“The Wave” and the Cult Mindset

Human beings — especially Americans these days — don’t seem to understand how susceptible we are to group think.   A cult mindset can be very contagious if it is left unchecked.  Cults grow where people feel a sense of isolation, when they don’t ask hard questions, and when they are weak on discernment.  Below is a short movie called “The Wave.”  It’s based on actual events at a high school during the 1960’s.  It started with a teacher-supervised class experiment in group think, but it took on an ominous life of its own.

If you want to delve into the background, click here to look over the website www.thewavehome.com which was put together by the original participants. Here is an excerpt from the website:

In spring 1967, in Palo Alto, California, history teacher Ron Jones conducted an experiment with his class of 15-year-olds to sample the experience of the attraction and rise of the Nazis in Germany before World War II.  In a matter of days the experiment began to get out of control, as those attracted to the movement became aggressive zealots and the rigid rules invited confusion and chaos.  This story has attracted considerable attention over the years through films, books, plays and musicals, and verges on urban legend.  It serves as a teaching tool, to facilitate discussion of those uncomfortable topics of history, human nature, psychology, group behavior, intolerance and hate.

As an aside, I don’t want anyone to get too put off when they discover that Norman Lear produced this 1981 TV movie.  That’s fascinating, of course, because Lear is about as far left/statist as one can get in Hollywood.  And yet “The Wave” is an important story with urgent lessons for all of us. There seems to be a pattern among those who claimed to fight for independent thought in earlier eras, but who push political correctness so hard today. One can only wonder if the hijacking of stories and images warning against totalitarianism serve only to promote their power agendas of today.

The Tank Man: A Study in Courage

Here’s something to think about on the Fourth of July.  It’s been 25 years since the demonstrations for democracy in Tiananmen Square were brutally suppressed by the communist government of China.  Take a look at the astonishing video below of one of those protesters, widely known as the “Tank Man.”

 If you’ve never seen the footage before, it will captivate you.  If you’re like most and have seen it before, the Fourth of July is a good time to watch it again. The identity and fate of the Tank Man is not known.  But he showed us something magnificent: that real courage  scares the living daylights out of tyrants.  Especially if there are witnesses, but even if there aren’t.  

A tiny power elite — in this case, the dozen of so members of inner inner circle of the Chinese government — just can’t deal with it when a member of the masses defies them by speaking or acting without their permission.   And I’m not even talking about what the Tank Man did, but what he confronted:  a column of tanks sent in to shut people up.  That’s why all tyrants fight self-expression so much.  First they have to separate us and get control over our relationships, usually through emotional blackmail like political correctness.  The point is to socially isolate any dissenter. It causes people to silence what they believe so that few seem to express those beliefs anymore.  Then, once you feel sufficiently alone, the elites make sure there’s no escape from their program.  It’s just like being stuck in a cult.

In fact, of all the first amendment freedoms, it seems totalitarians feel most threatened by freedom of association.   

In the first days of the Tiananmen Square protests, I remember watching some of the students interviewed by Western media and being absolutely astonished as they quoted in English from the Declaration of Independence. My husband and I looked at each other, jaws dropped, after we heard one of the young men say to reporters:  

“We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”    

It made me cry. What will it take for so many young Americans today to understand the miracle of those words ever being put into law?  Would they understand it only if they had to live with what happened to the Chinese demonstrators:  the massacre, the tanks rolling into them?  (Many were crushed by the tanks.  Literally. This was described to me by one eyewitness I spoke to years later at a wreath laying at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

On a positive note, ponder the ripple effects that just one person can cause.  Not only does the Tank Man live on in the memory of millions, but it seems the 1989 protests in  Tiananmen Square triggered many reforms in China.

I keep Vaclav Havel’s quote in the upper corner of this blog to remind readers of what any one person can do:

“his action went beyond itself because it illuminated its surroundings, and because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination.”

 

“The Singing Revolution:” Freedom Through Song, Part V

The trailer below will give you hope. It’s all about how the Truth will out:  through the ripple effect of people speaking freely to one another.  When people develop trust in one another, when they have common bonds and can express that in real friendships, no oppressor can hold them back.

