Tuesday 7 September 2021

What is the meaning of Establishment language? Manipulation versus communication

When you hear a politician speak, read a press release or a media headline; you are not dealing with an attempt to communicate the truth about reality; you are dealing with language as calculated manipulation ('language' here including visual, symbolic, audio and other media). 

Manipulation is language intended to shape attitudes, thought-processes and actions

Such language could also be termed propaganda - that is, language intended to have a particular effect on others; albeit the usage of 'propaganda' tends to be rather narrower than what I intend here by 'manipulation'.  

This is why the Establishment are liars. They are not even trying to communicate information - let alone accurate information; They are always trying to affect our behaviour. 

Their purpose is to get us to do what They want. All 'communication' is just a means to that end.

Real conversation treats 'the other' as a person with agency; however manipulation regards 'the other' as an object to be controlled. (So, for Them, agency is an obstacle to be overcome.)  

They will of course mislead and lie to whatever extent they judge to be helpful to the goal of shaping us. Untruthfulness ranges from subtle distortions, through selection and exaggeration, all the way up to complete fabrication; as when a person with a false identity simulates fake emotions to tell a total lie - in order (successfully) to manipulate public opinion. 

They do not regard themselves as purposive and habitual 'liars', because They are not even trying to tell the truth. 

They are using 'communications' in order to manipulate other in ways They deem to be desirable - and truth simply doesn't come into it. 

The distinction between truth and untruth does not exist for Them, because their language is directed at manipulation, not communication. Lies, truths, or any mixture of them, are simply means to an end - and that end is manipulation. 


This is also why one can neither debate nor even discuss things with anyone representing or serving the Establishment. 

While you or I might be attempting to communicate information to Them, They are trying to change us. There is a total asymmetry of intent. 

Which is why it is futile to engage with linguistic emanations from government, bureaucracy and the media. It is a category error. It is treating manipulations as if they were communications; it is treating intentional dishonesty as if it was an attempt at honesty. 

(I first recognized this when dealing with the university bureaucracy, when I was asked why I did not comply with some directive; and I gave honest answers backed by logic and factual evidence... But They were only interested in my answers as potential ammunition to make me do what They wanted. My communications were being regarded as counter-propaganda merely; and a possible source of clues suggesting how better to manipulate me. So I stopped arguing and discussing and explaining; and from then on simply stated that I would not comply unless I was compelled.)  

So, how should we understand Establishment linguistic manipulations? What is the specific meaning of a particular press release, announcement or mass media product? 

The first step is to discern when another party is manipulating us, when he is producing propaganda to change our behaviour rather than communications so that we may better choose. This is easy nowadays, because all major institutions and their leadership are always engaged primarily in manipulation.

Easy... so long as we are not misled by the common tactic by which the Establishment (dishonestly) pretend manipulation is communication. Typically, Their propaganda is constructed to be deniable as such. 

Propaganda is not self-labelled, it does not come to us in a marked package. We must each make an inference by our personal judgment. 

Luckily, such discernment is an easy matter (for a serious Christian); but we-our-selves must do it, nobody else can be relied-upon to do it for us... 

(On the other hand, They pretend that any honest communication which tends to oppose Their manipulations is actually propaganda. In other words; They pretend that their own propaganda is information, and pretend that others' information is propaganda. They are not constrained by Truth!) 

We can (usually) understand manipulations by discerning the effect on our-selves.

For example, much official and media language (such as the NEWS HEADLINES) is nowadays intended to induce fear. By the fear that is induced in us (albeit maybe transiently) we know the purpose of that language. 

Other times it is despair that is being intended, perhaps leading to an impulse towards hope-less compliance. Or resentment - where the intent is to make someone feel himself a victim.

Also typically; the induced negative feeling of (say) fear, despair, or resentment is shaped towards a fake positive feeling

So that my fear is reconceptualized as an abstract form of 'altruism' (I'm not afraid for myself, but for other people"; my despair into 'realism' ("it will happen whatever, so we might as well make the best of it"); my resentment into a concern with 'justice'; my self-interest into redressing 'oppression' (as with much socialism, feminism, antiracism and the sexual revolution). 

I believe that we all need to wake-up to explicit consciousness of what should be a clear and obvious distinction. 

The distinction between that language intended to manipulate - which is what we get from Them (from all authority and institutions, 24/7)...

And that language intended to communicate reality truth-fully - which is nowadays typically personal, private, and within a very small social circle. 

Note: This distinction in the use of language was crystalized for me by watching some videos by Christopher Michael Langan


No Longer Reading said...

This is good. It's the only way to understand how official communications operate.

If there's one thing I wish, it's that people would realize this. Does anyone spend hours of analysis, looking at different sources to try to find out where the *real* Nigerian prince is? No, once one knows something is a scam, one stops listening.

And yet people give the benefit of the doubt to much bigger liars, whose lies have far worse effects all the time.

Francis Berger said...

"Their purpose is to get us to do what They want. All 'communication' is just a means to that end."

That's a simple yet incisive way of putting it. Very memorable.

It is startlingly clear that virtually everything we have encountered via "official" sources over the past eighteen months has pursued this purpose.

Stephen Macdonald said...

The truth of Bruce's observations is underscored by those very rare occurrences when someone within the establishment breaks ranks and suddenly tries to communicate the truth. The effect is quite shocking and immediately one is aware of the stark contrast in comparison with the dreary torrent of propaganda. This has happened a few times in the past 18 months where I live. Both medical doctors were instantly terminated from their positions.

Hari Seldon said...

