Ideology: How America Lost Its Mind to Propaganda
Ideology as Identity
"You have attracted people who are determined to believe that ideology is more important than facts." ~ Ted Koppel to Sean Hannity
Almost every cable news pundit, and absolutely every politician, is highly paid to deliver a point of view. Not to reflect the will of the people. They work for a select few inter-connected corporate think-tanks, lobbying firms, political action committees (PACS), and electoral campaigns.
This is why ideologues are so unreasonable and singularly focused on promoting their appointed gospel. They're handsomely paid mouthpieces. They're corporate salespersons. They ride herd on public opinion like cattle drivers. Their purpose is to shepherd mass thought into manageable pens away from ideas which would not benefit the establishment's status quo.
Noam Chomsky says:
"Control of thought is more important for governments that are free and popular than for despotic and military states. The logic is straightforward: a despotic state can control its domestic enemies by force, but as the state loses this weapon, other devices are required to prevent the ignorant masses from interfering with public affairs, which are none of their business…the public are to be observers, not participants, consumers of ideology as well as products."From article "Force and Opinion" in Z Magazine
That is the fundamental bedrock of ideology. Ideology is derived from the word 'ideal.' One's ideals shape one's values, integrity, and world view. Ideals are personal and independent of the behavior of others. They are self maintained and self referenced. Ideals are what YOU aspire to for yourself. When one sacrifices facts, and truthful, germane, data to maintain their ideology, one's point of view becomes indoctrination based entirely on disinformation.
The problem with ideological fixation is how it intellectually subdues one's natural humanity, creative imagination, and empathy. It becomes an identity rather than simply an idea. One sees the troubles of society only through the prism of their dogmatic, programmed rhetoric. To be ideologically obedient is to neglect the experiences and ideas of others. Consensus becomes virtually impossible as compromise and concession are viewed as ideological failures.
Demagoguery - Donald Trump
John Avlon says: "Demagogues always do well in economic downturns."
Ideologues and Demagogues germinate and take root in a culture of crisis. If no true crisis exists, then they will manufacture an impending calamity. Imminent doom and its accompanying fear is what they're selling, the 'solutions' they offer always economically serve those in power. Demagogues and ideologues use two emotional devices to hook their believers; fear or hope.
Generally the right wing uses fear based bombast, while the left uses hope filled rhetoric.
Both emotional devices work equally well to nullify free, critical thought.
Demagogues like Donald Trump are the ringleaders, the evangelical, pulpit pounding directors of the hate and fear filled congregation. Ideologues are the deacons, they manage the spiteful herd and drive them from pasture to pasture to graze on more fear and hate. The rest are simply followers, they have relinquished intellectual sovereignty to ideas not their own, they’re told how bad things are and whose fault it is, and they mindlessly bob their heads in agreement. Ideological followers are baited and hooked by disgust, grievance and animosity. The followers have not figured out that they're being emotionally harvested for their energy, which can be directed in any way that the demagogue pleases. These followers are emotional captives, little more than zombies animated by fear.
The Rise of Right Wing Populism
Polemics, Framing, Linguistics and Untruth
The persistence of right-wing/tea party/libertarian type conservative political rhetoric is not an organic response to the issues we face today. The conservative think tanks were established in the 1970s to drive a corporate friendly agenda. The 1960s counter-culture movement, and the liberal, anti-corporatist principles that it gathered around inspired a right-wing, ultra-capitalist/conservative backlash that gained traction in the late 1970s. This backlash culminated with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The right wing corporatists used a definite strategy to repel the 'liberal agenda' which had made great strides in the 60s and early 70s.
The conservative corporatists lost their moral authority in the 60s. Vietnam, civil rights abuses and poverty gave the left plenty of fuel to advance its cause. Many European countries enacted socialist principles in response to their societal ills. The United States resisted fundamental systemic change, hard. The corporate right wing employed polemics, linguistic techniques, framing and flat out lies to counter the left's momentum.
Following is how right wing political rhetoric has dumbed down political discourse over the last forty years.
Polemics. polarized thinking, also called black-white, good-bad, strong-weak thinking. No shades of gray, no modifying distinctions, exploration or no intellectual deliberation allowed, only this good-that bad.
Trish Roberts-Miller, Professor - PHD, Rhetoric and Writing, at the University of Texas At Arlington, calls this Binary Paired Terms. Polarized thinking and it's binary paired terms allow for all kinds of cognitive distortions in the public discourse, it frames the discussion outside of consensus and solutions, to ideologically stubborn stalemate and demagoguery.
Framing and Language
'' written by George Lakoff, Linguistics professor at UC-Berkeley. Lakoff's work is well known for understanding how the public discourse is won or lost simply by language and framing the public debate. Don't Think Of An Elephant!
"Framing is the most commonplace thing we do with thought and language. Frames are the cognitive structures we think with. They are physical, embodied in neural circuitry. Frames come in systems. Their circuitry is strengthened and often made permanent through use: the more the circuits are used, the stronger they get. Effective frames are not isolated. They build on, and extend, other frames already established.
All words are defined in terms of conceptual frames. When the words are heard, the frames are strengthened -- not just the immediate frames, but the whole system.
Fit matters. The brain is a "best-fit" system. The better a new frame "fits" existing frames, the more effective it will be; that is, the more people will think, and make decisions, using that frame."
Lakoff also says that that there are two sub-consciously framed value systems in contention, The strict, dominant father value system of the right, and the nurturer family system on the left.
Culturally, there is the melting pot vs the mosaic. The conservatives on the right espouse the conformity of the melting pot vision frame, while the left embraces the diversity vision of a cultural mosaic. When rendered down to their basic elements, the rhetoric of the right says conformity is strength, and the rhetoric of the left posits strength through diversity. This is an age old governing conflict. The right uses strict, dominant father, fear based language to communicate its vision, and the left uses nurturer, empathy based linguistics to communicate their vision.
Releasing Ideological Identity
There is nothing wrong with a political ideological preference, to intellectually lean one way or the other. The issue arises when one adopts an ideology as an identity. When one wears their political label like a name tag at a church convention, when ideological identity becomes group-think.
The issues our country faces now are past political solution. The world needs the United States' citizens to remember their individual sovereign integrity, for Americans to stop being little parrot drones for corporate herd mentality.
If, when you're asked for your thoughts about some economic or social issue and your answer includes - "I'm a <insert political label> so I believe. . .", then you're not a free thinking individual. Your mind has been colonized, you've lost your ability to free thought agency.
There is an entity that benefits from people relinquishing their ability to independently discern and think for themselves; corporate America. Corporate America has expropriated the American mass media, and in turn the American collective mind. Ask yourselves. . .
Who or what benefits most from 'free market' doctrine?
Who or what benefits most from 'small government' rhetoric?
Who or what benefits most from 'taxes are theft' dogma?
No, I am not anti 'free market', free market rhetoric amounts to nothing but empty corporate friendly platitudes. I'm not pro-'big government', I want responsive government, responsive to the will of the people. I'm not for heavy taxation. However, there needs to be an effective counter-balance to 'free market' capitalism, so the country won't become a feudal kingdom. That effective counter-balance is effective government. Taxation is necessary, taxation enough to allow the nation to invest in its future and people.
I could offer many cliches like 'turn off the television', 'all politicians are lying', blah blah blah, you already know that...But, from this keyboard, I offer that free minds make a free society. If you're only hearing polarized, framed language intended to constrict your thinking and options, then you're not free, you're programmed, a herd member; who is prone to vote against your own best interests.
You get the government you deserve.
Free your mind, take your country back.
© 2015 Duane Townsend