Nazis

The “repetition effect” is a potent psychological phenomenon and a common propaganda device. This technique operates on the principle that repeated exposure to a specific message or idea increases the likelihood of its acceptance as truth or normalcy by an individual or the public. Its effectiveness lies in its simplicity and its exploitation of a basic human cognitive bias: the more we hear something, the more likely we are to believe it.

Repetition effect, by Midjourney

Historical context

The repetition effect has been used throughout history, but its most notorious use was by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany. Hitler, along with his Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, effectively employed this technique to disseminate Nazi ideology and promote antisemitism. In his autobiography “Mein Kampf,” Hitler wrote about the importance of repetition in reinforcing the message and ensuring that it reached the widest possible audience. He believed that the constant repetition of a lie would eventually be accepted as truth.

Goebbels echoed this sentiment, famously stating, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The Nazi regime used this strategy in various forms, including in speeches, posters, films, and through controlled media. The relentless repetition of anti-Semitic propaganda, the glorification of the Aryan race, and the demonization of enemies played a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of the Nazi regime.

Psychological basis

The effectiveness of the repetition effect is rooted in cognitive psychology. This bias is known as the “illusory truth effect,” where repeated exposure to a statement increases its perceived truthfulness. The phenomenon is tied to the ease with which familiar information is processed. When we hear something repeatedly, it becomes more fluent to process, and our brains misinterpret this fluency as a signal for truth.

Modern era usage

The transition into the modern era saw the repetition effect adapting to new media and communication technologies. In the age of television and radio, political figures and advertisers used repetition to embed messages in the public consciousness. The rise of the internet and social media has further amplified the impact of this technique. In the digital age, the speed and reach of information are unprecedented, making it easier for false information to be spread and for the repetition effect to be exploited on a global scale.

The repetition effect on screens and social media, by Midjourney

Political campaigns, especially in polarized environments, often use the repetition effect to reinforce their messages. The constant repetition of slogans, talking points, and specific narratives across various platforms solidifies these messages in the public’s mind, regardless of their factual accuracy.

Ethical considerations and countermeasures

The ethical implications of using the repetition effect are significant, especially when it involves spreading disinformation or harmful ideologies. It raises concerns about the manipulation of public opinion and the undermining of democratic processes.

To counteract the repetition effect, media literacy and critical thinking are essential. Educating the public about this psychological bias and encouraging skepticism towards repeated messages can help mitigate its influence. Fact-checking and the promotion of diverse sources of information also play a critical role in combating the spread of falsehoods reinforced by repetition.

Repetition effect: A key tool of propaganda

The repetition effect is a powerful psychological tool in the arsenal of propagandists and communicators. From its historical use by Hitler and the fascists to its continued relevance in the digital era, this technique demonstrates the profound impact of repeated messaging on public perception and belief.

While it can be used for benign purposes, such as in advertising or reinforcing positive social behaviors, its potential for manipulation and spreading misinformation cannot be understated. Understanding and recognizing the repetition effect is crucial in developing a more discerning and informed approach to the information we encounter daily.

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Fascism is a specific type of authoritarianism. Both are forms of government characterized by tightly centralized power, either under a sole dictatorship / demagogue or a small cadre of rulers — typically of wealthy oligarchs — where rule is absolute and the vast majority of people have little say in policy-making or national events. Identifying authoritarianism vs. fascism isn’t always a clearcut distinction, particularly given that one of the hallmarks of fascism is often that fascist leaders tend to conceal or hide their ideological aims until they achieve power and sometimes even beyond — so as not to alert the public to their true plans until it’s too late for people to fight back.

Under both authoritarianism and fascism, there is little or no political freedom and few (if any) individual rights. Authoritarian governments often use force or coercion to maintain control, dissent is typically suppressed, and political violence is tacitly encouraged so long as it is in support of the ruling regime.

fascists marching in the streets, by Midjourney

Fascism is one type of authoritarian political system

Fascism is a type of authoritarianism with distinct ideological features that emerged in the early 20th century. In addition to the core characteristics of authoritarian government, fascism is typified by extreme nationalism, a belief in the superiority of one’s own race or nation (a form of collective narcissism), and propaganda about both a mythical past and a promised utopian future. The idea of hierarchy is central to fascist mythology, with a core belief in a “natural” social hierarchy that — curiously — must be maintained by force.

Fascist regimes often promote aggressive foreign policies and use violence and intimidation to suppress opposing views. Other key features of fascism include a cult of personality around the leader, a focus on traditional values, and the use of propaganda and disinformation to control public opinion.

Fascist regimes of the 20th century

  1. Italy (1922-1943): Italy was the birthplace of fascism, and under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, it became the first fascist regime in the world. Mussolini and his National Fascist Party came to power in 1922, and ruled Italy as a one-party state until he was deposed in 1943.
  2. Germany (1933-1945): Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, was a fascist regime that came to power in 1933. The Nazi regime was known for its extreme racism, antisemitism, militarism, and aggressive expansionism, which ultimately led to World War II and the genocide of the Holocaust.
  3. Spain (1939-1975): After a bloody civil war, General Francisco Franco established a fascist dictatorship in Spain in 1939. Franco’s regime was characterized by authoritarianism, repression, and a focus on traditional Catholic values.
  4. Portugal (1932-1974): Portugal was ruled by a fascist regime under the Estado Novo (New State) government, led by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, from 1932 until 1974. The Estado Novo government was characterized by authoritarianism, nationalism, and corporatism.
  5. Romania (1940-1944): Ion Antonescu, a military dictator and fascist sympathizer, came to power in Romania in 1940. Antonescu’s regime was characterized by anti-Semitism, political repression, and a close alliance with Nazi Germany.
  6. Hungary (1944-1945): Hungary was ruled by a fascist government under Ferenc Szรกlasi and the Arrow Cross Party from 1944 until the end of World War II. The Arrow Cross regime was known for its extreme anti-Semitism and brutality.
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini shaking hands in front of a crowd of soldiers, by Midjourney

