RWAs

Wealth Cult -- rich men behaving badly, by Midjourney

A network of exceedingly wealthy individuals and organizations have channeled their vast fortunes into influencing American politics, policy, and public opinion — they’ve formed a wealth cult. And they’ve leveraged that cult and its considerable fortune to influence and in many ways dramatically transform American politics.

The term “dark money” refers to political spending meant to influence the decision-making and critical thinking of the public and lawmakers where the source of the money is not disclosed. This lack of transparency makes it challenging to trace the influence back to its origins, hence the term “dark.”

And, it is dark indeed.

Wealth cult anchors the trench coat

The Wealth Cult is one of 3 primary groups or clusters supporting the right-wing and generally, the Republican Party. It anchors the trench coat by funding the 2 cults above it: the Christian Cult, and the White Cult.

Its story is stealthy and significant.

A bunch of billionaires toast themselves to themselves, by Midjourney

The wealth cult has funded disinformation campaigns, the spread of conspiracy theories, created fake social movements through astroturfing, enabled violent extremists to attack their country’s capitol, cruelly deprived vulnerable people (especially immigrants, poor people, and women) of the kind of state aid granted generously throughout the developed world, bribed regulators, rigged elections, crashed economies, and on and on in service of their extremist free market ideology beliefs.

They believe in “makers and takers,” or Mudsill Theory, as it was once called by pedophile and racist Senator and slavery enthusiast James Henry Hammond. Some people were born to serve others, they say. Hierarchies are natural, they claim. Wealthy men should make all the decisions — because that’s what’s best for everyone, they say in paternalistic tones.

I don’t buy it. I believe all men are created equal. So did a certain Founder of our country.

Continue reading Wealth Cult: The oligarchs influencing American politics from the shadows
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Shitposting, a term that has seeped into the mainstream of internet culture, is often characterized by the act of posting deliberately provocative, off-topic, or nonsensical content in online communities and on social media. The somewhat vulgar term encapsulates a spectrum of online behavior ranging from harmless, humorous banter to malicious, divisive content.

Typically, a shit-post is defined by its lack of substantive content, its primary goal being to elicit attention and reactions — whether amusement, confusion, or irritation — from its intended audience. Closely related to trolling, shitposting is one aspect of a broader pantheon of bad faith behavior online.

Shit-poster motivations

The demographic engaging in shit-posting is diverse, cutting across various age groups, social strata, and political affiliations. However, it’s particularly prevalent among younger internet users who are well-versed in meme culture and online vernacular. The motivations for shit-posting can be as varied as its practitioners.

Some engage in it for humor and entertainment, seeing it as a form of digital performance art. Others may use it as a tool for social commentary or satire, while a more nefarious subset might employ it to spread disinformation and misinformation, sow discord, and/or harass individuals or groups.

Online trolls shitposting on the internet, by Midjourney

Context in US politics

In the realm of U.S. politics, shit-posting has assumed a significant role in recent elections, especially on platforms like Twitter / X, Reddit, and Facebook. Politicians, activists, and politically engaged individuals often use this tactic to galvanize supporters, mock opponents, or shape public perception. It’s not uncommon to see political shit-posts that are laden with irony, exaggeration, or out-of-context information, designed to inflame passions or reinforce existing biases — or exploit them.

Recognition and response

Recognizing shit-posting involves a discerning eye. Key indicators include the use of hyperbole, irony, non-sequiturs, and content that seems outlandishly out of place or context. The tone is often mocking or sarcastic. Visual cues, such as memes or exaggerated images, are common.

Responding to shit-posting is a nuanced affair. Engaging with it can sometimes amplify the message, which might be the poster’s intention. A measured approach is to assess the intent behind the post. If it’s harmless humor, it might warrant a light-hearted response or none at all.

For posts that are disinformation or border on misinformation or toxicity, countering with factual information, reporting the content, or choosing not to engage are viable strategies. The key is not to feed into the cycle of provocation and reaction that shit-posting often seeks to perpetuate.

