BOGEYMAN ENEMIES AND
INVENT THEM WHEN NECESSARY,
THE ACTUAL VERSUS APPARENT AIMS OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
by John Spritzler
April 14, 2022
[Read why merely denouncing Zionist violence as unjust doesn't weaken Zionism, in the concluding section of this article.]
It's almost impossible for an oppressive ruling class to dominate those it oppresses--the have-nots--without a bogeyman enemy. Why is this?
The reason is that when there is no bogeyman enemy from which the ruling class pretends to be protecting the have-nots, then the have-nots have no reason to grudgingly tolerate being ruled over, dominated, exploited and oppressed by the ruling class. Oppressive ruling classes have always understood this, and this is why they have always worked hard to make the have-nots fear some bogeyman enemy, as I will illustrate below with many examples.
Sometimes the bogeyman enemy is another nation or another ethnic group. If there is no currently existing such enemy that is sufficiently frightening, then the ruling class must invent one: it does whatever it takes to make a would-be bogeyman enemy sufficiently frightening. Lurid propaganda is part of this, but often, in order to make such propaganda credible, the ruling class attacks the would-be bogeyman enemy (claiming, of course, that it is in self-defense to protect its have-nots) for the purpose of making the would-be bogeyman enemy fight back so that the propaganda can then portray its fighting back as unprovoked evil aggression against the have-nots and their ruling class that defends them. Can you already guess what examples of this I will cite below?
Sometimes the bogeyman enemy is a supernatural one: the proverbial "volcano god" who requires human sacrifices to be persuaded not to kill everybody; or the always-useful old bearded man in the sky God who will use a flood to kill everybody, or unleash seven plagues, or send individuals to everlasting hellfire and brimstone, or what not unless the have-nots do what He demands, and of course the ruling class knows what He demands and is in charge of making sure people do it, right? Surely you can already guess what examples of this I will cite below.
#1. U.S. rulers worked hard to make the Soviet Union bogeyman enemy sufficiently frightening by arming it big time all during the Cold War. Read the gory details about this in my "The U.S. Armed the Soviet Union During the 'Cold War'." Today the U.S. is again working hard to make Russia the new bogeyman enemy, by re-starting the Cold War via Ukraine; read about this here.
#2. U.S. rulers invented the "Muslim fundamentalists/terrorists" enemy. Read the details in Dave Stratman's "Inventing the Enemy" and in my "Drones Create Hatred of the U.S. Which Is Their Real Purpose."
#3. British colonizers of North America made the American Indians the bogeyman enemy, in order to control the European-descendant working class people in the colonies, as I discuss in my "Are Europeans Just Naturally Racist Oppressors?"
#4. The Israeli billionaire ruling upper class has made the Palestinians be its useful bogeyman enemy--by attacking them with violent ethnic cleansing supposedly to make Jews safe--for controlling the Israeli Jewish working class. Read about this in great detail in my "Israel's Government Attacks Ordinary Jews As Well As Palestinians."
#5. The old communist dictators of Serbia and of Croatia agreed to violently attack each other's have-nots in the name of their own have-nots. Why? They feared the pro-democracy movement that ordinary Serbs and Croats were united in supporting and that aimed at removing the old communist dictators from power. The dictators used ethnic violence to make the have-not Serbs hate the have-not Croats as a bogeyman enemy, and vice versa, to demobilize the pro-democracy movement. Read about this in my "GOVERNMENTS USE VIOLENCE TO PROVOKE HATRED," which is based on The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s, written by V.P. Gagnon, Jr., a professor of politics at Ithaca College.
#6. In the 1930s during the Great Depression the rulers of the United States, Germany and Japan all faced increasingly revolutionary working class uprisings and feared actual revolutions. In order to control their own people, the rulers of these nations instigated World War II, so they could persuasively order their own people to stop waging the class war and instead join their rulers in waging war against other nations. I discuss this in detail in my book, The People As Enemy: the Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World War II, much of which is online here.
#7. The U.S. ruling class (both Democratic and Republican administrations) has, for decades, been doing horrible things to the have-nots south of the border in Mexico and Central America, things that were designed to force these people to have to illegally migrate into the United States just to survive. I write about this in detail in "ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND WHAT AMERICANS SHOULD DO ABOUT IT." The ruling class uses these illegal immigrants for two purposes: 1) as cheap labor less able to fight for decent wages and working conditions for fear of being deported; and 2) as a bogeyman enemy that the ruling class points to and tells American citizen workers, "See, those are the people depriving you of good-paying jobs. Support your conservative politicians because they're the ones working to stop illegal immigration."
