Anti-reality politics

Why it is so hard to fight anti-reality populism

Why do people run with falsehoods of anti-reality populists? Are they innocent?

The sentence “Instagram come to life” is spoken more than once when people are trying to describe what they saw and put into words their confusion about the Fyre Fest promotion video in the documentaries that are trying to describe what went wrong. People didn’t know what Fyre Fest was, they didn’t understand it from the video – and yet they bought tickets because something this well advertised cannot be bad.

Imagine that your dad defends his disastrous investment decision the same way, by pointing at the professional promotion video that claims nothing, just has amazing production value. It is that bad.

And the way the crowds run with populist fraudsters is similarly disturbing. Are they innocent?

There is certainly more blame to be put on politicians than on the crowds, that is obvious. But are the victims of political fraud and populism innocent? Are victims of Fyre?

There are many reasons people run with the falsehood (they know is false) in an emerging political autocracy. It may be out of fear to contradict the powerful, or just more comfortable than to believe the truth (or both). Falsehoods always offer a convenient lie, an excuse not to rock the boat, not to mention a tantalizing vision where I am not the loser.

The falsehood peddled by autocrats usually rests upon an out-of-context shred of truth – that is then misinterpreted and violently turned into a communication weapon. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of that weapon, so you make sure to put your finger on the trigger (and shoot). 

Falsehoods also tend to claim that there is blame going around – and strongly suggest not to let it land on you. So you are very interested in joining the blaming of others, just to be on the winning side. When facts are irrelevant blame goes to whoever jumps away from it last – and those who are fabricating the lies are best positioned to prepare for them. And the least likely to be blamed. 

When a falsehood (such as economic populism) doesn’t immediately result in the sky falling on our head – and delayed consequences are someone else’s fault – we have every evidence we need to keep chasing short-term gains.

Think about the first politicians who extended welfare perks beyond their budgets’ means. It has been 50 years ago and many of them are already dead – and revered for their largess. You and I will never get ahead in life because taxes to cover the shortfalls will eat up half of our incomes or more. And those old measures of economic policy populism are not linked to their contemporary consequences. Indeed, even speculators are more closely tied to the fundamentals of their business than politicians are to theirs, which tells a lot.

A politician will never get impoverished by the economic crisis or national debt he caused. he will never fall in the war he starts to distract from the economy. And if he is uninhibited enough, he will never even stand trial or an election.

When the scam hits the fan, conmen are still best positioned to repel blame

They are spinning a web of an alternative reality that they are 100% in control of. There is no reality to cope with, there is no one to interfere with their narrative, because their opponents are only telling that it is a lie. They are not part of the story.

Populists are ahead of us when coining lies that will keep us chewing them and distracting us. They are ahead of us when they steal from us while we are chomping on their lies. They are ahead of their skeptics, because their version is comfortable and the skeptics only bring bad news. In their own world, they control the imaginary choices: you are with us, with the comfortable narrative, one the side of success, part of history – or you are missing out. FOMO. Both politicians are fraudsters use it.

And when the schemes come down, conmen and populists are, once again, best positioned to avoid blame. They are the only one who knew it was coming. They spent their time collecting files on you, assessing your weaknesses, analyzing you – because they didn’t analyze reality and waste time in tiresome governance. The better prepared conmen, like Jeffrey Epstein or politicians, have files on their enemies – as well as on powerful men, who will help them eliminate any attack. (Only inexperienced losers like Billy are naked at a reality check because they forget they have no substance to offer.) They have a counter-attack ready. They have a character-killing for you – and you will have to react to it, even if it is a lie. Even a lie can ruin a life for real.

If we only react to the growth of conmen, we can never win. But if we hit them with their own tools – we still lose.

And trying to compete with them by actually doing policy – we also lose. Because if we get busy trying to actually fix things, we spend resources on that the politicians didn’t do. They are fresh and rested because they never even tried to do tiresome and resource-intensive policy. Like that influencer who just uses photoshop crowding out the one who tries to be pretty. Or someone who actually tries to stage a festival – not just sell one he doesn’t have.

Indeed, anti-reality populists spend so much of our own tax money back on communicating to us – a fraction of it would solve a billion issues. But solving issues doesn’t get you elected. It only gets you evaluated – and the pesky voters forget your hard work and punish you out of boredom. They don’t vote for a boring, background politician who just enables their lives – they want the meddlesome daddy who promises to take care of things.




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