Monday, October 11, 2021

Bruce Charlton's Notions: What is the meaning of Establishment language? Manipulation versus communication

 When you hear a politician speak, read a press release or a media headline; you are not dealing with an attempt to communicate the truth about reality; you are dealing with language as calculated manipulation ('language' here including visual, symbolic, audio and other media). 

Manipulation is language intended to shape attitudes, thought-processes and actions

Such language could also be termed propaganda - that is, language intended to have a particular effect on others; albeit the usage of 'propaganda' tends to be rather narrower than what I intend here by 'manipulation'.  

This is why the Establishment are liars. They are not even trying to communicate information - let alone accurate information; They are always trying to affect our behaviour. 

Their purpose is to get us to do what They want. All 'communication' is just a means to that end.

Real conversation treats 'the other' as a person with agency; however manipulation regards 'the other' as an object to be controlled. (So, for Them, agency is an obstacle to be overcome.)  

They will of course mislead and lie to whatever extent they judge to be helpful to the goal of shaping us. Untruthfulness ranges from subtle distortions, through selection and exaggeration, all the way up to complete fabrication; as when a person with a false identity simulates fake emotions to tell a total lie - in order (successfully) to manipulate public opinion. 

They do not regard themselves as purposive and habitual 'liars', because They are not even trying to tell the truth. 

They are using 'communications' in order to manipulate other in ways They deem to be desirable - and truth simply doesn't come into it. 

The distinction between truth and untruth does not exist for Them, because their language is directed at manipulation, not communication. Lies, truths, or any mixture of them, are simply means to an end - and that end is manipulation. 


This is also why one can neither debate nor even discuss things with anyone representing or serving the Establishment. 

While you or I might be attempting to communicate information to Them, They are trying to change us. There is a total asymmetry of intent. 

Which is why it is futile to engage with linguistic emanations from government, bureaucracy and the media. It is a category error. It is treating manipulations as if they were communications; it is treating intentional dishonesty as if it was an attempt at honesty. 

(I first recognized this when dealing with the university bureaucracy, when I was asked why I did not comply with some directive; and I gave honest answers backed by logic and factual evidence... But They were only interested in my answers as potential ammunition to make me do what They wanted. My communications were being regarded as counter-propaganda merely; and a possible source of clues suggesting how better to manipulate me. So I stopped arguing and discussing and explaining; and from then on simply stated that I would not comply unless I was compelled.)  

So, how should we understand Establishment linguistic manipulations? What is the specific meaning of a particular press release, announcement or mass media product? 

The first step is to discern when another party is manipulating us, when he is producing propaganda to change our behaviour rather than communications so that we may better choose. This is easy nowadays, because all major institutions and their leadership are always engaged primarily in manipulation.

Easy... so long as we are not misled by the common tactic by which the Establishment (dishonestly) pretend manipulation is communication. Typically, Their propaganda is constructed to be deniable as such. 

Propaganda is not self-labelled, it does not come to us in a marked package. We must each make an inference by our personal judgment. 

Luckily, such discernment is an easy matter (for a serious Christian); but we-our-selves must do it, nobody else can be relied-upon to do it for us... 

(On the other hand, They pretend that any honest communication which tends to oppose Their manipulations is actually propaganda. In other words; They pretend that their own propaganda is information, and pretend that others' information is propaganda. They are not constrained by Truth!) 

We can (usually) understand manipulations by discerning the effect on our-selves.

For example, much official and media language (such as the NEWS HEADLINES) is nowadays intended to induce fear. By the fear that is induced in us (albeit maybe transiently) we know the purpose of that language. 

Other times it is despair that is being intended, perhaps leading to an impulse towards hope-less compliance. Or resentment - where the intent is to make someone feel himself a victim.

Also typically; the induced negative feeling of (say) fear, despair, or resentment is shaped towards a fake positive feeling

So that my fear is reconceptualized as an abstract form of 'altruism' (I'm not afraid for myself, but for other people"; my despair into 'realism' ("it will happen whatever, so we might as well make the best of it"); my resentment into a concern with 'justice'; my self-interest into redressing 'oppression' (as with much socialism, feminism, antiracism and the sexual revolution). 

I believe that we all need to wake-up to explicit consciousness of what should be a clear and obvious distinction. 

The distinction between that language intended to manipulate - which is what we get from Them (from all authority and institutions, 24/7)...

And that language intended to communicate reality truth-fully - which is nowadays typically personal, private, and within a very small social circle. 

Note: This distinction in the use of language was crystalized for me by watching some videos by Christopher Michael Langan