8. Hitler, obviously, used "the Jews" as a bogeyman enemy. Furthermore, the United States ruling class on the one hand and the German and Japanese ruling classes on the other hand used each other's nations as bogeyman enemies to control their own increasingly revolutionary working classes during World War II; specifically the Allies used "fighting fascism" as a pretext for squashing pro-working class movements around the world, while making anti-working class goal primary over that of actually defeating the fascists, as I prove in my book (at Amazon here) and summarized online here.
9. Zelensky and his fellow capitalists (including the American ones!) are using the ethnic Russians (whose first language is Russian) in the eastern (Donbass) region of Ukraine as their bogeyman enemy to control the Ukrainians in the western part of the country so they can get rich at their expense. The Ukraine government enacted laws prohibiting the use of the Russian language (a form of ethnic cleansing); when the ethnic Russians fought back against this the Ukraine government declared them the enemy and attacked them violently, thus making them a bogeyman enemy. Zelensky is doing exactly what the U.S. rulers want, in particular he is keeping Ukraine in big debt to the IMF, which in turn spells very bad news [click 'read more' to see the entire article in this link] for ordinary have-not Ukrainians. Capitalism in general has been very bad for Ukrainians, judging by the fact that the Ukraine population rose to its peak of 51.4 million at 1991, at which time the Soviet Union dissolved and became capitalist and Ukraine became independent of the Soviet Union and under the sway of Western capitalism, at which point its population dramatically declined to only 43.5 million by 2021 "due to high emigration rates, low birth rates, and high death rates."
Stupidity or Design?
Keen observers of the West's proxy war against Russia in Ukraine have noted that the West has done things that have greatly strengthened Russia:
2) By targeting Russian CIVILIANS by things such as considering denying them visas to be tourists in Europe and already preventing Russian athletes from competing in Europe, plus banning Russian authors and musical composers, even of past centuries, the West has thereby increased support by the Russian general public for the Russian government that tells them that the West isn't just attacking Putin but ALL Russians.
Why has the West done this? Some say it's stupidity. But I say it is by design, for the purpose of making the Russian bogeyman enemy strong enough to be sufficiently frightening to the Western general public to thereby enable the Western ruling elites, by pretending to be protecting their people from Evil Russia, to maintain their control of the public. This is why the US armed the Soviet Union all during the Cold War, as I prove in my article here.
Supernatural bogeyman enemies
#11. European feudalism was based on the Catholic Church's assertion that a) the Pope is the "Vicar of Christ," i.e., the representative of Christ and hence of God on earth; b) the royal monarchs, when anointed by the Pope, in turn have a "divine right" to create an aristocracy and with it to rule over the peasant have-nots and make them do the hard work but enjoy the fruits of that labor the least; c) God will send anybody who doesn't obey the Church to an eternity of hellfire and brimstone; by telling people how to behave--to be "God fearing"--the Church protects them from the awful wrath of God.
#12. In discussing ancient Egypt, David Graeber and David Wengrow, in their book, The Dawn of Everything, write:
"From the seasonal work of tomb-building to the daily servicing of the ruler’s body (recall again how the first royal inscriptions are found on combs and make-up palettes), most of human activity was directed upwards, either towards tending rulers (living and dead) or assisting them with their own task of feeding and caring for the gods.97 All this activity was seen as generating a downward flow of divine blessings and protection, which occasionally took material form in the great feasts of the workers’ towns." [Graeber, David. The Dawn of Everything (p. 408). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. ]
The laborers who built the pyramids feared that if they didn't perform that labor as directed by the Pharaoh then they would lose their protection from the gods.
THE REAL ENEMY
The real enemy of the have-nots of the world is the small class of people who have the opposite of egalitarian values, who value class inequality and the domination of the many by the few, and who use bogeyman enemies to control and oppress the have-nots. Whenever people in this anti-egalitarian class tell us to fear some people (or some thing), it's a good idea to be suspicious that they are simply playing the old "bogeyman enemy" trick to control and oppress us.
