How Right Wing Propaganda Emulates Auditory Hallucinations
They hear their “voices.” The deep baritone thug-tones of the Limbaughs and O’Reillys. The factless, non-rational arguments that populate the virtual world of “catfished” conservatives. Of course the aim is social control — reality testing is discouraged as the targets are compelled to carry on mindlessly: “Receive, Remember, Apply !”
Julian Jaynes, a professor at Princeton, wrote about the earliest human societies and how their large-scale projects were consistent similar patterns that included hearing imaginary voices. This is the Jaynes Model. Social control in those early urbanized systems is consistent with Jaynes’s hypothesis a large number of early humans experienced auditory hallucinations similar to what is reported today with schizophrenia and schizoid disorders. Social control would have been effected by influencing the message content of those “voices” in political and religious activities carried out by those societies’ authoritarian leaders.
The early “voices” in the Jaynes Model work like Tea Party members listening to radio and television. The main results of the Jaynes Model are predictions of strong social cohesion, submission, and a willingness to work many hours to achieve group goals.
Does it sound familiar?
A charismatic leader 7,500 years ago did not have radio or television. But they did succeed in many societies when they pressed claims to personal godliness. Hours of daily communal prayer played a role in the indoctrination. The “voices” could be used to control people for war, for such as draining marshes, or to build the pyramids.
Today we have 1% to 5% of people experiencing “voices” at one time or another in life; given the pay-offs in terms of social cohesion, the percentages in early societies could have been much higher. A society with 25% hearing divine “voices” would have dominant over any group of disorganized rural farmers and slaves. That’s also a big ticket if you want to be a Living God.
Being a god can be very, very cool. Ask a Roman emperor. Or a pharoah. Ask Ted Cruz.
Sigmund Freud also did work analyzing the messaging systems for authoritarian controls. This includes his theory of the Superego. But by Freud’s day most people’s messages had gone underground, become subconscious. The Superego operates with guilt and silent inhibitions on behavior. Submission to a strong leader is addressed by Bob Altemeyer. For application to political analytics, see John Dean’s works on the Nixon administration
Altemeyer nails right wing submission to authority figures and acceptance of non-rational arguments solely based on authoritarian packaging.
In a nutshell, this is how you influence people to vote repeatedly against their own interests. Or to worship a gold digger such as Sarah Palin.
This is how relentless ad hominem and rude name-calling at our American president are disguised as patriotism. Jaynes’s auditory hallucinations are echoed by RWNJ “Message Discipline” and a well defined set of hoaxes.
Thing is: Never Underestimate the Effectiveness of Non-Rational Argument.
For people on the Right, fact checking might as well not exist. They are a class of “catfished” victims who believe that Republicans are Prince Charmings on white chargers. At the end of the day about a fourth of American voters have been manipulated to form a “Jaynestown USA” cult.
For Progressives to respond effectively it is not enough to fighting off single, atomic lies from the RWNJs. What modifies individual behavior is not the lies, but the hoaxes that the lies create and then support.
Lies can be ephemeral. Hoaxes are carried on for decades, if not for ever.
Here is a good intro to the basics of historical analysis relevant to how voices in the brain connect to personal awareness, leading to Jaynes’s research on consciousness:
Jaynes’s big book is here:
My guess is that Jaynes overreached. He want everybody in those societies influenced by “voices.” There is no reason to think that the disorder affected everyone.
“Voices”-amplified-religion, as Jaynes postulates, would give a leader all he needed to keep control. These were pre-writing societies with very low intellectual stimulation for slave classes. They also provided simply terrible food resources as cities were grafted on top of what had been low-density hunter-gatherer communities.
We get something similar in the early 20th Century with the Russian, Lev Vygotsky. He listened to children and found that they talked to themselves, to imaginary friends, to almost anything. The imaginary friends talked back, too. Kids do two-party imaginary conversations.
Building language structures and the generative capabilities is not a simple points-on-a-line waterfall.
