Written by Hilary White
Why can’t we figure out what is really going on? We have heard, since the last American general election, the term “fake news” being thrown around, that we can’t trust what we’re reading and hearing. It has been a huge success at creating fear and distrust, division and contention, as it was intended. We start to wonder if we can even trust our own eyes. We wonder what is going on in the Vatican and the world, and are at such a point of confusion and self-doubt that we feel we can no longer know up from down.
For many, it has the result of driving us away from public engagement altogether. If nothing you read or see on TV can be trusted – if we get conflicting and contradictory messages even from the pope – isn’t it time to just retreat? To give up trying to figure it out, and build a private enclave where we don’t have to think about it anymore?
Let me tell you something that seems not to be getting said much: this business of “fake news,” is a scare campaign. It is being used as a deliberate tactic of manipulation to sow self-doubt, division, suspicion and confusion among a public who have forgotten how to think clearly. We, who were raised on blind trust of media celebrities (remember Walter Cronkite’s sign-off slogan every night on the evening news? “And that’s the way it is…”) have been taught no longer to trust ourselves. And this is exactly the condition of mind that was intended.
We are instructed what to think, what to believe, and most especially we are instructed all our lives never, ever to question whether those sources are reliable. “Fake news” is a classic Soviet-era Marxist manipulation tactic. The only reliable news source is Pravda, all dissent from that must be denounced as “fake news”. It is a means of controlling you, of keeping you docile and dependent upon the “official” news, the approved information systems, the acceptable narrative. This carefully crafted bubble of limited information – created from approved disinformation – is what these elites have taken such pains to create and enforce since the 1960s.
How do I know? Because the internet has made it possible to challenge it. The internet is being used as “samizdat,” and the people who created our governing narrative are worried. If you stop and think about it for a moment, you will notice that the only thing being called “fake news” are the voices of dissent against the modernist, secularist, globalist, statist, leftist programme – a dissent that has finally started threatening the grip on political and economic control these elites have enjoyed nearly unchallenged since Yalta.
Consider for a moment: if the only ones producing “fake news” are Breitbart and pro-life and pro-family websites like LifeSiteNews.com – and in the Catholic world conservative and traditionalist bloggers and publications like me and Canon 212, the Remnant and Steve Skojec – you can be sure that you are being sold on a disinformation tactic, a weapon of manipulation based on fear. Funny irony, eh? “Fake news” is fake news.
I want to talk today about how we got to this point. I am going to propose a few awkward questions about why this tactic is being successful. Why can’t people tell for themselves what is and isn’t true? To understand that, we have to understand how media works, what is “narrative”. We have to understand how a totalitarian society can be created by the careful restriction of ideas.
Thankfully this is starting to get noticed and talked about. In a piece published yesterday on the Daily Wire website, we were advised to consider a famous science fiction novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” a classic examination of state control of thought, more in the vein of Huxley’s “Brave New World” in which the public are not controlled by brute force, but by distraction, pleasure and passivity of comforts as well as the suppression of any disturbing ideas. In Ray Bradbury’s dystopia, firemen don’t put out fires, they hunt down and burn books, so that the ideas in them don’t upset anyone.
“…Although published way back in 1953, the novel almost perfectly predicted what has happened to the modern Left, not just here in America – everywhere, most especially Europe.
“Set in the future, Bradbury’s society has become so hostile towards any kind of adversity, most especially the concept of exposing themselves to contemplative thought or challenging ideas, that they not only burn all the books, they numb themselves with drugs and reality television, and cancel out even the possibility of self-reflection with a bombardment of relentless stimulus in the form of gadgets, pop culture, social media and overall pleasure-seeking.”
As a dystopian warning, it isn’t as famous as the two great (and opposed) theses of Brave New World and 1984, but it’s perhaps more descriptive of what we are seeing today.
Thanks to a perfect storm of the internet and the eradication of liberal arts education over the last few decades, most especially of history and the ability to think rationally, the exchange of the Laws of Rational Thought for the rule of glandular impulses, reality itself is now believed by most to be completely malleable. Those things we can see with our eyes, feel with our hands, smell with our noses, are irrelevant, we are told. We have entered the era of the ultimate triumph of the will.
We have gone from parents being “empowered” to decide for themselves whether their unborn child is or is not a person, to deciding for our children what their “gender” will and will not be. A woman can be a man and a man can be a woman; indeed he can even be a six-year-old girl (having a homosexual relationship with his “adopted daddy,”) if he says he is and enough people “support” him on Twitter and MSNBC.
But this total “freedom” (in reality it is license,) is an illusion. The idea of everyone deciding Reality for himself is a little too chaotic even for our new masters, the next step has been to frighten us into not trusting ourselves. Not only may we no longer trust the evidence of our senses, there is a whole set of beliefs that has been taken off our hands and made, literally, unthinkable.
