Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Jonathan Haidt and the WSJ just want Americans to love each other

I friend linked me to a Wall Street Journal article by psychologist Jonathan Haidt. It has this...what should I call it?...message in it near the end - "But the true test of our democracy—and our love of country—will come on the day after the election." I'll get to that shortly but, holy shitballs...

I understand what Haidt is saying here. He is just as frustrated with the dialogue and vitriol launched against two pretend "sides" of a debate loosely called an elections process. Even from all the way down here, it has been a bit exhausting. But I want to suggest his words and the effect of those words are two very different things.

The key is in the paper the piece is published within. The WSJ allows certain kinds of speech to be published because it cannot allow other kinds of speech to be spoken. I realise that's cryptic. What I mean is, if Haidt had decided to say "hey, what's with all the ridiculous splitting of two sides, don't you crazy people know there's only one side and you weren't invited?" he wouldn't have an article, let alone a university role.

That's what makes the piece interesting. It cannot conclude with the obvious: that the two candidates are interchangeable and the POINT of the debate is to present the conclusion and force the debaters into arguing the details. So we have a years-long process during which, by Haidt's own admission, the voting public hates each other but evenutally will find peace together after the election to return to love. And we do this (the universal democratic "WE") every few years, like a baby looking into a mirror expecting to see something different over and over and over and over. But nothing changes because all of that hate and rage and disgust and frustration is released into the stratosphere, circumventing the true target. The Hate/Love cycle spins again.

Wanna know the opposite of love? It's not hate. It's indifference. Wanna know the conversation the WSJ and Haidt cannot have? Indifference to the voting and electoral system. If you do that, not only with the Hate/Love cycle disrupt, you'll notice the target shifting towards the true cause of the rage and frustration. Remember, always remember, the system doesn't care about people telling the truth, it only cares about more effective lies.

If you think this voting ridiculousness isn't worth your time because you don't feel powerful or free, you have to think of something else and put it in place. The first step to doing that is indifference to the present form of government. There's no point in violent revolution (hate) because that assumes the hated system sets the agenda, that it is the default assumption. It has to be ignored. You have to stand still, like they tried to do in Egypt in 2011. Because if you stand still and just BE here, it means the oppressors aren't.

"Americans are losing their proximity" - No, just...no. The WSJ wishes this to be true because it avoids the horrible fact that they have no more power over controlling people's minds. Let me tell you something about the internet: the WSJ and every other faction of the official press has no idea how to utilise it. They will blame that machine on all their problems without realising (disavowing) that it is their own lack of creativity to think about how to use such a perfect direct pipe-line into people's brains, and therefore abdicate the role of information-giver to the internet companies, that is really to blame for ideas like "Americans are losing their proximity."

Google doesn't talk like that. Facebook is trying to set up free internet to Africa via satellite. How is that a good investment if people are "losing their proximity"? The internet is the most powerful and young tool for controlling people's thoughts the world has yet seen, and to say it atomises human interaction is precisely backwards: the internet brings people together in the only way that matters - towards an assumed underlying reality shared by all from which there is no outside, no escape. If the WSJ cannot see that, good ridance. It will have no space in cyber.

Haidt says it is impossible to change people minds by arguing with them? Then, buddy, you are doing arguing wrong. Arguing on a battlefield set up by other people using other people's rules will NEVER succeed in changing anything. That way lies madness. You have to stop yelling about where the lines are drawn and start asking about who draws the lines.

The only persuasion technique worth comprehending is if the idea you are discussing was not invented by you, then you are fighting someone else's war and will share in none of the spoils but receive all the punishment. You already get the sneaky suspicion that the fight is not for you anyway, that you do not really want this. But the trick is always that the conclusions are set before you start. They wouldn't let you talk in the WSJ if those conclusions weren't organised anyway, there's no money in chaos.

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