Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Red Pill: It Is What It Is

California is one state that is managing the epidemic relatively well. They have a plan, they have a governor who is taking active leadership, they have kept the numbers down, especially in the Northern part of the state. The people worked together, followed the protocols; looking good.

Elon Musk had to shut down his California Tesla factory for the epidemic though, and he hated that. He called the shutdown "fascist" and reopened the factory against county orders, putting more than 10,000 people back to work in one plant. He did not feel he should have to wait for local leaders to follow the careful steps of their successful strategy, he should not have to wait for the reopening criteria to be met -- he was losing money and he wanted to get his workers jammed into a factory so they could risk their lives making billions more for him.

This week Musk sent out a tweet that said "Take the Red Pill." The Red Pill, in The Matrix, is the one that reveals the hard-to-take truth and breaks you out of the illusion of the computer simulation you are living in. He got a reply from another serious seeker of truth, Ivanka Trump: "Done."

The Red Pill is not just a trope in a nineties movie, it has become a banner for certain especially-nutty rightwing types. The Red Pill subreddit is one of the ugliest, most antisocial stains on the Internet. The Red Pill is a codeword for men who believe that feminism has ruined their lives, and that it is foolish to try to treat women fairly. As one Republican state legislator wrote there, "I treat women like they're subordinate creatures, and suddenly they respect me." They believe this is the natural order of things, and the insight that we have been brainwashed by liberals is, to them, like taking the Red Pill in the Matrix and facing the uncomfortable, eye-opening Truth. Basically, the red pill tells guys that it's feminism's fault they can't get laid. It's not that they themselves are deplorable and have no social skills; the problem is that women are bitches. See how easy that is?

Religions, ideologies, peer-group norms often lead individuals into a kind of blindness, and the idea of an exercise or technique to let us see through the delusions, to Truth, has popped up many times over the millennia. Maybe it would be a mystical conversion of some sort, or a spiritual practice -- there are those who believe that LSD and other psychedelic substances can do this, can tear away the illusion and reveal truth. Accepting Christ into your heart, same thing, opening your crown chakra, whatever. People have often talked about transformational moments in their lives. Usually these are moments that make them a better person, more caring, more understanding. Somehow rightwing politics works the opposite way. For every Enlightenment in America you get an equal and opposite Great Awakening.

The Red Pill is a simplification of the concept that we can choose to remove the veil of illusion and see the world for what it is.

But it is not ordinary truth that is revealed by the Red Pill. This is a special, obvious kind of truth that says "It is what it is." Your feelings are right. Liberals will tell you otherwise, they'll label you and try to shame you, but the Red Pill gives you Truth. You can put all kinds of restrictions and rules on it but the impulse to grab women and kiss them, for instance, is Truth, it is obvious, and nature obviously intends for us to obey those kinds of impulses. If some people seem weird to you it is because they are weird. Blue-pill libtards can philosophize about it all day but it is obvious to those who see the truth directly that there's something disgusting there, and the right thing to do is to mock and bully weird people. This is the Truth you see once you take the Red Pill and your blinders are removed. It is what it is. And what it is, is obvious.

The Red Pill Truth is that human beings are self-centered animals. Therefore your own self-centered ignorance is perfectly justified. It is what it is. Easy peasy.

Red-Pill capital-t Truth rejects the liberal idea that other people's needs are equal to your own. The Truth is that other people are often obstacles to your ability to get what you want. They could be serving you, praising you, pleasing you, rather than pursuing some irrelevant and misguided Blue-Pill goals of their own.

The Red Pill offers a kind of Truth without empathy.

Looking at it from outside the bubble, the rightwing Red Pill is a shortcut that lets you get by without actually thinking about things, because you see Truth directly. It is that unexamined life that Plato talked about. You don't have to learn anything new, because it is what it is, which anybody can see, once their eyes have been opened. Conveniently, Truth is always the belief that makes your own group look better, always the belief that supports their own impulses in the first place. Red-Pill Truth never provokes self-doubt or makes one question one's assumptions; the Red Pill awakens you to the fact that your assumptions are True already.

The Red Pill offers a kind of truth without facts. It is nothing more than a justification for ignorance.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Move Along Folks, Nothing to See Here

In the morning paper, the headline is "To Trump, economy determines discourse." Washington Post, Page One, above the fold. The article doesn't really stand out but someday you will look back and wonder if it was really as bad as you remember it. So I'll just copy and paste a few paragraphs for posterity's sake.
President Trump in recent weeks has sought to block or downplay information about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic as he urges a return to normalcy and the rekindling of an economy that has been devastated by public health restrictions aimed at mitigating the outbreak.

His administration has sidelined or replaced officials not seen as loyal, rebuffed congressional requests for testimony, dismissed jarring statistics and models, praised states for reopening without meeting White House guidelines and, briefly, pushed to disband a task force created to combat the virus and communicate about the public health crisis.

Several Republican governors are following Trump’s lead as an effort takes shape to control the narrative about a pandemic that has continued to rage throughout a quickly reopening country. With polls showing most consumers still afraid to venture out of their homes, the Trump administration has intensified its efforts to soothe some of those fears through a messaging campaign that relies on tightly controlling information about a virus that has proven stubbornly difficult to contain.

“If the message were to go out with complete objectivity, it would be disastrous for Trump,” said Max Skidmore, a political science professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and the author of a book on presidential responses to pandemics. “So he is doing his best to prevent experts from speaking out or using their expertise, and he’s simply trying to divert attention.”

Trump tightens grip on coronavirus information as he pushes to restart the economy