Friday, January 28, 2005

Tactical cleverness...

Jon Carroll's column today in the San Francisco Chronicle ought to wake up a somnambulistic America:

"'In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.'

"That was Hannah Arendt, in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951. It seems to me to perfectly describe our current perplex.

"It solves a basic problem that has been bothering me forever: The duplicity of the Bush administration is so transparent, why are more people not bothered by it? Bush's father said, 'Read my lips: no new taxes,' and then raised taxes, and that was apparently enough to get him booted out of office.

"Bush says 'weapons of mass destruction' and pretends they're the reason he's going to war, and there are no WMDs and all of sudden we're 'spreading democracy' using that old democracy spreader the Sword, and no one seems to care. Indeed, many people seem to believe that we did find WMDs. Or maybe they are just admiring the administration's tactical cleverness."

Good for you, Jon Carroll!


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