December 15, 2016

Conspiracy theories spring from losing side: Now left-wing, not right-wing

In the wake of an emotionally charged event or situation, attempts will be made to explain how it came to be. Those whose self-esteem is enhanced by the straightforward explanation will latch onto that one, while those who are suffering from cognitive dissonance will resort to a more complicated explanation that leaves their ego intact.

For example, if one presidential candidate gives the other the biggest schlonging in recent memory, supposedly against all odds -- the straightforward explanation is that the winner was more in tune with the will of the people, campaigned better, and was a better person. Supporters of the winner will make that their explanation of the outcome, and enjoy peace of mind from adopting the straightforward story.

Supporters of the loser, however, cannot accept that their candidate was out of touch, campaigned incompetently, and was a horrible human being. That would make those loathsome qualities infect the supporters themselves. So, no, it wasn't that she was those awful things... it was... uh, some nefarious outside force's fault!

Choosing a bogus narrative makes these supporters do increasingly bizarre backflips just to jump through all the logical hoops in order to appear coherent. But they are actually going slowly incoherent, their minds constantly under the pain of cognitive dissonance. Before long, their primary mental operation is dulling pain or escaping pain, rather than thinking, feeling, and behaving like a normal healthy person.

Since the rise of the Democrats after 1992, it was Republicans who began veering off into conspiracy-oriented nutjob territory. First they blamed Democrats for invading various institutions and brainwashing the general public into liberalism and therefore voting Democrat.

During the brief GOP interruption of George W. Bush, the Democrats did the exact same thing, blaming ubiquitous Fox News for brainwashing the general public into being kneejerk Iraq War cheerleaders and voting Republican.

But Bush's presidency was not that great of a departure from what Clinton was, what Gore would have been, and what Obama would be. Liberals suffered cognitive dissonance, but it didn't take really wild conspiracy theories to explain why Kerry lost. Fox News propaganda being on in so many living rooms, is what it boiled down to.

Now that Trump has destroyed the two major political clans in the nation, by a decisive Electoral College margin, and against all odds and all news coverage for over a year -- Hillary voters cannot simply say "There goes Fox News again." Fox has in fact been fairly weak in supporting Trump, but liberals would not let that get in the way of a good rationalization.

They're not going there because they can tell that something much more nefarious is required to explain a far more mindblowing outcome than Bush's narrow win over Kerry in '04. Enter the Russia / Putin / KGB conspiracy theories, which have been under way since the general campaign.

An upset as earth-shattering for liberal globalism could only have come from a force so strongly anti-American and so deeply conservative -- not a bumbling clan like the Bushes. Who do corporate globalists recognize as conservative and at least nominally not one of America's allies? Putin! Again, the accuracy of this characterization doesn't matter: it's close enough for them to latch onto without feeling like they're completely making shit up.

In the Trumpian era, Republicans will no longer be the conspiracy theorists -- that now falls to the Democrats, who haven't been this devastated since Nixon and Reagan.

During the Reagan-Bush era, Democrats grew increasingly conspiratorial about the JFK assassination. That was their last hero, and he was going to do such great things like pull out of Vietnam and save the nation from all the turmoil that blew up under Johnson's escalation of the war. This was only in the back of their minds during the Reagan years, as one after another Vietnam movie struck a chord. It wasn't until the end of the Bush years, though, that it would become so overt, with the movie JFK in 1991.

It got so bad that Noam Chomsky had to write a short book combating the growing conspiracy theory mindset about JFK among liberals and the Left (Rethinking Camelot, 1993).

Expect a similar progression. Democrats will start getting nostalgic for the Clinton years, whether it's associated with Bill or Hillary or other figures.

Bill didn't really want to sign NAFTA and start a chain of events that would lead to the election of Trump. He was a man of the people, and campaigned in blue-collar white areas. So, he was pressured into NAFTA by the FBI and Mexican drug cartels. He had actually prepared a speech denouncing the outsourcing of American manufacturing, sounding strangely like Donald Trump's stump speeches of 2016. If only the conspirators hadn't coerced him into signing it, the Trump era could have been avoided!

