Political agitators who hope to obstruct Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration will simply be doing what political correctness conditions people to do: connect with a mob, gang, cult, or crowd, then imitate the mentality and behavior of the people inside that bubble. I recently analyzed the process. In this essay I offer a checklist of features to look for if there is media coverage of the protests, especially if they get out of hand.
The activists seem like they could be especially disorderly and disruptive, given direct calls for this by agitators like Michael Moore. Several groups, including some with ties to funding by George Soros, are dedicated to actually stopping the inauguration “by any means necessary.” They include an anarchist group that calls itself “DisruptJ20” that says it plans to blockade roads into Washington through what they call “clusterf**ks.” They seem to have put out a creepy propaganda video “No Peaceful Transition,” complete with robot narration.
Another group has the imprimatur of Princeton University professor Cornel West, the general secretary of the Communist Party USA, Carl Dix, and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, calling itself “Refuse Fascism.” After the unexpected electoral loss of Hillary Clinton in November, these folks are desperate and ready to act up. Let’s not expect peaceful demonstrations. In this climate, we can expect provocations and should be prepared for what police call “the crazy factor.”
The Crazy Factor
Security for the inauguration is prepared for just about anything, but officials say they are mostly concerned about “the crazy factor.” We get a mild glance at such things when Code Pink or other demonstrators manage to get into earshot of their targets, such as their loud interruptions during the attorney general confirmation hearings for Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Out among mobs of protesters on the streets of Washington, the potential for crazy runs high, especially among those whose brains sizzle on PC. Security officials are particularly concerned about the possibility of confrontations between protesters who hope to bait many of the million or so people expected to attend the inauguration.
The demonstrations can also serve as an object lesson for many American observers. First, they will give us a good picture of the bullet we dodged, the type of PC-induced intolerance that would have been more broadly infused into America had the other candidate won the presidency. Second, we’ll get a really good inspection of what political correctness looks like in its more advanced stage—after it’s morphed literally into mob behavior.
The mainstream media may well decide to give a lot of coverage to the protesters who are trying to shut down the inauguration, especially considering the media’s not-so-great relationship with President-elect Trump.
In that spirit, I offer, in no particular order and not at all exhaustive, a sundry list of some features of political correctness manifested in mob psychology. If you hear protesters’ interviews with the press, as you read their signage, observe their costumes, and watch them chant, shout, and perhaps throw projectiles, see how many of the following features of a PC-cooked mind you can spot.
1. Collective Narcissism
Obviously, not everybody can be a rock star like Bruce Springsteen or a movie star like Meryl Streep or even a famous-for-being-famous star like Miley Cyrus. But an individual can submerge himself into a collective sense of narcissism and what such adulation feels like by doing the bidding of “enlightened celebrity thought leaders” who mass market political correctness.
Because our culture has anointed celebrities as somehow “enlightened,” many take their cues from these cult idols, hoping to get a vicarious fix by doing their bidding. But often any politically correct authority figure will do, such as a leftist college professor or a long-time community organizer, like Ayers. Those indoctrinated in political correctness can feel approval by imitating their words and actions.
2. Us-versus-Them Mentality: Vilification
Political correctness depends upon cultivating a sense of polarization and de-humanizing one’s perceived enemies. Again, the central theme of the protests is the caricature of Trump as a “racist, sexist bigot,” and equating a Trump administration with fascism. So the protesters have been trained to believe with absolute certainty that their PC “in-group” or reference group is morally superior to the “basket of deplorables” who represent Trump voters.
This allows an alienated individual to put forth a social identity and hold other groups in contempt. I agree with Glenn Reynolds that status anxiety is at the root of a lot of this. Expect to see ad nauseam ad infinitum accusations of racism, sexism, and various “phobias” thrown at perceived enemies. The community organizers’ job will be to solidify that groupthink so no one dare even consider the humanity of anyone who deigns to disagree.
There will be enormous resistance to any sense of unity, particularly unity that exists under the principle of rule of law. Rule of law is the only principle under which any humane unity can exist, but these protesters will be speaking out against it, just as their sponsors such as the ANSWER Coalition and Communist Party USA support murderous tyrants like Che Guevara, whose whole purpose is a totalitarian system that wipes out the rule of law.
4. Extreme Emotion
Emotions run high when people have not honed their reasoning skills. Radical education reform, under such “reformers” as Ayers, have made a point of cultivating raw emotional reflexes at the expense of reason and logic. The curriculum reforms we’ve seen in education are pretty much based on that principle. It’s all very Pavlovian, and you will indeed see a lot of conditioned emotional reflexes in protesters’ behavior.
5. Delusions of Grandeur
By blending into the PC crowd, one can imagine oneself a larger-than-life champion of it all—a hero. In speaking to the “Refuse Fascism” group planning for the protests, Dix told them to “imagine tens of millions of people” flowing into the streets of DC and succeeding in stopping Trump from holding office.
