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  • Narrowing Horizons

    Posted by David Foster on January 31st, 2021 (All posts by )

    William Shirer, on his experiences in Germany during the early Nazi era:

    I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a café, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for the truth, said they were.

    Even though Shirer had plenty of access to outside news and information sources, and was well aware of Nazi lies, he still found it difficult to escape psychologically from the effects of the stiflingly-constrained information environment.

    Many of us have wondered how intelligent people–some of whom we may know personally–can fall so completely under the spell of the Democrat worldview, as it exists in its present ‘woke’ state…a worldview which is replete with ‘the most outlandish assertions,’ to use Shirer’s phrase.  But consider: if one gets one’s news from CNN, MSNBC, and even the traditional networks, and from newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times and their imitators…and one’s entertainment from mainstream movies and musical groups…and one works for a company, university, or ‘nonprofit’…then one is living within a highly uniform information and opinion environment. Yes, you might be exposed to the occasional dissident opinion on social media or directly from friends and acquaintances, but you will develop ‘antibodies’, inculcated by the approved sources, which lead you to dismiss such opinions as conspiracy theories, brainwashing by Trump, or something similar.

    It is, of course, much easier to find dissenting voices in 2021 America than it was in the time and place of which Shirer wrote.  (Shirer does say that ‘in those days, in the Thirties, a German listener could still tune his dial to a score of foreign radio stations’ without taking much risk…but most didn’t, evidently, or chose to disbelieve what they heard from outside sources.)

    The psychological drive to conform reinforces the controlled information environment and discourages explorations outside of it.  In my post Oxytocin and Conformity, I cited some research on how the ‘cuddling and belonging’ hormone oxytocin affects public and private conformity, and recalled one of the episodes of the TV series The World at War in which a German man spoke about the temptation to conform.  He had been strongly anti-Nazi, but admitted that he had felt a strong emotional pull to join the rallies and be a part of the the movement.  (He said it much more eloquently than the foregoing sentence would suggest)  I also cited a blog post whose author, after critiquing the craziness of the extreme “progressives,”  went on to say:

    I’m going to be very real with you for a moment, and take off my hat has a blogger, an author, and whatever else I may be, and just speak to you as a man.

    This could have been me.

    Does that surprise you? There was a time I skirted so close to falling under this spell, it would shock you. I felt the guilt, the social pressure, the desire for conformity. Despite the terrible weight such ideology carries on the mind, it is absurdly easy to fall into it. Every day we are assaulted by the agitprop. It is so easy to just say “yes, it’s all my fault, I will submit and obey.”

    It will bring momentary relief, because you will no longer have to fight a narrative that is bombarded upon you 24 hours a day. That mental effort is, itself, rather exhausting on the mind. But if you accept the chains, that is a far greater weight, one that will destroy you. The chains are seductive. They call, because of the enormous weight of social power behind them.

    The pressure is both great and subtle. Imagine a conversation about the weather, innocent enough on its own. A friend might say “wow, that global warming sure is kicking in today!” You’ve a few choices here. You can challenge him, but the immediate counter is likely to be something like “well, 99% of scientists agree, sooooo….” The implication, of course, is that you are stupid for disagreeing with 99% of scientists (whether or not there is any truth to that claim, either). You could remain silent because it’s easier. Or you could just give in, regardless of the truth of the matter, because it’s easiest. Meanwhile, if you counter your friend successfully, you may be down a friend by the end of the night.

    So whether or not a lot of folks believe this thing, soon consensus is reached, as much to peer pressure as anything else. Then it is, further, easier to agree on welfare, tax policy, affirmative action, black lives matter, social justice, etc… Each one has a superficial rhetorical argument which sounds nice, and which has enormous media programming and social pressure behind it.

    A thousand such chats happen every day, both in the real world, and the social media world. The sum total of which is designed to move you, via peer pressure and Weaponized Empathy, toward self-hatred, and intense personal guilt for things which you neither did, nor were capable of preventing.

    Soon a man might find himself agreeing with lunatic propositions that all Republicans are literal Nazis, and Donald Trump is worse than Hitler because… well, nobody really knows the reasons.