Watching interviews with real scientists who have not been corrupted throws this contrast into sharp relief. Although I am not a scientist, I can detect the ring of truth in the statements of scientists who reject the birdemic agenda. There seems to be a distinct linguistic quality to truthful opposed to lying and manipulative communication, or perhaps there is something different about the delivery (when watching a video interview).

When I first watched an interview with the biostatistician Knut Wittkowski in April 2020, I actually laughed out loud - I was so stunned by his message, in contrast with the nonstop fear propaganda we were being subjected to. Perhaps there was an element of relief also.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HS - It seems obvious to me too - eg. about KW.

One aspect, though, is that the prevalence of manipulative speech among people in the mainstream public arena is essentially 100% (with a few minor temporary exceptions like those Nova mentions) ; so unless people actively go searching for real knowledge, they have no basis for comparison, no experience of the contrast you speak of.

Colin said...

Yes a media communication intended to inform is entirely different to one intended to shape beliefs and emotions. Guided by intuition they feel totally different. It is similar to the difference between relating with a narcissist and a ‘normal’ person. With a narcissist there is actually no real attempt to communicate only to manipulate for their requirements. The almost universal advice is to have absolutely nothing to do with them (no contact). Similarly with lying distorting gaslighting manipulative media.

Leo Brown said...

The latest example of manipulative speech occasioned by a law recently passed in Texas.

"abortion care"

Lucinda said...

I think this is the primary reason why flooding the workforce with the feminine/mommy perspective is problematic. You call it 'manipulative', but women would call it 'responsible'. This is a real and hard limit.

Back when it was mostly exceptional women who participated in official positions, there was some chance they could be socialized to value truth-communication, partly from them being exceptional, partly from being outnumbered.

Being a woman means being loyal to those who pose the biggest immediate physical threat, to choose a winner and be on their side. And to enforce upon/manipulate the weak to fit in with the winner. To me this is the obvious biological role of women.

Men have deluded themselves because they want women to be capable of free-thinking independence, at the very least to try to do what would make them happiest. But it's contrary to how they are wired, especially if you take a serious/good religious framework out of the picture. Part of the role of religion to humans, why it is biologically necessary, is to harness and stabilize feminine submission to dominance by directing feminine loyalty above the mortal plane.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - A valuable point; yet ultimately the mans and woman's perspective are in harmony so long as both are encompassed in love of God and divine creation.

The problem with womens' relative indifference to truth (as of 2021) is that 'responsibility' is disconnected from the divine; it is too often mere compliance with perceived power/ peer group - when (as now) this power is evil in motivation.

Mens' motivated to truth is likewise perverted into a a kind of micro-proceduralism; in a situation where all procedures are aligned towards evil ends.

In other words - these aspects of men and women's character are means to ends; and as such are complementary - but the problem is that the ends are now evil. This is why it is vital to recognize the evil nature of the Establishment, The System as of now.

It is ultimately the failure to recognise (consciously, explicitly) this evil nature, which has corrupted all those Christian churches that are large or powerful enough that their leaders have come to identify-with the Establishment; and cannot/ will-not discern the evil intent behind institutions, worldwide.

Lucinda said...

One of the compensatory strengths for Christian women is an greater ability to tap into the advantages of freedom, because in God's territory, masculine freedom and feminine safety are not mutually exclusive, through hope in the resurrection.

You are right of course that men's character is just as off-track when they lose sight of proper ends. "Micro-proceduralism" captures the idea quite well. Pitiably, many godless men who nevertheless argue against Feminism and the like fall into this trap. Many are honest in that they value truth, but dishonesty of churchy-types has made God unpalatable.

You can see why women are always 'spoiling' the man-dominant spaces: the oppressive manipulation you speak of in the post is the default standard for woman-dominant spaces. Therefore, the best social space for women is as supporters in male-dominant Christian circles.

Joseph A. said...

This post and its comments are top notch. I especially appreciate Lucinda's contribution and your response.

Hell redirects and weaponizes our traits.

GFC said...

Dr. Charlton,

I appreciate this post a great deal. This is something that I have wrestled with for a long time, including getting others to understand what is in play here. It was Hitler or Goebbels who of course who said that if you make little lies, people will detect them immediately but the big lie they will believe, because they can't grapple with untruth on such scale (I paraphrase). A certain part of that is not merely because the lie is big, but the system of lying is big and comprehensive, ordinary people can only understand human-scale lying, as for instance trying to get away with some misdeed, deflect from something they'd rather others not know. They are not equipped to understand communication-solely-as-manipulation. It is an alien concept IMO to human nature, something that must be inspired by Hell. Indeed, this is I believe exactly the devil's native language, as we encounter the phrase in Scripture. It goes to the heart of the Mysterium Iniquitatis. You capture such an infernal complex very succinctly.

GFC said...

Fundamentally people do not understand the perils of lying. Dante placed liars very deep in the Pit, lower than murders for example, because the spiritual violence lying engendered had vastly worse ramifications for the salvation of souls and the health of the society than murder did. I believe it is one of the most dangerous sins, aside from the victims of the lies, the greatest peril is to the liar himself, because the lies work very subtly upon the consciousness of the liar. They destroy the human faculty for the recognition of truth, including the truth of the liar’s personal condition. The hard-boiled liar eventually slips into a world of iron self-deception and will be unable to recognize his own sins before the end and repent them, unless a miracle free him of such blindness. C.S. Lewis had invaluable exploration of this mentality in That Hideous Strength.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GFC - Very good comments - thanks!

I found this helpful regarding how Big Lies operate:


Bruce Charlton said...

@d - Sorry, I don't link to Twitter!

Jim L said...