Shitposting troll farms lurk in the shadows, beaming disinformation across the land -- by Midjourney

Fighting back

Shit-posting, in its many forms, is a complex phenomenon in the digital age. It straddles the line between being a form of modern-day satire and a tool for misinformation, propaganda, and/or cyberbullying. As digital communication continues to evolve, understanding the nuances of shit-posting – its forms, motivations, and impacts – becomes crucial, particularly in politically charged environments. Navigating this landscape requires a balanced approach, blending awareness, discernment, and thoughtful engagement.

This overview provides a basic understanding of shit-posting, but the landscape is ever-changing, with new forms and norms continually emerging. The ongoing evolution of online communication norms, including phenomena like shit-posting, is particularly fascinating and significant in the broader context of digital culture and political discourse.

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republican vs. democrat cage match boxing ring

Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride. Many of the serious scholars of political history and authoritarian regimes are sounding the alarm bells that, although it is a very very good thing that we got the Trump crime family out of the Oval Office, it is still a very very bad thing for America to have so rapidly tilted towards authoritarianism. How did we get here?! How has hyper partisanship escalated to the point of an attempted coup by 126 sitting Republican House Representatives? How has political polarization gotten this bad?

These are some of the resources that have helped me continue grappling with that question, and with the rapidly shifting landscape of information warfare. How can we understand this era of polarization, this age of tribalism? This outline is a work in progress, and I’m planning to keep adding to this list as the tape keeps rolling.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is both a personality type and a form of government — it operates at both the interpersonal and the societal level. The words authoritarian and fascist are often used interchangeably, but fascism is a more specific type of authoritarianism, and far more historically recent.

America has had flavors of authoritarianism since its founding, and when fascism came along the right-wing authoritarians ate it up — and deeply wanted the United States to be a part of it. Only after they became social pariahs did they change position to support American involvement in World War II — and some persisted even after the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Scholars of authoritarianism

  • Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians
  • Derrida — the logic of the unconscious; performativity in the act of lying
  • ketman — Ketman is the psychological concept of concealing one’s true aims, akin to doublethink in Orwell’s 1984, that served as a central theme to Polish dissident Czesław Miłosz‘s book The Captive Mind about intellectual life under totalitarianism during the Communist post-WWII occupation.
  • Erich Fromm — coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe the psychological character of the Nazis. He also wrote extensively about the mindset of the authoritarian follower in his seminal work, Escape from Freedom.
  • Eric Hoffer — his book The True Believers explores the mind of the authoritarian follower, and the appeal of losing oneself in a totalist movement
  • Fascism — elevation of the id as the source of truth; enthusiasm for political violence
  • Tyrants and dictators
  • John Dean — 3 types of authoritarian personality:
    • social dominators
    • authoritarian followers
    • double highs — social dominators who can “switch” to become followers in certain circumstances
  • Loyalty; hero worship
    • Freud = deeply distrustful of hero worship and worried that it indulged people’s needs for vertical authority. He found the archetype of the authoritarian primal father very troubling.
  • Ayn Rand
    • The Fountainhead (1943)
    • Atlas Shrugged (1957)
    • Objectivism ideology
  • Greatness Thinking; heroic individualism
  • Nietszche — will to power; the Uberman
  • Richard Hofstadter — The Paranoid Style
  • George Lakoff — moral framing; strict father morality
  • Neil Postman — Entertaining Ourselves to Death
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Can be disguised as hyper-rationalism (Communism)
  • More authoritarianism books
Continue reading Hyper Partisanship: How to understand American politics today
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What are the signs of fascism? And what is fascism? Fascism is a complex and multi-faceted ideology that can manifest in various ways, making it challenging to pin down with a single definition. However, there are certain signs, traits, tactics, and behaviors that are commonly associated with it. Here’s an overview:

Traits

  1. Authoritarianism: Fascism is inherently authoritarian, advocating for a centralized power structure, often under a single charismatic leader.
  2. Nationalism: Extreme nationalism is a hallmark, often coupled with the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own nation over others — a form of collective narcissism.
  3. Militarism: A strong emphasis on military power and aggression as a means to achieve national objectives is common. Many fascists are former military and/or current militia members.
  4. Anti-Intellectualism: Fascist regimes often distrust intellectuals and experts, preferring emotion and popular sentiment. Railing against the “Eastern elite” is a common refrain.
  5. Xenophobia and Racism: There’s often a strong element of fear or hatred towards outsiders or people considered “different.”
  6. Traditionalism: A romanticized, mythologized view of the past and a desire to return to so-called “traditional” values.
  7. Anti-Communism: A strong opposition to left-wing ideologies, particularly communism and socialism.