    Submission is always the easier short-term choice. Long-term, however, it just destroys a man’s soul.

    I am not asserting that the present-day Democrat belief system is identical to Naziism (although there are indeed some disturbing similarities as well as differences), or that the control of the information environment is as tight as what existed in mid-1930s Germany…but still, when you step back and look at all the ways in which a consistent worldview is being promulgated and views from outside that worldview are being suppressed, then the information horizons–especially for those people who don’t have a particularly strong need to think for themselves or willingness to challenge accepted beliefs–are narrowing at a pretty frightening rate.

     

     

    52 Responses to “Narrowing Horizons”

    1. Stephen Taylor Says:

      Excellent. I just finished “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45” by Milton Mayer, and it’s a both fascinating and terrifying just how closely current events are tracking the events in the book. I can’t recommend this book enough. Several of the volk interviewed by the author said similar things.

    2. Brian Says:

      Well, we’re scheduled to have our very own show trial of the former leader next week, is my understanding. Seems very Soviet.
      Speaking of which, interesting debates going on about what the best strategy he should take:
      1. Vigorous legal defense
      2. Defend himself, i.e, turn his side into a rally on the Senate floor (imagine the ratings!)
      3. Ignore it. Refuse to accept that the Senate has any authority over him
      Personally I like either 2 or 3. Probably 3 best of all. What are the GOPe going to do in that case? They can’t possibly vote to convict, no matter what happens. Why should anyone else play along with this farce?

    3. Brian Says:

      re: the overall state of the discourse, I’ve noticed that the comments on reasonable-ish non-Trump but non-never-Trump twitter accounts have become completely taken over by violent lefties in the past few weeks. And of course basically all the MAGA accounts I used to check on have been banned.

    4. miguel cervantes Says:

      some clues to what happened

      https://www.deepcapture.com/2021/01/how-djt-lost-the-white-house-chapter-2-was-there-foreign-interference-in-this-election-you-make-the-call/

    5. PenGun Says:

      LOL. We now have Nazis on both sides. Calling each other Nazis, being really upset, and talking about getting ready to fight. You really have no idea how funny this all is, as you are the joke. ;)

    6. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      As PenGun insists on proving, even a broken clock will be right twice a day. The National Socialists were no more “Left Wing” (i.e. concerned with the common man) than the Marxists. They were appropriately called Fascists because they created a society in which private property was allowed — even celebrated — as long as the owners of the private property kowtowed to the politicians.

      If one looks seriously at almost any country today — China, Russia, the West — we are all living under Fascist rule, with an unholy self-serving marriage of Big Government and Big Business. But I do not expect PenGun to understand.

    7. Mike-SMO Says:

      It took some time and effort for me to understand how the “Weird Children” of the Internet co-opted the stock-market. That “system” was designed to reward failure, which is easy to produce. President Trump was attempting to move the U.S. back to an apprerciation of success at building something.

      The “impeachment trial” is theater, a “lynching” of someone who saw the system for the failure that it was. President Trump has “lost” his legal team since, I suspect, that he was able to convince the lawyers that there is nothing “legal” about this planned “lynching”, although the Democratic Media will try to sell it as something “reasonable”. President Trump was never going to get to present a “legal defense”, or be allowed to bring up the election fraud. The “attack” by the “Weird Children” may have ripped the fabric of the false Woke+Corrupt reality sufficiently to break the spell. And they didn’t have to “burn down Dresden”.

      The disruption of the stock-market “profit from failure” program with trivial techniques by the “Weird Children” may have generated enough uncertainty about the power of the system to encourage a few of the wavering players to act in support of our Republic and our real President. Those “Weird Children” are usually nothing but an a-political scurry in the darkness, but they revealed the “Elite” to be a fantasy power. That exploit may have sufficiently disrupted the fake consensus so that President Trump can “break a move”. I am hopeful, since the Man has always played to win and he, and we, now must know that there ain’t no cavalry coming to the rescue.

    8. Mike K Says:

      I think too much is made of the supposed difference between Fascism and Communism/leftism. Mussolini was a very intelligent young man who was a Socialist when Fabian Socialism was very stylish. GB Shaw, among others, fit Orwell’s description of Socialists.

      “The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years’ time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.”

