It’s come to the point that the American Republican Party, a shadow of its former self, seems incapable of anything but mendacity and disingenuous behavior. One senses the realization by party leaders and their fascist overlords who recognize that they are swimming against the demographic tide and have no choice but to find ways of cheating and deception to stay in power.
It’s not a new challenge. Hateful potentates have had to master such techniques over the eons to stay ahead of their far more populous masses and avoid the ax. Ancient Roman “bread and circuses,” including the mass distribution of tons of lead-based intoxicants, are examples. Many of the royal universities and other knowledge centers of medieval times to the present have been dedicated to little, honestly, other than divining tools of social engineering, new ways of deceiving the masses to keep them occupied and confused, usually in the name of science or, in the absence of that, a radical pursuit of pleasure that is advanced in the name of fresh new, “enlightened” experiences.
It’s not the merits of the arguments that such methods rely upon, but just shadows of them. Instead, it is the ancient techniques of divide-and-conquer and mental dissembling that are used, counting on an ability to confuse and deflect. For example, the rationale displayed in the leaked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito’s majority ruling on overturning Roe Vs. Wade is truly confounding, and those pushing it are counting on a majority of us not figuring it out, or even caring.
Yes, in Washington Post columns by Dana Milbank (“Alito’s Medieval Court Is Just Getting Started”) and Jill Elaine Hasday (“Alito Cites a Judge Who Treated Women as Property”) this week both make compelling arguments from a rational standpoint trashing Alito’s shockingly inept argument. But are enough people going to hear it, or are going to care?
In fact, one might think that Alito’s argument is so lame, for example depending on the likes of the ancient and overtly misogynist English judges Henry de Bracton (1210-1268) and Matthew Hale (1609-1676) to make his case, that reasonable folks could figure out for themselves how truly baseless it is.
But Alito was not really trying to win an argument, but merely to create an impression of plausibility to be sufficiently persuasive for the mindless to win the day. He would be veritably slaughtered in a legitimate high school debating competition, but in his old age he’s come to realize that winning isn’t everything, but that just sufficiently muddying the waters will do.
In my view, it is relevant that the advancement of these kinds of pseudo-arguments come in the context of a nation that can’t wait to avoid reality. This is being advanced by a full court press of tempting alternatives to facing reality, including the big push to legalize marijuana these days.
We’re all supposed to think it is cool to be doing this now, without regard for, in particular, how potent weed has become in recent years compared to how it was “back in the day.” The current stuff can literally send a mind off to places where it can take far more to bring it back than it did 40 years ago.
We also now have legalized sports that involve bare knuckled bashing of the heads of competitors, which was not legal only a few years ago and flies openly in the face of the real danger of “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE) that has been shown in the case of professional football to cause permanent and debilitating brain damage. We also now have seen betting on sporting events through the TV set to be legalized with only tiny disclaimers included that warn of the real social dangers of betting addictions. We also now have legalized investment options in the purchase of nothing, “all sizzle, no steak” NFT’s (non-fungible tokens). In a world where, as the circusman P.T. Barnam famously put it, “There is a sucker born every minute,” these self-destructive tools are unbelievably dangerous.
This is not the time for reality avoidance, not with the dangers besetting our democracy that only mass mobilizations at the ballot box can correct.