On Narrative Control

“We should not fool ourselves—short of alien invasion or the sudden arrival of Christ in glory, there is no longer any path from here to there, to the destruction of the Regime, and the setting of new, non-ideological, reality-based narratives that will allow the men and women of what used to be America to flourish, that does not lead through violence.” 

Charles Haywood, “Review of, The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, by Martin Gurri,” The Worthy House (April 28, 2013).

Winston Churchill is said to have said, “jaw, jaw, jaw instead of war, war, war,” although I do not know where the old warmonger said it.  This is the policy of postponement and it is undertaken in the hope, either that the casus belli will disappear, or that the postponed war will be fought under more favorable circumstances.  “Jawing” men only pretend to negotiate because they have despaired of a negotiated settlement.  They have despaired of a negotiated settlement because they see that an impasse is impassible and their opponents are implacable  Some men may still sit and “jaw,” but the others collect their papers, close the clasps on their briefcases, and leave the conference table to prepare for war.

Partisan politics becomes factional politics when a placable opposition becomes an enemy that must be destroyed.  Factional politics becomes civil war when the fact of factionalism is no longer denied.

Charles Haywood is a more serious writer than Josiah Lippincott, but both men see that our impasse is impassible, our opponents are implacable, and any future debate is just dilatory “jaw.”  The Regime is bent on full-spectrum dominance, by which I mean totalitarian control, and it has zero interest in compromise, tolerance, or a modus vivendi.   It is also hegemonic, entrenched, and determined to yield to nothing but brute force.

Where that brute force might come from, Charles Haywood does not say.

Although the Regime can be removed only by force, Haywood tells us that its hegemony is based in “narrative control.”  It is, as is sometimes said, an empire of lies, a cave of shadows, a hall of mirrors.  Its narrative is an instrument of social control and it works by flooding the public imagination with illusory fears, guilts, hatreds, and desires.  The Regime controls this narrative because it appoints gatekeepers, confers credentials of teaching authority, and commands armies of mad monks to swarm dissenters.

Haywood concedes that the Regime’s narrative control wobbled when the internet went mainstream, fifteen or twenty years ago, but says the lapse has very nearly been repaired.  The great and seemingly averted danger to narrative control is a significant portion of the public reaching what Haywood calls an “awareness threshold.”  By awareness he means awareness of the gross falsehoods in the narrative, by threshold he means a red-pilled public of politically potent size.  Haywood explains how the Regime prevents a significant portion of the public from reaching an “awareness threshold.”

“The interlocking web of Regime control today means that on a march by a public toward narrative control, so many points where the march can be forcibly terminated exist, all controlled by the Regime, that even if the awareness threshold is reached, the public thereby created is ghettoized and excluded both from any chance at increasing its numbers or obtaining any real power or change.”

If a dissident narrative begins to approach the awareness threshold, it is forcibly terminated by luring its leaders into legal traps (as the Alt Right was lured into a legal trap at Charlottesville), or by loudly associating the dissident narrative with a well-known bête noir of the Regime narrative (usually drawn from myths of the “Jim Crow” South or the Second World War).  If a dissident narrative escapes these ambushes, it is “ghettoized” with bans and shadow bans.  Once “ghettoized,” the dissident narrative cannot spread and its confined disciples are easily surveilled.

8 thoughts on “On Narrative Control

  1. I might more cynically say that jawing men like that solution because that’s what they are good at, and we all think that our abilities are just what the world needs more of, with more status for us. “What your band needs is a harmonica player…” “This clinic doesn’t do enough aromatherapy…” “What the peace of the world requires is more young men and women to write earnest articles…”

    Diplomacy can be extremely valuable, and I am not saying it isn’t. It can indeed be far superior to war. It does not follow that all diplomacy is valuable. The founding fathers did not want us to have a standing army. It turns out that having a standing diplomatic corps might be worse.

    • I once read a great deal about nineteenth-century utopian communities and discovered that almost all were swiftly overloaded with philosophers, poets and musicians. Eventually the folks in the fields got sick of feeding these parasites and went home. I spent most of my life jawboning for a living, but am not at all sure the world was improved thereby. One gift of the internet has been to reduce the status of the chattering classes by showing how common an ability to chatter actually is.

    • The issue of freeloaders overloading utopian communities was brilliantly addressed in a Playboy Magazine Little Anny Fanny episode, back in the early 1970’s.
      Sorry, I couldn’t find it on Google search.

  2. A good summary of our current situation. You cannot fight the Regime. But every empire dies because of success. Success makes it ineffective and overreaching. Napoleon and Hitler were so successful that they thought that conquering Russia was a good idea


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