Saturday, October 25, 2014

PR and Pimps

PR Professionals: Pimps Or Whores?

I work in PR,  

PR, advertising, propaganda -- do we persuade -- or seduce?  Are we whores -- or pimps?

We have many ways to make our work seem respectable.  We call ourselves "professionals" and we tout our experience and education.   We talk about "messaging" and "narratives", "influence" and "impact", "dialog" and "discussion".  One term we like use in that specialized area of PR we call Public Diplomacy is "soft power" --which means our clients-- normally governments -- can have their way with an immature public without violence or intimidation.  You're fucked and you think it's love.

Isn't that what pimps do?   

Academics as Pimps

The use of the "soft power"  has spread -- so you increasingly find it used in general  advertising and PR for the corporatocracy.   But where does it come from?   And do its origins betray its flaw?

The Internet -- our digital Oracle -- will tell you we owe the concept to Harvard professor  Joseph Nye -- to describe the leverage conferred by Nation Branding, as an adjunct to national diplomacy.   The fact that Nye is also a  State Department apparatchik should tell you something.

The Bling Is On The Sleeves

Now, if you don't see Nye's governmental creds as indicative of a certain bias, commonsense suggests certain questions. 

For example:  how can "power" be soft?  

Is that like sex with a limp dick?  Meaning: buy a dildo?  Score some viagra?

Or does your partner just like oral better?

Back in the good old days of Imperial China, the Eunuch's ran things. Theirs was real Soft Power -- and like Harvard dons they were ever so good at meeting the more visceral needs of the real rulers of the land. 

Not having balls, they were not prone to rash testosterone-fueled decisions -- and they could look after the Emperor's concubines, too!  In addition -- they were the core of the nation's Literati --like academics -- champions of the Mind over mere Muscle.  They liked poison more than the sword.

The main problem with "Soft Power" remains --  it may or may not not enhance the power of governments -- but it always improves the prospects of those who pimp for the nation's  rulers: that is really what it is designed to do.

So, "soft power" has done much more for Joseph Nye than it has done for any US President.

While Academe is a neon-Confuscian facilitator of inverted or subtle authoritarianism -- expressing retrograde cultural hegemony, its aim is always self-aggrandizement.

You will notice, your advancement in the academic world is all about passing tests, which first of all test your ability to conform to the values of the System.  

It starts with SATs, then moves on to the meaningless exercises that give you scores on your academic record.  Then, finally, after the PhD there is "peer review".....   Tests, tests, tests -- all of them artificial status hurdles.  The tests themselves are meaningless and in no way related to reality.

The emperor holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to the horizon, while the candidates advancing, one by one, sometimes leap over the stick, sometimes creep under it, backward and forward, several times, according as the stick is advanced or depressed. Sometimes the emperor holds one end of the stick, and his first minister the other; sometimes the minister has it entirely to himself. Whoever performs his part with most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the blue-coloured silk; the red is given to the next, and the green to the third, which they all wear girt twice round about the middle; and you see few great persons about this court who are not adorned with one of these girdles.---Jonathan Swift

The primary drive of academicians is for tenure and administrative rank.   Who wants to be one of the army of adjuncts living on food stamps?  .  To get ahead you must  pimp for the "Deep State" -- first that  of your educational establishment --and then of whatever larger organization funds your educational establishment -- the Zionist lobby, for example, large corporations, or the government. 

The Eunuchs -- who were certainly smarter than the military -- pretended they could do something people with cocks and balls couldn't:  think -- conflating conformist educational achievement with genius -- which is so obviously the obvious.   

Those who can, do. Those who can't,  teach. And those who can't teach, administer.

Of course,  while there is precious little real thinking in the academic work -- it does generate a few independent and original minds who contribute to the progress of the humanities and widen horizons -- in reaction to academic feudalism. 

At their best, aka-demics often come up with useful notions or ideas about the world and how it works -- primarily in naming things --and promoting discussion, dialog and creative inquiry, with these "namings".

