I’m doing these rants – and by rant I mean getting down my thoughts in one go without much editing – because I will have ideas I’m mulling over and want to share, but don’t have time to do one of my more thorough blog posts.
Social engineering is huge these days, especially once you catch onto it. [Note: read all the way through before concluding which side I’m on, because it’s neither, and that will become obvious the more you read.] One of the side-effects of the social justice movement is the repression of thought, and, yes, there now is such thing as a “thought crime”, straight outta’ “1984”. You can get a jail sentence in the EU for merely sharing a tweet or post that is considered “hate speech”. Even if the hate speech is actually despicable, there is still the element of squelching thought and even the imagination. There are places where your imagination should not go. It’s a curious and problematic idea if you pause a moment to contemplate it. How does one regulate the imagination?
At the same time you are trying to “free your mind” you are also trying to purify it and banish thoughts, feelings, desires, images, and so on. Over time things change and the formerly unimaginable becomes acceptable, or it goes the other way. Either way, according to the society one lives in, one is expected to be controlled and control oneself, even including the interstices of ones imagination.
I think most people kinda’ get that when Malaysia or China talks about “Fake News” – Malaysia is planning jail sentences for disseminating “fake news” – “fake” might be defined as “critical of the government” or whatever the dominant narrative is that the public is being force-fed.
In America and Europe we are to understand that this same sort of suppression is in the name of the good, and to a degree it is. The only thing worse than radical, left wing fanatics armed with baseball bats and spewing rhetoric about fighting Nazis in the street, is actual far right fanatics, nationalists, gun nuts, and white supremacists spewing their brand of hate. Uh, perhaps I better go with an analogy: the only thing worse than the boy crying wolf is an actual wolf.
These days it’s mostly the far left that is driving me nuts, censoring art, shutting down shows, and branding people with epithets they don’t deserve [ex., labeling Bret Weinstein or Jordan Peterson a “racist” for not abandoning science and objectivity for agreed-upon good beliefs] in order to actively discriminate against them in the very present. But give the far right a chance and they are at least as bad, and I spent most my life opposing them (Trump plans to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts NEA, not because it’s expensive, but because he doesn’t like art.). The far right likes independent, unconstrained thought as little as the far left does.
The news is a real pisser today because nobody will give you the mere facts you need to have an informed and intelligent opinion. They select and edit information in order to steer you towards a conclusion in order to get you to support a world-view. It’s a tug-of-war for power, and we are the rope.
While living in China I couldn’t access most American news sources because they were blocked, but I could watch one of my old favorites, the far-left Democracy Now, which I still watch today to get the liberal perspective on things. Thus, for years, that far left outlet was my primary source of news. And thus it was only much later that I discovered how much critical information they’d left out, and it pissed me off.
For example, we all know about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. The way Democracy Now presented it, it was pretty clear that George shot Trayvon because he was wearing a hoodie and was guilty of walking while black and having a pack of Skittles. Supposedly, according to Zimmerman, there was some sort of skirmish before he shot Trayvon. Democracy Now showed a picture of the back of Zimmerman’s head with a trickle of blood on it, as if his bald head had been merely scraped on the ground, and thus it was obvious that he was exaggerating.
Well, years later I finally saw a picture of Zimmerman’s bloodied nose and lips. And this made me angry. This crucial evidence was withheld from me. It doesn’t mean I’m flipping around and saying he was justified in shooting – nope, I don’t believe in capital punishment, let alone vigilantes acting as judge, jury, and executioner – but it does mean there was a fight, and he was taking damage. It does mean I was lied to.
Sadly, I find that if I want to know the information that’s being withheld from me I will need to go to the “fake” news to get the information that those managing the social engineering don’t want me to know about. One of the biggest examples was in the run-up to the last presidential election, where the mainstream liberal news wasn’t covering WikiLeaks because it was leaking information critical of Hillary Clinton. When I hear “fake news” I start to think the problem isn’t so much that it’s fake (like conspiracy theory that school shootings are staged and never happened), but that it’s dangerous or forbidden information. Branding some things as “fake news” is definitely a kind of censorship with a tacky bow on top.
