RWAs

George Orwell’s 1984 lexicon is a lingua franca of authoritarianism, fascism, 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.

What is 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 Newspeak 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 translation is often the exact opposite of the meaning of the words said.

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.

The following is a list of all Newspeak words from 1984.

Newspeak Orwell

Newspeak 1984 Dictionary

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 β€œthoughtcrime”, 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

Creation of New Words in Newspeak

One of the most fascinating and insidious aspects of Newspeak is the methodical creation of new words. This process is not only about inventing new terms but also about streamlining and simplifying the language to ensure it serves the purposes of the Party. Here’s how this process works:

1. Compounding Words

In Newspeak, many new words are created by combining existing ones. This technique, known as compounding, helps to streamline communication by reducing longer phrases into single, concise terms. For example:

  • Goodthink: A compound of “good” and “think,” meaning orthodox thought, or thoughts that align with Party doctrine.
  • Oldthink: A combination of “old” and “think,” referring to thoughts that are based on outdated, pre-revolutionary beliefs and values.

By merging words in this manner, Newspeak eliminates the need for descriptive phrases, thereby simplifying language and controlling thought.

2. Prefixes and Suffixes

Newspeak employs prefixes and suffixes to create new words and alter the meanings of existing ones. This method ensures that language remains efficient and devoid of any unnecessary complexity. Some common prefixes and suffixes include:

  • Un-: This prefix is used to form the negative of any word, thereby eliminating the need for antonyms. For example, “unhappy” replaces “sad.”
  • Plus- and Doubleplus-: These prefixes intensify the meaning of words. “Plusgood” means very good, while “doubleplusgood” means excellent or extremely good.
  • -wise: This suffix is used to form adverbs. For instance, “speedwise” means quickly.

Through these prefixes and suffixes, Newspeak ensures that language remains consistent and simplified, reinforcing the Party’s control over thought.

3. Simplification of Grammar

The creation of new words in Newspeak is also characterized by the simplification of grammar. Irregular verbs and noun forms are abolished, making all words conform to a delimited list of regular patterns. For example:

  • Think: In Newspeak, the past tense of “think” would simply be “thinked,” and the past participle would also be “thinked,” eliminating irregular forms like “thought.”
  • Knife: Plural forms are regularized, so “knife” becomes “knifes” instead of “knives.”

This grammatical regularization reduces the cognitive load required to learn and use the language, further limiting the scope for complex or critical thought.

4. Abolition of Synonyms and Antonyms

Newspeak systematically removes synonyms and antonyms to narrow the range of meaning, engendering black and white thinking. Each concept is reduced to a single, unambiguous word, eliminating nuances and shades of meaning:

  • Good: The word “good” stands alone without synonyms like “excellent,” “great,” or “superb.” Intensifiers like “plus-” and “doubleplus-” are used instead.
  • Bad: Instead of having a separate word like “bad,” Newspeak uses “ungood.” This not only simplifies vocabulary but also imposes a binary way of thinking.

By removing synonyms and antonyms, Newspeak reduces the complexity of language, ensuring that only Party-approved ideas can be easily communicated.

5. Creation of Euphemisms

In Newspeak, euphemisms are crafted to mask the true nature of unpleasant or controversial realities, aligning language with Party propaganda. For instance:

  • Joycamp: A euphemism for forced labor camps, designed to make the concept seem more palatable and less threatening.
  • Minipax: Short for the Ministry of Peace, which actually oversees war. The euphemistic name helps to disguise its true function.

These euphemisms help to distort reality, making it easier for the Party to maintain control over the population’s perceptions and beliefs.

Related to Newspeak:

Disinformation Dictionary β†—

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

disinformation

Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory β†—

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 β€œmade” predominately by circumstance?

authoritarians gather for a witch hunt

Pathocracy Definition: Are we in one? β†—

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 β€œevil of Cluster Bβ€œ), hold significant power.

Donald Trump pathocracy, by Midjourney
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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 theories: old men around the world map, by midjourney

Conspiracy Theory Dictionary

4chanA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.
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.
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.
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. They are the real cancel culture — and a dangerous one (book burning and everything!).
Anti-SemitismOne of history’s oldest hatreds, stretching back to early biblical times
Biblical inerrancyBiblical inerrancy is the doctrine that the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is without error or fault in all its teachings. 
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 justice 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. Part of a broader cultural trend of science denialism.
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, disinformation, and misinformation, hosted by clinical narcissist 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). See also: Mudsill Theory, trickle down economics, supply side economics, Reaganomics, Libertarianism
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.
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. Used as part of hybrid warfare and information warfare tactics in geopolitical (and, sadly, domestic) arenas.
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 that seemed to answer his calling during the riot and coup attempt at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
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.
WikiLeaksWikiLeaks is a controversial platform known for publishing classified and secret documents from anonymous sources, gaining international attention for its major leaks. While it has played a significant role in exposing hidden information, its release of selectively edited materials has also contributed to the spread of conspiracy theories related to American and Russian politics.
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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The war in Ukraine is less “surprising” to some who’ve seen it raging since 2014. Although it escalated greatly in 2022, the Ukraine timeline dates back all the way to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

