Here below is a very insightful expression of Richard Moore’s political science and intellectual process. Despite its length, it is a piece that is well worth careful study.
A key point for me is the “defense of dogma” that we see all around us. To challenge any element of a person’s belief set is to threaten the entire structure of their worldview. When those foundations are shaken people get angry and defensive. This is especially clear with regard to religious zealots. Many will kill you for it, as Jesus discovered, but it is always the heretics who provide the hope for human progress. For, “the letter of the law [dogmatic rigidity] killeth, but the spirit [the fundamental purpose of the law] giveth life.”—t.h.g.
On 01/12/2012 10:28 PM, Richard Moore wrote:
In the previous posting I referred to some ‘angry’ responses re/ questioning the wisdom of vaccines. And indeed that was the objection: to even question this sacrament was already a sin. That is, if I spread doubt in people’s minds, they might make the ‘wrong’ decision (not get vaccinated), and that would be ‘bad for them’. I would be ‘hurting them’ (and others around them) by telling them the ‘wrong thing’.
Such observations reflect a particular underlying perspective: What ‘people are told’ must conform to ‘what is correct’, because most people cannot be trusted to think for themselves. It’s an elitist perspective: We are the informed and educated class; the unwashed masses [Orwell’s Proles] must be taught what to think and what to believe.
I sympathize with that perspective to some extent, because that’s more or less how I looked at things, back in 1994, when I first started cyberjournal. I believed that ‘educating the right wing’ was the path to political empowerment. Us radicalized liberals had the answers, and we needed to ‘explain the truth’ better, so all could see. That was how I saw things before I began trying seriously to understand how the world works.
It took quite a while, but I finally did learn two important lesson in my attempts to ‘explain’ to the Proles why they were ‘wrong’. First, I learned that it cannot be done. That is, there are deep differences in how different people see the world, and ‘uniformity of understanding’ could never come about through rational discussion. In a society with any kind of openness, with any kind of free expression, we are stuck with a diversity of views among we the people, on a great many issues. Second, I learned that conservatives get it right sometimes, and liberals get it wrong sometimes: both sides deserve to be listened to.
On top of that background, of innate diversity of views, we have all the propaganda channels, on television, over talk radio, from pulpits, and on the Internet. The channels themselves have diverse perspectives, and the outcome is an accentuation of diversity in the population. Each ‘audience segment’ is reinforced in its views, by channels that reflect those views, and which provide lots of ongoing confirmation of the validity of those views – along with frequent illustrations of the error of contrary views. These ‘channels’ include not just the ‘news’ sources, but also sitcoms, comedy shows, whatever.
Perhaps the most significant of the audience segments is what I would call, in US terminology, the ‘liberal majority’. As above, they define themselves by ‘thinking correctly’. In fact we’re talking about ‘political correctness’, but that term has become really tiresome. It’s an arrogant kind of ‘correctness’. That is, it recognizes that others may think they are correct, but it knows, in its own case, that it is ‘objectively’ correct.
What begins, ostensibly, as a pursuit for objective understanding, ends up being an intellectually-based dogmatic attitude. A dogmatism that responds with defensive behavior when challenged. Such a response is not surprising: the dogmatism is based primarily on second-hand beliefs, which though frequently reaffirmed and reinforced, remain, like so many floating islands, unattached to deep native understanding – and are thus held with a fundamental degree of mental insecurity. That insecurity itself must be suppressed into the unconscious, as awareness of doubt would undermine the ‘objective certainty’ that is the core of the belief system.
This ‘dogmatism’ does have good intentions behind it. There are sensible reasons why objectively-minded people might want mark out a set of ‘correct beliefs’. I think it’s about wanting to achieve political empowerment. It begins with this kind of observation: people have no power because they are divided by their beliefs, and the politicians play us off against one another. If an overwhelming majority could be swung over to supporting a sensible agenda, then perhaps democracy, as we’ve understood it, could work as it’s supposed to work.
