what is and what it seems may be: manufacturing contentment?

Was he really the connoisseur who by accident sleepwalked into history? William James, the nineteenth-century psychologist wrote that “the greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” In the early twentieth century there was much mind-altering going on…..it is said that those who control history control the mind of its citizens. Our ability to re-write history as an act of social evolution seems an ongoing work in progress that is almost silently accepted. Its hard to say precisely when the modern practice took hold, but the examples found in the film “The King’s Speech” and the life of Edmond de Rothschild could serve us well.


Christopher Hitchens: But it perpetrates a gross falsification of history. One of the very few miscast actors – Timothy Spall as a woefully thin pastiche of Winston Churchill – is the exemplar of this bizarre rewriting. He is shown as a consistent friend of the stuttering prince and his loyal princess and as a man generally in favour of a statesmanlike solution to the crisis presented by the abdication of the prince’s elder brother, King Edward VIII.In point of fact, Churchill was – for as long as he dared – a consistent friend of conceited, spoiled, Hitler-sympathising Edward VIII. And he allowed his romantic attachment to this gargoyle to do great damage to the very dearly bought coalition of forces that was evolving to oppose Nazism and appeasement. Churchill probably has no more hagiographic chronicler than the American author and biographer William Manchester, but if you look up the relevant pages of his The Last Lion, you will find that the historian virtually gives up on his hero for an entire chapter. Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/31/the-kings-speech-gross-falsification a


… Edmond de Rothschild has been vilified as a cospirational zionist indirectly responsible for a swath of problems stemming from his involvement in settling Palestine in the late nineteenth-century. Is this also a falsification of history? He feared zionism, disliked democracy and perhaps his role as founder of a jewish homeland was quite by accident. In the fall of 1882, a stuttering, persistent, shabbily dressed rabbi from Russia managed to get Rothschild’s guarded ear. As unpresentable as the cleric  was, Rothschild was prepared to hear him out, given the pogroms had claimed the attention and shocked the civilized world.

Edmond was prepared to make a donation, a significant sum, but the rabbi, somewhat surprisingly, refused it. He offered a counter-proposal that was deceptively simple, but would entangle the baron for the rest of his long life. Among the jews fleeing Russia were some who fell in love with the idea of heading to Palestine, starting a collective farm , and tilling its inhospitable soil. The initial enthusiasm and romanticism had soured and they were now starving. Saving them with cash was charity, but the rabbi wanted more: financing jewish settlements. At that the Baron hesitated; thirty years and over thirty million dollars later he was still unsure, hesitating , and uncomfortably ambiguous about what he started. Washing a problem with cash was one thing; especially if the unwashed stayed in their misery. However, a jewish return to a homeland, whether it was real, artificial, or a fantasy of illusion was, to the emancipated jews of Europe, a keg of political dynamite.


…The belief that propaganda and news were legitimate tools of his business, and Edward Bernay’s  ability to offer philosophical justifications for these beliefs resulted in modus-operandi that soon embraced the whole democratic way of life. In Bernays’ mind set his work in public relations, set him  apart from what ad men did. The Bernays essays A Public Relations Counsel States His Views (1927) and This Business of Propaganda (1928) show that Bernays regarded advertising men as special pleaders, merely paid to persuade people to accept an idea or commodity. The public relations counsel, on the other hand, he saw as an Emersonian-like creator of events that dramatized new concepts and perceptions, and even influenced the actions of leaders and groups in society. In fact, it was the template for re-writing history.

Bernays’ magisterial, philosophical touch is in evidence in Manipulating Public Opinion (1928) when he writes: “This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age, too, there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas.”…Some of the phenomena of this process are criticized—the manipulation of news, the inflation of personality, and the general ballyhoo by which politicians and commercial products and social ideas are brought to the consciousness of the masses. The instruments by which public opinion is organized and focused may be misused. But such organization and focusing are necessary to orderly life. Read More:http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinncomrev24.html


…Hitchens:Yet, as the abdication crisis deepened in 1936, Churchill diverted himself from this essential work – to the horror of his colleagues – in order to involve himself in keeping a pro-Nazi playboy on the throne. He threw away his political capital in handfuls by turning up at the House of Commons – almost certainly heavily intoxicated, according to Manchester – and making an incoherent speech in defence of “loyalty” to a man who did not understand the concept….In the end, Edward VIII proved so stupid and so selfish and so vain that he was beyond salvage, so the moment passed. Or the worst of it did. He remained what is only lightly hinted in the film: a firm admirer of the Third Reich who took his honeymoon there with Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he forfeited the throne, and was photographed both receiving and giving the Hitler salute. Of his few friends and cronies, the majority were Blackshirt activists such as the odious “Fruity” Metcalfe.  During his sojourns

the European mainland after his abdication, Edward, then the Duke of Windsor, never ceased to maintain highly irresponsible contacts with Hitler and his puppets and seemed to be advertising his readiness to become a puppet or “regent” if the tide went the other way. Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/31/the-kings-speech-gross-falsification

The idea of jews returning to Palestine was not new; it was fashionable however only among Christians, and to Edmond’s English cousins it was little short of arsenic running against what had been termed national affirmation, the doctrine that jews were not a nation or race, simply citizens who adhered to the Jewish faith. To speak of Jews returning to a Biblical homeland was to revive the awkward notion that Jews were members of an ancient nation and not merely adherents of an ancient religion. Edmond’s response was typical: he would finance the farming in Palestine but not endorse the notion that he was reviving a Jewish homeland. And his name was not to be attached to the enterprise and would remain secret.