Did you hear about the Waffle House incident where the police came and wrestled a black woman to the ground, threatened to break her arm, and exposed her breasts because she didn’t want to pay for free plastic utensils? Wow! Those cops are monsters! That’s the way Democracy Now presented it. But, they left out a few details. [Again, stay tuned for what’s wrong with the “fake” and right-leaning news outlets!]
The “suspects” had brought in beverages which were probably alcoholic, they were drunk, they abused the staff, swore at them, and the more aggressive party told the waiter that she might have a gun. When the police showed up the woman refused to leave the restaurant, and thus the police were forced to physically remove her. She resisted, and her loose top came down unintentionally. The cops hadn’t torn her bra off in a fit of rage, she wasn’t wearing one. Oh, and the staff had given them the utensils for free, despite their store policy, before the worse of the invective and threats were hurled at them.
There’s an enormous difference between the police exposing a woman’s breasts because racist employees tried to charge her for free plastic utensils, in which case she was merely standing up for her rights and resisting white supremacy, and the police having to haul off someone for drunken and disorderly behavior which included verbally abusing staff, and threatening the life of an employee with a hypothetical gun. Once one knows all the details, it gets a bit suspicious when a news outlet still maintains the highly edited version which substantiates a certain narrative. We know they are invested in promulgating that narrative, and damn the facts. When reporters damn the essential facts, it should raise eyebrows and suspicions. Why do they want me to believe a certain story?
There are a few things about this that really bother me. One is that if the “fake” news is shut down – and there’s every effort to do that (mostly de-funding and de-platforming, but also criminal charges for what used to be non-offenses) — we many never find out the details that make the story much more complex and difficult to take a side on. We will believe according to what we are presented, because we won’t know any better. We will hear one side of the story.
Now, this is NOT to say that “fake” news is necessarily the TRUTH! Far from it. I don’t even disagree that it’s “fake news”, but see that this is a case of the sink calling the toilet white. I find a lot of “fake news” is trying to pass off its own agenda on the other end of the spectrum, and the overriding motive is persuading people to buy into right wing ideology, especially tax cuts for the rich. I’ve never seen one of these conservative outlets that doesn’t deny climate change, hate social programs for the poor, complain about welfare, oppose raising minimum wage, and otherwise try to steer the public for voting for the next Republican candidate. Consistently, conservative news believes in IQ science (specifically as applied to race), but thinks NASA and every international scientific body knows nothing about the atmosphere of the Earth, preferring to put their faith in Lord Monckton.
The only thing the conservative “fake news” is good for is finding out what the mainstream liberal news is not telling us: as a primary source of information they are at least as biased and untrustworthy. If there’s a chemical spill, for example, they ain’t gonna’ report it. Their job is to serve the most powerful people and industries, to maintain the status quo at all costs. I ain’t a fan.
And if you’ve known me or my blog long enough, you know I was a huge Bernie guy. I mentioned this in the last post and lost one of my conservative Patrons.
There are a couple musicians – they are a married couple – who I like, but who have ingested the conservative agenda hook, line, and sinker. Just like their lefty counterparts, they think they are “woke”, but they call it being “free thinkers”. They are not any such thing. They are repeating the same stuff they got from the “fake” news. The woman does anti-feminist videos, and the man parrots what he heard from Paul Joseph Watson or Stefan Molyneux… If you are on the right you get the whole box lunch of ideas: find yourself opposing gun control, immigration, raising the minimum wage, you talk about a “small government” and believe climate change is a hoax. You don’t suspect that ExxonMobil is involved in helping mold your views.
I start to see people as a bit like magnets, as either + or -, and they are drawn to the same side and repelled by the other. I’ve despised the far right pretty much all of my life, and have learned to despise the left as well in recent years. The right will destroy the environment, cook the economy so those already at the top benefit astronomically while the middle class dwindles, and start wars with death tolls in the millions. The left will blame it all on me. Spoiler alert, being me, I know I don’t have anything whatsoever to do with it.
But my insight of the day concerns the repression of thought and imagination that the left is doing (and which the right certainly did in the past). It’s a disturbing thought, because one dares not imagine what one is not supposed to, and this becomes evident once one catches on to the social engineering.
