A Capital Idea Part 124: Tell it to us Straight
I have been connecting some ideas recently. I have sometimes heard Christians cite the similarities among account given in the Bible as proof of their veracity. What they fail to understand, no matter how I try to explain this to them, is that similar accounts are not signs of veracity -- quite the opposite, in fact. Similar accounts are signs of people communicating with each other, which leads to a more consistent story, not a truer one. In fact, when people are too much in agreement, it is a sign of a conspiracy. Witnesses to a crime, on the other hand, should never be allowed to discuss said crime with each other. This only leads to a social consensus about what happened which is likely to be irrelevant to the truth. However, eyewitnesses are both notoriously inaccurate, and tend to disagree on many of their perceptions. This is normal, given the tremendous fallibilities of our memory processes, as well as differences in what people focus on in a situation, and personality driven differences among people. The best we can do in the absence of videotapes or other incontrovertible evidence, usually is to piece together a facsimile of what happened, from what similarities exist in the different eyewitness accounts.
Similar principles apply to politics. When we look at the right-wing messaging which permeates our society, it shows great cohesiveness and similarity. I believe this is because the right-wing messagers communicate to each other behind the scenes, regarding what "talking points" to get out to the public. Republicans in Congress present a united front as well. These observations are evidence of a conspiracy among the right-wing elite. The public, including myself, may not be privy to these proceedings, but the circumstantial evidence that this happens, and in some cases, proof, is more than sufficient to support this conclusion. By and large, I suspect that the same people who are impressed that John, Luke, Mark and whomever seemed to agree in writing the Bible, also find the coherence of right-wing messaging to be evidence that "they know what they are talking about." To the contrary, as a social psychologist, I find the coherence to be evidence that they are not presenting the truth.
Contrast the approach of the right-wing, with that of progressives. Most people had trouble figuring out "what the Occupiers want" last fall. They did not seem to present a unifed message. That is because they were telling it to us straight. Of course there were many different perceptions and perspectives among them, and inevitable disagreements, but they were an honest lot who were earnestly outraged by what has become of our economic and political systems, and the connection between the two. Similarly, progressives on talk radio and their fans, and progressives in Congress, seem to send a muddled set of messages. Certainly, if we talk about Democrats in Congress, although many of them are not really progressives, they do not seem able to send a unifed message. However, progressives, including politicians, do not have a hidden agenda; they are usually giving us their honest opinions. The fact that their opinions vary, is to be expected.
Right-wing messaging, on the other hand, constantly seems to be distracting us from the real issues, and seems to be designed to hide their true agenda. I feel as many have suggested, that the real agenda behind the right-wing messagers, is as follows:
1. To gain access to power;
2. To increase their wealth capitalistically, that is, by using wealth and power to generate more wealth and power;
3. To prevent the public from revolting against them, or their rule once they gain power.
This is the basic agenda of feudal lords throughout the ages. There is no place in it for compassion, or promoting the general welfare of the public. To be too compassionate, would lead them to cede power to the people. To allow the public experience too much progress, would lead both to empowering the public, and likely lead to revolt against the status quo. However, in a place that touts itself as a democracy, in order to gain access to power, enough of the public must be convinced of their good intentions toward the public, that sufficient numbers of people vote for their candidates that they can win elections -- either that, or they can subvert the democratic process by suppressing the numbers who of voters who would vote for the opposition, or by switching votes electronically in our anonymous (thus, lacking in accountability) voting system. It is clear that suppression of the progressive vote is occuring, and it seeems likely that vote switching from more progressive candidates to more conservative ones is also occuring. But these are just two more inconvenient facts to keep from the public, as far as the right-wing messagers are concerned, and they have had lots of practice at that.
Thus, we hear from conservatives, such blatheringly idiotic propaganda such as, people who sit around lounging by the pool, watching their stock dividends pile up, -- or people such as Mitt Romney who fire people for a living -- are "job creators," or people who run businesses such as casinos, or the financial industry, are "producers" in society, while the workers who make them rich, are of little worth, and those who don't work, are "parasites." In fact, the real parasites are the people who rake in obscene amounts of wealth without really working for it. Meanwhile, the right-wing messagers for the Republican Party distract the public from the real issues we face by agressively attacking their opposition with their "talking points," and overhyping any potential scandals against Democratic politicians, while refraining in unison, from criticizing the scandalous behaviors of those within their own party. Meanwhile, they attempt to associate their party with with whatever they think the majority of the public thinks of as "good," by hypocritically talking of "family values," "religious values," and anything else that supports gun-toting, bashes gays, and promotes fundamentalist Christian beliefs in God.
There may have been a time, perhaps 50-60 years ago, when Republican politicians were being honest, but such is the case no more. In my opinion, they have reached a point where they feel that the public would never accept their true agenda. Thus, they must disengage the public from politics, and otherwise, distract the public from their true agenda while subverting the truth. Anytime a group, be it political, religious, or whatever, feels it must prevent letting those recieving its messages from knowing the group's true intentions, this is a very dangerous and destructive situation, and that is what we are seeing in the United States with the current version of the Republican Party, dating back to at least the Reagan Presidency. When the truth is being subverted so consistently, this means that people for whom the ends justifies the means, are pulling the strings. It is time for us to stop this situation and unmask the true agenda of the right-wing powermongers, for all to see. Otherwise, we may find ourselves, serfs in a feudal society. We are already well on the way to that outcome, but whatever the right-wing achieves, it cannot last forever. It probably cannot even last another generation, but that is up to us, the public. Let us tell it straight, and keep telling it straight until we have the honest, progressive society that we deserve.