January 25, 2019

On MAGA hats and confirmation bias

"El Rucio" wrote on Twitter, Jan 24:

If a #MAGA hat is inherently aggressive "speech", what is calling "half of Trump's supporters … the basket of deplorables. … irredeemable, … not America"?

In fact, it's that dismissive fear-mongering attempt to delegitimize and punish political opinion (because it repudiates the neolib/neocon paradigm and gives voice to the latter's victims) that excuses all manner of violence against people showing support for their President.

Remember when black men were lynched for "looking" at someone the wrong way? Obviously very different triggers on a deeper level, but the reactions reflect a very similar hateful mob mentality, fearful as well as self-righteous.

Actually, are the triggers so different? The people who "run" things (and the people who think they are intrinsic parts of that system, or at least benefiting from it) are told (and presented with evidence) that they are not doing a very good job. …

… They completely deny it and smear the messenger (the people) in every way they can, even to physical violence.

They entrench themselves deeper and deeper into their own delusions. Reality, reason, even human feeling can no longer reach them.

Also, on Jan 25:

#ConfirmationBias: It's the only game in town, thanks to social media. #Resist it!

January 16, 2019

Rhetorical fallacies: Propaganda in 4 D’s

Ben Nimmo, of Nato’s PR agency Atlantic Council, has simplified the tactics of propaganda to 4 “D”s: Dismiss (ad hominem), Distort (straw man), Distract (tu quoque), and Dismay, the last of which as he describes it is more like “Threaten”, but Nimmo had apparently committed himself to all D’s.

Also, Dismay/Threaten isn’t actually propaganda, let alone a rhetorical fallacy of logic. And the examples Nimmo gives are in fact responses of the target to the actions that the propaganda program (the 3 D’s) is in support of.

There is a more apt fourth D that Nimmo chose not to admit to: Doxx. When the first 3 D’s fail, then simply destroy the life of the person still in your way. In fact, that is the implicit goal of the first 3 D’s. Nimmo’s use of “Dismay” – actually the response of the target of propaganda – obscures that final step of the propagandist, instead presenting the victim’s reaction with the implication that it provides the propagandist reason to Destroy him. So Nimmo’s Dismay is there to provide justification when he is driven – by frustration that his propaganda and provocation are not working as hoped – to the ultimate D, Destroy.

Nimmo focuses on Russian PR efforts, particularly in its response to Nato’s actions against her, and others have applied his model to Donald Trump. The 4 D’s apply much more aptly, however, to the work of the Atlantic Council’s own anti-Russian campaign, as well as to the anti-Trump media, the anti-Brexit media, the anti-Corbyn and anti–Bernie Sanders media – the whole machinery working to protect the neoliberal and neoconservative programs of global capital that have wreaked havoc on the world and people’s lives for almost 40 years.

An unspoken fifth D is both the beginning and the end of Nimmo’s cycle: Delusion. Propaganda is a failure of argument. Without a winning argument, and unwilling to accept more persuasive evidence, one may resort to rhetorical fallacies – propaganda – to preserve one’s delusions. If it works, even if only to retain the loyalty or faith of one’s own fellow travelers, or even just to convince oneself, then the cycle only worsens as it becomes increasingly removed from reality.

Nimmo concisely presents the propaganda efforts of such Dead-enders by projecting what is clearly an in-house strategy guide as the nefarious tactics of his perceived enemies.