Welcome to the Flying Monkey Palace
This last election, while still dealing with the insanity on both the far left and right, I was driven to pull out my copies of the works of Hannah Arendt, George Orwell and others. The following property had been obious in the ideology of the GOP for years:
"It is this freedom from the content of their own ideologies which characterizes the highest rank of the totalitarian hierarchy. These men consider everything and everybody in terms of organization, and this includes the Leader who to them is neither an inspired talisman nor the one who is infallibly right, but the simple consequence of this type of organization; he is needed, not as a person, but as a function, and as such he is indispensable to the movement. In contrast, however, to other despotic forms of government, where frequently a clique rules and the despot plays only the representative role of a puppet ruler, totalitarian leaders are actually free to do whatever they please and can count on the loyalty of their entourage even if they choose to murder them."
|Psychologists call the kinds of authoritarian followers who will act out the fearless leader's worst intentions "flying Monkies."|
Big Brother is Always a Myth
This observation is also pointed out in the book "1984" where George Orwell observes that nobody is sure if the Dictatorial Character in charge of "Oceana", "Big Brother" really exists. We've seen this truth, not only in the behavior of Donald Trump, but in the behavior of mini-me Movement GOP Governors and leaders like Newt Gingrich. Indeed in the movement. Out of power the GOP screams and decries the future of the national deficit. In power, the deficit "doesn't matter" [Famous quote from Dick Cheney]. The massive cynical hypocrisy of totalitarian followers is so obvious and one sided that Robert Altemeyer lists it as a feature of "authoritarian followers," not wanting to use the word "totalitarian" as supposedly totalitarianism went out of fashion in the 1950s, and modern totalitarians get highly exercised when you call them that.
Doublespeak makes mistakes impossible
The other reason Altemeyer calls this "authoritarianism" is that the modern movements no longer need ever admit mistakes because they always have a long list of convenient enemies and scapegoats to blame any failures they encounter on. So while the following is still true about modern totalitarian authoritarian movements:
"The more technical reason for this suicidal loyalty is that succession to the supreme office is not regulated by any inheritance or other laws. A successful palace revolt would have as disastrous results for the movement as a whole as a military defeat. It is in the nature of the movement that once the Leader has assumed his office, the whole organization is so absolutely identified with him that any admission of a mistake or removal from office would break the spell of infallibility which surrounds the office of the Leader and spell doom to all those connected with the movement."
To maintain cohesion, authoritarian movements have to maintain the infallibility of the words and deeds of their authorities. Not necessarily the actual infallibility, but the perception of it. Because this infallibility is the basis of their authority, which is supposed to be unquestioned.
"It is not the truthfulness of the Leader's words but the infallibility of his actions which is the basis for the structure. Without it and in the heat of a discussion which presumes fallibility, the whole fictitious world of totalitarianism goes to pieces, overwhelmed at once by the factuality of the real world which only the movement steered in an infallibly right direction by the Leader was able to ward off. However, the loyalty of those who believe neither in ideological cliches nor in the infallibility of the Leader also has deeper, nontechnical reasons. What binds these men together is a firm and sincere belief in human omnipotence."
The modern totalitarian movement uses doublespeak and newspeak to get around the reality that their leaders are anything but infallible. So it is that when one of their leaders philanders to the point of flying to Argentina surreptitiously, he is cheered and welcomed back to the fold without ever having to admit he did anything wrong. And this goes on the same time that the wife of one of their opponents is villified unmercifully for behavior her husband committed 30 years before and was punished and forced to apologize for. Doublespeak (double-talk) means that someone cocooned in an authoritarian movement need ever be sorry. Steal? convert funds? Violate the law while in office? All is acceptable to the Republicans. But to the opposition no crime is too small to avoid chants of "lock her up." As long as there is any opposition to the Republican /Tea Party Totalitarian movement, the GOP are infallible and any mistakes they make, are by newspeak, doublethink, definition; the fault of US Democrats. We have to live with being "fallible" or "imperfect." They have no such burden.
If people don't believe them, they will make them believe them. This is known as Gaslighting.
