Overcoming the silence

How trivial is the statement “politicians lie”?  The reaction to what has become a common fact of life will be shrugging of shoulders.  While the obvious actuality of political offenses is unquestionable, refusal to treat them as “normal” is of crucial importance.

Why are the most revolting acts becoming customary and not even shocking?

Mechanisms of social control for enforcing a society's standards are put in motion by normalization and standardization.  The more egomaniacal and self-serving the emitter, the larger dose of stylization is added: social influence not only imposes standards, but forces us to conform to a particular style.

Normative social influence leads to public compliance, but also to a lack of accountability for crimes that are acquitted by the unwritten rules governing social behavior.  Morally and legally, wrong acts are to be seen as so common that they creep toward the borders of customary standards of conduct.  Propaganda techniques abet the manipulation, appealing to authority and to prejudice, instilling panic in the general population and rationalizing the most outrageous atrocities.

It’s disturbing to see that political leaders are lavishing care on foreigners while being derelict in their duty toward citizens.  The fact that political warfare designed for enemies is now used inside the country should be equally noteworthy.  Isn’t the leader using a forced disintegration strategy declaring war on people and national values?  Authority is the legitimate use of power by government over its citizens, and not against them.

Normalization is used not only to impose a deviation in common rule, but to immunize the crowd against shock over blatant lies.  Hitler’s perverted “Big Lie” theory stemmed from his belief that people “in the primitive simplicity of their minds” are more likely to fall victim to a colossal untruth than to a small lie.  An individual bombarded with information that conflicts with existing values is also supposed to feel psychologically uncomfortable to such a degree that he will see knowledge as a stressor and will both avoid getting informed and lie to himself.  It’s ironic that manipulators who rely heavily on this theory of cognitive dissonance usually end up victims of their own lies, employing yes-men to guard them from reality.

History proved that a big lie told frequently doesn’t necessarily morph into the truth, and that Maximilien de Robespierre had more insight in the “gullible” crowd psychology than Hitler and Co: “Peoples do not judge in the same way as courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts.”

The spiral of silence is a dynamic process that forms, alters, and reinforces public opinion.  The ideas of dominant social groups are presented as “majority opinion” and status quo; the opposition is silenced.  The social tornado is supposed to solidify, turn into one more monument of lost generations, a fortress of lies surrounded by defensive walls of coercion.  The “minority group” is often larger than the hermetic circle of ruling elite, and it represents the necessary factor of change.  Over  time, the persecuted vocal minority has no other choice than non-conformism and a quest for the truth and for accountability – the only capacity of usurpers is what they see as the power to harm, wasting lives of several generations for their experiments with absolute power and social manipulation.

Engaging in damage control means saving lives, national values, and precious time; it requires a refusal to accept lies, anomalous social standards, and impunity.  It takes saying “Aye aye, Sir!” to General Patton’s order: “Do your damnedest in an ostentatious manner all the time.”

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