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Battling Narratives in the Marketplace of Ideas
applying lessons learned from the censorship industry to better understand the manufacturing of consent
“When they have a target in mind for censorship, they are very careful to lay out a predicate for doing so” -Mike Benz
We live under the oppressive thumb of a vast censorship apparatus. Since 2017 this malign machinery has been exponentially bolstered by the power of AI allowing for narrative shaping at a scale perhaps not seen in human history. If you are an independent thinker you have felt the weight of this oppression even if you haven’t been able to articulate exactly what is going on. As your innate desire to express yourself is suffocated by invisible technological tentacles set into motion by the hands of contemptible latte sipping bureaucrats you can’t help but feel the pull of despair and delusion. Despair that these unseen gatekeepers who are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys are too powerful resist on one hand, and delusion that your action isn’t required if we’re to ultimately prevail (e.g. trust the plan). To navigate this rough terrain we need maps to model this occult machinery of evil whose gears constantly churn just out of view in beltway office buildings and a never ending string of teleconferences. With a sound model we can not only help alleviate some of the cognitive burden that this machine imposes, but we might even be able to assist in the fight to dismantle it.
Narratives Narratives Narratives
I’ve argued elsewhere that using the appropriate level of analysis is important if you want to best understand the complex world we inhabit. In the context of understanding censorship, persuasion, and electoral politics, thinking in terms of narratives is essential. Human beings have a deep psychological need for narrative, and with the slightest bit of self-awareness, most of us can see that about ourselves. We are drawn to a good story, but it goes further than that. Practically everything we understand about the world fits into a one narrative or another inside our heads. When these narratives help explain our experience and agree with one another, we feel content. When we are confronted with developments that are totally inexplicable given our operating narratives it is easy to become distraught or anxious. Likewise when we are forced to confront disagreement between narratives that we’ve come to internalize we experience cognitive dissonance. This is obviously a massive simplification of neuropsychology, but no less than chemistry is a simplification of physics, or biology of chemistry. We don’t need to understand how or why narratives so directly influence our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions to appreciate that they do, and little if anything is more important to consider in this regard.
Narratives and Truth
The conflict between modernism and post-modernism reveals an important consideration when it comes to narrative. In modernism there is sort of an underlying assumption that there can exist some meta-narrative that encompasses absolute truth. This is rightly rejected by post-modernism, but post-modernism goes a step too far by rejecting critical tools without which understanding anything becomes impossible making it a self-defeating intellectual dead end. I don’t remember where I saw this recently, but someone said that post-modernism asserts that everything is just narratives. The grain of truth is that for human beings, everything is indeed narratives. The trouble comes with the qualifying word “just.” There is nothing trivial about the primary way in which we make sense of the objective reality we reside within. Just because our stories will never fully encompass the majesty of the universe as it is doesn’t mean that we won’t benefit from weaving stories that attempt to align with ultimate reality to the best of our ability. Those who accept that there is an objective reality can immediately recognize that some narratives will lead us closer to truth than others. Using the framework that I began to establish in the last section, narratives that align more closely with truth are less likely to conflict with one another, and they are more likely to prepare us for what we will confront in a mysterious and unknowable future. Most of our enemies that operate the censorship apparatus are seduced by the specious post-modern notion that there is no reality to contend with as they counter populist narratives while crafting and propagating their own in an endless quest to promote their interests that conflict with a popular consensus more closely aligned with truth. These cynical attempts to control narrative without any respect for objective reality can be though of as the kind of lies that incur a debt to the truth. If we don’t act to counter these fools, the damage inflicted upon humanity when they are ultimately overthrown will only continue to magnify.
Proxies and Predicates (credit to Mike Benz for introducing me to this concept he developed to better understand the censorship industry)
Mike Benz has been diligently outlining the nefarious activities of those who wish to use the force of government and leverage WEF-style public-private partnerships to silence their opposition and realize their perverse dream of global domination. He recently took to twitter to explain how these cretins can’t simply attack their opponents directly. To target political dissidents directly would undermine the narrative of liberal democracy to which they subscribe. Instead, they have to identify proxies for their target, then develop predicates for attacking those proxies that are consistent with purportedly held liberal diplomatic norms. This framework allows us to get inside the heads of the contemptible policy wonks so eager to use censorship to escape the consequences of their ruinous machinations while also helping us to understand that while this adds another layer of complexity, it is still ultimately all about a battle between competing narratives.
A proxy is a convenient substitute facilitating the guilt-free attack on something that would be otherwise forbidden. Where people tend to get lost here is that they try to imagine that all of their enemies are cynical sociopaths or stupid zealots. The reality is that everyone trying to control narratives at the expense of populism is somewhere along a vast continuum. Some understand that they want to reign over lesser humans who don’t deserve freedom and autonomy, others are delusional enough to believe that they need to guide the unwashed masses for their own good. Whether they believe their own bullshit or not, they need to identify and use a proxy when there is something they are trying to attack but can’t allow it look like they are attacking that way. The psychopaths can’t afford to be exposed as serial uncompromising hypocrites, the clueless can’t afford to see themselves as the hypocrites they are. All are unified by class interest.