But this often happens only when aka-demics can transcend their associations with our neo-Confuscian institutions of higher education  -- not too easy when you can lose your job by disagreeing, for example, with the Zionist Lobby.  Ask Mearsheimer or Finkelstein or  Salaita.  

Higher education is not really "higher" -- it is just hierarchical and hegemonic.

Which no doubt is why (studies tell us) more than half of college students graduate even less capable of  critical thinking than before they joined the academic world.

Soft Power: Getting the John Off

So "Soft Power"  is fundamentally flawed. It's origins and purposes betray it.

It gives the illusion of explaining things -- which is usually misdirection -- and why I considered it  a form of PR, which is to say, propaganda.

As I have indicated, you have to  follow the money!

As with  PR,  soft power's  primary target  is whomever pays for it -- not the  audience it is supposed to influence.   "Cool Japan" is obviously absurd.  Why?  Because it is intended to funnel cash to a few big ad companies and other vampiric organizations.   It does nothing positive for the nation at all -- to the contrary, it is subtlely damaging to the national interest.  But the Abe people will stick with it -- for one simple reason:  money.   

Pimpery?  PR?  What comes first-- the chicken or the egg?

In both pimpery and PR -- it is  not just tits and ass - it's whatever gets the "John" -- the "Client"  off. .Which is like most fetishism,  psychological.  It's the show that counts, not the blow.

If you can sell the Client, you can sell their cohort -- which in a relatively homogenous, bourgeois culture like Japan means the  national or ethnic group they belong to -- because ultimately they all share the same assumptions, which amount to the same cultural fetishism. So, yeah, the average Japanese likes "Cool Japan".

But the intended audience, the Abe people say, is Overseas.  And they find "Cool Japan" just embarrassing or risible -- or maybe sick -- in the same that a Mormon might find a Street Pimp's blandishments less than convincing.  .  

Of course, some high-end pimps are really, really good at what they do, which  is  mentalism, magic, mystification, imagination....getting a potential client to  willingly suspend disbelief -- give up critical thought-- and react viscerally to his or her innermost desires.  In the 19th Century, most of these "pimps" were female brothel owners, wealthy and powerful and while often self-educated, very literate.

What Is Soft Power?

Joseph Nye was pimping a concept to the US State Department and political establishment, as well as to text book publishers.  If they liked it -- well, Harvard would like it -- since Harvard is joined at the scrotum to the Washington elites.

 He made sure this idea of "soft power" was an appropriate label -- and not as complicated or innovative --or  revolutionary and threatening --as concepts of  "power" from thinkers such as Gramsci or Foucault or Bourdieu or Derrida.  Basically he just revised  that whole "speak softly but carry a big stick" thing that had been around since Teddy Roosevelt.

Many countries that are smaller than South Korea do well with soft power. The political clout of countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian states is greater than their military and economic weight, owing to the incorporation of attractive causes such as economic aid or peacemaking in their definitions of their national interest.

For example, in the past two decades, Norway, a country of only five million people, has taken a lead in peace talks. Similarly, Canada and the Netherlands have enhanced their soft power not only by their policies in the UN, but also by overseas development assistance. Such legitimizing policies are readily available to South Korea.

Canadian Soft Power

  Nye's concept is something like this:

 As you can see, "soft power resources" are what Harvard claims to offer .  Why is that Harvard's endowment is bigger than half of the world's national GDPs.  Yes, "soft power".  It may be an oxymoron and a con -- but it works: a university can really rake in the cash with shit like this.

Notice too that Nye has made "soft power" attractive to smaller countries -- despite the fact that it is doubtful whether Canada or the Netherlands or Scandinavia have any real international political clout -- compared to the US or Russia or China.

This is a bit like those ads we all saw as kids.....

When have they ever changed anything internationally?


 Will You Still Love Me In the Morning?

As I said "Soft Power' is a label -- rather like labels you put on drawers.  In this case, the drawer is not too well organized.

Nye insists that  "Soft" Power cannot be coercive.

Not:  "Do what we want or we will hurt you"But "Hey honey wanna good time?"

 "Soft Power", says Nye, works through "attraction".

