Written by PunkJohnnyCash on Jul 9, 2010
“FIVE! FOUR! TWO! ONE! STOP! You’re done! Get your nasty hands off!” The drill instructor belted out in his guttural scratchy faux voice. “I said you’re done!” He screamed as he got into a recruits face. Everyone was frozen. “Get On Line!” The recruits left their ALICE packs lay and jumped to attention on the little yellow lines painted on the concrete ground in front the racks.
“Sir, Yes Sir!” the recruits chanted in unison. The drill instructor continued to berate the recruit, spit flying in his face and finger extended barely an inch from his eyeball. Fatigued and thrown into chaos the recruits listened to the drill instructor belittle every action they had made. The drill instructor would have them dump everything out of their ALICE packs and start the impossible task again while he counted down. This task would be repeated over and over until the recruits understood they were incompetent.
That was not a one time occurrence. It became every day and night for thirteen weeks. There was plenty of punishment. The recruits would understand that not only did they not have an identity outside of recruit but they would understand that their actions and attempts were never worthy until the recruit had become a Marine. The old self was worthless. The Marine was something of pride and honor. The state had to create people whose humanity had been denied so they would lay down their lives without question for the cause of the state.
As a Marine I saw an institution that was structured not too different than an abusive relationship. I saw that to maintain the power they held over myself and others abusive behaviors were embraced. This is essential for the state to maintain it’s power and effectiveness in carrying out it’s main objective in killing those that would oppose the authority and desires of the state. The police must dehumanize the citizen, the soldier or Marine must dehumanize the enemy combatant. They must be dehumanized to be capable of dehumanizing other people. This can be as simple as the language used to replace the humanity of the victim such as “perpetrator”, “enemy” or “combatant”.
The Marine or Soldier will resent the truth that they have been brainwashed. This process of brainwashing is essential to maintaining any militarized force from the U.S.M.C. to a police force or army. The solider, police officer or Marine will resent the fact that the same process used to control an abused spouse in domestic violence situations is used on them. The militarized mind will grow angry and deny this reality when it confronts them. The apologetics they use are often ingrained in their minds during the process.
The techniques used in training set up a hierarchical culture that is perpetuated through ones’ military career. This leads to the abusive power over individuals in their time in service. It also alters their perception and is often carried out to the civilian world with abusive tendencies. No, that does not mean the Marine is necessarily beating the spouse always, but it can lead to many abusive power structures in relationships with other individuals.
What does this process look like?
Many different models of brainwashing can be found. The majority of them hold much in common with militarization of the individual. Biderman’s Chart of Coercion highlights: Isolation, Monopolization of perception, Induced Debility & Exhaustion, Threats, Occasional Indulgences, Demonstrating “Omnipotence”, Enforcing Trivial Demands and Degradation.
Isolation I saw even within the platoon I was a part of. Not only were we taken to an isolated Island but the recruits were forbidden to interact the majority of the time. Human interaction was forbidden.
Monopolization of Perception became a way of life for those thirteen months in boot camp. Your perception and attention was in constant devotion to what was often trivial matters. They would be repeated over and over and constantly the message was that they were not good enough so the tasks would repeat.
Induced Debility & Exhaustion were also a daily reality. The recruits were run ragged daily. by the time you hit the rack you were out. The final task was “The Crucible” where the exhaustion was even more extreme. The physical tasks were often used to break one down to the point where they could no longer function at full capacity.
Threats were a constant. The threats often went hand in hand with punitive action through getting IT’d or what they like to call “Initiative Training” or in the “pit” or on the “quarterdeck” This was the screaming of “PUSH!” “FASTER!” as one was always unable to reach the intended goal. Often threats came in other forms. Recruits were told they would not graduate and certain dooms of being dropped and staying at Parris Island or “not becoming Marines” were some common threats.
Occasional Indulgences were rare. Often they were such small things that most would be shocked that a human being would become excited over them. This was mostly in the rare occasions recruits were aloud a “Power Bar” or a “Gatorade” for reward of a job well done. This was an uncommon reward that recruits would just about kill for.
Demonstrating “Omnipotence” The recruits knew that no action was unobserved or would go unpunished. The fear was put in each recruit to the point where any act of individuality or rebellion was not even considered. The fear of the existing power structure followed each recruit to the point where there was no question the recruits would do as they were told no matter how absurd the demands were.
