“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” — Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, 1895.
Do human beings prefer illusions to the truth? Perhaps the more accurate statement might be that human beings prefer illusions to challenges of their truth. The concept of gaslighting, for instance, was originally an illusion of the senses. One knew that the lights had been dimmed. When told, “No, they have not,” the internal struggle to stand by one’s senses holds firm as long as possible, and then the mind descends into a type of madness if the deceiver persists.
Once human beings come to a political conclusion, their truth is extremely hard to supplant no matter how many irrefutable facts emerge to add context and subtlety to it. Illusions that support become the friend or sometimes the master of individuals and whole communities of people. Example: “The southern border is closed,” says the bureaucrat in charge of the southern border under Oath. What?!
Quite simply – this is the state of political play in 2022. Conclusions with swords drawn regardless of accuracy; facts trampled into a muddy battlefield from hell; dialogue impossible; unconditional surrender demanded; mercy abandoned, the senses denied – this is the cultural and political division in America today. Example: “If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, you ain’t black,” says a candidate for President. What?!
To the rescue! The Founders of our Constitutional Republic foresaw this “stalemate of the stubborn” over two hundred years ago and had a solution for it. The solution is three simple notions, not truths (as objects of knowledge), but practical concepts for keeping the civil order steady when its inclination, due to human nature, is otherwise.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS POLITICAL MISINFORMATION. There is no such thing as political disinformation, either, if that is the preferred word. To the Founders, all points of view are valid if delivered as speech in the proper forum, either expressly or symbolically. Example: The air strike in Afghanistan that killed seven children in an innocent family was a “righteous strike,” says the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What?!
Speech that says that our Constitutional Republic should be replaced with a police state is just as valid as speech that says our Constitutional Republic should be preserved. What one person sees as political misinformation is a political truth to someone else. Therefore, all political speech is valid and should not be censored. Political Correctness is simply someone’s point of view. Notion #1 is embodied in the Free Speech Clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.
TOXIC FACTIONALISM WILL ALWAYS EXIST. “By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” James Madison, Federalist #10.
While the Founders did not anticipate modern political parties, they did understand that human beings “turn aside evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them.” The Founder’s answer to the toxic politics of power is to divide power into manageable pieces. The concept is called Federalism. Federalism divides power between states, the national government, and the People – parents, for instance. Example: “Parents should not have control over what schools teach their children,” says a candidate for Governor of Virginia. What?!
Federal power, as the power most dangerous to personal Liberty, is required by the US Constitution to be limited, strictly overseen, and checked. Notion #2 is embodied in our Constitutional structure, in Article I, section 8, and in the 9th and 10th Amendments to the US Constitution.
HATE IS A MORAL NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE. One is allowed to hate (have hateful thoughts) but is not allowed to act on these thoughts or to be rude. The Founders thought hate, in the form of political speech, should be put right on the table, out in the open, no matter how offensive. Example: “This is the white guy’s lizard brain,” says a well-known author and political commentator. What?! Changing hateful thoughts is a personal moral journey outside governmental reach.
One whole body of our Rule of Law is unwritten. Unwritten Law requires courtesy in stating one’s view. Of all the counter-intuitive notions of the Founders, this is the hardest notion of all. Notion #3 is embodied in the idea of “civility.” Human beings often find hate easy and grace hard, but our system tolerates the former if preferring the latter.
Menticide in America today is not the killing of the ability to reason it is the killing of the desire to reason. The Founders, with their great vision through logic, created a governance structure that fully accounts for the negative vagaries of human nature. They used reason to reduce the deification of error and the creation of illusion. Nothing but prayer and moral sureness can stop these impostors altogether.
The Founders call on us today to block political and scientific censorship; to understand the importance of splitting the atom of government power; to appreciate that Liberty includes being left alone; to recognize the importance of general goodwill and pleasantness; and to encourage great minds, not kill them. Those who supply us with illusions must be denied their evil mastery over us. The Founders had the answers to Gustave Le Bon all along. What?! We are a blessed People to have such a heritage.
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