Trump and the triumph of ignorance
The most disturbing feature of Trump's rise to power is the way he can persuade his followers to accept statements that are clearly false. He is very far from the first politician to lie, but he is one of very few who have chosen to lie brazenly and in defiance of the obvious truth. It is tempting to think, since Trump read his speeches so carefully, that he was inspired by Hitler's belief that people would more readily believe a big lie than a small one. The reality is that Trump does not discriminate. He lies readily about matters both great and small. Fact checking revealed that around 70% of the statements he made during his campaign were outright lies.
He works on a weakness in our perceptions of truth and falsehood. Numerous psychological studies have shown that the more often a lie is repeated, the more inclined people are to believe it. Through-out his campaign the same lies were repeated endlessly to maximise the effect. A secondary effect arises when we are confronted by a stream of lies. We may dismiss some quickly as self-evidently wrong, but others would require research or careful thought. In those circumstances, faced with a barrage of dubious claims, most of us will choose to occupy our minds with other matters.
Importantly, there is nothing in these phenomena that forces us to believe. Given the obvious nature of so many of his lies, and the relative ease with which others could be disproved, the question arises as to why so many were fooled. The answer almost certainly rests in the long legacy of deception to which the US public has been exposed. They have been softened up by decades of deliberate lying over the health effects of smoking, climate change, the evidence for evolution and numerous other issues. When politicians, corporations and religious groups constantly lie, and support those lies with complex arguments, people are forced to make a choice. They must decide to accept or reject the authority of those speaking. For many it is always going to be easier to believe authority figures than to analyse the truth of their statements and face the social consequences of challenging them.
Trump then, is an almost natural culmination of this process. His high media profile over an extended period and his high status as President give him an authority that many have chosen to accept unquestioningly. Where he leads, they will follow and in that rests enormous danger. To lie the way he does, requires a capacity for self-deception that is probably only ever available to those wealthy enough to surround themselves with flunkies and yes men. It is only in an environment where no statement is challenged and no behaviour censured that a character as amoral as Trump can arise.
The great battles of his Presidency will not at first be physical. They will be between ignorance and knowledge. Between those who mindlessly accept authority and those who question it. Trump targets the media because he knows they are the key. If he can intimidate those who question him into silence then we will have taken a step towards the world Orwell foresaw in his novel 1984 where the cult of personality dominates and ignorance is strength. We must urgently oppose his lies.
George Orwell .
Oops ! Nearly missed it - threat of bloody civil unrest ( the great battles of his presidency will not at first be physical )
Way too sensitive fong ! I will explain my interest in more detail at some point.
I'm not disagreeing with you entirely BB but the bloke said he was going to repeal Obamacare and he has, said he was going to sink the TPP and he has.
So, he is being truthful about some things that matter to the people who voted him in.
bb Im starting to think that perhaps you're losing a fair bit of sleep over this Trump saga.
This recent musing doesn't seem to pose any questions but I'm assuming these are your inner turmoils in relation to the Trump presidency?
Believe it or not what you've written above actually makes a lot more sense if I imagine it being spoken by Donald Trump himself because it seems to be extremely self-indulgent.
The left are in constant denial and simply refusing to see the truth which is as clear as day. People hate the establishment! No one honestly believes Trump is going to wall the USA off from Mexico and bill the Mexicans for it. They're neighbors & allies. Perhaps he upgrades the existing infrastructure and puts a levy on one of the Mexican imports to pay for it indirectly.
The voters simply don't care what politicians are saying. They just want him to drain the swamp, whatever the hell that even means. New faces new start new jobs because the existing lot were deemed failures. Any path for the country except for the path they were put on by the Democrats.
Don't forget he's also withholding funding for family planning organisations and NGO's who support abortion.
Fantastic that he's keeping that promise.
Now for Roe Vs Wade.
freeride, I agree that he was telling the truth about some aspects of his policy but it cannot be used as justification for his other lies. We are used to politicians throwing in a few lies to help get elected, but a 30% truth rating on factual statements during the campaign places him into a different category. He has deliberately used sophisticated techniques to manipulate and deceive the electorate. In that context is win means nothing. It's easy to win if you cheat!
fong, more on democracies later, if I can find time.
Another Trump thread..... This is a representation of why Trump won.... Saturation to the point of ridiculousness.... Deplorables start to wonder if it's getting fanatical...
In my time, I have never ever witnessed a larger case of "sore loser syndrome" . And the pitiful carryings on by the likes of Madonna, Streep, Deniro and many more reinforce why Trump got in... I'm no big fan of Trump.... I'm left of centre... But if I was involved with the Democrats, I'd be scathing at my own party... I'd be scathing at Streep and Madonna.... DeNiro would cop an uppercut..... I'd be addressing why WE lost.... Aint no amount of whining like babies gonna change it..... It's pathetic on so many levels.
From this it seems Gaz and Blowin are closest to the mark. But more importantly, how is this going to apply to Aus politics - which politician, policy changes, etc, etc ... my feeling is we also have a similar class of people wanting changes as per the US. Ahh...the next election will be a doozer.
I think Corey Bernardi is on the money and we're gonna see something similar here in Oz. It's a shame we don't have any party other than NXT in the centre because I think there's gonna be votes for the taking and it'd be good to send both major parties back to minority status. Pauline loves her country but she's just too extreme to take seriously, but no one else seems to be fielding enough candidates to make a difference.
what worries me is that we all have to witness this prick getting away with it and now all the boofheads in all communities are going to times themselves by a hundred and think that no-one can stop them
"what worries me is that we all have to witness this prick getting away with"
And what about what Obama got away with, 2R? From Pilger last week;
"Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor. “Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically…. In the propaganda system… it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”
Take the catastrophe in Libya. In 2011, Obama said Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the known lie of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. It became the media story; and Nato – led by Obama and Hillary Clinton – launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed]were under the age of 10”.
Under Obama, the US has extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 per cent of the world’s population. The first African-American president launched what amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa. Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments. Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.
It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s black colonial elite whose “historic mission”, warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.
It was Obama who, in 2011, announced what became known as the “pivot to Asia”, in which almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to the Asia-Pacific to “confront China”, in the words of his Defence Secretary. There was no threat from China; the entire enterprise was unnecessary. It was an extreme provocation to keep the Pentagon and its demented brass happy.
In 2014, Obama’s administration oversaw and paid for a fascist-led coup in Ukraine against the democratically-elected government, threatening Russia in the western borderland through which Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, with a loss of 27 million lives. It was Obama who placed missiles in Eastern Europe aimed at Russia, and it was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who increased spending on nuclear warheads to a level higher than that of any administration since the cold war – having promised, in an emotional speech in Prague, to “help rid the world of nuclear weapons”.
Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history, even though the US constitution protects them. He declared Chelsea Manning guilty before the end of a trial that was a travesty. He has refused to pardon Manning who has suffered years of inhumane treatment which the UN says amounts to torture. He has pursued an entirely bogus case against Julian Assange. He promised to close the Guantanamo concentration camp and didn’t."
Obama commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence last week. He also reduced the number of US troops in war zones by 90%. And it's not about the past, leave that to the historians, it is about the future.
is that true? I must be subject to someone else's opinion
Pilger is in a parallel universe if he thinks Obamas Asian Pivot didn't have sound strategic and economic basis to it.
Obamas invasion of Africa? Lay off the mushies John. And it's China who has massively increased influence in Africa, not America.
I like the guy but he is still living in a total marxist delusion where China and Russia can do no wrong.
Sheesh! The triumph of (willful) ignorance...
(if the shoe fits)
"And it's not about the past, leave that to the historians, it is about the future."
Aaaaand very patronising, says the guy who keeps referring to a "self confessed sex offender"... That's the problem, BB..... 2 sets of rules..... I refer to the past - baaaaad man...... You refer to the past - it's "documentation"...
FR, last time I checked, China hadn't dropped one bomb on Libya.... The whole disaster that is the refugee crisis in Europe stems from Libya and Syria....
Looks like Denial aint just a African river....
The future is a safer place for a debate...... No one is wrong when it hasn't happened yet... Aye, BB.