Tactics

  1. Propaganda: The use of propaganda to manipulate public opinion is rampant in fascist regimes. Often, conspiracy theories are used to whip up strong emotion quickly.
  2. Suppression of Dissent: Any form of opposition is often met with severe punishment, including imprisonment or even death.
  3. Cult of Personality: Leaders often build a cult of personality around themselves, portraying themselves as the saviors of the nation.
  4. Scapegoating: Blaming societal problems on a particular group, often minorities, to divert attention from real issues. One of the oldest examples is antisemitism.
  5. Control Over Media: The media is often state-controlled or heavily influenced to propagate the regime’s messages.
  6. Political Violence: The use of violence, or the threat thereof, is common to intimidate opposition and enforce policies.

Behaviors and Beliefs

  1. Dogmatic Beliefs: A refusal to consider alternative viewpoints or engage in constructive debate.
  2. Manipulation of History: Rewriting, distorting, or hiding historical facts to suit the regime’s preferred narrative.
  3. Secrecy and Surveillance: A lack of transparency and an emphasis on surveillance to monitor citizens.
  4. Economic Control: Often, there’s a form of state capitalism where the government controls key industries.
  5. Social Darwinism: A belief in the survival of the fittest, often used to justify social inequality.

Identifying a Fascist

Identifying someone as a fascist can be complex due to the ideology’s fluid nature. However, if an individual strongly exhibits many of the traits, tactics, and behaviors listed above, it could be a sign. Fascism is a multi-dimensional ideology that can manifest in various ways but generally includes authoritarianism, extreme nationalism, and a range of tactics aimed at maintaining power. Understanding these signs is crucial for recognizing and combating the rise of fascist ideologies.

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What is fascism? Fascism is a far-right political ideology that emerged in the early 20th century, primarily in Italy under Benito Mussolini. It advocates for a centralized, authoritarian government, often led by a dictatorial figure, and places a strong emphasis on nationalism and, sometimes, racial purity. Fascism rejects liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, instead promoting a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism. It often involves the suppression of dissent, the glorification of war and violence, and the demonization of perceived enemies, whether they be internal or external.

Historical context of fascism

Fascism gained prominence in the aftermath of World War I, a period marked by social upheaval, economic instability, and a crisis of traditional values. Mussolini’s Italy was the birthplace of fascism, but the ideology found its most extreme and devastating expression in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. The Holocaust, the invasion of multiple countries, and the atrocities committed during World War II, including genocide, are dark chapters directly associated with fascist ideology. After the war, fascism was discredited but not eradicated. Various forms of neo-fascism, far-right, and alt-right ideologies have emerged in different parts of the world, although they often avoid the label of “fascism” due to its historical baggage.

Psychology of adherents

Understanding the psychology of those who adhere to fascist ideologies can be challenging but is crucial for a comprehensive view. Several factors contribute to the appeal of fascism:

  • Social Identity: People often gravitate towards ideologies that offer a strong sense of community and identity. Fascism’s emphasis on nationalism and often ethnocentrism can be attractive to those feeling alienated or marginalized.
  • Economic Insecurity: Fascism often gains traction during times of economic uncertainty. The promise of stability and prosperity can be enticing to those who feel left behind by other political systems.
  • Fear and Prejudice: Fascist ideologies often exploit existing prejudices, whether they be racial (like white nationalism), religious (like Christian nationalism), or otherwise, to create an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Desire for Order: The authoritarian nature of fascism can appeal to those who value social order and are willing to trade off democratic freedoms for promised or perceived safety and stability.
  • Charismatic Leadership: Fascist movements often rely on charismatic leaders who can galvanize public sentiment and offer simplistic solutions to complex problems. So do cults.

What is fascism? Fascism is a far-right ideology that has had a profound impact on global history and continues to exist in various forms today. Its appeal lies in its ability to offer simple solutions to complex problems, often at the expense of individual freedoms and ethical considerations. Understanding the historical and psychological factors that contribute to the rise of fascism is crucial for recognizing and combating it in the modern world — where it is once again on the rise.

