The most insidious effect of propaganda is a deadening of the intellect. Ellul remarked on this in the 60s, saying that it was a permanent effect. I just spent an evening debating a man who fancies himself well-informed, and who does not know he is awash in propaganda. He is hermetically sealed, incapable of exercising critical judgment, inaccessible to new information. He cannot think straight, and is afraid.
I was once him, 27 years ago. I have spent decades reading, thinking, in effect deprogramming my mind. Consequently, nothing surprises me, nor am I afraid of venturing into forbidden areas or committing thoughtcrime. I can see more than most, understand easier and better what is real and what is not. Almost everything that arrives in our consciousness via news and entertainment is a lie. But TV and “news” to most people is reality. They cannot be shaken, in fact, fear information that threatens to unravel their deeply held and wrong beliefs. Hence most Americans are moral cowards, even a laughing stock to people in other counties, who regard us as deeply brainwashed.
It is a sad state of affairs, but the worst aspect is the state of hubris that evolves from the hermetically sealed mind as I encountered last night. The guy I debated actually thinks he is smart. He questions nothing, accepts authority figures in a credulous and doe-eyed manner, and calls his attitude “critical thinking.” This must be what teachers mean when they claim to teach thinking skills in our schools, that they are actually teaching kids to be stupid, like them. It is all I can figure.
Anyway, I challenged Pete Talbot to debate me here or there, and of course he shriveled and went away. I judged him to be a moral coward, and stand by that. It is the normal state of affairs, a portrait of the 21st century American, soaked in propaganda, brainwashed, rigid, unthinking, and frightened.
It is a sad state of affairs, a wasted mind, a zombie.
Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas.