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.”

 

 

Reclaim Your Voice, “Singing in the Rain:” Freedom Through Song Part III

Enforcement of political correctness really amounts to the theft of our voices.   PC creates a climate of fear that causes a lot of folks to remain silent, or to parrot back the PC line.  This in turn feeds the illusion of public opinion approval.  The dictators are under the spotlights, center stage, promoting their lies.  They are completely invested in their own power, so they use others — behind the curtain — to comply with their agendas.  In the process they either squash or co-opt the talents and thoughts of others.  Watch this classic clip from the 1952 movie Singing in the Rain to see something of a metaphor for  this sort of PC bullying.

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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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Nationalizing the Family

Mark Steyn makes some excellent points in this four-minute excerpt from his speech on “The Nationalization of the Family.”

http://www.steynonline.com/6203/the-nationalization-of-the-family

He notes that the takeover of the family was by far the most consequential act of state ownership of the late 20th century.   No question about it.  A faceless bureaucracy is being substituted for the only bonds that can create a healthy society:  family bonds.  Steyn also recognizes that we should grieve far more over the waste of lives than the waste of money by this bureaucratic state.  Amen to that.

But I’d like to elaborate a little here.   The organic family unit — father, mother, child — is really the template for all healthy human relationships.  We all know this in our gut.  Without the security of the human bonding in a family, something great is lost to any human being who’s been deprived of it.  Children end up more isolated and alienated, and they take all of that baggage into adulthood.   People become more detached from others if their sole source of “care giving” is a faceless bureaucracy. In a very real sense, the state can then mediate and dictate all human relationships.  For example, a poor single mother is less likely to get married if she knows she’ll lose state entitlements.  It’s disturbing as we come to realize that nationalizing the family goes hand in hand with abolishing it.

Also, let’s note how the cliques ruling the bureaucracies can’t recognize human potential, creativity, and innovation. Even if they could, they’re hostile to it all.  They squander lives and talent. And they’re in the business of squashing love.

Our only choice, in the end, is for each of us to compete with this machine.  It sounds daunting, but we must find a way to build a culture that reaches out in human love and understanding to anyone at risk of falling victim to the machine, and even those who already are.  I hope to explore in future posts how we might try to do this.

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.

 

Faith of the Whos: Freedom Through Song Part II

Since 1966, an annual TV tradition at Christmastime is Dr. Suess’s beloved animated story “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”  Watch what happens after the Grinch steals all of the Christmas stuff from the Whos down in Whoville:

I’m going to digress a little bit.  Bullies always try to control others.  One way to do this is by theft, or by cultivating scarcity.  This is virtually a matter of policy in totalitarian societies run by dictators.  Scarcity breeds discontent.  The idea is that if you take people’s stuff,  they’ll be dependent on you.  Scarcity also divides people so that they can be made to fight like dogs for any scraps.  But that’s not so possible if people are allowed to bond together freely in autonomous families and communities.  When they have the strength of personal relationships based in trust, people learn from one another and pool their resources.  They can build faith, goodwill, and real trust, the best defenses against tyranny.

Singing is a timeless way of spreading that goodwill. When it’s joyful and spontaneous, it stirs the soul and creates an irresistible urge for human fellowship.  That’s why some thugs — like the Taliban in Afghanistan — actually ban singing altogether.  They see it as a threat to their control over others.

The Whos were industrious, happy, prosperous, and friendly.  The Grinch couldn’t stand them and especially hated the sound of their singing on Christmas morning.  So he devised a classic plan:  just steal all of their stuff while pretending to be Santa Claus!  He took the Whos’ food, their presents to one another, their decorations, everything.  Then he looked forward to hearing their sobs as they woke up to the desolation.

But it turned out the Whos had a song in their hearts that couldn’t be suppressed.  As we deal with the tyrannies of everyday life, it’s good to remember this.   Our unique voices, when shared, are the basis of all that we can create, give, and love.  Sharing that song means reaching out and speaking truth in love so that others can discover their voices too.  Even the grinches.