FR, of course the Asian Pivot has a sound strategic and economic basis to it - if you're talking about continued U.S. domination.
Domination is probably too strong a word......look America has done plenty of wrong but I trust american influence and yes, naval domination much more than I trust Chinese hegemonic aspirations. Even with Trump as Prez I'd still rather America as the biggest bully in the playground instead of China.
I accept that is purely my opinion. And history in the next 20 years will see whether it is justified.
I don't think it's too strong a word at all FR, if you're talking about global U.S. influence let's say since WW2 then you're looking at economic and military dominance, by fair means and foul.
China almost certainly has expansionist intentions but it hasn't showed its intent to be anything like the U.S.'s. I've heard political "experts" describe China as more like a dog marking its territory - pretty hard to know isn't it.
As for being happy with the States being the biggest bully on the block, there'd be dozens of countries that would disagree with you.
Actually I'd probably agree with you if I didn't see Australia being so easily led astray and picking up the worst aspects of American corporatism and culture.
Lucky Australia acquiesced so easily - or not, depending on your point of view.
I can't disagree with anything you said there except to note that with America as the chief superpower in the Pacific has been incredibly good for Australia, in the grand scheme of things.
Now with the emergence of China as a superpower and strategic rival to the US in the Pacific we'll see what effect that has on us. It might not be so benign.
Sheepdog, my reference to the past was relevant to the character of the man who is the subject of the discussion. Your post read like an attempt to deflect the discussion to Obama's record to try and lower the bar for Trump. You have to respect Pilger for being prepared to put forward facts others would rather stayed hidden and to make interpretations certain to draw intense criticism. That said, he is an ideologue and often neglects other, equally valid, interpretations.
I don't have any particular answers fong beyond peaceful resistance. A lot depends on what Trump does over the next few months.
AndyM, I agree & unfortunately domination is probably the most accurate word for the US wielding it's influence, in my opinion at least.
Having said that, I also think the US is probably still the best bully to have around. At least toxic corporations come and go and things change hands etc however the Chinese government has no reason to ever sell anything, and they are the ones driving a lot of Chinese corporations! China will own the world by stealth one way or the other at this rate, so why not challenge them?
The US capitalist system that lets the rich get richer is deeply flawed but much less so than the Chinese Capitalist-Communism hybrid which lets the rich get richer while throwing opposition in jail, controlling the press and forcing the poor to live in the country unless they have a permit.
The rich seem to get richer either way but if I had to choose between being poor in China or poor in the US I know which one I'd choose.
Good old China.
They've got no love for us and anyone that falls for their propaganda is mentally deficient .
Check out the tip of this particular iceberg : http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186 and people are calling Trump Orwellian!
Surely don't want a war but I'm praying the US puts them back in their box.
As said before, China plays the long came and if you think the mass exportation of the Chinese diaspora into the rest of the world isn't state sanctioned with an eye toward demographically altering the politics of other nations then you're blind boy !
Gaz I broadly agree with you and although I'd rather be poor in the U.S. rather than China as well, there's still some really desperate poverty there. As an aside, I think the Australian Indigenous situation is the worst I've seen, worse than anything I saw in South Africa or Tanzania.
The reason I keep banging on about the U.S. is that I'm trying to give some perspective - I don't want to be a disposable Chinese human robot but nor do I want my country being controlled by the U.S. and running off to every war, bending over for every trade deal that favours corporations over elected governments etc etc because we all know what the U.S. think of elected governments.
Blowin I don't think I'm falling for any Chinese propaganda, speaking of which, there aren't too many media outlets which are more supportive of the status quo than the BBC!
This is worth a read.
Hey Turkey, why don't you participate constructively instead of continuing to shit in your hand?
P.S. You know I think you're all right...
Somehow missing the unmissable irony inherent with belatedly posting a meme containing one of the top 5 viral insults of 2016 and thinking it somehow distinguishes him from the fools he despises.
PS Turkey do you actually have an opinion you could state without ambiguity ?
Oh wait a minute, this just in.......I dont actually care.
Wait, which one are you again in this comedy duo...Dunning or Kruger?
a high note...
