Originally posted June 1, 2012
[Author's note - Updated November 22, 2015]
[Author's note - Updated November 22, 2015]
Visual stimuli has been used to incite mass fervor in support of a religious or political belief long before the time of the Romans. According to an article from the Los Angeles Chinese Learning Center, fabrics were first attached to carved wooden poles, called vexilloids, about 2000 years ago, and the waving, inspiring banner to follow into battle was born.
The unquestioned love and dedication to an iconic symbol has always caused the inspired masses to sacrifice everything, including life itself, to see their symbol, their flag, carried to victory over someone else's symbol. Learning how and when to wave that visual icon has been mastered by successful religious and political leaders for ages. The art hasn't changed much in several thousand years, but the science has.
When a select group of industrialists wanted to control Germany with a figurehead in the 1930's, they actually needed 30,000 flags to completely engulf a stadium filled with 100,000 people to sway public support. The iconic red and white flags with the black Swastika hung in huge, stadium-high banners from the top of the huge stadium, while every person in the crowd had a personal hand-held flag to wave and a matching arm band to wear. Today, a computer graphic designer can pull a stock photo out of a hard drive, manipulate a few graphics programs, and viola, a computer generated stadium with millions of flags, shown in High Definition on a worldwide distribution network in a matter of seconds. Instead of weeks for magazines to carry color photos to an audience of thousands, today's Internet can inundate mass media distribution markets instantly, reaching millions upon millions of recipients with gloriously colorful, full screen, even 3D projections, enhanced by 7.1 surround sound track.
From mindless mobs charging into murderous, suicidal gunfire or religiously devout believers hanging someone of a different color or race from a tree, the results are always the same; an anonymous, powerful mass of humanity acting blindly, without question, to accomplish the hidden agendas of the often anonymous power-holding flag-wavers. The method of waving the flag has changed, but not the ideology behind it. It is still as insidious as ever and is still used with alarming success.
Flag wavers have learned their lessons well. Whether based on the nebulous word “Faith,” which represents the suspension of intellectual process to the benefit of any religion, or “Patriotism,” which instills the desire of the believers not only to willingly spill their own blood, but their children's blood as well, in support of a political or territorial “Nation,” flag waving has reached new heights in mass-mind control. Masterfully mass orchestrated during the 1930's by the Nazi's, their lessons in flag waving have not been wasted on any government or religion since. From the dictatorship of today's North Korea, which still uses the old, central mass audience as a primary delivery method, or to the intricately controlled, insidious corporate/political societies of the west, especially the United States of America, which specializes in electronic delivery of corporate sales messages known as advertising to specific audiences.
Warlike conflicts in the civilized world today use surrogate combatants, using iconic, copy-written symbols to inspire their respective followers. The banners and colors are presented with as much thought and preparation of any warlord or government trying to inspire an army. Our flag will beat their flag, here, buy a T-shirt or this iconic piece of plastic to wear on your head to help us prove it. Grown, intelligent men and women sit in freezing temperatures for hours wearing giant pieces of fake cheese on their heads, or polystyrene helmets that offer no protection from even a symbolic fist bash on the head, and they paid a lot of money to do it. They do it because they are following their respective iconic banners into conflict. Safely, I might add.
Today, however, the winners don't actually get to keep the territory of the losing team or rape the women in the loser's city. The Cowboys don't get to kill and pillage Detroit every Thanksgiving just because the Lions lost another football game, even if the fans often act as if they should. Iconic symbols are a big business, and the experts know exactly how to use them. Oddly enough, today's masters of mass communication can't put a dent in the most insidious visual media campaign of the Twenty-First century, intellect's old nemesis, religion.
Today's most successful use of electronic imaging is from the terror group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or as it is known internationally, or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Their recruiting is so overwhelmingly successful using the Internet the civilized world has had little effect in countering the murderous onslaught of these medieval sociopaths. So far the only attacks on ISIL are from a loosely knit group of computer hobbyists know collectively as “Anonymous,” and their effectiveness has yet to be determined. The governments of the world under attack have had little or no success in countering the ISIS media campaign, and have said publicly the group Anonymous will probably fail as well. The massive array of power and resources of the world have little or no effect in curbing the emotional response to the ever-effective, two thousand-year-old tactic of flag waving in front of a crowd.