To understand the backstory — which is now inextricably intertwined with our own presidential history given the impeachment of Donald Trump over his phone calls with Zelensky to the Republican Party‘s current-day support of the aims of Vladimir Putin — we have to go back to a time when no one was stronger on anti-Russian policy than GOP darling Ronald Reagan.

  • 1991 — Ukraine declares independence and becomes an independent entity after the fall of the Soviet Union
  • 1994 — Ukraine agrees to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a protection agreement with Russia, United States, Britain, and Ireland (Budapest Memorandum)
  • 2004Viktor Yanukovich “wins” election under dubious circumstances and is deposed for a do over election, which he loses to Viktor Yuschenko (Orange Revolution)
  • 2006 — Viktor Yanukovych begins working directly with Paul Manafort, in an effort to boost his image after his electoral loss. Manafort was known for his work helping the “Torturers’ Lobby” of brutal dictators around the world in the 1980s, with Roger Stone (another infamous dirty trickster best known for his role as a fixer for Richard Nixon).
  • 2007 — Yanukovych’s Party of Regions does well in the Ukranian parliamentary elections, gaining a large number of seats credited to Manafort’s strategic advice about Western-style campaigning.
  • 2010 — Yanukovych is elected President of Ukraine, again largely crediting Manafort’s strategies for his comeback.
  • Nov 2013 — Having promised a more European-style government in order to win the presidency in 2010, Yanukovych turned on his word and initiated more pro-Russian policies than the Ukranians had signed up for. Yanukovych is now beset by enormous public protests against the corruption of his regime, and his unilateral decision to abandon an association agreement with the EU in favor of a trade agreement with Russia (Maidan Revolution / Revolution of Dignity)
  • Feb 2014 — After a harrowing 93 days barricaded inside Kyiv’s Maidan Square, activists are victorious; Yanukovich is deposed and flees to Russia
  • Mar 2014 — Russian forces invade and annex the region of Crimea within Ukraine
  • Apr 2014 — Russian forces invade the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, escalating a war that continues to this day and had already killed more than 14,000 people by the time the 2022 large scale invasion began
  • Apr 2014 — Hunter Biden and business partner Devon Archer join the board of Burisma
  • May 2014 — Candy magnate Petro Poroshenko succeeds Yanukovych as president of Ukraine
  • Feb 10, 2015Viktor Shokin takes office as the prosecutor general of Ukraine, tasked with getting a handle on rampant corruption
  • Oct 8, 2015 — US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland reiterates strong concerns that Shokin is failing to prosecute obvious corruption in Ukraine, and that efforts at anti-corruption must be stepped up there
  • Dec 8, 2015 — Then VP and point person on Ukraine Joe Biden gave a speech to the Ukrainian parliament, urging them to step up their efforts to pursue anti-corruption reforms to help strengthen their young democracy
  • Winter 2015-6 — Biden is talking to Poroshenko about how Shokin is slow-walking their anti-corruption efforts
  • Feb 16, 2016 — Viktor Shokin resigns as Prosecutor General of Ukraine
  • May 12, 2016Yuriy Lutsenko is appointed as the new Prosecutor General, despite having no law degree or legal experience. At first he takes a hard line against Burisma.
  • Aug 14, 2016 — “Black ledger” payments to Paul Manafort from Viktor Yanukovych go public
  • May 10, 2017Trump hosts Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office, the day after he has fired James Comey as the Director of the FBI over “the Russian thing” — only a photographer for Russian news agency Tass is allowed to cover the meeting
  • June 2017 — The NotPetya malware emerges and causes extensive damage — especially in Ukraine. It is widely fingerprinted as a Russian state-sponsored attack.
  • October 30, 2017 — Paul Manafort is indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for money laundering, acting as a foreign agent, making false statements, and conspiracy against the United States, as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
  • Apr 30, 2018 — At a Trump dinner in his DC hotel, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman tell Trump they think Ukraine Ambassador Yovanovitch isn’t loyal enough to him
  • May-June 2018 — Lev Parnas pressures US Congressman Pete Sessions to pressure Trump to fire Yovanovitch in exchange for campaign funding; he and Fruman are later arrested for this scheme and other federal charges of illegal foreign funding of election campaigns
  • Summer 2018 — Trump reportedly frets a potential Biden run for the presidency
  • August 2018 — Lev Parnas’s company, which is named (I kid you not) “Fraud Guarantee,” hires Rudy Giuliani‘s firm for $500,000 to continue working on getting Ambassador Yovanovitch fired for doing her job pursuing corruption in Ukraine.
  • Sept 2018Congress passes and Trump signs a spending bill for the Department of Defense, including $250 million in military aid to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI)
  • Late 2018 — Lev Parnas arranges for Giuliani to meet with both Shokin and Lutsenko on multiple occasions; Devin Nunes also secretly meets with Shokin in Vienna.
  • Dec 6, 2018 — Trump pressures Parnas and Fruman to pressure the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into the Bidens
  • Late Feb, 2019 — Parnas and Fruman pressure then-President Poroshenko to open an investigation into the Bidens, in exchange for a state visit at the White House that would help his challenging re-election campaign against the popular young upstart comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy
  • Spring 2019 — A “working group” of Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman, conservative Hill reporter John Solomon, Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, and Devin Nunes’s top aide Harvey meet regularly to work on the quid pro quo project
  • March 2019 — Prosecutor General Lutsenko opens 2 investigations: 1 into alleged Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 US election (a Russian conspiracy theory) and a 2nd into Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma (he will later retract many of his allegations).
  • March 24, 2019 — Don Jr. tweets criticism of Ambassador Yovanovitch
  • March 28, 2019 — Giuliani hands off a smear campaign packet of disinformation cobbled together on Yovanovitch, intended for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • April 24, 2019 — Trump orders Marie Yovanovitch recalled from her diplomatic mission in Ukraine, after Giuliani and other allies reported she was undermining and obstructing their efforts to extort Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky to claim he was investigating the Bidens for corruption.
  • July 25, 2019 — On a phone call with Zelensky, Trump pressures him to investigate Biden in exchange for the release of funds to keep the Russians at bay in Crimea. He disparages Yovanovitch on the call, referring to her as “bad news.”
  • Oct 3, 2019 — Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is unsummarily fired by Donald Trump after recently having been invited to continue her post for several more years
  • Dec 18, 2019 — The House of Representatives votes to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the first of two times Trump will be impeached.
  • Feb 5, 2020 — The Republican-controlled Senate voted along party lines, having called no witnesses, to acquit Donald Trump of both impeachment charges.
  • Feb 2022 — Russian forces begin a large scale land invasion of Ukraine including massive attacks on civilian cities.
  • Feb 2024 — Donald Trump holds up a bipartisan immigration deal in Congress that would allow military aide funds to Ukraine to be released. Running for a second term as US President, Trump continues to break with 80 years of the post-WWII international order — in refusing to support NATO, the alliance widely regarded as keeping the peace in Europe broadly, as well as in supporting the regime of Vladimir Putin in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
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Project 2025 mind map of entities

