The moral and intellectual sickness of the global governing class is infecting us all. They’ve poisoned the public sphere.
In the society of the spectacle, authority has become a display; officials gesture and perform with a constant focus on the optics. The act of governing becomes the act of calculated sloganeering: This vaccine is safe and effective. The use of evidence is a conspiracy theory; disagreement is disinformation. What we learned from the discovery process in Missouri v. Biden is that, yes, the government has manipulated what you’ve been allowed to read and to know. Everyone who gets vaccinated against COVID-19 becomes a dead end for the virus, and don’t you dare say otherwise.
The British journalist Laura Dodsworth told us, with considerable evidence, that governments were using nudge units of social scientists to deliberately crank up public terror over the pandemic, embracing mask mandates as a way of planting a symbol of fear on our faces. We wake up every morning knowing that governments lied for the purpose of manipulating our behavior.
And now we see the devastating cost. I wrote on Substack this week about video of the Hamas attacks on Israel and quickly began seeing the themes of a low-trust society in the comment thread, comments that were echoed all over social media: Why do the authorities want us to see this footage? What’s their game? How did they pull off this psyop? What’s causing them to launch this false flag attack at this exact moment?
The repeated message was about the importance of being skeptical: The war machine is trying to propagandize us into another stupid war!
But what I began seeing — what we all began seeing — wasn’t skepticism, the diligent search for clear evidence, but a wholesale refusal at the political margins to believe anything at all.
The certainty that all images are lies is the psychological mirror of the reflex to believe the news, identically displaying the refusal to parse evidence and make choices. It’s all one thing or the other: Oh, right, Hamas attacked Israel, moron! I GUESS THE SHEEPLE JUST BELIEVE WHATEVER THEY’RE TOLD!
It’s scorched-earth nihilism, the blanket rejection of inconvenient reality. And I understand it. People who’ve been lied to assume that they’re being lied to.
But a number of dark psychological realities quickly became evident. The rejection of all images of real events as games and tricks and false flags traps us in learned helplessness. Someone warns us that the building is on fire, and sit we there burning to death while we roll our eyes at the stupid psyop. What’s that scumbag trying to pull with this “fire” stuff, huh?
Reality goes on with us or without us; the story about the boy who cried wolf is still a real warning. There are people among us who know for a fact that Hamas cannot have attacked Israel, that Hamas simply did not do that. That’s what they want you believe, idiot! The CIA and Mossad staged a so-called Hamas attack, you see, so the arms manufacturers can have their profit.
The view that everything is a lie told by power denies agency to everyone else. It means no one but governments and the World Economic Forum can do anything. Hamas cannot murder people. In fact, they can, and the reasonable, experience-based view that governments lie to start wars can become a barrier between reality and your perception. Reflexive and invariable conspiracy thinking makes people passive; if it’s all a lie, the shrewd thing is to do nothing about any of it.
Sorting truth from lies, finding the real in a pile of the staged and distorted, is a lifelong task. You never get to stop. You’ll never live in world of unbroken truth. But never believing anything doesn’t count as skepticism, and it’s become too easy to just give up on ever knowing what’s real. Things aren’t inevitably false just because the government or CNN said them. I mean, it’s not a bad bet, but it’s not a sure bet.
Government is to blame for this mentality. The news media is to blame. Everyone who said that COVID-19 vaccines are at minimum 95% effective and that claims to the contrary were conspiracy theories is to blame. Sleazy “fact-checkers” and “disinformation experts” are to blame. Every Twitter account closed for making accurate statements stabbed open society in the heart, and now we squat down in the squalor of a truthless world, rolling our eyes at news stories about piles of bodies at a music festival.
These warmongering governments are so predictable! They really think people will fall for that stuff!
Amazingly, the society-burning idiots at the European Union are responding to this moment of crisis by demanding that X CEO Elon Musk stop running a platform that allows people to speak freely, on the basis of the usual framing about “disinformation” and illegal content:
When authorities explicitly announce that they intend to control what may be said and shown, people believe that what they read and hear and see is fed to them by official manipulation — because it actually, literally, provably is. Official demands for the control of content are a grease fire for public trust.
If you set out to destroy faith in information and strand people in a desert of informational nihilism, what do you do differently from the EU?
Our only imaginable path back to any tiny degree of public faith in information is freedom of speech and debate. The manipulated public sphere dies, and we die with it.