This leads to a two-part approach to seeking empowerment. The first part involves maintaining consensus, within the liberal majority, on what is and isn’t ‘correct’. The second part involves trying to promote that consensus more widely, in whatever way possible. This all makes sense. It is a strategy-for-empowerment that one can make a persuasive case for.
In actual practice, however, the strategy is not working. The channel-accentuated divisiveness continues – with that divisiveness itself being spun in various ways by the channels. Government continues to be guided by some other drummer than a hoped-for informed democratic majority. Different constituencies (audience segments) are cited as the excuses, for this and that legislation or policy decision.
As so often happens in human affairs, when a strategy isn’t working, the response is to try even harder, doing the same things even better. It becomes an urgent necessity, a matter of survival in the political arena, to maintain a comprehensive spectrum of ‘correct beliefs’: our strength is in our unity and in our having an answer to every question. And then there’s the evangelical part of the empowerment strategy, spreading the correct gospel to the Proles: nothing is worse than an evangelist working from the wrong gospel. We must have an agreed orthodoxy!
Once again – a pattern that happens often in human affairs – a pavement of good intentions leads to a place not intended. At best, seeking wide-scale consensus, in the ways it is being done, would lead to some kind of least-common-denominator homogenized and pasteurized set of beliefs.
But in fact, the arena of this consensus process is not the one imagined by the audience segment in question, the liberal majority. They imagine they are conversing with one another, sharing around information, and are thereby coming up with their well-informed shared beliefs. They don’t realize that their beliefs are being fed to them, by a propaganda apparatus whose subtle pervasiveness eludes their perception. They don’t realize they are just one more audience segment, operating in a scripted and choreographed arena, whose purpose is to maintain divisiveness and to instill certain elite-serving attitudes.
Liberal propaganda is unique. For other audiences, the approach is direct: there’s a very clear propaganda line, appealing to shared prejudices, and it tends to come down through the channels in a hierarchical way. The dogmatism tends to be comparatively simple and easily digested, if one shares the prejudices.
Liberal propaganda is different. It is specifically tailored for people who take a certain degree of pride in their thinking, and their ability to figure things out and understand things. ‘Educated people’ would perhaps not be an unfair general characterization. For such people, in order to ignite their fondness for ‘figuring out’, it is much better to plant clues in the general environment, offhand references to this and that ‘fact’, in entertainment media as well as ‘news’ media, ‘facts’ that for a ‘well informed’ observer soon add up to an inevitable ‘conclusion’, that the observer believes he has ‘figured out for himself’.
The Obama phenomenon serves as a metaphor for this process. In that scenario, we had a candidate who was being systematically sold to us by the mainstream media, yet at the same time liberals believed they were championing an embattled grassroots movement for real change. That’s how it always goes. There’s always a sense of ‘grassroots emergence’, even though the information environment, the liberal-attended channels, make that particular flavor of emergence inevitable. The McCain campaign, through the fear it generated, was a scripted and essential part of Obama’s campaign. The two campaigns were designed and managed as a pair, giving us a puppet show where the ‘good guy’ was easy to identify.
I’ve been focusing on one audience segment, and perhaps exaggerating the picture here and there for emphasis. The more general point is that we are all enmeshed in an ongoing psy-ops program that is delivered over many kinds of channels, with a high level of sophistication and overall coherence. If we imagine there is not such a program, then our head is submerged somewhere within its matrix of channel-fed, self-reinforcing, audience segments.
This is the same kind of thing Alan Watt talks about, in his ‘Cutting through the Matrix’ interview:
I respond to what he says not by accepting him as an authority, but by how I am able to see patterns that were always there to be seen, but that I hadn’t noticed until he drew attention to them: society is being dynamically managed through various transitions and stages, along a bumpy zig-zag path toward a planned future. Bringing the various audience segments along, with one set of stories or another, is a critical part of that management process. It is mission critical, and it employs a psy-op craft that has been honed over generations.
