We are fighting an asymmetric comms war – a war which, if lost, jeopardises not only the fabric of our society but the eco-systems on which all complex life depend.
Dangerous Globe is featuring a series of ‘short conversations’ by Luke Andreski, looking at the weapons we need if we are to win this war. Luke began the series by looking at weapons of defence: a shield of values, a wall of truth. He now turns his attention to weapons of attack.
It’s well known that our society is infected by concepts which make us unhappy, damage our communities and endanger the biological world. These concepts infect us, we become contagious, then we infect those around us.
We know the sort of concepts they are. They look like this:
- You need more
- Take, don’t give
- Winner takes all
- Greed is good
- Appearances matter
- Those in power deserve their power
- Those with wealth deserve their wealth
- It’s your fault you’re poor
Some of these concepts simply misinterpret Darwinism and human nature. Some are demographic falsehoods. Some are empirically false. All lead us toward a dangerous outcome for our species and the biosphere.
I consider them viruses – contagiously malign concepts which are part of a mind plague that’s harming us all.
When we take on – are infected by – concepts like these we become the sort of people who harm ourselves, who harm others, and who harm the environment on which we all depend.
You’ll find people like this everywhere you look: on tube trains, on billboards, haranguing you on social media, patronising you from the news channels.
Sometimes you’ll even find them looking back at you from the mirror.
It’s a cognitive pandemic.
An illness that’s making our society sick.
So how do we address viruses of this type – viruses which infect and influence human cognition? How can we reduce the ‘r’ rate – the speed at which they spread, their degree of infectivity?
Well, we deal with pandemics like these in the same way we deal with their biological cousins. A program of mass vaccination is required while, in parallel, we develop cures for the infected.
The good news is that a vaccine is available. It’s easily produced and universally accessible. Developer kits can be found in earlier articles in this series. There’s no patent, copyright or licence. No corporation, unaccountable international court or legal system can stop you from applying this vaccine. It’s freely accessed, freely assimilated and protects the cognitive freedom of your mind.
It comes in two parts:
- A shield of values
- A wall of truth
Take these two jabs and you’re pretty much immune.
But vaccines by themselves are not enough. With much of the human population already infected, we need to take the fight to the germ. We need cognitive weapons that can attack the virus on its own terms, in the public and social realms, in the cognosphere where disinformation and fake news begin. The infected need their cure.
We’ve looked at one antiviral already: the Socrates Bomb. It brings the Socratic Method into play in the areas of Evidence, Logic, Language, Motivation and Morality. The ribonucleic strands of the virus are disrupted as the Socrates Bomb explodes. Everything is questioned until the truth is finally exposed.
A second antiviral is Chaplin’s Stiletto, which uses humour to attack the effects of propaganda and spin.
Now we need to talk about a third: Kate’s Garrotte.
Kate is a friend of mine. Or, perhaps I should say, she was.
Kate was vital and passionate and clever. She was passionate about life, music, friendship… and she encouraged those around her to be passionate too.
But she’s dead now.
She’s been dead a while.
She died young.
“I’m sorry… That’s really sad…”
It’s more than sad – but being sad is the last thing Kate would have wanted. Isn’t that true of all good people when they die? Rather than being sad, Kate would have wanted us to carry on her legacy by being happy, by being creative, by being vital and passionate and clever.
But I’m sad all the same.
Kate used to talk to me about trust. It’s one of the ten thousand things she was passionate about, but it’s one we talked about near the end of her life: how trust is broken in our society, and how it needs to be rebuilt.
“Anyone would have to be vital and passionate and clever to take on a challenge like that,” you say.
I agree. And they’d have to be brave, too.
After all, who trusts anyone or anything anymore? Trust is broken, all across the world.
Politicians? Experts? Journalists?
They’re only in it for themselves, aren’t they? – Lining their pockets while the rest of us struggle to get by…
Lawyers? Academics? Students?
Isn’t selfishness at the heart of everything they do?
A world without trust is a bad place to be.
It leaves us atomised and divided. It destroys our effectiveness as individuals and as communities. It undermines our sustainability as a species.
And, on top of all that, it makes us easy prey for the power hungry and the corrupt.
Divided, untrusting, isolated, we’re easy to manipulate and rule.
The truth-twisters, the your truth/my truth folk, the monetisers of resentment and rage, work to keep the fires of distrust burning. They want to ensure we distrust the wrong people and the wrong ideas – people and ideas that count against them, people and ideas which ask us to think for ourselves, which make us harder to control.