The documentary, The Singing Revolution tells an amazing story of the people of Estonia, a small Baltic nation that suffered under both Hitler and Stalin  and survived the yoke of communism.  The film tells how the Estonian people came together in a show of mass defiance against their Soviet overlords before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  They spontaneously met at an outdoor concert hall to sing forbidden hymns and national songs.  Over 300,000 showed up and there was no shutting them up.  Here’s a telling line:  “Once you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.  The ghost gets out of the bottle.”

The Singing Revolution testifies that real freedom is beyond words. It’s music.  It’s felt as a song in our hearts.  Once out, it’s irrepressible.  But it can only happen in civil society that allows for ideas to be cross pollinated, a society in which there is common respect for the rights of others to live and let live.  Fake freedom is the “unfreedom” that comes from being sold a bill of goods that basically says:  “You don’t need to worry about food, housing, etc., just sign your soul over to the authorities.  They’ll tell you what you may say and may think.”

It’s easier to preserve and press on for freedom when you are emboldened by knowing who your friends are.  The enemies of freedom know this.  That’s why they employ political correctness as a silencing technique: to make it more difficult for us to get to know people or to reach out to them.  It separates people from one another so that they can’t easily unite in freedom, but instead build walls that isolate them.  This allows our relationships and knowledge to be suppressed and controlled.   We should take note of the Estonian people’s response to this:  to reach out anyway and share the song in our hearts.

For more on “The Singing Revolution,” go to their site by clicking here.  Also, please click here to visit The Global Museum on Communism.

 

 

 

How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State

Have you noticed a recent push to keep single people single?  It’s out there.  Click here for my latest essay at The Federalist:  “How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State.”  It  examines advice given across the board to all single working class mothers:  “Don’t get married.”  Specifically, a recent article at Slate, co-authored by two feminist legal scholars, states that single mothers should “Just say no” to marriage.

So what’s with that?  Of course marriage is a choice and it’s impossible to discern whether or not the choice is a good one without knowing all of the  details and circumstances in any given case.  But the Slate piece comes down almost as a manifesto claiming that these moms ( never mind their children) are better off going it alone.

But if we step back, we can see a bigger picture emerging.  It’s as though individuals in our society are being nudged today towards isolation, away from human companionship that is autonomous and real — and pushed into a sterile form of “community” in which the state calls all of the shots in our lives.  Perhaps that’s why it seems those pushing big government agendas seem unfriendly — and even hostile — towards strong personal relationships.

Here’s an excerpt from the Federalist piece:

Strong relationships are about teamwork:  real communication, real cooperation, real trust, and real fellowship.  How might individuals seek to cultivate these things?  They can, you know, if government gets out of the way.  And teamwork is about self-sacrifice, which is a dirty word these days.  Yes, strong relationships may be difficult to produce.  But that’s what makes them strong.  The blacksmith analogy is apt:  the tempering of the iron in the fire – as with a relationship through trials — will give it shape and strength.

But the really dirty little secret statists would rather you not know is this:  strong relationships of mutual self-sacrifice yield the greatest prosperity of every kind – spiritual, emotional, and material – for everyone.

The hunger for strong family relationships will persist.  Social engineers can only offer weak “communitarian” relationships as cheap imitations for the real thing, which, in the end, is real, human love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Doctor-Patient Relationship IS the Practice of Medicine”

I was so pleased when a friend sent my way  this Wall Street Journal op-ed written by a physician who spells it out:   Obamacare is essentially all about meddling in the doctor-patient relationship.

Here are some excerpts from the fantastic essay by Daniel F. Craviotto, Jr., an orthopedic surgeon from Santa Barbara, California:

“In my 23 years as a practicing physician, I’ve learned that the only thing that matters is the doctor-patient relationship. How we interact and treat our patients is the practice of medicine. . . . So when do we say damn the mandates and requirements from bureaucrats who are not in the healing profession? When do we stand up and say we are not going to take it any more?

I don’t know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine.

We could change the paradigm. . . . “

Thank you and Bravo Dr. Craviotto!

