The Clare Spark Blog

October 31, 2013

Gossip and the gullible

purple batThis representative republic was founded on finding the truth, and identifying liars.  Here are just a few of my blogs on the subject, focusing on Alexander Hamilton, the bad boy of US history for populists and progressives alike (except when Hamilton is seen as forerunner of Big Government):

https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/

https://clarespark.com/2011/08/01/alexander-hamiltons-rational-voice-of-the-people/

https://clarespark.com/2013/03/02/free-speech-and-the-internet/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/21/milton-mason-melville-on-free-speech/

https://clarespark.com/2012/01/28/popular-sovereignty-on-the-ropes/

https://clarespark.com/2012/03/03/sluts-and-pigs/  (retitled “Limbaugh v. Fluke, and mentioning the Crosswell case, one of Hamilton’s great achievements for telling the truth)

https://clarespark.com/2012/06/03/connecting-vs-connecting-the-dots/

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/09/lincoln-the-movie-as-propaganda/

https://clarespark.com/2013/09/17/the-illusion-of-national-unity/

While interrogating his own early progressivism, Walter Lippmann proposed rearing a special class of fact-checkers, whose sole role would be to discover which journalists were lying, and who were not; they would not take partisan positions on policy as such, but would simply unmask liars.

These views (Hamilton’s or Lippmann) are unfashionable. Thanks to the Left’s appropriation of close reading, we are left only with the factoids of “race” and “diversity.” Or with “a multiplicity of readings” based on “point of view.” Not just “the Jews” but every enemy is now “a big liar,” yet the (postmodern) accusers are left with no ground to stand on. (I do not minimize the difficulty in pinning down the distortions of perception or locating the exact sources of human motivation. Some facts are settled, no matter how often they are bent into unrecognizable shapes by spin.)

So, bereft of guides or even curiosity, we are left with “gossip,” a game that anyone can play, including on “interactive sites” where experts and pundits define reality, and where facts are irrelevant. It is a form of hero worship (or hero takedown), and “the people” (whoever they are), are free to choose their favorite gurus du jour, then they may leave comments, which are not tested by anyone, but will leave their marks, no matter how improbable.

It is not just the Constitution that is up for grabs, it is the law of the land, and anyone may appropriate “the law” for his own particular benefit. Both populists and progressives are expert at such appropriations, for their aims (as moderate men) are social stability, achieved through the cohesion of the great unwashed as a malleable mass to be shaped at will by their betters.

Don’t look to a pundit to save us. As the Mandy Patinkin character (Saul Berenson)in HOMELAND observed in commenting on the Claire Danes character (Carrie Mathison) , “she has always been on her own.”

positive state

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