MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
As I was eating my breakfast this morning and was gazing into my phone, I realized something that may be obvious to a lot of people but it was my epiphany none the less. There was a guy sitting at the table across from me at the diner and he was reading a newspaper.
I thought, “Oh how I miss reading the newspaper and drinking black coffee.” Back in the day, I used to do that at an old restaurant called Lambs in Salt Lake City. They had the best waffles and their coffee was amazing. I used to layout the morning paper and cut out articles that interested me.
Now, I look at my phone. The epiphany I had is that the cell phone has replaced the newspaper for a news source.. and now I read my phone. It is one of many of the instantly gratifying inventions we have and it gives us information from many sources for free. So many headlines, in so little time and I can only e-mail myself the ones that catch my attention.
Things have changed in 30 years – America has changed and in a lot of people’s minds, its changes have not been for the better.
We talk a lot about how we are willing to fight to keep America alive, to keep the Republic sound and strong but now it is limited to a slogan on a red hat that when worn in public gets you spat on or beat up.
Reading my phone today I happened upon a headline that had my attention.
The headline read: IT’S THE SOCIALIST DEMOCRATS NOW! REVOLUTION ON LEFT… It, of course, was about the inescapable topic of politics but the idea of Democratic Socialists even being the alternative to the Republican Conservative Right and the thought that they might have a chance at winning an election with a candidate like Bernie Sanders should tell us just how much the United States had lost its uniqueness as being a democracy.
Before you correct me and say that we are a Constitutional Republic, I can tell you that edging closer to Democratic Socialism throws it all way.
At least, in my humble opinion.
The America we loved is lost, perhaps forever. That is the meaning of this conflict. The Republic that bound its rulers with the chains of the Constitution and freed the rest of us to live in peace is no more.
The Constitution along with our Declaration of Independence was a guarantee etched in stone of the freedoms and sovereignty need to establish a strong Republic.
The Constitution now is cherry-picked in order to justify extremist speech, a corrupt press, and to justify other acts of malfeasance that bend or even break the rules regarding civil liberty. Are we able to pause and reflect seriously on the dire consequences of our collective behavior – or passivity when it comes to an American’s right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
At some point, for whatever reason, you have to come to the realization that the consensus narratives in our society about what’s going on are false. The tools that people are taught to use to inform themselves about their government, their nation, and their world are not just full of inaccuracies, but deliberate distortions, ranging from the reasons that were given for why wars are started, to the way our political systems work, to where real power and authority actually lies, to the way nations and governments actually behave in the world.
This awareness has come with a degree of alienation. Not buying into the same consensus narratives about the world as your friends, loved ones and peers comes with an inability to relate to them on some levels, which can cause you to feel a lack of intimacy in those areas.
You may have also found yourself the odd one out in conversations about politics or other controversial issues, maybe even lost old friends over it.
Many of you who take the time to listen to alternative views are shunned. Many of us are told to pick a side and the sides we are told to choose are extremists. Centrism is now a major sin politically and when one states that this is their affiliation they are told that they have no place in this war of ideologies.
What is most disconcerting is that people don’t use the strength of their numbers to force an end to the oppressive, homicidal status quo, because they aren’t interested in doing so. Many have not felt enough pain to do something about it.
They see suffering as an inevitability or they see it as the new normal.
Throughout history, we have seen this happen – political ideologies that seem keen to the intellect rise up. We are told that this new idea, this new way of running the government will be efficient and better for all.
Yes, and many monstrous regimes have used populism and eventually a rabid form of nationalism to make it all look good and feel good.
While there are many people who always tell me that they are waiting for that moment where they will fight against what is happening – I can also see that as with any other takeover of a rogue ideology people would resort to self-preservation rather than rolling up their sleeves and rising up against it.
It is obvious that this is the case as many people would rather observe nationalist groups fight in the streets against Antifa than get into the fight themselves.
Many people feel powerless to fight against the system and chances are if we do become a country taken over by a Democratic socialist party by vote – no one will rise up against it.
There are countless examples of past and present monstrous regimes in the real world. And they all raise the question of why people didn’t just rise up against their rulers. Some of us are quick to judge those who conform to such regimes as evil psychopaths or at least morally inferior to ourselves.
But what are the chances that you would be a heroic rebel in such a scenario, refusing to be complicit in maintaining or even enforcing the system?
Let me just say history dictates the answer is very low.
