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Tue Nov 30, 2021, 11:40 PM

How Conservatives Manufacture Ghost Stories to Protect the Powerful

The illiberal authoritarian left. Antifa. Violent BLM protesters. Critical race theory. Social justice warriors. Cancel culture. Radical trans activists. Open borders advocates. Cultural Marxists. The country faces a number of terrifying threats, and unless we act quickly, we will lose Western civilization as we know it.

This story plays 24/7 on Fox News and PragerU, where right-wing politicians and commentators stress that a dangerous left is producing violence in the streets and trying to indoctrinate children with poisonous ideas and immorality. There are now dozens of books with titles like The Enemy Within: How a Totalitarian Movement is Destroying America, The Dictatorship of Woke Capital, Woke, Inc., Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy, The Authoritarian Moment: How the Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent, Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, Suicide of the West, American Marxism, American Crusade: Our Fight To Stay Free, and United States of Socialism: Who’s Behind It. Why It’s Evil. How to Stop It. Each argues that the country faces a threat from the political left, one that is correctly called totalitarian, authoritarian, or dictatorial. David Brooks, reporting from the 2021 National Conservatism Conference, says that the consensus on the right is that “the left controls absolutely everything.” All of the other major conference speakers adopted a similar “apocalyptic tone”:

(Snip)

In reality, the left is far more reasonable than it is made out to be; leftist policy positions such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal enjoy popular support from voters across the political spectrum. Right-wing policies, in fact, tend to fall on the wrong side of history. Thus the stories these commentators tell are a kind of delusion. This delusion is dangerous because it erodes the humanity of the people being talked about and avoids a serious engagement with ideas that challenge simplistic and nationalist myths inherent in the right-wing world view. Right-wing commentators distract us from things that matter, like climate change, healthcare, and racial injustice. The right’s distractions end up benefiting the rich and powerful, who don’t want to see changes put in place around climate change, healthcare, or racial injustice. These distractions prevent us from having intelligent conversations about politics, about the issues that average people care about. These distractions suck ordinary people into a make-believe world of terrifying phantoms from which it can be hard to escape, especially if one never hears a more compelling story in its place. Let’s look, then, at how these ghost stories are put together, so that we can help people to avoid becoming spooked by them, and so that we ourselves never accidentally find ourselves swallowing and then regurgitating crafty right-wing propaganda.

I. The Common Structure of Conservative Arguments

In 1991, economist Albert Hirschman published a book called The Rhetoric of Reaction. Hirschman identified some common species of right-wing arguments. He called these arguments perversity, futility, and jeopardy.

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/11/how-conservatives-manufacture-ghost-stories-to-protect-the-powerful

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Reply How Conservatives Manufacture Ghost Stories to Protect the Powerful (Original post)
AZProgressive Nov 30 OP
Blue Owl Nov 30 #1
Sibelius Fan Dec 1 #2
love_katz Dec 1 #3
love_katz Dec 1 #4
DAngelo136 Dec 1 #5
Skittles Dec 2 #6

Response to AZProgressive (Original post)

Tue Nov 30, 2021, 11:56 PM

1. Things that go tRump in the night

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Response to AZProgressive (Original post)

Wed Dec 1, 2021, 12:27 AM

2. Those book titles are a study in projection.

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Response to AZProgressive (Original post)

Wed Dec 1, 2021, 01:41 AM

3. Excellent article.

I wish that this was being discussed everywhere.

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Response to AZProgressive (Original post)

Wed Dec 1, 2021, 01:53 AM

4. An important point made by the author is about how our political opponents manufacture outrage.

They do it by making statements that provoke emotional reaction, which interferes with the ability to reason things out in an accurate way.

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Response to AZProgressive (Original post)

Wed Dec 1, 2021, 05:00 AM

5. This Is Not New....

"* The Destruction of Language

Reason occurs mostly through the medium of language, and so the destruction of reason requires the destruction of language. An underlying notion of conservative politics is that words and phrases of language are like territory in warfare: owned and controlled by one side or the other. One of the central goals of conservatism, as for example with Newt Gingrich's lists of words, is to take control of every word and phrase in the English language.

George Bush, likewise, owes his election in great measure to a new language that his people engineered for him. His favorite word, for example, is "heart". This type of linguistic engineering is highly evolved in the business milieu from which conservative public relations derives, and it is the day-to-day work of countless conservative think tanks. Bush's people, and the concentric circles of punditry around them, are worlds away from John Kerry deciding on a moment's notice that he is going to start the word "values". They do not use a word unless they have an integrated communications strategy for taking control of that word throughout the whole of society.

Bush's personal vocabulary is only a small part of conservative language warfare as a whole. Since around 1990, conservative rhetors have been systematically turning language into a weapon against liberals. Words are used in twisted and exaggerated ways, or with the opposite of their customary meanings. This affects the whole of the language. The goal of this distorted language is not simply to defeat an enemy but to destroy the minds of the people who believe themselves to be conservatives and who constantly challenge themselves to ever greater extremity in using it.

A simple example of turning language into a weapon might be the word "predictable", which has become a synonym for "liberal". There is no rational argument in this usage. Every such use of "predictable" can be refuted simply by substituting the word "consistent". It is simply invective.

More importantly, conservative rhetors have been systematically mapping the language that has historically been used to describe the aristocracy and the traditional authorities that serve it, and have twisted those words into terms for liberals. This tactic has the dual advantage of both attacking the aristocracies' opponents and depriving them of the words that they have used to attack aristocracy."-From "What is Conservatism And What Is Wrong With It" by Phillip Agre

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Response to AZProgressive (Original post)

Thu Dec 2, 2021, 06:39 AM

6. the amazing part isn't that they make up shit

it's how many people fall for the same stunts over and over and over - says something about the critical thinking skills of way too many Americans

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