Food for Thought: Today’s Two Political Camps are really just Pro-Thought or Anti-Thought

“The Thinker,” Auguste Rodin, 1904. This cast is in the Palace of the Legion of Honor in (Ha! Today’s Belly of the Anti-Thought Beast!) San Francisco (Wikimedia Commons)

Last month I wrote a Federalist piece in which I elaborate on a conclusion I reached some time ago.  There are really only two political camps:  Pro-Thought and Anti-Thought.  Think about it.  The tired old labels of Left and Right and Conservative and Liberal and so on don’t really mean anything.  It’s time people learn — or re-learn — how to think clearly and for ourselves.  And realize that our basic choices in self-identifying are either as a Free Thinker or a Thought Policer.

Here’s a novel idea:  Let’s teach kids — and everyone else! — how to think independently of what the media and Hollywood and Academics on their high horses tell us to think.  (Those folks aren’t really thinking on their own, anyway.)  Let’s stop being slaves to propaganda.

You can read the article here:  “Today’s Two Main Political Camps are Pro-Thought and Anti-Thought.”  And here’s an excerpt:

“Let’s remember that all of the other First Amendment rights follow in logical order from the first:  freedom of religion/belief/conscience/thought. Freedom of speech is the right to express what you think and believe. Freedom of press means the right to record those expressed thoughts in writing or other media. In this vein, freedom of association would mean being able to deliver your ideas to anyone willing to listen. It means the right to peaceably assemble and have open conversation with other people.

“The heavy hand of the state has no right to cut off or interfere in our ability to spark thoughtful conversations. If the state violates our First Amendment rights, the First Amendment also gives us the right to petition as a means of fighting back against that abuse of power.”

And here’s another:

“Once the Mass State starts manipulating language by legislating everyday expressions, such as forcing every citizen to adhere to unfamiliar pronoun protocols under the guise of anti-discrimination, it builds walls between people. That’s exactly what it’s designed to do.

“We’ve probably all observed how political correctness controls speech and thought by inducing self-censorship. How does this happen? Through manipulating the primal human terror of being socially isolated for non-compliance. People comply with political correctness in order to avoid that perceived isolation. Yet political correctness is designed to isolate us socially through our compliance with it! Heads, they win; tails, you lose.

“The only way to avoid that Catch-22 is to stand up to political correctness before its illusions root too deeply. The First Amendment is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. And it’s all or nothing.

“The only way the bubble of political correctness can pop is if all free thinkers are inclined to follow through with the First Amendment. Thinking will only remain free as long as we express our thoughts by speaking them, recording them, and cross-pollinating them through peaceful assembly. Nothing less can insure against the de-humanizing effects of thought policing.

“Let’s think about that. And talk about it constantly.”

Let’s Build More Awareness of Mob Psychology

Zombies from 1968 horror film “Night of the Living Dead.” (Wikipedia Commons)

The weird thing about mobs is that they tend to be made up of individuals with little or no self-awareness.  Participation in a mob mentality strikes me as a way of compensating for that loss. People tend to lose themselves — and get a false sense of purpose — from taking part in mob action. For example, consider the persona of “social justice warrior.” Those who adopt the SJW persona pretend to be aware of inequality.  Why?  My guess is that’s because they are so unaware of what true inequality is — that it stems from ignorance and a lack of experience in dealing with real people on a real level.  They resist honest interaction, honest relationships.  And nothing could be more self-destructive than that. It’s a zombie-like attitude that actually perpetuates inequality.

Take the case of “Barrett Wilson” — a pseudonym.  He recently wrote a piece for Quillette, entitled “I was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me.”  He provides a chilling picture of mob behavior.  Having been a part of the “social justice industry” Wilson participated in ganging up on others and smearing them as “racists” and “sexists.”  Why?  Because it felt good.  He explained that he got an emotional rush from behaving that way: “For years, I was blind to my own gleeful savagery.”  Of course, at a certain point the savage mob turned on him.  That’s the nature of the beast.  He lost his well paying job because of the accusations and total lack of due process in the social justice industry.  Now he delivers food for a living.  He’ll lose that job too if the mob finds out who he is.

The silver lining is that Wilson realized that getting off the mob train — and doing honest work — has allowed him to recover some sanity in life, and best of all, appreciation for others:   “It’s led me to rediscover how to interact with people in the real world.  I’m a kinder and more respectful person now. . . ”

I wrote up a piece about this in the Federalist last week.  You can read it here:  What to Learn from the Social Justice Warrior Who was Eaten by His Own Mob.”  The more aware we become of mob psychology, the more able we are to think on our own and relate to others.

Soviet Defector Yuri Bezmenov’s Love Letter to America

In 1970 a Soviet KGB agent stationed in India disguised himself as a hippie and blended in with a crowd. He managed to escape detection and found his way to the West where he defected.  Yuri Bezmenov took the name Tomas Schuman, and wrote a short book entitled “Love Letter to America.”  In it he describes how he fell in love with the goodness of America and couldn’t go on promoting the deceptions and inhumane tactics that poisoned so many lives.  Below is a 1984 interview with him “Deception was my Job” in which Bezmenov tries to warn Americans about the ideological subversion that is practiced on them by totalitarian actors, such as the Soviet KGB:

It’s a fascinating interview in so many ways.  Bezmenov was a member of the privileged elite in the Soviet Union.  He had nothing to gain materially by defecting, and certainly nothing to gain in terms of prestige.  It was the weight of conscience that caused him to break free of a life of practicing deception — and to take the great risks involved in making a break for freedom.  In his new life he resolved to do the best he could to help us understand how totalitarians play the game of ideological subversion, in which they push open societies to become closed societies.  You should look at his book in the link above to get the full story.  On page 22 of his book, he includes a chart to show the four stages of Soviet ideological subversion:  1.) Demoralization, which takes about a generation’s time, 15-20 years; 2.) Destabilization, which takes about 2-5 years; 3.) Crisis, which is a matter of months; and finally 4.) Normalization, basically the mopping up operation once an authoritarian system is in place.

It’s interesting that the demoralization phase in America began a whole lot longer ago than 20 years. I would guess at least 50 years or so.  If Bezmenov’s theory is correct, I think there are several reasons why America would still be standing as a free nation with an intact — though much threatened — Constitution. A lot of unpredicted forces seem to have disrupted the demoralization and destabilization processes. The election of Ronald Reagan would be one disruption, especially with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Many would also put the election of Donald Trump into this category of an unpredictable black swan event.  And there are a whole lot of cross currents in a free society that can foil the plans of even the most calculating totalitarians.  Chief among them, in my opinion, are freedom of association and freedom of speech that serve to cross pollinate ideas and feed a ripple effect of freedom.

The Link between Mass Schooling and Mental Instability in Kids

High School Hallway. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

The other day I wrote a piece for the Federalist in which I explore the ways mass public schooling actually cultivates mental instability in children.  You can read it here:  “13 Ways Public Schools Incubate Mental Instability in Kids.”

In the wake of another school shooting – and now the ways children are being used to serve as mouthpieces for PC agendas, including (but not limited to) gun control — I think it’s high time we take a good hard look at the institutions that are shaping them for most of  their waking hours. The schools teach abject conformity in so many ways, that I believe they are literally making kids ill.  In my piece I list 13 ways this happens in today’s government mega-schools. They include the hierarchy of cliques, status anxiety, relational aggression, hostility towards family and faith, politicization, and enforced conformity.

I’m sure you can add many more ways today’s schools feel oppressive, and even prison-like.  And yet there are now places called “school refusal clinics” for children to be psychologically “treated” if school becomes so alienating and lonely for children that it literally makes them sick.

Below is an excerpt on just one of those 13 points.  In it, I reflect on how the sheer size of today’s schools have grown exponentially.  I think this in itself promotes an alienating environment that’s not conducive to mental health.