A Core of Ruthless Self Interest
Hannah Arendt was talking about the primitive totalitarians of her time when she wrote:
"Their moral cynicism, their belief that everything is permitted, rests on the solid conviction that everything is possible. It is true that these men, few in number, are not easily caught in their own specific lies and that they do not necessarily believe in racism or economics, in the conspiracy of the Jews or of Wall Street."
Only in our modern day of massive doublespeak, they can attack "the Jews of Wall Street", while going to parties with them. Condemn Goldman Sachs, and then put them in charge of the Treasury. The crime becomes to notice when they are caught in their own lies. Not to actually lie. The old style Totalitarians might have been:
".... deceived, deceived by their impudent conceited idea that everything can be done and their contemptuous conviction that everything that exists is merely a temporary obstacle that superior organization will certainly destroy."
On the contrary, the modern authoritarian knows that they don't have to actually do anything once they are organized on mob psychology and movement principles. They aren't merely
"Confident that power of organization can destroy power of substance, as the violence of a well-organized gang might rob a rich man of ill-guarded wealth"
They no longer:
"underestimate the substantial power of stable communities and overestimate the driving force of a movement."
On the contrary, they've learned that they can use their movement power, their sometimes brief power over elected and appointed office, and propaganda to undermine and destroy once stable communities and outlaw, destroy or undermine true movements. In the 60's they learned to promote authoritarian black power movements over anti-authoritarian civil rights movements and to borrow the language of revolution to destroy actual revolutions from within. In the 70s they usurped the language and moral authority of civil rights to repress women's health care and find women who'd give fiery speaches on how women should be in the kitchen and not the boardroom. They found they could organize well-organized gangs to recruit some rich men and rob any rich person they couldn't recruit.
Conspiracy Theories as Instruction Manuals
And if the Nazis used the obviously fraudulent "Protocols of the Elder's of Zion" as an instruction manual, their modern day disciples employ the tenants and ideas of the Protocols along with a mix of fictious and dishonestly depicted real organizations to recruit followers who would hate real life philanthropists and learn and apply principles from folks like Saul Alinsky, that they and only they really bothered to study. So while it is still true that:
"Since, moreover, they do not actually believe in the factual existence of a world conspiracy against them, but use it only as an organizational device, they" no longer "fail to understand that their own conspiracy may eventually provoke the whole world into uniting against them."
On the contrary, everytime the rest of us unite against them and defeat them on some issue, the effort fuels the next round of conspiracy mongering and insanity. Wannabe Totalitarians use the same insane websites: Info-Wars, Breitbart, etc ... to recruit folks sure that "the establishment" is out to get them, to organizations that are out to destroy the establishment and actually enslave the folks they so recruit! And insane propagandists like Alex Jones actually seem to believe the "factual existence" of world conspiracies, and in confused doublespeak, multiple equal and opposite ones. He can be sure, one and the same time, that the enemy can be "lizard people", "Jews", "Muslims". This is more the world depicted by George Orwell than Hannah Arendt. However, it is evolving as she warned:
"To this aversion of the intellectual elite for official historiography ... must be added the terrible, demoralizing fascination in the possibility that gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts, that man may be free to change his own past at will, and that the difference between truth and falsehood may cease to be objective and become a mere matter of power and cleverness, of pressure and infinite repetition."
In other words, by using gaslighting totalitarian/authoritarian movements can convince people to toe the party line and believe their indoctrination and doublespeak.
The Power of Doublespeak
Thus Donald Trump can have a leader of the Florida Mob at his celebration party after his election, and deny he has mob ties. May continue running his company and run the country despite the emoluments clause. And he can explicitly "ban Muslims" from the country and deny he's banning Muslims from the country. All that gaslighting and doublespeak creates a situation where the modern day GOP is exactly like the following description:
"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."
And that is why Donald Trump is President
- Origins of Totalitarianism:
- PDF Version: https://monoskop.org/images/4/4e/Arendt_Hannah_The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism_1962.pdf
- Buy a Copy: https://www.amazon.com/Origins-Totalitarianism-Hannah-Arendt/dp/0156701537
- Mcafee on Psychopaths: