If their lips are moving...
September 30, 2019 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Why Europe’s new populists tell so many lies. An article in the Guardian by Catherine Fieschi. Populist lying... is designed to be seen – it is the opposite of a cover-up. In the populist playbook, lying itself is glorified; it is an instrument of subversion, its purpose to demonstrate that the liar will stop at nothing to “serve the people”. ... Above all, though, the lies are about taking one of representative democracy’s creeds – authenticity – and turning it on its head.
posted by tavegyl (6 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I've been thinking about this a lot. I've watched a lot, I've read a lot. I've formulated a bit of a world view on it. The problems society faces are hard. If they weren't hard we would have solved them by now. Every time we take forever to solve what, on the surface, appear to be simple things, it just reminds people of how hard things really are to keep everything going.

If someone says it could be simple you're probably going to be on board. When people point out how simple things ignore x, y, and z things then become tricky. If you're not affected by factors x, y, or z, you probably don't give a crap about ignoring them. You probably didn't even consider them because they never entered into your world view. That's ok. You're only human.

Hard things are hard. They require work. Humans, much like every other being on this planet, are innately programmed to seek and put in as little effort as possible for a desired result. There's nothing bad or good about it, it's just how we are. It's a cost-benefit analysis, something we all do every day.

Now. People want to believe that they're good people. They want to believe that they do the best they can with what they've got. However, when you so blatantly shatter that illusion by pointing out how a simple solution affects x, y, and z, any innocence you had about people who aren't you has vanished. If you're called to account you can't just say "well it looked like a simple solution that worked". Instead what do you say? "I don't give a fuck about x, y, and z"? That would make you a bad person, and almost nobody wants to be a bad person but at the same time, nobody wants to really put in any more work than they have to.

So when you point these things out, insecure people who think they are confident in their world view, their cost-benefit analysis done and rationalized, basically they're taking these facts as evidence that they're a bad person. That's why adult men are so threatened by a sixteen year old Swedish girl that they have a god damned hissy fit about her. It's not that she's going to take away rolling coal or V8 engines. It's that she points out how bad they actually are and also how wrong they are.

Populists? They soothe the ego. You were right the first time. Go with your gut. They give you plausible sounding reasons why not to believe the problem is hard. They're just whiners. They have no actual knowledge. They aren't full members of society that we should take care of. Any of this sounding familiar? They try to restore a state of broken innocence. Yeah you know it's going to fuck x, y, and z but why should I care? They had it coming, they're just overblowing the importance, they don't know what they're talking about. They have their simple solution back!

How can we fix it? I'm not sure. It exploits a lot of the reward pathways. You get the endorphin hit of being told you're right, you get the oxytocin hit from being part of a group, you get the dopamine hit from winning over perceived enemies. But when populism goes wrong, it goes wrong hard so it's probably in our best interests to figure it out and soon.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:18 AM on September 30, 2019 [26 favorites]

Sure. I've said for a long time that facism/etc seems to have (brain) hardware support. So it's not a battle to be won but one to continually wage. But then, much of life seems like that.
posted by aleph at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

How can we fix it? I'm not sure.

Well, since this phenomenon is part of the reason for the predicament of adults acting like children and children being forced to act like adults, part of the answer is to help the latter set in every possible way. (Especially young leaders other than Miss. G.T, now that she appears to be taking a needed and well earned break.)
posted by ocschwar at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

No. Grownups don’t help children fix the problem for the same reason that fathers don’t help with the babysitting. We turn to and do the work we can.
posted by clew at 11:58 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

No. Grownups don’t help children fix the problem for the same reason that fathers don’t help with the babysitting. We turn to and do the work we can.

If you can find a means by which you can change the minds of full grown adults who are openly relishing being lied to by their leaders, I am all ears. Otherwise, the only thing I see in front of me is mitigating the problem, one new voter at a time.
posted by ocschwar at 12:12 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Greta Thunberg Helpline
posted by progosk at 4:00 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

« Older The Real Questions: Who Would Make This And Why?   |   “Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?” Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments