It’s illuminating that so many of the professional/managerial/class (PMC’s) are vilifying self research and critical thinking. Mention that you’re looking into something yourself or making up your own mind, rather than believing the conventional wisdom approved by the corporate media, and you can be sure to be denounced as a communist, right-wing extremist, anti-vaxxer, or Putin apologist.
This is new. Not long ago it was still fashionable to pay respect to thinking for yourself and examining evidence, even though the unstated rule was that if you did so you had to come up with the same results as the talking heads on corporate media. Before that, I remember when the same pundits were insisting that liberal democracy was superior to all other systems because it thrives on free inquiry and the clash of competing ideas.
The reason that we’ve come to this point is complicated but it involves the psychological revolution of the early twentieth century. Edward Bernays took the ideas he gleaned from his service in the Creel Commission and put them to work in the field of advertising, more or less inventing modern public relations in the process. Bernays believed that most human beings are incapable of independent thought and will inevitably believe whatever they’re told, provided that the tellers use Freudian methods to tap into the psyches of their audience.
However, the reality is that advertising, PR and propaganda have only a limited effect and are not a magic bullet for the powers that be. Trump’s surprising victory has demonstrated the diminishing returns of such policies. There were many other consequences, and one of them was an increasing nervousness on the part of elites and managerial classes alike about their ability to keep the masses in line. By 2016, decades of impoverishment, immiseration, and malign neglect inflicted on the poor and the working classes were already becoming apparent–the masses were becoming hostile and suspicious toward their supposed betters. To the elites who were paying attention, again, it was becoming painfully clear that this could get much worse, and potentially imperil the survival of them and their PMC apparatchik’s.
That is to say, most people in this country understand that the authorities are lying to them. They have come to realize that the corporate media is nothing but propaganda disguised as dispassionate reporting. The increasingly strident attempts to bully people into believing what they’re told, when what they’re told is all too often an obvious pack of lies, has had the usual effect of such maneuvers–more and more people assume as a matter of course that the authorities are lying to them, even when the authorities happen to be telling some approximation of the truth.
Our feral elite is frantically trying to manage all of this as the Twitter Files showing that prior to Musk’s takeover, Twitter was basically a national security state propaganda operation. Recent Taibbi drops reveal that the heads of the FBI, DHS, and the Director of National Intelligence were regularly conferring with Twitter’s former chief censor, Yoel Roth, during the run-up to the 2020 election. It reached the point that Twitter was a de facto FBI subsidiary.
So much for the First Amendment. I’m convinced, as are many of you, that the so-called deep state is heavily involved in “guiding” the country, has been for decades, with the best of intentions, of course.
However, it’s not working
Now that the corporate-bureaucratic system has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and the parade of officially approved experts marching past the cameras of the mass media has become a clown show earning more contempt than approval, the unraveling of the current state of political affairs is approaching. It’s simply a matter of when the system runs into a crisis it can’t meet without the support of the populace, and the self-anointed masters of the world discover to their horror that the help in question will not be forthcoming.
None of this is new. Civilizations fall, according to Arnold Toynbee, when the formerly creative minority stops being creative and sinks into a rut. In Toynbee’s terms, it “changes from a creative minority to a dominant minority, and it settles for maintaining control over the society by force, fraud and surveillance because it no longer has the ability to inspire confidence and loyalty by coming up with effective responses to the challenges faced by society”.
You know that your society is run by a dominant minority when, no matter what the problem is, the people in power always insist on the same solutions. You also know that your society is run by a dominant minority when the same problems come up over and over again, because they’re never actually solved–they’re just swept under the rug in a frantic effort to insist that the same old solutions really will work.
The maniacal demand that people stop thinking for themselves or doing their own research is thus the endpoint of a long slow process and the beginning of a far more dramatic one.
Look around: the tectonic plates of geo-politics and geo-finance are shifting–away from an increasingly flailing US. These are structural issues over which the tools of mass consciousness ultimately have but limited sway.