Epithets and the Infantilized Citizen

Kangaroo Court painting by Harry Brooker.

Introduction

Slander and all of its myriad and derivative forms has been around since the beginning of Man’s capacity for complex speech. Likewise, the use of character assassination and defamation has been inextricably associated with politics since the very beginnings of organized political systems. While it is difficult to fully eliminate the use of these disreputable tactics in political systems, the variable rates with which they are employed can be used as a metric as it concerns political systems and their current state of functioning. As a general principle, the increase of the use of these tactics denotes corruption, criminality, ethical decay, and authoritarianism while the diminishment or absence of these tactics is associated with the inverse. This is a logical relationship as the rise of unethical and criminal tactics is a direct indicator of unethical and criminal persons predominating in political systems. When the use of such tactics consistently correlates with success in a political arena, such trends are conducive to a playing field in which those who best implement criminal tactics rise to power and by extension the most adroit, amoral, and ruthless dominate in the halls of power. When this has become the norm, such political systems have generally experienced significant corruption often to an irreversible extent.

The study of formal logic is not a recent addition to humanity and it would be reasonable to expect that these ancient foundations of human understanding would immunize contemporary populations against the use of such simplistic and illogical tricks. One would expect that ad hominem attacks would be futile and even counterproductive for the purposes of sociopolitical gamesmanship. Indeed, in civil, well-educated, intelligent, and ethical populations such tactics should be expected to immediately harm the reputation of those attempting to use them. However, the contemporary context is one defined by the soft-totalitarian control over populations. These systems involve extensive social engineering and psychological warfare which have shaped to a significant extent the psychological constitution and psychological functioning of the masses. Ad hominem slander is simply too useful of a tool of psychological warfare to be discarded due to ethical concerns or sensibilities. The rise of ad hominem slander in modernity has a direct correlation with the rise of systems of propaganda and the preeminence of psychological warfare as a standard practice of societal manipulation and control.

Any meaningful exploration of Western history will demonstrate a standard of civility and etiquette that was upheld in domestic and international diplomacy. This does not imply that that Western domestic and foreign policies were enlightened, merely that even the most brutal regimes upheld political standards of speech and conduct which maintained a public perception of dignity and respectability. The average over time has always tended towards a high degree of formal and cultured behavior with certain time periods experiencing especially pronounced de rigueur dress and strict social protocol. It was this difference in manners and etiquette that has historically separated the upper classes from the commoners. While ad hominem and character assassination have been extensively employed by the higher echelons, the manner in which it was performed tended towards the refined and sophisticated as opposed to the simple, dimwitted, and brutish.

One of the first major weaponized tropes of the 20th century was the term “conspiracy theorist” which was popularized post- the assassination of American president John F. Kennedy. The epilogue of this domestic covert action necessitated an extensive coverup and the creation of apologetics which reinforced the official narrative. In response to high profile independent investigative efforts, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) issued a memo which specifically instructed officers to begin discrediting “conspiracy theorists” who were critical of the official narratives. Since that time, the term has been cultivated in the collective psychology and has been extensively utilized as a weapon to delegitimize and ridicule those who call out government and corporate crimes or refuse to believe fantastical official narratives.

While psycholinguistic psychological warfare has been extensively employed since the 1950s, there have been longstanding trends which have potentiated the effectiveness of these strategies. The principal related trends include the dumbing-down of the citizenry, the infantilization of the citizenry, and the wholesale debasement of society and culture towards primitive and puerile dynamics. The combination of these trends has increasingly conferred an ignorant and childish quality to contemporary citizens and has significantly reduced the capacity for intelligent thought and discourse. These decades long social engineering campaigns have been primarily responsible for observed phenomena such as the beautification of unethical and/or uncivilized behavior, the celebration of idiocy, and the glorification of mediocrity. The rise of an ignorant and childish populace has been mirrored by the dumbing-down of political speech and the increased implementation of simplistic psychological warfare strategies that are generally reserved for targets of extremely low intelligence. Petty slander and name-calling have been increasingly effective within the political realm and in vogue in public and private discourse.

Furthermore, the accelerated debasement of public discourse has been recently complemented with social engineering efforts which aim to emasculate the citizenry. This agenda aims to remove positive masculine traits and mature adult qualities formerly seen in both sexes. These campaigns have further aggravated the longstanding infantilization of the citizenry via social engineering.

