Many people, especially smart people, will tell you that they’re not affected by advertisements or what’s in the media. Whether or not they really believe this or are just putting on a strong front must remain a mystery. But the reality is that humans communicate by language, gesture, and picture, and that those messages wind up impacting how those people behave. It’s not so much that a single article, movie, or radio spot will change someone’s behavior so much as the cumulative effect of all of it together impacts behavior in the aggregate.
So, for example, while a man who sees an ad for Revlon lipstick is not likely to ever go to the pharmacy and buy some Super Lustrous for himself, he may become ever-so-subtly more attracted to women who know how to apply it properly. The women who see it and buy it will then be marginally more likely to net the man they’re looking for, which helps to generate new social norms around wearing makeup.
People in the media are often accused by dissidents of being in the mind control business. This charge is absolutely true. Unfortunately, no method of perfect mind control has yet been developed, despite numerous crash programs and ongoing experiments to that end. The most that can be done, really, is mind-nudging, mind-jostling, which can eventually result in something like fragmentary control over some big part of the average person’s mind.
Knowing this — knowing that what we see changes how we think, and what we think changes how we behave — it behooves us to be much more careful about what we allow ourselves to see, to hear, and to read. Thoughts must precede actions, and misguided or evil thoughts precede evil actions.
So, for example, while it may be useful to read the New York Times to get a sense of what other people believe, reading the Times without a strong mental framework of skepticism will necessarily bring you closer to the viewpoints espoused by the editors at the Times, which is to say, towards champagne communism. Similarly, if you read Zero Hedge every day, you will be pulled in closer to the world of paranoid hedge fund traders who are also probably working for Vladimir Putin. If you read Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, you will be brought in closer to the way of thinking at the State Department and the CIA.
While much of what you read on may not be directly actionable, it does affect how you act, and you should think carefully about what you choose to read & believe if you want to also shape your actions towards your ends.
You have raised some excellent points.
To partake in media without the tacit understanding that every outlet has an agenda, is to miss half of what is being actually said.
the medium IS the message: “obey”. fear of Cthulu chains the masses into frozen deer in the headlights. freedom’s just another word for nothin left to lose: final realization that some things are worse than death. at least this medium of cyberspace has hidden folds of information not burned away by the inquisition.
Peter Blood says
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.
The primary benefit of Moldbug’s encouragement to “read old books” isn’t necessarily the benefit of applying the content of those old books to our present-day situation (though this is certainly often a major bonus).
The primary benefit is that, when read without prejudices or expectations (as best we can) and taken as a sincere and valid collection of thoughts, the old books act like hammer-blows to the head, helping to shake us out of whatever (zerohedge/FP/NYT) mental rut into which we’ve inadvertently placed ourselves.
Do I need to take old John T. Flynn books as gospel truth, and join a new Birch crusade? No, not necessarily. The primary benefit is not that I am now equipped to undermine the legacy of FDR. The primary benefit is that I am now aware that there was an exceedingly large number of people, educated, competent, and sincere, who based on very valid evidence and documentation, believed FDR was a communist. And that there were a very many people who believed this, and where did they all go?
Conception of pre-war America is now expanded, brain working overtime processing alternate histories which something like this implies are possible. Hammer-blow to head has knocked out all the ruts, everything now suspect. Reactionary skepticism has been implanted.
NOW we can go back over the old books and see what specific lessons can be gleaned.
If you want to experience imagery controlling your mind and subconsciously informing you take a few hours to watch Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey. Look at the monolith and rotate it 90 degrees, suddenly the monolith becomes a visual depiction of the tv screen. The pacing/lack of plot in the movie begins to make a lot more sense. Kubrick understood the power of images immensely. His use of it is informative to would be reactionary propagandists.