THE ACTUAL VERSUS APPARENT AIMS OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
As those who are paying attention know, the United States (by which I mean, here, its billionaire plutocracy ruling class) is a world empire. The United States has 750 military bases in 80 other nations; it has a military budget larger than that of the next ten largest nations combined, it declares itself to be the "exceptional" nation of the world, the nation that is the rightful "policeman of the world" in charge of making other nations behave correctly--you know: 'human rights,' 'the rule of law,' multi-party democratic government with 'free elections' [to let people choose which billionaires will call the shots], a free market economy totally capitalists-friendly, etc.
Because the United States is a world empire, and because it seems to view China and Russia as threats to its power and wealth and because it invades other weaker nations to overthrow governments it doesn't like, and because it engages in proxy wars with Russia (i.e., Vietnam in the past, Ukraine today) and China (North Korea in the past and maybe Taiwan soon), it is easy to draw the conclusion that the goal of U.S. foreign policy is to make the entire world be exactly the way the United States ruling class says it is trying to make it be.
But think about it. Think what would happen if the United States actually succeeded in making the entire world be exactly the way it says it wants it to be. Imagine that the entire world were ruled by national governments that were installed by the U.S. and were totally friendly to the U.S. and compliant with its demands (such as to use only the dollar for international trade, etc.) Imagine that the U.S. billionaire class had everything it wished, and was making money hand over fist and had no military foes or serious economic rivals or competitors. What would happen?
For starters, there would be world peace. The United States (like other nations) would have no enemy. The nations of the world would be in this regard like the 50 states of the United States--at peace with one another, with no need for any of them to have a military force to protect against any other of them. With world peace, there would be no reason for people to choose "guns" instead of "butter": people would demand what we were told we were going to get when the Soviet Union fell--a 'peace dividend' (remember that broken promise?) Instead of a military industrial complex sucking all of the wealth we produce to enrich the few who own and control the weapons-producing corporations, the many--the have-nots--would instead expect to have all the schools and hospitals and repaired roads and bridges and full health care and all of the other wonderful things we could produce for each other in a world at peace but which were denied to us in order to fight "the real enemy."
With world peace, billionaire plutocracies (in the U.S. and elsewhere) would have a hard time convincing their own people that, in order to defend against the "real enemy," the have-nots need to "rally 'round the flag" and be patriotic by supporting their ruling class that is protecting them from that enemy (Russia, China, Muslims, whatever.) Workers of the world would no longer have any reason to put off fighting to make the world be the way they want it to be--more equal and democratic. When workers succeed in this, it's curtains for oppresive ruling classes. And the ruling classes know it!
Here's the thing. Having no enemy is a horrible development from the point of view of oppressors, not just for the U.S. ruling class but for ALL of the world's oppressive ruling classes. Having no enemy is something that oppressive rulers try to avoid at all cost, even by inventing and arming a bogeyman enemy if one doesn't already exist. The very LAST thing an oppressive ruling class wants to do is to actually defeat and thus eliminate a bogeyman enemy!
The world is made safe for oppressive ruling classes by fighting a bogeyman enemy, not by defeating it. When the oppressive ruling class in nation X is in conflict (cold or hot) with the oppressive ruling class of nation Y, nation X is the bogeyman enemy that Y's ruling class NEEDS for controlling its own people, and vice versa.
The conflict may indeed be very real, with each nation telling its generals to wage a real war against the other nation. These oppressive ruling classes don't mind the carnage and destruction of war, knowing that in the end they remain in power, even if working class people suffer enormously. War is how to make bogeyman enemies sufficiently frightening to perform their actual function of social control.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY
The moral of this tale is that one cannot truly understand what is going on in the world if one thinks that the U.S. ruling class (or any other oppressive ruling class, such as the Israeli ruling class) is actually trying to defeat all of its declared enemies and replace them with governments that are the kind the U.S. (or any other oppressive ruling class) says it wants all government to be. The stated aims of the U.S. ruling class (or of any other oppressive ruling class) are not its real aims.
The U.S. ruling class uses its stated aims and its conflicts with bogeyman enemies as a PRETEXT for attacking working class people everywhere who are trying to make the world more equal and democratic.
This is what U.S. (and Allied) rulers were doing during World War II when they used the "fight against fascism" as a pretext for attacking the working class around the world including in the U.S. itself, as I show in my article about WWII at https://www.pdrboston.org/world-war-ii-not-a-good-war-1.