Anyhooooooo...... Still waiting on the golden shower scene from Russia.....
Blindboy, sure Trump has been getting away with baldfaced lying, and I think he's an idiot in way over his head, but I also think that of most of the corporate/executive class, nearly all politicians, and the only reason the rest of us aren't is because we're in very shallow water.
I don't like where we're heading, there is real underground fear around, and nowhere moreso than the uber-rich of America, many of whom are setting up doomsday plans for themselves, including buying up land in New Zealand (or their own islands) as a good place to be if the shit really hits the fan. (New Yorker article out now, couldn't be bothered with a link.)
What I have found far more insidious however has been the really big lies, lies so big that they are still being debated, but only by those who deny the reality of what is happening in front of their noses. The lies that really got going under Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and after a brief interregnum, returned full force with Blair, Bush, Howard, the rise of the neo-cons.
Trickle down economics, corporate tax cuts to boost growth (recent studies show a clear inverse relationship from examples around the world where higher taxes led to more growth and lower taxes to less), 'there is no such thing as community', the slow death of the trade union movement, the 'private is always better than public sector' lie, the Free Trade Agreements that entrench favourable treatment to global corporates via ISDS provisions and extended patent laws while offering very little benefit and very little free trade, except to the corporates that wrote them (true!), the spying on citizens via phones and internet on the spurious grounds of catching out the 1% criminal element or the .00000001% terrorist element.
The entirety of the lie about the imminent threat of terrorism, the creation of these terrorist groups through the outrageous lie of the Iraq war II, much of the demonisation and sanctions of Libya and Gaddafi (fuck ,he was no saint but he fell a fair bit short of lots of others and appears benign in comparison to Syria's Bashar Al-Assad, and I think we will soon be saying the same of Turkey's Erdogan) going further back the presidential lies that started the Vietnam War, Nixon's underhand efforts to abort a peace process that would have stopped the Vietnam War early but he wanted to be able to campaign on being 'strong on war'.
The 'war on drugs' - The ramping up of crime sentences and being 'strong on crime'. The blatant lack of prosecution of big corporates for regular illegal behaviour and the 1 in a 100 at best prosecution of big corporates for tax dodging.
So much more, so much more insidious, much of it not recognised still, so damaging to everything but those at the very top of the tree.
The vast majority of economists and the academics who create the economic theory with no idea of the effects of their myopic vision. The cult of Management Theory that has been wrong for well on 40 years now and has no awareness that they are propagating utter utter bullshit that is evil in the effect that it has on the world around it.
These lies worry me so much more than Trump. Trump will be gone one day and if we're lucky he may not cause too much damage, but these lies are zombies, long after they're killed off they rise again from their graves. And always, always, it is the people at the very top of the pyramid who benefit from their resurrection.
Not much to argue with there batfink except the idea that Trump will not do too much damage. I hope you are right!
Been watching a bit of Adam Curtis batfink! Good stuff.
Batfink "much of the demonisation and sanctions of Libya and Gaddafi"
Tell me, Batfink, which President and future candidate were responsible (alongside France) for theabsolute disaster that is Libya? And which European country backed and helped them? Obama, H Clinton, and France.
I refuse to gloss over things..... What GWB, Howard, Blair etc was an absolute disgrace... But what has happened in Libya and Syria thanks to Clinton and Obama with French backing is not far behind. And those that refuse to deal with it, that say "let history be the judge" really do not help in this new paradigm, this "triumph of ignorance".
These decisions, the smug righteous hypocrisy is why we have Trump... And even now these schmucks refuse to wear some of the blame.... These delusional folk have been through shock and denial.... Now they have entered the pain and anger stage..... Hopefully they soon move on to "bargaining"....... But I think the anger stage has a way to go.
Not sure whether people have forgotten but the no fly zone over Libya and Nato led military intervention was the result of a UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
This was far different to the moreorless unilateral invasion by the USA of Iraq in 2003.
There were a lot of countries involved in Libya and I'm not sure if people remember Rwanda or some of the Bosnian atrocities but there has been an international consensus since WW2 that countries would intervene in other countries to prevent genocide. That was what Quaddafi was threatening and in the shadow of Rwanda and Bosnia that was why Nato forces went it.
