January 27, 2017

An Interesting Technique

A friend sent an article about what we’re hearing when an authoritarian, or a would-be authoritarian like Mr. Trump, speaks. The gist of it was the peculiar habit of lying about the past, yet speaking truthfully about the future.

While apparently setting a self-made trap, the authoritarian escapes by upending our expectations. Rather than lying about the future, which everyone expects and stands ready to question, the authoritarian speaks plainly about what he intends to do. Yet it sounds crazy. Surely, he didn’t mean he’d order a registry of Muslims! Take him seriously, but not literally!

While our minds reel at the possibility and construct indignant responses, the authoritarian slips in a few lies about the past. Standing on their own, these lies are readily challenged and debunked. Told in volume and with regularity they live on as challenged, but forgotten when the next batch arrives.

You’ve no doubt heard of “the big lie.” Mr. Trump is a practitioner of “the many little lies,” a recent example of which I wrote about here.

Repeated often enough, the lies become accepted history. An illustration from the article by Umair Haque, writing on Medium:

Imagine yourself in any position of authority. If you could say that you were going to do anything — and then rewrite it to be successful, noble, glorious, wonderful, not matter how much of an abject failure it really was, so that people believed you were smashing, awesome, amazing, the best — then you would have maximum power.

Telling the truth about the future and lying about the past is a negotiating strategy that maximizes one’s power in the present. If — and it’s a big if — you can make people believe both.

Maximum power to create the future you’ve been telling everyone about, truthfully, all along.

This isn’t to argue against refuting lies. That must be done. Haque:

Unless such lies are proven to be lies, over and over again, the authoritarian coasts on your first mistake: being wrong about him telling the truth about the future.

Pay very close attention to what people like Mr. Trump and his enablers say about the future. That’s the direction they truly intend to take us, no matter how impropbable it sounds. Watch what he does.

Notice how little we hear from establishment politicians and past leaders, particularly those in his own party. They don’t know what to do about him. Maybe some of them truly welcome this. These are people we freely elected.

It’s rather ingenious. It’s worked elsewhere. Why not here?

(Hat tip - el panadero.)

#Trump #GOP #fraud #umairhaque #authoritarian

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