Social media and the rise of pontifical sophistry.

In 2018 in an age where information is more accessible than before, the working theory was that facts would be set free.

They have been, but so were lies.

And no one to really show the system of discerning one from the other.

Because while people scour for content of thought, they take their own structure of thought as a given, never questioning it.

And the clearest case for a movement that doesn’t realize that their structure of thought nullifies their message is Antifa.

Anti-fascist movement.

They are on university campuses, and it is not hard to spot their recruitment posters.

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When I was a young reporter writing stories for the Burlington Post, I was asked to cover a meeting of people who were against public school’s sex education curriculum. They used a hook to recruit people (keeping the kids safe from corrupting influences), but what it was, in fact, had been something very different: they were pushing to get rid of evolution in science classes in favour of creationism.

They played some PSA-like movie with Kirk Cameron and his wife. It was a way to funnel people to support something else, but in a way that made them seem moral.

Antifa reminds me of that group. We have to fight to stop our youth from being corrupted, all while corrupting them in the bargain.

The true structure of Antifa can be summed up in one of their Internet propaganda posters:

Sorry, Antifa, but authority figures in uniforms in a group threatening violence with smiles on their psychopathic faces if you do not believe what they believe are the fascists.

Dr. Josef Mengele, anyone?

So that makes you pro-fa.

Their structure is deceptive, making them pure fascist: you present a moral front, and present an identifiable threat or devil to defeat. This devil will threaten democracy and freedom unless you ramp up your fear and hatred and then begin to harm people who do not believe what you believe.

It is all a ruse.

I should know as my grandmother’s family — including her young sister who was still a child — were killed by fascists in two different concentration camps during the Second World War. They were rounded up, tortured, confined, and then murdered by fascists who weren’t killing millions of people because they thought they were evil and their victims were good.

They killed because they bought into the narrative that the predators were heroes and their prey were villains.

The fascist movement didn’t have a manual that was an overt guide on how to be evil. They had a manifesto that sounded very progressive:

 Here is the program [that] is revolutionary because it is anti-dogmatic, strongly innovative and against prejudice. 
Anti-dogmatic, innovative, and against prejudice, right on the label. Remember, this is the manifesto that was the seed for the eventual birth of Nazism.
What were some of the demands they fascists were asking for? Not concentration camps or a dictatorship. Some of the highlights:
  • Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women.
  • A minimum age for the voting electorate of 18 years; that for the office holders at 25 years.
  • The quick enactment of a law of the State that sanctions an eight-hour workday for all workers.
  • A minimum wage.
  • To show the same confidence in the labor unions (that prove to be technically and morally worthy) as is given to industry executives or public servants.
  • A national policy intended to peacefully further the Italian national culture in the world. 
  • A strong progressive tax on capital that will truly expropriate a portion of all wealth.

What young person wouldn’t want those things into play? What elderly person wouldn’t want them. That was the bait. The sucker’s lure.

Where in this document was the idea of oppressing women and turning them into breeding machines? Where is the advocation of chauvinism where minorities would lose their rights, property, freedom, and lives? Where is the mention of slave labour of those targeted groups or conducting sick “experiments” on their bodies?

Nowhere, of course, but once you lure in your pigeons, they get caught in deeper. They know they have been suckered, but once you go out in public, demonstrating, preaching, and these days going online and ranting on your social media feed, there is no turning back. It is an anchor and a bind, or else you’ll lose face, and then your worthless fake friends will rub your nose in it for eternity because they are just as clueless to reality as you are.

The structure of thought serves as a prison, and you think the content of it will vindicate you. People rarely have the moral or intellectual courage to say, “I was wrong. I am being exploited. I am getting out of here.”

But that takes having a focus on the past, present, and future all at once. When the structure of thought is static, whatever you did in the past defines everything from then on out. If it is a dynamic weave that pulls out threads that are faulty and weaves in threads that are strong, but flexible, you can walk away, wiser and go on without the baggage of the past haunting you.

Antifa is fascism coming full circle. It began as a liberal ideology in Europe, and it is now reanimated as a liberal ideology in North America. But it is fascism in structure, an its structure is no different than the alt-right brand of fascism. They both intimidate and use violence. They both create target that have to be “defeated.” They are both patriarchal in structure. They both hinge on alpha male aggression to prevent any ideological challenge.

It also tries to shut down skeptics by various personal attacks and straw man fallacies: (a) you do not “understand” the seriousness of the threat, (b) you are naive, (c) you are evil, (d) you are intellectually inferior to our godly leader, (e) you are jealous, (f) you are trying to trick us, and so on.

But in a social media age, those excuses believer use are on shaky ground. We have gone through these exact same games before. You have access to information. We know how the fascists formed. We know their methods, and the horrific outcomes.

So why has it still gone on?

Because social media has allowed pontifical sophistry to fester unchallenged.

It allows antagonism to remained unchecked. Suppose an actor says something offensively sexist. We say that the “Twitterverse shut them down.” We cast them as villains as Twitterverse as heroes, with people vowing never to see that actor’s movies again.

So why would the actor ponder and reflect when that happens? What had happened to discussion?

If he makes a sexist remark, someone should merely ask for empirical evidence to back up the claim, as others provide proof of the weaknesses of his theory. Put a face on the discussion instead of trying to tear if off. Offer alternative explanations to his theory. Can people then just let it go if he opens his eyes to more sensible and realistic possibilities?

Do we know how to engage anymore?

Do we know how to talk to people rather than over them, down to them, or at them?

Those are skills.

We have lost those skills, and we see it on social media…and in journalism. Narratives confine what facts we consider, and when a narrative has a built-in confirmation bias, all hope of finding the truth is lost. It is the reason we have anti-fascist fascist ignoring every blessing they have as they try to take away those blessings from anyone they decree is an enemy.

When two opposing sides have the same fascist structure in thought, it is a precursor to war. When centrists begin to challenge both by pointing out that they are no different than the other, can those winds of war be stopped before they tear down everything our ancestors had to struggle and sacrifice to build for future generations.

Finding, analyzing, disseminating, and processing facts take skills that must be both taught and learned. We have a generation who has the access to facts thanks to an revolution in technology…that is too far ahead of its time.

We dropped the Internet bomb on the world, but never prepared people on how to use it to plant seeds of facts, and then mine and refine them.

That’s the reason we have people itching to insult and then harm those who do not applaud their every sentiment.

And why we have adults with graduate degrees who think it’s clever to advocate violence on people while wearing a uniform of authority.

That’s the world in 2018. Now deal with it.

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