Posts Tagged Democracy

A short conversation about populism

1: An Introduction

Let’s talk about populism.

Populists pretend complex problems have simple answers. They like things so simple they become stupid. They like binary choices.

Populists demand you ‘take sides’. But isn’t it better not to take sides? Or at least not sides predefined by someone you may not wish to trust?

 

2: Divide and Rule

Polarisation is an authoritarian tool. It allows the manipulative to divide and rule.

But do we want to be divided, or ruled by immoral people?

Surely we have better things to think about, such as:

–   Asserting our shared humanity

–   Reversing environmental breakdown

–   Creating a just and sustainable world?

 

3: Victimhood

Yet populists love division.

They like to polarise.

They like an enemy. If no enemy’s handy, they’ll make one.

They like to act the victim, no matter how rich or powerful or privileged they are.

But, by creating ‘an enemy’, victims are precisely what they tend to produce.

 

It’s one of the great ironies of modern politics: pretend victims, mostly powerful, privileged and wealthy, creating real victims: usually the powerless and the poor.

 

4: Base Instincts

Populism appeals to our worse instincts.

It appeals to emotions of hatred, resentment, rage, tribalism,  ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Some instincts are good – but not all of them. They were developed over millions of years for a hunter gatherer existence…. but we are no longer hunter gatherers. Now we live in cities and inhabit virtual worlds. We exist within a complex web of connection, communication, interaction, participation.

In this complex modern world we need our better instincts to be brought into play:

  • Caring
  • Cooperation
  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Compassion

Populism doesn’t care about caring. Compassion isn’t on its agenda.

 

5: Facts

Populism ignores facts. Predictably, therefore, populists dislike experts.

Experts know stuff. People who know stuff are a nuisance if you want to manipulate others rather than inform.

Populists, on the other hand, exaggerate, hype up, overblow, dissimulate and deceive.

For the rest of us this can be confusing. It distracts from the facts.

But for the populists it’s useful. It keeps them in the public eye. It all makes news.

 

6: Distraction

“Forget facts!” populists declare. “Just LOOK AT US.”

Into our eyes… Not around the eyes… Into our eyes.

Soon we are mesmerised by the show. We can’t see that they’ve got their hands on our voting cards or their spiteful little fingers scrabbling at the grey matter within our skulls.

While we’re distracted populists get on with achieving what they want to achieve.

 

7: Lies

Populists like to smear, slander, denigrate and accuse.

They love to lie. Why not? They’ll say anything to make themselves popular.

And the tribalism they encourage forgives lies. Being part of the tribe becomes more important than integrity. The tribalised forget their own morality. They forget the importance of being honest.

Of course, for the populists, the lie’s not the thing.

They don’t care about lying – in fact, they like it.

The lies not the thing… The objective’s the thing:

–   Grubby ambition

–   Ugly greed

–   Pretending to serve others while serving only themselves.

Why let the truth interfere with objectives like these?

 

8: And more lies

And yet…. would you be happy if your brother, sister, father or mother were a liar?

Would you be keen to be known to be a liar yourself?

Is lying the example we want to set our children, our colleagues or our friends?

And, if not, we have to ask ourselves, “Is it truly acceptable – if we think about it for just a moment – for a President or a Prime Minister to be a liar?”

  

9: Morality

I’m sure it’s becoming clear from this discussion that populism is immoral.

Populists are serially dishonest, serially unreliable, serially self-serving, serially in it for number one.

They deny equality, kindness, our shared humanity, our compassionate human nature.

They create dissension, division, hatred, bloodshed, even war.

How can that possibly be moral?

How can it be moral to manipulate others rather than seek to explain – and, with honesty and accuracy, seek to persuade?

 

10: Resisting Populism

How do we resist populism?

At present it seems all-powerful – in the ascendant. It’s everywhere.

Populist leaders seem able to get away with anything…

One thing we can try is morality.

Not an old-fashioned, out-of-date, archaic morality – but a morality designed to tackle the issues of the 21st Century.

And the advantages of morality?

It’s hard to attack, slander or smear.

How can you condemn someone for being moral?

Morality is about caring for others.

How can you attack someone for caring for others?

Morality is about our shared humanity. Populism is about divide and rule.