One thing he did not envision were democratic communities of sturdy self-governing farmers. Like the rest of the Rothschilds, with their almost medieval fondness for monarchy, Baron Edmond was strangely out of touch with his time. He looked on his four colonies as a sort of private demesne of poor relations; like cast extras from a Sholom Aleichem story, with himself as the benevolent patriarch. Under the rule of his agents, the colonies were run like an autocratic state.

The net result of this despotism, though well-meaning, was high comedy: a perpetual guerrilla engagement between an incredibly open-handed philanthropist and his equally rebellious beneficiaries. What made the warfare comic was its sheer unreality. The colonists demanded independence: the baron demanded filial obedience. Since the baron would never abandon his colonies and since the colonists could not survive without his support, the battle, like a family quarrel, raged without letup for decades. Yet he kept the money flowing despite the sense of ingratitude he felt as if he was a natural resource to be extracted. What to do with a man so doting, yet so autocratic?


Hitchens: All other considerations to one side, would the true story not have been fractionally more interesting for the audience? But it seems that we shall never reach a time when the Churchill cult is open for honest inspection. And so the film drifts on, with ever more Vaseline being applied to the lens. It is suggested that, once some political road bumps have been surmounted and some impediments in the new young monarch’s psyche have been likewise overcome, Britain is herself again, with Churchill and the king at Buckingham Palace and a speech of unity and resistance being readied for delivery….

…The private letters and diaries of the royal family demonstrate a continued, consistent allegiance to the policy of appeasement and to the personality of Chamberlain. King George’s forbidding mother wrote to him, exasperated that more people in the House of Commons had not cheered the sell-out. The king himself, even after the Nazi armies had struck deep north into Scandinavia and clear across the Low Countries to France, did not wish to accept Chamberlain’s resignation. He “told him how grossly unfairly . . . he had been treated, and that I was terribly sorry”. Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/31/the-kings-speech-gross-falsification a


Despite his failings, the baron was the only wealthy jew in Europe interested in Palestine at all. Inevitably, men of larger vision began spinning their dreams around him. Theodor Herzl’s meeting with the baron was a total failure. The idea of a congress and public agitation was frightening; harmful to jews since the anti-semites could assert that jews ought to be made to leave their countries.

The baron’s fright was understandable. Though it is not often remarked, the ideology of anti-Semitism and the ideology of Zionism are, in important respects, strikingly similar. Both declare the jews to be, above all else, a nation and not a religious group. Both hold that the jews’ dispersal through many lands is harmful and unhealthy. If it was the outburst of anti-Semitism in France, inspired by the Dreyfus case, that prompted Herzl to call for a jewish state, it was the same anti-Semitism that frightened Baron Edmond away from Herzl.

Robert Capa photo. 1948. Read More: http://minneapolis.institute.of.arts.museum/viewer/detail.php?id=5524&i=16&v=3&dept=7&artist=1526

Hitchens:In a few months, the British royal family will be yet again rebranded and relaunched in the panoply of the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Terms such as “national unity” and “people’s monarchy” will be freely flung around. Almost the entire moral capital of this rather odd little German dynasty is invested in the post-fabricated myth of its participation in “Britain’s finest hour”. In fact, had it been up to them, the finest hour would never have taken place. So this is not a detail but a major desecration of the historical record – now apparently gliding unopposed toward a baptism by Oscar. Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/31/the-kings-speech-gross-falsification

The baron continued to found colonies, spending a stupendous fortune, and he continued his running battle with the colonists, whom he now began to rebuke- although it came oddly from a Rothschild- for living too comfortably. Where is the idealism, he told them on an 1899 yachting trip to Palestine, ” in building luxurious homes, and where women wear modern hats”.

If ever a man sleepwalked into history, it may have been Baron Edmond de Rothschild, for his twelve agricultural colonies were without question among the strongest roots of the modern state- the very idea which had frightened him, and to which he was never quite reconciled until almost the end of his life. Perhaps it was only at the very end that he had at last caught up with the history of which he was a major part, and with a political movement to which he had belonged without quite knowing it.


“THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet. ( Edward Bernays )Read More: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html






Paul Bond:Such oblique references to the danger of social revolution are as far as the film goes. This does not compensate for its conformist message. George sums up the film’s argument in an extraordinary speech:

“If I am a King, where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because they think that when I speak, I speak for them.”

The King’s Speech is only the latest of a series of fairly trite and largely sympathetic films about the monarchy, which stands at the apex of the British state and is in turn shaped by its political concerns, portraying them as a family subject to the same emotional traumas as everyone else—only made more difficult by their status as heads of state. Before Logue knows the identity of his guest, he unwittingly compares membership of the royal family with indentured servitude. Elizabeth agrees that it is “Something like that.” There is little of value in such an approach. Read More: http://sweetandsoursocialism.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/rallying-round-the-flag-the-kings-speech-pro-nazi-monarchs-royal-family-propaganda-and-falsification-of-history/

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