The intended endpoint of this infantilization is to force a paradigm of state paternalism in which infantilized citizens readily believe state narratives and obey state dictates. In this paradigm, the citizens are like children and the state takes a paternal role in which its impositions and commands must not be questioned or disobeyed regardless of how ludicrous or criminal they may be. Within such a context, the contemporary engineered rise of puerile name-calling by the infantilized emasculated citizenry increasingly bears an uncanny similarity to school-aged children employing name-calling within the playground setting.

While there may appear to be significant differences in the use of this tactic within the political spectrum, the rise of political epithets is a result of propagandistic repetition by the media. As such it is fundamentally a tool of psychological warfare and political manipulation. Sociopolitical epithets are mostly employed by the state and the propaganda apparatus against dissidents, investigative journalists, and detractors of government agendas. Individual citizens may feel empowered by their use of epithets, political slurs, and tropes, however such feelings do not mitigate the reality that these weaponized terms ultimately are used to weaponize social dynamics and to stoke ideopolitical divisions. As can be imagined, this “new normal” is a tremendous benefit for the exercise of corporate and state power and is especially useful to the systems of propaganda. However, it is decidedly deleterious to the integrity of civil discourse.

Words as Weapons

The weaponization of language is extremely vast and nuanced subfield of psychological warfare. Within this subfield, weaponized epithets and tropes comprise an important technique for the manipulation of communication and cognition. A reiteration of a relevant segment from the treatise On Paradigm Shifting Operations is warranted:

Another tactic critical to the weaponization of social dynamics is the strategic use of tropes and “tropish” epithets. This tactic is generally implemented over long periods of time which allows for the programming of audiences with sets of very specific sentiments, opinions, and perceptions associated with a trope which can then be utilized tactically when needed to evoke the preprogrammed psychological reactions. If necessary, tropes can be engineered in relatively short periods of time (especially with the aggressive use of propagandistic repetition) however cultivating tropes over the course of decades greatly improves their overall effectiveness.

This tactic involves the creation of a trope which functions as a flexible micro-propaganda matrix. The trope is engineered over an extended period of time through the use of propaganda in which audiences’ perceptions are repeatedly conditioned and they are surreptitiously taught to associate negative emotions, disinformation, and slanderous irrational conclusions with the trope. These associations functionally render the trope into a sociopolitical epithet. Any range of misperceptions or disinformation can be associated with the trope, however common themes associated with tropes are that “they” (the targets of the trope) are dangerous, subversive, untrustworthy, unworthy of being listened to, worthy of ostracism, worthy of ridicule, and meriting contempt.

In practice, weaponized tropes functions more than as a mere epithet but metaphorically as a form of social leprosy. Individuals labeled with the tropish epithet find themselves immediately on the defensive facing ostracism, derision, and ridicule while propagandists merely have to repeat commonly held misconceptions and misperceptions to further defame, discredit, and silence the target individuals. Any attempts at productive rational sociopolitical discourse becomes nigh impossible as audiences have been trained to disbelieve and avoid such individuals on command. Individuals slandered with tropish epithets find that they must prove that they are not untrustworthy, not subversive, etcetera, rather than focusing on the merit of their arguments and the critical importance of the information and opinions they are providing. This severely impedes and frustrates their efforts to shed light on critical topics. The tactical use of such tropish epithets functions to immediately discredit and silence dissidents and nonconformists while steering audiences away from critical information or meritorious opinions.

On Paradigm Shifting Operations, subsection Weaponization of Social Dynamics.

This technique is far less effective when used on those who have had formal training in logic, reasoning, rhetoric, and formal argumentation. However, recent successes in the dumbing down of the world’s citizenry combined with decades of social engineering has allowed the use of the ad hominem fallacy and exercises in petty slander to be far more effective than they otherwise would be within the realm of public discourse. Governments may often employ social engineering and propaganda over the course of decades to create a small arsenal of tropes which can be used strategically when necessary in order to manipulate public opinion or avert public attention from information which sheds light on government criminality or the disturbing realities of government agendas.”

The primary goals of this tactic include:

  • Defamation of Targets: harming the reputation and sociopolitical standing of targets and engineering a poor public perception of them and their opinions.
  • Denial of Legitimacy: denying legitimacy especially within the realm of public discourse and academia.
  • Sociopolitical Censorship: censor and suppress targets as well as dissident opinions and positions in general.
  • Undermine Valid Political Arguments: undermine wholesale the arguments of detractors of government and corporate agendas with ad hominem attacks that never address the substance of what is argued.
  • Oversimplification: simplifying complex and nuanced political issues into absurd simplicities and the distillation of important issues into mostly erroneous binary choices that do not adequately reflect reality.
  • Sabotage Political Discourse: undermine the integrity of political discourse by embedding erroneous preconceptions within mass psychology and coaxing the public into resorting to illogical name-calling rather than calm, respectful, and logical discourse.
  • Engineer Aversion to Contrary Information: engineer an aversion to information and argumentation which is damaging to the interests of the ruling establishment or that undermines the deceptions of propaganda campaigns.
  • Dehumanization: in extreme cases, dehumanize targets of sociopolitical persecution and engineer consent for the violation of their human rights.

While the use of sociopolitical epithets and name-calling may appear to be innocuous, it is profoundly harmful to public interests and democratic principles. To reiterate, in the contemporary setting weaponized terms are the creation of propagandists at the behest of governments and corporations for psychological warfare conducted on the public. The use by the public of such weaponized terms does not empower them but significantly harms their individual and collective interests. The individual’s interests are founded on being fully and properly informed especially as it concerns the many hostile agendas of powerful interests predating on their own vulnerable political and economic interests. Being denied information or engaging in self-denial of critical information fundamentally undermines the individual’s ability to engage in proper logical analysis and subverts the ability of making informed opinions on important issues which materially affect a citizen’s interests. Collectively, a society in which important information is contained by the use of weaponized terms and social ostracism is a society in which the people cannot engage in productive discourse and public debate. In such a context, conscientious informed citizens are ineffective in awakening the greater whole of society and in mobilizing the public towards the defense of democratic principles.

Freedom of speech is a dual freedom owing to the bilateral dynamics of human communication. There is not merely the right of the speaker to voice his or her opinions but the right of the hearer to listen to arguments and ideas. Those who engage in weaponized name-calling are denying themselves their own individual rights as a hearer and are suppressing from their own mind potentially vital and invaluable information necessary for the defense of their enlightened self-interests. As such, weaponized name-calling is not merely a childish attempt at delegitimization, censorship, and social ostracism but intellectual self-harm and the betrayal of a citizen’s individual interests. When employed within the setting of civil discourse, the use of this tactic is also intended to violate the right to hear of audiences who too often are swayed by the use of such fallacious tactics.

It must be stressed that such psychological warfare is a methodology of totalitarian regimes. At its core, totalitarianism concerns itself with total control over the mind and behavior of private citizens thereby making their private lives and inner thoughts the property and dominion of state power. The weaponization of language, ideas, and social dynamics are the tools of tyranny, not the tools of free republics who have their foundations in democratic principles. Such regimes treat the minds of the public as the property of the state and readily command the people on who they must hate and revile as well as whom they must believe, worship, and obey. In this same manner weaponized epithets command the speaker and the hearer in which ideas and concepts are to be hated and persecuted and which ideas are to be blindly believed and accepted. In this manner weaponized terms have the dual purpose of the persecution of ideas and opinions as well as the persecution of those who hold such ideas.

Political discourse in which such terms are allowed is not merely one in which public discourse has been dumbed-down but one in which discourse has been fundamentally corrupted and undermined. Democratic and Enlightenment principles can only flourish in a setting in which citizens are able and willing to engage in logical civilized discourse in which ideas are allowed to easily disseminate amongst the citizenry and ideas rise or fall based on their individual merits. A totalitarian ecosystem of ideas in which the prevailing ideas are forced into acceptance by cheap tricks is one in which totalitarianism will ultimately prevail over any vestigial democratic principles. In such an ecosystem, the sensibility and logic of countervailing ideas are relegated into obscurity and extinction by the combined implementation of censorship and psychological warfare.

The Contemporary Extreme

The contemporary context is one saturated with the use of weaponized epithets which are amply utilized both in mass communications media and in private discourse. Much of society has been engineered by extensive psychological warfare into accepting the use of such tactics which are falsely held to be both logical and valid in argumentation. Increasingly all that is required to silence the vocal minority championing truth, reason, liberty, and human rights is the use of sociopolitical slurs that are functionally no better than the commonly employed racial slurs of the recent past. This abnormal “normalization” of weaponized epithets has severely degraded the quality of public discourse and has done much to engineer a pernicious paradigm into the mass psychology that accepts the use of ad hominem fallacies as “logical reasoning” and as “acceptable” etiquette in public and private discourse.