Notice, for example, how a trouble spot can appear on the media radar (East Timor, Haiti, …). We suddenly hear a lot about some place and some problem, and we learn that an action is ‘necessary’. Then the action’s taken, there’s a lot more attention for a while, and then that episode drops totally from attention perhaps never to reappear. In such a case we are ‘managed through a system intervention’, the purpose of which is typically quite different than any of the various stories, whether pro or con, being told over the channels at the time. In most cases the ‘problem’ is in fact made worse by the ‘action’, but one may have to dig deep, typically on the Internet, to find the story still being reported.
So, by talking this way, am I being dogmatic? The answer is ‘yes’ under the definition, ‘asserting opinions in an arrogant manner’ – for me, that is simply clear and concise exposition. The answer is ‘no’, under the definition, ‘citing doctrinal material’. I’m not claiming any validity or authority for what I say other than what the ideas say for themselves. If I refer you to material in a video or article, it’s because it stirred my thinking in a way I found useful. I envision you, the reader, to be an adult who is able to look at ideas and exercise sensible judgement about what to take on board, what to leave behind, what to give more thought to – and what may deserve comment.
I have a particular way of learning, a way that upsets some people. For every topic under the sun, I’ve got a ‘working theory’ for that topic. Some of those topics I know very little about, and my embryonic theory may be way off base. My method in my writing is to present and explore my current theory for a given topic, and wait to see what people say. I tend to write in a way that is more provocative than apologetic, because I’m more likely to get energetic feedback that way. And occasionally a productive conversation ensues, as a dialog posting, or off the list. This overall scenario is my learning method, combined of course with ongoing, if sporadic, research.
I find it invaluable to have these various theories, on everything from cosmology to psychic phenomena to the origins of the human species. Theories transform new information from data into something with meaning, something with an associated ‘charge’. New information either reinforces or undermines one theory or another. Rather than just ‘absorbing’ the information, and ‘passing on’, it becomes necessary to digest the information, to update the relevant theories. In some cases, a theory is changed on the spot, sometimes radically, but more often a ‘flag’ gets attached to the theory: ‘more investigation needed here’, or ‘theory can be expanded here’.
There are disadvantages to this method. One’s perceived reliability as a ‘knowledgable voice’ can suffer, when embryonic theories are presented as unqualified assertions. Some of the ‘angry responders’ said that my statements about vaccines called into question my views on other matters, and brought into question even my integrity. This is a risk I have to take, because my method is ‘worth it’. Hopefully, with this posting, folks might be a little more understanding.
There are three significant advantages to the method. First, as I mentioned above, learning is accelerated, because every new piece of information, or new observation, or insight, leads to a ‘theory update’ process. Second, those theories which graduate to the level of ‘current beliefs’, such as ‘bankers control the world’, are very deeply grounded, supported by overwhelming evidence of different kinds – ‘overdetermined conclusion’ is the technical phrase. None of these ‘beliefs’ are second hand, based on someone else’s credibility, or based on only a single line of argument.
Theories at this ‘belief’ level do change over time, but seldom require radical revision. They are sometimes eclipsed by a broader perspective, as when I realized capitalism was merely an expendable tool of the banksters, not the primary driving engine I had previously imagined. My understanding of the internal mechanisms of capitalism survived this eclipse unchanged.
The third advantage of the method has to do with overall coherence of world view. One of the things I do, as part of the theory update process, is to keep all of the theories in harmony with one another. If an assumption or reasoning step is challenged in one theory, it is necessary to re-examine any other theories that use that assumption or reasoning. This leads to a coherent worldview, based on an organized network of frequently re-examined theories and assumptions. New information generates a holographic response in the coherent worldview as a whole.
Thus, for me, it makes little sense to talk about evidence for climate change, without taking into account the likely activities of the arctic-based HAARP project, and the real purpose of the carbon regime. Nor does it makes sense to examine vaccines, or AIDS, without taking into account the eugenics mindset of the Rockefeller dynasty, whose tentacles reach everywhere. If such considerations are dismissed out of hand, as they are by so many people, they fall prey to the interpretations fed to them over the psy-op channels. To those who dismiss ‘conspiracy theories’, no discussion is possible of the main actors and processes that are operating on the world stage. Those ‘don’t exist’. We are left only the shadows on the cave wall, to make sense of.