The cognitive dissonance of fascist ideology

One of the many things I find problematic about fascism’s core belief system is its insistence on enforcing a “natural” social hierarchy. Personally, I find this to be something I call a “self-evident falsehood” — because if the social hierarchy were really natural, it would not require force to maintain it. It would exist in a state of natural equilibrium that does not require the expenditure of effort.

Applying violence and coercion to a population requires a considerable amount of work, and work comes at a cost — a cost factor that is both an unnecessary waste and a destabilizing force acting on society. Those who claim today in America to be upholding the nation’s “original ideals” would do well to remember the self-evident truths we fought a Revolution over: “that all men are created equal.”

Authoritarian regimes in world history

Authoritarianism is an older and more prevalent form of government than fascism, given its origins over 2000 years ago with the Roman Empire. Some of the most notable authoritarian regimes are as follows:

  1. The Roman Empire (27 BC โ€“ 476 AD): The Roman Empire was a vast and powerful empire that was ruled by an authoritarian government, after Julius Caesar overthrew the Roman Republic shortly before the turn of the millennium in 27 BC. After his son Octavian emerged victorious from a series of civil wars that followed, a succession of Roman emperors who had almost unlimited power ruled the Empire, and dissent was often suppressed with violence.
  2. The Mongol Empire (1206-1368): The Mongol Empire was one of the largest empires in history, and it was ruled by a series of authoritarian leaders who conquered and subjugated vast territories across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East — most notably Genghis Khan.
  3. The Ottoman Empire (1299-1922): The Ottoman Empire was a vast and powerful Islamic empire that was ruled by a series of sultans who held absolute power over their subjects.
  4. The Soviet Union (1917-1991): The Soviet Union was a communist state that was ruled by the Communist Party and its leaders, including Joseph Stalin. The Soviet regime was characterized by totalitarianism, repression, and the suppression of political dissent.
  5. China under Mao Zedong (1949-1976): Mao Zedong was the founder of the People’s Republic of China and the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. During his rule, China was transformed into a socialist state, but the regime was also characterized by repression, mass killings, and the suppression of political dissent.
  6. North Korea (1948-present): North Korea is a communist state that is ruled by the Workers’ Party of Korea and its leader, currently Kim Jong-un. The North Korean regime is known for its extreme repression, propaganda, and human rights abuses.
Authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union, by Midjourney

Learn More:

Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory โ†—

The authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive strictness and a propensity to exhibit oppressive behavior towards perceived subordinates.

American Fascists & the Global Right โ†—

The rise of American fascists and right-wing extremism around the world has been a trend for decades.

Authoritarianism Dictionary โ†—

This dictionary of authoritarianism collects definitions and charts the recent resurgence of language, ideology, tactics, and rhetoric of authoritarians in America and around the world.

More posts on fascism.

Read more

seditious conspiracy

The first convictions of January 6 perps for seditious conspiracy in decades are epically monumental given the history of past efforts. Before the first conviction in November, 2022 of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and the latest round of convictions on January 23, 2023 (in which 4 more seditionists were convicted), there has been little success in the realm of prosecuting insurrection or coup plotters for seditious conspiracy — and only a handful of trials:

  • No convictions in the Christian Front trial (1940)
  • None in the Sedition Trial of US Nazi sympathizers (1944)
  • None in Fort Smith sedition trial (1988) — Louis Beam and the Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord white supremacist and Christian nationalist group
  • None in Hutaree trial (2010)

Does that make this the first successful sedition conviction of white paramilitaries?!

Before January 6, there came these attempts to overthrow the American government.

Christian Front trial (1940-41)

The Christian Front trial of the 1940s was a highly publicized criminal trial in the United States that took place in 1940 and 1941. The Christian Front was a right-wing, antisemitic, and pro-Nazi organization that was active in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Continue reading Forgotten Coups: January 6 wasn’t the first seditious conspiracy in the U.S.
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We glibly believed it could never happen here even though we’ve been warned again and again. And in some sense, even though it’s been here all along — hiding in plain sight. It could happen here, and it did, because it’s happened here before. This dictionary of American authoritarianism collects definitions and charts the rise of language, ideology, tactics, and historical movements of American authoritarians, to arm us with the knowledge we need to understand the tricks of the trade.

For a long time it was convenient to think of authoritarian personality as primarily a European problem, or in any case, a phenomenon that happened elsewhere. We are still waking up (…again) to the scope and depth of the problem, while anti-government groups organize relatively openly and we have yet to see justice for the January 6 attack on our capital. There is much work to be done, and in the meantime we can always continue to educate ourselves about our nation’s history — and the role of slavery, white supremacy, and racism in the shaping of the country and the future class structure of today’s America.