The only Republicans left to spin conspiracy theories to comfort their wounded self-esteem is the NeverTrump cucks. They have no numbers in the general population, but they are over-represented in the elite, so we may continue to hear from them now and again, as they commiserate with the humiliated Democrats.

On a final note, this also shows why PizzaGate is not a conspiracy theory. There's no major event or situation where the believers are on the losing side, and are pursuing this story to reduce cognitive dissonance. Nor are the deniers going along their merry way after having won, tuning out the wacko believers -- they are very much tuned in, shrill, and intense in debating the believers.

Rather, what comes out of the PizzaGate investigations will serve as the basis for a campaign of righteous vengeance by the winners. Obama weaponized the IRS against the Tea Party, now Trump will cripple Hollywood and the DC elite by exposing their child sex trafficking rings.


  1. Our differences in view on 1992 until now seem to stem from your focus on presidency, and mine on presidency, legislative branch, as well as state governorships and houses...

    Anyway, deep respect for this post and would love to explore this even more in the future.
    Agnostic, I have to ask since you're a Maths person: what do you think of the shock of the commentariat at Trump's win? Especially as it seemed to stem from not grasping at a fundamental level, probability. But also add to that discerning which polls were better and weighting accordingly. Given how important polling is to politics, one would think... well, I'm familiar with the canard of the math-illiterate journalist, but my goodness!

    I'm not a Maths person. I turn to my husband and teen daughter all the time in this area. My husband teases me all the time. But I lost perspective, I suppose, on where my abilities were and assumed the ruling class of journalists would be at least where I was. This was wrong. Maybe in a different time? Maybe there is something else going on? Like I said, you're a phenomenal Maths person and would love your take.

  2. Since '92, the GOP wins at sub-Pres levels has had no effect to make the country more conservative or nationalist or populist.

    It's mostly a branding campaign to sell conservative / nationalist voters the same policies as the liberal wing of corporate globalism, but without tripping their "Democrat politician" alarm system.

    If you can count the fingers on your hands, you're at least as numerate as journalists, who are among the most ignorant people alive. I mean lacking knowledge of anything, not necessarily stupid (unless they're affirmative action).

    They get paid to thoughtlessly convey the Establishment line to the audience, and to stay obsessed with micro-details during the 24-hour news cycle. That causes them to have no memory -- without which, no patterns and connections, no knowledge.

    Getting paid to be ignorant also explains why they don't ask the opinion of somebody who *can* count higher than 10. It's simply not their goal to understand.

    Some anti-media people go a little too hard on them, like everyone is an egomaniac who thinks they're so brilliant they don't need to ask anyone else to figure something out.

    From what I've seen, most media employees are terribly insecure, and go out of their way to pardon their non-grasp of reality by saying "Well that was the answer from the experts we asked."

    The high-profile pundits do fall into the box of "too arrogant to care about reality," but nobody has ever taken opinion journalists seriously.

    The real shocker this time was that not only these gasbags getting it wrong, but the supposedly more "just the facts ma'am" reporters and analysts. That wasn't because of their hubris, but from their job description of being a meek nerd who is easily bullied by his superiors into parroting the Establishment BS du jour.

    1. Thanks, Ag.
      Who are some of the people you have in mind when you speak of "meek nerd"? They all, the #NeverTrump crowd and especially liberal DC twitter, people who pride themselves on their intelligence and are, in fact, nerds, seemed so powerfully hubristic. They know all about the polls because they'd educated themselves and "Science!" and "Math!", unlike the benighted Trump supporters. But they seemed, to me, to mostly have fooled themselves. But what you say makes me feel I've been wrong and that they should be pitied. Are these people your meek nerds?

