Archives For proton-pseudos

Round one of consequences for the mass slandering of the Covington Catholic school boys, may have seen The Washington Post skip past go with get out of gaol free card, when a judge dismissed the lawsuit last year. Cable Network News (CNN) didn’t get off as easily.

The media giant has decided to settle with Nick Sandmann after a defamation lawsuit was also brought up against the organisation. The Washington Post’s, Paul Farhi, noted that L. Lin. Wood, lead lawyer for Sandmann was also lead lawyer in the lawsuit filed by Richard Jewell against CNN after he was ‘vilified by journalists’, (now the subject of a major Clint Eastwood film).

Sandmann was the target of mass slander, when Twitter users fuelled by the mainstream media lobbed abuse and threats at the schoolboys. All because of brief video footage uploaded to the internet, which was later proven to misrepresent the event.

Media organisations appeared to jump to conclusions, making Sandmann the poster boy for their own giddy, schoolboy, bandwagon anti-Trump hate. Reporting on the reopening of Sandmann’s case against The Washington Post, The Federalist’s, Margot Cleveland, said that they labelled the schoolboy a “smirking MAGA-hat-wearing racist”, and accused him of “blocking Native American elder Nathan Phillips’s path” to the Lincoln Memorial.”

The Hill’s, J.E. Moreno stated that Sandmann had sued CNN for $275 million dollars in ‘May over its reporting, saying CNN was “vilifying and bullying him” and had twisted the story to fit an anti-Trump agenda. In total, Sandmann was seeking $800 million in damages from The Washington Post, NBC and CNN.’ Moreno also said the ‘amount of the settlement was not made public.’

With the settlement come new precedents. Although, The Washington Post’s case was dismissed last year, a judge has reopened the case and the lawsuit is waiting to once again go to trial. What the CNN settlement with Sandmann tells the many who are culpable for leaping before they looked, is that this isn’t going away. The settlement strongly suggests that CNN didn’t want this to linger over their heads. Given their ratings, this is no surprise. Absent of a forthright open admission of wrongdoing, this is probably the best those involved can expect from the Leftist backed media organisation.

As with Rugby Australia’s settlement with Israel Folau, CNN’s settlement with Sandmann shows that politically motivated attacks on members of the public, by those in positions of power, will not go unnoticed, nor be allowed to stand without a fight, regardless of how well co-ordinated and well-funded those behind the political attacks are.

Sandmann’s win is also a strong warning to those seeking to advance by using a zero sum game against the innocent, all in the hopes of achieving fast political gain, which has about as much long lasting benefit as ordering fast-food from a drive-thru.

This settlement isn’t just a win for Nick. This is a win against the Leftist funded, political and academic establishment. Hope is seeded here. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most well-known political prisoners the Nazis imprisoned and executed, once said “the only fight which is lost, is that which we give up.” [i]

 

References:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D. cited by Bethge, E. 2000. Bonhoeffer: A Biography Fortress Press, (p.907)

Note: Since the screenshot was taken, Aslan appears to have deleted the old tweet, not without mocking Dinesh (link).

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Examine some older texts on philosophy, some Freudian psychology, even some theology, and you’ll come across the term proton-pseudos.

Proton-pseudos is described by the International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis as ‘the link between false premises and false conclusions.’ Sigmund Freud borrowed the term from Aristotle and applied to it to the category of hysteria.

In short, the Proton-pseudos is the ‘original error’. The proton-pseudos sits behind and within the lies we tell ourselves, or the lies we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves, society, politics, theology and a whole range of other areas. The proton-pseudos is the outworking of a negative self-belief caused by exposure to trauma, abuse, and agitation, manipulative or sociological propaganda.

The proton-pseudos is a false idea or belief based on limited or distorted knowledge. It’s an assumption lived out as fact, even though it’s a conclusion derived from a broken reality, one re-pieced together, without a relevant tangible factual basis. In other words, the proton-pseudos is a broken lens. It imagines oppression where no oppression exists, created by a negative self-belief long ago triggered by a genuine traumatic event.

The Freudian understanding of the proton-pseudos is exemplified by ‘Emma, who at the age of thirteen fled the laughter of the sales staff in a shop, consciously believing that they were laughing at her clothes. However, Emma’s reaction in the shop was triggered by a repressed first event from years before, a grocer who had sexually touched her when she was eight.’

French intellectual Jacques Ellul’s aggressive critique of helpful and harmful propaganda, from 1965, assists in providing a framework to explain how propaganda relates to the proton-pseudos as an ‘inner control over the individual by a social force.’ Manipulative, agitation and sociological propaganda preys on the collective social consciousness of a society in an ‘age of anxiety’. Fear is used to control, mobilize and permit.