Back in 1929-30, there were about 248,000 public schools in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. How many today? Far less than half that. By 2013-14, the number had shrunk to 98,000.

When you consider that the U.S. population nearly tripled in that timeframe, there’s no question this factory model of schooling has grown exponentially. The numbers speak to the intense bureaucratization of a public school system that is becoming more centralized with less local control, packing ever-larger numbers of students in one place.

The natural effect for a young human being is an emotional malaise that fuels a sense of confusion and detachment. I believe the sociologist Emile Durkheim coined the term “anomie” to describe this state of isolation. Even the physical architecture of public schools is getting more estranging. They tend to be larger and more looming, almost blade-runner-like in their effect of shrinking and sequestering individuals to irrelevance.

 

 

My FRC talk about Social and Emotional Programming, the latest fad in Education

I recently spoke at the Family Research Council about a new fad in mass public schooling called “social and emotional learning” (SEL.) Those who advocate for SEL claim the program will give children critical life skills, such as empathy, getting along with others, and making good decisions. An organization called the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) wants a government mandate that will bring this program into every school. You can watch my FRC policy lecture here:

In this talk I give my perspective on SEL.  While good teachers are always a godsend, bureaucrats can never achieve what they promise in such programs. Especially since their framework is mass schooling. Such values and attitudes need to be taught in intimate settings of trust, such as families.  Not in hyper-bureaucratized mega-schools.  I see the SEL program as a bait-and-switch operation, because it demands universal compliance with its methods, with its content, and with its monopoly.  By its very monolithic nature as program driven by a government monopoly, it is coercive. In the video, you’ll see a clip in which a representative for SEL tells us that they “need the WHOLE child.” And if you delve into this more, you can see that the SEL program is really all about enforcing conformity: Conformity of feelings, attitudes, emotions, speech, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.  When such things are directed by a centralized State mandate, rather than by de-centralized mediating institutions —  institutions of family, faith, and voluntary associations — there can be no freedom, nor can there be real diversity.

Staged Hate in Charlottesville? In War, Perception is Everything.

Bella_Rose_Arts_Centre_Stage

“All the world’s a stage; And all the men and women merely players . . . ” — Shakespeare, As You Like It

Below is an excerpt from my latest Federalist piece:  “America’s Post-Charlottesville Nervous Breakdown was Deliberately Induced.” I hope you’ll have a chance to read it in full.

“Wars are won or lost based mostly on perceptions of events, not on what actually happens. This is true for any given battlefield, whether it’s the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam or the ideological battlefield over the future of the First Amendment as played out in Charlottesville in 2017. The reality of what takes place in the public arena is always secondary to any projected illusion.

So let’s never forget this: Whoever has the power to dictate public perceptions of reality is in a position to dictate public opinion and behavior. Abusing language and images to stir up emotions is an ancient trick of power-mongers. And once journalism turns into unchecked propaganda, we become trapped in its dangerous illusions.”

The social turmoil we are witnessing today has largely been manufactured through the combination of three elements: 1. the manipulation of our language; 2. the deliberate use of such loaded language to cultivate extreme emotions in people, particularly anger and resentment; and 3. the role of mass media as a nuclear device to impose those perceptions on a mass scale.

Here’s another interesting sidelight to consider.  Public Relations firms such as Crowds on Demand provide actors for protests and rallies and run ads on Craigslist to recruit and pay for that purpose. So it’s very easy to create illusions of riots if you can rent a mob for it.  The blog Gates of Vienna ran an interview recently with an eyewitness who was in Charlottesville on the day of the riots and reports that protesters from both sides — attired both in “counter-protester” clothing such as Antifa or BLM shirts AND neo-Nazi/KKK shirts — were dropped off from the same bus.  And this happened with a line of chartered buses, both sides apparently sharing the same vehicles. The story is here:  “All the World’s a Stage.”  Whether or not you believe this, the fact that politicized officials ordered police to stand down lends credence to the scenario of a staged riot.