The myth of white innocence is toxic to this understanding. Those who say they “don’t see” race or “don’t want to talk about” race put their white privilege on full display in demanding their right to opt-out of the discussion on race. They’re not interested in having a discussion on race — they’re interested in silencing events like the Tulsa Race Massacre and ensuring we lack the language even to describe the horrors being visited upon human beings by the silencers. The only “discussion” they want to have about the matter is spoken in the words of Smith & Wesson, Chapter AR-15.

American Authoritarianism

White supremacy, in fact, in part inspired Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. In turn, the Nazis inspired the original America First movement at the hands of Charles Lindbergh, a notoriously avowed anti-Semite who vociferously opposed America’s involvement in World War II. Lindbergh and the other early movement conservative extremists lost the battle, and the Allies won the war — thus, fascism as an ideology was defeated in the popular mind for a goodly while.

But prejudice and bigotry are beasts that never sleep — only fitfully slumber and simmer beneath the surface. Bigotry has been rebuilding covertly for years and decades, if it can even be said to have gone away. America has always had its strain of autocratic fascination — and that strain of authoritarianism began flirting with what became fascism in the 20th century. The extremists yearning for a consummation of American fascism have continued to work diligently for almost a century, and have now largely succeeded in injecting a virulent form of nationalism, xenophobia, and isolationism into mainstream GOP politics in the 21st century.

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 seemed to unleash these latent forces that have been amassing since the Reagan years, growing more virulent during the 1990s. From Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich of yesteryear to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ron DeSantis today, the American right-wing is more and more overtly appealing to anti-democratic methods and ideologies — and no longer seem to be regarded as the kooks and cranks of the Republican Party as their equivalents were during the John Birch Society era.

Authoritarianism Dictionary

I’ll be adding to this authoritarianism dictionary over time, as I can chip away at it and as new words get added to the lexicon. It’s highly encouraging that the American people were able to throw off the would-be dictator Trump, but the Republican party continues to press their seditious aims in his name. They continue to trade on the Confederate ideals long defeated, discredited, and dishonored in this nation. Let’s educate each other on the techniques being used against us by the powerful to limit our frames, and to inhibit our awareness, our choices, and our awareness of our choices.

The hour is late, and we must act with all haste.

