THE CULT OF THE VICTIM
On March 15, 2019 a gunman opened fire on worshipers at two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques, killing 50 and wounding around as many. Survivors of gunshot wounds often have traumatic injuries that require multiple surgeries and leave them severely disabled for life. Before embarking on his rampage, the alleged gunman broadcast over the internet a “manifesto” outlining the motive for his deed. In his manifesto, the alleged perpetrator claimed to have had “brief contact” with “Knight Justiciar” Anders Breivik, the convicted Norwegian mass murderer, and to have taken “true inspiration” from Breivik’s “2083” manifesto. Indeed, the Christchurch massacre would fit the definition of a copycat crime in terms of motive, manifesto and mass murder.
Breivik plagiarized approximately 15,000 words of his manifesto from a pamphlet on “Political Correctness” by William S. Lind. In turn, the alleged Christchurch killer “plagiarized” his deed from Breivik. On his March 17 traditional RIGHT webcast, Lind spent a little over 16 minutes talking about the Christchurch rampage. Not surprisingly, neither he nor his interlocutors mentioned the Oslo precedent.
So what did Lind say about the Christchurch terror attack? Did Lind take moral responsibility for the consequences — even unintended — of his words?
Lind’s first observation was to caution that there was much that remained unknown about the attack. He then criticized “the establishment media rushing to judgment” by reporting that it was a right-wing hate crime. Then he launched into speculation — “I only say possible no idea at this point” — that the alleged attacker had been converted to Sunni Islam during his travels in Pakistan and that the attack on the mosques was “actually part of the Sunni-Shiite war” and that “it would make sense in many ways for him to try to blame this on the right because of course who’s leading the opposition to Islam in the Western countries?”
It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
The “second thing that immediately jumped out” at Lind was “why in the Hell are there mosques in New Zealand to begin with?” This remark evoked appreciative laughter from his co-hosts, Brent and John. The real problem, according to Lind, was allowing Muslims to come to Western countries, or, if they are allowed to come, allowing them to build mosques.
Lind then expounded for three minutes on the unrelenting persecution of Christians in Islamic countries and the disregard of the establishment media toward “church bombings and mass murders — those get a paragraph or two in the same papers that splash this [Christchurch] across the headlines on the front page with the biggest type.”
According to Lind, these atrocities are “happening all the time in Africa”:
We have had Christians worshiping on a Sunday morning suddenly the doors of their church are barred and it’s set on fire by Muslims. These don’t even make the New York Times. Remember the Times‘s real slogan is “all the news that fits we print.” So this [Christchurch shootings] fit their narrative of evil Christianity — evil white males, evil right-wing etc. The mass murder of Christians by Islamics doesn’t fit the narrative so, okay, doesn’t exist and this by the way is exactly what the President and his supporters means by fake news.
So the murder of 50 people by a gunman in New Zealand was “fake news” because it fit a supposed MSM “narrative.” After discounting media coverage of the Christchurch attack, conjecturing about an alternative scenario and objecting to Muslim presence in Western countries and lack of media coverage of atrocities committed against Christians, Lind turned his attention to the strategic disaster of the attack.
For this analysis, he assumed the “current narrative” of a right-wing, anti-Islamic attack. From that perspective, Lind expressed sympathy for the killer’s alleged motivation, “from what we’re being told now were inspired by this guy’s reaction to seeing Islamics all over France — well, that’s an understandable reaction [laughter].” Let’s unpack that logic: according to Lind, it is an “understandable reaction” for someone to commit mass murder because he didn’t like seeing so many Muslims in France.
Nevertheless, Lind was eager to advise “our colleagues on the right [that] it’s important to understand why actions like this actually work against us.”
In other words, the “understandable reaction” of mass murder is, regrettably, a public relations mistake.
Lind’s analysis of the strategic inaptness of this particular kind of “leaderless resistance” action relies on his theory of “fourth generation warfare” and with the “cult of the victim” that he attributes to Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs, “what we know as cultural Marxism or political correctness”:
All Marxism is loser worship. It’s if you’re successful, if you’re a builder, if you’re a producer, if you’re out there doing great things, you’re evil, you’re a capitalist, you’re a member of the bourgeoisie, you’re an exploiter, you’re a landlord etc., you deserve a firing squad or the gulag. If you’re a complete loser who produces nothing you know you’re only a taker, you’re, you’re always defeated, then you’re a moral hero and in the climate that we now live in where cultural Marxism sets the tone throughout much of the world the highest status you can achieve is victim.
Why “loser worship” makes this kind of “leaderless resistance” violence strategically disastrous for the right is left unspoken by Lind. My interpretation of what Lind is getting at here but not clearly articulating is that the attacks will evoke sympathy for the victims and thus elevate their status over that of the “real victims” — the perpetrators.