American organizational theorist James March and Norwegian political scientist Johan Olsen argued back in 2004 that human behavior is governed by two complementary, and very different, “logics”. According to the logic of consequence, we choose our actions like a good economist: weighing up the costs and benefits of the alternative options in the light of our personal objectives. This is basically how we get what we want.
But there is also a second logic, the logic of appropriateness. According to this, outcomes, good or bad, are often of secondary importance – we often choose what to do by asking “What is a person like me supposed to do in a situation like this”?
The idea is backed up by psychological research. Human social interactions depend on our tendency to conform to unwritten rules of appropriate behavior. Most of us are truthful, polite, don’t cheat when playing board games and follow etiquette. We are happy to let judges or football referees enforce rules. A recent study showed we even conform to arbitrary norms.
The logic of appropriateness is self-enforcing – we disapprove of, ostracize or report people who lie or cheat. Research has shown that even in anonymous, experimental “games”, people will pay a monetary cost to punish other people for being uncooperative.
We also have learned through the example of the Milgram Experiment how people are okay with torturing someone if they are told to do so by someone who appears to be an authority.
Stanley Milgram, whose papers are held in Manuscripts and Archives, conducted the Obedience to Authority experiments while he was an assistant professor at Yale University from 1961 to 1963.
Milgram found that most ordinary people obeyed instructions to give what they believed to be potentially fatal shocks to innocent victims when told to do so by an authority figure.
His 1963 article on the initial findings and a subsequent book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View and film, Obedience, catapulted Milgram to celebrity status and made his findings and the experiments themselves the focus of intense ethical debates.
The debate continues over whether or not people would rebel against authority now and again, the overall opinion is no.
Both logics are required to create and maintain an authoritarian regime. To ensure that we make the “right” personal choices, an oppressive state’s main tools are carrots and sticks – rewarding conformity and punishing even a hint of rebellion.
But personal gain (or survival) alone provides a fragile foundation for an oppressive state. It is easy to see how the logic of appropriateness fits in here, turning from being a force for cooperation to a mechanism for enforcing an oppressive status quo. This logic asks that we follow the “rules” and make sure others do too – often without needing to ask why the rules are the way they are.
Regimes, therefore, supplement rewards and punishments with self-policed norms, rules, and conventions.
Are you following orders or ordering followers? That is the question and now there are plenty of people out there that are ordering followers to do all sorts of crazy things that challenge what can be called appropriateness.
Are you part of the party, comrade? Are you part of the cult? Always remember a good cult member or party member follows orders no matter how crazy they sound.
A good member of the cause obeys orders, roots out opposition and does not question authority – and enforces these norms on their fellow party or religious members.
The authoritarian state is therefore concerned above all with preserving ideology – defining the “right” way to think and behave – so that we can unquestioningly conform to it.
George Orwell once made the statement that, “Circus dogs jump and do somersaults when the trainer cracks his whip. But the really well-trained dog is the one that jumps and does somersaults when there is no whip.”
Young people today with throw around the Nazi moniker to describe our current administration – they do not realize how that Nazis were able to gain the power they did. Keep in mind that it was not primarily a matter of individual evil. It was a matter of self-preservation.
How can evil be embraced by the mass majority without a fight? It is simple people do not want to lose their homes, their property or their lives.
The atrocities of the Holocaust were made possible by normal people, manipulated into conforming to a horribly abnormal set of behavioral norms.
People conformed – some felt discomfort about it and others were easily manipulated into seeing Jews as less than human and that they needed to be eliminated because they were taking up too many recourses.
Just think of the fervor with which people can enforce standards of dress, prohibitions on profane language or dietary norms – Think of how we still adapt to how Facebook censors free speech and yet we conform.
If we really wanted to we could put them out of business… but it is their rules and their terms of service—you don’t have to obey – but you do. You don’t question it.
I know this is all simple but in the bigger picture people feel “morally bound” to protect the party, nation or religion, they even defend unseen or anonymous organizations like QAnon even though they do not know who or what is behind it.
To say it is unhealthy is anathema.
Of course, there are a few that rebel but only a few and even when they do they have to somehow become experts in asymmetrical warfare both physically and philosophically.
Rebels, too, need to harness the logic of appropriateness – they need to find different norms and ideals, shared with fellow members of the resistance, or inspired by history or literature. Breaking out of one set of norms requires that we have an available alternative.
That is why I would often criticize those that would say that “1776 is coming if they — blah blah blah—because I would never hear what the alternative was going to be – if you want a revolution you got to know what the revolution is going to change and how it is going to end –what will be the reward for rebellion?
