Straight Line Logic: The Inversion

Robert Gore at Straight Line Logic writes The Inversion about peer pressure, technologies, lies, and being a dissident.

Getting along by going along with the patently absurd.

A seamless web, they all believe because they all believe.

The Gordian Knot, Robert Gore, 2000

If it seems like the world has turned upside down it’s because it has. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Truth is lies and lies are truth. Knowledge is ignorance and ignorance is knowledge. Success is failure and failure is success. Reality is illusion and illusion is reality.

It would be comforting to say that this inversion is a plot by nefarious others. Comforting, but not true, in the pre-inversion meaning of the word true. Rather it stems from answers to questions that confront everyone. To think for yourself or believe with the group? To stand alone or cower with the crowd? It’s the conflict between the individual and the collective, and between what’s true and what’s believed.

We live in an age of fear. It’s not fear of germs, war, poverty or any other tangible threat that most besets humanity. It’s the fear of being disliked and ostracized by the group.

If every age has its emblematic technology, ours is social media, with its cloying likes and thumbs up and its vicious cancellations, doxing, and deplatforming. No longer must you wander through life plagued by that nagging insecurity—am I liked? Now you can keep virtual score: you not only know if you’re liked or disliked, you know how much and by whom. Unfortunately, that knowledge doesn’t seem to help; the scoreboards only amplify the insecurity. What was once an occasionally troubling question, privately asked of one’s self, has become a widely held, public obsession.

The official Covid-19 response is the apotheosis of inversion and probably the one that runs it off the rails. There’s a model that has repeatedly erred predicting infection and death rates by orders of magnitude. Use it! Politicians and bureaucrats, the two most power-hungry groups on the planet, are clamoring for unlimited powers to destroy jobs, businesses, economies, lives, and liberty. Give it to ’em, no questions asked! Sunshine, Vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise prevent diseases and lessen their symptoms’ severity. Lock ’em up! Lockdowns aren’t working. Lock ’em up harder! Masks don’t prevent or hinder viral transmission, their packaging says so. Double, triple, or better yet, quadruple mask! At high cycle thresholds, the PCR test throws off many false positives, inflating case counts. Crank up the cycle thresholds until Biden gets in office! Cheap medicines hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin both prevent and cure the disease, provided it’s not too far advanced. Discourage their use! They work better than expensive vaccines. Make vaccinations mandatory! Scores of reputable and eminent doctors and scientists are questioning and criticizing the protocols. Censor them and follow our shapeshifting science! Death counts are inflated because hospitals have a financial incentive to attribute deaths to Covid-19 and anybody who has tested positive and subsequently dies of whatever cause is labeled a Covid-19 death. If they scare people into saving just one life…. The cure is far worse than the disease. Shut up or we’ll shut you up! There’s always germs out there and they constantly mutate, this horseshit could last forever. New Normal, Great Reset. It will last forever, and it will get worse, won’t it? We’ll circle back on that.

Peer pressure is the fundamental force of the social universe. Anyone who’s part of a collective will be pressured to accept its consensus on matters trivial and important. Congruence between what a collective believes and truth is happenstance. The larger the group, the higher the chance of incongruence.

Groups don’t think, they perpetuate and enforce belief. Collectives collectivize what passes for thought, none more so than governments. There’s always the danger that someone might ask why those who rule get to club everyone else into submission. Rulers either suppress that question or try to provide a nominal justification. If they have the clubs, what are they worried about?

The ruling caste is always small compared to the ruled. No matter how many clubs it has and how overmatched the subjects may be, the ruling caste knows its position is more secure if their subjects believe their propaganda and consent to their rule. The underpinnings of frightened compliance with “Do as you’re told or else!” are rickety compared to a chorus chanting in unison “We’re all in this together!” or some such rot.

None are so enslaved as those chained to group belief. Truth is irrelevant, group acceptance paramount. Belief is unquestioned and unchallenged, truth the shunned and hated enemy. Governments have promoted this inversion for centuries, always telling the same lies. Faith in government may be the strongest and longest-lived secular religion, and it’s certainly the one most resistant to questions, investigation, or contrary evidence.

The script never varies. We’re good, they’re bad, exterminate them. Conquest, domination, and empire are our nation’s greatness. Need not greed: those who earn it are selfish for trying to keep it; we’re virtuous for taking it away. Our pieces of paper are good as gold. Your squalor has nothing to do with our opulent lifestyles; be grateful for your bread and circuses. Dissidence must be suppressed; opposition is traitorous. Ruination and death are everyone’s fault but ours. You just weren’t good enough to live up to our ideals.

