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  • Intimidation vs Persuasion

    Posted by David Foster on July 20th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Over recent years, I’ve notice that much political communication…ranging from formal statements by politicians down to off-the-cuff social media posts by individuals..has come to consist mostly of insulting one’s opponents. While there has always been a considerable amount of this, political insult has now become so prevalent as to drive out more rational forms of discourse. And while both/all sides do engage in the kind of behavior I’m discussing, it is much more predominant and extreme on the Left.

    From a marketing point of view, this may seem a little odd: why would one want to insult one’s prospective customers–the people one is trying to persuade? I think the answer may be provided by Willi Munzenberg, who was Stalin’s master propagandist. Here’s what Munzenberg told Arthur Koestler, back when Koestler was still a Communist:

    Don’t argue with them, Make them stink in the nose of the world. Make people curse and abominate them. Make them shudder with horror. That, Arturo, is propaganda!

    And that seems to be the objective, recognized or not, of much of today’s ‘progressive’ speech. People are being intimidated from speaking their minds not only out of fear of practical consequences…loss of customers, loss of jobs…but out of fear of being publicly demonized as a Bad Person.

    See Lead and Gold on Mediated Democracy and the Temptations of Leninism.

     

    And here is Koestler again, this time in 1951 after very prominently breaking with Communism. He is speaking about the situation of writers who have escaped from totalitarian countries…especially the Soviet-occupied countries in Eastern Europe…and about how the cultures of these writers and their countries can be preserved:

    I say ‘exiled cultures’ and not ‘exiled writers’ or ‘artists’ or individual refugees….We are faced today with the calculated and systematic extermination of whole national cultures–the Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and so on. Culture, as we understand this term, is dependent, among other factors, on two essential conditions; freedom of expression and continuity of tradition. Both these conditions are absent in countries under totalitarian rule.

    To repeat the last two sentences:

    Culture, as we understand this term, is dependent, among other factors, on two essential conditions; freedom of expression and continuity of tradition. Both these conditions are absent in countries under totalitarian rule.

    And both of these factors are under heavy assault in America today.

     

    31 Responses to “Intimidation vs Persuasion”

    1. Kirk Says:

      Intimidation works. Until it doesn’t, and then you suddenly find your victims supporting things like the Nazi party herding you into the camps, and the junta offering you free rides out to sea aboard C-130s, while your kids go up for adoption to reliable regime supporters.

      The problem with all of this is that the idiots starting out on this road never seem to consider that once the seal is broken, the exact same tactics can be turned on them. It’s especially bad when a minority group, whether political or ethnic, decides to try it all out. If you fail to make it work, the recoil on it all is likely going to result in your loved ones lining public squares holding up forlorn signs with your picture on them.

      Far wiser to eschew the violence. It is unfortunate that most of the mentally ill left can’t seem to do that, and utterly fail to read the lessons of history correctly.

      I suspect that our future is going to be a lot less vibrant and ethnic, here in this country. Margaret Sanger managed to keep the percentages low enough that I don’t think the odds are in favor of the 13% managing to do more than eke out mere survival on the periphery, and that at a much lower percentage. Brown loathes black; when brown winds up as the majority, and tires of paying for the social dysfunction through taxes and other things that white guilt demands?

      Worms will turn, and it won’t be pretty. You can see it going on in SoCal, as we speak, and it’s all over the place wherever black impinges on brown. Brown feels no racial guilt, never having held slaves. They do, however, have attitudes on the issues that are going to produce fireworks in the coming decades, as the demographics shift more in their favor. And, since they have a much better shot at actually blending in and passing for “white”…?

      I think you can do the math. Unfortunately, most blacks in this country have been rendered innumerate by their chosen masters in the Democratic Party, so they’re very unlikely to work out the trap they’ve been suckered into until it is far too late to get out of it.

    2. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Or as the Daughter Unit observes occasionally, in regard to black protests of (mostly imaginary) white violence; you think you got a raw deal from whites? Wait until you get a load of what the Hispanics will uncork against you.

