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Norris McDonald | Pathos: On Jamal Khashoggi and mind control in this new technological age

Published:Wednesday | May 29, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Many miles away,

By the Blue Mountain rise

Where the bitter cold winds blow

Once dense air, condense here

As ghastly mist, with an eerie glow.

And in this mist, was a soul adrift

A ghostly mist, with a soul adrift….


Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, was murdered October 2017, reportedly carved up alive with a bone saw by agents of Saudi Arabia.

Many of his columns were highly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammd bin Salman, and the identified perpetrators of the crime, reportedly, were directly connected to him.

No human deserves to die for not conforming to the traditional narrative about their society. Not even an animal ought to be carved up alive!


And the show goes on. It is back to business as usual. America, England, Germany France, Russia and China – all have their Saudi arms contract.

The banks, the technology firms and other investors are quietly sneaking into Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile at home, Venezuela is being targeted because it perhaps has the largest oil reserves in the world and refuses to sell its assets to the greedy Western firms.

It may be difficult to see this contrast. A semblance of normality: smart gadgets, reality TV shows, modern culture and lifestyles, masking the cultural backwardness and lack of care for the downtrodden, in this modern world.

However, the true picture: the richest 20 per cent controls over three quarters of the world’s income, while eight out of every ten impoverished persons live on less than US$10 per day.

Injustice is everywhere.

There is a mad focus on using gene splicing and DNA manipulation to create perfect ‘designer babies’ for the wealthy, but a lack of focus on helping millions of people who lack good healthcare.


Why this helplessness in the face of all the inhumane things happening around us?

Behind this seemingly lack of care can be found, in my opinion, a mental craving in people for ‘feel-good moments’ that the mass media, advertising, television and movies help to create. This tends to numb people into forgetting all the atrocities taking place around us.

“Resistance is futile!”

George Orwell, the British writer, figured that out. In his book 1984, he saw the future of political mind control under the new technological world, ‘Ministries of Truth’.

Science and technology have brought mind control to an higher level than perhaps George Orwell imagined. But as Orwell foresaw, truth-telling about injustices can lead to censorship, imprisonment or perhaps death…

In this context, the power-hungry elites see themselves having three choices:

n Surrender power to political reformers who want to change the system.

n Take the initiative themselves, to implement political, social, economic and cultural reforms to improve the life of the common people, or;

n Use brutal means and systems of mind control to stay in power.


Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are long arms of political demagogues in the world’s ‘Ministries of Truth’.

Facebook had the Cambridge-Analytica scandal, in which 50 million people did a fake IQ Test so that their information could be sold for political targeting.

Google, meanwhile, has government contracts worth billions of dollars. They, therefore, do political censorship while acting as if they are a ‘business organisation’.

Capitalism works, doesn’t it?

The downside creates serious political risks and, for the ruling political and economic elites, ‘collateral damage’.

Here are four main forms of censorship we face in this new technological age.

n Self-censorship can grip you with fear. It can make you afraid to do the right thing; to expose political corruption.

n Gatekeeping of the mass media tends to play a traditional role of protecting the values and norms of democracy but, they too can determine what gets to the public.

n Political censorship uses force, bribery, threats and intimidation to bully members of society and the mass media.

n Technological censorship is the new norm. Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., now decide what is truth and what is not.


Meanwhile, all we can do is dream, fight, and work harder for political economic change to improve the lives of the labourers who are the real creators of wealth in the world.

At Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, USA, lies a memorial honouring news reporters and journalists killed in wars.

John F. Kennedy lies there, as well as many American soldiers of war. Just too many. The ultimate sacrifice is when someone gives their life for something they believe is right – even if you disagree, you must still honour them. In this sense, we are all dreamers.

It is good to dream. Martin Luther King Jr, in his ‘I have a Dream’ speech, said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but the content of their character.”

We may still be a long way from that: But it was a noble dream.


Jamal Khashoggi had many dreams. One dream was getting married. How sad that, Hatice Cengiz, his fiancée, spent hours outside his morgue, the Saudi’s Consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, waiting for him to come out. He never did. At least alive…

Noble dreamer Martin Luther King Jr was killed. Jamal Khashoggi was killed. Many dreamers before were killed. Sadly, perhaps, more may be killed. But … dreams never die …

History attests that a moral philosophy of humanism, based on equality, justice, human rights, is absent from this new technological age. But change will come … So long as we work hard to bring it about … to create a new world.

Here are my final thoughts, this epitaph … Let me write it now…

Thoughts leap, words unsure

I still pen that writes no more

A quiet rest, still waters flow

Streaming tears, as hearts grow

Restless thoughts, will never cease!

‘Till humanity finds true peace!


This is just the Bitta, Bitta Truth!

Norris McDonald is an economic journalist, social researcher and political analyst. Email feedback to and