Here in my part of the world, Spring has been trying to take hold, gradually. We have had some beautiful warm days and some deep chill cloudy rainy time that can prompt thoughts like “ah, so this must be what it’s like to live in the north of Scotland”. Regardless of the less pleasant weather, the plant life is forging ahead, a neighbor is working on getting the gardening going. It’s a natural time for coming out of a long period of reflection over the Autumn and Winter and getting into assorted work and projects, refreshment, moving forward again.
Here in the US, unfortunately we continue to have all kinds of scrambled nonsense and malicious idiocy getting in the works and causing problems, creating a dizzying mess of severe interference, like some high-power jamming transmitters disrupting general consciousness and communication.
The term “gaslighting” seems to come up a little more often these days, a bit of lingo that came from a work of fiction.
Refer to the Wikipedia page on the topic as a start:
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.
Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which a man dims the gas lights in his home and then persuades his wife that she is imagining the change. The term has been used in clinical and research literature, as well as in political commentary.
We might have become a nation of gaslighting.
As I said in a previous note, we are now in a time in the United States where we have become a society more heavily inundated with propaganda than any society in human history. I thought of suggesting that this might be true, but after thinking about that a bit, I realized, no. This is definite. Not only do we have a much more massive quantity of propaganda considering the massive collection of media, we have a crazy array of competing propaganda, of political and government kinds along with the steady barrage of commercial propaganda. Complicating matters even more, we have a society of people believing that we have principles of freedom of speech and a constitutionally guaranteed Free Press, that somehow means that we can’t have propaganda here, combined with notions of “the marketplace of ideas”, not an inherently bad idea in some ways, but leading to bizarre circumstances where we have competitions between different factions of liars and hucksters and severe reality distortion, where facts and reason go out the window. It has become much worse given the ugly grip of bipolar political disorder.
There are people still doing serious, honest, extensive journalism, as I keep trying to point out here, including frequent links to stories done by such people. One excellent item was a roughly half hour long conversation between two such people, Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi, that happened in a television show hosted by Hedges on the RT America network. In a relatively short conversation just less than a half hour, talking about the topics addressed in Taibbi’s book Hate Inc., Hedges and Taibbi did a fantastically good concise summary of the nasty interactions of a combination of things that have the minds of so many Americans twisted up in knots; the degeneration of American television news into competing sports entertainment channels, playing upon and feeding the bizarre and ugly bipolar political disorder phenomenon of everything being sorted into two rival battling opposing sports teams, and so on. They talked about all this and more, not telling me anything I had not already been watching play out for a long time now, baffled and appalled by the way so many people who are often smart enough to know better get sucked into the games, and the way so many people seem unable to recognize it. Hedges and Taibbi pointed all that out, including the obvious displays of the way the television coverage of all the political games silliness literally resembles sports coverage, with the spectacle in this case being the team R versus team D contests.
The extra twist of irony, of course, is that Chris Hedges has his show on the RT America network, and just that fact will trigger people into hysterics about anything there is all propaganda from Vladimir Putin and Russia’s propaganda network. The tragedy of that kind of nonsense is not just that people spouting off that kind of thing ignore the actual American journalists and commentators doing everything there, such as Chris Hedges, and the late Ed Schultz, until his death. Schultz, you may remember from his show on MSNBC, where he had what seemed to be one of the more popular shows, until he was fired by MSNBC for daring to report on the Presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders. He talked about his experience with both MSNBC and RT in a chat you can check out for yourself. On the supposed “Russian propaganda” network, he had journalistic freedom. Not so on MSNBC.
Just picking one item off the pile, consider something major, the general state of so many American cities, especially the city centers. It is easy to overgeneralize, with some cities having a reasonably healthy downtown area, but broadly speaking, we have had decades of decay in the core areas of cities across America, even in relatively small towns. In a worst case kind of example, the city of Detroit, the actual city of Detroit has almost completely turned into an abandoned wasteland of decay and ruins, with most of what is still around and loosely referred to as “Detroit” actually consisting of a collection of small satellite cities and towns of suburban sprawl surrounding Detroit.
If something comes up about this kind of problem, pointing out the wretched condition of so many cities, you can guarantee that you will find all kinds of thoughtless commentary from a cast of characters, dosed heavily with years of noise from Fox News and the cast of blowhards filling the AM broadcast radio band, making proclamations about how all these cities “are all run by Liberals!”. For those people, somehow the issue is that many of the cities hollowed out by the suburban sprawl dissipation have people with D after their names in municipal government. That is seen to be the problem.