Be sure to get familiar with the signs of fascism.

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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 Szálasi 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 – 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 ↗

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

American Fascists & the Global Right ↗

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

Authoritarianism Dictionary ↗

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.

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These days the GOP is just 3 cults in a trenchcoat — nevertheless, it’s helpful to understand some of the ideologies and extremist beliefs that folks on the right engage with. Understanding the psychology can help us make predictions about actions, reactions, and other developments in the political landscape.

What is an ideology?

An ideology is a comprehensive set of beliefs, ideas, and values that shape the way individuals or groups perceive the world and interact within it. It serves as a lens through which people interpret social, political, and economic phenomena, guiding their actions and decisions. Ideologies can be as broad as political doctrines like liberalism, conservatism, or socialism, or as specific as belief systems within a particular culture or organization.

Ideologies often manifest in various forms, such as political platforms, religious doctrines, or social movements. They can be explicit, where the principles are clearly outlined, or implicit, subtly influencing behavior without overt expression. Ideologies are not static; they evolve over time, adapting to new information, social changes, or shifts in power dynamics.

In the realm of politics and governance, ideologies play a crucial role. They inform policy decisions, shape public opinion, and influence the behavior of political actors. They can also be divisive, leading to conflict and exclusion of those who do not conform. In the media, ideologies can affect the framing of news and the dissemination of information, subtly shaping public perception.

Right-wing ideologies

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Racists tend to see democracy itself as a conspiracy against white people, thanks in large part to the Lost Cause Religion that sprouted up after the South lost the Civil War and had to live with themselves after destroying their economy and stature for immoral ends. Authoritarians tend to get very agitated by diversity and difference. White nationalism is the Venn diagram between these two groups.

White nationalist ideology gained renewed attention in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, often manifesting through hate groups, online forums, and political movements. White nationalists argue for policies that would establish or maintain a white majority in the country, often opposing immigration from non-European countries and advocating for policies that they believe would preserve white culture. These views are widely considered to be based on racial prejudices and are often associated with hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

Prominent white nationalists

With the emergence of the alt-right and neoreaction groups espousing flavors of accelerationism during the Trump era, a host of white nationalists have come out of the closet and said the quiet parts out loud. Here are a few figures to watch out for:

Related to white nationalism

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strict father morality

Strict Father Morality is a term coined by cognitive linguist George Lakoff to describe a type of moral worldview that centers on the values of authority, discipline, and individual responsibility. This worldview is often associated with conservative political and social positions, and is often contrasted with a more nurturing and empathetic worldview that Lakoff refers to as the “Nurturant Parent” model — more closely aligned to a liberal and progressive worldview.

At the core of the Strict Father Morality worldview is the belief that the world is a fundamentally dangerous and competitive place, and that individuals must be prepared to compete and succeed in order to survive and thrive. In this worldview, the father is seen as the ultimate authority figure, responsible for providing for and protecting his family, and for instilling the discipline and self-control necessary for success in life.

Strict Father Morality -- a moral philosophy concept by Georg eLakoff

This patriarchal worldview is rooted in a traditional understanding of gender roles, where men are seen as the primary breadwinners and protectors, while women are seen as nurturing caregivers. This gendered division of labor is seen as necessary for the survival and flourishing of the family unit, and deviations from traditional gender roles are often viewed with suspicion or even hostility.

Christianity and Strict Father Morality

Central to the Strict Father Morality worldview is the idea that success is the result of hard work, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. Those who succeed in life are seen as having earned their success through their own efforts, while those who struggle or fail are seen as having brought it upon themselves through a lack of discipline or effort. This ideology is a derivative of the Protestant work ethic identified by sociologist Max Weber as one of the core animating worldviews behind fervent belief in capitalism.

Emerging out of Calvinism, the Protestant work ethic extends the idea that constant economic activity can show evidence of one’s eternal salvation. The emphasis on self-blame for one’s low economic condition is often used to justify policies that limit government intervention in areas such as healthcare, education, and social welfare.

the Protestant work ethic drove society to justify sending children to work in dangerous factories

Black and white thinking and Strict Father Morality

Another important aspect of Strict Father Morality is the belief in moral absolutes and the importance of maintaining a strong moral code. This includes a belief in the importance of law and order, and the need to punish those who break the law. In this worldview, moral relativism is seen as a dangerous threat to the stability and order of society, and the preservation of traditional values is seen as essential to maintaining social cohesion and stability.