TermTopicDefinition
1st Amendmentgovernment"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
2nd Amendmentgovernment"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
13th Amendmentwhite supremacyThe Amendment that put an end to slavery. It was passed by Congress and ratified by 2/3 of the states in 1865.
14th Amendmentwhite supremacyThe second Constitutional Amendment passed following the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to freed African American former slaves, along with equal civil and legal rights as specified in the Constitution.
15th Amendmentwhite supremacyThird and last of the Reconstruction Amendments, the Fifteenth gave African Americans the right to vote -- and prohibited any type of voter discrimination on the basis of race.
19th AmendmentmisogynyThe woman's Suffrage Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States.
4chanalt-RightA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.
4GWFourth-generation warfare, a model of hybrid warfare proposed by William S. Lind (of "cultural Marxism" fame)
8chanalt-RightIf 4chan wasn't raw and lawless enough for you, you could try the even more right-wing "free speech"-haven 8chan while it still stood (now 8kun). Described by its founder Frederick Bennan as "if 4chan and reddit had a baby," the site is notorious for incubating Gamergate, which morphed into PizzaGate, which morphed into QAnon -- and for generally being a cesspool of humanity's worst stuff.
8kunalt-RightThe rebranded incarnation of 8chan after being booted offline and haggling with its founder, Frederick Brennan.
abortionreligious extremismThe safe medical procedure for ending a pregnancy.
active measuresRussianA style of political warfare originating in the Soviet Union in the 1920s incorporating spycraft, disinformation, propaganda, sabotage, and destabilization, among other offensive programs targeting the USSR's geopolitical foes including the United States.
ad populumRhetorical fallacy that assumes an opinion shared by the majority is correct -- without consideration of the credentials of the group.
aggrieved entitlementwhite supremacyA term coined by sociologist Michael Kimmel, who documents the perceived emasculation of America's white male uneducated class and their reactionary rage against social justice and marginal groups getting the spotlight.
America's "original sin"white supremacyA reference to the institution of slavery.
amoralabuse & controlWithout morality; without empathy or compassion.
anti-abortionreligious extremismPolitical movement formed in the 1970s to overturn Roe v. Wade, that has become a major pillar of the Republican Party
anti-Communistconspiracy theoryThe Cold War Red Scare was promulgated by Senator Eugene McCarthy with help from lawyer Roy Cohn -- who later famously weaned Donald Trump in his image. The John Birch Society and movement conservatives seethed about ehe enemies within, as middle America set about booming with the Boomers for an entire generation of widely shared prosperity.
anti-intraceptionpsychological warfarePsychologist Theodor Adorno's term for individuals who resist self-reflection and exhibit the absence of looking inward.
anti-racism
anti-SemitismSee definition: antisemitism
anti-taxplutocracyGrover Norquist is a little piggie
armed robberyorganized crimeHolding someone or something up at gunpoint.
aryan
Ashe experimentspsychological warfare
ASPDabuse & controlantisocial personality disorder
assassinationparamilitaryThe killing of a head of state or other important figure for political or ideological reasons, as opposed to murder as a crime of passion.
astroturfingpsychological warfarePretending a well organized and financed operation is a grassroots groundswell
authoritarianismgovernment
banality of evilHannah Arendt coined the phrase โ€œbanality of evilโ€ to refer to the confoundingly commonplace motives of the Nazis who perpetrated some of the worst war crimes in history -- they would never have struck anyone as potential mass murderers before the war.
banana republicplutocracypolitically unstable countries whose economies are monocultures controlled by an oligarchy; puppet states
bandwagon
Biblical inerrancyBelief in the literal truth of every single passage of the Bible
The Big LieA giant, obviously false lie repeated over and over again until people start to believe it
birth controlmisogyny
birtherismConspiracy theory started by Donald Trump claiming that Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and thus, ineligible for the presidency
bitcoinalt-RightThe original cryptocurrency represents an entirely new form of money; a way to store value digitally usig the blockchain.
Black Codeswhite supremacy
black-pilled
BLMwhite supremacyBlack Lives Matter
BLM (US)governmentBureau of Land Management
blockchainalt-RightDigital ledger of events and transactions that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
blood libelconspiracy theory
Blue Checkspsychological warfareReference to Twitter's "verified" feature for certain members, who have satisfied the company that they are who they say they are. Originally the feature was meant to identify the official accounts of news sites and reporters, so it has both an association with -- and a legitimate lineage from -- the media industry.
bolt holeEnd TimesA type of retreat or refuge for those in the survivalist subculture, to be absconded to in case of disaster or apocalypse.
Brooks Brothers RiotSedition Caucus
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)white supremacySupreme Court decision ordering the desegregation of schools. Resistance to the ruling took the form of "states' rights" advocates, among much else.
bugmanNew Right word for liberal men who supposedly lack tangible life skills
bug-out location (BOL)End TimesAnother name for a bolt hole or survivalist refuge location.
CalexitSedition CaucusMovement to split the state of California into East and West states
CalvinismThe ideology of predestination means you can't do anything to change your fate, but you can *act* like you're saved and that's close enough, to Calvin.
capital gains taxplutocracy
carried-interest taxmore significant for private equity than for hedge fundsa subset of capital gains taxationWarren Buffettโ€™s famous complaint that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary: โ€œIt offends our values as a nation when an investment manager making fifty million dollars can pay a lower tax rate on her earned income than a teacher making fifty thousand dollars pays on her income.โ€
the Cathedralconspiracy theory
cathexisA kind of fusion the people of a nation may claim to feel with the fascist leader.
Citizens UnitedA Supreme Court case that opened the doorway wide to the influence of dark -- i.e. untradeable, not transparent -- money in American politics.
civil society
Civil Warwhite supremacy
climate change denialism
clown worldconspiracy theory
CloudFlareBig TechA company that protects websites from cyberattacks, it dropped support for 8chan after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. The shooter had posted his anti-immigrant manifesto on 8chan before the event, another in a series of eerily similar patterned shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand and a San Diego synagogue.
Cluster Babuse & control
collective narcissismabuse & control
Columbine Massacrepolitical violence
Communismgovernment
The Confederacypolitical violence
conscience
conspiracy theorypsychological warfare
convict leasingwhite supremacy
copperheadismwhite supremacyA citizen of the North who was against the Civil War and favored negotiating a settlement with the South was referred to, pejoratively, as a copperhead.