Inversions can only last so long. People consciously or unconsciously reject them, and reality doesn’t invert. A small coterie in Washington may believe they run a global empire, but Russia and China refuse to kowtow, even nominal allies are backing away, and the costs of maintaining its crumbling empire are helping drive the US into bankruptcy. What US cheerleaders call the best military in the world hasn’t won a significant war since World War II and its fighting forces are being ideologically culled or indoctrinated in wokesterism, systematically rendering it even less fit to fight.

The censors no longer hide their censorship. There are stories that cannot be reported, questions that cannot be asked, investigations that cannot be launched, platforms that cannot be allowed, and issues that cannot be discussed within the captured media. It cried foul when Donald Trump made “fake news” a catch phrase, but it caught on because it confirmed what millions know: much of today’s “news” is fraudulent propaganda.

After a month-and-a-half of one-party rule it’s clear that suppression is only going to get worse. Among those who intellectually stand outside the collective, suppression neither decreases belief in what is suppressed nor increases belief in the party line. They know the truth lies in what’s being kept from them.

Subconsciously, even adherents to the party line never completely believe it. Fully “woke,” you may “know” that Western civilization is a discredited product of the white male patriarchy. However, do you throw yourself from the top of a tall building because the properties of gravity were first described by white English patriarch Isaac Newton?

Psychological dissonance plagues true believers. What are they going to believe: dogma or their own senses and thought processes, such as they are? It’s the root cause of their psychic brittleness: the inability to answer questions or engage in debate, the insistence on ostensible agreement, and the need to suppress anyone who doesn’t go along.

The fragility that tries to adjust reality to belief runs head-on into the desire among those whose behaviors are to be adjusted to live their own lives as they see fit, not to mention reality itself. America’s divide is between those who want to be left alone and those who want to tell them what to do. It’s so much easier for the latter if they can impose at least the appearance of consent on the former through suppression, fraud, or force.

Reality doesn’t invert, no matter how many people believe otherwise. Governments and central banks will debase their fiat debt instruments until the illusion that they’re worth something is discarded. They have every incentive to do so and it’s happening now as governments go broke. Empires crumble because they require more energy and resources to maintain than they generate. The American empire will be no exception. The more production is taxed, regulated, and otherwise penalized, the less production you get. The more indolence is rewarded, the more indolence you get. As government’s power expands, people’s freedom shrinks. You can make people engineers or brain surgeons based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or any other irrelevant factor, but it increases the likelihood that the bridge collapses and the patient dies on the operating table.

A society that corrupts science, the basis for discovering, describing, and employing reality, is doomed. Honest science requires free inquiry and debate. It is a never-ending process of proposing, testing, evaluating, revising and discarding hypotheses for new ones with more explanatory and predictive power. There is no such thing as settled science. The claims that there is with regards to climate, coronaviruses, or any other scientific issue are nothing more than admissions that the purported science is propaganda. Unchallenged science is a contradiction in terms; challenge is the lifeblood of science.

So add science that isn’t science to the long list of inversions that collectively could spell humanity’s doom. Consequences don’t recognize wishful thinking or political diktat. Climate and coronavirus dogma masquerading as science is the Trojan horse ushering in the great reset of a new world order. Global governance, state-approved science, political and cultural canons enforced with jihadist zeal, top-down economic command-and-control, the eradication of any vestiges of liberty, and billions of unthinking adherents will destroy rather than build, compounding today’s inversions and creating new ones.

The danger to all this is individuals who think and act for themselves, those who are woke to the woke, so to speak. The key to standing on the outside, critically examining what’s within, is to abandon any desire to be on the inside. The docile dreck and their puppet-masters within are usually sufficient inducement to stay outside. Once that decision is made, independence of thought is almost assured. (Those who see the inside for what it is and still want in are corrupt beyond redemption.)

Challenge dogma and propaganda and you’re a dissident. Not always a comfortable position, but the dissidents will have the best shot at surviving the coming collapse. The insiders will suffer shattering disillusionment as reality obliterates cherished belief…and the insiders.

The historically unprecedented scale of present inversions guarantees upheaval and change beyond reckoning when reality’s full force can no longer be denied or subverted. Even those who see things as they are and regard themselves as fully prepared will be shocked by what’s to come. At least they will retain the existential essentials of observational power and logic as they sort through the smoldering intellectual landscape, discard the inversions, and get on with the rebuilding.

RealClear Politics: The Gaslighting of the American Mind

From J. Peder Zane at RealClear Politics, The Gaslighting of the American Mind

Democrats are the party of make believe.

