The Insanity of Gaslighting Ourselves

“Two plus two will never make five. That’s not the problem. And George Orwell at the end, Winston’s being tortured, and he’s made to say two plus two equals five, and this totalitarianism makes us all lie. [Hannah Arendt] said that’s not the power. It’s the fact that in a world where people are going to say it is even when they know it isn’t. That is deeply estranging. That’s what creates those conditions of loneliness and despair. That, for her, is the wickedness of the political lie. People don’t believe that two plus two makes five. They don’t believe half of what’s said.”
~Lyndsey Stonebridge, The Moral World in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now

All the time, people say what they don’t mean. Or else it’s not clear what they mean, the actual significance behind their words, what is most fundamentally motivating them. This duplicity has become the normal way of relating. And this is the basis of the identities that possess us. A simple example of this is the often heard statement that American voters get what they want. That is like saying enslaved Africans were happy with their violent oppression. There are endless other examples, and the most powerful are those we don’t notice in ourselves.

Such statements are patently absurd when taken at face value. And one suspects that, at some level, most people know that they are not true, even as they say them. It’s not what they really believe, but it obviously satisfies some need or purpose. Our modern society is filled with such bald-faced contradictions to what we know and feel. This is part of social control. It’s one thing to gaslight others but it’s even more powerful to get them to gaslight themselves. It’s the ultimate betrayal.

Once someone is psychotically disconnected from a direct and personal sense of reality, they become schizoid and compliant. Without grounding in the world beyond rhetoric, people become vulnerable to those who control and manage public perception. Backfire effect plays its role in ideological defense, but that isn’t the underlying force at play. Once identity is solidified, people will defend it on their own by various means. That leaves the issue of how did that ideological identity take shape in the first place.

This is true of all of us. There is something profoundly disorienting and alienating about modern society. We lose the ability to discern what is of genuine value. So, we turn to narratives to offer us an illusion of certainty. Then the reality in front of us is no longer compelling. We believe what we are told. Then we repeat it so often that we forgot it was told to us. Because it confirms and is confirmed by ‘mainstream’ mediated reality, we sound perfectly reasonable and are taken seriously by others.

This isn’t a mere individual condition. It’s collective insanity. Yet the spell it has over us dissipates with awareness. But few will accept this awareness, quickly retreating to the safety of the group mind, of ideological realism. People briefly awaken all the time, only to fall back to sleep, drawing the covers back over their head. Being reoriented to a deeper truth can feel disorienting, in awakening from a deep slumber. It’s hard to grapple with what to do with this knowing. Yet it’s near impossible to unsee after being jolted fully awake. It’s not a state one would choose, to be on the outside of the social world into which one was born.

It forces one to relearn what it means to be human. Rather than being enlightnened with clarity, it’s to become aware that one is in a state of epistemological infancy. Everything one thought one knew is now under question and doubt. A different way of listening is required, to sense what is real and true, what is valid and meaningful. Relating well to others becomes even more challenging. Just because one has glimpsed some flickering light through the rhetoric doesn’t instantly dispel the shadows. The tape loops go on playing in one’s mind, in response to the tape loops in the minds of others. In not knowing how to respond, one increasingly finds oneself falling into silence.

Sometimes a non-response is the only response that remains. In a world full of words, one ever more notices the silence in between, what is not said. All that can be done is to witness it, to hear what others have refused to hear, particulary what they have denied in themselves. One holds a space open. One waits. One listens. In doing so, another voice is heard, only a whisper at first. It’s a different kind of voice, a different kind of self. There is an intimacy in how it speaks. We are not alone and isolated. We are not alienated.  The truth was never destroyed. Reality remains.

GOP Busted On Talking Points!

In the past, I’ve noticed various talking points being repeated using very similar and sometimes exact phrasing (). I was frustrated because most people don’t seem to notice this form of propaganda/brainwashing. Even the liberal media in the past seemed oblivious to this technique used by conservatives. But it seems the liberal media is finally catching onto this game.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/24/gopers-parrot-lines-from-_n_710541.html

An extensive review of GOP campaign literature, floor speeches and public statements reveals that Republican candidates and officeholders routinely use GOP talking points verbatim in their speeches and campaign literature, while passing off the language as their own personal views.

Using the plagiarism detection software program iThenticate as well as Google and the Library of Congress, HuffPost found that more than 30 members of the House and Senate eschew originality when it comes to making their case.

A search for Democratic violations turned up far fewer instances. But if Democrats show less of a penchant for blatant copying, it may reflect their traditional unwillingness to follow the party line more than any higher ethical standards. Will Rogers’s oft-quoted declaration — “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat” — has worn well over time.

– – –

State of Confusion by Dr. Bryant Welch

p.136:

Advertising succeeds on the basis of repetition. Assert the reality you want over and over again. Be absolute and never tentative. Tentativeness encourages independent thinking. The more people think independently, the less malleable they are. If there is a gap between your position and common sense, simply rewire the connection with “associational logic” that obscures the gap. Associational logic… creates the illusion of logical connections where there are none.

pp. 143-4:

While the ostensible joke is that these people are all ike puppets articulating a canned message…, there is much more than that at play. If the same language is used, the words can be transformed from language into symbols. University of California at Berkley linguist George Lakoff writes:

When a word or phrase is repeated over and over for a long period of time the neural circuits that compute its meaning are activated repeatedly in the brain. As the neurons in those circuits fire, the synapses connecting the neurons in the circuits get stronger and the circuits may eventually become permanent, which happens when you learn the meaning of any word in your fixed vocabulary. Learning a word physically changes your brain, and the meaning of that word becomes physically instantiated in your brain.

Repeating over and over does not simply persuade someone that what is being said is true; it actually makes it true in the inner workings of the mind. The target audience may not even be aware that they have adopted the particular point of view in question, but a space that was once filled with uncertainty is now filled with an idea. Further, it is an idea shared by a very self-confident and powerful other person. If that idea is repeated over and over, it begins to play a symbolic role in the mind.

pp. 134-5:

Symbols, primitive emotional states, and repetition are not the only vulnerable aspects of the mind. Associational thinking also plays a key role in current political gaslighting. Sometimes it is very humbling to recognize the true nature of the mind. It is made out of symbols that are connected to one another by associations of emotional connections. What we think of as logical connectiosn play a much more limited role in mental functioning. This has tremendous implications not just for advertising, but also for political reality formation. Gaslighers can build emotional connections between symbols without their target audience really even knowing what is being done. In 2000, the Republican Party spent over two and a half million dollars running an advertisement attacking the Gore prescription plan that ahd the word rats written across it but that flashed with such speed that it was invisible to the naked eye. With today’s technology, people can literally build a connection in the mind between rats and an opponent’s policy position.

These same associational connections once established can also create a pseudologic in which associations create the illusion of logical connections used to support policies and positions that simply have no logic behind them. The fact that two items are in some way associated in the mind serves as a substitute for the formal logical connections that people associate with cause and effect and rational thought. The mind is tricked just as our eyes are tricked in a shell game. For an undiscerning audience, this can be very effective. People frequently do not appreciate, or even notice the role that highly subjective emotional states play in formulating what they take to be rational and logically constructed “thoughts.” Psychologist William James said, “People often think they are thinking when in fact they are just rearranging their prejudices.”

If these associational forms of “logic” lead to a pleasant emotional state such as a simplistic and self-gratifying conclusion about a difficult and complex problem, people are even less likely to challenge the faulty reasoning behind it. If one’s mind is saturated with images that are the psychological equivalent of a trademark that brands Fox News as fair and balanced, it will for many people completely override any assessment of whether Fox News is actually fair and balanced.