covert narcissistpsychological warfare
Critical Race Theorywhite supremacy
Critical Theoryconspiracy theory
crocodile tears
crying wolf
cultism
cultsabuse & control
cultural Marxism
Dark Enlightenment
Dark MAGA
dark moneyplutocracy
death cult
deep stateconspiracy theoryNetworks of opposition within governments who undermine the official regime
democratic socialismgovernment
desegregationwhite supremacyThe end of segregation between white and Black society in the U.S., ending formally in the 1950s and 60s.
disinformationpsychological warfare
dispensationalism
domestic violenceabuse & control
Doomsday ClockEnd Times
double standardmisogyny
down ballotgovernment
doxingabuse & controlResearching and broadcasting personally identifiable information about an individual
Drain the SwampMAGACampaign slogan of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential contest.
eco-fascist
El Paso Walmart shooting
Emancipation Proclamationwhite supremacy
empathy
estate taxplutocracy
"Eternal Rome"Ideology positing Russia as a geopolitical bulwark of conservatism against a weak-kneed West (part of Alexander Dugin's reformulation of Eurasianism theory)
ethnic cleansing
exfiltrationcybersecurityThe removal or copying of data from one server to another without the knowledge of the owner
extra-Constitutional
facial recognitionsurveillance capitalismTechnology that matches surveillance video and photography with large databases of known subjects' faces to identify them
Fairness Doctrine1949 FCC policy requiring broadcast networks to present controversial issues important to the public in a non-partisan way, that was repealed under Reagan in 1987.
fake newsdisinformation
false flagRussiancovert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them
fascismgovernment
fellow travellers
fifth column
fifth world warRussiannon-linear war; the war of all against all
filibuster
Financial Crimes Enforcement NEtwork (FinCEN)organized crimeDepartment within the Treasury that handles and maiontains FBAR filings from US persons holding in excess of $10,000 in foreign banks.
FISA Courtorganized crime
FISA warrantorganized crime
fiscal policyplutocracy
flat earthersconspiracy theory
Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)psychological warfareLegal statute requiring those persons lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or other entity to register such with the U.S. government.
foreign bank account report (FBAR)organized crimeRequired disclosure to the US treasury by persons holding in excess of $10,000 in funds in foreign banks.
forensicslaw enforcement
forever wars
The Frankfurt School
Freedmen's Bureau
FreedomFestConservative evangelical event annually in Las Vegas
Free Speech
free tradeplutocracy
fronto-paralimbic areaPart of the brain associated with empathy, along with the anterior insula
fundamentalism
Gabalt-Right
GamerGatealt-Right
genocide
gerrymanderinggovernmentThe practice of selecting voter districts based on party registration lines so as to make it easier to control larger blocks of the elctorate.
gift taxplutocracy
"global cabal"conspiracy theoryeuphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU
globalists
Grand Jury16 to 23 people impaneled to hear evidence from a legal prosecution, and decide if said prosecution has a caseworthy set of evidence to bring charges.
Greensboro Massacrewhite supremacy
Great Awakening
Great Migrationwhite supremacy
Great Societygovernment
greed
Guantanamo
happy talkTim Snyder's term for the ubiquitous affect of technology & unquestionable conviction that tech is helping significantly and never harming.
human traffickingorganized crime
hybrid warfarepsychological warfare
hypercapitalism
incelmisogyny"involuntary celibate" -- a male individual who believes society owes him sex
inflationplutocracy
information warfaredisinformation
integralist
interest ratesplutocracy
internationalistconspiracy theoryAnother word for "globalist" or "cosmopolitanist," all of them also words for Jewish people
interpositionwhite supremacyDubious theory underpinning the idea of states' rights, which is that individual states have veto power over any laws passed by the federal government
Iran-Contra
iron triangleA conspiracy between organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders to turn the state into a kleptocracy -- or "rule by thieves"
Jim Crow Southwhite supremacy
Johnson Amendmentprosperity gospelAllowed televangelists to funnel tax-free riches into luxury goods and political advocacy
Karenwhite supremacy
kayfabeThe "play pretend" convention of presenting a staged performance as if it were spontaneous and authentic -- a trope of professional wrestling.
kleptocracyLiterally, "rule by thieves" -- a system of government in which the people at the top steal wealth from the nation and its people for themselves and their cronies.
KochtopusplutocracyTerm for the sprawling political machinery of the Kansas-based billionaire Koch Industries inheritees, Charles and David.
kompromatRussiancompromising material on a head of state or other important figure; typically used for blackmail purposes
lamestream mediaalt-Right
late Republican periodA way of stating a common belief on the New Right, that America is a kind of late-stage Rome awaiting its Caesar
leaderless resistance
liberalismgovernmentPolitical and ethical framework based on individual liberty via human rights and equal protection
libertines
literacy tests
lobbyinggovernment
"Lock her up!"MAGAChant led by Mike Flynn at the RNC in 2016, referring to Hillary Clinton's email scandal which turned out to be a nothingburger
Logan Actgovernment
Lost Cause religionconspiracy theoryAfter the Civil War, the Confederates never accepted defeat. Instead, they wove a noble victim mythology into white southern Christianity, in an attempt to memory hole the terrorism they'd wrought -- and wished to continue practicing without scrutiny or accountability, thank you very much.
lynchingwhite supremacyExtrajudicial murder, sometimes publicly, of Black men and women -- often for invented crimes
Machiavellian
machine learningBig Tech
Mafia stateorganized crimeA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates.
MAGAMAGA"Make America Great Again" -- one of Donald Trump's campaign slogans.
malignant envypsychological warfare
malignant narcissismabuse & control
"man code"Mentioned by Raffensberger in relation to the Trump extortion call: that if Trump hadn't lied about it in public, he might not have released the tape, just chalking it up to "private criminal attempts between two men" aka "man code"
manospheremisogyny
Marxismgovernment
the matrix
mental predationabuse & control
#MeToomisogyny
microaggressions
micropenismisogyny
micro-propaganda machineThe โ€œmicro-propaganda machineโ€ (MPM) โ€” an influence network that can tailor peopleโ€™s opinions, emotional reactions, and create โ€œviralโ€ sharing episodes around what should be serious or contemplative issues
millennarianismconspiracy theory
minority rule
mirror neurons
misogynymisogyny
MK UltraReportedly a CIA program in the 50s that conducted research into mind control and brainwashing -- its findings were apparently so shocking that the program was shut down and never heard from again.
money launderingorganized crimeAttempts and processes to obscure the sources of funds moving into or through a system
multiculturalism
narcissismabuse & control
narcissistic collusionabuse & control
natalityHannah Arendt's term, and her most hopefuly theory for the future of humankind -- that it will continually be renewed by the literal birth of new generations of humans to reinterpret the human condition and our existence in the world.