He also insists it is not "propaganda" -- it must be credible.

A good, high class pimp teaches his whores not to look like whores -- because they can charge more by looking classy.

 Yes!  Credible!

The less commercial the relationship looks, the more likely the client is to return.

Not quite credible

Power Aint Soft

The trouble is that real power aint actually "soft" -- or simple --  as Hillary Clinton (aka "The Hillary") has indicated in her embrace of 'Smart Power".

Before Nye, there was  Gramsci's theory of hegemony and Foucault's writing on power relationships.   Also Lyotard, Bourdieu and Lukes.  Their writings  But they are all in agreement that power, even if it looks "soft" is -- by definition -- coercive -- that is, it either directly denies choice -- or it influences decisions so choice is pre-decided.  If you don't get with the program -- there are punishments.

For Gramsci and Foucault and their ilk there are no convenient labels .Nor are there handy  prescriptions, which bureaucrats in a hurry can apply -- or politicians can use to inform a soundbite -- or dump a few million dollars on political donors.

Instead you get pretty intense hermeneutics and the kind of involved dialectic that textbook publishers hate.

This density of thought is because modern cultures and societies are complex --and contradictory.

The moment you try to simplify things -- as we saw in my previous analysis of "Cool Japan" -- you promote absurdity.

"Soft Power"As Omote

Nye, as we have said, argues that "soft power" must not only be non-coercive -- it must be credible --  distinguishing it from "propaganda" -- which, ironically cannot be effective without a measure of credibility -- to enable coerciveness.

As despicable as Nazi Anti-Semitic propaganda was, it was seen by ordinary Germans as believable in the same way that American anti-Islamic and anti-Russian propaganda seems to make sense to a lot of Americans and Europeans.

Nye's basic concept suggests that  'soft power'  can never be projected therefore by any kind of governmental or institutional action -- including media messaging, PR, advertising, promotions of any kind, or public diplomacy,  Yet, he supports such activities, which  are necessarily biased and twist facts .

What would a whore be without makeup or uplift bra'?

Would Japan be Cool without  public or institutional funding?   Actually it might be -- but its "coolness" would be defined in quite different terms -- and not necessarily the trendy way the Abe people want it!   

Nations can be attractive -- like, say, Belize or Costa Rica or  other small, happy countries -- just naturally as a result of history and cultural evolution.  But this happiness  does not translate to political or economic power internationally.   Belize and Costa Rica are happy countries and good places to retire -- but they when was the last time you heard them affecting outcomes in Africa, the Middle East, or Europe.

International Relations:  Fuck or Fight

Nations are collectives -- they are made up of people - organized mobs -- and their consensus comprises a group mind.

Therefore, national identity is like personal identity -- an interface -- for a collective consciousness trying to balance modular  dissent and contradiction --executive functions  rationalizing suppressing  coordinating  and controlling inner turmoil . 

Now think of international relations.  Two nations are like two people trying to get along.  Or maybe two dogs....

And what is the basis of all relationships?  Fuck or fight.

Japan and the US = fuck. The US and Russia = fight.

Fighting is easy to understand -- that's war.

But fucking?  First of all, there are all kinds of fucking and all kinds of preferences.

And nations do it differently.

As with human beings, nations like to pretend it is a matter of consent -- obtained through?  You guessed it!  "Soft Power".  Nations date.

The woo each other and they call this "diplomacy."

But no matter how romantic the dinner, it comes down to getting laid and securing benefits.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Diplomacy = Bargaining

Of course, you can think of this just as bargaining. 

Bargaining presupposes there is no "power" relationship as such.  You have money. The seller wants money. They have something you want.  You both want the best price you can get.

 The trouble is that transactions of this kind depend on equality --and very often a sense of community --which rarely exists in today's large, hierarchical mega-societies -- and hardly at all in the global context between nations.  So, one country is always at a disadvantage.

  The US for example, almost never bargains honestly -- always trying to leverage its position of power.   America has never liked free markets -- or free anything really -- either at home or abroad, preferring monopoly management.

