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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Twain’

The State

Posted by M. C. on June 9, 2021

Principles aren’t of much account anyway, except at election time. After that you hang them up to let them season.

Mark Twain

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

H. L. Mencken

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer.

Will Rogers

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A Primer for the Propagandized: Fear Is the Mind-Killer – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on May 18, 2021

George Orwell wrote,

As far as the mass of the people go, the extraordinary swings of opinion which occur nowadays, the emotions which can be turned on and off like a tap, are the result of newspaper and radio hypnosis.”

https://off-guardian.org/2021/05/14/a-primer-for-the-propagandized-fear-is-the-mind-killer/

Margaret Anna Alice

Totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere.”
George Orwell

The noose is dangling gently around our necks. Every day, they cinch it tighter. By the time we realize it’s strangling us, it will be too late.

Those who – gradually and gleefully – sacrifice their freedoms, their autonomy, their individuality, their livelihoods, and their relationships on the altar of the “common good” have forgotten this is the pattern followed by every totalitarian regime in history.

Everyone wonders how ordinary Germans could have been manipulated to participate or stand dumbstruck while their government was transformed into a genocidal juggernaut. This is how. Read Sebastian Haffner’s Defying Hitler memoir to see how this can happen anywhere—including here.

Everyone wonders how Russians could have permitted and even zealously reported fellow citizens for imprisonment and execution under Article 58, the penal code invented to incarcerate anyone who dared express the slightest whisper of noncompliance under Stalin’s homicidal state. This is how. Read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s meticulously documented The Gulag Archipelago to witness this progression of authoritarian lunacy.

Everyone wonders how Hutus could have suddenly started axing their Tutsi neighbors to death after being inundated with waves of anti-Tutsi propaganda from Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines. Read Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.

The list goes on. And on. And on. From Machiavelli’s The Prince to Étienne de la Boetie’s The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude to Edward Herman’s and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent (and accompanying documentary) to BBC’s The Century of the Self, mechanisms of mass control have been chronicled for millennia.

George Orwell wrote,

As far as the mass of the people go, the extraordinary swings of opinion which occur nowadays, the emotions which can be turned on and off like a tap, are the result of newspaper and radio hypnosis.”

Can you imagine what master propagandist Edward Bernays would have done with access to today’s mainstream media conglomerate combined with the global surveillance infrastructure of Big Tech? And you really think that’s not happening now—with another century of psychological, neurological, and technological research under their belts?

The present ability to curate reality and coerce obedience is unprecedented, far beyond what Orwell envisioned in 1984, Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, Huxley in Brave New World, and Burgess in A Clockwork Orange.

A textbook example of Problem Reaction Solution, the current tsunami of worldwide hysteria is the latest and potentially most threatening example of mass control in history.

The recipe is simple. Take a naturally occurring phenomenon, say a seasonal virus, and exaggerate its threat far beyond every imagining—despite exhaustive evidence to the contrary. Suppress, silence, ostracize, and demonize every individual who dares present facts that expose the false mono-narrative.

Whip up a witches’ brew of anger, envy, and, most importantly, fear, escalating emotions to a boil so as to short-circuit our faculties of reason and logic.

Isolate us from one another, supplant real-world interactions with virtual feuds, label nonconformists as a threat to the group, and pump the public with a disinformation campaign designed to confuse and atomize. In essence, foster a cultlike mentality that shuts down thought to guarantee assent.

Cultivate and wield our cognitive biases—especially ingroup bias, conformity bias, and authority bias—against us in a comprehensive divide-and-conquer policy that keeps us too busy squabbling amongst each other to recognize and unite against those corralling us into a Matrix-like collective delusion that enables the powerful to extract our resources for their own gain.

This ideological mass psychosis is religion—not science. If this were about science, the Media–Pharmaceutical–Big-Tech complex would not be memory-holing every dissenting voice, vilifying every thought criminal, and censoring every legitimate inquiry in quest of the truth.

Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

He also said:

>“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

The next time you’re watching the news, reading a social media post, listening to a friend repeat a scripted talking point, pay attention. Learn to identify the earmarks of propaganda, the clickbait used to trigger your emotions, the mechanisms employed to engineer your cognitive biases.

Don’t let your pride prevent you from seeing—and admitting—the Emperor is naked. We are losing our last sliver of opportunity to resist authoritarianism.

This is not a partisan issue. Those who wish to control us have made it such because disunited lemmings are easier to steer than independent, critical thinkers.

This is a human issue. This is about crushing the middle class—the backbone of a democratic republic—and transferring trillions from the middle and lower classes to the ruling plutocracy. This is about demolishing the foundations of a free society and building it back—not better, but better-controlled.

I will close by recommending a series of illuminating videos on menticide (“the systematic effort to undermine and destroy a person’s values and beliefs … to induce radically different ideas”) throughout history by Academy of Ideas. This analysis of mass psychosis is nonpartisan and of value to every thinking human being.

Dare to question. Dare to disbelieve. Dare to defy ideology in favor of science while you still can.