      Socialism was quite popular then. Woodrow Wilson, a genuine Fascist, imprisoned the Socialist leader, Eugene V Debs, under the unconstitutional Sedition Act.

      Harding commuted his sentence and released him but he died soon after of conditions related to his imprisonment.

      Debs’ speeches against the Wilson administration and the war earned the enmity of President Woodrow Wilson, who later called Debs a “traitor to his country”.[39] On June 16, 1918, Debs made a speech in Canton, Ohio urging resistance to the military draft of World War I. He was arrested on June 30 and charged with ten counts of sedition.

      Wilson was a “Progressive” of the time whose policies were similar to Socialism of the Mussolini variety. Fascism and Socialism are related and differ only be degree.

    9. Brian Says:

      “a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state.”
      So we’re finding out today that the campaign manager for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee was a sexual predator, including of underage boys, and “everyone knew”, so I’m finding it a bit hard to feel like you need to be in a “totalitarian state” to have a deeply corrupt media that doesn’t reflect reality in any way.

    10. David Foster Says:

      Stalin’s master propagandist, Willi Munzenberg, has some advice for 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!”

      That describes exactly the policy of today’s American Left.

      See ‘A Tsunami of Hate’ at PowerLine:

      https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2021/01/a-tsunami-of-hate.php

    11. Brian Says:

      “I am not asserting that the present-day Democrat belief system is identical to Naziism…”
      Whites are bad, America is bad, etc., it’s ubiquitous and evil, and we’re steeped in it, and it’s all going to end in tears and fire and blood.

    12. Jester Naybor Says:

      Perhaps, instead of thinking of this in terms of fascism or communism, we need to think in terms of a paradigm that predates those deadly ism’s.

      Fundamentalism.

      Blind faith that demands lock-step concurrence with its doctrines … but in this case, doctrines set by gods who can see themselves in their mirrors:

      > Formal education and celebrity are put on pedestals of worship, as possessing the insight, wisdom, and virtue of superhuman deities … while summarily dismissing wisdom presented outside those channels as not worthy of consideration or trust.

      > “Non-profit” status is put on a pedestal of worship and trust, while treating those honest enough to state their intent to profit with perpetual suspicion and the application of restraints in a manner reminiscent of Gulliver.

      > Rules are the answer to every problem, assuming that compliance with them removes the need to think beyond them.

      > All those except the elite few on the above pedestals are considered incapable and unworthy of competently managing your own lives … and therefore should be given a pass on the responsibility to make their own decisions to get through life; instead being content to just go to work, or to school, and trust the pedestaled to make their decisions, use their resources, and dictate what they can and can’t do from their lofty heights as though the elite few are standing right beside them … all in the name of establishing their definition of the “greater good” as though it is one-size-fits-all.

      The laity of such a faith come to believe that they can’t really rise above their situation and should just (f__k up and) trust their “betters” in grand Flounderian fashion … while the pedestaled who have already “got theirs” by merely standing on those pedestals demand such trust, regardless of actual competence, oblivious to their own human limitations.

      And in the process, effectively unplug most of the distributed intellect in this nation … intellect that might not meet the standards of MENSA or rocket scientists, but combined with its proximity-informed insight is far better equipped to solve the problems around the individuals possessing it.

      ************

      Now, why do so many buy into the Orange Man Bad narrative? Consider that the above fundamentalism has also led them to believe that Nice People don’t govern with the anger and mocking Trump extended towards the self-righteous busybodies who oppose him … that one must conduct themselves as a “statesman” that does not challenge the faith, even as those self-righteous Nice People were/are leading this nation off a cliff while hiding behind such conduct.

      They thought that supporting Trump reflected badly on their character … that they wouldn’t be seen as Nice People themselves. And they saw that as more of a threat, than the trampling upon our liberty and prosperity perpetrated by the Nice People.

      Bad judgment, on their part … potentially fatal to this nation.

    13. dirtyjobsguy Says:

      The on-line world has taken a lot of focus away from the necessary bits of politics. The serious left does not make this mistake. It was Trumps fatal flaw. Fortunately a lot of this can be local and started in areas of more conservative voters (most of the country).

