to be on their guard against the sort of verbal booby traps into which they are always being led, to analyze the kind of things that are said to them.

Well, I think there is this whole educational side of... and I think there are many more things that one could do to strengthen people, and to make them more aware of what's being done.

WALLACE: You're a prophet of decentralization?

HUXLEY: Well, the... yes... if it... it's feasible. It's one of the tragedies, it seems to me. I mean, many people have been talking about the importance of decentralization in order to give back to the voter a sense of direct power. I mean... the voter in an enormous electorate field is quite impotent, and his vote seems to count for nothing.

This is not true where the electorate is small, and where he is dealing with a... with a group which he can manage and understand... and if one can, as Jefferson after all suggested, break up the units, er... into smaller and smaller units and so, get a real, self-governing democracy.

WALLACE: Well, that was all very well in Jefferson's day, but how can we revamp our economic system and decentralize, and at the same time meet militarily and economically the tough challenge of a country like Soviet Russia?

HUXLEY: Well, I think the answer to that is that there are... it seems to me that you... that production, industrial production is of two kinds. I mean, there are some kinds of industrial production which obviously need the most tremendously high centralization, like the making of automobiles for example.

But there are many other kinds where you could decentralize quite easily and probably quite economically, and that you would then have this kind of decentralized, like after all you begin to see it now, if you travel through the south, this decentralized textile industry which is springing up there.

WALLACE: Mr. Huxley, let me ask you this, quite seriously, is freedom necessary?

HUXLEY: As far as I am concerned it is.

WALLACE: Why? Is it necessary for a productive society?

HUXLEY: Yes, I should say it is. I mean, a genuinely productive society. I mean you could produce plenty of goods without much freedom, but I think the whole sort of creative life of man is ultimately impossible without a considerable measure of individual freedom, of initiative, creation, all these things which we value, and I think value properly, are impossible without a large measure of freedom.

WALLACE: Well, Mr. Huxley, take a look again at the country which is in the stance of our opponent anyway, it would seem, anyway it would seem to be there, Soviet Russia. It is strong, and getting stronger, economically, militarily, at the same time it's developing its art forms pretty well, er... it seems not unnecessarily to squelch the creative urge among its people. And yet it is not a free society.

HUXLEY: It's not a free society, but here is something very interesting that those members of the society, like the scientists, who are doing the creative work, are given far more freedom than anybody else. I mean, it is a privileged aristocratic society in which, provided they don't poke their noses into political affairs, these people are given a great deal of prestige, a considerable amount of freedom, and a lot money.

I mean, this is a very interesting fact about the new Soviet regime, and I think what we are going to see is er... a people on the whole with very little freedom but with an oligarchy on top enjoying a considerable measure of freedom and a very high standard of living.

WALLACE: And the people down below, the 'epsilons' down below...

HUXLEY: Enjoying very little.

WALLACE: And you think that that kind of situation can long endure?

HUXLEY: I think it can certainly endure much longer than the situation in which everybody is kept out; I mean, they can certainly get their technological and scientific results on such a basis.

WALLACE: Well, the next time that I talk to you then, perhaps we should investigate further the possibility of the establishment of that kind of a society, where the drones work for the queen bees up above.

HUXLEY: Well, but yes, but I must say, I still believe in democracy, if we can make the best of the creative activities of the people on top plus those of the people on the bottom, so much the better.

WALLACE: Mr. Huxley, I surely thank you for spending this half hour with us, and I wish you God speed sir.

HUXLEY: Thank you.

WALLACE: Aldous Huxley finds himself these days in a peculiar and disturbing position: a quarter of a century after prophesying an authoritarian state in which people were reduced to cyphers, he can point at Soviet Russia and say, "I told you so!" The crucial question, as he sees it now, is whether the so-called Free World is shortly going to give Mr. Huxley the further dubious satisfaction of saying the same thing about us.

Stay tuned for a preview of next weeks interview. Till then, Mike Wallace. Good night.


~ Harry Ransom Center ~

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