My Book Club about how Propaganda Works is Getting Underway. How about yours?

Cover of The Manipulated Mind, by Denise Winn (1983)

This week I’m beginning a book club which is  entirely focused on the theme of propaganda and the human susceptibility to mind hacking.  Why? Because there has been an abysmal lack of self-awareness on this topic among the general public.  And that’s a shame because the less aware we are of the trickery involved in social pressure and psychological manipulation, the less immune we are to those things. But when you learn how and why people blindly conform to destructive behaviors, it’s like learning the magician’s tricks.  You can get beyond the illusions of political correctness, propaganda, and advertising.  That’s not to say you won’t still be susceptible, but building public awareness can really help cut through and challenge the political correctness we are barraged with in modern life.

Our club is going to read a lot of titles, mostly non-fiction, but I hope also to include some fiction. (The dystopian novel “We” by Yevgeniy Zamyatin is high on my list.  That’s the book that influenced George Orwell to write 1984.)  I offered a short list of titles in my Federalist article “Ten Resources for Hack Proofing Your Mind.”

But I’ve decided to start the club off reading Denise Winn’s book “The Manipulated Mind” because  that book serves as an overall primer on many different aspects of psychological conditioning, indoctrination, and brainwashing.  At just over 200 pages, it’s relatively short and introduces the reader to many of the theories and scholars who have studied conditioning and social psychology, including Ivan Pavlov, Stanley Milgram, Solomon Asch, and numerous others.  Here are a few  of the questions I offer for pondering if you read this book:

  1. What parallels can you detect between political correctness and the 10 brainwashing processes discussed in Chapter Two? (For example, as used on college campuses, or in the media, or in Human Resources departments.)

2.  Why is the threat of social rejection so central to getting people to conform to an agenda? And what makes some people more vulnerable than others?

3. What do the Milgram experiments (“Obedience to Authority”) tell you about how ordinary people can commit unthinkable acts?

  1. Given the information you gleaned from this book, what qualities would you conclude are necessary to keep a society free?

I’d love to hear about more and more folks starting book clubs like this to jump start these kinds of discussions.  If you know people who are interested, why not get together and start reading with them? Spread the word!

We Should Contemplate the Future of Secret Ballot

The unwillingness of so many to accept the results of elections — both in the United Kingdom over Brexit and in the US over the presidential election — has me thinking more and more about the future of the secret ballot.  Never have I noticed so many people insisting others divulge their vote so that they can determine whether or not the person is worthy of human dignity.  Take for example, the woman in the video below — sitting next to a guy on a plane bound from Baltimore-Washington Airport to Seattle.  After she flat out asked him if he had come to Washington to celebrate or protest Trump, he said he had come to “celebrate democracy.”  This put her into a rage in which she laid into him with such hostility that she ended up escorted off the plane:

Another example was the note sent by Bill Penzey of Penzey’s Spices (a store I no longer patronize) to inform his clientele that a great act of racism had just been committed by American voters, and that those who voted for Trump perhaps could redeem themselves by donating to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the American Civil Liberties Union.  Rod Dreher wrote it all up on his blog here.  I’m sure you can come up with many more examples of the prodding and suspicions of angry social justice warriors who seem to be looking for racists/xenophobes/transphobes/etc.etc. under every bush.

After Brexit, I wrote a piece for The Federalist “Why you Should Expect Challenges to Secret Ballot.” I sensed that we were entering a new chapter of mind hacking.  The “shy Brexit” voter played coy with pollsters.  And, clearly, so did shy Trump voters.  Polling isn’t what it used to be because data mining and the punishments meted out for expressing politically incorrect views in our culture are causing more people to refuse to answer, or to refuse to answer truthfully.  We can see the end point of this sort of thing in totalitarian societies where the likes of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un gets an approval rating of virtually 100 percent. Fear is the motivator.  But having the protection of privacy as you vote your conscience is really beginning to frustrate the out-in-the-open politically correct crowd to no end.

