The mental processes that govern how the human mind works can shed much light on what’s happening in the world…or would do…if we didn’t attempt to deny the central role of our own ‘bias’ in the pictures we paint.
We form our ‘beliefs’ based on the mental processes of ‘generalisation’, ‘deletion’ and ‘distortion’. None of us have any choice in this matter – there is just too much data to deal with in any other way. So we select, primarily on the basis of data that confirms our existing world picture. This makes ‘truth’ a very tricky business. The best any of us can do is to question and acknowledge our own assumptions. If we do not, when it comes to ‘truth’ - forget it, not a chance.
If you are in the business of ‘shaping reality’ for others this is particularly crucial. To be a ‘good’ journalist or economist or politician you need to be committed to ‘self awareness’ and to questioning your own assumptions. You can see where this is going can’t you dear reader?
That cynical thought that you may have just had…is well founded. There is a big problem with this state of affairs. It is this: the reward that comes from ‘shaping reality’ for the masses is ‘power’…and power is very seductive. For many, power becomes a goal to acquire rather than a responsibility to ward. Thus it attracts those who are particularly unsuitable for that responsibility: those who are convinced that they know what is best for everybody else; those who refuse to examine their own bias, even if it means lying through their teeth to ensure their version of ‘reality’ holds sway; those who above else are committed to keeping themselves and their chums in power. This is the stuff of which ‘elites’ are made.
When did you last hear a politician, an economist, or a journalist volunteer that they’d made a mistake, apologise for maligning another human being, or agree with an opponent…except on the rare occasion when not to do so would make them appear so utterly contemptible that even a reptile would struggle to maintain any self respect. Sadly, in the main, the people who work so hard to convince us that they know best, that they are the best people to run things…by some strange quirk of the universe are not terribly keen on being accountable…
…God doth have a sense of humour.
This lack of self-awareness helps to explain the narrative peddled by the establishment media, who have systematically ‘demonised’ the ‘populist’ backlash that has finally emerged over the past couple of years…I say ‘finally’ because it’s been a long time coming. So committed are they to this narrative, and so sleepy are the majority who consume it, that they have been remarkably successful, despite the following glaringly apparent factors:
1. There is an unmistakable hypocrisy on display when people who call themselves ‘liberals’, vilify and attempt to deny free expression to people who disagree with them
2. The gallons of bile that have been doled out have done little other than fuel the backlash - adding an extra dimension of credence to the dissatisfaction being expressed
3. The demonization process does nothing to address the underlying problems we face - problems without which, the backlash wouldn’t be happening in the first place
Despite these ‘barn door defects’, papers like the FT, the NYT and the WaPo are still churning out the same old blinkered ‘crap’, and judging from the comments sections, people are still lapping it up.
In short…we humans are a bit ‘thick’…are we not? Well if the cap fits…
In a piece last week I wrote about the process of ‘demonization’, and said that in order to avoid ‘overkill’, I’d come back with something this week on it’s evil twin – ‘guilt tripping’, AKA ‘emotional blackmail’.
So what is this stuff, and why do I bang on about it? It is this: when you take someone’s position on an issue, and imply or assert that holding that position means that they will be to blame for an inevitable and usually evil result or side effect. I.e. If you do ‘A’ then ‘B’ will happen, C will suffer…and D: it’ll be ALL your fault…you horrible disgusting human being. Politicians and journalists love this stuff, particularly when their grip on power is being threatened. Let me give you an example from the Brexit debate:
On June 21st last year Martin Wolf penned an article called “Why I believe Britain belongs in Europe”
Clearly, if Mr Wolf believes that Britain belongs in the EU, he should indeed say so, powerfully and persuasively – that’s his job. However, the article was also laced with all sorts of insidious nonsense, including this not so subtle attempt at ‘guilt-tripping’ those who believe, as I do, in individual liberty, free markets and small government:
“Above all, nothing can justify the xenophobia and outright lies from Brexiters on this topic. Those liberals in the Leave camp who prate about the free market should feel ashamed of the company they keep” – Martin Wolf
Translation – I am intolerant of the intolerance I am projecting onto those dastardly people, and your tolerance of their assumed intolerance is simply intolerable. You are clearly a bad egg.