      1. Make Laws and Formal Regulations: Obama/Trump/Biden Executive orders are no real substitute for legislation and formal regulations. Start with the pandemic stuff. Restricting emergency actions to a short time (< 60 days) without legislative action. Severely restrict mail in/absentee voting but increase funds/number of polling places by law.

      2. Identify and Continuously Push for commonsense actions with majority approval: Look at the referendums knocked down by sizable majorities in the last election, even in liberal states. They support non-quota anti-discrimination laws, lower taxes, more individual freedom and more. People really do like local control, both liberal and conservative at the local level. Hammer this home and don't be afraid.

      3. Support Civic Rituals: Voting is the key. Bring back in-person registration and voter's oaths. When I first moved to Connecticut I had to go before the town Republican Registrar of Voters (there were two!) and sign the card along with raising my right hand and taking the voter's oath. It was simple but profound. I swore to take voting very seriously and would cast my vote after careful reflection. Not offensive and reminds you of how important your role was. Do the same of public holidays with public speaking and other civic events highlighted. Push back at woke complaints. If they don't like a school name, call their bluff and take all the names off. Lots of kids went to PS 12 or West High School.

      4. Cut off public funding of Unions, Lawsuits and activists: No more paid time for union officers of public employee unions. If it can't be funded from union dues it doesn't need to be done. No more working with the Sierra Clubs and others on lawsuit regulation where they get paid in a settlement. No public funds to anyone doing political action. This would be right or left.

      Hard work but it needs to be done.

    14. miguel cervantes Says:

      one might say they are progs, but more accurate were the villains of that cult tale of paranoia (cue delmore schwartz)
      the net, with sandra bullock, the villains were the praetorians who was the army of a tech billionaire,

    15. Mike K Says:

      I think it is nice to have ideas about how to fix the situation we are in but none seems to be plausible unless the oligarchy is overthrown. Elections are so 20th century. Does anyone think the 1994 election could happen today ? We will see in 2022 if there is any prospect of elections solving any of this.

      Meanwhile, watch if HR 127 becomes law.

      The Attorney General, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, shall establish a system for licensing the possession of firearms or ammunition in the United States, and for the registration with the Bureau of each firearm present in the United States.

      “(b) Firearm Registration System.—

      “(1) REQUIRED INFORMATION.—Under the firearm registration system, the owner of a firearm shall transmit to the Bureau—

      “(A) the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, the identity of the owner of the firearm, the date the firearm was acquired by the owner, and where the firearm is or will be stored;

      Annual license fee for each gun $800.

    16. Brian Says:

      Mike: Their election law proposal is by far the most dangerous thing they’re talking about. That gun still will be stopped by judges, and ignored by states and individuals. Any of this stuff they try to do is going to be immediately sued by 30+ state AGs, and we’ll have an instant massive nullification crisis on our hands if they actually try to do any of it.

    17. OBloodyHell Says:

      }}} This could have been me.

      Interesting. I don’t feel any “pull” of conformity. I, by my own nature, am the ornery sort whose innate response to “Do as you’re told!” is “Fuck you!”.

      I grant, active resistance — telling people they are full of shit… and explaining WHY — takes a lot of effort and, I’ll ack: is exhausting.

      But just telling them to fuck off? Piece o’ cake.

      This used to be a major part of the American Spirit.

      Not sure what percentage it is any more. I think women, having gotten the full power over their mating choices away from the sensible matriarchs, have bred it out of our genes to an unhealthy extent…

      “We live in interesting times.”
      *sigh*

    18. OBloodyHell Says:

      The relevance of the above observation plays into this Whitman quote:

      There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may
      not enter upon this country, if the people lose their
      roughness and spirit of defiance.

      – Walt Whitman –

    19. OBloodyHell Says:

      }}} and we’ll have an instant massive nullification crisis on our hands if they actually try to do any of it.

      Among other things, we need to make far far more people conscious of their powers as Jurors:

      http://WWW.FIJA.ORG

      That’s one place they (short of making Jury Nullification illegal, which I would not put past them) can’t constrain things.

    20. Ginny Says:

      David, Thanks, this seems “right” – esp the line: Submission is always the easier short-term choice. Long-term, however, it just destroys a man’s soul.

