Monday, February 17, 2020

In which the pond only has time for the Caterists and the return of the Major ...

The pond faced an agony in at least four fits today, with the reptile commentariat 'leet leaders all present and correct, and so some winnowing had been done.

Luckily the pond had dealt with the High Court yesterday, and so the Oreo - a stale, floury lesser Dame Slap at the best of times - could be left alone, while the bromancer doing a Donald on the terrible Chinese and dreadful Boris was a familiar tale (naturally the Donald's CIA and FBI being allowed to pry into our secrets was infinitely preferable). 

Then there was the dog botherer, for once forsaking climate science, to indulge in a sickening display of self-pity, so that by the end of the winnowing only the Caterist was left grovelling …

Uh huh, and it goes without saying that climate science and policy has been one of the great triumphs of the coalition …

look at the sheer joy on Barners' sweet coal-loving face ...

Amazingly, according to the man who knows everything there is to say in a defamatory way about the movement of flood waters in a quarry, the coalition has experienced absolutely no discomfort this past summer. All has gone swimmingly well.

These sorts of comedy stylings can only be done after years of experience down in the coal mine of bald-faced lying, but the Caterist hit a new peak in the next gobbet ...

"The government is at last starting to parade its achievements."

The pond rolled that one around on its tongue, and then found it hard to stop a laughing fit. It was so rich, it was so funny, that the pond knew it had made the right choice, and there was no need even to quibble with the Caterist statistics, since plenty of others would do that …

That only left a small gobbet to go, and then the pond would do its smack down with a simple image ...

And that's how you turn reality upside down and live in the bizarro alternate reality world of the Caterists and the Menzies Research Centre.

Fortunately the immortal Rowe lives in the real world, and came up with this cartoon this day, with more Rowe here

"The government is at last starting to parade its achievements… in a ute"

And now the reason for the pond doing such a hard-core winnowing.

Make room, make room. The Major is back!

Sure, he's been on a break way longer than the ABC, and sure on his return, the silly, doddery, senile old fart is still catching up with the news on impeachment, which long ago drifted into the by-ways of history,  but the pond makes no excuse. 

The Major is the Major, and must be heard, and naturally the reptiles rewarded him by heading his piece with a shot of the Donald smirking in a vainglorious way  …

That's a strangely pale snap, as if the reptiles were afraid to pose the biggest question of all, asked here by Mother Jones back in 2015…

But enough of gossip about the bronzed Sun King monarch, it's on with the Major discovering things about impeachment …though really, if he couldn't do a line in bronzer, what the fuck's the use of him?

Sheesh, the Major is sounding more and more like Polonius, an ancient fart wandering back in time, when the world has moved on, and so has the Donald …

Still a  cartoon or two might help the pond get through the Major's majorly wet and dismal piece ...

The partisanship of the left? And what of the partisanship of the reptiles, so naked and obvious? And what of the Donald, and his doings and his deeds, and those of his lickspittle lackeys?

It seems all that's too tricky for the Major.

Clearly, it's going to take the Major some time to get up to speed, because he only had one gobbet of drivel left in him …

Let's grant this to the Major. The reptiles have done a tremendous suck job on the Donald, day in day out, occasionally letting out a tut tutting for credibility's sake, only for it to be swept away in a love fest of persecution and paranoia, and as a result, everything they scribble is under a cloud of partisan suspicion …

But at least it does allow for a few cartoons…

And so to an aside.

The pond happened to pick up a book in the local street library, Imre Salusinszky's tale of The Hilton Bombing, which someone paid $34.99 at Art on King before dumping in the lane way. 

Still, it had in it certain relevant thoughts which might help explain the Major to passers-by, given all the effort he's put into sustaining a cult over the years …

The pond confesses to sharpening and changing a few lines, but hopes Imre doesn't mind, as the business of cults should be something to charm and fascinate us all ...

What distinguishes a media cult from a traditional religion? Those who’ve studied cults and new religious movements have turned to a seminal 1975 essay by the noted Canadian-American sociologist Erving Goffman. In ‘Characteristics of Total Institutions’, Goffman’s original target was settings such as mental asylums and prisons, but students of new media religious movements have found his insights useful in dealing with institutions that don’t have walls and guards.