In my essay, I observed the ways in which power elites might hope to get around what they see as the risks of secret ballot.  We should think hard about all of this because any undermining of a citizen’s secret ballot would be a violation of the sacred right of freedom of conscience.  It will likely start by making private voting optional, so that PC activists can take note of who makes use of a voting booth.

Here’s one excerpt, based on my personal observations of the set up of virtually optional polling booths:

I’ve observed a trend I find a bit unsettling: a climate that conveys secret ballot as optional. There are no voting booths. Instead, voters take their ballots to cafeteria-length tables that are strewn here and there with little tri-fold cardboard screens behind which they may mark their ballots if they so choose.

As an election officer, I’ve watched as people sit down and openly mark their ballots for all to see. In a couple of cases, they compared notes with a friend or spouse. When I alerted the head election judge to it, she merely shrugged. The laxity of the layout simply promoted that behavior. If the trend continues, I can imagine a point at which using a screen is socially viewed as having something to hide, and may even indicate how you voted. That’s just the way social dynamics work, especially in today’s atmosphere of political correctness.

 

 

An Ides of March Reminder about the Coercive Nature of Socialism

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) Soviet dissident and author of The Gulag Archipelago.

As polls report higher numbers of millennials claiming to be socialist (they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about) and spiking membership for Democratic Socialists of America, let’s try to absorb these words of the late Russian human rights advocate and gulag survivor Alexander Solshenitsyn:

 “In different places over the years I have had to prove that socialism, which to many Western thinkers is a sort of kingdom of justice, was in fact full of coercion, of bureaucratic greed and corruption and avarice, and consistent within itself that socialism cannot be implemented without the aid of coercion.”

Refugees from socialism – Russians, Cubans, Vietnamese – all tell the same story.  Socialism is not what romantics in the West think it is.  The system is coercive, by its very nature.  Give it enough time and enough crises, and socialist states always morph into even more coercive communist states.

College campuses are infested today with a political correctness – and a tragic ignorance of history – that has students singing the praises of socialism, a system that promises free stuff and delivers scarcity.

A year ago — on the Ides of March — I published an essay in the Federalist that explored this phenomenon:  “Socialism’s Bloody History Shows Millennials Should Think Twice Before Supporting It.”  I zeroed in on the case of communist hero Nikolai Bukharin, who was executed in 1937, after the show trials of Soviet strongman Josef Stalin.  It’s a natural progression when a “vanguard” of the people is blindly entrusted with too much power. That’s socialism in a nutshell:  too much power in the hands of too few people.  If you mention this to any pro-Socialist millennial, they are sure to pull out the talking point that theirs is a different brand of socialism, akin to the sort we see in Scandinavian countries.  To them it means social harmony through things like bike-share programs, recycling, free education, and easy housing. I understand, I understand.  The problem is that such freebies are the bait of socialism which cannot help but invite the switch to coercive Borg government.  Which, in the end, means punishment of any dissent and the death of free expression. Forget “resistance” of any sort without Hell to pay.

Prisoners at work in a Soviet gulag camp in the 1930’s.

Here’s an excerpt from my piece, which I hope you’ll read in full:

Socialism and communism both involve ceding to the state control over the distribution of goods and services for the masses. This involves giving up individual rights, and giving the state a good measure of control over our personal lives. This road always leads to tyranny, no matter what you pave it with, and no matter what you name it.

Socialism requires a power clique—or, as Lenin put it, an elite “vanguard”—in order to pretend to function. This means going heavy on executive power and rubber-stamp light on the legislative. Socialism demands that we place blind trust in whoever takes the reins of power to distribute society’s goods and services. This tiny elite, by the way, typically enjoys enormous privileges and a much higher standard of living than the hoi polloi, simply by being a part of the elite “nomenklatura.”

Sure, this oligarchy claims to distribute in the name of “equality.” That’s typically the cover story. The historical fact is that the vanguard, the power clique, eventually takes control of everything that’s produced—medicine, education, housing, food, transportation, etc. Its members then bureaucratically ration out—as they see fit—the means of human survival. In the end, you’ve basically got an elite corps of mobsters with the power to decide which folks are more equal than others.