*

NOTE – This originated as a response to a Nextdoor.com post titled, “So many people think these Covid rules are for our safety but it’s really about control.” By the time I finished writing it, the post had vanished.

Originally published under the same title at Margaret Anna Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Margaret Anna examines propaganda, neuropsychology, culture, linguistic programming, and mass control in her aim to awaken the sleeping before tyranny triumphs.

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The Curse of the American Cassandras | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on June 16, 2020

In 1949 Senator Robert Taft, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination three times, voted against creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he called “an undertaking by the most powerful nation in the world to arm half the world against the other half.”

America’s political system now seems less able than ever to address urgent concerns that grip millions of citizens. Governing institutions that were established in another age have proven unable to withstand assaults from faction and private interests. Our current political crisis is not an aberration or the result of a single election gone wrong. It is the product of forces that have been building in American society for generations.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-curse-of-the-american-cassandras/

By ignoring their warnings, we have brought a foreign policy mentality of conquest and domination back home.

Few ancient curses were more heartrending than the one Apollo is said to have visited on Cassandra. He gave her the power to predict future disasters, but decreed that no one would believe her predictions. American history is full of Cassandras. Time and again, prophets have warned that our social and political fabric was fraying because of injustices we have perpetrated at home and abroad. They urged the United States to change course. Victims of Apollo’s curse, they were dismissed or outvoted.

The most obvious of our unheeded Cassandras are civil rights advocates who have warned that the United States will remain forever hobbled if it does not confront the legacy of its founding covenant with slavery. Others are soothsayers who foresaw that oligarchs would seize hold of our political system—that “malefactors of great wealth” would squeeze the essence out of our democratic institutions and turn them into servants of a “military-industrial complex.” None have proven more prescient, though, than those who warned that pursuing empire abroad would ultimately bring grief at home.

For nearly two centuries, Cassandras in the United States have warned that lording over the weak in faraway lands would serve as a rehearsal for doing the same at home. If we take every distant challenge as a threat, and respond with bristling shows of force, we condition ourselves to react the same way when our own people challenge official power. If we care little about “collateral damage” that results from our operations abroad, it’s logical not to care much about it at home either. American power has often been a knee on the neck of foreign countries.

In 1898 the United States had the chance to take control of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines. Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts, who like most Cassandras has since been lost to history, passionately warned Congress against succumbing to the imperial temptation. If the United States began projecting military power overseas, he warned, it would be “transformed from a Republic founded on the Declaration of Independence, guided by the counsels of Washington, the hope of the poor, the refuge of the oppressed, into a vulgar, commonplace empire founded on physical force, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and the other classes must forever obey.”

Another of that era’s now-forgotten Cassandras, the former senator and interior secretary Carl Schurz, warned Americans that if they began seizing foreign lands that they had promised to liberate, they would sacrifice their country’s moral authority. “What could our answer be,” he asked, “if the world would say of the American people that they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, rapacious land-grabbers posing as unselfish champions of freedom and humanity, false pretenders who have proved the truth of all that has been said by their detractors as to their hypocrisy and greed, and whose word can never again be trusted?”

The United States ignored those warnings. It set out on a long century of seeking, often quite violently, to shape the fate of peoples around the world. The result has been much as the Cassandras predicted. Many people in other countries have indeed come to see the United States as a “commonplace empire” and an exemplar of “hypocrisy and greed…whose word cannot be trusted.”

After World War II, Americans were encouraged to believe that an “American century” was dawning, and that other nations would have to yield to our superior power and wisdom. Among the Cassandras who protested was Vice President Henry Wallace. “We ourselves in the United States are no more a master race than the Nazis,” Wallace insisted. “And we cannot perpetuate economic warfare without planting the seeds of military warfare.” As punishment for advocating cooperation with the Soviet Union, Wallace was dumped from the presidential ticket in 1944 and replaced by the more reliable Harry Truman. He was another victim of Apollo’s ancient curse.

Around the same time that the Democratic Party was cleansing itself of dissenters from the Cold War catechism, the Republicans were doing the same. In 1949 Senator Robert Taft, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination three times, voted against creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he called “an undertaking by the most powerful nation in the world to arm half the world against the other half.” He foresaw that “the building up of a great army around Russia” would divide the world “into two armed camps” and set off “an inevitable arms race.”

More than a century ago, one of the bitterest American Cassandras, Mark Twain, disgusted by our first wars of overseas conquest, wrote what today reads like an advance obituary for the United States. “It was impossible to save the great Republic,” Twain lamented. “She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work. Trampling on the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.”

America’s political system now seems less able than ever to address urgent concerns that grip millions of citizens. Governing institutions that were established in another age have proven unable to withstand assaults from faction and private interests. Our current political crisis is not an aberration or the result of a single election gone wrong. It is the product of forces that have been building in American society for generations. By ignoring our Cassandras, we have allowed our foreign-policy mentality of conquest and domination to shape our approach to our own people. Now the reaction is unfolding not just far away, but ever closer to home.

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