The manipulative use of fear engineers a desensitizing of sensitivities and objections to an idea, in order to implement it.

As Ellul explains, ‘propaganda will permit what so far was prohibited, such as hatred…propaganda offers him an object of hatred for all propaganda is aimed at an enemy. This hatred is not shameful, evil hatred that must be hidden, but justified because propaganda has pointed out enemies that must be slain, transforming crime into a praiseworthy act.’

Propaganda utilizes proton-pseudos to create conformity. According to Ellul this conformity is the consequence of integration propaganda – political reeducation. This means that any ‘statement whatever, no matter how stupid, any “tall tale” will be believed once it enters into the current of hatred’ perpetuated by the prevailing proton-pseudos; the false doctrine, half-truth, outright harmful or blasphemous lie or deception. The collective social consciousness of society can then be controlled through ‘key words of magical import, which are believed without question.’

The proton-pseudos becomes authoritative through an ongoing maintenance of propaganda. Questioning of the proton-pseudos is viewed as irrational. Even though the proton-pseudos is, itself an irrational conclusion held captive by the ‘original error’.

To borrow further from Jacques Ellul, propaganda instills in the person held captive to the proton-pseudos ‘a system of opinions and tendencies which may not be subjected to criticism…the individual has received irrational certainties from propaganda and feels personally attacked when these certainties are attacked’.

Agitation, manipulative and sociological propaganda reinforces the proton-pseudos by way of affirming its grip on the person held captive by it.

Consequently, ‘ironically, the man or woman who has been successfully subjected to a vigorous propaganda will declare that all new ideas are propaganda.’

This comes back to Freud’s story of Emma.  The proton-pseudos sees oppression where there is none. It confuses a past event with current circumstances, magnifying fear and stopping Emma from distinguishing fiction from real thing. Emma’s negative self-belief affects her interpretation of the intentions of the people who surrounded her in the shop. There may have been good reasons for her to be suspicious and feel uncomfortable, but Emma’s consciousness was governed by a lie based on past abuse; the proton-pseudos which she believes and projects onto others, despite her current context clearly saying otherwise.

Ellul and Freud don’t just give us legitimate reasons for a constructive self-critique, they provide a diagnosis for the current malady affecting the socio-political make-up of Western Civilization.

One example is the proton-pseudos which dominates the Left. The proton-pseudos at work here imagines Nazis in every opponent, or behind every politician or journalist not Left of centre.

There’s no doubt that Nazism is evil, but like Freud’s story of Emma, context matters.

As Dennis Prager recently said, “fighting Nazis in World War two makes you a hero. Fighting Nazis today, in the United States, doesn’t”. Why? Because today’s Nazis are largely phantoms created by the Left. Imagined into existence, but based on an historical event, in order to promote fear, take control and justify an inability (or worse, lack of desire) to engage in reasoned debate. The proton-pseudos provoked by propagandist slogans permits all sorts of viciousness and violence against their political opponents.

Take as examples the propagandists perpetuating the proton-pseudos. They create an oppressor, where one doesn’t exist, with terms such as, toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, cultural appropriation, white privilege, islamophobia, Jesus was a socialist, homophobia and mansplaining, unborn babies are a bunch of cells/a parasite, all men are dogs, and all white people are racist, et.al.

All of these and others, as asinine as “love is love”, are designed to incite ‘conditioned reflexes’ (Elull). To ensnare, trap and control the argument through an appeal of the social consciousness of the West which has long embraced the truth of love your neighbor as you love yourself, and long since rejected the evils of racism/fascism.

Anyone who questions the slogan, questions the propaganda, threatening the power of the propagandist and their ability to use the proton-pseudos to feed their own self-interest.

Ellul and Freud share a strong relevance to the current practice in psychology called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The practice of identifying the proton-pseudos, of replacing lies with truth.

They join with Paul of Tarsus in challenging us to discern between the lies we’re told, the lies we tell ourselves and the truth.

For the Christian, and those who heed Paul’s instruction, this will mean wholeheartedly owning the theological truth that ‘the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds; destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, ESV)

Beware the auctioneers: outsmart the propagandists. Challenge the proton-pseudos both without and from within. Be a factivist, a liberator, one who see the lies for what they are and where they originate, and then replaces them with the truth.

As Paul teaches: ‘don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind’ , not the emptying of it. (Romans 12:2)


References:

Ellul, J. 1965 Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Vintage Press (pp.87 & 152)

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th September, 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019