a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Grievance Grift [GG] ~ conclusion
Political technologies [PT] (e.g., twenty-first century political dark arts) include a wide assortment of ‘active measures’ and ‘special tasks‘ (strategies; tactics; methods; tools; dirty tricks, etc.) used to ‘organize victory‘—PT is designed to manipulate and shape social/national “reality” for the purpose of gaining political-power; and then using PT to stay in power [cf. Virtual Politics, by Andrew Wilson].
I’ve asserted that PT (American style) is essentially a hyper-cynical political play against weaknesses in American society. It is a sinister move that leverages extreme-postmodernism, e.g., exploiting errant cultural memes that are very dangerous, like “there is no truth,” and “all hierarchies are bad.”
PT can be used to control opponents, e.g., for example, through using kompromat (damaging dirt) as leverage. PT can be used by a politician, or a political party, to create, shape, and control other politicians/parties—other parties that both agree and disagree with them. As in every human narrative, tension and conflict are potent grist for the PT mill. A polarized society like the U.S. is very low-hanging fruit for PT to exploit.
PT, per se, is really nothing new. We trace the expression “follow the money” back to the Watergate story. Perhaps ‘follow the benefit’ was a far earlier iteration? (Lenin, 1913):
However, PT goes back even further.
I asked Sen. Marshall what he meant by this ambiguous oversimplification (above). Of course, no reply. He knows his PT forms a projection screen for evangelicals:
Sadly, leveraging and exploiting “God” by quoting scripture to justify violence and injustice inflicted on other human beings may be the earliest political technologies that we have. Marshall’s cynical leveraging and exploiting of that dynamic is about as dark, politically, as anything I’ve yet seen.
Unfortunately, twenty-first century PT (American style) does have a new dimension that elevates Russia’s old pre-Soviet and Soviet era political technologies to new heights. Even the old political dark arts required mass media—e.g., whatever ‘mass media’ meant in any particular historical context. In the twenty-first century context the ubiquity of social media—with algorithms designed to aggravate polarization—acts (for PT) a bit like what the military calls a force multiplier.
PT is often transparently juvenile for its school-yard bully appearance. Yet, sadly, PT is frequently very effective.
A political technologist is any person who uses PT in their discourse with others—note, this is often unconscious expression of PT conditioning. PT is in no way bound to any relationship with facts/truth, so political technologists are conditioned to trust the source (cult leader/tribe) of their PT, never question its veracity, and never accept any other source. Cult. This is what makes a cult leader the one who is unaccountable to anyone/anything. For the cult follower reality gets reversed, so PT makes truth accountable to the leader.
Obviously, PT has no concern whatsoever regarding facts, truth, or even coherence. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a fine example of himself on that score a week and a half ago. In a WaPo story entitled, “Republicans’ conflicting message: Embracing Trump election lie is key to prominence, just stop asking us about it,” we read:
McCarthy (R-Calif.) had helped engineer the ouster Wednesday of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the No. 3 House Republican leader for saying former president Trump’s claim of a stolen election was a lie. Yet he insisted later that day, “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.“
DJT‘s PT, with its unapologetic fire-hosing, has now enabled word salad like the above (even when offered by a high profile party leader like McCarthy) to appear in public discourse with no consequence or accountability to discourage the approach. For many Americans that has been rather jarring, to say the least.
Grievance, the goose that lays golden-eggs:
PT: a very challenging problem
PT/disinformation wins nearly every time on social media in at least a couple of ways. First, because it often takes forty-five minutes to undo the damage a single PT word or phrase can do; our polarization will never be reconciled on social media. Second, PT wins even if the disinformation is rejected because it inserts a chaotic disruption into the discourse preventing any real reconciling work.
PT will not be defeated online. So, please recognize, identify, and challenge PT in one on one conversations, in real life, whenever, wherever, and however you are able. Defeating PT will require a Pentecost (of sorts).
Political Technologies incorporate lying, fearmongering, deceiving, gaslighting, demagoguing, misinforming, slandering, disinforming, libeling, distorting, reducing, mischaracterizing, weaponizing, oversimplifying, and, especially, manipulating opponents, voters, and ‘reality’—as well as the democratic process itself—to seize and hold power.
Perhaps the biggest sign that you’re dealing with PT is the blatant oversimplification of complex issues.
PT are ubiquitous online. However, they will not be defeated there. Defeating PT will require a Pentecost (of sorts).
Next week: No idea. Come and see.
[this post approx. 850 words (3 min. read)]
What did you hear me say?