Vygotsky appreciated that individual development in childhood is different from what children can do when they work with other children and with adults. He diagrammed this as a Zone of Proximal Development — extending from individual to full group achievement.
Imagine this ZoPeD process operating in a Jaynestown world where communal daily prayers and songs and hallucinatory voices are major players for childhood development. That is a different world from ours.
All too much a part of our world are the millions of American authoritarians. Here’s Bob Altemeyer’s test:
Freud is left to Dearest Reader. You can find “The Century of the Self” BBC series in four parts at the Google video library. The series shows how Freud’s ideas invaded capitalist advertising in the 1920s and then moved on into politics.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Right Wing strategy pushed well-defined hoaxes. The aim is to get their targets to believe broad, emotionally charged concepts that tie their “catfished” marks to “conservatives” as to family.
The individual lies can come and go. It is the hoaxes that matter.
Let’s look at a couple of the prime hoaxes.
— Ronald Reagan was a great president
And a great man. The archetypal American. Selling Ronald Reagan has become an industry for Right Wingers.
He is George Washington. Without Reagan, if you want to go all the way with this hoax, there might not be a United States with a constitutional government. He was the critical figure who saved America in the 1980s.
Foreign policy and war-making are areas of strength. He made no mistakes. Every move was brilliant.
Thing is, if you do fact checking on Reagan, he was a terrible failure at international politics. He trashed America’s image overseas by unleashing mass murder. Do the body counts.
Yet today it has been more than a decade since our broadcast news programs have mentioned Reagan’s invasion of Lebanon in 1983. He got 398 people killed there in that one year and then surrendered. His had the Marines and Army turn tail in full retreat. Reagan abandoned our local allies.
Some 241 were killed at the Marine BLT Barracks in October. The embassy had been hit earlier killing 63 and there were two additional truck bombings afterward.
What brought on those killings was Reagan’s mindless naval bombardments of Arab villages up hill from Beirut. He killed hundreds of civilians, setting up a cry for revenge. Iran
By 1985 it is not an exaggeration to say that Reagan was the “father” for Hezbollah. Prior to bombing the Marines, the Iranians had next to no influence in Lebanon. But when an Iranian, Ismail Ascari, drove the first truck bomb and got revenge, the Iranians became long term allies for all the hilltop tribes.
Reagan solved his political problems related to the defeat and surrender by invading Grenada and by having removal of a benign polyp headlined nationally as a “cancer scare.”
Reagan was very good at PR.
Not much else. The line “Tear down this wall!” is credited with powers like Jehovah parting the Red Sea. You would think that Reagan was up on Mt. Rushmore to listen to GOPer propaganda.
Except that he didn’t get as many people killed uselessly, Reagan was similar to GW Bush. Bush’s speech after the 9/11 attacks was his high point, same as Reagan’s speech at the Berlin Wall. Neither of them accomplished much of substance, they ran up huge budget deficits, and the failures in Lebanon and Iraq were their most important impacts on history.
— Democrats are always profligate, always for increasing government, wasteful of your tax dollars
This second big hoax mangles what has happened over the last century with Democrats and Republicans in office. We have a DKOS diary that is a classic for stating the facts:
It has charts and links for everything you’d ever want to know. If you fact check.
More than not, corporate media pound out material supporting RWNJ hoaxes. They would have the citizenry believe that Democrats ruin the economy again and again by increasing government spending, raising taxes, and drowning puppies.
It’s like lines of crack for America’s authoritarians.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
Between the auditory hallucinations inhabiting AM and FM radio and putrid run off from the Citizens United out-house, it is no wonder that a fourth of Americans believe swill.
For Progressives, keep your focus on the the Major Hoaxes.
The hoaxes are what populate Tea Party mental processes. The lies are cheap tools used to sustain the hoaxes. Success is like getting any person who has been targeted to realize that their money has been lost to a scam.
Keep in mind that they’re hearing “voices.” You’re also working against the inertia of a very large mass of denial.