    2. Orson Welles on Woody Allen: "Like all people with timid personalities, his arrogance is ­unlimited. Anybody who speaks quietly and shrivels up in company is unbelievably ­arrogant. He acts shy, but he’s not. He’s scared. He hates himself, and he loves himself, a very tense situation."

  3. Basically, we get what we want. Righties in the 90's and 2000's complained of mass deception, but really, the populace sees and hears, locks onto, whatever it was looking for at the outset. Much of the general public never wanted rigid right (or left!) purity tests, or globalist/neo-conservative crap. The key bloc of swing voters usually is looking for the party/pres. candidate that doesn't have it's head up it's ass.

    The GOP timidly refused to enact more pro-worker/pro-middle class policies for decades. Some even seemed to disdain the "rednecks" who didn't want foreigners here or off-shoring. Instead of populism, it was Israel, abortion, guns, the capital gains tax blah blah blah. That's what alienated moderate/swing voters in '96, '08 and '12. Liberal over-reach in the 60's and 70's engendered massive social problems (crime, riots, welfare abuse and single mothers, etc.) that played into the hands of the GOP. When this stuff subsided in the mid-late 90's, suddenly the GOP's civil security advantage was irrelevant. They should've pivoted to economic security but didn't.

    Instead they intensified cultural issues that played best Out West and laizze faire economics that were only attractive to the upper class. Worst of all, the Neo-con tomfoolery that Bush one got started in the 80's hit it's nadir under Bush two. Such misadventures are a national disgrace which is why Trump said as much on the campaign trail. The Bush brand, as long it was emblazoned on the GOP, was killing the party.

    WRT conspiracy stuff taking off in the 90's, I think it's part of the great culture war that's pretty much finished. It lasted from around 1989-2015. Good riddance. I do agree though that the craziest stuff probably does come from the faction that's losing at the moment. In the pre-culture war era, there usually wasn't even a suggestion that EVERYTHING was somehow connected. Evil was perpetrated by an individual, or a particular set of people. Alienation and partisanship started to get out of hand in the 90's, such that one or even both "sides" were thought to be pulling off some kind of mass operation to hoodwink the good or indifferent people.

  4. Meek nerds meaning those whose personal brand does not involve their ideology. That includes those with no recognizable brand -- the ones who you see re-tweeted on Twitter, but won't remember their names.

    And they do not try to own their own statements -- they are careful to say, "Some Republicans are worried about Trump's move to put Michigan in play." Hubris pundits come right out and say, "Why tf is Trump campaigning in Michigan? Zero chance."

    Most of the field reporters fall into this category, too. What is Katy Tur's ideology? She didn't gloat about Trump having no chance, as though she were conveying her own brilliant insights. She's Keith Olbermann's ex-fuck-toy, and she knows that's why she's on the air. She just parrots what the sources, experts, and talking heads tell her.

    She comes of as awkward and easily led around, so when she smugly chuckles about Trump not having much of a chance, it's more in the context of conforming to what everyone else is doing. It comes from personal weakness rather than pride and bluster.

    Jeff Zeleny is another good example. What a lesbo.

  5. Now they're blaming Russia for Brexit too. Unreal.

  6. social media on a daily basis. Good God. The unhinging gets more out of control.
    Then there are those in the rationalization mode of things about what constitutes good news sources. At least the smarter ones realize that judgment in itself is bereft of objectivity. Handful of "coastal elites" who I went to Duke with still call me to ask me about how I picked up on "the Trumpening" on the ground level living in the Midwest. Of course Agnostic, your blog is to thank for helping put some of what I was seeing into context.

    In summary, hope is little for the mass numbers of the leftoid hivemind. The numbers of self-reflective keep getting reduced by clickbait.

  7. i can't deal with all the liberals and clinton supporters in my life. they are totally incapable of just letting the election go and moving on with their lives. nothing but conspiracy nonsense, vaguely threatening comments, etc. it's depressing losing old friends and feeling like i can't be around family but that's what it's come down to.


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