From the surreal to the ridiculous
Governments have always had an incentive keeping the population stupid. The main reason for needing plenty of idiots is war. War is the politicians great get - out. Whenever things are going really well and the people start demanding social justice, lower taxes and better living standards for everybody, all the political leaders can ever do as a getout is get into a war. While diverting attention for a while, war also sets progress back by a few decades so lower taxes, social justice and better living standards take a back seat to Safeguarding National Security, which means constantly being ready to have a war. Which in turn means Civil Liberties and Social Justice are suspended.
Since the days of the Roman Empire poorly educated young men have responded to variations on the patriotic theme "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." which roughly translates as "thanks for being stupid, sucker, here's a posthumous medal." In the ages before social reform gave us universal education, this patriotism had so distorted sanity that when the call to arms came, young men would compete not just to go and fight but to be the one of the guys who marched in front of the regiment, towards a mass of heavily armed enemy soldiers, carrying a flag or beating a drum.
Even though the penalty for cowardice was death, one would think that rather than rushing to volunteer anybody with two live brain cells would skulk at the back of the troop trying to avoid the sergeants eye. Instead of saying, "why do we have to carry the flag, its not our turn; we carried it last time, why can't we have muskets or swords or long poles with nails in the end?" the Drummers and Standard Bearers were so brainwashed with the idea that dying a young hero was better than living to be an old coward they would say "No sergeant, give my gun to one of the other chaps, I want to march to certain dearh carrying the flag and thus become a hero.
Technology has changed things a bit of course, after all its hard to carry a flag in front of a batch of cruise missiles.So why do the government still need to sell the case for a career as cannon fodder to the population.
Modern military hardware tends to keep soldiers safe while putting civilians in the firing line, that's why. In the first war of the twentieth century 80% of casulaties were military. In the last wars of that century 80% of the casualties were civilian. So it is not a good idea to have too many civilians who would rather watch BBC News 24 than the Big Brother.
The best wars, before the advent of the twentieth century were those in which the uncivilised aboriginal peoples of remote lands were considered to be a threat because they ran around nearly naked and enjoyed uninhibited sex lives.
Vast and well equipped armies were sent to oppress such unenlightened tribespeople and teach them to honour the true God by adopting the missionary position for sex and keeping their private parts covered up at all other times. This released the fereethinkers and troublemakers to start agitating about equal opportunities and human rights issues at home. Soon the Establishment was on the ropes, women were demanding and getting the right to enjoy sex, black people were demanding and getting the right to ride on buses and the working class were doing less work and getting more class. Only war could stop the march of progress and preserve the status quo.
The civilised nations had no alternative but to fight each other, which turned out to be counter - productive as the carnage produced even greater demands for justice and a fair deal for everybody. And that was what inspired the conspiracy. With no real enemies left, the establishment, the media and John Wayne had to invent an enemy. "Our way of life is under threat," they cried. Commies in Congress, Reds Under The Beds and Proles in Parliament were said to be undermining the fabric of society. The "Cold War" never became a hot war because of course the enemy never really existed. Russia never had any intention of attacking the west.
For many years in the latter half of the twentieth century this simple ruse involving pretend enemies preserved the delicate balance. When people got too stroppy all the politicians had to do was cry "the Russians are coming," or "the commies/unions/Guardian reading beardies are taking over.
Committment to universal education spoiled this one too however, when the educated and empowered population woke up to the fact that Russian leaders were crying "the capitalists are coming" whenever their punters got stroppy. We all realised that basically we were not different species but the same flawed, greedy, feckless and corrupt human beings as are found everywhere. The Russians wanted Levis, MacDonalds and Coca Cola. The west wanted Vodka, Caviare and wonderful cheekbones.
Having no primitive tribespeople to oppress and no pretend enemy with whom to exchange threats of mutual destruction Western politicians needed a big idea quick!
It came from the United States of America, self appointed leader of the free world, as as most big ideas do. "Heeeyyyy, stoopid people are easy to manipulate," some Washington manipulator said, and to confirm his point the establishment connived to get Ronald Reagan, a former 'B' movie actor and sports commentator elected President. Ron was too stupid to bother interfering much in the running of the country thus making himself the most popular President ever. Reagan's backers simply realised that only a few people care what is going on, the great silent majority are quite content to sit munching pork scratchings, guzzling fizzy alcoholic or non alcoholic drinks and watching cartoons and gameshows. Marginalise the thinkers by appealing to the silent (mouths full of Pork Scratchings) majority and society can be manipulated as you only have to convince pepople who will believe anything they are told. The rest of us believe what the Americans tell us because we need their money.
Between them the banks, the entertainment industry and the bureaucracy ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity in the U.S.. This they made into an icon called The American Lifestyle. Serious T.V. shows were superseded by "Lifestyle" shows and "reality" shows. But eventually people started to tire of Lifestyle and began to ask "is this it" instead of dutifully consuming 24/7.
There had to be a threat to the "Western Lifestyle" in order to quash the resuegent threat of secular liberalism. Fortunately the old conspiracy was still in place. Shite Funnamenallists, Evil Doors, People of Evelyn Tent, enemies all of Freemon Mocksy were standing by ready to help the conspirators get the western world back on the straight and narrow. And what is more, the imaginary enemy were not just a threat to the imaginary way of life but also to the imaginary God who protects us all.
It is so beautiful when you look at it in the right light.