Somehow, the leftist “social justice” narrative has really taken hold, and people believe it like religion and spout it like proselytizers. The only way to be saved is to accept social justice into your heart, override your mind, and memorize the talking points. That’s, I hope, a bit of an exaggeration, but when you know what you are supposed to think and believe, and you know you know it, that should be a giant red flag.
Sometimes if something isn’t broken there’s no need to fix it, and the older model of how one ascertains reality was better. You weren’t supposed to know the answers, or what the truth was. You weren’t supposed to have a book of conclusions in your hip pocket. You were supposed to know how to go about trying to determine what the truth was, how to think critically, weigh evidence, check sources, cross-reference, look for bias, know the logical fallacies, etc.
It was the skill of thinking that was taught, and not the conclusions. Now it’s reversed. If you don’t have the right conclusions, than your thinking must be wrong thought. The goal is now to be a cadre in the cause, and you must believe in it. Anyone feel like there are ideas out there that you must believe in or else, and which you aren’t allowed to question? When in history have there been beliefs that people weren’t allowed to question, which were also considered unquestionable goods, where the ultimate outcome was not horror? There probably are some examples, but the horrific ones come to mind rather easily.
If you don’t believe what you are supposed to, than you are a pariah. I’m quite certain that millions of people are afraid to express what they believe in America today. “Free speech” is all of a sudden a hotly contested issue. But it is only conservative free speech that is being hotly contested, in a bizarre turn of events.
Recently my inbox has been flooded with new changes in the policies of social media platforms. “Hate speech” is not going to get advertisement dollars, nor will platforms allow themselves to be used to accrue funds to those who make or disseminate “hate speech”. OK. Sounds good on the face of it, though so did George W. Bush’s “Clear Skies Initiative” which allowed increased levels of pollution in the air.
I noticed that only hate speech against “protected classes” was forbidden, and not against everyone. This has a duel meaning, possibly (hopefully) unintended. The “protected classes” are able to publish and get funding for “hate speech” against the unprotected classes (or class, because I think we know who it is). Probably, the “protected classes” are considered incapable of “hate speech” in the same way POC are considered incapable of racism. Who is in the unprotected class, and why are they unprotected? Why is there more than one standard for free speech, and why is it based on classes of people rather than the explicit content of the speech? Hopefully the social media platforms will amend their rules to protect everyone equally. Seems simpler and more effective to me.
On the plus side, I am quite inclined to agree that actual calls to violence and harming innocent people shouldn’t be given a public platform. On the negative side, it’s open season on the unprotected class, and this isn’t considered a problem.
A friend said a curious thing the other day. There was another school shooting, and she mentioned what a shame it was about the little Pakistani girl. True. Here, an exchange student comes to America to escape violence and danger, and she is shot at SCHOOL! But, while I see the tragedy there, both of the girl and her family, AND of America becoming a place where a school is potentially more dangerous than Pakistan: when we are talking about children being shot to death, there isn’t one tragedy that stands out more than the others. There were nine other people murdered (a total of 8 children and 2 teachers)!
As someone who has taught English overseas for more than a decade – note that all my students are non-white and non-American – the idea of any one student being elevated in a hierarchy of tragedy over others in a school shooting is insanely prejudiced. It’s not even based on the personality, morality, character, grades, or who the person is at all. It’s based on an abstract hierarchy of social justice. We now believe that a Pakistani girl is more important than 9 other people because she is female, a person of color, and an immigrant. Goodbye brain, hello social programming.
Now, my friend quickly acknowledged that the Pakistani girl wasn’t the only tragedy, and that she was just pointing out the irony of her case. She was well aware that all the deaths were horrendous and an affront to life itself. Nevertheless, that social conditioning is there, and some people can’t turn it off so easily.
I had the uncomfortable realization today that we are forbidden to have racist thoughts, and that this is actually problematical because the result may be mere suppression of the mind rather than conscious unraveling of pernicious biases and thought patterns. Y’know, masking the symptom rather than treating the cause. But even beyond the sidelining of an ostensibly more positive way of dealing with ones own mind, prejudices and biases (which, despite claims otherwise, go in every direction and are not the sole burden of one unprotected class of individuals), there is the pure suppression of the imagination. This is something I have to give a lot more thought to.