March 8 as a Day of PC Reminds me of My Little Gig at the UN Conference on the Status of Women

The “International Year of the Woman” was 1975.

March 8 was introduced as the “Day of the Women” early in the 20th century when it was called International Working Women’s Day.  The first observance in the US was in 1908 and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. The communist government of the Soviet Union made it an official holiday soon after the Bolshevik revolution.  This seems logical as the mother-child bond at home was never something celebrated among communists.  Instead, a woman’s place was in the communist workforce, honored to do Drudgery for the State.

We’re hearing a lot more about the Day of the Woman this year than in previous years combined, at least in the United States.  For example, there are calls for women to take part in a general strike on March 8.  Schools around Washington, DC are engaging in political closures  for it this year.  The idea behind the strike is supposedly to help people see what it’s like to have “a day without women.”  I’m not sure how working mothers feel about the last minute political closures that will keep their kids home. Maybe they’ll stay home with the kids? That would seem ironic.  But, I suppose a day without K12 education these days should be welcomed as a day without brainwashing.

In any case, it all reminds me of a talk I gave around this time last year at the United National Conference on the Status of Women in New York.   I was honored to speak on a panel about “Political Correctness and Gender Ideology” along with Michael Walsh, author of The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, and Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM.  C-FAM wrote the event up here:  “UN Panel on Political Correctness Startles Young Social Justice Warriors.”

One of the great ironies today is that those who purport to support women are actively involved in the legal abolition of women.  Think about it.  Acceptance of gender ideology, specifically transgenderism, among feminists results in the erasure of women. Because if one’s biological sex is meaningless and interchangeable with something called “gender identity” then nobody is either male or female in the eyes of the law.  It means, for example, that I am only a woman because I think I’m a woman.  We should be challenging these folks to tell us exactly what a woman is. And why merely thinking about being male or female makes it so.

The central point in my presentation at the UN Conference was that censorship – and especially government sponsored censorship – is central to pushing through the agenda of gender ideology.  The gender identity anti-discrimination laws require us all to reject the physical reality of  our sex, and legally replace it with something called “gender identity.”  This means that being male or female can only exist in our minds. So once that notion is enshrined in law you end up with severe limits on what you express not only about your perception of reality, but about yourself.  Gender ideology does not tolerate physical sex distinctions.  It is a universal requirement based in the premise of every one of its laws passed so far – that our sex is merely “assigned at birth.” So this restricts what you may express about your own physical reality, your own personal identity, and your own relationships.

Gender ideology absolutely requires a regime of political correctness – or political conditioning – that manipulates the fears of social isolation in people in order to get them to self-censor.  Once self-censorship like this takes hold, a society can be induced to conform to any agenda at all. It takes on a life of its own.

I discussed the four main ways gender ideology serves as a vehicle for consolidating the power of the state.  I also wrote up my experience at the event in the Fall 2016 issue of The Human Life Review in an article entitled, “Transgenderism: A Creature of Political Correctness.”

Do you Know the Difference Between Real Education versus Coercive Thought Reform?

Margaret Thaler Singer (1921-2003)

Every college student should get acquainted with the chart below. In fact, all thoughtful citizens watching the spectacle of the zombification of college students – as they protest against what they don’t understand and shout trendy slogans to promote what they don’t understand – should be familiar with the chart.

Margaret Thaler Singer, the 20th century’s preeminent expert on cults, put together this excellent table called the “Continuum of Influence and Persuasion.” It shows how various forms of persuasion stack up against one another.  She lists five forms of influence, starting with the most open, true education, and ending with the most tyrannical, “thought reform” (also known as brainwashing or coercive persuasion.  You can also find this chart in Singer’s excellent book “Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace.”)  Take a look:

As you can see, Singer identifies five major methods by which people can be influenced.  The most open and honest of them all is true education.  Education exposes us to many bodies of knowledge and allows for civil discourse in which students feel free to ask questions openly.  They are therefore able to develop their ability to think clearly and independently.  In an environment of real education, students are respected as individuals with minds of their own.  The aim is to transfer knowledge about our common reality.  There is no deception in true education.

