I have lived in this country for 30 years, but I count myself an outsider. What we have witnessed in the last week, and in the last few years, has undoubtedly been ugly in the extreme, but to my eye it is not so far removed from business as usual in America. The same tendencies towards conspiracy theories, hysteria, gullibility, brutality, and delight in destruction are everywhere, including in American universities. They are not the exclusive property of the political right (appalling as that is ) but are quite independent of political affiliation. They are features of the American psyche, but Americans are oblivious to it. They are part of the national character, going back a long way. Of course, there are some good things about America, but people need to wake up to their blind spots and habitual reactions. Yes, I am talking to you.
I remember watching the Nixon proceedings with my grandmother when I was a wee lad. Her hatred of impeachment-minded Democrats knew no bounds, as I thought, at the time ; though after due consideration of principle she did finally come around. Ahhh, but that was back in the 70’s , when an honest change of political mind was still possible. No such change seems possible these days, so warped are the views of the propagandized.
The thing is they are so willing to be propagandized–they like that state of mind. And as I say, this need to believe is very widespread–there is a real hatred of facts. This includes university professors.
When Rupert Murdoch’s, “Fox News Channel”, first hit America’s cable air-waves I felt it in my bones that something cynically treacherous was afoot. I suppose Murdoch himself couldn’t quite see the wayward consequences of so fulsome a push toward Randian style capitalism, but consequences there were and are. The grievances of a mob mentality are no better galvanized than by economic desperation, such as felt by the lower and middle-classes. God-damn it, when I moved to Orlando in 1983 I could rent a decent apartment for 300 bucks a month. The same apartment, in the same building, with very little renovation, now goes for 900 a month, and that with no proportionate increase in working-class wages. Man, I feel like drinking early today—then maybe a little philosophy later.
The FOX News show was disturbing when it went so far as to provide a late-night show for the conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck. His show basically claimed that a Jewish conspiracy was afoot to enslave the world under socialism. Yet, this was accepted as “mainstream,” as has numerous other news programs that blatantly distort reality. I would not place the blame her on capitalism or Rand. Although I am not a fan of Rand, as I see her views as overly simplistic, she at least claimed to be dedicated to believing in an objective reality. The current conspiracy theories being promoted by FOX News are certainly not striving to promote the truth in any meaningful sense.