What you probably will not find very much is anything representing an example of people looking objectively at the situation and analyzing an actual prime cause of these troubles- the decades long pattern of suburban sprawl, expanding out in concentric circles, dissipating the life and vitality and money of the area leaving a kind of “donut effect”, with an emptying abandoned hole in the middle. It would seem to be obvious, and the effects were not unpredictable. Looking at it in different terms, consider some basic geometry and physics, regarding what happens with the radiation of any kind of energy where there is an omnidirectional radiation pattern- a burst of a given amount of energy expands in a circle of constantly increasing circumference, which naturally means that the energy becomes more and more dissipated, and the further out you go, the larger the radius of the circle becomes, the more rapid the dissipation. Everything gets more and more spread out.
One obvious effect of the outward suburban expansion is masses of people in these areas who now live in a condition where nobody goes anywhere for anything except by riding around in some petroleum fueled vehicle, over increasing distances. Naturally, inevitably, just one of the consequences of this has been to lead to the situation of the United States of America, over the span of less than one century, going from a nation with a vast amount of petroleum under the surface of the land to being a culture with a combination of continuing massive consumption of the stuff and a serious depletion problem, being in a situation where the country uses more oil than is extracted from within the country and has done so since around 1950 or so.
That, of course, has led to all kinds of issues, that can be the subject of a whole book or documentary film, and already has been.
Good luck getting people to focus on that.
You might be familiar with the presentations known as the TED Talks. I came across something about these recently on the topic of how to be the featured speaker in one of these, talking about being a “thought leader”. This is in a time when we actually have people who are referred to as “influencers”, as a abbreviation of the ridiculous concept of being a “social media influencer”. The first time I encountered that, not long ago, I thought this had to be a joke. That was even more true when I saw some of the people who were regarded as “influencers”. I thought, how dim and empty does a person have to be for a “social media influencer” to have any effect in their life? This becomes even more incomprehensible when you look at some of the people cited as being such “influencers” and find that, judging from all available evidence, many of them, if not most, appear to be morons.
Right now, in the United States, I am not sure we really have so many “thought leaders”, which is an idea that deserves a bit of scrutiny in itself, as much as we have loads and loads of what might be more appropriately described as “anti-thought leaders”. I have said before in a previous note that today, here in the United States, people are probably more bombarded by propaganda than in any society in human history. That would include political and government propaganda, plus the whole area of commercial advertising propaganda, absolutely pervasive, ubiquitous, to such an extreme extent that people have been so programmed that they willingly, seemingly unconsciously, will refer to themselves and other people as “consumers”.
In so many ways, we now have a population where all kinds of absurdity and various kinds of dysfunction stem from people having their grasp of reality and thoughts and actions coming not from their own observations and experiences and their own thinking, but supplanted by all kinds of programming.
It seems as if there is no getting away from the ongoing political psychosis, including, especially, the madness that still boils away following on from the 2016 presidential election circus. This comes up here again because it really is unavoidable. If you try to pay any attention to any kind of national news, or look at any of the social media realm, it ends up being an endless bombardment, with the exclusion of all sorts of important news and information about everything else happening.
The story is not new, but to get a full clear story on the whole farce is a challenge, to put it mildly, and mentioning that will be certain to trigger more madness from people caught up in vast barrages of bullshit.
The whole farce swirls around the results of an election roughly two and a half years ago now, with the next round of the circus already begun. It really seems to never end.
The whole circus continues to revolve pretty much exclusively around the two completely dominant political parties labeled R and D. Just one huge, glaring, obvious example came in the 2016 episode of the circus when Bernie Sanders, having been elected to the Senate for the state of Vermont multiple times as an independent, apart from the ruling parties, decided to try to become President, and decided to declare himself a candidate for the Democratic party nomination, clearly coming to a conclusion that he had no realistic chance of being elected President outside this duopoly system.
We now know very well, or at least anybody paying honest and objective attention to reality knows, how that worked out. Hillary Clinton, having apparently, in essence, taken over control of the Democratic party in what seems like some kind of leveraged buyout, indulged in what should be described as a conspiracy among herself and her campaign people and the team D management to sabotage anyone other than her seeking the nomination to ensure that Hillary Clinton would be the D candidate in the November election, and presumably become President. Despite obvious huge popular support for Sanders, filling large sports arenas with enthusiastic crowds, while Mrs. Clinton made appearances to small gatherings of people who mostly seemed to have an attitude something like “oh, alright, we have to support her, because she’s the D candidate, I guess”, she did indeed become the candidate, and we know how that worked out, as well.
