Paranoid Style: The Black Helicopter Republicans


The operative word here is "believe," for as soon as the question is about conviction of faith the human mind will be immune to facts. The brain actively resists information that does not fit the story of the operating belief system, and stores contrary information in a way that does not change the system.

That we have evolved this peculiar trait is why so much of the right wing media dissected here at C&L is about a belief system, or rather the constant and deliberate invocation of that system. The audience craves confirmation of what they already believe. Plato described the mental system of paranoid politics as a cave with shadows projected on the walls. The current terminology for this phenomenon is "epistemic closure," but like the name Plato, that is a phrase guaranteed to make eyelids heavy.

I call this phenomenon "the paranoid universe." First described by Richard Hofstadter in The Paranoid Style in American Politics, it is a cyclical construct:

THEY are out to get us.

THEY are responsible for all the problems.

THEY are all in it together.

Thus do Muslims and liberals and feminists and socialists and Kenyans and Chinese and umpteen other suspects become Emmanuel Goldstein -- a monolithic enemy to be feared. The enemy makes them angry. They hate the enemy. Such minds don't care for details; they only know they are scared, and must blame it on someone that is outside the belief system -- alien. Fear the alien; suffer him not to live, and fight his future.

More on the League of the South, a neo-confederate organization, here.


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