national debtplutocracy
national deficitplutocracy
national security
NDANon-disclosure agreement
neggingabuse & control
neomaniaobsession with the new -- a hallmark of American culture
neo-reactionaries
New Dealgovernment
New Jim Crowwhite supremacy
New Right
non-linear warfareRussian
normalcy bias
novichokRussianmilitary-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
nullificationwhite supremacy
NRxneo-Reactionary, an extremist techophilic ideology popular on the right
obstruction
Oklahoma City bombing
oligarchyplutocracy
one-party stategovernment
open source intelligenceintelligence
oppointelligenceshort form of opposition research
outrage industrysurveillance capitalism
PAC
Palantirsurveillance capitalism
paralipsisdisinformationA rhetorical device in which the speaker feigns ignorance of the thing he or she is saying; "Saying / not saying" -- it offers a thin veneer of plausible deniability in a naked attempt to escape accountabilitty for saying exactly that.
paralogicpsychological warfare
paranoiaExtreme fear to the point of (or beyond) psychological pathology.
pathocracyorganized crime
patriarchymisogyny
peculiar institutionwhite supremacyslavery
peonagewhite supremacy
plausible deniabilityorganized crime
Plessy v. Fergusongovernment1896
plutocracygovernmentPolitical rule by the rich.
political correctness
poll tax
ponerologyThe study of evil
populismgovernment
post-leftist
postmodernismdisinformation
post-truthdisinformation
Potemkin villagegovernmentAny structure or facade built expressly for the purpose of making the situation appear more favorable than it really is
Powell MemoplutocracyLewis Powell's 1970s memo to the wealthy white male elite, in anger over the crackdown against tobacco companies, as a call to arms to organize politically against "anti-capitalist" forces
PRabuse & controlpublic relations
previous question ruleA parliamentary rule present in the initial decades of the Senate, borrowed from British law, that allowed the majority proponents of a bill or measure to call an end to debate about the provision with a short warning period of usually about 5 minutes.
Progressive Eragovernment
propagandaabuse & control
prosperity gospel
prosocial behavior
psychopathabuse & control
psyopsRussianPsychological operations
PUAmisogyny"Pick Up Artist" -- a self-styled lothario who helps train other would-be casanovas in his ways of manipulative charm
Pulse Nightclub shooting
race riotswhite supremacy
race warwhite supremacyThe goal of the accelerationist neo-Nazi idealogues is to start a race war and bring down the American government
RAGEabuse & controlRetire All Government Employees
rape culturemisogyny
Reagonomicsconspiracy theory
the "real economy"conspiracy theoryWhat folks on the New Right consider legitimate parts of the American economy: farm and factory jobs that used to sustain a middle-class income
RedditBig Tech
the regimeconspiracy theory
regression
repression
retweetBig TechWhen a Twitter user amplifies the tweet of another, by "retweeting" it out to her or his network
RICO
Right anterior insular cortexPart of the brain associated with empathy; psychopaths have a deficit here
right-wing authoritariangovernment
Roe v. Wade
Ruby Ridgewhite supremacy
running out the clock
RWDSparamilitaryRight-wing Death Squads -- an acronym used by Proud Boys and worn as patches by some members and branches
sadismabuse & control
sadopopulismgovernment
Sandy Hook school shootingabuse & control
savior complexLike the arsonist who sets the fire and then calls it in to play the hero, right-wingers with the savior complex are constantly holding up the sky as the Evil Democrats try to destroy everything good and holy -- and they want CREDIT for it, dammit!
Second Wave Feminismmisogyny
Section 230Big Tech
senicide
sexual assaultmisogyny
sexual harassmentmisogyny
shadow profilessurveillance capitalismData that Facebook collects on people who are not members of Facebook, via association with their friends who are
sharecroppingabuse & control
shared reality
show trialsRussian
SignalBig Techencrypted messaging app
Silicon Reich
sit-insNonviolent demonstration method used heavily in the 1960s
SJWwhite supremacySocial Justice Warriors -- used as a pejorative by the alt-Right
socialismgovernment
sociopathyabuse & control
sockpuppet accountsdisinformationFake 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.
SMSBig Techtexting
special interest groupsgovernment
spearphishingcybersecurityAn email designed to appear as if from a trusted source, to solicit information that allows the sender to gain access to an account or network, or installs malware that later enables the sender to gain access to an account or network
spite votergovernment
stand your ground
stochastic terrorismparamilitary
suffragegovernmentThe right to vote, sometimes referred to as "the franchise."
SuperPACgovernment
supremacy
surveillance capitalism
surveillance stateabuse & control
swattingalt-Righthoaxed reports to emergency services intended to provoke a SWAT team response at the target's home; a form of Internet-based attack used by Gamergate, the alt-Right, and other groups and individuals
symbolic violence
tax avoidanceplutocracy
tax fraudorganized crime
tax havensplutocracy
Third Wave Feminismmisogyny
totalismpsychological warfare
total warRussian
trial balloonpsychological warfareInformation put out or leaked to the media to gauge public reaction.
trickle-down economicsconspiracy theory
truth decayconspiracy theory
The Turner Diarieswhite supremacy
Tulsa Race Massacrewhite supremacyA mob of murderous whites descended on the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, dubbed Black Wall Street, and razed it to the ground. They dropped homemade bombs in the first ever domestic aerial attack on American soil. Over three hundred Blacks were murdered and hastily buried or burned. Police and other state officials were complicit; no one was ever charged for the crimes and insurance companies refused to honor Black business owner's claims from the destruction of their livelihood and senseless slaughter of their friends, families, and community.
TwitterBig Tech
Uberman
unmaskingcybersecurityIntelligence protocol redacting American identities from transcripts of foreign intercepts
vast right-wing conspiracy
volcel
Voting Rights Actwhite supremacy
Waco, TXparamilitary
wag the dogabuse & control
wage gapmisogyny
war crimes
Watergate
watering holecybersecurityhacker attacks that infect entire websites
whataboutismRussianClassic debate tactic of old Soviet apologists to deflect criticism of Soviet policy; whenever an American would levy a critique, the response would be, "What about the bad things America does?"
white collar crimeorganized crime
white nationalismwhite supremacy
women's liberationmisogyny
word salad
World War IWWI gave job opportunities to blacks in the North, causing a great migration -- as well as a backlash and resistance from Southern law enforcement.
World War II
Yes CaliforniaMovement to secede from the US entirely, run by Marcus Ruiz Evans, Louis J. Marinelli
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Blood libel is a very old anti-Semitic myth that has stubbornly persisted for centuries, one of several conspiracy theories that have scapegoating the Jewish people for all of society’s ills at their core. The heart of the false claim is that Jews murder non-Jewish (or Gentile) children to use their blood for apocryphal religious rituals, during Passover and other prominent Jewish holidays.