Must Read: The Devil’s Pleasure Palace

I have a review of Michael Walsh’s book (now out in paperback) “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West” over at Acton Institute’s Transatlantic blog.  If you haven’t yet read Walsh’s book, it’s a must read for understanding the Left’s war on reality, and how it spawned political correctness and multiculturalism to divide and control us all.  Here’s the link for purchasing the book on Amazon:  The Devil’s Pleasure Palace

My review is here:  Book Review: “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” by Michael Walsh.

We can trace critical theory back about a hundred years, to a group of Marxists in Germany:

The neo-Marxist thinkers who invented critical theory coalesced at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt after World War I. The core idea was to foment radical social change and undermine “repressive” Western culture by advancing roughly the premise that all ideas – except theirs, of course – should be criticized and challenged. The attacks on the institutions that make freedom possible – family, religion, classical education, the arts, free markets, free speech – can be traced to critical theory. Critical theory operates under the guise of “equality” and “social justice,” but suppresses all competing influences.

Walsh’s book is rich with allusions from literature and opera.  The title is based on the Schubert opera “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace,” a metaphor for the nihilism of critical theory which is all built on illusion — and crumbles into nothing when it is confronted head on.

Some Study Questions for “Cults in our Midst”

If you decide to read Margaret Thaler Singer’s book, “Cults in our Midst,” I offer a few study questions below.  I also hope you have the beginnings of a book club to get the conversation going on these issues.

We are living through a time of immense social change and instability.  It is during such times throughout history — especially with fast technological changes — that cult activity takes root and thrives.  But even more alarming is that there is virtually no discussion in public discourse about how cult-like thinking penetrates and infects a society.  This level of unawareness is a red flag.

If you can’t read the whole book, I recommend focusing just on the following pages/chapters:  Singer’s INTRODUCTION (to the first edition); Chapter 1 – DEFINING CULTS (pp. 3-28);Chapter 2  A BRIEF HISTORY OF CULTS – Just 2 pages: 29-30)  THE PROCESS OF BRAINWASHING —  (pp. 52-82); Chapter 4 – WHAT’S WRONG WITH CULTS?  (pp. 83-102); Chapter 5 – RECRUITING NEW MEMBERS (pp. 104-124); Chapter 9 – THE THREAT OF INTIMIDATION (excerpt pp. 224-43); Chapter 11 — WHY IT’S HARD TO LEAVE – (excerpt pp. 270-79)

Pay special attention to Chapter 3 in which Singer identifies the six basic features of cults, which are as follows:  1. Keep the person unaware that there is an agenda to control or change the person; 2. Control time and physical environment (contacts, information); 3. Create a sense of powerlessness, fear, and DEPENDENCY; 4. Suppress old behavior and attitudes; 5. Instill new behavior and attitudes; 6. Put forth a closed system of logic.

Singer also includes discussion of the eight themes of cults, as ennumerated by cult expert Robert Jay Lifton:  1. Milieu control; 2. Loading the language; 3. Demand for purity; 4. Confession; 5. Mystical manipulation; 6. Doctrine over person; 7. “Sacred science;” and 8. Dispensing of existence.

Singer also discusses the Edgar Schein’s theory of three stages that a person in a cult goes through as their attitudes are being reshaped to suit the cult’s leadership:  the freezing of thought processes; the transformation of thoughts; and then the unfreezing of thought processes.

Here are some study questions to consider while reading:

1.     Review the charts in Chapter 3, and especially the list of Singer’s six conditions that allow brainwashing to happen.  Then answer: What makes a person susceptible to that kind of psychological manipulation?  

 2.     What groups (or institutions or policies or social trends) can you name in Western life today that apply cultic methods and techniques to unduly influence behavior and suppress freedom?

3.     According to Singer, the effects of brainwashing are very often reversible. What can ordinary citizens do to help Americans – and especially students – keep their minds free of undue influence?

