Monday, August 27, 2018

How Real-Life Doublethink Works

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The crime of establishment propaganda is that it exploits the most beautiful aspects of human nature. Our brains are powerful enough to comprehend fictional storytelling, which is something that no other known species is able to do. But the mental abilities that let us create enormous imaginary worlds are the same tools that propagandists use to deceive us.

For instance, to believe these things you need to simultaneously accept two versions of the truth:
-In 2016, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that Syria had gotten rid of its chemical weapons. Yet Assad has committed two chemical attacks since then, and he apparently still has enough chemical weapons to be supposedly preparing for another one.
-Mainstream news organizations regularly publish secrets that have been leaked from individuals and organizations. Yet Julian Assange, whose actions haven’t differed from this basic journalistic practice, is guilty of espionage.
-It’s accepted history that the Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War were started through U.S.-initiated false flags, and there are admitted instances of false flags being carried out by the American, German, Japanese, Indonesian, Algerian, Egyptian, Colombian, Macedonian, Italian, British, Ukrainian, Turkish, Russian, and Israeli governments throughout the last century. Yet any claims of false flags can be confidently dismissed.
-According to the CIA’s own documents, only around 2% of the people killed by American drones have been on the “kill list.” Yet it’s completely reasonable to believe that our “advanced weaponry” only kills terrorists.
-In 2012, even the pro-imperialist Barack Obama mocked the idea that Russia is a threat, and declared that “the Cold War has been over for twenty years.” Yet anti-Russia pundits are now right when they tell us that we were actually at war with Russia this whole time.
-The story surrounding the Skripal poisoning has repeatedly changed, and Boris Johnson has even been caught lying about the facts of the case to strengthen the claim that Russia was behind it. Yet as the Western media’s account still says, Russia was unquestionably the culprit.
-Americans have seen the 2000 election get stolen through George W. Bush’s ballot tally manipulations and voter suppression efforts, and WikiLeaks readers have seen the proof of DNC officials coordinating to rig the primary against Sanders through biased debate questions and manipulations of media coverage. Yet we’d be right to agree with the famous statement from Obama that “There is no serious person out there who would suggest[...]you could even rig America’s elections.”
-The Nazi officers at the Nuremberg trials were convicted of the crime against peace, which is the United Nations’ name for the act of invading a country without provocation. Yet while every president since World War II besides Carter has done the same thing, they’re not guilty of that crime.
I always see people call these kinds of views a form of cognitive dissonance, which is the phenomenon where our brains block out information that goes against what we want to believe. But I think cognitive dissonance would be easier to recognize if we called it by its more infamous name, which is the term “doublethink” from George Orwell’s 1984.
And this term has always applied to how society functions. When you look at how political language and thought usually work, you get the sense that Orwell based his imaginings of doublethink off of the contradictory beliefs that he saw appear all the time in politics and other settings. Life is full of moments where we lie to ourselves, and politics almost always involves a leader who urges people to cling to their shared beliefs for the sake of the team. Orwell only changed this situation in his novel by having his characters give self-deception a name, and by having them fool themselves consciously.
The fact that we’re capable of doublethink doesn’t make us stupid. The mental dynamics behind it are what give us our uniquely human qualities. The sad thing is that government and media propagandists are now using these amazing parts of us to make us consent to endless war, the destruction of the biosphere, and the rule of a dystopian corporate oligarchy.
What if we stopped letting them manipulate us? What if we all ignored the pressures to conform to the “official narrative,” and looked at the world with an openness to new information? If we made this leap, we’d have a future where human beings could make discoveries, create art, and tell stories, while being free from the prison that we’re currently in.

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