The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, January 25, 2021


Many Democrats and virtually all of the hard-left seem unsatisfied that Trump is now gone and no longer able to effect national policy. They have now refocused on the 74-plus million people who voted for Trump, the members of his administration, and the alternative media outlets and carriers who still have the temerity to deliver views that oppose the progressive narrative. Some within the media and far too many within the progressive intelligencia (i.e., writers, professors, commentators) have called for some form of "re-education" for those who voted for Donald Trump. This call, combined with its complement, cancel culture, comes perilously close to the mindset that pervades totalitarian regimes like Cuba, North Korea, or Venezuela.

In a long, but worthwhile essay, James Lindsey comments on the "psychopathy and origins of totalitarianism." Over the years I have alluded to the Left's reliance on fantasy beliefs, what Lindsey in his essay calls "pseudo-realities." He defines the term this way:

“Pseudo-realities are, simply put, false constructions of reality. It is hopefully obvious that among the features of pseudo-realities is that they must present a plausible but deliberately wrong understanding of reality. They are cult ‘realities’ in the sense that they are the way that members of cults experience and interpret the world—both social and material—around them. We should immediately recognize that these deliberately incorrect interpretations of reality serve two related functions. First, they are meant to mold the world to accommodate small proportions of people who suffer pathological limitations on their abilities to cope with reality as it is. Second, they are designed to replace all other analyses and motivations with power, which these essentially or functionally psychopathic individuals will contort and deform to their permanent advantage so long as their pseudo-real regime can last.”

Like all things, pseudo-realities have a small element of truth to them. For example, the COVID-19 virus is dangerous (statistically) to a small segment of the population (the very old) and should be aggressively managed to protect that segment. But over the past year, a progressive media (driven by a number of different motivational factors) and progressives themselves have both insisted that COVID-19 justifies near-totalitarian government control that affects the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions. Their position is driven by a COVID-19 pseudo-reality that insists (despite clear scientific evidence to the contrary) that everyone is at risk of death (they are not), that children are in significant danger (they are not), that lockdowns stop the spread of the virus (they do not), and that somehow those who offer alternative strategies are "uncaring." 

Lindsey continues:

Pseudo-realities are always social fictions, which, in light of the above, means political fictions. That is, they are maintained not because they are true, in the sense that they correspond to reality, either material or human, but because a sufficient quantity of people in the society they attack either believe them or refuse to challenge them. This implies that pseudo-realities are linguistic phenomena above all else, and where power-granting linguistic distortions are present, it is likely that they are there to create and prop up some pseudo-reality. This also means that they require power, coercion, manipulation, and eventually force to keep them in place. Thus, they are the natural playground of psychopaths, and they are enabled by cowards and rationalizers. Most importantly, pseudo-realities do not attempt to describe reality as it is but rather as it “should be,” as determined by the relatively small fraction of the population who cannot bear living in reality unless it is bent to enable their own psychopathologies, which will be projected upon their enemies, which means all normal people.

All of this becomes particularly dangerous when those who believe the pseudo-realities gain positions of power that influence policy. A belief in pseudo-realities is a key catalyst for the normalization of hysteria. For example, if you reject virtually all scientific evidence and believe that everyone is in danger of death should they contract COVID-19, it would seem reasonable that trampling individual freedoms, arbitrarily closing businesses, and unilaterally locking down cities would make sense. Your belief in that pseudo-reality would also put a moral patina on your actions—e.g., wearing a mask is a sign of both compliance with the pseudo-reality (that masks are somehow necessary outdoors and an indication of virtue.

The problem for those who believe in pseudo-realities is that large numbers of people do not. Again, Lindsey comments:

Normal people do not accept pseudo-reality and interpret reality more or less accurately, granting the usual biases and limitations of human perspective. Their common heuristic is called common sense, though much more refined forms exist in the uncorrupted sciences. In reality, both of these are handmaidens of power, but in pseudo-realities, this is inverted. In pseudo-reality, common sense is denigrated as bias or some kind of false consciousness, and science is replaced by a scientism that is a tool of power itself. 

And when "normal" people question the policies that are derived from belief in pseudo-realities, they are viciously attacked and when possible, cancelled. The reason for these attacks is that pseudo-realities have trouble standing up to serious examination, and those who espouse them have significant difficulty in refuting substantive criticism of them. So rather than trying, true believers rely on ad hominem attacks.

Lindsay asserts (and I agree) that:

... pseudo-reality demoralizes all who are pressed into engaging with it by the mere fact of being something false that must be treated as true. We should never underestimate how psychologically weakening and damaging it is to be forced to treat as true something that is not true, with the effect strengthening the more obviously false it is.

Possibly, the greatest strength of pseudo-reality is that it has amazing persistence. It is exhausting to experience the cognitive dissonance of listening to others accept pseudo-reality without question or critique. They are true believers, but the core problem for all of us is that what they believe just isn't true.

UPDATE (1-26-2021):

As a consequence of the January 6th debacle at the Capitol, the four constituencies (Dems, media, establishment GOP and deep state) have dictated that no further discussion of the anomalous results of the November election occur and (this is important) that no further actions be taken to reform our election process to make it more secure and trustworthy. They have created one pseudo-reality that suggests that the November, 2020 election was the most secure in our history, that no "widespread" irregularities resulted, and that any claim to the contrary is akin to "sedition" or at the very least, a crazy conspiracy theory.

To bolster this first pseudo-reality, they have used a second, cultivated over four years— that Donald Trump is a racist, a fascist, a Nazi-sympathizer, a white supremacist, etc. Because Trump is coarse, bombastic, aggressive, narcissistic, and rarely thinks of the consequences of his words (which are often poorly chosen), he has made it easy for the second pseudo-reality to take hold. His stupid and thoughtless actions on January 6th were just another nail in the coffin.

With these pseudo-realities as a backdrop, Dennis Prager summarizes the anomalies that did actually occur during this past election, and then writes:

So, then, here is the question: Why would anyone who sincerely believed Trump is a white-supremacist fascist dictator not cheat if he or she could prevent such a person from becoming or remaining president of the United States?

Let me sharpen this question: Isn't someone who could prevent a fascist, white-supremacist, Nazi-defending dictator morally obligated to cheat if he or she could prevent such a person from becoming president?

I certainly would. If I were in a position to cheat in order to prevent a fascist from becoming president, why would I not cheat? 

... I have never said Biden did not win the election. And even if there was considerable fraud, that doesn't mean the election result would have been different.

But there are consequences to beliefs. Unless Democrats knew they were lying for four years when they labelled Trump a fascist, racist, Nazi, dictator, etc., were they not duty-bound to cheat on Biden's behalf? So, then, when you have circumstantial evidence (not proof), combined with opportunity, desire, motive and, most important, no moral argument against cheating and a strong moral argument for cheating, it isn't a "lie," and it isn't a crackpot conspiracy theory, to wonder about the integrity of America's 2020 presidential election.

Prager asks an uncomfortable question. Belief in pseudo-reality does have consequences.