But the real victims here, according to Lind and his colleagues, are the young, white heterosexual Christian men (such as Breivik and the Christchurch terrorist) driven to violence by the pervasive cultural Marxist oppression :
…so many lost young men that feel like they have no future we’re not allowed to have our own spaces anymore as like white Christian European people without having to have without foreigners coming in here…
…we can’t speak out against any of this without censorship or losing your job or something and it’s driving people mad…
…this feeling of oppression where you can’t say what you think about anything because because certain viewpoints have effectively been outlawed…
…more and more men young men particularly — and this by the way, Brent, is happening in many parts of the world — are finding themselves with no prospects if in this country they’re white Christian men, heterosexual. They are considered somehow evil. Again they’re the old equivalent of the capitalists and landlords under the old economic Marxism. They’re inherently evil and they can’t do anything without women but they can’t do anything with women because if they displeased a woman she could immediately claim sexual harassment and he’s guilty until proven innocent and the rage is just building and building and building and because of the way the internet fosters leaderless resistance I’m afraid you’re right, Brent, we are going to see more of this but on our side we need to understand it is strategically disastrous.
Does your head hurt trying to follow Lind’s “logic”? That is the point. It is not logic but a propaganda technique that relies on the listener/reader’s conditioning to assume that what they are hearing/reading and trying to follow is a logical argument. Jacques Ellul gave a concise description of the technique Lind employs:
Propaganda by its very nature is an enterprise for perverting the significance of events and of insinuating false intentions. There are two salient aspects of this fact. First of all, the propagandist must insist on the purity of his own intentions and at the same time, hurl accusations at his enemy. But the accusation is never made haphazardly or groundlessly.* The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed, he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime that he himself is about to commit. He who wants to provoke a war not only proclaims his own peaceful intentions but also accuses the other party of provocation. He who uses concentration camps accuses his neighbor of doing so. He who intends to establish a dictatorship always insists that his adversaries are bent on dictatorship. The accusation aimed at the other’s intention clearly reveals the intention of the accuser.
*Because political problems are difficult and often confusing, and their import not obvious. the propagandist can easily present them in moral language — and here we leave the realm of fact, to enter that of passion. Facts, then, come to be discussed in the language of indignation, a tone which is always the mark of propaganda.
Lind’s cult of the victim enlists young, white, heterosexual Christian men driven mad by having their future — their rightful prospects as successful builders, producers, capitalists, landlords and doers of great things — stolen from them by losers. They just can’t catch a break! Even when they go out and shoot a bunch of those losers, it is the losers who get elevated as high-status victims in today’s cultural Marxist climate instead of the real victims, those meritorious young, white, heterosexual Christian, dispossessed males who deserve to be successful but have been cheated out of their victory because the system has been rigged by those inferiors who deserve to lose.
“We’re all victims. Everybody here. All these thousands of people here tonight. They’re all victims. Every one of you.” — Trump
I wonder if Sandwichman is not describing something here that is the default state of human behavior. It is something that professional propagandists take advantage of but don’t create from whole cloth.
With a litte hard thinking we might even recognize it in ourselves, or in those who are on “our side.”
This is something that might have been expressed by an older tradition when they observed “the devil is on both sides of every argument.”
Not that mass murder is “normal,” except when it is organized by the state. But it has always been easy enough for small groups or even individuals to find reasons to kill other people they saw as victimizing them.
Indeed, it seems likely enough that the incidence of retail murder is held in check by the state for its own reasons, only to emerge wholesale when the state needs it for its own purposes.
I think you are on to something, Coberly, although I wouldn’t go so far as to ascribe it to the “default state of human behavior.” What war wasn’t generated by declarations of “we’ve been robbed”? Self-pitying self-aggrandizement isn’t something Trump or W.S. Lind or Herbert Marcuse invented out of whole cloth. But my first assumption would be that it is a historically-specific default rather than a universal one. Thorsten Veblen gives a compelling pseudo-historical account of how this default state might have evolved in The Theory of the Leisure Class.
Good Morning Sandwichman
For editing, when you go to c & p your commentary to Angry Bear, if you look at the upper left hand corner, you will find a “+”” next to the giant W. Click on the plus symbol and you will get a list of abilities titled “Text.” To be able to edit, you want the one called “Classic.” This will give you the ability to do more than what automatically comes up presently (I have to figure out how to do that in the present dialogue).
I already picked “Politics” as the Category (you may wish other than such or add one). You can also add a “Tag” in the area below Category such as Econospeak or Sanwichman, etc.
Still learning this and trying to figure out all the capabilities we now have.
Nice Commentary, liked it, and it ads to an area I am weak in today.
no doubt you are right. I’d go read Veblen, but my library does not keep any books written by old white men.
my “default state” argument comes from listening to my relatives and neighbors, and sometimes my own heart …
Cute comment on old white men. Based on that, I should disavow what I say. You are up at 11AM. It would have been earlier except I am still learning the new system.
Just what we need, another anti-semite.
Just be patient, it appears we have a glitch and I may owe Fred an apology. System issue for now.
Claiming intentional fraud, by contrast, offers a single explanation for what would otherwise need to be an improbable series of coincidences. The fraud narrative rejects the unwanted election result in a way that satisfies the desire to view the world as orderly.