Project 2025, led by Paul Dans and key conservative figures within The Heritage Foundation, sets forth an ambitious conservative vision aimed at fundamentally transforming the role of the federal government. Leonard Leo, a prominent conservative known for his influence on the U.S. Supreme Court‘s composition, is among the project’s leading fundraisers.

The initiative seeks to undo over a century of progressive reforms, tracing back to the establishment of a federal administrative framework by Woodrow Wilson, through the New Deal by Roosevelt, to Johnson’s Great Society. It proposes a significant reduction in the federal workforce, which stands at about 2.25 million people.

Essential measures include reducing funding for, or even abolishing, key agencies such as the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Departments of Education and Commerce. Additionally, Project 2025 intends to bring semi-independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission under closer presidential control.

At its heart, Project 2025 aims to secure a durable conservative dominance within the federal government, aligning it closely with the principles of the MAGA movement and ensuring it operates under the direct oversight of the White House. The project is inspired by the “unitary executive theory” of the Constitution, which argues for sweeping presidential authority over the federal administrative apparatus — in direct contradiction with the delicate system of checks and balances architected by the Founders.

The Project 2025 Playbook

To realize their extremist, authoritarian goal, Dans is actively recruiting what he terms “conservative warriors” from legal and government networks, including bar associations and offices of state attorneys general. The aim is to embed these individuals in key legal roles throughout the government, thereby embedding the conservative vision deeply within the federal bureaucracy to shape policy and governance for the foreseeable future.

Continue reading Project 2025: The GOP’s plan for taking power
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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 CzesΕ‚aw MiΕ‚osz‘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 SzΓ‘lasi 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 β†—

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

American Fascists & the Global Right β†—

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

Authoritarianism Dictionary β†—

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 β†—

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

Christian Nationalism β†—

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 β†—

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

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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 influence 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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