The cat is well and truly out of the bag in terms of understanding how easily wide swaths of people can be misled into believing total falsehoods and even insane conspiracy theories that have no basis whatsoever in reality. In their passion for this self-righteous series of untruths, they can lose families, jobs, loved ones, respect, and may even be radicalized to commit violence on behalf of an authority figure. It starts with the dissemination of disinformation.
Disinformation is meant to confuse, throw off, distract, polarize, and otherwise create conflict within and between target populations. The spreading of falsehoods is a very old strategy — perhaps as old as humankind itself — but its mass dissemination through the media was pioneered in the 20th century by the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, the Nazis in Germany, Mussolini’s Fascists in Italy, and other authoritarian regimes of the early 1900s through the 1940s.
After World War II and the Allies’ defeat of Hitler, the role of disinformation lived on during the Cold War. The Soviet KGB were infamous for their spycraft and covert infiltration of information flows, while the United States experienced waves of anti-Communist paranoia and hysteria fueled by the spread of conspiracist thinking.
Cultism is an old tradition in the U.S.
But cultism has a long history here in the United States. One could argue the Confederacy was a kind of cult, and the KKK after it. America gave rise to Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon, among many many others who led cults big and small.
Christianity itself was considered a cult by some during its humble beginnings after the turn of the millennia and then some. It’s no accident that religious revivalism and many types of faith fervor colored the nation for decades and centuries.
Some might call the patriarchal nuclear family the Original Cult. Many if not most Evangelical sects revere it, among numerous others who believe in God the Father quite literally. Others still seek to exploit that zeal, by offering up a series of “flawed saviors” who dangled the prospect of a more theocratic state governed by Law and Order. Their money buys them much more than just the puppets who rule, and the citizens struggle to pierce the veils of illusion.
|active measures||Russian information warfare aimed at undermining the West|
|America First Unity Rally|
|assert the opposite of reality|
|black and white thinking||A pattern of thought characterized by polar extremes, sometimes flip-flopping very rapidly from one extreme view to its opposite. Also referred to as dichotomous thinking; polarized thinking; all-or-nothing thinking; or splitting.|
|blaming the victim|
|Borderline Personality Disorder|
|con artist||Someone who swindles others with fake promises|
|deep fakes||Fabricated video footage appearing to show an individual speaking|
|demoshiza||Short for ‘democratic schizophrenics’ -- a Russian slander against citizens of democracies. The ‘demoshiza’ tag also serves a useful purpose in conflating ‘democracy’ with ‘mental illness’. The word ‘democratic’ has an unhappy status in Russia: it is mainly used as an uncomplimentary synonym for ‘cheap’ and ‘low-grade’: McDonald’s has ‘democratic’ prices, the door policy at a particularly scuzzy club can be described as ‘democratic’ – i.e. they let anybody in|
|denial of death|
|denying plain facts|
|dezinformatsiya||Russian information warfare|
|"drinking the Kool-Aid"|
|duty to warn|
|false flag||covert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them|
|fifth world war||Non-linear war; the war of all against all -- a term coined by Putin's vizier Vladislav Surkov.|
|"global cabal"||euphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU|
|information terrorists||Media personalities and professionals working against the interests of democracy in the United States. Many amplify their messages through automation and human networks, creating a Greek Chorus-like cacaphony of fake support for unpopular positions.|
|jumping to conclusions bias|
|kleptocracy||form of government in which the leaders harbor organized crime rings and often participate in or lead them; the police, military, civil government, and other governmental agencies may routinely participate in illicit activities and enterprises.|
|Mafia state||A systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates. A term coined by former KGB/FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. See also: kleptocracy|
|maskirovka||war of deception and concealment|
|moving the goalposts||Changing the rules after the game is played, when one side doesn't like the outcome.|
|"myth of tech misogyny"||A form of denialism made popular by alt-right commentator and troll Milo Yiannopoulos, used to discredit feminist discussions about the tech and gaming industry's notorious levels of misogyny.|
|The National Enquirer|
|neurolinguistic programming (NLP)|
|novichok||military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and used in the poisoning of former FSB agent turned Putin critic Andrei Skripal and his daughter in Lonson in March, 2018|
|one-way street||Expect loyalty from you while offering none in return|
|oppo||short form of opposition research|
|paranoia||Nurturing and maintaining enemies|
|playing the victim|
|Project Lakhta||Internal name for the operation that Prigozhin's IRA was running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Mueller indictments.|
|running out the clock|
|siloviki||Russian term for those who have backgrounds and employment in the Russian power ministries -- security services, the military, and police; and more specifically a reference to Putin's security cabal.|
|Snow Revolution||Popular protests beginning in Moscow in 2011, demanding the reinstatement of free elections & the ability to form opposition parties. Hundreds if not thousands of protestors were detained on the first day of action (Dec 5), continuing over the next 2 years as punishments grew increasingly harsh and more activists were sent to penal colonies.|
|sockpuppet accounts||Fake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.|
|"sovereign democracy"||system in which democratic procedures are retained, but without any actual democratic freedoms; brainchild of Vladislav Surkov|
|splitting||See the world as with them or against them; an extension of black and white thinking.|
|white male identity politics|