I'm sure no-one expected it to turn into such a shitt show, they probably should have considering what has happened in the rest of the middle east.
Libya though, is no Iraq. It had the full backing of the international community and in fact if Nato hadn't have gone in and there had been a massacre we would have been lamenting Obamas inaction and blaming him for a genocide.
This is in business section of The Age now, written by Michael Pascoe, a journalist not known for his left wing views.
Smiley - sounds like the generals have been discussing reentering Iraq for a while now. Maybe like the China plan, the wheels were set in motion long before Trump came on the scene .
And maybe Trump is a war monger after all.
Certainly doesn't differentiate him from any other US president.
Free ride - "Libya though, is no Iraq. It had the full backing of the international community and in fact if Nato hadn't have gone in and there had been a massacre we would have been lamenting Obamas inaction and blaming him for a genocide."
Blatant bullshit...... Not from you.... You're just repeating the lie probably wothout knowing it;
"In March 2011, the United Kingdom and France, with the support of the United States,
led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians
from attacks by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. This policy was not informed by
accurate intelligence. In particular, the Government failed to identify that the threat
to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. "
FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:
Lately at The Conversation we’ve been discussing how best to cover Donald Trump given the significant global ramifications of his presidency.
There’s already been much written and said about Trump’s combative relationship with the media. His self-contradictory statements and disregard for facts have created ambiguity and raised questions about the tactical wisdom of taking him at his word. But Trump’s approaches to global politics, trade, immigration, climate change and a host of other issues demand rigorous journalistic attention.
For The Conversation, which features academics writing in their areas of expertise, the challenge is to distinguish opinions from evidence and insight. We all have views about Trump, and frequently they will be transparent in articles we publish. That’s not a bad thing, but publishing mere views is not our central aim. Nor, for that matter, is conforming to a narrow idea of impartiality that sorts commentary into “pro” and “con” and balances it accordingly. That’s why you won’t see one “pro” piece for every “con” piece we publish, or numerous reaction pieces to every action Trump takes. Instead, we set out to identify what really matters in Trump’s policies and statements and bring you relevant research, context, analysis and evidence from Australian academics.
To put it even more simply, our aim is to inform, not to persuade. Our firm editorial position is this: facts do matter and we cannot allow evidence and knowledge to be crowded out of public discourse. With guidance from readers we want to continue to bring you important expert insights. Please let us know what questions you’d like us to answer and what you think we should focus on. Please also send us your thoughts, what you’ve found valuable about our coverage and what you could have lived without.
"The reason I stopped reading newspapers & watching 'current affairs ' programs was the self interest by the owners of the particular news papers etc.
Give me ALL the facts & trust that I can make a reasonable, opinion, decision .
Honestly I'm sick of hearing about Trump already. How many statements has he made? How much of the media has it generated? Too much of the same thing."
"But what if his strategy is to create a sense of fatigue among the public? I get the frustration, I really do, but surely disengaging and giving the world's most powerful man a free pass is more destructive than constructive?"
"Privately owned business. They can do what they like. They are not obligated to give you "all the facts" as you like to call it. You are obligated to use your trusted brain to use different sources to find "all the facts" to make your decisions. But trust me, you'll be fine finding "all the facts" that support your worldview, don't worry."
World's most powerful man? Be interesting to see what origin of the word powerful actually is?
"I don't like to talk about politics on Facebook-- political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends-- but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.
What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night's ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries-- is creating what is known as a "shock event."
Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.
When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.
Last night's Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.
Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.
My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one's interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won't like.
I don't know what Bannon is up to-- although I have some guesses-- but because I know Bannon's ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle-- and my friends range pretty widely-- who will benefit from whatever it is.
If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.
But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.
A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.
If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln's strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.
Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it."
-Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:
So Stu, what's the point ?
Old mate claims to have pinpointed Bannon's technique ....but to what end ?
A bit too cryptic without the attributable cause.
Fill me in if you can as I'm not sure what direction Bannon is meaning to take the US with this alleged ploy.