One can see this clearly in the US's management of its relationship with Russia, which it sees as a competitor when it should be vassal.  The US has forced the EU -- and many other countries -- to sanction Russia -- at considerable expense to their own weakened economies  -- even though Russia has done nothing whatsoever to deserve it.  It was the US that created the Ukrainian crisis and stoked the fires of civil disorder by supporting anti-democratic neo-nazis.  It was Russia that tried to prevent a crisis in the first place and has consistently advocated peaceful resolution. 

But the US has leverage. 

The power it exerts is not "soft" -- it is economic and military.

It is the bullying and bluster of a Pimp.  In this case, the EU, the UK, Canada, Japan and Australia are the whores.

No, they won't service Russia.  Which, maybe, is just fine with Russia, who will turn to others.

  The US-- the Power of the Pimp

Consider this scenario.

You are a well-off businessman.  You're horny. You meet this classy, sexy woman in a bar, in a $5000 dollar dress, beautifully made up, with just a hint of her very expensive bra' strap showing.  In terms of status you are equal.  You have something she wants:  money.  She has something you want: sex.

But she always has the advantage.  Because your physical needs give her leverage.  Can you resist those tits?  That ass??  Not after two cocktails - -which you paid for.  Soon you are in your hotel room and where did you put the credit card?

The woman is playing from a stacked deck. She has control.  If you like,  she has "hegemony", a position of power that takes advantage of your emotional and primal wants.You can get what you want only if you pay.

What if you don't pay?  .  Because if you don't, there is a big, nasty, very violent man somewhere to make you pay.  So "soft" power is backed up by hard power.  This is what The Hillary calls Smart Power -- and given her experience with Bill -- she should know!  Ultimately, there is a pimp somewhere, usually invisible -- to enforce the deal.

That is generally US policy.  "Talk softly but carry a big stick", said Teddy.  Talk about freedom, democracy, free markets, individualism and other nice things -- but bomb into oblivion anyone who tries to implement any of those things on their terms, without benefit to Uncle Sam. 

Getting in bed with Uncle Sam is not a good idea.  And ditching Uncle Same -- once you have been in bed -- can be traumatic.

We Are All Pimps -- and Whores

High class pimps prefer to be invisible.

Pimpologlically speaking,  pimps are all those who control others. 

Those who are controlled are 'ho's.

But this means we are all both pimps and whores.

Yes, if you are a middle manager for a company, you are a whore.  And you are also a pimp.

The power of the pimp does not lie in violence -- nor even in threat of violence -- but in perceived strength.

The 'ho must see the pimp as bigger and better than they are.  The 'ho must love and admire the pimp and seek to be them.  While the pimp must keep them dependent and needy.  The pimp and his power is largely invisible; whereas the 'ho must feel naked, without the ability to conceal or hide anything.

Disciplinary power, on the other hand, is exercised through its invisibility; at the same time it imposes on those whom it subjects a principle of compulsory visibility.
--Michel Foucault

In the beginning, the Pimp is seductive.  He offers dreams and hope - in exchange for submission.  He asks a woman to accept things on Faith.  As Christians believe in the Lord, so 'ho's believe in their pimp.   Religions and brothels have similar functions.

Sex traffickers are atavistic -- they make slaves of women using violence -- which  is what Foucault would call the application of Sovereign Power, the manner in which societies were ruled before the Industrial Revolution -- brutal and direct -- and  not the subtler, more indirect "disciplinary" power that came later -- which is based upon how we see the world --that is, perception and knowledge, and Gramsci-ish hegemony of the "normal".

A clever pimp first seduces -- deconstructing and reconstructing the 'ho's world view, their being-in-the-world  with the pimp himself as Prime Mover.   Derrida, Heidigger and Foucault all have their different takes on the metaphysics of such situations  --but-- to put it simply --the pimp dynamically reshapes the 'ho's understanding of both the world in which she exists and her inner world, exposing primal needs.

In this sense, we are all pimps and whores in one gigantic panopticonic  brothel.

When Nye talks about the 'credibility' of 'soft power', he should be talking about seduction and control -- but this would be too controversial

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