I like to think that I have learned to take on a non-conformist attitude. However, I have my limits and my unwritten rules of what should be appropriate when it comes to rebellion. I have chosen to inform – and to weigh in on what will and won’t work but I am not at all above adapting to something in order to preserve what I have worked for. Moreover, if adapting would give me cause for shame, or step in my dignity or put my family in danger – that is where I would leave the appropriateness to my better judgment and even then I am not too sure if even a code of appropriateness would keep me from rebelling.
It depends on how convincingly I can justify to myself, that I should act – I guess it boils down to how much pain one can tolerate mentally and physically.
I have been in this position before when I was faced with fighting cancer – it was either conform to chemotherapy or endure the pain of surgeries to eliminate the disease.
I chose pain. I figured that pain would be better than death and after a while, you get used to it and you adapt.
Looking back, I still wonder if I chose wisely.
However, I rebelled for self-preservation – even in the face of death.
I reacted to the unfairness of it all and that is the key.
How we react to unfairness affects our propensity to rebel. One study found that people who are risk-averse and easily trust others are less likely to react strongly to unfairness. While not proven in the study, it may make such individuals more likely to conform.
Another factor is social circumstances. The upper and middle classes in Germany during the 1920s-1940s were almost twice as likely to join the Nazi party than those with lower social status. So it may be that those who have the most to lose and/or are keen to climb the social ladder are particularly likely to conform. And, of course, if other members of your social circle are conforming, you may think it’s the “appropriate” thing to do.
You ask yourself how are so many people believe in radical ideas—and this is how it starts – this is how it has always been.
We live in times where we have to ask if nationalism and patriotism are interchangeable.
In 1945, George Orwell said Nationalism should not be confused with patriotism and yet today we are seeing this challenged in many ways. It is almost as if we have blurred them together in order to divide the Capitalists from the Socialists but as much as the left hates to hear it – they are populists that border on nationalists with the same zeal as those who have been recruited into a cult.
There is also the rallying cult-like demeanor around Donald Trump. There is a powerful pairing being forged in the election process – it is the duel of fates between that which is Nationalist Socialist and that which is Nationalist Capitalist.
And many people are lost on the idea of a what a nationalist socialist is because image and action parameters have hidden the meaning and no one wishes to think that they are leaning towards Nazism, or Mussolini’s Fascism or even Revolutionary Maoism.
In the 20th century, Italian nationalism gave rise to the Fascists while German Nationalism led to two world wars and the Holocaust.
No one is providing for the common defiance of such philosophies.
With the breaking of the patriotic will of the people, there can be an excuse that the rebellion is against nationalism by using another form of nationalism to destroy it.
Its devotion is not for sovereignty or independence – it is for the conjoining of a once free Republic with the chains and shackles of the globalist plantation.
The rise of “neo-imperial” governing institutions such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court threatens to usurp Americans’ right to self-determination.
Conflict and repression predate the emergence of the modern nation-state.
Nationalism goes wrong when it is tainted with maligning influences and so does socialism.
The idea of Democratic Socialism being on the ticket makes it official even though it has been encroaching upon us for decades.
The deal was sealed after the 9/11 attacks.
The attacks of 9/11 were the catalyst that opened the dialogue for the socialist state and the complete and utter negation of constitutional rights. It was a time where blind “benign” nationalism slipped into harsh authoritarianism.
That it was the catalyst for the polarization of the nation long before we put all of our hate into President Trump.
What I am telling you is something that you need to talk about with your children –something that you should discuss with your families as the country is about to go through a lot of changes.
Nobody has taught you in school that throughout your entire life that behind the scenes an organized plutocracy will be working to control the thoughts in your head using a highly sophisticated arsenal of psychological operations funneled into your mind via their near-total control of the media. Nobody warned you as a kid that if you ever really want to grow up, you’ll first have to extricate the vast network of lies which have been deliberately sewn into your consciousness since birth.
This is why Americans do not value their freedoms enough to fight for them.
Younger generations have now been manipulated on a mass scale by the same people who have been granted immense power and wealth by the existence of that status quo.
However, the responsibility of the older generations has not been greater.
It is our responsibility to share the information which counters the disinformation, doing our best to throw sand in the gears of the propaganda machine and show people the little gaps in the code of the matrix in the hope that some light sleeper might spot it and begin waking up from the dream.