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At least 30% of Americans believe everything Donald Trump says. They believe obviously false things like believing they have a constitutional right not to wear a mask or that climate change is a hoax. There is no basis to make these claims yet they believe them anyway.

Resisting Authoritarian Structures

 Why do they believe these things? Are they really that ignorant? It’s easy to just shake our heads and think how stupid they are.

The truth is they are doing what we all do: follow our leaders and believe our trusted sources. They follow Donald Trump and trust Fox News. When we allow our sources to tell us what to think and believe we become subject to manipulation.

Yes, they are being manipulated, but this does not exonerate them. They are responsible for their own attitudes and behaviors. They willingly allow themselves to be deceived.

Yes, they are being manipulated, but this does not exonerate them. They are responsible for their own attitudes and behaviors. They willingly allow themselves to be deceived.

Yes, we are being manipulated, too. We cannot trust our news sources completely and cannot truly know the motives of our leaders. Who are they really behind the scenes? We only know what they tell us and everything they tell us is meant to raise their esteem in our eyes.

If we can’t trust Fox News, can we really trust Democracy Now, MSNBC, CNN, and all the various Left of Center and Far-Left news sources we Progressives rely upon? We have Liberal Democratic-leaning news networks, Far-Right and Republican-controlled media, and third-party or Communist and foreign-influenced programming. What this means is that we can trust our news sources little more than we can trust politicians, spies, and traitors.

We need to decipher facts from commentary, recognize each show’s biases, and be wary of manipulative propaganda. We cannot simply trust our leaders. We have to think for ourselves and be critical about what we read and hear.

It’s not just the media, it’s our leaders, too. It’s not just politicians, it’s the leaders of organizations and institutions, also. It’s not just corporations, it’s our political organizations and religious institutions as well. None of these can be trusted.

Yet people trust all of these without question so long as it suits them. The root of the problem is human evil, the willingness to be deceived in anticipation of gain. Like the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, we are to blame when we uncritically accept what we are told.

Consider how we claim to value democracy, freedom, and equality and yet accept the authoritarian structure of our groups and organizations. Our organizations still have a pyramid structure with the leader at the top and the minions far below. This type of structure is the haven of narcissists and sociopaths who seek absolute power or, at least, their own interests rather than the stated goals and objectives of the group or organization.

Just as we have moved away from institutional religion, we must also move away from institutional politics. While we will still have political parties and advocacy organizations, we must lessen their influence over our minds. We should view them primarily as tools to achieve certain ends rather than as ideological alliances of like minded-people.

Ideology is little more than a tool to manipulate people. Words like “Socialism” or ``Christain Nationalism” are used not so much for what the words mean as for the emotions they elicit and the negative attitudes and behaviors they instill in us about other groups of people. Our leaders create conflict to keep us glued to the cause, to fight off the marauding hordes of evildoers they set us against.

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As a result, we often get trapped into groupthink. Suddenly everyone comes to believe the same things and no one can question the truth lest they are scorned for doing so. No one dares question progressive sacred cows.

The result is we stop thinking. We stop questioning. We turn off our critical minds.

French philosopher Jacques Ellul wrote of people under the influence of propaganda that they “don’t think, ever.” The power of propaganda is that it can make us think we came up with the ideas the propagandist put in our heads. Some groups even use coercive and deceptive recruiting techniques and some leaders will intentionally mislead and manipulate their members.

There are not just religious cults. There are self-help cults, business cults, and political cults, too. They all use deception and propaganda to manipulate and control their members.

Wake up! Snap out of it! We are being misled!

Whether it’s the lies that spew out of Trump’s mouth or the tales of demonic theologies and saving ideologies shared among Leftists, they all serve to blind us to what’s at stake. There is a worldwide movement led by Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders around the world to put an end to democracy and civil and human rights across the globe. Events in the United States are part of a worldwide trend.

The current social conflict in the United States must be seen in the context of the rise of authoritarianism around the world. Donald Trump came to power along with a bevy of authoritarian leaders, including Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. When nations who claim to promote democracy, like the United States, actively suppress liberation movements instead, democracy has no chance. The failure of the Arab Spring to bring democracy to the Middle East empowered dictators the world over.

What we are seeing now is the collapse of democracy. Trump and the Republicans will try to steal this election using voter suppression, domestic propaganda, and foreign interference. If we lose this election, we lose our democracy and all the constitutional and civil rights that go along with it.

Give Trump four more years to dismantle our system of checks and balances and he will run a corrupt and criminal regime that imprisons its political opponents and operates above the law. Anything that gets in the way of removing him from office is a distraction and an attempt to undermine democracy. It’s time to stop following our leaders and instead become leaders ourselves.

We need politics that rises up from the grassroots, not one dictated from above. What we have now is a top-down mindset where the President and other foreign and domestic leaders disseminate divisive and misleading propaganda designed to influence our minds, emotions, and behaviors. We need to rise above institutional politics and openly question the judgment and motives of our leaders.

In this way, we can collectively come to our own conclusions. Once we clear the air of the oppressive dominance of institutional doctrines and the worship of our leaders, we can begin to counter the propaganda they use to manipulate us. By questioning the status quo we help others to see through the deception and come up with questions of their own.

This erodes the power of the leader and distributes decision making to the larger body as a whole unless there is resistance from the leader which there usually is. In this case, it gives people permission to leave and seek out healthier groups to work with. In this way, we can make our groups, organizations, and institutions less autocratic and more democratic and egalitarian.

To this end, I am organizing a Progressive Democrats of America chapter serving East Los Angeles County and North Orange County. The purpose of this group is to help people actualize their own activism and political objectives. We will work in accordance with PDA’s objective “to build a party and a government controlled by citizens with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just the interests of” the rich, corporations, political parties, institutions, organizations, and individual leaders. Please register for the meeting athttps://www.tinyurl.com/pdaelacnoc

the election

Rich Procida