      I know generally I take the line of least resistance – you are talking to someone sympatheticlly which they take for agreement and I don’t really dissuade them. Then suddenly, they realize, usually when I sum up the opposition in an equally amiable way that understanding isn’t agreeing. You haven’t been meaning to fake it, meaning to be pleasant and go along. So, they feel betrayed and you feel betrayed. And to avoid that moment, sometimes I don’t give the other argument.

      That path of least resistance right now is to simply agree, orange man bad, and move on. And of course Trump isn’t the good incarnate. But many of us still liked the pipeline and the policies domestic and foreign that he put in place. And the capitol “insurrection” is quickly becoming Charlottesville – with the same exaggeration, the same lies, and the same repetition and repetition of an one moment where the right overstepped as every new day shows a new outrage on the west coast and another authoritarian set of “laws” that will have the force of the national guard to enforce on the east.

      And the experts! Here’s FEE on Mamet and here’s Mamet himself. I hadn’t seen them until today, when Instapundit put FEE up, but sadly the points he makes – as connected as they are to the “experts” of the pandemic – are never old.

    21. David Foster Says:

      Ginny…Mamet gets special credit for courage, being in the field that he is in.

      re his WSJ article on expertise, I posted ‘Radar Wars: A Case Study in Expertise and Influence’ at Ricochet:

      https://ricochet.com/834816/radar-wars-a-case-study-in-expertise-and-influence/

      …it is an update of my earlier Chicago Boyz post on the subject:

      https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/41262.html

    22. chedolf Says:

      I think too much is made of the supposed difference between Fascism and Communism/leftism… Fascism and Socialism are related and differ only be degree.

      That might be plausible if you interpret political theory purely as a matter of economic policy, but why would anyone do that?

    23. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I am so inclined to dissent and rebellion, especially in the present circumstance; I see myself as a perfectly sympathetic and agreeable person, liking nothing more than peace and quiet and amiable relations with the world. I never thought of myself as a natural apple-cart-upsetter … but there you go. Knowing too much history, and seeing and knowing very well what happens when the rest of the herd goes running off, chasing a bad idea? Being raised as a stiff-necked Lutheran, and knowing that someone trying to bully you into changing deeply-held convictions in order to conform is a bad, bad idea, and that eventually history will judge you as being in the right. Does it come out of being a permanent non-conformist early on, of always feeling slightly on the outside of so-called normals? I detest being bullied, and detest bullies.

    24. Brian Says:

      As far as I can tell the difference between communism and fascism comes down to:
      1. slight difference in rhetoric, though I’m not really expert enough to see how. Both talk about the common man, and about national identity, but commies are opposed to religion and tradition, and fascists are usually pro.
      2. massive difference in body count. Commies kill way, way, way, way more, every single time.

    25. Mike K Says:

      Chedolf Says:
      February 1st, 2021 at 5:02 pm
      I think too much is made of the supposed difference between Fascism and Communism/leftism… Fascism and Socialism are related and differ only be degree.

      That might be plausible if you interpret political theory purely as a matter of economic policy, but why would anyone do that?

      Does “Economic Policy” include the murder of millions? The purported economic policy of Fascism and Socialism aren pretty close to identical. Communism is Socialism with guns. All three are concerned about power. And who has it. Socialism is mostly theory but it is proposed by “experts” who assume they are better qualified to tell us what to do than we are. When attempts to convince by argument end and force arrives, it becomes Fascism or communism. Both are Socialism with guns.

      Here is a discussion of methods.

    26. Christopher B Says:

      The best capsule description I’ve seen of communism vs fascism came from Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism.

      Communism is international socialism.
      It is externally aggressive to spread socialism.

      Fascism is national socialism, and is externally aggressive to support the nation.