The doctor-patient relationship is just one of many personal relationships under attack today by power elites.  All big government programs aim to meddle in personal relationships.  They have the teacher-student relationship in their crosshairs, the parent-child relationship, the merchant-customer relationship, the neighbor-to-neighbor relationship.  Every personal relationship you experience.  That’s what dictators from time immemorial have sought to control.  That’s why they silence you through the dictates of “political correctness” which is just another word for coercive persuasion.

By meddling in relationships the cliques that run the bureaucracies usurp our personal power and freedom in order to bloat themselves.  In the meantime, they demand we support their habit of getting drunk on power.

All of us need to change the paradigm.  We need to “stand up and say we are not going to take it anymore,” as Dr. Craviotto urges his fellow physicians.  This means not allowing political thugs and bureaucrats to meddle and interfere with our personal relationships — our relationships with our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our classmates, our doctors, or anyone else in our personal lives.

Freedom of association is  under attack as never before.  Preserving it is probably the first — and last — line of defense for all of our other freedoms.

Everyone Should Take a “Propaganda 101” Class to Understand How they are Manipulated

Lots of folks have been scratching their heads wondering how genderless marriage — which seemed just a fantasy on the fringes just  a decade or so ago — so quickly became a reality of American public policy today.  There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. A few of them include activist judges, the monied LGBT lobby, and  President Obama’s disingenuous “evolution” on the subject after being elected.

But the bigger picture shows something very different, very calculated, and decades in the making.  It’s possibly been the biggest propaganda campaign in human history.

Do you believe the biggest manipulators who push same sex marriage really and truly care about the canard they label “marriage equality?”  I don’t.  In fact, it seems more likely the power elites among them have simply been engaged in a social experiment, testing the limits of propaganda and how easily people can be controlled and manipulated, even to the point of accepting an implausible idea. Of course, “marriage equality” is a great test case for them, because it could pave the way to ending family autonomy, giving them greater control over the relationships of others.

Are you familiar with the term “availability cascade?”  It’s related to Richard Dawkins theory (The Selfish Gene, 1976) about “memes:” that any idea injected into public discourse can potentially spread like a virus and change the culture in much the same way that genes replicate and evolve.  Of course, to make it work you need an unwitting citizenry.

I think the only way around this is a proliferation of education and information on the subtle techniques of coercive persuasion. If our society produced lots of non-partisan webinars and classes taught by citizen-activists on “Propaganda 101” people could be exposed to the  uses and abuses of social psychology so that they’re not such easy targets.  More on that in a later post.

In 1999 the Stanford Law Review published “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation,” an article co-authored by Cass Sunstein and Timur Kuran.  Sunstein served as Obama’s regulatory czar during 2009-2012.  Kuran is an economist and author of Private Truths, Public Lies:  The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (1995) a fascinating look at how our individual willingness — or reticence — to express our real beliefs is what drives all of public opinion.

In fact, our willingness to say what we believe is what drives all public opinion.  All of it.  Yes, what you say or don’t say to your co-worker, classmate, or neighbor makes a difference in how they perceive the world.  At the epicenter of the ripple effect is our daily conversations in our daily lives.

The coddling of an idea like “marriage equality” through repetition — and the suppression of dissent — projects the illusion that “everybody’s believing it.” People shift their “beliefs” to conform to what they perceive everyone else believes.  Soon enough you’ve got a chain reaction.  It’s a bandwagon effect that’s helped along by political correctness  which, through the threat of smearing and isolating anyone who speaks “out of line,”enforces that illusion by creating a spiral of silence. In essence, this teases out a reverse bandwagon effect in dissenters.

 

Political Correctness and the Cult Mindset

My essay in the Federalist today is about Americans’ woeful ignorance of the techniques of brainwashing.  Click here to read:  “Cults in Our Midst:  Patty Hearst and the Brainwashing of America.”  My take is that it’s been exactly 40 years since Patty Hearst stunned the nation by robbing a bank with her radical comrades from “The Symbionese Liberation Army,” two months after they kidnapped and brainwashed her.