    3. Mike K Says:

      I think you can do the math. Unfortunately, most blacks in this country have been rendered innumerate by their chosen masters in the Democratic Party, so they’re very unlikely to work out the trap they’ve been suckered into until it is far too late to get out of it.

      I agree with this and it is pretty obvious that blacks are not running this BLM thing. The organizers and riot provokers are white youth. I was struck the first day of the Minneapolis riots by the white guy dressed in black who was holding an umbrella and walking along breaking windows with a metal rod. Then he walked around a corner and the looters took over. He looked like a European tour guide with his umbrella and I wonder if it was a signal.

      I’m hoping the DOJ is figuring this out and scooping up these organizers. It would be interesting to have a competent government.

    4. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I also wonder if blacks don’t subconsciously believe that they are a much LARGER part of the US than they actually are. (Kirk, from your post on Sarah Hoyt’s place a few years ago, and from other posts by other people here and there.) From the large presence of blacks in entertainment, in advertising, in television and movie roles … I speculate that simply off the cuff – they believe that they are a far, far larger proportion of the American population than they actually are and consequently far more influential than the raw numbers of the population would indicate.
      Something to consider, anyway.

    5. Kirk Says:

      @Sgt. Mom,

      Spent more than a few nights working with Hispanics in the Army that left me more than a little disquieted about the future of race relations in this country. The truly assimilated types that pass for white, with Spanish surnames? Indistinguishable in opinion and attitude from the general white population.

      The lower economic class, from migrant and barrio backgrounds? Oh, holy hell… Most of them were from “Lazy bastards don’t want to work? Let ’em starve…” to “You can’t live with them… Burn them out, or kill them.”. Guy I knew who found out his daughter was dating a black guy shocked the hell out of me–Threw her out of the house, basically disowned her (at age 16, or so…), and went entirely unhinged at the discovery. He was frothing at the mouth angry at the whole thing, and I thought I was going to have to call the MPs in when he was called into the First Sergeant’s office over it all. He could keep a lid on it at work, but when he had to deal with it in his family…? Lost it completely. Didn’t help that the kid in question was a dope-dealing gang member whose dad was another senior NCO over in the MP battalion, either.

      I had naively thought that anyone who could manage to reach SFC in the Army would have that sort of thing under control, or reconciled with it. Turned out, not so much. Opened my eyes, that did–And, listening to him rave about the crap going on while he grew up in SoCal ghetto/barrio conditions? I had no idea.

      I do not have a hell of a lot of hope for what happens after the blacks lose their institutional and demographic cover from the “white guilt” types, at all. I actually expect that what we’re going to see, at best, is Margaret Sanger turned up to about 12 or 13, with a serious potential for brown-on-black pogroms the likes of which we’ve never seen on this continent. SoCal is a harbinger, and I don’t think the majority of the blacks really realize how deep the animosity, jealousy, and outright hatred goes. A lot of the Chicanos make the KKK look moderate.

    6. Kirk Says:

      @Sgt. Mom, 6:01 pm

      Oh, yeah… It is definitely a factor, which is why I allude to the innumeracy issue.

      Don’t get me wrong, with all this–My attitude is more or less just a rueful recognition of the realities of these issues, and I really do not approve of any of it, in any way, shape, or form. I loathe what I see coming, and if I could prevent any of it, I would.

      The unfortunate fact is, the whole sorry mess is what it is, and all I’m doing is pointing out where the shoring is being pulled out and torn up, which will almost certainly result in the whole sorry edifice coming down around our ears. End of the day, we’re all going to be diminished by the disaster that’s coming.

      What pisses me off is that it’s all so bloody unnecessary; we could be living in a much better nation, absent the various assholes stirring up trouble. But, for the sake of power, they’re doing what they’re doing, and we of “good will” are going to get screwed, no matter what the melanin content of our skin or cultural background.

      I’m taking notes, however, and when the time comes? I have a little list of people I think the world would be better off without. And, I plan on denouncing them to the “proper authorities” in the bright new world they are building, when the time comes. I look forward to the shocked look on their faces, once they realize what is happening to them in the struggle sessions.