4. Why do you think the methods and techniques of cult activity never come up for discussion in America today?

 

The SPLC Scam

What would the Southern Poverty Law Center do if there was no poverty? If there was no hate? Or ignorance?  I suppose its leaders would invent all those things.  Because if you examine the SPLC’s operations, it certainly cultivates ignorance, hate, and poverty — perhaps to keep itself rolling in dough.  For more on this, take a look at my recent Federalist article:  “12 Ways the Southern Poverty Law Center is Scam to Profit from Hate-Mongering.”

The tragic irony is that the United States was on the road to real racial healing before self-professed watchdog groups like the SPLC got addicted to the practice of tearing the scabs off of the nation’s wounds and pouring salt into them.  Division is the name of their game:  isolating people, de-humanizing them, labeling them as “haters” or “bigots” and inciting mob anger at anyone who dares to express a different perspective on life than the one the self-appointed authorities at the SPLC have assigned to us all.  Sadly, the SPLC uses pathetic and scattered cases of “white supremacists” as cover to lump in and label anyone who doesn’t buy into their agenda.  And since 95 percent of all media outlets do their bidding, that sort of stereotyping has an impact on creating a society of skittish people loath to treat others as human until they check in with Big Brother.  It’s an ancient dynamic that totalitarian regimes have always depended upon to keep themselves in power.

I think Alexis deTocqueville said in best in his work “Democracy in America” when he noted that the essence of tyranny is to divide people, to make sure they do not love one another. This is the purpose of political correctness, especially as applied by groups like the SPLC.

The truth is that people everywhere are starving for real friendship and freedom. They certainly don’t crave regimes of PC silencing that prevent them from getting to know one another.  There is a loneliness epidemic.  But friendship can’t happen without real conversation and civil society — both of which are shut down by SPLC-styled rhetoric. But friendship — which can only happen through free conversation — doesn’t serve the bottom line of organizations devoted to sowing seeds of discord. It’s all so sad and unnecessary. People of goodwill must confront and end this inhumane practice, which, ironically, is always pushed “in the name of humanity.”

Next Up for Stella’s Book Club: “Cults in our Midst”

In February I posted a fascinating chart from Margaret Thaler Singer’s book “Cults in our Midst.”  You can find it in my blog post entitled:  “Do you know the difference between real education versus coercive thought reform?”  The chart which Singer drew up is called “The Continuum of Influence and Persuasion.”  On one side of the continuum is true education that involves open and civil discourse with no intent to deceive.  On the other side is coercive thought reform, or brainwashing, which uses deceptive tactics to blunt independent thought and control the person.  In between are other, varying forms of influence: advertising, propaganda, indoctrination.  It’s very helpful to understand what’s going on in each of these forms of persuasion.

I believe that the study of cult methods is useful for resisting political correctness. And especially today.  First of all, few people are actually focusing today on the methods and processes of thought reform.  Certainly not the media or academia.  And as we are battered with floods of information from all quarters — the internet, news outlets, social media, TV, our education institutions, and so on — one thing should be clear:  there is a battle to push us into conformity of thought to the benefit of power elites and their power-consolidating agendas.  There’s nothing new there.  This has been the story in advertising and propaganda from time immemorial.  But what is most disconcerting is that few are investigating the actual guts of the propaganda machinery itself.  At some point we have to tune out the constant barrage of blather and start sniffing out the machinery that its coming from!

The study of cults offers a key to understanding how propagandists behave:  their methods, their features, their techniques for controlling how people think. It’s especially helpful in strengthening us to resist the temptation to self-censor in our culture of political correctness. And that’s critical because giving in to it creates a spiral of silence that makes it ever harder to express an independent thought.  Propagandists know this!  Anyone pushing a power-centralizing agenda tends to be hellbent on shutting off all other forms of influence in people’s lives. Driving you into this sort of isolation is exactly what political correctness is designed to do.  Did it ever occur to you that this is precisely how cult leaders operate as well?

So, please take a look at Singer’s book as soon as possible.  Find another person to do the same so you can talk about it.  Hopefully you can grow a book club like mine, dedicated to propaganda awareness and the fight for freedom of expression.  I hope soon to post some some study questions that go with the book.