They started the way any bully or cult leader pushes an agenda:  by isolating the individual and separating the person from all relationships the aggressor can’t control.   Political correctness depends on this sort of thing.  It’s a program of behavior modification through language control.  It seeks to impose language that vilifies people who don’t conform so that they are separated and isolated from others. (You know the drill:  “bigot,” etc.)

Interestingly, the term “brainwashing” has become politically incorrect.  We should ask ourselves: Why?  The term simply comes from the Chinese/Maoist expression “hse nao” which means to “wash the brain” so that other thoughts can be programmed into it. Is the word politically incorrect because it’s a false concept?  No.  It’s politically incorrect because it is  true.  It’s very real.

If Americans understood the processes and techniques of coercive persuasion, they’d become more immune to them.  Political correctness would lose its hold, just as a magician’s tricks lose their appeal when you see them exposed.

Here are some brief excerpts from my essay, which I hope you’ll read:

In a sense, political correctness, though more subtle, is analogous to the dark closet in which Patty Hearst was isolated, blindfolded, and incessantly propagandized. It serves to silence us and create the conditions in which the arbiters of correctness can tear down the old world view and rebuild it in their image. We’re told being one of them is to be morally superior, on the right side of history. Those who oppose it are labeled, repeatedly and loudly: bigot, racist, homophobe.

In Cults in our Midst, Singer warned that cult techniques “should be studied and revealed so that citizens can be taught countermeasures in order to avoid being exploited by such groups.” She also cautioned: “The psychotechnology of thought reform is not going to go away… Education, information and vigilance are constantly needed if we are to keep us, and our minds, free.”

 

 

Bait and Switch: How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy

“Relationships, Power, and Freedom” is the central theme of this blog.  I really hope you’ll read my article published today in The Federalist because in it I attempt to get right into the intersection of each of these three qualities in our lives.  Click here for the link to my article, “Bait and Switch:  How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy.”

Preserving civil marriage is key, because without it the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. Abolishing it would have huge implications for the survival of freedom of association and all of our personal relationships.

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The Softer Side of Show Trials, brought to you by your Friends at Mozilla

When Hollywood folks think of show trials, they automatically relive the McCarthy hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee back in the 1950s.  When a student of Russian history hears the term, she’s apt to think about Stalin’s Show Trials of the 1930’s.  But let’s not go there, right?  Those were nasty affairs that usually ended with executions after perfunctory trials that declared the defendants “enemies of the people.”

There’s a more “civilized and softer” side to the idea of show trials, which was brought to us this week by Mozilla.  It means that when someone carries a belief in his heart that doesn’t meet the approval of the preachers of political correctness, he’s merely forced to resign from his job.  In this case, the person supported the idea — shocking! — that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  It doesn’t matter that he kept quiet about his beliefs, the thought reformers made a point of “outing” him for his thought crimes. That’s what happened to Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla.  We know he contributed towards Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that defined marriage traditionally.  But we don’t technically know how Eich voted on it because we all still technically have the right to a secret ballot.  Or are you beginning to wonder?

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Who am I to you? The State Will Decide

“If We Can Pick our Gender, Can we Pick our Age? Our Race?”  That’s the headline of an article I published in The Federalist today.  Logic requires a “yes” answer for both age and race.  Today the state of Maryland joined 17 others to pass one of those laws that purports to protect “gender identity.”  It’s a dangerous and de-humanizing path.   You can read my essay here:

http://thefederalist.com/2014/03/27/if-we-can-pick-our-gender-can-we-pick-our-age-our-race/

Transgender laws are based entirely on self-perceptions.  They don’t permit a common understanding of human reality. Rather, they end up foisting upon everyone a new definition of what it is to be human.  But the rule of law can’t survive these sorts of ambiguities.   The state will enforce acceptance of certain perceptions and punish those who do not recognizing those perceptions.  This will have a profound effect on how the state views — and ultimately dictates — relationships.

We need to resist such laws, especially legislation in Congress like ENDA — which falsely claims to be an “Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”  Because, in the end, it’s all about the state dictating our relationships.