A response to Michael Anton.
“That’s Not Happening and It’s Good That It Is”
A quick and dirty guide to regime propaganda
Gaslighting getting you down? Feel like the regime has dialed the Megaphone up to, and past, eleven? You’re not crazy. It’s definitely happening and likely to get worse as our masters’ ability to cope with reality further worsens—or worse, they gain the complete and absolute control they seek. They’re both scornful and terrified of dissent, which explains why they incessantly shriek at us and lie to our faces.
So, to help you navigate the twitstorm, I present a guide to seven of the regime’s most common, oft-deployed lies. This is not meant to be comprehensive. I’m sure there are tactics they use that either I haven’t crystalized or that aren’t front-of-mind at the moment. I encourage others to expand the catalogue with their own observations. The better we can understand how they try to manipulate us, the better we can resist and counter it all.
Let’s start with the Unholy Trinity of ruling class horse manure. These first three are similar, but subtle differences determine the ways they’re used in differing circumstances.
The Law of Merited Impossibility
The coinage is Rod Dreher’s and goes back to the early debates on homosexual marriage. As Dreher formulates it, the Law of Merited Impossibility holds: “That will never happen, and when it does, boy will you [homophobes, transphobes, racists, sexists, whatever] deserve it.”
This Law is used, first, to disarm resistance to the latest leftist enthusiasm. Whatever the innovation is, it will have no adverse consequences. None! Puberty blockers and disfiguring surgeries have no downsides whatsoever. How dare you suggest they might!
Its second purpose is to dismiss out of hand “slippery slope” arguments—despite, or because of, the fact that every single such argument over the last twenty years at least has proved true. Worried that allowing people to “self-identify” as whatever sex they want will lead to pervy 50-year-old men exposing themselves to’ tween girls? Insist, loudly and indignantly, that that will NEVER happen and anyone who suggests it might is an alarmist bigot with a heart full of hate.
The third purpose is to enforce the new caste system. Those who get to impose fresh irrational indignities on the rest of us are the upper caste. Those who object, or even have reservations, are lower. The latter are not allowed to harbor, much less express, any doubts. Whatever humiliation the upper caste has planned for us, we deserve and must meekly accept. Hence when said pervy 50-year-old actually does start waving around “her” equipment in the girls’ locker room, if any parent dares object, let ’em have it with both barrels. That thing that ten seconds ago you said would “never” happen? Now it’s righteous punishment for the retrograde.
The Law of Merited Impossibility has done wonders for the Left in helping to ram through a wide variety of radical societal changes and cow into silence all opposition. It’s currently busy destroying girls’ and women’s sports, an outcome that we were assured would “never” happen. Though one wonders what the ladies did do to deserve it.
The Law is a bit passé, though, because our rulers rarely any longer feel the need to reassure normie Americans that everything will turn out OK, that the things we most fear won’t happen. Mostly, the holders of the Megaphone just skip to the second half, the angry insistence that we deserve it
The Celebration Parallax
A parallax is the apparent difference in position of the same object seen from different vantage points. For instance, an analogue speedometer that reads sixty miles per hour to the driver, but fifty to the passenger—even though the needle itself is only in one place.
The Celebration Parallax may be stated as: “the same fact pattern is either true and glorious or false and scurrilous depending on who states it.” In contemporary speech, on any “controversial” topic—or, to say better, regime priority—the decisive factor is the intent of the speaker. If she can be presumed to be celebrating the phenomenon under discussion, she may shout her approval from the rooftops. If not, he better shut up before someone comes along to shut him up.
Note also that the key distinction here is celebration versus non-celebration, not support versus opposition. One need not actually, clearly oppose the subject under discussion in order to be blameworthy. Declining or neglecting to celebrate it forcefully enough is enough. As in Stalin’s Russia, lack of enthusiastic clapping is regarded as opposition. The legitimacy of one’s right to state the same identical fact, in the same identical language, depends on who one is and what one thinks of it. Since the left presumes that all persons of color approve of the phenomena covered by the Celebration Parallax, the Parallax is really a test to distinguish allies from Deplorables.
