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    “To watch such methods in action, and observe their devastating
    effect on the minds of ordinary people, is such a bewildering and
    horrible experience that one is tempted to turn one’s back on what is a
    matter of fundamental importance for our cultural future. … Meanwhile,
    however, a large part of the world’s population is not only being
    reindoctrinated, but has had the whole medical system reoriented along
    [these] lines. …” [William Sargant, Battle for the Mind, 1957,
    1959 Harper & Row]

William Sargant was a medical doctor and a psychiatrist. During
his work with shell-shocked Allied soldiers in World War II, he stumbled
upon research that would have been better forgotten.

But it was too important to be forgotten, particularly by those whose
lust for power knew no bounds. Dr. Sargant therefore opted for the
second-best solution: informing those who were the unwitting victims of
this knowledge of its existence, and offering some suggestions, in as
much as this were possible, for resistance. As the world clock ticks
toward Y2K, we would do well to remember his work.

Most Americans would identify “propaganda” as the primary threat to
their making informed decisions at the ballot box or in their daily
lives. Would that it were so.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) was a Russian physiologist. In 1904
he won the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine, for his research on
digestive glands. After that, he turned to study what he called “higher
nervous activity” in animals. This remained the focus of his work until
1936, when he died at the age of 86. Although he despised Lenin and the
Russian revolution of 1917 — and openly spoke out against it — Pavlov
continued to receive generous funding for his work from the communists
and tolerance for his outspoken views until his death.

Pavlov studied dogs because their brains are physiologically similar
to humans (in the way they are “wired” so to speak). What Pavlov learned
is that under the proper stress level (he identified four), a dog’s
beliefs and emotions can be completely reversed from all that it has
learned. Dogs were found to attach themselves to laboratory attendants
they previously disliked, and:


    “try to attack the master whom it has previously loved. Its
    behavior, in fact, becomes exactly opposed to all its previous
    conditioning. … Similarly, one set of behavior patterns in man can be
    temporarily replaced by another that altogether contradicts it; not by
    persuasive indoctrination alone, but also by imposing intolerable
    strains on a normally functioning brain.” [Sargant, p.65]

Stalin was the first man to build his empire on Pavlov’s
research. The second was Mao Zedong, founder of the Chinese Communist
Party. Describing the Chinese effort in one of its tamer outbreaks,
Sargant writes:


    Not only were anger and fear about external enemies aroused, as a
    means of making the masses suggestible, but even stronger emotions were
    provoked against supposed internal enemies, such as rich landowners,
    bankers and merchants. Every endeavor was made to arouse intense guilt
    and anxiety in as many non-communists as possible. Even small
    shopkeepers were made to feel that they had been reactionary capitalists
    and grievous sinners against the new communist state. Orgies of group
    confession about political deviation were encouraged. The denouncing of
    parents and relatives by their children — as under Hitler — added to
    the desired atmosphere of insecurity and anxiety … [yet] even the
    worst sinners, once they had expressed true repentance, could in theory
    work their passage back to social acceptance, though perhaps only after
    many years of slave labor.”

The United States and every other nation is on a countdown to
the world’s biggest headache with the Y2K millennium bug. No one knows
how long the hangover will last, what the economic future will be, or
what conditions during the interim will be. There could be minor
inconvenience; there could be darkened cities without heat, light, or
communications — in short, a police state.

Uncertainty generates stress, and Pavlov’s work demonstrated that
stress can be used to control the canine brain. Sargant identified close
parallels in the human brain’s functioning under the stress of battle as
he treated WWII soldiers.

As the hands of the millennium clock tick into position, we do well
to remember that the world’s leaders have had fifty years to perfect the
tools of authoritarian government since they have been used to subjugate
the Russian and Chinese people. We would be fatally naive to believe
that they could not also be used against us.

[A future column will discuss what defenses exist.]

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