But it’s a good bet that Dix is not the only one who sees himself as a savior. People who feel alienated and isolated are attracted to groups that promote big visions they can feel a part of, especially if staving off a great evil. Consider the heady language of “Refuse Fascism’s” kick off: “In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America.” Being part of such a crowd provides some people—especially those alienated from family and true friendships—a sense of purpose, a sense of being bigger than oneself.
Don’t expect to hear any deep insights or clarity about what the average recruited protester is mobilized for. Instead, you’ll get a mélange of slogans and the usual smears, high on emotion and lacking in substance and cohesion.
7. Conformity and Groupthink
We all know about the herd instinct. Human beings imitate crowds, no doubt because checking others’ behavior is part of our survival instinct. If someone sees something you don’t, you’ll want to know what it is. This is a hard-wired instinct that gangs, cults, and gaslighters depend upon to exploit others.
As the crowd chants its slogans, the individual repeats it, submerging himself into it. Political correctness has a natural hostility to non-conformity. There will be utter conformity as well as the reinforcement of slogans. Groupthink, especially in vilification campaigns (such as the one against Trump supporters), is quite literally a weapon against the social order.
“Deindividuation” is a term that essentially denotes how individuals will lose their sense of self-awareness when acting as part of a collective. In mob-style crowds of angry protesters—those inclined to anger and violence—you get a hive mind. Individuals tend to be insulated from other individuals, but act as one.
Think of how a beehive is constructed: each individual is in a cell—atomized, separated from others, yet existing in a mass collective. This immersion into the body of the crowd gives the persons a sense of equality, a temporary phenomenon described by Elias Canetti in his classic book “Crowds and Power.”
9. Risky Behaviors
While high on PC, the brain is wildly open to suggestions, particularly under the influence of the crowd. All it takes is a cue from the crowd, and you’ll find folks willing to do things around others they’d not dream about doing when alone. Acts of violence, throwing rocks, turning over cars, looting, breaking windows? It all seems so reasonable, or even inevitable, when everybody else is doing it.
10. Diffusion of Responsibility
Seasoned political agitators know crowds will model the behavior of their participants. As emotions run ever higher, riots can build on shouting and a couple of instigators throwing projectiles. Follow the leader is pretty easy once those on either side of you start moving towards a road blockade, or as the group DisruptJ20 calls it, a “clusterf**k.”
As Legba Carrefour, an anarchist with the group DisruptJ20, told U.S. News: “We are planning to shut down the inauguration, that’s the short of it . . . We’re pretty literal about that, we are trying to create citywide paralysis on a level that I don’t think has been seen in D.C. before. We’re trying to shut down pretty much every ingress into the city as well as every checkpoint around the actual inauguration parade route.”
Feeling safety in the anonymity of the crowd will give the individuals cover and a sense of release from personal responsibility. Unchecked vilification campaigns tend to take on a life of their own under such circumstances, when no one feels personally responsible, and they can end up in some pretty bad places.
Tyrants always project their own intentions onto their opponents. So without the idea of rule of law—which is exactly the sort of society a communist-based group like “Refuse Fascism” promotes—you end up with inequality under the law. Whoever has power gets to decide who does what to whom.
Just watch as the protesters accuse their opponents of exactly the sorts of behaviors they are demonstrating—intolerance, irrationality, and even violence. Worse, many of them openly support a form of government that increases these traits. In the case of Carl Dix and “Refuse Fascism,” it’s communism; in the case of #DisruptJ20 it’s anarchy, in which the strong end up lording it over the weak, every time. Projection.
Ultimately It’s About Alienation and Sorrow
Once you cut through the anger, the picture that emerges is of loneliness and aimlessness. When people feel they must agitate out of raw anger and unending grievance, they are expressing a great sense of personal neediness. Those protesting this week have been conditioned to believe that politically correct stances are the only moral stances that exist. They seem not to have been exposed to much in the way of real discourse, or the joys of real conversation.
We must address this lack of self-awareness in our society. It’s making us all miserable, especially those who feel pressured to agitate against our political process.
Thirty years ago, the late Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing warned us that citizens need to study and understand the mechanisms of mob psychology if we are to keep our minds free and retain our freedom. In her book, “Prisons We Choose to Live Inside,” Lessing asked: “How is it that so-called democratic movements don’t make a point of instructing their members in the laws of crowd psychology, group psychology?” The answer, of course, is to allow for propaganda machinery that promotes the power agendas of the elites who exploit their recruits. (Last year, I wrote up a list of resources to help detect mind-hacking.)
As Lessing urged, if we are to remain free, we must teach “flexibility of thought,” the ability to peacefully entertain contradictory ideas. We must learn how the mechanisms of groupthink and propaganda poison our minds. We must re-introduce the serious and disciplined study of history and the classics. Only in this way can we invite freedom and its companion, real friendship, back into our lives.