By J. Pratt Vulpes
Imagine a world where children are raised to become agents of change throughout their work and lives, not docile employees, consumers, and followers. One in which corporate personhood has been displaced, and human needs and the environment take precedence over the unlimited quest to maximize profits. A world where every citizen feels confident speaking out and organizing to advance a shared vision of justice.
Imagine that, in this world, health care for all prevails, with no place for insurance company intermediaries or pharmaceutical ad campaigns. Elections are publicly funded and verifiable, and politicians are responsive to the people, not to corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors. Openness is prized, and intellectual property restrictions, proprietary software, and closed ways of doing business have fallen from favor.
Imagine people no longer stirred by religious leaders to restrict the role of women, reject science, and hate or invade their neighbors. People boldly charting their own courses in life according to their values and sense of authenticity, rather than following standard routes laid down by others. People living without fear of scarcity or distrust of difference, confident that together their diverse abilities are ample to meet all their needs.
For ten decades, the industry I now have the privilege of representing has worked tenaciously to protect you from this nightmare scenario. The men and women of my profession are proud to have developed and deployed strategies rooted in FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt — that have made the world I have just described nearly inconceivable, and its proposed “innovations” widely reviled.
Throughout our history, FUD producers and service providers have fulfilled the needs of leading institutions, culminating in the world in which you now live. The beauty of that world can be found in the productivity and efficiency gains that arise once people recognize that there are no alternatives to the systems governing them.
Over the years, we have brought you the think tank, the astroturf campaign, and the echo chamber itself. Such advances yielded profound social achievements: the War on Drugs, the Cold War, the War on Terror, and the credit-based consumer economy. Secure in our knowledge of these accomplishments, we have long ceded the spotlight to others, content to remain in the shadows.
Today, however, our companies, represented by the FUD Industry Association of America (FUDIAA), are standing up to claim our legacy, and to ask for the public’s steadfast support of our vital work amid these challenging times.
To accomplish this, we are officially launching FUD University, our online learning center. FUD University educates the public about FUD‘s critical role in everyday life and our industry’s trusted position preparing decision environments for our institutional clients. It is our goal that FUD U will engage you with our work, and inspire you to make our fight your own.
This is a critical moment for the FUD industry, one that will determine whether we are able to maintain the levels of production that you have thus far enjoyed. Some of the industries that have helped to sustain us in the past have fallen on hard times, and several major clients are even facing bankruptcy.
Others that had the foresight to increase their spending on FUD as turbulent times approached have confirmed the wisdom of our methods. Despite a change in administrations, our clients in the financial realm have seen their investments in FUD continue to pay off. Our patrons in military contracting also know that their prospects remain strong. These bright spots in an otherwise bleak outlook only underscore the urgent need for our work.
But the threats we face are not solely economic. Today, angry purveyors of “openness” and “transparency” are attempting to take advantage of these dire economic times, inciting a War on FUD that threatens all we have accomplished. Anti-Fuddite extremist groups such as the Center for Media and Democracy, the Sunlight Foundation, and Media Matters breed distrust of our industry and the institutions we serve.
To the impressionable, diatribes against our profession serve as enticing invitations to question and resist the conformity that we have worked for decades to safeguard. We must contain this threat by keeping the radicals isolated from each other: single-payer health care fanatics in one cell, free software zealots in another, foreign policy insurgents in yet another, food system subversives in still another, and so forth. If we limit them to reacting to our tactical advances on each issue, they will remain unable to unite against our overarching strategies.
As long as we remember that FUD is what makes America great, we will never give in to those who tell us we can succeed without it. It is our source of strength, the beacon we raise to guide the world. Regardless of your political beliefs, always be aware that the life you enjoy is a product of the largesse of the institutions we serve.
To ensure that the fruits of our labor endure, you must now commit to giving back. Start by learning more about our work at FUD University. Then, choose an issue that matters to you, and try your hand at sharing your gratitude of how FUD has shaped that issue. You can write your appreciation directly into The Book of FUD, our new crowdsourcing initiative, which will record the public’s support for our work. You can also help us to monitor and document the threats we face from the anti-Fuddite Jihad. There will be also opportunities to spotlight and celebrate timely FUD campaigns.
Together, we can produce consensus about the imperative function our industry fulfills, and revive the levels of spending on FUD that are needed to sustain your way of life. Should the private sector be temporarily unable to meet these needs, we are confident that your cooperation will help us secure the public investments required to preserve our industry and its essential products.
Only your shared commitment to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt can sustain our crucial work to isolate those who seek radical social transformation from the grassroots.
J. Pratt Vulpes is the Founding Executive Director of FUD University, and previously served as Associate Director of the Research Department at the FUD Industry Association of America (FUDIAA).