A prominent example of this in the US was establishing a proxy relationship between “Russian disinformation” and populism. They wanted to censor and silence populist voices to satisfy political self-interest, but you can’t say that you’re doing that. Again, for the full-blown sociopaths to do so would be a strategic error. For the others they can’t afford to admit it to themselves without suffering a loss of morale. Many of these folks took an oath to the Constitution mind you. So you don’t attack political opponents. You attack Russian disinformation. It just so happens that all of your political opponents exhibit the characteristics of Russian disinfo. Yes, this is convenient, but who wants to look a gift horse in the mouth? And so what if they finally do look in that mouth and find that there isn’t actually a horse?1 Well, better luck next time. Everyone thought there was a horse, oh well. With no one held accountable I’m sure it won’t happen again…
This is where deliberate narrative construction takes center stage making what was previously an occult practice of elite propagandists to something conducted more or less out in the open with the hubris of moral certitude. Predicate is the narrative rationale for attacking the proxy. In the case of the “Russian disinformation” proxy for populist voices, the narrative had to do with national security. A foreign power was trying to influence our elections! This is practically the equivalent of being directly conquered by Putler himself. If we allow this existential threat to our democracy to go unchallenged, then the American experiment is over for all intents and purposes. But wait, though the situation may be dire, we do have one tool to fight back against the forces of evil. We have the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)! We can root out and destroy this Russian propaganda because we know exactly what it looks like! It looks like anyone who disagrees with us politically! Of course it does, because everyone who disagrees with us politically is a Russian agent in spirit, if not in fact. Once such a predicate is established it is very difficult to displace it. It gets all of the weight of the media/professional managerial class behind it and its off to the races. Demands for things like evidence can’t penetrate, because what you need isn’t evidence, you need an alternative narrative, which is why this model is so important to understand. We can do the same thing, but by aligning with reality we gain an asymmetric advantage over our larger and better funded opponents.
Applying the Model to Current Events
Following the collapse of the Russian election interference narrative outside the minds of complete NPCs other proxies were established with new predicates to justify their suppression. To examine this further, and ongoing narrative warfare generally, I’ll outline two competing narratives, one ‘generally populist’ and another ‘regime functionary’ to see if we use this model to reveal some key insights.
Example Populist Narrative:
Over the past two decades or so the GAE has been especially active in the middle east. Regime change has been sought in several countries with notable “successes” in Iraq and Libya. The resulting instability has caused net migration out of the Middle East and into Europe. The values and culture demotic in these immigrants’ country of origin is not the same as it is at their destination. This creates conflict that locals would rather not deal with, and this conflict brings popular discontent directed at such immigration policies. Additionally, the types of locals most affected are typically the working classes. These working class proles also tend to appreciate things like cheap energy. In the U.S. this can be supplied locally when political and environmental stupidity doesn’t reign, but in the EU, such cheap energy has a clear and obvious source: Russia. Since hostility to cheap Russian energy and support for mass migration into Europe is central to EU policy (and the international rules based order), these proles instinctively desire to follow in the footsteps of the UK and leave the EU, if only to attain some level of control over immigration and energy policy that so clearly conflicts with the popular interests of their countrymen.
In the U.S. every manner in which the establishment could influence electoral politics, legal and otherwise, has been implemented to secure unfettered execution of policies favorable to the regime. From funding campaigns directly via the financial criminals behind FTX to indirect methods of support martialed via non-profit foundations guided by the regimes most opulent corporate benefactors (e.g. Zuck Bucks) every viable strategy to swing elections has been pursued and executed with a high level of sophistication and competence. With the legal profession naturally being dominated by a professional class loyal to the regime, there was no shortage of bag men to fan out and get the job done. Some, such as Mark Elias, were more prominent and effective than others. Other funds were directed towards efforts to divide and conquer via ideological subversion and other various forms of lawfare. The long march to capture education schools largely complete, graduates teaching the nations children can be expected to tow the party line and effectively indoctrinate all future generations. Meanwhile Soros funded District Attorneys leverage their ability to nullify the law with little potential for recourse via selective prosecution falling along racial and ideological lines with high degrees of predictability. Constitutional limits on executive power are flaunted openly in the name of supporting political allies and crushing political enemies overwhelming a judiciary that will only vote to limit this assault on the rule of law based on character that is increasingly rare among those in the PMC. Energy is made expensive in the name of a climate crisis that doesn’t exist. Discriminatory policies in hiring and college admissions are justified by systemic racism that doesn’t exist. Economic policies that favor geopolitical adversaries and destroy American communities are pursued without hesitation because these communities are inhibited by political enemies and these geopolitical adversaries are comfortable partners with the regime apparatchiks running the show.
The recurring theme in the populist narrative is that ordinary people want ordinary things. They want stable and secure communities and to be able to get more with the money they earn (which is most directly impacted by access to cheap energy). Finally they don’t want to be subservient to a condescending class of experts and professionals who seem to fuck up everything they touch.2 This might seem to be what everyone wants, but there is of course another narrative to consider.