In a recent study, we asked Republicans and Democrats to explain why news sources would ever publish erroneous news stories. They tended to characterize bad stories in outlets they perceived to be ideologically opposite to their views as intentionally “fake” rather than the result of accidental incompetence. And the stronger a person’s self-reported desire for order in the world, the more that person preferred to view objectionable news stories as intentionally fabricated. Similarly, the election fraud narrative can shield people from the idea of blind chance deciding their fate.
To be compelling, the fraud narrative also needs to be paired with another important element: an enemy. While the exact nature of this enemy shifted under Trump’s volatile messaging, it usually stands for a vast underground network of liberal organizations (the “Radical Left”), powerholders (e.g., the Clintons), private corporations (e.g., Big Tech), and policy makers (the so-called “deep state”).
On the surface, the appeal of this message is puzzling. Why would people want to believe that powerful malevolent agents are conspiring behind the scenes to sabotage their goals? Yet, in the face of bad news, the idea of being the target of an enemy may feel less distressing than being subject to arbitrary, unpredictable forces like natural disasters, accidents or pathogens.
And the more powerful, nebulous and covert the enemy, the more psychologically useful it is for sense-making. If the enemy is not portrayed as powerful, then it’s harder to imagine it being responsible for large-scale negative outcomes. And if the enemy is not portrayed as operating in the shadows, then it cannot be viewed as responsible for a multitude of diverse outcomes.
Anxiety can heighten this psychological response. In a 2008 study, participants were randomly assigned to think about hazards beyond their control (e.g., vehicle accidents) or other negative but controllable events. In a subsequent, seemingly unrelated, context, participants who were reminded of uncontrollable hazards believed more strongly that the presidential candidate they opposed (Barack Obama or John McCain) was working behind the scenes to illegally influence the election (e.g., by tampering with voting machines).
These findings suggest that attributing misfortunes to an unseen enemy or network of enemies can help people cope with feelings of lack of control in their lives. In an election held during a pandemic, that urge may be particularly strong.
Finally, the third characteristic of the election fraud narrative is that it’s laden with arguments that cannot be tested by evidence. Political and social ideas that cannot be tested by evidence tend to have a stronger psychological advantage. For example, the view that “same-sex parents are bad because their children will have behavioral problems” can be tested and refuted or supported by evidence while the view that “same-sex marriage is bad because it is immoral” is not subject to such testing. Under threat, people adopt untestable ideas more readily and defend them more vigorously.
Interestingly, the rhetoric surrounding election fraud has become more immune to testing over time. Consider the “deep state” specter. Such a covert enemy can never be interrogated or investigated. To someone convinced of its role in the election, not finding any trace of its involvement is only more evidence of its cunning. Those who insist the election was stolen by the deep state can tell themselves no one can prove them wrong.
Trump’s stolen election conspiracy is so dangerous because it plays to people’s deep-rooted need for order and control and is impervious to arguments based on evidence. The result of all this? Trump’s supporters can feel safe investing in this narrative — and may well continue fighting zealously for it long after Biden takes office.
Aaron C. Kay is a professor of management and psychology at Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Mark J. Landau is a professor of psychology at the University of Kansas.
E, my point is really simple: info-European tribes have had a historic influx of non-indo European people right when capitalism ‘s mode of debt to GDP began to break down. Science driven innovation must grow fast enough for debt to create multipliers. Since 1970, it has slowed and outright since 2000.
Karl Marx himself would have rejected the term cultural Marxism and renamed it “Millsian Liberalism” which modern progressive liberals are derived from. My guess most conservatives did not read much of the first 100 years worth of socialism from 1750-1850. Sweat beads would go down their foreheads on the homophobic and racist foundation of the greatness of the indentured peoples over the aristocracy. Socialism is class, not individually based. Tribalism.
vehicle accidents are unavoidable? now that you mention it, it sometimes looks like most people drive as if they were. speed limits are only for losers.
as for voting machines… well, maybe they are honest, but i’d rather see a voting system that is transparent… you know, paper ballots marked by hand and put in a locked box in front of witnesses, and then taken out and counted in front of witnesses at the polling place itself. (no boxes switched in transport to central counting). results could be electronically reported to central “totaling” location. still too slow for the network news? more polling places. might solve another problem at the same time. i go into detail here because for some reason our leaders are too dumb to think of it themselves.
science driven innovation has slowed?
tell me, did you submit your comment via computer?
Why can’t we all just get along? I mean really, sort of. From my POV the world’s beleaguered factions whether Christian, Moslem, or cultural Marxist have a great deal in common, but nothing so much as their neediness unless it is their self-righteousness.
I love my life in the low country where such matters are trivial compared to a fried seafood dinner.
Rodney King asked that question. Shortly after he won his lawsuit against the police for his uncalled-for beating by the police that was caught on video..
he was found dead. an apparent drowning.
Understood. My wife is adamant that we not become politically active after she retires over essentially the same concern.
i was about to say I don’t think you need to worry. you’d have to be pretty dangerous to them before they’d kill you…”they” being the powers and principalities…
but the cops… well, they’re a little more sensitive
and nowadays there are real crazies out there who would kill you if they even think you might disagree with them.
i always tell my children to keep a low profile, but they don’t.
Fox, FAcebook, Trump
Lumpenproletariat as an explanation of the 73 million