An Incoherent Narrative

The triumph of irrationality in human affairs is made possible by the ready acceptance of incoherent narratives.   A narrative that supports our point of view is generally accepted at once, even if it makes little or no sense.  This is often called the ‘confirmation basis’– we tend to agree with anything that supports what we already feel or believe.   The shapers of public opinion have made a science of exploiting this bias.  

They take a feeling, say anger, or dispossession, or fear of dispossession, and create a narrative to mobilize a mass of people who feel this way.   The narrative gives body to the shapeless feelings of malaise, fear, rage.  The story does not need to bear any scrutiny at all, can be internally inconsistent, key details can be changed at any time, on the fly — the main thing is that the story is simple in its outlines, easy to repeat and available to forcefully offer in support of a point of view.   The effect doesn’t follow from the purported cause?  The story is incoherent?   Who cares? Fuck you!  I know you are but what am I?  Make me!

I had a PT therapist the other day tell me that he thinks Trump is doing a great job, particularly with the economy.    I pointed out that Trump inherited a good economy [1], the same way he’d inherited a fortune, that virtually all of his businesses except his reality TV show were failures, that his trade war policies are beginning to have bad effects, that he recently had to give $12,000,000,000 in emergency relief to farmers hurt by his tariffs.    

The opinionated PT therapist allowed that Trump doesn’t care about anything, but insisted he is doing a great job with the economy.   Besides, he said, China is screwing us big time, and then went on to describe an out of control China, madly polluting the air and water, lustily fucking away, while laughing at America.  Good to know America’s big problem is those fucking Chinese, I thought, as the therapist wrenched my knees into uncomfortable positions.

Each of these things could be discussed, many of the PT guy’s opinionated statements countered with facts, but that that is not the point.  The point of any narrative is to give your own feelings a rational sound and to have a ready story to shove down somebody’s throat if they disagree with your feelings.  Trump would smile to see this PT therapist who likes him, a brown-skinned Indian immigrant with an accent, led away in handcuffs by ICE agents, while his children bawled, but I thought it an insult to mention this inconvenient counter-fact to the incoherently opinionated fuck.    

Hillary Clinton was not the most naturally gifted politician but it’s hard to believe she’s running a vast pedophilia ring with young sex slaves for hire in the basement of a pizza place in D.C.   Hard to believe, perhaps, even impossible to believe, particularly when we learn that pizza place doesn’t even have a basement, but, though the details might be a little wrong– it’s exactly the KIND OF THING a despicable person like that would do, according to those who hate her.  In fact, there’s a story out now, tacitly endorsed by the president, raging across the internet like a California wildfire, that the corrupt liberals are all in on this pedophilia thing, with fucking Tom Hanks fucking away as lustily as China is fucking the U.S.  Hanks using young children for his sick sexual thrills… disgusting. [2] Make America Great Again!!!!

We can see incoherent narratives at work throughout history.   Hitler’s forceful story comes to mind:  Germany was never defeated in World War One, it was betrayed by Jews.   These treacherous Jewish criminals, in addition to controlling the world, fomenting war and profiting from it, were determined to impregnate as many Aryan women, preferably virgins, as they could.  They were intent on polluting the gene pool with their poisonous DNA, in this way undermining and eventually destroying the superior race.   It was a matter of simple self-defense then, to fight these preternaturally evil degenerates.   The only way to deal with these ruthless fucks was by rooting them out, every one of them, and doing whatever was necessary to ensure they would never reproduce.

That’s the basic blueprint of an incoherent narrative.  The beauty is the simplicity.   You hear the story, it confirms your suspicions, and now you know what you must do.  I always hated that fuck who ran the candy store, that Jew bastard.  Now, after listening to Mr. Hitler,  I know exactly why I was right to hate that piece of dreck.  My spider sense, tingling, in the presence of the very evil that is destroying everybody and everything I love.   What must be done is now clear.

In America we had a huge economic crash in 1929 that reverberated around the world as The Great Depression.  Our capitalist economy was saved by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s bold initiatives.   With tens of millions of Americans destitute and hungry, FDR devised plans to put as many as possible back to work, to ensure that those who had no work didn’t starve.   The New Deal “social safety net” was our nation’s first real attempt to make sure masses of people didn’t die, or become Communists, because the richest Americans were, in a sense, lustily fucking them.  Like Tom Hanks, like China.  

One of the first key pieces of New Deal legislation made it illegal for banks to make huge speculative gambles using customer money.  That was the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.  For almost seventy years it protected the U.S. from another massive economic collapse.  Then some very rich people had an excellent idea: why gamble with our own money when we can use those countless billions people have put in the bank, money that’s just sitting around, idle?   Deals were made, Clinton signed off on the repeal of Glass-Steagall, his successor made many cynical decisions that benefited the richest Americans et, voila, the massive misery of the fraud-driven 2008 economic collapse.  Now the right wing project is dismantling the entire New Deal.

