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Psychological warfare

Using psychology to influence people and mentally subdue your enemies is a deep art.

Michael T. Stevens, American author

A well-managed campaign to promote, perpetrate and institute fear, uncertainty and division ensures the lifespan of psychological warfare in every political cult. Socioeconomic policies to favour some communities, to marginalise or ignore others, while keeping some segments guessing is, ironically, a laughable strategy.

What if a really awakened citizenry started giving endless headaches to the government by protesting and demanding change and institutional reforms? What if people engaged in civil disobedience and reversed the psych-war onto the elected officials?

Psychological warfare is not a violation of any law, just like civil disobedience. The opposition to the Malayan Union in 1946 and the 1998 Reformasi movement saw civil disobedience and psych-war becoming both a bane and a benefit, as did the May 13 1969 political disturbances, depending on perspectives.

Psychological warfare is not against the law, therefore its arsenal in its survival kit is formidable. First off, you need a pliant media controlled by the government, and Malaysians witnessed 22 years of this under a Machiavellian villain.

Today’s digital age allows a full blast of dissent, disagreement and vocal protests against the government. The Police Act plays sentinel to assess every police permit for peaceful assembly. Its pre-emptive strike to deny peaceful assemblies exemplifies psychological warfare.

Malaysia’s psychological warfare has four unmistakable pillars, to wit, race, religion, region and ringgit. Each plays a crucial role aided and abetted by oppressive and unjust laws that make a mockery of authoritarian democracy.

Laws falling silent is a terrifying episode of a 24-carat psych-war when the stokers and fomenters of religiosity are left undisturbed and undisciplined. These troublemakers know the fine art of staging psychological warfare. The 4-R buffer offers great comfort and strength.

 “Convincing others to agree with you is the ultimate in psychological domination,” explained Michael T. Stevens in his ‘The Art of Psychological Warfare: How to Skilfully Influence People Undetected And How to Mentally Subdue Your Enemies In Stealth Mode.’   


To understand control, whether by your peers, superiors or the government, I strongly recommend daily dosages of Michael T. Stevens’s wisdom in dealing with control freaks who engineer total fear, uncertainty and doubt as a national ethos.

Psychological warfare is designed for weak, ignorant and uninformed minds. Many qualify when voting patterns are studied. One arrogant politician in 2014 suggested that “voting for own race is key to unity”. His feeble attempt at psychological warfare backfired.

People with Cluster B type personality disorders (controlling, abusive, manipulative) are in great demand by governments that want to keep the citizenry on a tight leash. That is a pre-requisite for sustaining a well-oiled psychological warfare machine.

But, ultimately, the voters must decide the nature and substance of mind games they plan to unleash every five years or so as required under elections law. This is the voters’ agenda for clear, critical and creative thinking. This rare opportunity should not be lost in translation!

When the law batters, justice matters. Boycotting, another weapon of psychological warfare, is not a violation of the law. My grandson told me today that KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks, Nestle, and other ‘Jew-owned’ outlets are being boycotted by dissidents who are anti-Zionist.

By the looks of it Levi jeans, Coca cola, Pepsi cola, root beer, ginger beer, etc. face the axe, too. Being politically correct for all the wrong reasons and purposes is not healthy for any economy. Ours is not yet on terra firma. Yet, PMX remains non-committal while an upcoming incendiary was dishing our Duit Raya like he was in-charge.

Hypothetically, what would happen if citizens boycotted the government? No renewal of licences, permits, non-payment of quit rents, income taxes, fees and fines? Key word is ‘boycott’, not failure to pay dues. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, too, right?

The thing that gets my goat is simply this: Why is PMX not being firmer? He seems friendlier to the troublemakers like a repentant revenant. His agenda seems obvious as he is rocked and riled with indecision.  His Reformasi spirit is in tatters.

The “Cold War” was America’s solution to a successful psychological warfare necessitating NATO. Find a bogeyman, or create one. Turkiye thought otherwise. Russia didn’t blink. Ukraine yawned. Hamas became unstoppable. Iran is outraged. Geography has replaced history.

The rakyat has the ability to build immunity against psychological warfare by adopting and launching a thync-different strategy. Social media, if not terrorised by government, can be a great aide at keeping fakery away like a contagion.

The Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, always wary of intellectuals, had this to justify his claim: “Arguments against intellectuals must always be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect.” That seems to be very relevant today in every (known) system of government.

Psychological warfare is unhealthy when whiners and intellectual dwarfs are running government affairs. Pointless proving Goebbels right!

The culprit is none other than our failed literacy and learning institutions. It will be an insult to refer to them as an ‘education system.’ Nothing good can come out of that rogue set-up.

The universe and Mother Nature may have no obligation to make sense to us, but organised government does. Nihil facere (do nothing) system of government excels in psychological warfare. Caveat emptor.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. 


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