    27. David Foster Says:

      Christopher B…”The best capsule description I’ve seen of communism vs fascism came from Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism”

      Neptunus Lex, reflecting on his favorite professor at the Naval Academy, put it this way:

      The innate character flaw of the political right, with its thrumming appeals to the logic of blood and soil, is its lamentable tendency to go in search of enemies abroad. The left, on the other hand, with its own appeals to the politics of envy and class warfare, is content to find mortal enemies closer to hand.

      https://thelexicans.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/a-difficult-man/

    28. Jay Guevara Says:

      One of the most prominent of Mussolini’s fans: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

      A gushing admirer of Mussolini. Fascism got a bad rep from Adolf & Co., but Mussolini, who came to power in 1922 (i.e., long before Adolf) blazed the trail for strong central government, hence FDR’s admiration.

      Mussolini coined the expression “totalitarian,” which at the time was meant as an honorific, and included Mussolini’s famous phrase “from cradle to grave,” in reference to the state looking out for its citizens, in the context of “totalitarianism,” a term that only later went into bad odor.

      Joe the Simple is now calling for “unity,” apparently channeling Mussolini, who famously also said, “Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state.” I’m waiting for Joe the Simple to come out with a new logo, a bundle of sticks tied together and surrounding an ax.

      Serious question: what proportion of the Democrat Party would subscribe to that view? They doubtless wouldn’t recognize it as Mussolini’s, given the parlous state of American education, and philosophically would enthusiastically endorse it.

      The bitterly humorous aspect is that members of antifa do not grasp that they are the fascists.

    29. Jay Guevara Says:

      Communism is international socialism.
      It is externally aggressive to spread socialism.

      Fascism is national socialism, and is externally aggressive to support the nation.

      That’s not a description, that’s a simple statement of fact.

      Mussolini started out as a Marxist (i.e., international socialist), was the editor of the newspaper of the Italian Communist Party (IIRC), and in view of his impressive intellect was highly regarded by Lenin.

      Mussolini changed his views owing to his experiences in WWI, where he saw Italian proletarian soldiers had much greater affinity for bourgeois Italian officers than they did for proletarian Austrian soldiers. He therefore reoriented his organizing from members of the same class in different countries – international socialism – to members of different classes within the same country – national socialism.

    30. Jester Naybor Says:

      I’m waiting for Joe the Simple to come out with a new logo, a bundle of sticks tied together and surrounding an ax.

      They already have a motto to go with that, from back in 2016 … “Stronger Together”. The Pantsuit Palpatine beat Jar Jar Joe to it.

    31. Brian Says:

      I’ve seen some Black History content, it’s kind of disturbing. I thought the focus was always on great accomplishments by black Americans, but now it’s about how America has always been white supremacist and viciously brutalized blacks. Very, very different message and mood…

    32. Mike K Says:

      A gushing admirer of Mussolini. Fascism got a bad rep from Adolf & Co., but Mussolini, who came to power in 1922 (i.e., long before Adolf) blazed the trail for strong central government, hence FDR’s admiration.

      Mussolini was even in an American movie with Lionel Barrymore. Had Benito never met Adolph, he would have died in bed beloved by his countrymen. When I was in Italy ten years ago there were still plaques on buildings with his New Roman Empire maps.

    33. Anonymous Says:

      “Communism is international socialism.
      It is externally aggressive to spread socialism.

      Fascism is national socialism, and is externally aggressive to support the nation.”

      A distinction without a difference. The Soviet republics (and the eastern European countries) were exploited and raped to support mother Russia. Early in the USSR, external aggression was minimal compared to what it soon became. Any statist-based system soon discovers that the lie of central planning and conformity to planning kills the host. Expansion into other places seen as having resources, industry or learning can delay this decay through opportunities to appropriate.

      Right and left classification becomes meaningless if statism is on both ends. If constructed on the basis of individual sovereignty then it becomes useful and demonstrates degrees of difference. The big historical trick was to make it about Fascism and Marxism being opposite extremes on the political continuum.

      Death6

    34. miguel cervantes Says:

      is it really, who directed the world wars, the korean and vietnam engagments, among the ones behind diem were william douglas, and katrina van den heuvels father, no rock ribbed righties, yes Cardinal Spellman might have been an outlier,
      now the projects in south asia and the levant might have caught up in that score,

    35. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      The accusation will be made – and of course it is fair to at least look at the two sides – how we know that it is not our side that has been propagandised? In the choice between the Red Pill and The Blue Pill (or to use the classic science fiction framing from Rog Phillips, the Yellow Pill) how are we to know? I think the Shirer paragraphs that led off the OP are instructive. In which direction does the social pressure lie? Which is the choice that would be easiest to slip into? That is likely – though not definitely – the wrong one.