To the best of my recollection, the origin of the Celebration Parallax arose from the need to defend “affirmative action,” a very unpopular policy since its inception. The party line therefore goes like this: People of color must be granted explicit preferences to overcome America’s “legacy of racism” so that we may “diversify” America’s power centers and end white male dominance, a move that—in addition to being necessary to address the country’s inherent racism—improves those institutions by infusing them with different and hitherto neglected points of view. Also, kids of color need “role models” who “look like themselves.”
But there is no such thing as “reverse discrimination,” which is itself a racist term, and there are no “quotas” (another racist term) whatsoever, but only “timetables,” “goals,” and measures to evaluate applicants and candidates “holistically.”
On no subject is the Parallax more prevalent than immigration. Depending on who’s doing the talking, the demographic transformation of the United States is either a glorious trend that portends a permanent Democratic majority and a more “vibrant” future, or else a “conspiracy theory” that is not happening in any way at all, no-how.
The Left insists that concerns from certain quarters that immigration policy in America (and Europe) amounts to a “great replacement” is a “dangerous,” “evil,” “racist,” “false” “conspiracy theory.” But a leftist New York Times columnist can write an article entitled “We Can Replace Them” and … nothing. Same fundamental point, except she’s all for it and her targets aren’t. A U.S. Senator can exult that demographic change will doom Republicans. Joe Biden himself can refer to an “unrelenting stream of immigration.” Except they’re celebrating it and calling for it. Anyone on the Right who uses the exact same words will not merely be denounced; the very fact pattern that is affirmed when Biden says it will be denied when the Rightist repeats it.
The Law of Salutary Contradiction
Which brings us to the Law of Salutary Contradiction, whose formulation is: “That’s not happening and it’s good that it is.” While the Law of Merited Impossibility applies to the future, this one is about the present. It’s what the ruling class immediately switches to after what they insisted would “never” happen is happening before everyone’s eyes.
Is the NSA spying on Tucker Carlson? That’s an insane conspiracy theory … which is also warranted by Tucker’s treasonous contacts with Russian officials as he seeks an interview with Putin.
Is the Biden Administration inviting in illegal immigrants, then putting them on military planes and shipping them to the heartland? Absolutely not … and these future Nobel Prize winners deserve their shot at the American Dream.
Once you learn to recognize this pattern, you see it everywhere. It is the cornerstone of ruling class rhetoric in the current year.
Turning from the Unholy Trinity, we see that the ruling class condemns all of us as entitled boors. In their eyes, we deserve nothing. We have no reasonable wants nor any just complaints. Our only role is to accept getting nothing and learning to like it.
Our masters bleat about “democracy” but have redefined the word to mean “getting exactly what we”—i.e., they—“want.” Any ostensibly “democratic” outcome that might result in us getting what we want is ipso facto illegitimate. Border wall? Fascist! Immigration enforcement? Racist and fascist! Law and order? Double racist and fascist! Better trade deals? Economically illiterate! An end to endless wars? Catastrophic! And also, somehow, “anti-Semitic.” Penis-free girls’ bathrooms? Transphobic!
No matter is too small, too local, too private, or too inconsequential to escape their gaze and slip their punishment. Bake the cake, bigot.
Mostly what they bleat, though, is anti-American, anti-white, anti-conservative, anti-Christian, anti-rural, anti-Southern, anti-Red-state, anti-redneck, anti-working-class hate. Every media organ and cultural citadel blares this message loudly and incessantly.
The purpose is hard to figure. On one hand, it’s demoralizing, which certainly serves ruling class ends, and it fires up their coalition. On the other hand, if you’re trying to boil a frog, it’s best not to tell him the plan, as he might try to jump out of the pot.
Which brings us to:
The Lie-Back Imperative
This tactic, and the next one, are related to what Steve Sailer has called “The War on Noticing.”
The regime knows it’s in a difficult rhetorical position. The heart of its argument is that some people are inherently innocent and good while others are inherently guilty and bad and must be treated accordingly. To ears insufficiently attuned to this new understanding of justice, this can sound unjust. Tying moral worth to circumstances of birth? Not treating people equally? Punishing the living for the sins of the dead?