Kate, even when she was dying, wanted to find a way to determine who and what to trust – so that we could put aside those that don’t deserve our trust and raise up those that do. She wanted to rebuild trust in our communities. She wanted to re-establish trust in our broken world, and to rediscover what it means to trust and to be trusted.
“She had ambition, then.”
Yes, it was no small challenge… and she had too little time.
“It’s a shame.”
It’s more than a shame. It’s a crime.
I’ve kept looking since she’s gone.
“She’d have liked that.”
I think I’ve found a way.
“She’d have liked that, too.”
It’s called Kate’s Garrotte.
“She’d want to be remembered for a garrotte? I’m not sure I would…”
I think she’d be okay with it. As well as being vital and passionate and clever, Kate was also pretty tough. Those who worked with her and for her have told me as much. So I doubt she’d have been squeamish about squeezing the life out of lies.
Here’s how Kate’s Garrotte is made…
Only trust a concept or proposal if it encourages you to be moral.
If you don’t trust a concept or proposal, don’t trust its source.
If a person or source isn’t moral, distrust everything they propose or claim.
You’ve got your garrotte.
Now pull it tight.
It’s a kind of algorithm:
- Only trust a concept…
- If you don’t trust a concept…
- If a source isn’t moral…
You can apply it to the message… and you can apply it to the messenger.
Go to your cognitive armoury. Select Kate’s Garrotte…
…and watch as the sinews strain and the pips squeak until at last what can be trusted, what might be true, trickles from the husk of the lies and disinformation that we’re fed, day in, day out.
A scythe and a flail
You say, “I like it, even though it sounds a little harsh. But haven’t you just postponed the difficult bit? Kate’s Garrotte seems to be saying, ‘Only trust a person or a claim if they’re moral’ – but doesn’t that assume you know what moral is?”
But we do.
You see, we’ve already used Kate’s Scythe to bring the lies to their knees.
“Kate’s Scythe? She’s got another weapon up her sleeve?”
I told you she was talented.
It’s a second algorithm.
It works like this:
Does a claim, proposal or alleged fact encourage you to be honest and consistent?
Does it encourage you to treat the needs of others as of equal significance and importance as your own?
Then it’s moral.
Then it’s not.
That’s the ‘moral-proposal/claim-checking’ algorithm: Kate’s Scythe.
As for people and sources, the messenger not the message, we’ve got Kate’s Flail.
Yes. It works like this:
Is this person, organisation or source honest and consistent?
Do they consider your needs as of equal importance and significance to their own?
Then they’re moral.
Then they’re not.
That’s the ‘moral-person/source-checking’ algorithm: Kate’s Flail.
So now you can determine whether a person, a source or the data they present are moral. If not, you step in close with Kate’s Garrotte.
The asymmetric comms war
Kate’s Scythe. Kate’s Flail. Kate’s Garrotte.
We need these weapons because we’re fighting a guerrilla war against a media and an establishment programmed to civilisational self-destruct. We’re in an asymmetric comms war and we’re already deep behind enemy lines. In fact, we’ve almost no territory left.
There are no alternatives to guerrilla tactics: close contact, intimate, ruthless.
There’s no alternative to brutal honesty, to using Kate’s Scythe, Kate’s Flail, Kate’s Garrotte, because the stakes are so high: the future of our children, the survival of our society, the sustainability of our world.
Kate was a friend of mine.
She died heart-breakingly young.
She believed in trust.
Kate thought it was crucial we find a way to work out who and what to trust, and how to rebuild trust in our broken world.
The armoury I’ve described is a small part of her legacy.
It’s my gift to Kate, her gift to me.
And now it’s yours.
Use it for yourself.
Use it for Kate.
Use it for us.
Luke Andreski is author of Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020), Intelligent Ethics (2019) and Ethical Intelligence (2019).
You can connect with Luke on LinkedIn, https://uk.linkedin.com/in/luke-andreski-ethics, on WordPress, https://lukeandreski.wordpress.com/, or via the EthicalRenewal co-op on Twitter https://twitter.com/EthicalRenewal.
For the previous articles in this series on combatting the neoliberal lies pandemic see:
The mind plague
Everyone needs a shield of values
The wall of truth
The Socrates Bomb
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TheReal.News is a search engine that has had the spin removed. We use sites that we have studied for some time and monitored for integrity and we don’t use sites that we have seen which either spin or lie their way to the front page. Everybody is biased in some way or they aren’t breathing, but Bias and Bollocks are not the same thing.
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