Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cynicism and Gullibility: Hanah Arendt and the American Mind

Hannah Arendt

"In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds.
Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.
The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness."
--Hannah Arendt
[They took Trump seriously, but not literally.]

Mary Astor: Not really an Astor

Consider the cynic:
1 Global trade is, overall good for the economy, moving goods and services from where they are most efficiently produced at lowest cost to markets which desire them.
--Bah, humbug! All that happens is the Chinese steal our jobs!
2. Unemployment in the United States has fallen and the economy is rebounding from the great recession of 2009.
--Ridiculous! I know a guy who's out of work.
3. Medicare is in good shape and Social Security could be secure until 2032 if we simply raised the cap on income taxes from $118,000 to $250,000.
--What rot! Neither will be there for me when I need it.
4. Global Warming is real and caused by human beings.
--Poppycock. It's all junk science. I know because I read it on the internet and President Trump says so.

Consider the gullible:
1. Obama was born on Mars.
2. A wall can keep out those Mexican rapists.
3. Obamacare is a disaster.
4. Those 3 million voters who they say voted for Hillary were all a fraud.

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