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The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield

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From campus identity politics cults to the media, brainwashing is bigger than ever.


The human mind, like the human body, adapts to a crisis with a fight-or-flight response. Brainwashing forces the mind into a flight response. Once in flight mode, the mind can rationalize a new belief as a protective behavior that will keep it safe. Even when, as in the case of the suspect, the new belief will actually destroy his life. Fight or flight mode inhibits long term thinking. In panic mode, destructive and suicidal behaviors seem like solutions because they offer an escape from unbearable chemical stresses.

There’s a good biological reason for that. Our minds stop us from thinking too much in a crisis so that we can take urgent action, like running into a fire or at a gunman, that our rational minds might not allow us to do. But that same function can be ‘hacked’ by artificially putting people into fight-or-flight mode to break them down and shortcut their higher reasoning functions. Decisions reached subconsciously in fight-or-flight mode will then be rationalized and internalized after the initial crisis has passed.

Cults, abusive relationships and totalitarian movements maintain ‘total crisis’, shutting down higher reasoning, creating a permanent state of stress by triggering fight-or-flight responses unpredictably. This leads to Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive tries to control their fate through total emotional identification with their captor, pack behavior, loss of identity and will, and eventually suicide or death.

Total crisis leads to burnout, emotional exhaustion, detachment from friends and family, and violence.

 How do you brainwash a nation?

 Control the national environment, force a crisis on the country, and tap into their fear and guilt. And then you can outlaw planes, cows, skyscrapers, straws, plastic bags and the rest of the Green New Deal.

 The environmental crisis is just one example of how leftist movements can brainwash a nation.

 The growing number of millennials who say that they will not have children because of environmental panic is an example of how brainwashing can make suicidal behavior seem like self-preservation.

 Since the Left still lacks total control over the United States, it relies on repetition, itself a form of control and stress, to create fear and panic. It makes up for its lack of physical control by bombarding Americans with messages meant to inspire fear, love, hate and guilt through the media, through the educational system, through entertainment and through every possible messaging channel. 

Global Warming panic is one of a succession of manufactured leftist crises in America that began with a class crisis. transitioned to a racial crisis, and then to an environmental crisis.  

He also says “Human beings don’t behave rationally.” Most people do behave relatively rationally in certain compartments of their life, but largely irrationally in other compartments. Unfortunately, moral philosophy is about the most irrational compartment of most peoples lives.
I do not think intelligence itself makes you more vulnerable to brainwashing, expect insofar as unintelligent people seem much less likely to give thought at all to moral philosophy and they are usually only captured by the education system for about 12 years, not 16 years or more. It is the amateurs of moral philosophy who spend 16 or more years trying to please nearly universally leftist teachers and professors who are most likely to fall victim to the Left. A social metaphysician in the hands of leftist educators for 16 years is a goner.
Before the education system played this role, it was largely religions that played it. However irrational the religion, one of them was usually able to secure a monopoly on moral philosophy over a substantial region of the earth, demonstrating that most people are social metaphysicians.
With these qualifications, much of what Greenfield says is correct. In 1965 when I was a freshman at Brown University, I had many moral and political discussions with very committed leftist products of the nation’s finest private schools. Over and over, I had the experience that someone would reluctantly concede that I was right about my limited government and generally libertarian individualist philosophy on an issue. The next day they were still spouting the belief they had conceded was wrong the day before as though we had never had our discussion. The same thing happens now when I explain why catastrophic man-made global warming is a failed hypothesis.
Greenfield is right about this: “That is why the Left cannot be defeated through policy debates and intellectual abstractions. It is a belief system. Though it traffics in seeming abstractions, these are a language, but not the meaning. The esoteric languages of policy and pop culture in which it speaks are vehicles for a deeper language of primal emotions. Behind the theories and manifestos is a great darkness of fear and terror, of love and hate, of emotional instability and vulnerability on which its lies and propaganda are built.”
The only way to defeat this brainwashing is to be there constantly throughout children’s and young people’s lives encouraging them to apply reason to every problem and every situation. Without that encouragement, few children and young people are able to make that commitment to reason. Being there does require having the rational arguments to defeat the leftist belief system and making those argument over and over throughout a child’s upbringing. One needs to take care that children really do understand the basis of rational individualism and that they do not just adopt it as a religion themselves.
I remember literally making a compact with myself when I was 5 years old to always put reason first. I did not always succeed, but I did put a lot of effort into that commitment. I realized even then that many adults, teachers, and, later, authors were wrong about many things. Whatever they said had to be subjected to critical evaluation before it was believed. I sorted what I learned into three categories: This I have evaluated and is true, this I have evaluated and is false, and this I have not yet evaluated so its truth is unknown.
Unfortunately, few people at any age make such a commitment to reason and far too many accept the word of authorities all too readily. Most students simply try to remember all they are told and assume it must be true. This often makes then “fast learners”, which is interpreted as intelligence. That sort of false intelligence does make such people very much more likely victims of brainwashing.


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