Critics of Strict Father Morality argue that it is overly simplistic and ignores the complexity of human experience. They argue that the overemphasis on blaming individuals for their circumstances is a form of victim blaming, and can encourage a lack of empathy for those who face systemic barriers to success. They note the similarity of the entire ideology to a type of black and white thinking, and also argue that the traditional gender roles and emphasis on hierarchy and authority can lead to authoritarianism and intolerance.

traditional gender roles, by Midjourney

Strict Father Morality is also seen as being aligned with sexism, racism, and bigotry in general. It’s associated with ideas long ago debunked, dispelled, or defeated as poor ways of viewing and interacting with the world — due to basic inaccuracy.

In summary, Strict Father Morality is a moral worldview that emphasizes the values of authority, hierarchy, discipline, and limited government involvement, and is rooted in a traditional understanding of gender roles and moral absolutes. While this worldview can provide a sense of security and stability, it has been criticized for its oversimplification of human experience and its potential to usher in authoritarianism and glorify intolerance.

Related:

Black and White Thinking ↗

Black and white thinking is the tendency to see things in extremes, and to view the world through a very polarized lens.

Christian Nationalism

Christian nationalism is the belief in, and attempt to bring about, Christianity as the state religion in America — including the imposition of Biblical Law.

Bob Altemeyer The Authoritarians, a Summary ↗

Professor Altemeyer has studied authoritarianism and the authoritarian personality since 1966.

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George Orwell’s 1984 lexicon is a lingua franca of authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Newspeak words have the stamp of boots on pavement, the stench of disinformation, and are most likely to be found in the mouths of Trumpians and the chryons of the OAN Network.

The terse portmanteus are blunt and blocky, like a brutalist architecture vocabulary. Their simplicity indicates appeal to the small-minded masses for easily digested pablum.

About Newspeak

Newspeak is a fictional language created by George Orwell for his dystopian novel 1984, published in 1949. The language serves as an essential tool for the oppressive regime, known as The Party, to control and manipulate the population of Oceania. Newspeak is intentionally designed to restrict the range of thought, eliminate words that convey dissent or rebellion, and enforce political orthodoxy. The language accomplishes this by reducing the complexity of vocabulary and grammar, condensing words into simplified forms, and eliminating synonyms and antonyms. The Party aims to eliminate the potential for subversive thoughts by ensuring that the language itself lacks the necessary words and expressions to articulate them.

In Orwell’s world, Newspeak works hand in hand with the concept of “doublethink,” which requires individuals to accept contradictory beliefs simultaneously. This manipulation of language and thought is central to maintaining the Party’s power and control over the populace. Newspeak’s ultimate goal is to render dissent and rebellion impossible by making the very thoughts of these actions linguistically unexpressable. As a result, Newspeak serves as a chilling representation of how language can be weaponized to restrict personal freedoms, suppress independent thought, and perpetuate an authoritarian regime.

Newspeak rises again

Those boots ring out again, from Belarus to Hungary to the United States. There are book burnings and the defunding of libraries in multiple states. From Ron DeSantis to Trumpian anti-intellectualism to the rampant proliferation of conspiracy theories, It’s a good time to brush up on the brutalism still actively struggling to take hold.