      Key thing to remember: When the time comes, the regime always needs reliable guards on the watchtowers. If the rest of the sheep insist on herding themselves into the camps, then by all means, make sure you’re one of the ones in the towers. It’s a hell of a thing to have to do, but there you are: Better a live apparatchik than a dead idealist.

      Or, so my pragmatic side tells me. More than likely, the non-pragmatist part is going to insist on a death on the barricades as the mobs comes out of the night.

    7. Brian Says:

      LAUSD schools have regular race riots, and there ain’t no white kids left in the district…

      California has gotten undeniably worse in every way over the past 25 years but the Democrats have over that time made it into a one party state so I don’t see why anyone would still hold out hope that the normies are ever going to wake up and reject the Dems.

    8. Bill Brandt Says:

      Intimidation works. Until it doesn’t, and then you suddenly find your victims supporting things like the Nazi party herding you into the camps, and the junta offering you free rides out to sea aboard C-130s, while your kids go up for adoption to reliable regime supporters.

      The problem with all of this is that the idiots starting out on this road never seem to consider that once the seal is broken, the exact same tactics can be turned on them. It’s especially bad when a minority group, whether political or ethnic, decides to try it all out. If you fail to make it work, the recoil on it all is likely going to result in your loved ones lining public squares holding up forlorn signs with your picture on them.

      I think the regular insults are starting to wear thin with people – although most people do not like confrontation. Calling someone a Nazi has lost it’s sting – amusing since even most of the offenders are not aware of the true horrors of the Nazi regime.

      One reason I believe Trump so enrages the Left is that he uses their tactics and throws it back at them.

      Oh – an my favorite for shutting down the discussion?

      “I’m offended”.

      Best retort I heard a few weeks ago:

      “You’ll get over it”.

    9. Gringo Says:

      From a marketing point of view, this may seem a little odd: why would one want to insult one’s prospective customers–the people one is trying to persuade? I think the answer may be provided by Willi Munzenberg, who was Stalin’s master propagandist. Here’s what Munzenberg told Arthur Koestler, back when Koestler was still a Communist:

      Don’t argue with them, Make them stink in the nose of the world. Make people curse and abominate them, Make them shudder with horror. That, Arturo, is propaganda!

      5 Times Obama Has Encouraged Violence Against Republicans.

      Need examples of Obama saying it’s okay to be violent against Republicans?
      Here’s Obama saying that when it comes to Republicans, you need to “argue and get in their face”:
      President Obama tells his supporters that “we need to punish our enemies”:
      Obama told Republicans that they need to stop talking and “get out of the way”:
      Here’s our President saying he wants to know “whose ass to kick”:
      Then of course, there’s the time Obama told his supporters that “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

      “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night . “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

      Note that the Politico link about Obama’s knife fight comment described the RNC reaction as “pouncing.” Some things never change.

      Regarding the insults, I would add that one factor in my changing from Third Party None-Of-the-Above to Republican voter was a bumpersticker I saw in the 1980s: “Vote Republican. It’s Better than Thinking.” From my experience in Latin America and extensive library research on Latin America, I knew that while Progs and Demos may have labeled Reagan’s approach to Central America as “ignorant,” there was extensive evidence to support Reagan. For example, Progs and Demos claimed that Reagan had pushed the Sandinistas into the arms of the Soviets. I found sufficient research evidence that from the beginning, well before Reagan became President, the Sandinistas were unabashed supporters of Soviet imperialism. Unfortunately, much of that evidence was available only in Spanish.

    10. David Foster Says:

      The intimidation is particularly fierce of one is Black or Hispanic and dares to depart from the required political views assigned to these groups. The idea that one’s thinking must be defined by one’s skin color & ethnicity is of course basis racism, but is not overwhelmingly dominant on the Left.

      I see little hope for the United States unless we can seriously push back against identity-group balkanization. There are quite a few Black and some Hispanic politicians & candidates who dare to be different, which today takes enormous courage, and they deserve support.