The Narrative of the Regime Apparatchik
Most people are too stupid to understand the big picture. Bible thumping retards living in fly over country most especially. Of course they want cheap energy not caring about the source. It is because they are short-sighted and ignorant. When Europeans purchase energy from Russia, they empower the greatest strategic threat the international rules-based order has seen since its inception: Vladimir Putin. Of course the peasants can’t stand immigration, they’re all xenophobic bigots that can’t hope to ever appreciate the extent to which diverse perspectives and cultures strengthen us and make our civilization great. Most of all, what these hick retards can’t understand is the value of expertise. Since they haven’t attended elite prep schools, let alone any of the Ivy Leagues they can’t possibly understand concepts that are all too simple for their betters to grasp. The idea that these morons could survive unfettered access to prescription medication is absurd. The idea that they could independently govern their own lives is the kind of folly that would only lead to a greater burden on what is otherwise a smooth and efficient welfare state. The problem is really that they’re all stupid and selfish. They can’t see the bigger picture. They can’t see that their desire for cheap energy will see rising CO2 levels that engulf the world in skyrocketing temperatures dooming all of mankind to extinction. They can’t appreciate that any departure from the international rules-based order opens the door for the swift return of fascism and all that entails. They don’t understand that this intricate system that has been so carefully constructed by noble and wise experts depends on the perceived legitimacy of key democratic institutions. These institutions must be continually supported and empowered, because they are run by those with irreplaceable expertise. Without the vast apparatus of public-private partnerships that has been developed so that we may save humanity from itself, civilization will collapse into a brutal state of nature where animalistic retards not only tear each other apart (tragic but necessary) but also tear down their betters (the worst possible outcome for humanity).
Employing Censorship Towards Narrative Dominance
Without censorship the populist narrative wins. From my perspective this is because it is more closely aligned with truth. From the apparatchik perspective, this is because the right and necessary policy to advance a generally egalitarian humanitarianism will always be unpopular due to limitations inherent to the psyche of the common man. The apparatchiks are then put into a difficult situation. They must outwardly support democracy and the liberal forms of government that have served as a basis for their rise to power, but can’t afford for popular will to exert itself and supplant them. The solution they’ve developed is proxies and predicates. I attempted to outline the real targets above, but they are mixed in with proxies, because this happens spontaneously in the minds of apparatchiks seeking to limit cognitive dissonance. They simultaneously care very much about the fate of the huddles unwashed masses while having contempt for their stupidity and inability to appreciate/worship their betters. It all gets very complicated because each individual mind has their own set of operating narratives, but this is why the censorship industry provides such a useful study case. They all sit around a table and verbalize what narratives they want to advance and why. It behooves us to pay attention so that these efforts may be subverted.
Framing All Narratives as Predicate for Self-Interest
The most effect way I can think of to counter the proxy strategy is tied to the cui bono method of analysis. Not only can we look at a complex situation filled with strife and conflict and ask who benefits to gain clues as to who might be responsible. We can also look at the proxies and predicates chosen by the apparatchiks of the censorship apparatus. I don’t want to go down the human nature rabbit hole, but suffice it to say if you share my priors you understand that human beings are inherently self-interested. We don’t do things that conflict with our deep perception of self-interest, whether conscious or otherwise. This means that all censorship is ultimately in the name of self-interest, as is what I’m doing as I type out this essay. The proxy and predicate framework provides an essential heuristic for outlining exactly how our enemies are cynically (or delusionally) advancing their own self-interest in the name of some narrative that often has little to no evidence tying it to reality. To defend our own narratives we have to understand the true reasons we believe what we believe. What narratives allow us to advance our own self-interest in a way that doesn’t take advantage of the innocent? A great trick that these hucksters continually get away with is framing their positions as the altruistic ones. We need such hubristic claims that defy basic human nature to be met with narratives that hit so close to home the resulting cognitive dissonance knocks the enemy off balance. We need to be “based” in knowing exactly why we want what we want so that the same can’t be done to us.
Just like the censors find proxies for themselves to make their actions appear more consistent, they apply proxies to their populist enemies. Desire for a culturally homogenous and stable community is “racist”. Desire for a good standard of living supported by cheap energy or refusal to accept gene therapy is the result of “science denial
Destroying the Censorship Apparatus
Predictions allow us to gain credibility, and this is where we grow our numbers and advance our own narratives. If you see the enemy using a proxy, this is a weak point. Attack it. Make predictions as to the quality of the evidence and underlying fact pattern of the proxy openly and candidly. Credibility and trust allow us to expand networks and gain an edge in electoral politics. With a critical mass in politics the perpetrators of unconstitutional censorship endeavors can be stopped. If we fail to do so, it is not because it was impossible, it is because we were not as competent and sophisticated as we needed to be to win the day.
UPDATE: As I published this essay, a federal judge has enjoined the government from working with big tech to censor citizens’ speech, comparing US government actions during COVID to “an Orwellian Ministry of Truth” censoring Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and others. One of many positive developments of late.
My readers all know that there is zero evidence of “Russian collusion” in 2016, but I put it here in this footnote for posterity. There was no horse.
This has been made most obvious by COVID. I don’t think these morons appreciate the extent to which they destroyed their own credibility just to help make very specific rich people even richer.