Thought reform or brainwashing, on the other hand, is the most deceptive and authoritarian form of persuasion. The subject is unaware of being manipulated to promote a hidden agenda.  The main purpose of thought reform is to turn the subject into a deployable agent to recruit others to agitate for that agenda.  As you watch today’s student protests, there can be little doubt that they are acting as agents for elites pushing various agendas. When interviewers ask them basic questions about the meaning of their protests, they tend to hem and haw, exposing their ignorance of the subject at hand. Their collectivist mindset tells you that they have had little in the way of meaningful education.

There are various other methods of persuasion that differ in their structure, level of deception, and other factors.  Singer identifies them on this continuum as advertising, propaganda, and indoctrination.  But the main takeaway from this chart should be a clearer understanding of the difference between education and thought reform.

Congress will soon take up reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.  Let’s hope that Congress overhauls it.  If education can not get back on the road to its true meaning, its institutions will only continue to be centers of coercive persuasion, not learning.

Two Quotes on Ignorance and Tyranny

Let’s spark imaginations, not stupid Molotov cocktails.

Maximillien Robespierre was a major figure of the French Revolution, probably best known for his role in the reign of terror.  I only bring him up because of this fascinating quote:

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

In that same vein, Thomas Jefferson noted:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

But what is education?  What is ignorance? What do those words mean?   Today, only a clear and free mind — not one that has been pre-programmed — can begin to approach the true answers to those questions.  And that’s because our language has been so throughly corrupted by radical education reforms that have replaced content knowledge with politically correct scripts in our schools.  In his novel, 1984, George Orwell showed how the corruption of language leads to a dystopia whose people will accept as true such slogans as “Ignorance is Strength” and “Freedom is Slavery.”

So we need to demand the teaching of real knowledge.  Our schools should encourage natural curiosity instead of enforcing politically correct scripts that squash that curiosity.  They should allow for real tolerance instead using a PC label of tolerance that’s only meant to empower the power mongers, and to smear anybody with whom they disagree.  If we don’t do these things, we have essentially given in to the building of a cult mindset.

Instead, let’s encourage the building of axemaker’s minds that will promote innovation, self-reliance, true community building, and real knowledge.  And let’s fight the mind arson that’s been committed for too long by radical education “reformers.” By doing all of these things, we can begin to spark the productive fire of imagination, not the ignorance that causes people to mindlessly throw Molotov cocktails.  In this way, we can promote domestic tranquility, real friendship, and the possibility of real love among us.

 

Please Support Professor Jordan B. Peterson, a Shining Light for Free Speech

If you’re looking for a modern day hero (and who isn’t these days?) one you should check out is Jordan B. Peterson.  He is a tenured professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and also has a clinical practice.  He is a brilliant lecturer, with several insightful TEDx talks posted on youtube.   I wrote about Professor Peterson last week at The Federalist, and I hope you’ll check out my piece here: “Professor Ignites Protest by Refusing to Use Transgender Pronouns.”

The thought police is after Professor Peterson because he is waging a valiant war against political correctness in Canada. The University of Toronto is challenging him to adhere to speech codes, but he is not backing down.  Bravo!  Check out the video below to see how aggressively anti-speech activists disrupted his attempt to talk about the importance of free expression in a free society.  They fed noise into the sound system to overtake his microphone.  They tried shouting him down.  They pushed and shoved.

Since then, the University of Toronto Adminstration has written to Professor Peterson, essentially demanding he self-censor.  But, thank God, he will not, you can watch his reply to that letter here.    (Professor Peterson has a fantastic Youtube page, which you can access here.  His Twitter feed is here.)

