Friday, January 15, 2021

How to interpret the news in a totalitarian society


Sarah Hoyt has published a very useful article on her blog, describing how she learned (the hard way) to read between (and behind) the lines of news bulletins in the totalitarian society in Portugal where she grew up.

The first step is easy:

Assume nothing you read is true. This is regardless of whether you’d like it to be true or not ... Believe it or not, even when everything you read is a lie, you can reason your way to the truth. Or at least know sort of the shape of the truth and where it’s hiding.

Some of it, I’ll concede it’s practice. You sense a shift in governance, the president for life is old and you go “he’s dead and in a freezer.”

But some you can learn. Here’s the questions you should be asking yourself.

Why is this being published at all? ... Like when son and I were shopping for an apartment for him, and in one otherwise perfect apartment complex, the very nice manager out of nowhere felt the need to tell us “Cars rarely get boosted out of our parking lot.”

I mean, I’m glad. it’s better than the alternative, but why tell us that at all. (Btw, we later found out cars often got boosted from that place, so she was trying to warn us without breaking her contract or whatever.) And that is your first signal. Why tell us that?

The all too perfect choir. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to something happening and we’re immediately informed by every outlet that it was because of “thing someone on the right said or did.”

. . .

When they’re all screaming in unison, particularly when it’s way too early for them to know everything (and they never know everything) you know not only that they’re not telling the truth, but also that they want you to believe THIS.

. . .

You’re not allowed to dissent: As the FICUS (Fraud in Chief of the US) puts it “Don’t you dare call them protesters. They’re rioters. Insurgents” etc. etc. etc.

Real news can be and are debated. “Don’t you dare” and “How dare you” is a sign they’re afraid the lie won’t stick.

. . .

People acting at variance with what is being reported ... the current clown car coming into DC tells us they totes won, with the most votes ever, but the way they’re acting, tamping down all dissent, screaming the big, and ridiculous lies, and trying to get us to accept they’re totes legitimate or be punished if we don’t?

That’s not the way legitimate winners act. That’s the way nervous (and stupid) embezzlers act, when they don’t want you to open the package and find out it contains cut up pieces of newspaper, instead of bank notes.

There's more at the link.

I agree with almost everything Sarah says.  She endured the Communist-led "Carnation Revolution" that displaced the Estado Novo fascist regime.  I saw that same revolution from the other side, in Africa, where thousands of Portuguese residents of that nation's former colonies were abandoned by the new left-wing government of the colonial power, and left to their own devices in the face of takeovers by Communist terrorist/guerrilla movements.  They streamed across the borders to any country that would take them, many having abandoned everything they possessed in a frantic rush to get out ahead of the terrorists and their bully-boys.  (Yes, they were terrorists, formed, trained and supplied by Moscow and - in some cases - Beijing.  The "Red Admiral" basically handed the colonies to them after the revolution, doubtless instructed by his own Communist masters.)

I saw attempts to impose the same totalitarian control of the news media in South Africa.  More and more restrictive laws were passed, limiting what could be legally reported, and imposing swingeing penalties on journalists and editors who transgressed those limits.  Many ended up under so-called "banning orders", effectively destroying their careers.  Others fled abroad, to continue working for freedom as best they could at a distance.  Reading the news inside South Africa became an exercise in deduction.  "If they're telling us this, what do they really mean?  If they're not talking about this, but we know it's happening (from foreign news sources), why are they hiding it?  What are they really up to?"  Some of the restrictions were ludicrous:  for example, insisting that various items of military hardware were indigenous designs and locally produced, when anyone with any knowledge at all of military affairs could identify their real origin in a heartbeat - but woe betide you if you actually said that!

A classic example is the adamant denial by the "ruling class" in the United States, and its allies in the mainstream media, that no electoral fraud took place during the November 2020 Presidential elections.  It's as plain as the nose on your face that such fraud not only took place, but determined the outcome of the election.  It's impossible to deny that on the basis of the facts - therefore, they deny or ignore the facts.  "They've never been proved in a court of law!"  So what?  The powers that be have made very sure that every time they came into a court of law, they were ruled out before they could be judged, on the basis of this or that extraneous factor.  The media parrot the "party line" daily - "There's no evidence!  The allegations are baseless!"  Meanwhile, we all know better.

To obtain accurate news in future, we're going to have to learn to read between the lines of news reports, and read more widely than the mainstream media.  If we don't, they'll keep us in a state of perpetual ignorance.

In the old Soviet Union, there were two major newspapers:  Pravda (meaning "Truth") and Izvestia (meaning "Information" or, more colloquially, "The News").  Both parroted the "party line", spouting propaganda rather than the facts.  This led to a joke among Soviets that "There is no Pravda in Izvestia, and no Izvestia in Pravda!"  Sadly, something along those lines might become common in the USA before too long.

Deception has become the normal modus operandi of the progressive left.  It's up to us to detect it, expose it, and defeat it.



Glenn B said...

Aren't those things what we have been doing for years (at least I have not trusted the media or politicians or anything they have said or have written for decades. Then again, all that is essentially what President Trump brought into the spotlight with his coining of "Fake News".

Eric Wilner said...

I'd been noticing that newspaper stories were largely disconnected from reality since I first started paying attention, back when I was in high school (longer ago than I care to acknowledge). This mainly seemed, at the time, to be a mixture of incompetence and laziness.
That politically-hot stories were generally outright propaganda became glaringly obvious in the late 80s, when I started peeking behind the curtain of politics.
Now, with decades of consolidation and reliance on syndicated stories rather than locally-written ones, there's an awful lot of centrally-determined consensus reality, with anyone deviating from the consensus being branded a dangerous radical.
The news has been largely wrong, and often propaganda, for a very long time. Briefly, the Internet let us see alternative viewpoints and interpretations, and share our criticism. Now, all channels of communication must be brought under corporate control, subject to corporate messaging.

Ray - SoCal said...

Good article.

Add to this the Gell-Mann Effect (journalist is clueless about what they are writing, but since you are not an expert you assume it’s credible).

And then add in how economic figures are twisted, as Peter has shown repeatedly:

And a terrifying subject to apply this method of questioning is Covid...

Why has big tech outlawed / censored certain areas of discussion? Especially those that differ from WHO recommendations. Why was it blasphemy to question the origin of the virus? Who was pushing this?

Jimmy the Saint said...

"The media parrot the "party line" daily - "There's no evidence! The allegations are baseless!" "

One dead giveaway: a pretty good rule of thumb - the innocent challenge the charge; the guilty challenge the evidence.

froginblender said...

Dem logic: "I never borrowed a vase from you. But when I got it, it was already broken. Besides, it was in perfect condition when I returned it."