Tortured Minds

Doesn’t sufficient evidence of deceit and destruction now exist for everyone to see it? Can the average American – much less the average citizen of England given their far better media — be unaware of the vile nature of our government’s pursuits, other than by adopting an ostrich approach that actively denies reality? There is a parade of images and rhetoric blasting into everyone’s line of sight. The spin campaign to obscure its meaning is utterly absurd, yet we know it will largely work. Why?

Some people will see the truth, and will honestly from the depths of their inner values and commitments react with the attitude “who gives a damn, crush the worms.”

Some people will see the truth, and will honestly from the depths of their inner values and commitments react with the attitude that “it is a shame, but we live in a horrible world and so we must be horrible too.”

And yes, some people will be confused by media machinations and will, against their humane inner values and commitments, honestly doubt the evidence to think, instead, that the U.S. is on a mission of peace and understanding.

But isn’t it obvious that a great many people will prevent themselves from seeing and especially from having an emotional response to now ubiquitous truths because if they allowed themselves to feel an appropriate emotional response, they would be irate and unpatriotic, and they do not want to be irate and unpatriotic?

I contend that at least one important factor at work is that people feel there is no alternative to the injustices that surround us and, at any rate, that they are helpless regarding altering those injustices. To become irate will buck social norms and make their lives harder, not easier. No gains, in their view, will accrue to themselves or to others either. People thus reject the uncomfortable, alienating, and in their view unproductive world of social judgments to instead focus their energies on the relatively comfortable, acceptable, and productive worlds of sports, tv, lawn care, shopping, dating, business as usual, survival, and other daily interaction with friends and family.

What difference does it make to acknowledge this fact?

As activists, shouldn’t our prime priority be engendering larger and larger numbers of more and more committed dissidents? But if that is our prime purpose, shouldn’t we try to reduce all obstacles to dissent, not just a few?

One major obstacle to dissent is certainly the ignorance and confusion induced by mainstream media. Ubiquitous media misdirection confuses many people into pursuing agendas contrary to their own values and intents. One leftist task is therefore to rebut media lies, and we should be proud that countless leftists have over the years energetically addressed this task. However, we should also admit that the organizational results of all the media correcting we have done have been spotty.

What if media manipulations take hold not as a result of being convincing, but because people desire to adopt them as rationalizations for life choices even though they are utterly unconvincing? What if most folks would easily see through media madness if they were inclined to pursue truth, but will not see through it because other concerns trump truth-seeking? Then, of course, to be most effective we would have to address those other factors and not just the media lies themselves.

Don’t the other factors include a deep cynicism that there is no better world possible, and that even if there were such a world, people are powerless to attain it? If so, doesn’t it follow that activists should make a positive case about vision and strategy in addition to addressing what is wrong with war, poverty, and so on?

This argument has for a long time seemed to me overwhelming in its implications for leftist agendas and is even more evident at the present moment. So I have to wonder what prevents us, year in and year out, from rebutting doubts about a better world being possible and about reaching it.

Is it that we don’t actually want to win a new world? It can’t be that, can it?

Is that we are afraid of the responsibility that would come with trying to win a new world? That is more plausible, but still not likely, I think.

Perhaps we just don’t see the above logic but could see it at any moment. That is hopeful, if true.

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