I’ve stumbled across a couple of articles in the past couple of days that have profoundly troubled me. We know that Bannon wants to demolish the government and create something different, some dystopian land harking back to the 19th Century or worse. He admires Stalin. Ivana said Trump kept a copy of Mein Kampf in his nightstand. (Not sure how well he can read it, but perhaps it is rambling and crazy enough to make sense to him.) We know they both dog whistle the Alt-Right constantly. (Did you catch the Nazi salute by Bannon in Alabama?)
One story is from Politico. It deals with Trumps lies and how they affect our brains. It ends like this:
The distressing reality is that our sense of truth is far more fragile than we would like to think it is—especially in the political arena, and especially when that sense of truth is twisted by a figure in power. As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct. A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible. It’s little wonder that authoritarian regimes with sophisticated propaganda operations can warp the worldviews of entire populations. “You are annihilated, exhausted, you can’t control yourself or remember what you said two minutes before. You feel that all is lost,” as one man who had been subject to Mao Zedong’s “reeducation” campaign in China put it to the psychiatrist Robert Lifton. “You accept anything he says.”
Another article could be regarded as a sidebar. Just more about how we respond to lies and liars. Good background piece.
The other article is truly terrifying. Who knew? This one is from Huffpo, and is rather long. Fascinating look into the alt-right, and scary. Really scary. They dissect The Daily Stormer and its publisher, “Andrew Anglin”. One quote from Anglin, in his style guide for writing alt-right prose:
Daily Stormer style guide
And if you would like to wade through it, Mein Kampf is available online. The chapter referenced is here. The link is to a “Hitler Museum” that claims to be unbiased. Eh, probably not, but there is no real information about their identity. Nevertheless, it does have reference material.
The Nazis were called “National Socialists”, but were far from socialism. Nazism was – is – fascist through and through. We may be watching history attempt to repeat itself, I’m afraid. No matter how tired we may be of the whole thing, we must keep resisting.
PS, Here are an article and an essay regarding the difficulty of changing people’s minds, once they are made up. One is from Psychology Today, the other from one of my favorite bloggers.
Propaganda, like Fox News, can literally change people’s brains. And it can make them impervious to reason and logic.