    11. David Foster Says:

      Don Sensing excerpted part of a review of Thomas Sowell’s ‘The Vision of the Anointed’:

      “Sowell regards American political discourse as dominated by people who are sure that they know what is good for society and who think that the good must be attained by expanded government action. This modern-liberal elite exerts its influence through institutions that live by words: the universities and public schools, the media, the liberal clergy, the bar and bench. Its dominance results from its command of the information that words convey and the attitudes that words inspire.

      People who live by words should live also by arguments, butas Sowell richly documentsthe modern-liberal elite is not so good at arguing as it is at finding substitutes for argument. Sowell analyzes the major substitutes. Suppose that you doubt the necessity or usefulness of some great new government program. You may first be presented with a quantity of decontextualized “facts” and abused statistics, all indicating the existence of a “crisis” that only government can resolve. If you are not converted by this show of evidence, an attempt will probably be made to shift the viewpoint: outsiders may doubt that there is a crisis of, say, homelessness, but “spokesmen for the homeless” purportedly have no doubts.

      There may also be an attempt simply to declare victory by relabeling current political proposals as inherent rights: it will be announced, in vague yet dogmatic terms, that everyone has a right to decent housing and that government is therefore compelled to provide it. If necessary, substantiation for this new right can be discovered in a Constitution that means whatever the latest school of jurists decides that it means.

      If even these methods fail to win you over, attention will be redirected from the political issue to your own failure of imagination or morality. It will be insinuated that people like you are simplistic or perversely opposed to change, lacking in compassion and allied with the “forces of greed.””

      They are not even bothering with the first two steps in this sequence any more, they are going directly to step 3, as Willi Munzenberg would have recommended.

      Here’s Don’s post with the excerpted:

      http://senseofevents.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-snobbery-of-self-anointed.html

    12. Mike K Says:

      I pretty much think this post from 2016 still applies.

      The elites and the Democrats are making a huge mistake with the riots. Maybe they can’t help themselves. Maybe this is what passes for thinking in those circles.

    13. Jay Guevara Says:

      I also wonder if blacks don’t subconsciously believe that they are a much LARGER part of the US than they actually are. (Kirk, from your post on Sarah Hoyt’s place a few years ago, and from other posts by other people here and there.) From the large presence of blacks in entertainment, in advertising, in television and movie roles … I speculate that simply off the cuff – they believe that they are a far, far larger proportion of the American population than they actually are and consequently far more influential than the raw numbers of the population would indicate.

      Plus they tend to live together in heavily black neighborhoods, because whites as a rule avoid them like the plague. (White liberals will take umbrage at this statement, but nevertheless be damned sure they’re not caught in a black neighborhood after dark.) That, besides entertainment, advertising, TV, etc. probably gives them the impression that there are lots more of them than there really are.

    14. Jay Guevara Says:

      Don’t argue with them, Make them stink in the nose of the world. Make people curse and abominate them. Make them shudder with horror.

      Yet, paradoxically, that’s exactly what the leftists are doing today … to themselves.

      Clearly they have not thought this through.

    15. Jay Guevara Says:

      The problem with all of this is that the idiots starting out on this road never seem to consider that once the seal is broken, the exact same tactics can be turned on them.

      See, e.g., Harry Reid and the nuclear option. Leftists seem never to realize this truth.

    16. Mike K Says:

      they believe that they are a far, far larger proportion of the American population than they actually are and consequently far more influential than the raw numbers of the population would indicate.

      This goes with inability to estimate anything. Ask, college students what share of US population is gay. The number I have seen is 25%, wildly over the reality. Ask them what the profit margin of large corporations is. I see numbers like 20% or more. The white run corporations have certainly made a big effort to make blacks look like half the population in a cynical effort to sell stuff to them. People who do not work with their hands in a skilled trade are not used to estimating anything.

    17. Mike K Says:

      Richard Fernandez, with whom I rarely disagree, seems to agree with me on the Democrats’ strategy and it’s likely outcome.