Through their domination of the media, academia, Hollywood, and growing swaths of corporate America, they successfully peddle propaganda as reality. They insisted President Trump was a dictator and a treasonous ally of Vladimir Putin who refused to denounce white supremacy. They dismissed questions about the business dealings of President Biden’s family as “Russian disinformation” that had been “totally discredited.”

When investigations and fact checks revealed those claims to be false, they just kept on repeating them. Tell a lie long and loud enough and many accept it as truth.

Having secured the White House and control of the Senate in the last election, Democrats and their allies are adding a strong dose of intimidation to their campaign of deceit. They are using social media to silence dissent from their views while creating blacklists to make it difficult for their opponents to find gainful employment. In a sign of how far gone they are, many journalists at influential outfits are now questioning the wisdom of the First Amendment and calling for government regulation of speech.

As cancel culture spreads, they gaslight the public by denying that it is happening. At the same time they argue that Republicans must be silenced and even “deprogrammed” because they are delusional liars. To conservative ears, the national discourse often boils down to this: Are you going to believe us or your lying eyes?

The caricature of conservatives certainly describes some people on the right. Sen. Mitch McConnell has spoken out against his party’s lunatic fringe. But there is little evidence they enjoy meaningful support. The Jan. 6 criminal assault on the Capitol was a disgrace, but it was also widely condemned by Republicans – a stark contrast to Democrats who have largely ignored or even celebrated the repeated violence perpetrated by antifa. Casting that action as an attempted coup – pretending the mob could have gained control of the government – is deceitful propaganda aimed at smearing 74 million Trump voters.

U.S. history is full of examples of movements that many Americans considered dangerous. Usually these were progressives who fought for unions, and marched for civil rights, and demanded an end to foreign wars. Most people see those causes as worthy, even though communists were interspersed among the activists’ ranks. We also now see that the suppression they provoked was shameful. As future Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis noted in 1913, sunlight is “the best of disinfectants”; the way to defeat dangerous ideas and behaviors is to expose them to reason.

This is a foundation of our pluralistic democracy.

History reveals two main reasons why factions seek to limit speech: first, because it is an effective means to quash dissent and second because they won’t or can’t defend their own ideas. Today’s Democrats and their allies are driven by both rationales. Their control of most communication channels has empowered them to spread narratives that delegitimize their opponents by caricaturing them as racist conspiracy theorists.

It may be impossible to change the minds of those who embrace the accuracy of that portrayal, but it is worth asking: If your view is true, why advance so many mistruths to support it? For Democrats this propaganda coup is a twofer: As it marginalizes Republicans, it keeps the focus off the ramifications of their own ideas and politics. Their argument boils down to this: Let us do what we want because otherwise those Neanderthals will be in charge. This strategy is increasingly essential for Democrats as they advance leftist ideas that are hard to support through fact-based metrics – i.e. reality instead of ideology.

Democrats are the party of activist government. Their core progressive idea – the plinth course of their Great Society programs – is that the combination of vast federal resources and elite expertise can solve most of society’s problems. There have been some successes – credit progressives and libertarians for helping advance the rights of marginalized groups. But the last half-century has also seen the breakdown of the nuclear family, continuing hopelessness and blight in many cities, and the failure of public schools to raise educational achievement despite massive increases in per pupil spending.

While many African Americans have entered the middle class since the 1960s, blacks still lag behind other Americans in a wide variety of measures of health and wealth despite massive government interventions. The reasons for these failures are myriad and complex. The rise of a competitive global economy, for example, has gutted manufacturing jobs and depressed low-skill wages.

But the bottom line is that many progressive programs have not delivered on their promise of prosperity and opportunity for many of the groups they specifically aimed to help.

This is a particular problem for Democrats because African Americans remain their core voting base. The demonstrable shortcomings of their efforts help explain why they have embraced the concept of systemic racism and sound their incessant alarms about white supremacy despite America’s significant progress toward social justice. The message: Our programs would have worked but for rampant racism.

Unable to change the facts, they work to alter the definition of reality. President Biden codified this make-believe style of government on his first day in office when he signed the Modernizing Regulatory Review memorandum. As the government seeks justifications for new controls on society, it directed agencies to “fully account … for regulatory benefits that are difficult or impossible to quantify.”

Difficult or impossible to quantify? Translation: make ’em up. This is just the latest, frightening evidence that the party that claims to embrace science, facts and truth is driven by ideology. When you’re running a make-believe society, it’s no wonder you have to silence dissent.