As has previously been mentioned, the rise of this tactic coincides with the dumbing-down of the citizenry as well as aggressive campaigns of toxic weaponized entertainment which aim to increase psychopathology and destructive social dynamics. The net effect of these dynamics is increasingly a paradigm in which adult citizens resemble in their psychological and behavioral functioning school-aged children bullying each other with name-calling in a playground setting. This dynamic is ultimately what is desired as infantilized citizens who are unable to reason will inevitably have their reasoning done for them by the state via mass media and such citizens will bully and ostracize others into social and ideological conformity. This ultimately engineers a totalitarian standardization of thought in which free thinking is disallowed and individuals are inhibited from engaging in free and open debate lest they be the victims of name-calling and bullying.

The use of this tactic is sufficiently predictable that one can readily deduce in which areas there is a fraud being conducted on the public. In areas that involve social engineering or psychological warfare campaigns, the use of weaponized epithets is most prominent. This relationship is sufficiently well-established that as a general principle it behooves the citizenry to explore topics in-depth as well as thoroughly inform themselves on opposing arguments in any “debate” that is contaminated with slurs and name-calling. And while an independent exploration of sensitive areas is sensible, this is made difficult given contemporary information warfare in which informed dissident opinions are algorithmically buried in search results or outright censored. This gives a false impression that the side that is using slurs and epithets has the superior position while in truth it is generally an incredibly weak position artificially bolstered by cheap tricks and technocratic control over the flow of information.

There is currently an extensive list of epithets and slurs. Even terms that were originally merely descriptive have been commandeered and weaponized beyond their original denotative parameters and have been turned into cartoonish exaggerations which are no longer fit for enlightened political discourse. It should be noted that these epithets du jour are not a static list but an ever-enlarging lexicon with new terms added as needed in order to engineer consent for geopolitical and sociopolitical agendas.

Conclusion

The current situation is an inverse of the paradigm of Enlightenment or the principles of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. During eras of enlightenment, philosophical traditions have led to paradigms in which citizens honed their intellect, exercised their logical reasoning, and avidly engaged in lively public debate. When such dynamics have been achieved, ideas and philosophies rose and fell based on their individual merit with the best ideas triumphing in the arena of public discourse. These are the expected dynamics from true democratic principles in which political and economic forces are prevented from artificially forcing the acceptance of paradigms which are conducive to state and corporate power.

It is an individual choice on the part of the citizenry whether or not they will raise the bar of etiquette and increase their expectations as it concerns public discourse. If the public rises to a higher intellectual standard and begins to call out cheap tricks and logical fallacies as illegitimate, there may be hope in rescuing the integrity of public debate. Under such circumstances there may be an ecosystem in which an informed minority can bring critical information and solid argumentation on a timely basis in which the public may be able to crystallize public opinion in a manner conducive to the preservation of their interests. This will not mean the cessation of psychological warfare being conducted on the public, but it will mean that voices of reason will have a greater chance of being more impactful in critical times when public consensus matters most.

The finality of weaponized terms should never be forgotten. The 20th century saw the rise of paradigms of thought which were conducive to industrial scale slaughter of victims who were publicly dehumanized and whose defenders were neutralized by the simple use of epithets and slurs. In the case of Nazi Germany, there was an evolution of Nazi terminology and rhetoric that eventually led to such reprehensible terms such as lebensunwertes leben (life unworthy of life), untermensch (sub-humans), and unnütze esser (useless eaters). Nazi rhetoric and lexicon was strategically and systematically used to shape public opinion and corral the public mind into paradigms of extremisms and totalitarianism. The gradual acceptance of ever more acerbic language eased the public into unhinged paradigms in which no action by the state was too extreme in order to address the perceived social ills.

In the contemporary context there is the ominous rise of dangerous weaponization of language which portends continued totalitarian developments. Increasingly words such as “terrorist” are reinterpreted and broadly used for anyone who stands in the way of state power, anyone who holds dissident opinions, and anyone who publicly disbelieves state narratives. These trends are no longer the common vitriol of the corrupted political discourse but the beginnings of dehumanization and the engineering of consent for violent persecution. In such times it is necessary for the public to have an understanding of history as well as a meaningful understanding of the grave dangers of weaponized language and psychological warfare.

Postscript

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