It occurs to me how on point the “arguments” of authoritarians are to the “arguments” of narcissists. They are simple and direct frontal attacks on everything you believe. They can be summarized as “I am right, only I see clearly, and no matter what you say, fuck you, if you show the slightest defiance I’ll kill you (and everyone you love) and make you regret you were ever born.”
The essential, deliberate irrationality of fascist argumentation was neatly summarized in a recent conversation between Brian Tyler Cohen and the great Mehdi Hassan. The Gish Cohen refers to here was a “creationist” who was famous for raising dozens of false arguments in a short time and overwhelming the person he was debating. Since it is impossible to refute all fifty falsehoods in a given debate, the Gish Gallop leaves the impression in the audience that many of the false statements, since unrefuted, may well be true. Trump is a first ballot Hall of Fame Gish Galloper and his MAGA cohort, wielding their high pressure firehose of excrement, all regularly use this technique. Here’s Cohen and Hassan:
Cohen: … referring to Steve Bannon’s quote about flooding the zone with shit, the writer Jonathan Rausch once remarked “this is not about persuasion, this is about disorientation”. He’s right, when the likes of Trump and Gish engage in the gallop, their purpose is often not to try to win over but muddy the argument for everyone involved so they can bewilder and confuse while hopping from one falsehood to the next…
Hassan: yeah, and it also has implications far beyond rhetoric, debate, argument. It also has implications for democracy, Brian.
Cohen: It destabilizes everything because then you don’t know what’s true …
Hassan: That’s exactly what facism thrives on. If you read the works of people like Jason Stanley, they make this point. The point of the fascist, the authoritarian, why they lie, why they discredit the media, why they don’t want to live in a reality based universe, why they want alternative facts, is not because they want you to believe them over the liberal or the progressive. They want you to believe no one, they want to leave you confused. And what happens then? Then you are more susceptible to the strongman who wants to lead you into the light.source
If you have ever struggled with a narcissist who angrily blames you for all bad feelings in the world, you have had a direct, bitter taste of the essence of fascism. Who is the fascist strongman? A malignant narcissist capable of unimaginable cruelty toward masses of his fellow human beings, someone who has never, ever been wrong about anything, and has a violent mob of fanatical loyalists willing to die to prove it.