Likewise, the violence of the Israeli government (i.e., of the Israeli billionaire ruling class, together with the U.S. ruling class that works to keep the Israeli government powerful) against Palestinians is not for the purpose of protecting Israeli Jews from harm or for the purpose of destroying HAMAS; rather this conflict serves as a pretext for the Israeli upper class to enrich itself by making Israeli working class Jews suffer horrible economic oppression, as I prove in my article at https://www.pdrboston.org/israel-s-government-attacks-jews-to .
CREATING A BOGEYMAN ENEMY IS NOT THE ONLY AIM OF OPPRESSIVE RULERS, JUST THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE
Note that creating a bogeyman enemy is not the ONLY motivation of oppressive ruling elites. Oppressive ruling classes, such as the ruling U.S. plutocracy, consist of thousands of people. Only some of these people (with their highly paid smart advisors, such as Henry Kissinger, etc.) are concerned primarily with creating a bogeyman enemy as a strategy of social control for the key purpose of keeping their class in power. Other members of the ruling class likely are primarily concerned with other things, such as getting rich from selling weapons to various governments, or controlling important natural resources in some part of the planet, and so on.
The governmental policy of an oppressive ruling class is one that most members of the ruling class support, but it is not necessarily the case that all such members support it for exactly the same reason. There are typically many various reasons why different members of the upper class may support a government's warmongering policy.
Anti-establishment activists may, therefore, find it easy to point to any of such reasons and cite persuasive evidence for the claim that THAT is THE (sole) reason for the government's warmongering. But making such an argument does not take away from the fact that oppressive ruling classes need a bogeyman enemy and, when necessary, do whatever it takes to create one.
Maintaining a "war mentality" for the purpose of social control is such an important task for any oppressive ruling class that this task is perceived the way ordinary people perceive the task of breathing to stay alive: it is so obviously important that nobody needs to talk about how important it is, and while breathing people concentrate on what else they want to do while they're breathing, and likewise while maintaining a "war mentality," the members of an oppressive ruling class concentrate their attention and their talking and perhaps their debating on what else they want to do while--of course!--maintaining a "war mentality."
MERELY DENOUNCING (AS UNJUST) ATTACKS BY OPPRESSORS AGAINST A BOGEYMAN ENEMY, WITHOUT EXPOSING THE FACT THAT THE ATTACK IS AIMED NOT ONLY AGAINST THE BOGEYMAN ENEMY BUT ALSO AGAINST THE OPPRESSOR'S "OWN" HAVE-NOT PEOPLE, WILL OFTEN NOT STOP THE UNJUST ATTACK
Consider the Israeli ruling class's decades-long attack on the bogeyman enemy that is the Palestinian people. The anti-Zionist movement never refutes the Zionist big lie that says the Israeli violence against Palestinians is for the purpose of making ordinary Israeli Jews safe. The way to persuasively refute this Zionist lie is to show (as I do here) that the actual purpose of Zionist violence against Palestinians is to enable the Israeli billionaire ruling class to enrich itself at the expense and great economic suffering of Israeli Jewish working class people.
As a result of the failure of the anti-Zionist movement to explain the true purpose of Zionist violence against Palestinians, the general public in the Western nations continues to (wrongly) believe that Zionist violence is for the purpose of making Jews safe, and hence that opposition to Zionism is antisemitic in effect if not intent. This is why the U.S. government is able to continue supporting Israel, and why Zionism prevails, in sharp contrast to apartheid in South Africa, which ended in large part because the general public in the Western nations, once they learned of the fact of this apartheid, opposed it because there was no remotely persuasive argument in its defense (as I discuss here.)
Merely condemning the attack against Palestinians as unjust maintains the false framework that the Zionists absolutely depend upon to prevail, namely the framework that says the conflict is between two opposing ethnic groups--'the Jews' versus 'the Palestinians,' and that the only choice one has is to be on the side of 'the Jews' or on the side of the 'the Palestinians.' Only when the general public sees that the actual choice is very different; it is to be on the side of the have-nots--both the Jewish AND the Palestinian have-nots--or to be on the side of the haves--both the very rich Israeli Jews AND the very rich Palestinians who collude with them, only THEN will it be possible to build the kind of massive popular movement that it will take to truly defeat Zionism.