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Monday, August 12, 2019

Self-Policed Thought


Silverfiddle Rant!
George Packer has written a good article in the Atlantic:

In it, he excoriates President Trump and dilates upon the danger he presents to our republic. But then he aims his criticism at Double Speak the woke left indulges in, and laments how identity politics has become the standard for judging the merits of artistic works.

"Progressive doublethink—which has grown worse in reaction to the right-wing kind—creates a more insidious unreality because it operates in the name of all that is good."

Doublethink produces cognitive dissonance, confusion, and ultimately, emotional distress. A healthy, free and rational human being will reject the contradictions and throw it all on the trash heap. But tyranny makes you pay a high price for doing so, be it a boot to the face from a 1984-style dictatorial regime, or from today's social media pile-ons and banishment from the Woke Hive.

So, we develop coping mechanisms, and Packer's cogent description is brilliant:
Some people who register […] doublethink might be privately troubled, but they don’t say so publicly. Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.
He sums up the dangers of this in his penultimate two paragraphs. Please comprehend them and tell us what you think in the comments.
Orthodoxy is also enforced by social pressure, nowhere more intensely than on Twitter, where the specter of being shamed or “canceled” produces conformity as much as the prospect of adding to your tribe of followers does. This pressure can be more powerful than a party or state, because it speaks in the name of the people and in the language of moral outrage, against which there is, in a way, no defense. Certain commissars with large followings patrol the precincts of social media and punish thought criminals, but most progressives assent without difficulty to the stifling consensus of the moment and the intolerance it breeds—not out of fear, but because they want to be counted on the side of justice.

This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn’t come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can’t find real solutions. “Nothing is gained by teaching a parrot a new word,” Orwell wrote in 1946. “What is needed is the right to print what one believes to be true, without having to fear bullying or blackmail from any side.” Not much has changed since the 1940s. The will to power still passes through hatred on the right and virtue on the left.

32 comments:

  1. Nice piece. Thanks for highlighting it....I don't get to The Atlantic much.

    Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.

    That says it all right there. A fitting eulogy for what our political landscape has become.

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  2. I don't know what's going on on twitter. I'm familiar with how various cognitive biasses conspire to polarise opinion, and apparently that effect is turbo-charged on twitter for some reason. But tribalism and ritual shaming are nothing new, quite the opposite.

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    Replies
    1. What's new is ritual shaming can now be done on a grand, global scale and the "morality" being enforced is whatever flavor of the day the corporations say it is.

      Delete
    2. “Culture” is the name for all those things we practice without really believing in them, without taking them quite seriously." - Slavoj Zizek

      Thanks, Hollywood!

      Delete
    3. ZIZEK, The Patron Saint of Prolixity, is an ASS.

      I don't know why you bother quotng him'.

      Delete
    4. Look who's talkin'

      Delete
  3. The Fetishist's disavowal... of organized religion or... "I follow the religious ritual even though I don't believe, for the sake of the one's who still believe."

    the wishful thing of an ideologue...

    Back in May, PJ Media’s Sarah Hoyt put her finger on what the rallies against “white supremacism” are really all about when she noted that “We Don’t Have a Problem with White Supremacy. We Have a Problem with Leftist Supremacy.” Bingo. “The left is obsessed with white supremacists,” Hoyt observed, “the way that children are obsessed with Santa Claus, and for more or less the same reasons.” Santa doesn’t exist, but the presents pile up every December 25 because the right people have a stake in perpetuating the myth of his existence.

    Another curious feature of the hysteria over the made-up tort of white supremacism is that its very frenetic quality, instead of highlighting its disingenuousness and absurdity, tends instead to function as a sort of camouflage. Parsing the psychological dynamics of this phenomenon would doubtless take us into deep waters—I’m not at all sure I can explain it—but the Freudians would probably explain in terms of the idea of projection: concealing one’s own unpalatable impulses from oneself by attributing them to another.

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    Replies
    1. Anti-fascists' hysteria, if hysteria it be, is not this hard to explain.

      What if Santa Claus attempted genocide within living memory? WWII left obvious scars, and Bosnia in the '90s reminded some of us that Nationalism is still as dangerous as it used to be. Don't be complacent.

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    2. Jez - You'll note, of course....the irony in your comment - given that the current herd of "anti-fascists" are aligned in some manner or another, with an ideology also responsible for genocide within living memory.....

