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Speaking Openly About Loneliness As A Political Weapon Can Help People Resist Tyranny

Image CreditImage courtesy Stella Morabito

The human fear of social rejection is so hard-wired that it can be harnessed to control our speech, our behavior, and our thoughts.


Have you noticed the social contagion destroying our private lives? Consider these toxic but all-too-common scenarios:

A 19-year-old college student comes home and trashes her parents for their “whiteness.”

A 33-year-old son tells his mother, “You’re dead to me,” because she supports the U.S. Constitution with its guarantee of free speech.

A Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist tells readers of his New York Times editorial that they must prove their support by disowning any loved one who doesn’t actively or financially support BLM.

Why would otherwise normal people act this way? I think such behavior can be traced to fear of being socially rejected by members of a reference group who signal what to say, how to act, whom to hate, and what to think. The fear is coupled with a strong need for acceptance by those peers.

But who informs those peers? The individuals in such groups aren’t really evil. Rather, they’ve been conditioned and nudged along by massive propaganda narratives. Social contagion spreads as people are “canceled” for disagreeing with the narrative. Under such conditions, more people become misguided, ignorant, and manipulated by institutions overrun with elites who are convinced they know best.

The technical term for tyrants who seek to break bonds of kinship is predatory alienation. The attack on free speech through the censorship-industrial complex today speeds up that alienation, feeding an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. It also serves our fear of social isolation, which causes a vicious cycle of mean-spirited interactions like the examples above. The only antidote to this toxic process is to talk to one another more, not less.

The human fear of social rejection is so hard-wired that it can be harnessed to direct our speech, our behavior, our relationships, and our thoughts. Exploiting that fear is easiest when people have little awareness of the disturbing process which I describe in my book The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer.

People Need Friendly Outlets to Speak Openly

The need for talking to each other more is also why I’ve launched a book club project. The idea is to promote casual discussion groups to help ordinary people build the inner strength to resist isolation. This endeavor is in the spirit of Vaclav Havel’s famous essay “The Power of the Powerless.” People need to gather in small friendly groups — “parallel polises — to share ideas about our social isolation and build the strength to overcome it.

Let’s face it. The corporate media certainly won’t offer a solution. Neither will Big Tech or academia or any other corrupt institution. It must come from within each of us speaking one-on-one and face-to-face.

As renowned sociologist Jacques Ellul wrote: “Propaganda ends where simple dialogue begins.” To that purpose, I hope my website can help promote sincere discussion on the theme of weaponized loneliness and to build new bonds of friendship.

The Root of All Social Strife

Every tyrant knows that isolation is the first key to controlling people. Political philosopher Hannah Arendt made that point when she wrote that all tyrannical governments seek first to isolate people to terrorize them into compliance.

The Covid mandates made Arendt’s view abundantly clear. In the wake of Covid, the World Economic Forum (WEF) declared “misinformation and disinformation” as the greatest short-term risk to “progress.” The WEF declaration looks like cover for more immediate punishment of free speech and top-down surveillance of our conversations, on a global scale.

Such criminalization of speech naturally cultivates the fear of speaking openly. It’s demoralizing and causes more dependence upon those who seek to manipulate and control us. In such conditions of dependency, we tend to bond with our captors, as in Stockholm syndrome. Of course, that’s the main idea behind political censorship: cut off open communication and thereby sow the distrust that cuts us off from one another.

Today’s propaganda and censorship are so pervasive and hostile that the situation seems hopeless. Especially when we consider the cultivation of ignorance in our schools and the information overload of Big Tech and so much family brokenness — all of which weaken us further.

But there’s great hope for a breakthrough because the ripple effect of truth is vastly more powerful than all of that. The proof of this fact is that the thought police work constantly to shut up even the tiniest voice of dissent.

Building Real ‘Safe Spaces

In the face of this seemingly overwhelming onslaught, we need first to protect and revitalize the private sphere of life. As Havel noted, it’s only from this “hidden sphere” of parallel polises that the power of our ideas can flow outward to others and make it possible once again to live within the truth.

Second, within that sphere, we can build a more clinical awareness of the tactics and techniques tyrants use to psychologically manipulate us into conformity and compliance. More people can learn how the demonization of a person as a “white supremacist” or other media smears are really meant to control whom we talk to, and thereby cut us off from potential friendships. As we discuss counterstrategies, we also gain the inner strength that emboldens us when we know we are not alone.

I see no other alternative. Without building sane spaces to talk through the weaponization of loneliness, we end up feeding the illusion that everyone is on board with gagging our speech. As more people self-silence, we become even more atomized and at the mercy of the very authorities who hope to punish our open conversations under the guise of eliminating “misinformation.”

Conversation Can Help Break Cycles of Fear

My book club project is designed for ordinary people who want to break free from this vicious cycle. I envision discussion groups of maybe four to 10 people each. They’d be friendly places where sincere and curious people could speak openly about how the fear of social rejection causes people to do things that seem unlikely and even cruel. Meetings like this would also strengthen bonds of social trust.

I’ve done my best to provide on what you’d need to get started in this first step of liberation: a portal where you can initiate a book club on the theme of the weaponization of loneliness; a syllabus of sessions with summaries and study questions for each session; a select bibliography that includes classics such as Joost Meerloo’s The Rape of the Mind, Margaret Thaler Singer’s Cults in Our Midst, and Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. There are also hard-hitting articles, video clips, documentaries, and movies. In one session I suggest readers view the “loyalty dance” scene from the 1987 film The Last Emperor, in which a mob of Mao Zedong’s Red Guard youth justifies their brutal treatment of anyone they deem enemies of the revolution.

I hope this mission can offer interested folks an outlet to overcome the influence of such mobs. That will happen if more normal people are emboldened to speak more freely and build bonds of friendship in the process. In the end, defeating the weaponization of loneliness means working towards Havel’s goal of “the rehabilitation of values like trust, openness, responsibility, solidarity, and love.”

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