Originating from a series of stereotypes about Jews amassed through the ages, blood libel is also intimately related to the global cabal conspiracy theory and was heavily used in Nazi ideology to justify the horrors of the Holocaust. Somewhat ironically, the Nazis claimed that the Jewish people were inherently violent and murderous — and used this baseless claim as justification of their own systematic program of violence and murder of over 6 million Jewish people in Germany during the 1930s and 40s.

The outlandish claims of blood libel have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked by scholars, historians, anthropologists, psychologists, and an armada of dedicated truth-tellers — yet the stickiness of the myth persists, even after the consequences of this toxic belief system of antisemitism became apparent during World War II. Today, the blood libel myth has been given new life in the modern revision known as the QAnon conspiracy theory — a movement which contains elements of blood libel, global cabal theory, and a hodge podge of other fantastical and fanatical belief systems that have hooked gullible populations throughout history.

It’s important to remain skeptical of those who make these claims, and to ask who benefits from the deep virulent divisions and bitter partisanship created by the widespread belief in these toxic conspiracy theories.

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conspiracy theories, disinformation, and fake news

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary: From QAnon to Gnostics

In half a decade we’ve gone from Jeb Bush making a serious run for president to Marjorie Taylor Greene running unopposed and winning a House seat in Georgia. QAnon came seemingly out of nowhere, but taps into a much deeper and older series of conspiracy theories that have surfaced, resurfaced, and been remixed throughout time.

Essentially, QAnon is a recycling of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy theory that drove the Nazi ideology and led to the genocide of over 6 million Jews, gypsies, gays, and others who made Hitler mad. It’s a derivative of the global cabal conspiracy theory, and is riddled with the kind of conspiratorial paranoia that led to the deaths of over 75 million people in World War II.

The spread of the QAnon conspiracy theory greatly benefits from historical memory, getting a generous marketing boost from sheer familiarity. It also benefits from an authoritarian mentality growing louder in America, with a predilection for magical thinking and a susceptibility to conspiratorial thinking.

conspiracy theories, by midjourney

Tales as old as time

Conspiracy theories have been around much longer even than the Protocols — stretching back about as long as recorded history itself. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? In an increasingly complex world brimming with real-time communication capabilities, the cognitive appeal of easy answers may simply be stronger than ever before.

Anthropologists believe that conspiracy theory has been around for about as long as human beings have been able to communicate. Historians describe one of the earliest conspiracy theories as originating in ancient Mesopotamia, involving a god named Marduk and a goddess called Tiamat — both figures in Babylonian creation mythology.

According to the myth, Marduk defeated Tiamat in battle and created the world from her body — but some ancient Mesopotamians at the time thought that the story was not actually a mere myth, but a political cover-up of a real-life conspiracy in which the followers of Marduk secretly plotted to overthrow Tiamat to seize power.

This “original conspiracy theory” was likely driven by political tensions between city-states in ancient Mesopotamia, although there are very few written records still around to corroborate the origin of the theory or perception of the story at the time. Nevertheless, the Marduk-Tiamat myth is regarded as one of the earliest known examples of widespread belief in conspiracy theories, and it points to the relative commonality and frequency of false narratives throughout history.

Whether deployed purposefully to deceive a population for political advantage, created to exploit people economically, or invented “naturally” as a simple yet satisfying explanation for otherwise complicated and overwhelming phenomena, conspiracy theories are undoubtedly here to stay in culture more broadly for some time to come. We had best get the lay of the land, and understand the language we might use to describe and talk about them.

