Summary: One of the big stories in the last days of the American Republic is our gullibility. Now propaganda rules our minds. The dominance of tribal truths makes rational discussion difficult and compromise almost impossible. This makes us easy to rule. Here are a few examples. All from the Left, since they are dominant today. But in revolutionary times, that can change in an instant.
There are decades where nothing happens. There are weeks where decades happen.
— Paraphrase of a sentence from Marx’s letter to Engels, 9 April 1963,
A Republic is a fragile entity. It can live for centuries, then be destroyed by its people in a year. Republics often die of suicide.
Violence in Portland
Rioters attack Federal buildings with little interference from the local police. See one of the many videos that the major media do not show here,
Federal agents were deployed to defend Federal buildings, which is well within their authority. Much of the major media made this the story, describing it as an extraordinary event (it’s not) and a massive threat to our civil liberties (examples here) – often not even mentioning the rioters’ attacks on Federal buildings.
After setting up barricades & burning the American flag, antifa rioters are trying to grow the fire they set on the Portland federal courthouse. #PortlandRiots Video by @ShelbyTalcott: pic.twitter.com/nwyXhj0XRH
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 20, 2020
Leftists also made much of the Federal agents’ use of unmarked cars. Horrible! Although police and Federal agents often use unmarked vehicles – for good reason.
This is why federal law enforcement were using vans and cars to make discreet arrests of violent suspects: Rioters surround and attack an officer in the process of making an arrest outside the courthouse. The suspect escapes. pic.twitter.com/U26MKxOZff
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 21, 2020
The Left went wild! The Federal agents were abducting people. Kidnapping them! Disappearing them! Troopers on our streets! Just like the Gestapo! Here are Speaker Pelosi and the NY Times employing the Big Lie.
“Trump’s Occupation of American Cities Has Begun. Can we call it fascism yet?” – Op-ed by columnist Michelle Goldberg.
Unidentified stormtroopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti.
These are not the actions of a democratic republic.@DHSgov’s actions in Portland undermine its mission.
Trump & his stormtroopers must be stopped.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 18, 2020
Of course, all of this is bogus. Federal agencies have a statutory responsibility to protect Federal buildings, which were under daily attack. Agents (not soldiers) were wearing patches identifying their agencies. They did not wear name tags to prevent retaliation against them and their families. People were taken into custody (SOP at any riot), processed, and released where appropriate. There is no simple way to handle violent mobs.
But there is no antidote to propaganda in America (there are still people who believe that Saddam had WMDs to threaten America). Many (most?) on the Left read only carefully curated sources of information, which only pictures of peaceful protestors. That is their reality.
Why we are saturated in propaganda: it works
Christopher Bedford tells the sad story at The Federalist.
“On July 6, The Atlantic published social justice activist and lawyer Derecka Purnell’s “How I Became a Police Abolitionist,” an article that she opened with a story of the polluted neighborhood and culture of fear she grew up in, leading to the first shooting she says she’d ever witnessed: a police officer wounding a young boy in a St. Louis recreation center for skipping a basketball sign-in sheet. Purnell used the story as the base of a strident, impassioned call to abolish the police, whom she compared to slavers.”
Of course, the story immediately went viral and was uncritically broadcast by the major media. Staff of The Federalist investigated (Leftist media hoaxes are seldom uncovered by the press). It quickly unraveled. Four days later, with the story still rippling out across the media, The Atlantic still had not replied. Then The Atlantic drastically rewrote the story (with a correction in the footnotes) – description here. There was no shooting by police, the victim was 18 (not a boy). The article still stingingly says that the accused “was back at work the following week.” Which is odd, since liberalizing bail terms is a major recommendation by the Left.
Social media still has many mentions of this blockbuster story, such as this by The Atlantic’s “Constitution Editor.” Perhaps she still considers it “beautiful writing”, and is sad that Purnell’s fabrication was caught.
— Becca Rosen (@beccarosen) July 6, 2020
The success of propaganda stains everything
The effectiveness of propaganda in modern America, the ease with which it molds our minds, creates an irresistible pressure on our institutions to become propaganda machines. This stains everything. Supporting the narrative becomes the fast track to career success in journalism, business, academic, government, and the sciences. People have ambitions and families to feed. Of course they go along.
Climate science and related fields have been deeply corrupted. The latest example is in the largely bogus campaign to make polar bears the poster children for the coming Climate Extinction. The NYT leads the parade with “Global Warming Is Driving Polar Bears Toward Extinction.” Even People magazine joins in with “Polar Bears Likely to Go Extinct by End of Century Due to Global Warming.”
They discuss “Fasting season length sets temporal limits for global polar bear persistence” by Péter K. Molná et al. in Nature Climate Change. It has two mind-blowing flaws. First, it uses RCP8.5 as a “business as usual scenario.” I first debunked that claim in 2015 (here and here). I have written more about this since then. As have many others (e.g., this from Nature Climate Change in 2018; esp. see this graphic). It is a zombie theory, too politically useful to die. But how can this description of RCP8.5 still pass peer review?
The paper has an even more astonishing failure of peer review: it uses data that ends in 2005 (there is more current data). Such a data truncation is inherently suspicious. But, as so often these days, papers that support the narrative are waived through.
For more detail, see this review by Dr. Susan Crockford. She has been writing about this for 8 years; her work has well withstood the test of time and repeated criticism.
American has become a nation of people governed by tribal truths. That means increased social conflict, because tribal truths are irreconcilable by logic or fact. Which is why social media has become more an exchange of insults than useful dialog. The Declaration of Independence is political poetry, not to be confused with Aristotle’s Politics. I doubt Jefferson intended “We hold these truths to be self-evident” be the foundation for every political faction in America. This makes politics into a religious conflict, with compromise – even co-existence – difficult or impossible.
I (and others) wrote about this many years ago as something to climax in the future. The future is now with the Left’s assertion that living or working with people holding different beliefs threatens their safety. They have in effect declared civil war, fighting to become a supreme caste.
But there is a more important bottom line: both Left and Right believe what they are told. They do what they are told. This makes us easy to rule. It probably makes us incapable of self-rule, unless we change.
My guess is that we will not change, and will evolve from citizens into subjects. We will console ourselves by awarding ourselves the status of victim. So we will have moral superiority over our rulers. They will find that hilarious.
The capacity for change is an inherent part of the human soul, so I might be wrong. But my prediction seems the smart way to bet.
A new phase for this website
Like so many others, I have described the slow decay of America. Reading such stories is entertainment for America’s Outer Party (college-educated middle class). I had hoped to act as a dime-store Thomas Paine or Samuel Adams, helping to arouse Americans to begin the great work of reform. I now think that is a hopeless endeavor. We have the power, but not the will to use it.
My June 15 post, A new beginning for America, concluded a series that began on July 4, 2006: Forecast: Death of the American Constitution. This was the most successful forecast of my long career betting on the future. That post also began a new series looking at the New America rising on the ashes of the America-that-once-was.
I will send a copy of Rome’s Last Citizen (see below) to those who post the best comments to this series of posts. I have ten copies. Only one book per winner. Decisions are purely subjective by the judges, based on the originality and quality of insights, plus supporting facts and analysis, of the comment.
A copy also goes to whoever suggests a new masthead for this website. “Helping to reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold” shows a hopeful spirit I no longer have.