salon debate

Sunday October 2nd 1pm

at Leaf Cafe, 65 Bold Street, Liverpool

featuring Mark Fisher and Mark Pilkington


If we don’t believe what the government tells us, what do we believe?

This salon will look at different attempts at controlling what we believe and how effective they have been.

UFO’s and Cold War disinformation

Mark Pilkington’s book Mirage Men tells a labyrinthine story of American deception and paranoia from the dawn of the Cold War to the present day. Groups within the US military and intelligence services actively encouraged the UFO obsession to shield secret military developments and to confuse their Soviet enemies. At the same time, these groups wanted to manipulate  and control interest in the UFO phenomenon to which they feared could lead to an increasing mistrust of the state and, potentially mass hysteria. 

How well did government agencies balance these conflicting desires? What other techniques and scenarios did they deploy? Have other fringe beliefs been exploited in similar ways?

How well did it balance these conflicting desires and how effective have subsequent governments been in using cults and fringe beliefs to their own ends?

There is no alternative

Half a century later, the pysop machinations and paranoia of the Cold War era seem fascinatingly quaint.  The fear (or promise) of soviet communism has disappeared, and capitalism presents itself as natural and inevitable. Governments themselves have lost power - they seem less powerful than the multi-national corporations and the banks. It is no longer necessary to conceal the complicities of the state and the corporations;  we can all see what is going on but there seems nothing we can do about it. The left has lost confidence and credibility. The only challenge to the status quo is a mass of conspiracy theories that adds to the general mood of fatalism and offers no solution.

Writer and cultural theorist Mark Fisher in his book Capitalist Realism analyses this malaise and how 21st century capitalism has manage to absorb and contain all attempts to oppose it.

How did we get here and what can we do about it?