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary

TermDefinitionNotes
4chanA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.alt-Right
8chanIf 4chan wasn't raw and lawless enough for you, you could try the even more right-wing "free speech"-haven 8chan while it still stood (now 8kun). Described by its founder Frederick Bennan as "if 4chan and reddit had a baby," the site is notorious for incubating Gamergate, which morphed into PizzaGate, which morphed into QAnon -- and for generally being a cesspool of humanity's worst stuff.alt-Right
9/11 truthersPeople who believe the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001 were either known about ahead of time and allowed to happen, or were intentionally planned by the US government.
alien abductionPeople who claim to have been captured by intelligent life from another planet, taken to a spaceship or other plane of existence, and brought back -- as well as the folks who believe them.UFOs now real, nbd
American carnageEvocative of "immense loss" in the Nazi mythology
AntifaAntifa is anti-fascism, so the anti-anti-fascists are just fascists wrapped in a double negative. The real cancel culture -- and a dangerous one.
Anti-SemitismOne of history's oldest hatreds, stretching back to early biblical timesReferred to as "the oldest hate," anti-Semitism is also inherently anti-feminist, because Jewish societies wereย once matrilineal.
Biblical inerrancy
birtherismOne of Donald Trump's original Big Lies -- that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and therefore, wasn't a "legitimate" president.
Black Lives MatterA social movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people.
blood libelA false accusation or myth that Jewish people used the blood of Christians, especially children, in religious rituals, historically used to justify persecution of Jews.
child traffickingThe illegal practice of procuring or trading children for the purpose of exploitation, such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, or illegal adoption.
Christian IdentityA religious belief system that asserts that white people of European descent are God's chosen people, often associated with white supremacist and extremist groups.
climate change denialThe rejection or dismissal of the scientific consensus that the climate is changing and that human activity is a significant contributing factor.
The ConfederacyRefers to the Confederate States of America, a group of 11 southern states that seceded from the United States in 1861, leading to the American Civil War, primarily over the issue of slavery.
contaminationThe presence of an unwanted substance or impurity in another substance, making it unsafe or unsuitable for use.
cosmopolitanismAnother term for globalist or internationalist, which are all dog whistles for Jewish people (see also: global cabal, blood libel)
Crossing the RubiconA phrase that signifies passing a point of no return, derived from Julius Caesar's irreversible crossing of the Rubicon River in 49 BC, leading to the Roman Civil War.
cultural MarxismAnti-semitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jewish intellectuals who fled the Hitler regime were responsible for infecting American culture with their communist takeover plans and that this holy war is the war the right-wing fights each day.
deep stateThe idea of a body within the government and military that operates independently of elected officials, often believed to manipulate government policy and direction.
DVE(Domestic Violent Extremism): Refers to violent acts committed within a country's borders by individuals motivated by domestic political, religious, racial, or social ideologies.
fake newsInformation that is false or misleading, created and disseminated with the intent to deceive the public or sway public opinion.
GamerGateA controversy that started in 2014 involving the harassment of women in the video game industry, under the guise of advocating for ethics in gaming journalism.
George SorosA Hungarian-American billionaire investor and philanthropist, often the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories alleging he manipulates global politics and economies.
HollywoodThe historic center of the United States film industry, often used to refer broadly to American cinema and its cultural influence.
IlluminatiA term often associated with various conspiracy theories that allege a secret society controlling world affairs, originally referring to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society.
InfoWarsA controversial far-right media platform known for promoting conspiracy theories and misinformation, hosted by Alex Jones.
JFK assassinationThe assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, an event surrounded by numerous conspiracy theories regarding the motives and identities of the assassins.
John Birch SocietyThe QAnon of its day (circa 1960s), this extreme right-wing group was theoretically about anti-communist ideals but espoused a host of conspiracy theories and outlandish beliefs
lamestream mediaDerogatory term for any media that isn't right-wing media.
leftist apocalypseA hyperbolic term used by some critics to describe a scenario where leftist or progressive policies lead to societal collapse or significant negative consequences.
Makers and TakersA right-wing economic dichotomy used to describe individuals or groups who contribute to society or the economy (makers) versus those who are perceived to take from it without contributing (takers).
micro-propaganda machineMPM: Refers to the use of targeted, small-scale dissemination of propaganda, often through social media and other digital platforms, to influence public opinion or behavior.the โ€œmicro-propaganda machineโ€ โ€” an influence network that can tailor peopleโ€™s opinions, emotional reactions, and create โ€œviralโ€ sharing (๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝLOL/haha/๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝRAGE) episodes around what should be serious or contemplative issues
motivated reasoningThe cognitive process where individuals form conclusions that are more favorable to their preexisting beliefs or desires, rather than based on objective evidence.
New World OrderA conspiracy theory that posits a secretly emerging totalitarian world government, often associated with fears of loss of sovereignty and individual freedoms. (see also, OWG, ZOG)
nullificationA constitutional "theory" put forth by southern states before the Civil War that they have the power to invalidate any federal laws or judicial decisions they consider unconstitutional. It's never been upheld by the federal courts.
One World GovernmentThe concept of a single government authority that would govern the entire world, often discussed in the context of global cooperation or, conversely, as a dystopian threat in conspiracy theories. (see also: NWO, ZOG)
PizzaGateA debunked and baseless conspiracy theory alleging the involvement of certain U.S. political figures in a child sex trafficking ring, supposedly operated out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.
post-truthRefers to a cultural and political context in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.
PRpublic relations
propagandaInformation, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.
Protocols of the Elders of ZionForged anti-semitic document alleging a secret Jewish child murder conspiracy used by Hitler to gin up support for his regime.
PsyOpsPsychological operations: Operations intended to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.
QAnonA baseless conspiracy theory alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Q DropsMessages or "drops" posted on internet forums by "Q," the anonymous figure at the center of the QAnon conspiracy theory, often cryptic and claiming to reveal secret information about a supposed deep state conspiracy.
reactionary modernismA term that describes the combination of modern technological development with traditionalist or reactionary political and cultural beliefs, often seen in fascist ideologies.
Reichstag fireAn arson attack on the Reichstag building (home of the German parliament) in Berlin on February 27, 1933, which the Nazi regime used as a pretext to claim that Communists were plotting against the German government.
RothschildsA wealthy Jewish family of bankers, often subject to various unfounded conspiracy theories alleging they control global financial systems and world events.
sock puppetsOnline identities used for purposes of deception, such as to praise, defend, or support a person or organization while appearing to be an independent party.
"Stand back and stand by"A phrase used by former U.S. President Donald Trump during a presidential debate, which was interpreted as a call to readiness by the Proud Boys, a far-right and neo-fascist organization.
The StormWithin the context of QAnon, a prophesied event in which members of the supposed deep state cabal will be arrested and punished for their crimes.
WikiLeaksWithin the context of QAnon, a prophesied event in which members of the supposed deep state cabal will be arrested and punished for their crimes.
ZOGZOG (Zionist Occupation Government): A conspiracy theory claiming that Jewish people secretly control a country, particularly the United States, while the term itself is antisemitic and unfounded.
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