      A feature shared by certain major revolutions is that they were not anticipated. Here is an explanation, which hinges on the observation that people who come to dislike their government are apt to hide their desire for change as long as the opposition seems weak. Because of this preference falsification, a government that appears unshakeable might see its support crumble following a slight surge in the opposition’s apparent size, caused by events insignificant in and of themselves. Unlikely though the revolution may have appeared in foresight, it will in hindsight appear inevitable because its occurrence exposes a panoply of previously hidden conflicts.

      The left is so certain they have won the election, except for the “secret Trump voters.”

      Among likely voters, the Democrat has an edge of 7 to 10 points depending on the expected turnout level. Biden is also ahead in key swing counties, which include the region of his birthplace. Despite the challenger’s poll lead, voters are evenly divided on who they think will win the Keystone State’s electoral votes this year as a majority believe that their communities hold a number of “secret Trump voters.”

    18. Jay Guevara Says:

      Fermi used to ask students to estimate, e.g., how many piano tuners there were in Chicago.

      How many people in Chicago in 1940? I’d guess 2.5 million.

      How many had pianos? I’d guess 0.1%, or 2500 pianos.

      How often did the average piano owner get his piano tuned? I’d guess once every year or two, so 1250-2500 tunings per year.

      How much did it cost? I’d guess $500, so about $62,5000-$125,000 worth per year.

      What was a reasonable professional income then? I’d guess $5000-$10,000 for a piano tuner, for 10-20 tunings per year.

      So I’d guess about a dozen, maybe up to two dozen piano tuners in Chicago in 1940.

      The fun thing about such estimates is that the errors tend to be offsetting.

    19. miguel cervantes Says:

      allen west, who was thrown under the bus, by the florida establishment, which redistricted his seat at least 10 miles from where it was originally, was defamed by michelle fields is one of these

    20. Jay Guevara Says:

      A feature shared by certain major revolutions is that they were not anticipated. Here is an explanation, which hinges on the observation that people who come to dislike their government are apt to hide their desire for change as long as the opposition seems weak. Because of this preference falsification, a government that appears unshakeable might see its support crumble following a slight surge in the opposition’s apparent size, caused by events insignificant in and of themselves.

      I taught my sons this: history takes place at the discontinuities. Avoid the fallacy of the linear extrapolation. The snow bank looks rock solid, until the avalanche starts.

    21. Mike-SMO Says:

      Compton, California.

      The town was 100 % Black, except for White and Korean “smear” along the eastern margin. The Central American “organizations” moved in. Compton is now ~60% Hispanic. It was apparently a rather brutal transition.

      It’s just “business”; “jitterbugs”, their friends and their families, were expendable.

    22. Brian Says:

      “Compton is now ~60% Hispanic”
      According to wikipedia, as of 2010 it was 2/3, and surely that’s higher now.

      Ten or fifteen years ago I read an article in the LA Times about how jobs like janitors at LAUSD schools were all black a couple decades ago and are now all Hispanic.

      I saw someone recently give a quote attributed to Ross Douthat I think that it was hard to imagine going forward how white women (of course he means college educated, relatively well off white women) and Hispanic men will coexist in the same political party. That’s probably going to be extended to all “working class” men, regardless of race.

      If the GOP had a brain, they’d be constantly running ads featuring black unemployed manual laborers who had lost their jobs to illegal immigration, instead of this silly stuff about your big huge house is going to be broken into by antifa. If they can pull working class non-white men into the party the Dem political calculus gets completely destroyed.

    23. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Brian: “If the GOP had a brain, they’d be constantly running ads featuring black unemployed manual laborers who had lost their jobs to illegal immigration …”

      Well, we all know the DC Swamp GOP has interests other than winning elections.

      However, even if the GOP wanted to win, TV ads would not be the way to reach unemployed male workers. TV is now a ghetto watched mostly by those credentialed-but-uneducated privileged white female college graduates. Males generally watch only sports on TV, and now that sports have gone all “Certain Black Lives Matter” all the time, that audience is probably declining fast.