Newspeak Orwell

Newspeak Dictionary from 1984

Newspeak termDefinition
anteThe prefix that replaces before
artsemArtificial insemination
bbBig Brother
bellyfeelThe blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea
blackwhiteTo accept whatever one is told, regardless of the facts. In the novel, it is described as "...to say that black is white when [the Party says so]" and "...to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary".
crimestopTo rid oneself of unorthodox thoughts that go against Ingsoc's ideology
crimethinkThoughts and concepts that go against Ingsoc, frequently referred to by the standard English “thoughtcrime”, such as liberty, equality, and privacy, and also the criminal act of holding such thoughts
dayorderOrder of the day
depDepartment
doubleplusgoodThe word that replaced Oldspeak words meaning "superlatively good", such as excellent, fabulous, and fantastic
doubleplusungoodThe word that replaced Oldspeak words meaning "superlatively bad", such as terrible and horrible
doublethinkThe act of simultaneously believing two, mutually contradictory ideas
duckspeakAutomatic, vocal support of political orthodoxies
facecrimeA facial expression which reveals that one has committed thoughtcrime
FicdepThe Ministry of Truth's Fiction Department
freeThe absence and the lack of something. "Intellectually free" and "politically free" have been replaced by crimethinkful.
–fulThe suffix for forming an adjective
fullwiseThe word that replaces words such as fully, completely, and totally
goodthinkA synonym for "political orthodoxy" and "a politically orthodox thought" as defined by the Party
goodsexSexual intercourse only for procreation, without any physical pleasure on the part of the woman, and strictly within marriage
goodwiseThe word that replaced well as an adverb
IngsocThe English Socialist Party (i.e. The Party)
joycampLabour camp
malquotedInaccurate representations of the words of Big Brother and of the Party
MiniluvThe Ministry of Love, where the secret police interrogate and torture the enemies of Oceania (torture and brainwashing)
MinipaxThe Ministry of Peace, who wage war for Oceania
MinitrueThe Ministry of Truth, who manufacture consent by way of lies, propaganda, and distorted historical records, while supplying the proles (proletariat) with synthetic culture and entertainment
MiniplentyThe Ministry of Plenty, who keep the population in continual economic hardship (starvation and rationing)
OldspeakStandard English
oldthinkIdeas from the time before the Party's revolution, such as objectivity and rationalism
ownlifeA person's anti-social tendency to enjoy solitude and individualism
plusgoodThe word that replaced Oldspeak words meaning "very good", such as great
plusungoodThe word that replaced "very bad"
PornosecThe pornography production section (Porno sector) of the Ministry of Truth's Fiction Department
prolefeedPopular culture for entertaining Oceania's working class
RecdepThe Ministry of Truth's Records Department, where Winston Smith rewrites historical records so they conform to the Party's agenda
rectifyThe Ministry of Truth's euphemism for manipulating a historical record
refTo refer (to someone or something)
secSector
sexcrimeA sexual immorality, such as fornication, adultery, oral sex, and homosexuality; any sex act that deviates from Party directives to use sex only for procreation
speakwriteA machine that transcribes speech into text
TeledepThe Ministry of Truth's Telecommunications Department
telescreenA two-way television set with which the Party spy upon Oceania's population
thinkpolThe Thought Police, the secret police force of Oceania's government
unpersonAn executed person whose existence is erased from history and memory
upsubAn upwards submission to higher authority
–wiseThe only suffix for forming an adverb

Related intel:

Disinformation Dictionary ↗

Disinformation is a practice with a unique Orwellian lexicon all its own, collated in this disinformation dictionary.

disinformation

Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory ↗

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

How did they get this way? Are people born with authoritarian personalities, or is the authoritarian “made” predominately by circumstance?

authoritarians gather for a witch hunt

Pathocracy Definition: Are we in one? ↗

Pathocracy is a relatively lesser-known concept in political science and psychology, which refers to a system of government in which individuals with personality disorders, particularly those who exhibit psychopathic, narcissistic, and similar traits (i.e. the “evil of Cluster B“), hold significant power.

Donald Trump pathocracy, by Midjourney
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Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors towards a particular cause, idea, or ideology. It involves the use of persuasive techniques to shape public opinion and to create a favorable image of a person, group, or organization, while discrediting or demonizing its opponents.

Propaganda can take many different forms, including posters, speeches, films, radio broadcasts, social media posts, and news articles. It can be used for political, social, religious, or commercial purposes, and it is often associated with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian societies.

One of the key characteristics of propaganda is its use of emotional appeals, rather than rational arguments, to sway people’s opinions. Propagandists often appeal to people’s fears, hopes, bigotries, or prejudices, and use catchy slogans, symbols, or images to make their message more memorable and persuasive. They may also use repetition, exaggeration, or distortion of facts to reinforce their message and to create a sense of urgency or crisis.