You can’t do this without a compelling narrative.   The brightest and most determined of these super-wealthy radical right wing folks have been playing the long game to convince Americans that government is not the solution to anything, using the incoherent narrative brilliantly.   Government is the problem.   Simple and direct.  Government regulation fucks everything up, destroys liberty and kills initiative along with freedom.  Government is the enemy of liberty.   We need to restrict the government’s power, shrink government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub.  We do this by starving the beast.  The monster runs on tax dollars.  Stop the tax scam.  If millions of parasites on dismantled government programs die, so much the better.  Eh, scratch that last statement, it does not advance our narrative really, true though it is.

The only trouble with this narrative is that the government performs a host of crucial functions and that many government programs are greatly appreciated by millions of participants who benefit from them. Clearly not every beneficiary of Medicare, or Social Security, is a parasite. So here’s what we do.  We fund campaigns to put people in office who will sign a pledge to advance our anti-government agenda.  Once the government can be literally shut down by obdurate, disciplined zealots, our point is beyond dispute.  

See, can it be more clear?  Government, fucking government, can’t do anything, deadlocked, stupid, corrupt.  All despicable, self-serving whores. We should know, we paid many of the whores, raised them out of obscurity, put them in office after they pledged to cripple the hated liberal president and his overreaching government programs.  

In 2012 our network spent $120 million, lost the presidential election, damn it.  In 2014 we spent $180 million, did much better.   In 2016 we spent twice that and the results speak for themselves.  We have more than $400 million in the war chest for the 2018 midterms.   Plus, campaign funding practices that were once illegal are now TOTALLY legal, constitutionally protected “free speech” and we have a clear corporate wealth-friendly majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.   How far we have come in convincing millions of average Americans that their government sucks!!  

See, government is the problem.  Fuck the 40 hour work week, minimum wage, workplace safety regulations, the right to collective bargaining, anti-pollution laws, a so-called environmental agency to enforce those laws, the Communist inspired catastrophic climate change hoax supported by partisan NASA scientists, so-called Civil Rights legislation, programs to make sure children and old people don’t starve, all the rest of that fucking liberal bullshit.  The government is fucking you as lustily as Tom Hanks, China, Oprah.   Disgusting!!!

I suppose it is the mind-fucking prevalence of these incoherent narratives in public life that makes me so intolerant of incoherent narratives in my private life these days.  If I can’t have a conversation with a back and forth, a serious mutual effort to understand the other person’s point of view, and some internal coherence to the thoughts presented, I’m out of there.   I thought of this one the other day, which I offer as my last example.

A friend has an issue with his memory, sometimes things we agreed on are simply forgotten.  Shit happens.  He’s quite sensitive about his memory issues, I’ve learned.   We had an uncomfortable confrontation on my apparent treachery: I had not told him something I’d told his family (waiting to tell him only if and when my efforts had born fruit) and he felt betrayed and belittled.   He confronted me about this.  It was an uncomfortable confrontation.

Later I recalled that I’d told him the entire story, starting with the recent good news and including why I’d left him out of the loop, months earlier.  I mentioned this to him, as an example of his faulty memory, responding to his insistence that his memory of our recent conversation was clearly as good as mine.  

Granted  he was on the defensive, but what he said next surprised me, and not in a good way.  He told me that in fact he hadn’t forgotten that I’d told him the entire story weeks earlier, that he remembered the whole thing, every detail.   Apparently this vindicated him, his memory is fine.  

“That makes putting me on the spot like that much worse!” I said in exasperation.  “If you remembered that I’d told you everything already, how can you then confront me about it in an inquisitorial way as though you knew nothing about it?”    

He bulled right past this point, for purposes of his narrative that I was wrong about his faulty memory, my last point made no difference at all.   This kind of thing works fine in current American politics, as we have seen, though it has does nothing to support friendship, let alone love.

 

 

[1]   Good economy, in this case, being synonymous with a thriving stock market.   More money for the wealthiest investors.  More profits for corporations.  Less taxes for the wealthiest.   To the bitch on the street, working two or three jobs, this “good economy” bullshit is a little fucking galling, considering her real wages haven’t gone up in decades.   Millions of children in poverty going to sleep hungry every night in the wealthiest nation on earth has nothing, really, to do with the “good economy”.

[2]  Why the talented, down to earth, self-effacing Tom Hanks?  I have no fucking idea, except, maybe that he said something these trolls found offensive and why not make the story really fucking good?   If the all-American seeming Hanks is in on it, who could have any doubt that Bill and Hillary are gang banging five and six year olds in their secret sex dungeon, not to mention all the child sex Jay-Z and Beyonce, George Soros, the hated Obamas, Oprah, Al Franken, etc. are in on?

 

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