Why all this is—contrary to appearances, logic, and common sense—“just” requires considerable explanation. To the extent that people “get it,” they will sharply divide between those who say that the “advantaged” have it coming and those who object “No, I don’t.”
The problem for the regime, therefore, is that while its message is very effective at egging on its own side, it can be equally effective at alarming and rousing its targets. The ideal solution would be to come up with a public message that rallies the regime’s base while lulling its targets, but this turns out to be very difficult, if not impossible.
Another option is to forbid the targets from speaking up—hence the Celebration Parallax.
But the regime’s preferred mode is not merely to allow its targets to speak, but to require it—so long as the targets deny the regime apparatchik said what she said. Hence the response to “You are evil and deserve what’s coming to you” must be “You don’t think ill of me and wish me no harm.” Every punch in the face must be publicly rationalized, by the victim, as a massage. The purpose is partly to bully the frog into staying in the pot and partly a matter of humiliation. In the oft-quoted words of Anthony Daniels, “a society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”
A great many “conservatives” are not merely willing but eager to play along. Indeed, whole institutions of the establishment “Right” do little else but reassure their ostensible constituency that the Left not only doesn’t mean its proto-genocidal rhetoric but isn’t even saying it.
It is an odd feature of the current year that calling an avowed enemy a liar—publicly insisting that her plain words could not possibly mean what they plainly say—not only fails to provoke an angry denial but is welcomed by the liar herself. Anything to keep the regime’s targets somnambulant for as long as possible. The more Americans who wake up and realize that contemporary leftism is a revenge plot with themselves as its targets, the more will object and try to stop it. This is what the regime, at present, most fears and is trying to prevent.
The Enmity Counteraccusation
This one is perhaps the most brazen. As I put it elsewhere, “the enemy calls you its enemy for recognizing its enmity.”
As regime hacks spew vile, borderline—and sometimes explicitly—violent rhetoric at you, they will immediately wheel and counterattack if you dare object. Don’t appreciate being called evil because of your race? Then you are “divisive”! Dare put up your hands to block an incoming punch? That’s violence! You’re just supposed to take it.
They’re enemies who treat you like enemies while they insist that you treat them as friends. At least, though, unlike the housebroken “Right,” they stab you in the front.
A related point is that if you so much as speculate as to where their insane vitriol might lead the country, you will be accused of wishing for that outcome. It’s entirely possible that decades of anti-American, anti-white, anti-Christian animosity, coupled with nation-destroying trade, immigration and foreign policies, will not lead to civil war. Then again, it’s entirely possible that they might. If they do, the ruling class and the Left will bear the blame. Naturally, though, they will blame us.
Indeed, they already are. Attempts to head off such a conflict by warning about it are treated as provocations intended to produce said conflict. One can be forgiven for wondering if their plan is to start it and then say we started it, sort of like insisting Poland triggered the Second World War by shooting back.
“You’re worthless, baby; and if you even think of trying to leave me, I’ll kill you”
Which brings us to the last. Deplorable Americans are loudly and incessantly said to be the worst people in the history of the planet, pure unadulterated evil, with no legitimate concerns, interests or grievances.
Well, OK. Then why live with us? Why treat as anathema even the most moderate, banal, attempt to allow some measure of federalism and local control?
There can only be two answers: either our masters know (or intuit) deep down that we can live without them but they can’t live without us, or else they want to keep us around to administer what they view as deserved punishment.
Being neither a psychiatrist nor a theologian, I could not say whether the roots of this behavior are psychotic or demonic, but in this layman’s judgement, it exhibits key characteristics of both.
But understand this: they hate you and want you cancelled and ostracized, or at least utterly subservient and obedient. You owe them no consideration. Their every argument, every sentence, every word are proffered in bad faith. As Mary McCarthy said of Lilian Hellman, “Every word she writes is a lie—including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”
The regime is powerful, which means we must calibrate our resistance carefully. But to think clearly, our minds must be free. Which requires understanding its rhetoric and seeing through it. I hope this short guide is useful in that effort.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.