 

11: A simple message

And morality’s message is simple:

  • Morality 1st
  • Integrity 1st
  • Honesty 1st

And

  • Make Humanity Great Again.

How can populism compete with that?

 

www.ethicalintelligence.org  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal

 

For a detailed discussion of the parallel topic of propaganda, see Ethical Intelligence by Luke Andreski:

www.amazon.co.uk/Ethical-Intelligence-Luke-Andreski/dp/179580579X

 

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A short conversation about propaganda

1: An Introduction

Let’s talk about propaganda.

Democracy can only thrive on clear thinking and facts.

Deceit, lies, misdirection and misinformation undermine clear thinking – distract us from the facts.

For our decisions to be sensible, we need to see what’s truly in front of us: we need to be observers of the real world.

Propaganda blurs the real world.

Propaganda, through its lies and disinformation, is an enemy of democracy.

 

 

2: A functioning democracy

It is not propagandistic to say that any enemy of democracy is an enemy of the people.

The purpose of democracy is to devolve power to the people, to us.

It is a mechanism for removing power from authoritarians, dictators, demagogues and bullies.

Propaganda disrupts that mechanism. It seeks to give authoritarians, dictators, demagogues and bullies free rein.

 

 

3: A sensible vote

How can we vote sensibly without clear thinking and facts?

Propaganda ignores facts, hinders clear thinking.

Propaganda uses language manipulatively: to coerce us; to trigger decisions or beliefs we would not otherwise adopt.

It is a tool for control.

 

 

4: Taking back control

How does propaganda work?

It hijacks our instincts and psychology for the purposes of others.

It attacks our autonomy by sidestepping our powers of analysis.

It activates automatic and predictable responses.

It makes us a pawn in someone else’s game.

Do we want to be controlled? Do we want to be pawns?

 

 

5: Detecting propaganda

What does propaganda look like?

It:

–  manufactures ‘enemies’

–  polarises viewpoints: “Are you with us or against us?”

–  it’s emotive

–  it doesn’t want you to think: it wants you to react

–  it oversimplifies, giving answers so simple they rapidly become stupid

–  it hypes up and exaggerates, attempting to trigger your automatic response.

 

 

6: Other traits

Propaganda is often dishonest, aggressive or abusive. Name-calling, denigration and smearing are its calling card.

It exaggerates grievances, shouts about ‘offence’.

Propaganda pretends it’s ‘one of us’.

It likes to be folksy when really it’s a tool for manipulating ‘folk’.

And, because of its disconnect from fact, it is often absurd.

 

 

7: Idols and their enemies

Propaganda inverts victimhood. The propagandists may be part of an elite; they may be powerful, rich and well protected; but they will still assert they are being ‘picked on’, they’re the ‘scapegoats’, they’re victims of other people’s conspiracies.

Since propaganda doesn’t like facts (it’s aim is control, not communication) it fixates on personalities rather than their actions. Some it puts on pedestals. They can do no wrong.

Some it smears and denigrates. They can do no right.

But from a moral perspective actions are what counts. Personality is irrelevant if what you’re doing is wrong.

 

 

8: Countering propaganda

How do we counter propaganda?

We:

 – Recognise (its nature as propaganda)

 – Analyse (its manipulative intent)

 – Publicise (the fact it’s propaganda)

 – Identify (its sources and their motives)

 – Demolish (with ridicule, clear thinking and facts)

The RAPID acronym helps us react to propaganda rapidly. Don’t wait. Act.

 

9: An alternative message

Propaganda appeals because it’s simple.

We would all like to live in a simpler world.

Yet there’s an alternative with an equally simple message.

Morality.

A message as simple as:

  • Integrity 1st
  • Honesty 1st
  • Compassion 1st

And

  • Make Humanity Great Again.

 

 

These words are effective, humane and moral. When you’re faced with propaganda, bring them to the forefront of your mind. Assert your freedom and identity. Resist.

 

 

 

 

www.ethicalintelligence.org  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal

 

For a detailed discussion of propaganda, see Ethical Intelligence by Luke Andreski:

www.amazon.co.uk/Ethical-Intelligence-Luke-Andreski/dp/179580579X

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