Socialism is not just about stealing your money; it’s also about manipulating you into praising the thieves as your saviors. You are expected to feel good about being robbed of opportunities, talents, and success.
You must agree that “you didn’t build that.” There must be a popular consensus that the crumbs you are getting back from the government are a sign of caring and largesse, not a meager fraction of your potential earnings. You must sincerely believe that those who are trying to protect you from the thieves are really your enemies, deserving of destruction.
Obama’s current game of tax cuts and hikes contains all of the above elements.
The plan is to pass yet another extension of Bush’s tax cuts — to keep the status quo for the most — while excluding families with a joint income of over $250,000. In plainspeak, it’s a tax hike. But calling things by their real names would be against the rules; this isn’t how the game is played.
Listening to Obama now, one could have never guessed that his “tax cuts for the middle class” are the same policy he used to demonize as “tax cuts for the rich.” Who knew they were saving middle-class families as much as $2,200 a year? Suddenly, “policies that got us into this mess” have become “doing the right thing.”
The game demands that things never get organized according to cause and effect, chronologically, or in any other logical order. All facts and events must stay disconnected so that they can always be selected or discarded on short notice to amend the living, breathing, ever-changing Narrative. This allows top players like Barack Obama to discredit anyone’s idea, then steal it, bundle it with a job-killing tax hike, and rebrand it as his own benevolent gift to the toiling masses.
Judging by responses on Obama’s official blog, WhiteHouse.gov, and Twitter, many of his supporters actually believe they are getting something out of it — while in reality they are about to lose what they have due to the resulting cutbacks, layoffs, and price increases.
Ultimately, Obama’s proposal to soak the rich has little to do with the economy and everything to do with playing the game. The plan’s economic relevance is negligible since the projected revenue can only sustain this wasteful behemoth of a government for eight days.
But look what else it can do: in addition to advancing Obama’s image as the people’s generous benefactor, it pushes the narrative of class struggle, nurtures the popular feeling of entitlement to other people’s money, and cripples the private sector, thus “proving” the president’s earlier thesis that capitalism doesn’t work and has never worked.
As the game goes on, feeling good about the imaginary gift is no longer enough. You are expected to participate in spreading this Orwellian fantasy by haranguing Congress with demands of a tax hike while calling it a tax cut. You are also encouraged to submit your personal stories about how much you appreciate the revered president’s generosity.
Con artists thrive on the skill of putting an idea into your head and making you think of it as your own. In this case, they also give you a passion. You get overwhelmed with the collectivist sense of belonging, entitlement, and empowerment by participating in quixotic class struggle against the mythical windmills and all those mean-spirited capitalists who are conspiring to rob you of the rightful $2,200 disbursement.
You end up with a sincere belief that greedy corporations, Republicans, the Tea Party, and the rest of the reactionary reprobates who oppose Obama’s policies must be isolated from society and crushed for the common good. This mental plunge has plenty of repulsive examples. Observe this quote from a recent tax cut debate on Twitter: “Nazi fascist conservative cockroaches like you will be extinct — the sooner the better … You’re fat too.”
Building up and maintaining an illusion of such a magnitude requires participation of the media, education, and entertainment industries in a coordinated, long-term propaganda campaign.
Once the illusion reaches a critical mass, those afflicted by it become immune to facts, numbers, or rational arguments. Confronting them with logic will only cause more resentment, name-calling, and sometimes violence.
New technologies and the rise of digital social networking and communication have opened up new opportunities to play the game on an even broader scale.
From the start, the Obama campaign was able to deploy new media in ways that make Obama’s six million fake followers on Twitter seem like small change. It paid software developers to create a sophisticated system of data mining that allowed them to manipulate voters’ individual pet issues, and to run daily computer simulations in response to slipping polls so as to boost turnout where it most mattered.
But Obama’s tech-savvy aura is also a prop for yet another illusion: it leads you to believe that it envelopes some advanced, futuristic, 21st century content, while it’s only a shell full of rattling old clichés dating to the first half of the 20th century. In that sense, Obama is like a car salesman peddling a sleek 2012 Alfa Romeo that runs on a Soviet-made 23hp engine from a 1961 Zaporozhets.
Obama’s “tax cuts for the middle class” game reached Twitter in the form of a #My2K hashtag, with the president asking his followers to imagine what they could get with an extra $2,000, and then to tweet Congress to make sure they get what they want. A few days later, Obama upped the ante with an announcement that he would personally “take Twitter questions” using the same hashtag.
Since we have a Twitter account, we also posted some questions to the president:
If My2K is mine, to whom does the rest belong?
What exactly is the “middle class”?
If My2K is so good, why not make it My4K?
Can I get My2K in gallons of gasoline now before the check loses 30% of its value by April?
Since the dollar will soon be worthless, should I convert My2K to rubles?
You once said that focusing on making a buck shows poverty of ambition. How is focusing on My2K different?
How much of my other taxes will go toward Sandra Flukes’ $3K/year government-subsidized condoms?
We didn’t expect answers, nor did we receive any. On the following day, the Obama campaign reported that over 250,000 Americans had spoken out on middle-class tax cuts on Twitter. The number may be correct, but at least half of the counted Tweets were sarcastic and critical of his policies, followed by thousands of angry insults posted by Obama supporters in response to rational, conservative arguments.
Yet another episode in this season’s game of manipulative illusions.