Goffman points out that, in the broader free society, our sleep, our play and our work take place in different settings, with different companions, and no ‘overall rational plan’. In a total institution it is the opposite and there is ‘a breakdown of the kinds of barriers ordinarily separating these three spheres of life’. All aspects of life are regulated and conducted in the same place. The ‘member’ conducts all his or her daily activities in the company of others whose lives are similarly scheduled and controlled ‘through a system of explicit formal rulings and a body of officials’. Water cooler gatherings, editorial meetings, and company philosophies are a seamless weave of correct thinking. And while life outside a total institution may have very little in the way of a formal plan - for all our best efforts - for those inside one, ‘The various enforced activities are brought together as parts of a single overall rational plan purportedly designed to fulfil the official aims of the institution.’

As Goffman points out, to achieve naturalisation of initiates on this scale requires a rigid demarcation between their new world and their old. A recruit comes into a total institution with an existing network of attachments. Upon entry, they are ‘immediately stripped of the support provided these arrangements’ as they begin ‘a series of abasements, degradations, humiliations and profanations of self. Say, for example, in the past they have watched the ABC or read a Nine paper, or even worse the Graudian. They must excoriate themselves and their wicked ways. If they have been tempted by climate science, they must admit the degrading temptation to heresy.

A media cult, like a total institution but in contrast to a religion, has rules and regulations covering every aspect of day-to-day life, and all forms of social interaction and personal relationship. Anyone who doubts the Donald, anyone who fails to understand Brexit is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, and that Boris is the new Churchill, must be re-educated to conform to the institution’s values. Needless to say, the institution cannot achieve these aims without strict hierarchies and lines of authority that are very far from the world portrayed in a novel such as Monkey Grip.

The 1960s  and 1970s were the great start-up era for media cults, religious and otherwise - from The Australian in 1964 to the Krishnas, the Moonies and the Branch Davidians. In Australia and other Western societies, for certain kinds of vulnerable young people, this was the mechanism for replacing whatever galvanising force had been exerted by the protests at the anti-war protests of the Vietnam era. Cults answered to the increasing  secularisation of mainstream society and the breakdown of other kinds of social capital, including youth groups, the Catholic church, and even the nuclear family. These were all supply-side factors for media cults infested with a generous dose of Catholic theology.

But just who were these ‘vulnerable young people’? Some studies have found they tend to see themselves as religious seekers, often experiencing a sense of tension or crisis that they interpret in spiritual rather than political or psychological terms. If this sense of internal crisis corresponds externally with their first contact with a cult, and they form a close attachment with another cult member, the conditions are right for the deal to be sealed. So when one climate denialist identifies science as a false religion, and meets another with the same views, soon they want to join together like cliff-bound lemmings in their rush to put their thoughts into print.

Meanwhile, empirical surveys of young people who fall into the clutches of media cults have tended to reveal them as overwhelmingly well educated and middle class. The sort who would feel comfortable with words, and find an office in Surry Hills mentally and physically attractive. Often, the atmosphere in the family home was experience as emotionally restrained, even cold. And frequently, these were kids who had not managed successfully to complete their adolescence, in the sense of a clean and amicable separation from their parents. They were in search of a father figure, or preferably a god, of the kind offered by the Chairman, or his holy ghost, the editor in chief. a Major of the mind, so to speak. 

Canadian psychiatrist Saul Levine calls these drifting kids ‘radical departers.’ They have been adrift, unable to conceive of a future for themselves: ‘And then the future presents itself. Out of the blue, The Australian or a Murdochian tabloid or a Divine Light Mission or a Children of Rupert or Armed News Corp guard offers on a silver platter every ingredient that has been missing from their youth.’ Blind certainty, absolute devotion, unerring faith in the virtue and truth of their mission.

Once this tiny minority of young people looking for an alternative to the crass materialism or religious conformity of their parents’ world has fallen into the clutches of a media cult, there is usually a period of initiation and education - or what is often called ‘brainwashing’.