Now, the fact that Professor Peterson won’t use pronouns that play into the gender identity industry is secondary to all of this. Gender politics actually have little to do with gender or sex. Gender identity “non-discrimination” is the cover story, of course.  But the primary effect — and, I believe, the purpose of gender ideology — is the disruption of language.  It’s the disruption of our ability to communicate with one another on a human level.  This is always the first step in thought reform, since words are basically symbols for thought. And if you think about it, pronouns serve an essential function in the structure of the English language.  This structure transcends how we perceive of ourselves as individuals.  The structure of language is paramount to communication.  So to have unelected judges and bureaucrats dictate the structure of language — at their own whim as well as the whim of anybody and everybody else — is really a recipe for chaos and cult-like thought reform.  Such schemes force citizens to self-censor before they open their mouths about even the most mundane things.

Most unsettling is how so-called “social justice warriors” swarmed Professor Peterson simply because he wanted to have an open conversation about what it means to have a real conversation.  In other words, to talk about the importance of freedom of expression. Personally, I don’t believe they even understand what they are doing. They seem programmed in much the way cult recruits are programmed.

The saddest thing about the war against free speech is that it is essentially a war against friendship.   If we cannot speak openly to one another, we can’t have real relationships, can we?  As I’ve written before, that’s really what this power game of shutting down speech adds up to: state control of personal relationships.

 

A Follow-Up on Age Identity

Following up on my post the other day in which I wrote about my Federalist piece “The Trans-Aged Deserve Equal Rights, too” I see that the idea is starting to get a bit more circulation.  Last week, Newsday ran an essay by J Peder Zane, titled “If Gender is Fluid, What about Race and Age?”  This sounds a bit like my headline a couple of years ago asking , “If We Can Pick Our Gender, Can We Pick Our Age? Our Race?”  I do not understand why so few pundits and virtually no legislators are exposing the parallels here.  We’re talking about self-definition, self-identification becoming a protected category in law, without regard to physical reality.

The premise of transgender law — that sex is not real, but simply “assigned at birth” — is a false premise intended to apply universally to everybody.  As wild as that presumption is, I believe it’s actually a lot easier to accept the premise of being “age fluid.”  I know I’m age fluid — in my mind.  Isn’t everybody?  Some days I’m 75, other days 16, and still others 32.  The fact that age-identity non-discrimination would mess with our concept of time and the calendar should be irrelevant as long as our Administration is in the process of de-sexing all of society anyway. Right?

We ought to press this point while we still can.  Seriously.

 

 

What Happens when Human Beings are Neutered in Law?

The other day Public Discourse ran my piece entitled “A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanized Society.”  It was my analysis of President Obama’s directive to enforce a transgender policy on all K-12 bathroom and locker room facilities throughout the nation.  We need to understand that this project has nothing to do with “gender identity” or civil rights for anybody.  That’s the pretext, sure.  But the endgame is to abolish all sex distinctions in law.  That’s definitely the trajectory we’re on.  We can already see the telltale signs with government documents such as passport applications no longer allowing for the identification of mother and father, but only the more generic term “parent.”  In Canada, nine plaintiffs to the high court have sought to have sex distinctions removed from all birth certificates.

So obviously, this agenda applies universally.  We need to get that through our heads.  It’s not about transgender individuals.  They are merely the vehicles, the pawns that the administration is using to push this project through.  But in the end, it’s about every single one of us. It means we are all in the de-humanizing process of being legally “de-sexed.” And like sheep to the slaughter, so many of us just don’t seem to get it.

This “gender identity” nonsense is the cornerstone of probably the biggest social engineering project in human history.  That’s because it will allow the mass state to treat us only as isolated individuals, separated from our familial relationships.  When the State no longer has to recognize the existence of “male” or “female,” would it have to recognize the existence of a husband and wife or a mother and father? I don’t think so. Nor any other biological relationship.  And therefore, no relationships at all. This would eventually wipe out spousal immunity, which means the state can force spouses to testify against one another in court.  It puts the State in a stronger position to regulate personal relationships.  As you know, my theme on this blog is that personal relationships are the source of all real power.  So if you go along with this transgender project, I believe you are ceding that power to the state (for everybody) whether you know it or not.