It reminds me of people going to church to confess their sins to the priest in the confession booth, and sins could include things like sexual yearnings (which we probably are not able to extinguish).
Should one chastise oneself, punish oneself, or confess ones sin if one has a “bad” thought? Either I have policed my mind quite well, or I don’t get really bad thoughts. I find myself wondering if I’ve over-policed my own mind. Am I too beholden to being a good person? Have I been socially engineered to be good in order to be part of a subservient underclass? Am I free even in my mind to think whatever I want?
It’s kind of amazing that I have so much control over my imagination, or else it just reflects what I WANT to think and envision. Maybe I don’t have evil thoughts, so to speak, because I don’t want them, or they are anathema to me.
This reminds me of meditation practice. According to some experts, including a few monks I learned from (one Tibetan and two Thai) you aren’t supposed to try to stamp out thought while meditating, but just observe it like a cloud in the sky. We quickly discover that, if we observe our minds, we can’t stop sentences from forming. It’s counter-intuitive. They just come, unbidden, whether we like it or not. And this raises the question of how we — if we define ourselves as our ego, or super-ego who consciously thinks, deliberates, and acts — are or are not responsible for our own thoughts.
I think when you are an artist you need to be able to imagine without constraints, but you also need to be able to control it. Your mind needs to be able to go outside of strict reason and conventional thought, but you don’t want to slip into insanity. Novelists will need to do this, for example, as they must get into the mind of their antagonists in order to give them persuasive authenticity.
Again, I come to the same problem. I know quite clearly what I am supposed to think; what I am supposed to believe; what I am supposed to imagine; and how I am supposed to behave. And that makes me a socially conditioned/engineered being. Of course I am not advocating indulging in vicious, stupid, racist, sexist, violent sorts of thoughts. But I am wondering about unscripted thoughts and imagining outside of the rigid context of social engineering.
Not long ago I was in Hawaii (don’t be jealous, it wasn’t a vacation and I didn’t have much fun), and I was on a bus. Some local girls of the more Hawaiian variety in the back of the bus (their choice to sit there) were singing a song. It went a little something like this, “Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg…”. They were laughing at their wit. This struck me at the time. I was disappointed about in the same way as going to Chiang Mai in Thailand, going to the wooden door at the entrance of the ancient wall and moat that surrounds the old city, turning around and seeing Starbucks and McDonalds. Sometimes we hope for something a bit more different.
In a far off Island, decades after I grew up singing this same song in Los Angeles, Hawaiian girls would sing the same damned thing and think it’s funny for the same damned reasons. On long walks I contemplated how difficult it is to have an original thought of ones own. Until such a point, what kind of drone is one? How predictable are our thought patterns and is our behavior? How do we escape our conditioning?
Am I not just an older and more sophisticated version of those young girls singing the “Batman smells” version of Jingle Bells. [Note: this doesn’t mean they aren’t sophisticated in ways I’m not — I’m meaning to write a rant about anecdotal experience — but just that I’m more complex overall because of my age, experience, education, etc.] To a more advanced species of hypothetical aliens or super-intelligent and objective AI, am I just an ant following blindly in a pattern of pheromones or a dog sniffing another’s ass? Is it even possible to escape, or desirable?
Well, I rather think that is one of the jobs of the artist, to hang from the edge of the already imagined or realized, and to look a little further, to expand our horizons a little more. To do this, however, we might need to clamor out of our social engineering and proscribed thoughts and beliefs. We might need to allow heretical or uncomfortable things to enter or blossom in our minds, which in turn might allow more beautiful and unexpected ones. It’s a dangerous and daring game to go outside of conscripted thought and imagination. You don’t know what you will find when you go exploring, and you can’t dictate what you will find ahead of time to insure it’s explicitly what you want to discover. As a philosopher once said, “Truth is indifferent to the seeker of truth”.
[Note: the selected image from my art repertoire is one in which I let the imagination run a bit wild and tried to give the subconscious expression.]
That’s all for now. I gotta’ go eat. My presence is required.