Enforcing Trivial Demands was also a thing that was a constant. If it was the way one showered or how they were to sit there were trivial demands constantly made on the recruits. The recruits were often degraded by these trivial demands.
Degradation and humiliation became a way of life. Using the restroom was just one way they used to humiliate the recruits. I still recall being forced four to one Porto-john. Three would use the main hole with the smaller one standing on the toilet itself, his genitals hanging in the other recruits faces as all urinated simultaneously and the lucky fourth recruit would get the side urinal free from his privates in another man’s face or another man’s privates in his face.
One could write a novel pointing each of those elements out on a day to day basis in “Recruit Training” but I am not going to take that much time up. I do want to look at some more elements such as those writen about by Dick Sutphen which is summarized here:
1. Isolation: the meeting or training takes place in a place where participants are cut off from the outside world. This often involves making a public commitment to stay during the training. When training takes place in isolation like this, there is usually a quick follow-up session to ensure that the technique has really taken hold.
2. Fatigue: a schedule is maintained that ensures physical and mental fatigue. This means long hours, few breaks, and very little time for relaxing or reflection.
3. Tension: techniques are used to increase tension in the group. For example, perhaps there are a few truisms thrown around that might make you feel like you are doing something wrong. Or that you are a sinner, or depressed, or generally unhappy.
4. Uncertainty: people are randomly put on the spot. Forced to withdraw into anger, fear, or awe. Revivalist churches and human-potential seminars include asking people to come on stage and talk about humiliating or weak moments in their lives. This withdrawn, fearful, state, makes you many times more susceptible to suggestions as your guard is down and you are looking for safety and reassurance in whatever form it takes.
5. Jargon: new language to talk about what’s going on. It could help label the “enemy”, whether it be ignorant people, people who aren’t yet enlightened, or evil people. Also, new language to talk about people who are “fixed”: either enlightened, saved, or healed.
6. Humorlessness: there’s no humor involved until the process is complete. The humor then serves as a way to celebrate and seal the deal.
A couple other techniques can be used in addition to help the effects become more pronounced. These three steps are called the “decognition process” as they help slow down and eventually stop thinking altogether.
1. Alertness Reduction: one part of this is to force participants to keep a poor diet: either lots of sugar, or very bland foods. Sugar throws your nervous system off. A very bland diet (usually fruits and vegetables and no dairy or meat) will make you more spacey. Another part is inadequate sleep after long hours of intense discomfort or strenuous physical activity.
2. Programmed Confusion: a deluge of new information, combined with questions, discussion groups, and one-to-one create a sense of jumbled-ness that make it easier to insert crazy ideas.
3. Thought Stopping: most of these brainwashing techniques encourage stopping your thoughts in one of three ways. All three processes can be very helpful if you are controlling the process. The only danger comes when you allow someone else who you don’t fully know the motives of to take you through these steps and slowly alter deep beliefs about yourself and the world.
1. Marching to a beat, usually at around 1 or 1.5 steps per second, is particularly useful. Both the military and Hitler used this to great effect. The beat puts you in a slightly altered state of awareness that is close to hypnosis and makes you more susceptible to suggestions.
2. Meditation is the second form of thought stopping. An hour to an hour and a half of meditation a day for several weeks is enough to keep you in a constant “slow” state that is more focused and susceptible to suggestions (both good and bad).
3. Chanting is the third form of thought stopping, and has the same general technique as marching. The beat helps put you in a slightly different state of awareness.
The reason we must continue to look at boot camp in the criticism of the system is that this is the foundation of all to come. This determines the ethics and mindset of the Marine. The mindset to belittle and minimize others is birthed from this. The new being that is formed through the brainwashing is the being that the state must have to insure it’s power. The state requires it’s killers to maintain it’s very existence and here we see how human beings are programmed to do something destructive and often counter to their nature. This is essential to maintain a system where mass murder is the justifies authority over other human beings.
I was led to believe violence, murder and aggression were honorable. They were ‘sacrifices’. The ‘good guy kills’. Honor, Courage and Commitment were synonyms for Subservient Devotion to a Power Structure, Willingness to die or kill for that State & Power Structure and commitment to this State & those who demand authority over others.