a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
American politics have been hacked by autocrats
“Political technology”—a mostly unfamiliar phrase in the West—is the figure of speech commonly used in the former Soviet states for a highly developed industry of immoral political manipulation. It’s generally understood that elections are fixed in most countries of the region, from Russia to Kyrgyzstan. The ‘how’ of the fixing is the interesting part. (cf., Andrew Wilson; Virtual Politics and the Corruption of Post-Soviet Democracy)
Peter Pomerantsev provided a good sketch of ‘political technologies’ operating on post-Perestroika, post-Soviet Russia in his 2014 book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia.
Regarding Vladislav Surkov (“known as the Kremlin demiurge”), Pomerantsev writes:
One of Surkov’s many nicknames is the “political technologist of all of Rus.” Political technologists are the new name for a very old profession: viziers, gray cardinals, wizards of Oz. They first emerged in the mid-1990s, knocking on the gates of power like pied pipers, bowing low and offering their services to explain the world and whispering that they could reinvent it. [p. 66]
Could they really reinvent the way Russian people perceived their society and reality?
Yes, in part. Hacking a society’s reality is indeed a thing.
“Dramaturgiia” (dramaturgy adapted to politics)
DJT didn’t need to wonder if political technologies (and the level of gaslighting he had in mind) would work or not. He knew they would work, he’d seen them working in Russia, e.g., destabilization and compromise of Ukraine’s sovereignty, for instance.
Let’s recall the “firehose of falsehood,” one of the key political technologies that DJT engages:
DJT also creatively adapted and applied the notion of manipulating reality in his use of political technologies. By focusing on hot-button cultural issues, DJT was able to develop a red-meat-outrage, grievance grift approach to doing politics.
Between November 5, 2020, and January 20, 2021, DJT raised over 255.4 million through his “stolen election” disinformation campaign, and the attending “stop the steal” grift—note: this was actually a legacy from April 2016 when Roger Stone created the “stop the steal” grift in anticipation of DJT‘s expected loss [Stone was hedging (selling-short) on DJT‘s chances in 2016.].
If Senator Marshall didn’t know this sign is now an extremist White power symbol when he flashed it on January 6, 2021, then he’s an imbecile. If he did know, and flashed it anyway, then he is implicitly exploiting racial bigotry, he is toxically cynical, and he is unapologetically engaging DJT-style political technologies.
Junior hackers — follow the money
The junior senator from Kansas, Roger Marshall, has unapologetically adopted DJT‘s grievance grift. Almost all of Marshall’s social media messaging somehow leverages dramaturgiia/disinformation to exploit/stoke cultural outrage. Here are some outrageous examples of his routine efforts to troll for outrage/grievance.
On March 6, 2021, the day of the debate and vote, Marshall trolls Kansas voters to distract from his “no” vote on the American Rescue Plan, widely popular with many people from both parties—I wrote about this in the heart of the matter.
Then, there’s this The-facebook post from March 16, 2021. Of course, illegal immigration has been a go-to dramaturgiia-narrative of DJT (and Republicans) for a long time. DJT made it quite plain that, outside of cruelty, Republicans have zero solutions. Yet when in doubt about messaging, sadly, the ‘invading hordes’ motif is a reliable default to excite their Republican base.
Finally, in this The-facebook post from March 22, 2021, Marshall stirs the culture wars and stokes his base:
So, if Marshall uses his The-facebook page to troll for grievance and fuel outrage in his base, then why would anyone spend any time there at all, let alone ‘hang out’ there?
Grievance grift. Outrage sells, big time!
The amazing fund-raising potential explains much. But, these techniques leverage dynamics that are anti-democratic and destructive of the good, connective tissue of American society. If left unchecked, democracy will soon fall to autocracy.
So, I’m not saying one should ‘hang out’ on Marshall’s page (or any politician’s page). What I do suggest is spending a little bit of your time there.
OK, doing what?
The majority of those engaging Marshall’s page are in support of him. That could be expected. However, there are voices there who write respectful comments from an Earth I perspective. I’m suggesting YOU should spend a little bit of time on Marshall’s page encouraging those rational voices there with a kind, affirming word, or two.
DJT leveraged, exploited, and monetized a polarized America through exploiting political technologies in the socio-political space. His hyper-cynical grievance grift approach has now been adopted by Marshall, and many immoral Republican politicians, and it is deadly toxic to democracy itself.
Please find ways to stand-up against autocracy’s assault on American democracy; help flatten the disinformation curve!
Next week: Part 3? …. Maybe. …. Come and see.
[this post approx. 825 words (3 min. read)]
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?