Disinformation at scale

Another key feature of propaganda is its use of selective or biased information to support its claims and to discredit opposing views. Propagandists may use half-truths, rumors, lies, or Big Lies to create a false or misleading picture of the situation, and to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality. They may also use censorship or propaganda techniques such as suppression of dissent, demonization of opponents, or use of fear to create a chilling climate of fear and intimidation.

Propaganda can also be used to create a sense of unity or identity among a group of people, by emphasizing their shared values, beliefs, or interests, and by portraying outsiders or enemies as a threat to their well-being. Propaganda can thus be used to mobilize people for a common cause, such as a war or a political campaign, or to reinforce existing social norms and values.

However, propaganda can also have negative consequences, such as creating divisions, fostering hatred, or suppressing dissent. It can lead to the dehumanization of other groups or individuals, and to the justification of violence or discrimination. Propaganda can also undermine democracy by limiting people’s access to accurate information and by creating a distorted view of reality.

To resist propaganda, it is important to be critical of the messages we receive, to question the sources and motives of the information, and to seek out alternative perspectives and sources of information. We should also be aware of our own biases and prejudices, and strive to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints.

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authoritarians gather for a witch hunt

Many people around the world were shocked in the aftermath of World War II. How could “polite” society break down so utterly, so swiftly, and so zealously? Why did authoritarian personality traits come to dominate human affairs, seemingly out of nowhere? How thin is this veneer of civilization, really?

The authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive strictness and a propensity to exhibit oppressive behavior towards perceived subordinates. On the flip side, they treat authority figures with mindless obedience and unquestioning compliance. They also have an aversion to difference, ambiguity, complexity, and diversity.

How did they get this way? Are people born with authoritarian personalities, or is the authoritarian “made” predominately by circumstance?

Authoritarian personality studies

A braintrust of scholars, public servants, authors, psychologists, and others have been analyzing these questions ever since. Some of the most prominent thinkers on the subject of authoritarianism were either themselves affected by the Nazi regime, or lived through the war in some capacity. Other more recent contributions have built on those original foundations, refining and extending them as more new history continues to unfold with right-wing behavior to observe.

Continue reading Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory
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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 “banality of evil” 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 Buffett’s famous complaint that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary: “It 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.”
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 “micro-propaganda machine” (MPM) — an influence network that can tailor people’s opinions, emotional reactions, and create “viral” 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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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 were 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 “micro-propaganda machine” — an influence network that can tailor people’s opinions, emotional reactions, and create “viral” sharing (��LOL/haha/��RAGE) 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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Great Replacement Theory is a conspiracy theory animating the radical right wing that claims non-white immigrants are being brought to the U.S. and the west to “replace” white voters with their woke political and cultural agenda. Those who believe this white supremacist ideology see routine immigration policy as a white genocide and extinction of the white race. They also point to low birth rates among white europeans and the promotion of multiculturalism, or “wokeness,” as responsible for the alleged effects.

Promoters of this derivative of Nazi ideology (the claim is that Jews are responsible for this immigration plot) claim that the United States must close its borders immediately to immigration. Many advocate isolationism (“America First!”), white nationalism (and/or forms of nationalism more broadly), and claim that violence may be necessary to keep America under the control of white men.

History of Great Replacement Theory

The term “Great Replacement” was popularized by French writer Renaud Camus in his 2011 book “Le Grand Remplacement.” According to Camus, the alleged replacement is a result of the European elites intentionally allowing mass immigration and promoting multiculturalism to undermine national identity and traditional Western culture.

The Great Replacement Theory has been widely discredited and criticized by experts, as it is based on misinformation, selective data, and biased interpretations. It is important to note that this theory often fuels xenophobia, bigotry, racism, and anti-immigrant sentiments, and has been linked to a number of far-right extremist attacks worldwide.

Demographic changes in Western countries are driven by a complex interplay of factors such as economic migration, political instability, globalization, and changing birth rates. These factors are not part of any orchestrated plot, but rather reflect broader social, economic, and political trends. Unfortunately, it’s in the interest of the right-wing to keep its rabid base riled up — and the Great Replacement Theory conspiracy is an effective tool for generating anger and injecting vitriol into the broader political discourse.

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