Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The near perfect quote on Trumpian propaganda

Somehow I had missed previously reading about Hannah Arendt's comments on the use of propaganda in the rise of totalitarianism.  But I saw quote extracted on Twitter, and it's absolutely perfect to describe how Trumpian lying is working with his "base":
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.
However, these days, it's not even clear that they will ever believe it was even a lie.  

I got the quote from an Open Culture post which explains:
Arendt, on the other hand, looked closely at the regimes of Hitler and Stalin and their functionaries, at the ideology of scientific racism, and at the mechanism of propaganda in fostering “a curiously varying mixture of gullibility and cynicism with which each member... is expected to react to the changing lying statements of the leaders.” So she wrote in her 1951 Origins of Totalitarianism, going on to elaborate that this “mixture of gullibility and cynicism... is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements"
And, not that the term was around at the time she was writing it, but there is a deep irony in how those on the Right who decried post-modernism for its "truth is a mere social construct" attitude are now the side who have most comprehensively swallowed that kool aid without even realising it.     

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