We may now indeed “choose our own reality” but only and exclusively from the limited set of proposals that have been manufactured for us by our betters and promoted for us in our media. We may decide our own “gender,” (and, apparently, age) as long as we don’t insist that we really can’t, that it is categorically decided for us by biology – by external, objective reality. We may choose any religion – including one that condones murder, mass rape, child sexual abuse and genocide – as long as it isn’t classical, doctrinal Christianity.
The idea that we get to ‘make our own reality’ is actually a fraud. As though the world were being run by Our Ford, we have been told we can have our mass produced reality in any colour we want, as long as it’s black.
And increasingly, as though we are slowly sliding out of Huxley’s Epicurean vision and into Orwell’s darker more brutal world, the instructions we receive seem to revolve these days around whom we must hate. The acceptable reality is no longer being described to us in positive terms about what we can be and do, but about the evil of those who would continue to reject the New Paradigm, and cling to the evidence of their senses, continue to doggedly live by the Three Laws of Rational Thought. The Twitterverse, particularly, is being used as a kind of perpetual “two minutes hate,” a venue for the whipping up of screaming rage against dissidents.
“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any presence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.” [ref.: Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell]
Something non-journalists don’t often understand is the necessity of a “narrative framework” in journalism, and that this isn’t the same thing as “bias”. Something that has been understood about literature for millennia is that to tell a story you have to put it into terms and a context that your audience is going to understand. Language – the art of being understood – is about more than mere vocabulary and grammar rules. To be understood, you have to work within a comprehensible framework of cultural concepts.
If you are an academic historian, you use a different subset of language and concepts writing a paper for a peer review journal than you would if you were writing an op-ed for the Times. As any Homeric poet of the late bronze age could tell you, if you want your long and complicated heroic history to be understood in the Agora, you have to make sure your audience not only understands the Greek words, but knows all the histories of the Trojan Wars, is a part of that cultural framework. And this lack of a common frame of reference – this ever-widening divergence of– is what is making it nearly impossible to communicate between the sides.
The differences, the huge divergence between the New Paradigm and the old culture, has moved well beyond a mere matter of deliberate bias. We simply no longer have a common cultural narrative framework. Two totally different and – much more important – mutually exclusive, opposed, sets of cultural ideas are currently at war in our societies.
To understand what you are reading you have to understand the difference between “bias” and “narrative framework.” An honest narrative framework takes into account the authentic cultural surroundings. The Athenians would all have known by heart the stories of the great culture-defining war of their ancestral heroes. A playwright who wanted to make a point about human suffering and war, a point that would be universally understood in all its nuances, would write a play like the Trojan Women, because he knew that this was the contextual ground of his entire culture. No one in that unified culture was going to miss his point.
But what if they had somehow all forgotten this history, this cultural context? What if they had been separated as children from the firesides of their elders, and taught in a state school instead? What if children never heard their grandparents talking about the past but known only what was told them by those who wrote their curriculum? What if they had never been told of the city of Priam, of the ruinous liaison of Helen and Paris, of Hector and Achilles, of the curse of Cassandra, or of Agamemnon, the villainous Clytemnestra and their tragic children Orestes and Iphegenia? What if, like the babbling, uncivilized tribes on their borders, these Greeks were Greek in vocabulary and grammar, in geography, but ignorant barbarians in their cultural memory?
And what if they had been deliberately made so by their leaders, a class of unscrupulous oligarchs who banned the telling of old tales and took children away from their parents? What if these evil, culture-destroying, men – men “sick with power” – had replaced the old true Greek heroic tales with a set of new stories, stories meant to convince the people that they ought to be ruled by the oligarchs forever?
What was going to happen to those people, those former-Greeks, whose true history and mythologies and stories had been stolen from them by this band of unscrupulous men? How would any of them be able to tell what was true history and what was false?
What has happened to our cultural narrative framework? If I were to write an article for some large-audience medium like the BBC and I included in passing some quotes and references to a story in the Bible, do you think the editors at the BBC online news services would leave it in? Would I be allowed to excite the curiosity of the public in this way, or worse, a desire to know things they must never know about?
So now, especially since the election of your new president, we are hearing our own oligarchs, our own cultural revisionists screaming about “fake news”. A new sub stream of the same narrative-replacement, a fearful new myth concocted straight out of the minds of those who would guide and direct all the millions who look at the internet every day. All those people whose minds have been carefully emptied of the ability to tell truth from falsehood. It is an Orwellian paranoiac’s worst nightmare in which the blank-minded masses direct their daily Two Minutes Hate at any target chosen for them by their masters.
We have now an audience utterly incapable of imagining anything other than what they are told to imagine, and confused and frightened into a screaming rage whenever they hear the old stories.
So, how do we really figure out what is and is not true? Especially on the internet? Let me help you with that: check the right box…
Is this person a six-year-old girl?
See? It’s not so hard. I give you permission to trust the evidence of your senses.
So, we extend this to all the realms we are concerned about. We are as qualified as anyone to answer the questions. What do we know about these people? What kind of man is Cardinal Burke? What kind of man is Jorge Bergoglio? We know them. We’ve known them for decades. Any man or woman in public life can be judged on their actions. And the internet never forgets.