But this was just a warm up for the comments section, which had a field day in support of Mr Wolf’s ‘liberalism’…some of which came my way after I took him to task with this response:
“As someone who believes in the classical liberal tradition of a limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and the rule of law equally applied to all...I'd find this comment easier to accept if:
1. I was in fact ‘keeping company’ with racists and xenophobes, and/or
2. I was stupid enough to think that everyone who votes for the same half of a binary choice, is doing so for the same reasons as I am, and/or
3. I was shallow enough to bury my own convictions because I don’t break bread with some of the people on the same ‘side’, and/or
4. The accusation wasn't coming from someone who sits in Davos and Bilderberg each year with individuals and organizations who:
a) Have presided over the greatest transfer of wealth in human history
b) Have been ‘fined’ $30 billion over the past couple of years, in order to make the further investigation of their criminal activities simply go away
c) People who ‘rub shoulders’ with governmental functionaries whose job would be to put them behind bars…if they were ‘normal’ people, and
d) There are many people in those rooms who are well aware of the fraud and the market rigging that goes on, but who, for whatever reason, decide to look away
As I said to you the other day Mr. Wolf - when the Gambino family pays to make a criminal investigation go away it’s called a ‘bribe’; when a Wall Street bank does it, it’s called a ‘fine’. I call it fraud however well dressed, educated or connected the crook is.
I am not ashamed to vote ‘Leave’ Mr. Wolf, and neither you nor I are any the less because we differ, only if we break the law. Racists and xenophobes can go to hell as far as I’m concerned…and criminals can go to jail” - MarkGB
In response to comments like this and others I made at the time, I attracted a certain amount of ‘guilt-tripping’. The absurd pinnacle of this dark art was reached by a fellow who said that I would be personally responsible for the raping of Polish women…that will inevitably follow if Britain votes to leave the EU.
And there it is for us all to gape at in slack jawed wonderment…’guilt-tripping’.
The fellow who said that stuff probably considers himself to be an intelligent chap, and I have no doubt that he does a mean crossword and can play an interesting game of chess. But that’s really not the point – the thing that seems to have escaped him is that you can be an intellectual and a total idiot at the same time…
…Oh yes, that God she doth indeed have a sense of humour…
Why am I writing about this again? Because it is becoming so ‘normal’ that for many, certainly for the media, it is hardly worthy of note, and that is dangerous…
I’ll leave you with an example from this week. In the US Senate on Wednesday there was a vote on a bill put forward by Senator John McCain to include the state of Montenegro into NATO. I’ll leave the merits of this bill for you to decide for yourself. In any case, Mr McCain had asked for a unanimous ‘yes’ vote. Unfortunately for Mr McCain, Senator Rand Paul, a man who makes no secret of his opposition to any further expansion of NATO towards Russia, walked onto the floor, objected to the bill, and walked off the floor.
This was McCain’s response:
“I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number, perhaps 98—at least—of his colleagues would come to the floor and object and walk away.
The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin”
Of course there are many other conclusions that you can draw from Senator Paul’s behavior. One is that he felt there was nothing further to be gained from hanging around to have his intentions and his character abused by a mind that long since ceased to shed light on anything.
Whatever…this much is clear:
1. Those opposed to the drive towards confrontation with Russia are being demonized as ‘traitors’ – this is becoming ‘normal’
2. Anyone who has read history will be aware that this narrative is always present in state legislatures and the press, prior to a war
Will there be a war with Russia? I don’t know. What I do know is this – if these processes of ‘demonization’ and ‘guilt-tripping’ are left unchallenged, there will be no ‘peace’, at home or abroad.
And finally…have a great weekend…indulge in something that makes you laugh…Monty Python’s ‘The meaning of life’ always does the trick for me…