 

Casablanca: Freedom through Song, Part I

After entry of the US into WWII, Warner Brothers released the classic Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  One scene in Casablanca offers a magnificent juxtaposition with the Bavarian pub scene from The Mortal Storm (1940) discussed in the last post.  The place is similar:  another restaurant– Rick’s Cafe Americain.  Also similar is a cast of Nazi officers, stirring up song (this one “Die Wacht am Rhein.”)   But the similarities end there, when one man, Victor Laszlo, tells the orchestra to play the “La Marseillaise.”  A thrilled and grateful clientele all rise spontaneously and triumphantly, drowning out the Nazis’ song.

Watch here:

If Laszlo hadn’t done what he did, what then?  Chances are everyone would just sit around sulking.  Until the Nazis could stir up enough folks to sing along with them to the point that theirs seemed the majority view.  Morale would continue to plummet.

It’s the little acts of resistance that add up to make the biggest difference.  These acts plant seeds in others, creating a cascade effect.  Sad to say, it’s the power mongers of the world who seem to know this better than the rest of us do.  That’s why they insist on our silence as a way station on their road to total control.  So let’s not hide our light.

“The Mortal Storm:” First, Imposed Silence, then Mandatory Enthusiasm

When power elites are pushing an agenda, the first step is to silence the opposition.  Political correctness is a tool that manipulates the universal human fear of being socially smeared in order to squash dissent.  PC begins by teasing out a spiral of silence that causes people to perceive majority approval for an agenda — even when it doesn’t exist — so that they remain silent instead of expressing opposition.

But that’s just the first step.  PC agendas cannot withstand scrutiny or open debate.  They get poor mileage and need lots of fuel.  So, at a certain point the silencing of dissent is just not enough to keep the illusion going.  That’s when power elites will ratchet it up and enlist your enthusiasm and approval.  And it’s mandatory.

A fascinating illustration of mandatory enthusiasm is in the clip below from the 1940 movie “The Mortal Storm,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.

Begin watching at the 2:00 mark:

When faced with this type of cascade of human madness, we have two choices, according to the story:

1. Safety through retreat, which is really a trap, because it only feeds the cascade and makes the problem worse;

2. Courage, which forces us to confront the evil, and allows us a fighting chance in defeating it.

Part of the fallout of PC is that it tears apart families and life long friendships.   At one point in the movie, the character Freya says to Martin: “You’re the only friend I have left and the only one I can talk to.  I’ve never felt so all alone in  my life.”

And that’s the aim of  any power-mongering force:  to separate dissenters from any source of support — from friends, from family.  To make sure they have no one they can talk to.  That message from the “The Mortal Storm” is timeless and urgent.

By the way, during the 1930’s Hollywood bowed to pressure from Nazi Germany and avoided any negative portrayals of the Nazis.  “The Mortal Storm” was the first time this pact had been breached before US involvement, and it resulted in a German boycott of MGM.   (If you’re planning to watch the whole movie, here’s a quickie review of its shortcomings: I wish it was more cohesive and had more natural dialogue in several of the scenes.)

Another interesting aside is that after WWII you’d be hard pressed to find an average German who claimed to be a willing member of the Nazi party.  It seems the old line about being “on the right side of history” can often serve as a manipulative and empty slogan.

On opinion cascades and marriage, read Doug Mainwaring today

If you wonder how the whole issue of genderless marriage took off so fast — from fringe issue to public policy in just a few years — read Doug Mainwaring’s excellent article in today’s American Thinker:  “Manufacturing Consent on Same Sex Marriage.”  You’ll find in it a fascinating discussion that goes beyond Marketing 101.  In fact, you’ll wish that that there was an insightful “Propaganda 101” course readily available to all.   What has been happening is as confusing to folks as the current understanding of marriage seems to be.

Some of us thought that the public square was for talking through issues that were controversial.   Then after we reasoned things through, we’d talk some more just to be sure.  We’d argue.  We’d debate in a civil society that allowed all views to be heard.  We’d vote on public officials or referenda.  We’d try to learn.  To think independently.   And so on . . .

Silly us.   All the while, “availability cascades” were being tweaked and organized and used to create an illusion of consent for things that seemed implausible, rendering them “plausible” as more and more people were sucked into the spiral of silence that political correctness demands of dissenters.   As people feared social ostracism, they complied.  What passed for “debate in the public square” was manipulated and rendered predictable.

I plan to write more on this subject myself, especially since the frenetic pace of genderless marriage policy provides such an excellent illustration the mechanics of opinion cascades, and the understanding of how fragile they really are.  (Doug and I also co-authored a piece on this last year, which you can read here.)