For that matter, even the campaign promotional appearances by Mrs. Clinton were a case of gaslighting, as she spewed an assortment of vague rhetorical nonsense, often something along the lines of being the one who would, as President, do what she has always done, something about ‘fighting for regular working Americans and women and children”, fully expecting that her audiences and any prospective voters would ignore the lack of evidence of that, and all evidence to the contrary about any of that. As empty political rhetoric goes, that silliness is about as empty as it gets.
The actual Clinton campaign after she managed to ensure that she was the party selection was as lame and vacuous as I expected, with the essence of it all being something like:
- It’s my turn!
- Trump is terrible! I’m not Trump! Trump is terrible! I’m not Trump! Trump is terrible! I’m not Trump! (repeated endlessly, ad nauseum)
- You must vote for me, because I’m not Trump, and if you don’t vote for me, then you’ll get Trump, and it’ll be all your fault!
All that certainly lends weight to the notion that Mrs. Clinton lost the election simply because she and her people ran a bad campaign, it was strategically flawed, et cetera. That is a separate subject to review, such as apparent decisions to not even try to campaign in some states based on the idea “well, of course those people will vote for me”, but those kinds of thoughts ignore the obviously apparent, that she was just an awful human being who was a terrible choice to be President of the United States. We have been over all this.
But, then, when the election arrived, and widespread and vast numbers of American voters stood back, aghast, thinking “seriously? our choices are either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?”, the American people were gaslighted further, bombarded with stern lectures about how R and D are all there are, and voting for sensible decent people like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein would be “throwing away your vote!”, and hurting your side and helping the evil Other Side win.
So it came to be that we had a new President in the form of Donald Trump, a man practically like some sort of fictional character, nearly a cartoon character, with a decades-long reputation of seriously questionable business practices, personal behavior, and general personality and intellect, fresh from a run as a television host of what was basically a very weird sort of game show.
Somewhere I came across something saying that comedian Norm Macdonald had said something like, Americans hated Hillary Clinton so much, they voted for somebody they hated even more, just to let her know.
Sometime recently Mrs. Clinton and her husband the former President did some sort of public appearance, sitting onstage in front of an audience with a suitably pliable and subservient moderator, and when she was asked if she had any advice for candidates of the Democratic party seeking the Presidency in the 2020 election, her answer was to “tell them not to get on the wrong side of Vladimir Putin”. Seriously. This has gotten way past annoying. She still tries this nonsense, and, even worse, it works on a lot of people who should be smarter than this. We still have people, having lost their minds unable to process the shock of the election of someone with a decades long reputation of, to put it mildly, deeply questionable business practices, personal behavior, and general dishonesty, attitude, personality, and intellect, buying the idiotic propaganda trying to tell us all that he could only have been elected because Russian agents stole the election for the evil Putin taking over America and the world.
Even worse, when we had the revelations from Wikileaks of a massive load of truth about Hillary Clinton, instead of dealing with that, comprehending and understanding what a supremely horrendous choice she would be as President of the United States, or for that matter, to put in any kind of position of power, people bought the propaganda, gaslighted in extremis, that Wikileaks and Wikileaks head Julian Assange were some Russian spy operation.
Again- consider the saying, if exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you might be ruled by criminals.
It seems to be a pretty regular thing now to hear all about how the American economy is so great now, it’s a booming economy, unemployment is practically nonexistent now, it’s all so great. Mix in the political lunacy, and people will then argue about whether the “economic boom” is a credit to President Trump or President Obama. Somehow, masses of people seem to genuinely believe all this, ignoring any and all evidence including their own personal circumstances and experiences and observations, telling them that reality is an economic situation in the United States that is a royal mess.
You can find plenty of gaslighting, including somebody responding to any suggestion that the economic picture in the United States is not wonderful, then, clearly, there must be something wrong with you, if your situation is not fine and wonderful and prosperous! Never mind that a glaring element of the picture is that we find ourselves in a scene where the amount of money and material wealth people have too often have little to no relationship to their real value. (See some “social media influencers”, for example.)
It just seemed inevitable to find the new story of somebody getting ahold of copies of transcripts of federal tax returns for Donald Trump, the very stuff he has been resisting releasing, and finding that, according to reports, it showed a picture of reality that was, at the very least, far from the PR self promotion of Mr. Trump as the successful entrepreneur businessman. Apart from what it says about him, and reportedly it’s quite an ugly mess, it just fits with a whole quagmire of economic illusions and dishonesty that distort all sense of what our general economic situation is.