      I do not subscribe to the idea that we are under fascism or communism or just about to be so. To be forever told, as I have been all my life in one direction or another that “Yeah, well, this is how it starts! Just you wait, you innocent, naive fool!” is not convincing. The stories out of my friends from Romania, and even the childhood memories of my adopted sons are so entirely dissimilar from what is getting folks worked up today as to be categorically different. Fascism Lite might even be too strong a term.

      I also cannot credit the idea that this last federal election proves that elections are no longer a real alternative. Even if every state Trump thought he had won WAS stolen by the few thousand votes necessary to secure the Electors and this were discovered and reversed, it would still remain that not only was the election legitimately close, but Trump lost badly in the popular vote. That he was able to assemble an efficient electoral strategy of turning fewer votes into more Electors is very clever and certainly to his credit. But such assemblages are inherently vulnerable and unstable. That’s just arithmetic, not any fancy analysis.

      However, one need not go to the extremities of totalitarianism for the principle Shirer describes to be operative. It is likely operative at all times and in all places even without intentional propaganda. We are social beings who find it more comfortable to believe what those around us believe. In fact, Confucianism and Epicureanism both advise that the wise man will worship the gods of the city, in order to live at peace and be part of the society around him, which is a good thing. It always seems wise, and easier, to just go along. Even those of us who are naturally contrary and ask ourselves whether the opposite may be true do not do this for most things, but only for a few important ones. To question the Conventional Wisdom is a healthy thing, but to disbelieve it on everything is not to be wise, but a mere crank. Even the curmudgeons are selective.

    36. Anonymous Says:

      Mike K: I think too much is made of the supposed difference between Fascism and Communism/leftism… Fascism and Socialism are related and differ only be degree.

      That might be plausible if you interpret political theory purely as a matter of economic policy, but why would anyone do that?

      Mike K: Does “Economic Policy” include the murder of millions?

      Did the political violence of the Fascists who ruled Italy for two decades even come close to the relative scale of mass murder in China and the USSR?

    37. Brian Says:

      Anon: I know it’s a rhetorical question, but of course you know there is not a case anywhere of a country become less violent after the commies take over, or other than the Nazis of a government of the “right” (which of course the Nazis were not) having a body count that matches even the least murderous commie regime.

    38. David Foster Says:

      “Even if every state Trump thought he had won WAS stolen by the few thousand votes necessary to secure the Electors and this were discovered and reversed, it would still remain that not only was the election legitimately close, but Trump lost badly in the popular vote.”

      How much of the popular vote, though, was due to the suppression by the news media and social media…apparently the *collusive* suppression…of stories embarrassing to the Biden campaign, such as the Hunter Biden story?

    39. Brian Says:

      You don’t even have to fall back on the news suppression, though of course that is an issue. The fact is that there is zero reason for a GOPer to vote in much of CA, which accounted for all of Hillary’s popular vote “victory” and most of Biden’s. A lot of people just don’t vote in non-competitive elections–why should they? For example, AOC, for all the attention she gets, gets a pitiful number of votes, because what’s the point of voting in that race?

    40. Mike K Says:

      Did the political violence of the Fascists who ruled Italy for two decades even come close to the relative scale of mass murder in China and the USSR?

      No, but Hitler did a pretty good job. As I have previously posted here, had Mussolini not met Hitler he would have died in bed.

    41. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      I assent to David Foster’s thought that the popular vote may be influenced by the dominant media culture – as in the Shirer quote in the OP, but we don’t know how to measure that. In my secret heart I think that a balanced media would result in Republicans consistently in the 55-60% range, but I don’t have much way of showing that. I think Brian’s point about the depressed vote of Republicans in high-population, heavily Democratic states is also well-taken. Yet it is easy to comfort ourselves with thoughts of vast hordes of supporters hiding in the weeds, who may not actually exist. And smaller states with “disproportionate” (not to me, because I like the EC, but in terms of the national vote) Republican vote such as Utah can show the same, in aggregate. I mention these things at all to get us out of the mindset that in a real, fair election we’d be winning 70-30. Maybe, but I don’t see the numbers anywhere.