    24. Brian Says:

      I agree that “running ads” can’t mean “on TV”…the 2016 Trump campaign was by all accounts incredibly effective using facebook to reach voters, which is why the Dems/MSM are so intent on delegitimizing and destroying it as a political communications platform.

      “Well, we all know the DC Swamp GOP has interests other than winning elections.”
      Trump’s biggest mistake, imo, was in disregarding the message of his inaugural address, and turning governance over to Paul Ryan, etc., who had zero interest his platform. I dunno if it was some combination of the Russia BS wrong-footing him from day one, the difficulty in staffing the government with sympathetic people, etc., but he should have run an anti-DC presidency. Oh well. It’s not actually too late, of course, but I don’t see any signs that he’s going to do that.

    25. Mike K Says:

      the difficulty in staffing the government with sympathetic people, etc., but he should have run an anti-DC presidency. Oh well. It’s not actually too late, of course, but I don’t see any signs that he’s going to do that.

      There are literally hundreds of jobs he had to fill in a month. I see how he turned to the GOPe in the person of Preibus and a couple of generals I would probably have trusted too. I read McMaster’s book years ago. Who knew he had become a Swamp creature? I did accomplish one thing. It taught him who his enemies were.

    26. miguel cervantes Says:

      they went after flynn and gorka and bannon, with remarkable speed, as an abject lesson, clovis who was up for some agriculture post, I call the framework that obama set up the minefield, with tripwires, rather than the swamp, I came to that realization after comey’s removal, occasioned by rosenstein, and mueller’s appointment, this played out much like the plame matter on steroids, with sessions playing ashcroft’s part, rosenstein comey, mueller’s comey, and so on, tillerson was as useless as powell,

    27. Xennady Says:

      Unlikely though the revolution may have appeared in foresight, it will in hindsight appear inevitable because its occurrence exposes a panoply of previously hidden conflicts.

      So which revolution is inevitable? Which regime is about to end, surprising almost everyone?

      Option #1. The entire US government, based on the Constitution of 1789, is about to fall. In that case we should assume that there is widespread but secret support for communist revolution of the sort that destroyed Cuba and many other nations in the last century and Venezuela in this one. I’m dubious, not least because there is no reason to keep such support secret, unless it is not actually popular at all.

      Option #2. The leftist domination of American political life and culture is about to end, along with the globalist domination of American economic and foreign policy. I note that Donald Trump was elected, surprising almost everyone, and has survived to remain in office, surprising almost as many.

      In case it wasn’t obvious, I think option #2 is teed up.

      I think the left knows it, which is why they’ve now been reduced to rioting and what seem to be permanent rolling lockdowns because of a virus which their own malice and incompetence has made vastly worse.

      They can’t let the normal political process proceed, because they know they can’t win if it does.

    28. Xennady Says:

      …but he should have run an anti-DC presidency.

      I half-expected there would be an open break between Trump and the worthless Gee Oh Peeeee establishment well before now but it never happened.

      I think if it had, the party would have turned on Trump and voted him out of office- and then it would cheerfully watch the next Republican candidate- Pence, if the left didn’t get him tossed out also- lose with the usual grace to whichever leftist won the demonrat nomination this year.

      In short, I think if Trump had actually run an anti-DC presidency as much as we’d have liked him to, he wouldn’t be even president now, let alone running for re-election.

    29. Jay Guevara Says:

      Compton, California.

      The town was 100 % Black, except for White and Korean “smear” along the eastern margin. The Central American “organizations” moved in. Compton is now ~60% Hispanic. It was apparently a rather brutal transition.

      And before that, Compton was white. Duke Snider was born and grew up there.

    30. Anonymous Says:

      The Duke was my man! Class act.

      Death6

    31. Jay Guevara Says:

      The Duke was my man! Class act.

      He was, indeed. I met him when he came to a practice of a semi-pro team I used to play on, run by a guy who was a friend of his.

      After I finished a round of BP, he gave me a baseball that had been signed by the entire Dodger team of a few years earlier, and included Koufax, Drysdale, Alston, etc. I still have it.

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