Of course, no law can make reality go away.  But the force of law can manipulate you to behave as though reality has gone away.   Here’s an excerpt from my article, which I hope you’ll read:

What will happen when all of society is sexless in both language and law? If the law does not recognize your body as physically male or female—applying only the word “gender” to your internal, self-reported self-perception—does the law even recognize your body? Every single cell of you has either “male” or “female” written into its DNA, but the law refuses to recognize such categories. Such laws will only recognize an infinite, immeasurable “gender spectrum,” your place on which is determined only by your mind. So what exactly are you after the law has de-sexed you? In what sense is your body a legal entity?

And what happens to your familial relationships after the law has de-sexed you? Are they legally recognized? I don’t see how they could be. Certainly not by default, certainly not by the recognition that each child comes through the union of two opposite-sex parents.

In the end, there is nothing “brave” about this new world chaos. Just sheer insanity.

 

GOP Governors Enlist with Transgender War Against Science, Human Rights, and Consent

The symbol of the transgender movement combines astrological symbols for male (Mars) and female (Venus) with shades of blue and pink.  (Wikimedia Commons) Even if I didn’t know what it stood for, I’d take pause because it just feels so swastika-ish.

The other day I published an essay at The Federalist about the political significance of South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard’s caving to the mafia-style tactics of the LGBT lobby.  He was the latest in a string of GOP governors who are shrinking from laws that protect freedom of conscience as well as children’s privacy.  You can read it here:  “South Dakota’s Governor Tucks Tail, and Runs from LGBT Mafia.”

After the South Dakota legislature passed a bill to allow schools to maintain separate restroom and locker room facilities for males and females, Gov. Daugaard actually vetoed the bill. His veto was basically the result of the craven cronyism that has saturated the corporate world.  Big business has been infused with the LGBT agenda for decades now, and their leaders at Chambers of Commerce everywhere generally do the bidding of the LGBT lobby. In addition to corporate pressure, Daugaard personally met with transgender activists who no doubt played victim while making clear that anything less than a veto would get him publicly tarred and feathered.

That article followed on one I co-authored last week with with Joy Pullmann: “The Transgender War Against Science, Human Rights, and Consent.”   In it we investigated legislation – such as that passed by South Dakota’s legislature – that would allow access to school children’s restrooms and locker rooms to continue as it always has: according to anatomical sex. Another South Dakota bill was aptly titled “An Act to Ensure Government Nondiscrimination in Matters of Religious Beliefs and Moral Convictions.” In other words, if you have serious beliefs about sex, marriage, and children, you needn’t be forced to perform acts that violate your conscience or totally gag yourself for fear of being fired.  But that bill was tabled, which is a grim sign for the future of freedom of conscience.

We had high hopes that Governor Daugaard of South Dakota would stand strong on principle and sign that legislation into law — or at least take no action and allow it to become law.  But between the well-monied LGBT lobby and the business world it controls, it seems a pipe dream to expect any official to stand on principle these days. The irony is that probably 90 percent of the population is on board with the South Dakota legislation to support freedom of conscience and privacy.   But the heckler’s veto can be a strong one if good people remain silent in the face of it.

Here are a few excerpts from that article on how the LGBT heckler’s veto works:

Their prescription was to first de-sensitize the public. Then to “jam” or suppress every word of dissent. Finally, everyone must convert. This cultivates a conditioned population. Once we are conditioned in this manner, we end up accepting agendas and programs that we’d at least question if our society respected clear and free thinking. Instead, people either self-censor or conform to the party line out of hope for social acceptance.

Representative government requires the citizens, who are themselves the source of our government’s authority, to be able to openly discuss social questions among themselves and consequently direct their representatives.

If we are afraid or taught not to speak, representative government cannot happen. Tiny factions like the LGBT lobby wield power over an unwilling populace, which breeds resentment against government for not aligning with our priorities. Political correctness therefore eviscerates government by consent; under it, government operates based on brute force, which escalates public disapproval in a constant cycle until the social repression is broken—sometimes with (God forbid) violence.