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    3. Anybody who truly believes that White Nationalism is a problem in the USA is an absolute idiot.

      Delete
    4. FJ,
      Anybody who truly believes that White Nationalism is a problem in the USA is an absolute idiot.

      You'll catch a lot of flak for that statement -- never mind its accuracy.

      Delete
    5. They're certainly going after Tucker Carlson for it.

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    6. How many white supremacists are needed to constitute a "problem"?

      How many communists? How many radical islamists?

      Delete
    7. Anybody who truly believes that White Nationalism is a problem in the USA is an absolute idiot.

      gimme summadat flak.

      Delete
  4. Anti-fascists are "fundamentalists"... the "true believers" like the private in Full Metal Jacket. They don't pretend to believe for the sake of others who do.

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    Replies
    1. There is no difference between fascist fundamentalism and anti-fascist fundamentalism. None. As Nietzsche said, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

      Delete
    2. FJ,
      There is no difference between fascist fundamentalism and anti-fascist fundamentalism. None.

      Yes, indeed! Too few seem to recognize that reality.

      Delete
  5. They are the "Frank Burns' of their ideology, not the "Hawkeye Pierce's." They have no "ironic distance" from their beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beamish the Thought CriminalAugust 12, 2019 at 11:16:00 AM EDT

    With so many triggers, who can't be a marksman?

    Laugh until you realize no one that can defeat them backs Donald Trump.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Not too long ago, I was in a discussion with my 45-year-old, "woke" niece regarding an idea which she espoused and which she claimed was "not radical." I defined the word "radical" for her (relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something) and said that to solve the problem we needed radical change, that her solution was radical, and that was a good thing and that she should not run away from the charge.

    She said that radical did not mean what I said it meant. I told her to look it up. She said that she was not using it in that context and in her usage it had a different meaning. I asked her to tell me what it meant as she used it, and she could not. She could only say that it not mean, in her mind, what I said it meant.

    So not only are they making up their own language, they themselves don't know what thei labguage means,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jayhawk,
      I've had similar experiences with those who are "woke." Damned depressing to see that people are so self-deceived.

      Delete
    2. There are other meanings to do with mathematics and chemistry of course, but in politics doesn't it usually refer to an extreme measure or departure, regardless of whether the fundamental nature is affected?

      It hardly matters, it's well on its way to CS Lews' "knackers yard" of linguistics, the ever-growing list of synonyms for "good" or "bad" -- "radical" retains some interest in that it can be used in place of either.

      Delete
    3. Avoid the "trendy," sttck to the classical approach to acquiring and interpreting knowledge, flush away the disruptive, tendentious, narrowly focused, agenda-driven gobbledygook foisted on us by the Let, and you can't go too far wrong.

      Delete
  8. ". . . But then he aims his criticism at Double Speak the woke left indulges in, and laments how identity politics has become the standard for judging the merits of artistic works."

    This stopped me right there, because it reminded me of arguments I've had in the past with hidebound, narrow-minded, self-professed "righteius types" who were perfectly willing to condemn Richard Wagner and advocate bannng his works from the operaatic stage, because HITLER was reportedly one of Wagner'biggest fans.

    How imbecilic could you get?

    Idiots of this type have also condemned Tchaikovsky because he was a homosexual.

    So was Michelangelo, so what would these bigpts have The Vatican do? Order the ceiing of the Sistine Chapel to be blotted out with a free coat of white paint?

    This sort of thinking works in reverse too. There are those who would insist we must "worship" George Gershwin and Leonard bernstein (also homosexuals by the way!) BECAUSE they were JEWS.

    Asininity may seem predominant in the Human Condition, but don't despair. Just be GLAD if you happen to be one of the rare exceptions.

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    Replies
    1. I believe that Wagner was banned in Israel, despite holocaust survivor love for his music...

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    2. I'd never heard that, but if so it makes no sense whatsoever. At least one of the very greatest interpreters of Wagner's music –– Maestro James Levine –– may have been born and raised in OHIO, but he's as JEWISH as any Israeli or International Banker or Telecommications mogul. He's also a musical genius whose breadth of vision and appreciation for true GENIUS and the pinncacles of human accomplishment transcends banal ethnic, religious AND political considerations.

      Delete

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