      Not to mention that if it was 70-30 the Republican party would definitely split rather than just grumble and accuse about it, and the Democrats would go looking for ways to form new coalitions.

    42. Mike K Says:

      I posted ‘Radar Wars: A Case Study in Expertise and Influence’ at Ricochet:

      Ricochet is shedding members, including me.

      AVI, I think another explanation for the popular vote difference couod be the absentee ballots with no fold and with no vote except Biden. Granted that was not 7 million but it might have been close to a million. Also, the Dominion story remains untold.

    43. PenGun Says:

      You could easily set up a fair voting system, for your president, just copy Canada. That will never happen as its unamerican. ;)

    44. Boobah Says:

      You can’t make jury nullification illegal unless you abolish the jury trial; it’s a necessary consequence.

      Mind, it’s worth noting that both the judicial and executive branches seem to do all they can to either avoid juries (by way of administrative fines, for example, rather than court-imposed financial judgments) or render them uselessly compliant (mostly using the excuse that a ‘blank slate’ is necessary for a fair trial, never mind that half the point of a jury of the defendant’s peers was that they’d have insight into him and his actions based on outside knowledge.)

    45. ErisGuy Says:

      The psychological drive to conform reinforces the controlled information environment and discourages explorations outside of it.

      Dramatized in “Moscow on the Hudson” wherein Boris (Saveliy Kramarov) eventually realizes his desire to defect is a form of insanity. He returns to Russia.

    46. Anonymous Says:

      AVI,

      Trump most certainly did not “lose the popular vote” because there is no such thing to lose.

    47. Christopher B Says:

      First-horse-past-the-post winner-take-all benefits the Democrats as much as it does Republicans in the Electoral College. See endless references to the supposed ‘Blue Wall’ in 2016 and Bill Clinton’s pluralities in 1992 and 1996.

    48. Brian Says:

      “First-horse-past-the-post winner-take-all benefits the Democrats as much as it does Republicans in the Electoral College”
      Yep. It’s well established that the 10 or so smallest population states are about equally divided between the parties. The whole “abolish the EC” movement started when the Dems had consolidated their hold on CA so strongly that they for the foreseeable future have a hammerlock on the “popular vote” count.

    49. miguel cervantes Says:

      chesa boudin, ayers son, certainly benefited from that system, i’m guessing senior gascon the procurator in los angeles, was elected in that manner, hence the good prosecutor not referring to his reign of error at all,

    50. Brian Says:

      relevant story:
      https://reason.com/2021/02/02/see-something-say-something-online-act-punishes-big-tech-for-not-snitching/
      A new bill revitalizes the war on terror’s favorite slogan in service of forcing tech companies to turn over more user data to the government. The “See Something, Say Something Online Act,” introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) and co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas), is the latest attack on the federal communications law known as Section 230 as well as freedom of speech and online privacy.
      The legislation says any interactive computer service provider—that means social media giants, small blogs, podcast hosting services, app stores, consumer review platforms, independent political forums, crowdfunding and Patreon-style sites, dating apps, newsletter services, and much more—will lose Section 230 protections if they fail to report any known user activity that might be deemed “suspicious.”
      “Suspicious” content is defined as any post, private message, comment, tag, transaction, or “any other user-generated content or transmission” that government officials later determine “commits, facilitates, incites, promotes, or otherwise assists the commission of a major crime.” Major crimes are defined as anything involving violence, domestic, or international terrorism, or a “serious drug offense.”
      *******
      The fact that a GOP Senator, from TX even!!!, could sponsor something like this right now is a perfect example of why the party needs to be purged with fire, and the entire system nuked from orbit.
      Oops, sorry, I guess you all will have to report me now.

    51. Brian Says:

      So it seems certain that in less than a decade Speaker of the House AOC will bar all GOP House members from serving on any House committees, because they are all domestic terrorists, so things are going just swimmingly…

    52. PenGun Says:

      Yes the war on terror has come home to roost. It was always gonna be this way, a war on terror is laughable as a concept, and its something you need to wear. ;)