The term emerged during the Korean War, in the 1950s, to describe the brutal techniques employed by the North Korean side to extract denunciations of US policy by captured US soldiers. It was used during the same period to describe how totalitarian regimes such as the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin elicited fulsome false confessions from dissidents during show trials. And so a generation later it offered itself as a useful world for those studying the techniques of new media religious movements of the 1970s as those movements sought to attract, retain and radicalise adherents, in some cases turning them to violent ends. Young people were taught to look up to heroes of the Bolter, Akker Dakker, D evine kind, though it was sometimes easier, in a depotic way, to hire someone already trained in correct cult values.

One technique involved shunning of those who for some reason decided to leave the cult, perhaps to work in another media organisation, perhaps a Lenore Taylor or a David Crowe or a David Speers. These were to be deplored, reviled and despised for their despicable, treasonous, treacherous, traitorous behaviour.

Experts who’ve studied the use of sophisticated brainwashing techniques by media religious cults have noted a number of common features. It is important, first of all, to keep the initiates unaware that they are being controlled or manipulated at all: in other words, that they have entered a totalistic environment. It must seem totally normal to them that they are all climate denialists, all lovers of coal, all defensive in the face of a hostile world of unbelievers. Relationships and connections outside the cult are progressively shut down. Remember those traitors and how they must be denied and disavowed. 
Brainwashing techniques create a sense of powerlessness and instability in the target, undermining their existing beliefs. Soon they will abandon science, and refuse to watch the ABC and its poisonous propaganda, and they will urge others to join them. Advancing them towards radically new understandings must occur in small, measured steps so they remain unaware they are involved in a thought-reform process. One day they will be deploring the BOM’s inability to predict the weather; over time, they will achieve complete climate science denialism and develop a deep, abiding love of coal. 

To drive the process home, cults will often present their initiates with their new knowledge in the form of an elaborate jargon, frequently labelling their opponents as heretical followers of a dissident religion: this will make them feel part of a special cohort - a noble band of reptile bothers - and lend the group’s or guru’s wisdom a pseudo-scientific prestige. Think of zeitgeist, woke, greenies, snowflake, cupcakes, Karens, millennials, young, activists, and so on …

Here’s a classic example of how a cult member can speak to another cult member, a cult editorial published by a cult newspaper on the 30th April 2019, headed All fired up about snowflakes … 
Naturally it celebrated a tired old fart, jaded by his irrelevance and seeking attention from his fellow cultists, because that’s what narcissists do ...

"We have just run extracts from Bret Easton Ellis’s new book, White, which is a cultural complaint aimed at millennials for their “oversensitivity, their sense of entitlement, their insistence that they were always right despite sometimes overwhelming proof to the contrary … their joint tendencies of over-reaction and passive-aggressive positivity”. A former enfant terrible berating the younger generation risks appearing ridiculous but he’s correct to say that freedom of expression is up against an outrage industry. This has recruited plenty of millennials but those ultimately responsible for today’s “snowflakes” are the post-1960s New Left thinkers who sowed the seeds of identity politics and grievance studies...

...In our culture, it has become common for activists to try to shut down opinions they disagree with — and if they can, to shut down businesses that dare to maintain any link to views at odds with the progressive orthodoxy. This is a form of ideological racketeering. Yet it also manifests in the guise of fragility, as if it’s a simple plea for protection from harm. So universities are asked to create “safe spaces” where diversity-phobes can fend off the discomfort of any encounter with a contrary opinion. In this world view, such opinions are not mere words, which can be examined and discarded, but a kind of hurt like a physical assault complete with trauma. This is tantamount to a belief in sorcery, and a crippling way of facing a world in which there are inevitable setbacks and life-altering challenges. Of course, there is exploitation and unfairness — although less of these in developed countries than at any time in history — but there is also co-operation and altruism. Offence culture tends to reduce the messy reality of existence to crude powerplays between designated oppressor groups and designated victim groups. It doesn’t do genuine victims any favours.

At the same universities bullied into carving out anti-intellectual safe spaces, psychology teaches that if something unpleasant such as a phobia is avoided, it becomes only stronger. We are social primates blessed with language and we have a deep need to engage with other points of view and experiences. It is only through honest debate and freedom of expression that we can draw on the collective learning of humanity to solve problems and set aside bad ideas. And this interchange is vital for nurturing empathy — a quality in peril on toxic social media.

By no means is the entire millennial generation a lost cause. Many young people will identify with Ellis’s declaration that he set out in life wanting “to be challenged … to not live in the safety of my own little snow globe and be reassured by familiarity and surrounded by what made me comfortable and coddled me … to stand in other people’s shoes and see how they saw the world — especially if they were outsiders”. And that is an imperative as old as humanity itself."

And now to end, here's a snap of prominent cult leaders joined together in group thought, clutching at the cult's Bible …


  1. Hi Dorothy,

    Just in case anybody was still left confused as to what the Coalition’s Climate Change policy was after reading the renowned hydrologist, here is a handy guide.


    1. Truly delightful, DW. And so very, very true.

  2. As DW alludes, there appears to be an over abundance of renowned hydrologists.
    The Corrigan pay back apparently never ends.
    Sort of gives a whole new image of parading and Cater is a just a continuous parade of BS.

    Loved the parallel piece on cults DP. Having lived with, and known a few poor sods who fell into the clutches of the HK’s, the Orange Ones and AM, it appears there are way too many victims for my liking, particularly as we are now well into the 21st. Century. Seems the more things change, the more they actually stay the same.......especially at NewsCorpse. Cheers.

  3. But, butt, DP:

    "look at the sheer joy on Barners' sweet coal-loving face ..."

    And behold, now we can see it every day, up in the top left position once occupied by the smiling face of an egregious onion muncher.

  4. Well that was quite a piece of work, DP.

    Not the Goosebumps Caterish though; when you said " And that's how you turn reality upside down and live in the bizarro alternate reality world of the Caterists and the Menzies Research Centre." you said it all.

    Then you added this about The Major: "Let's grant this to the Major. The reptiles have done a tremendous suck job on the Donald, day in day out, occasionally letting out a tut tutting for credibility's sake, only for it to be swept away in a love fest of persecution and paranoia, and as a result, everything they scribble is under a cloud of partisan suspicion …"

    And that's just about a wrapup for the whole furshlugginer mess, yes ?

    But then we get to Imre and after your erudite and scholarly rectification, that's just about a wrapup for the world of cults too.

    All in all, I haven't had an easier time of commenting in many a while. And Barners and The Maj, to boot.

    So let me just show the wondrous MelbHedge for us all to gush over, instead:

  5. And just for the hell of it, what do you think of this:

    1. GB - thank you for the link to Angel City Chorale. To my friends who are members of choirs, being in a choir is just - everything worth doing, and being. But because the link came from this kind of blog, my mind did drift off to wondering how a current, self styled 'conservative' or 'libertarian' would think of membership of a choir - what - willingly submit to the direction of one person, usually unelected, add your voice in support of another group rather than trying to shout them down? - then I realise that they just would not understand. There used to be some fun in seeing Mr Bolt hold forth about paintings or classical music, only to have his readers pile on with 'call that art, my grandchild in pre-school does better than that' and 'well you might be prepared to sit for hours listening to that squawking but the rest of us have better things to do'. As he recedes behind the paywall, we are denied that secondary entertainment.

      Other anonymous.

    2. My pleasure, OA. Toto's Africa has long been a bit of a favorite of mine and I enjoyed seeing it as a form of musical 'performance art'.

      Yes, choirmasters/mistresses rather tend to be 'self elected' though, and more generally "elected" via popularity. I had never heard of the Angel City Choir until I 'accidentally' ran into that performance on youtube.

      Hmm, 'conservatives' and/or 'libertarians' in team/group endeavours ? Well, even in Angel City there are 'soloists' (three to one male to female though so important cultural aspects are maintained).

      And I suppose all 'artists' are de facto elected via popular acclaim, or the lack of it. As I'm sure the Bolter knows well, he being magnificently self-acclaimed.


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