The "?" in the image above represents outcomes other than the election and incumbency of one or the other of the two candidates shown (identified at the close of this post).
A Facebook friend (called "FB#1" here) initiated a thread, commenting on the upcoming 2016 election. Another mutual friend ("FB#2) replied. Here are those two FB posts:
I think that the climate of hate created by both Democrats and Republicans in this election cycle is deeply appalling. And I expect violence after the elections, perhaps assassination, following the voting. I hope that I am wrong.
I share your concern. Too many people have suffered what psychologist Sara Savage calls "cognitive casualties" -- by demonizing their opponents, they have shut down their critical thinking and have become immune to further information. Summarizing some of her work I've been reading, there is a big difference between thinking your adversary is wrong about *something* (even something very big) and thinking your adversary is wrong about *everything*.
I see people building walls around themselves -- "you can't trust the media" -- "you can't trust Snopes" -- "you can't trust Google" -- meaning not merely that one should be careful about the media, but rather than one has a license to ignore any facts that come along!
I posted my own lengthy comment in response, and it prompted me to create this blog post as well. I don't disagree with either of my FB friends' views or remarks. I just feel and believe that more needs to be said to grapple with the underlying matters.
Shouldn't root-cause questions about these matters eventually be asked and answered? How did this cognitive dissonance come about, for instance? Who or what inflicts those "cognitive casualties?" Is nefarious tyranny involved (pardon my tin hat) or is it the 'natural' result of our own social and cultural decline, decay, or entropy? Even if the latter, what inherent human forces or behavioral 'laws' explain the deterioration and damages?
Frankly, I lean toward the 'tin hat' side. FB#1, FB#2, and others may disagree, of course, but I believe Sheldon Wolin (e.g., in Democracy Incorporated) ), Chris Hedges (Wages of Rebellion), Noam Chomsky (Who Rules the World?) and others are right -- 99% of us are held obliviously captive to the covert tyranny of inverted totalitarianism, imposed and sustained by a 0.01% elitist oligarchy with controlling wealth and ruling power, implemented and exercised by their 0.99% 'Praetorian Guard' of regimented corporatocracy. [Numbers (99%, 0.01%, and 0.99%) are borrowed from the Occupy Movement simply to illustrate the point -- how accurate they are isn't a critical concern: the point is the same if they're 90%, 1%, 9%. The greater the elitism of the distribution, of course, the more absolute the oligarchy's power and control will be.]
I think of the "cognitive casualties" in different terms, namely, semiotic dissonance in contrast to the standard theory and model of cognitive dissonance. The semiotic conception is more cognitively comprehensive and dissonantly acute, chronic, morbid, and lethal than classic or standard views. Those are still based on 20th-century models and theories which I believe are overly dependent on (neo)postmodern, post-structuralist, and behaviorist linguisticism and scientism. Semiotics (in the Peircean, not Saussurean, tradition) offers a far more robust and profound account of human cognition and reality, I believe.
From this perspective, for instance, 'semiotic dissonance' and 'semiotic engineering' offer better explanations of the 21st-century Orwellian thought- and mind-control that sustain the tyranny of inverted totalitarianism. Looking at Election 2016 through those lenses, the circus parade, sideshows, and Big Top performances contrive by the oligarchy and staged by their corporatocracy can clearly be seen for what they truly are: -- the tyranny's means of shaping and directing mass consciousness away from the actual covert intents, purposes, and agendas set in motion long before the events we're experiencing began to appear and manufacture our delusional irreality matrix.
Could assassination(s) be on that agenda? Of course! Worse, in fact -- genocide scaled up well beyond what's already been brought about in the LDCs (Least Developed Countries) for several decades, perhaps even centuries After all, it isn't as if the decimation of the native peoples of the western hemisphere happened entirely by accident or natural attrition, just as the 'ethnic cleansing' of eastern Europe, continental Africa, and many other tyranny-targeted territories is ongoing today by systematic design, including semiotic engineering to conceal its reality and the truth thereof.
Christians comfortably ignore the full depth, scope, and impact of Paul's warnings in Ephesians 6:12, which identify the metaphysical and spiritual warfare transcending the earthly tyranny we suffer:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NAS)
Metaphysics, spirituality, and religions aside, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and apostates likewise comfortably ignore the full depth, scope, and impact of human avarice and depravity currently unleashed on global scale with nihilistic apathy and already inevitably fatal consequences. Controlling wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of an oligarchy whose members transcend society, culture, politics, government, and the rest of us for all material and practical purposes.
While points made by FB#1 and FB#2 are valid, trust is tragically becoming an increasingly rare and precious resource and asset. I find it compellingly more rational to rely on distrust by default. I now tend to extend trust beyond my own enclosure of semiotic discernment if and only if I see no other option. I'm also beginning to reflexively trust my semiotic intuitions more readily and subject those impressions to rational scrutiny only when suspicion and skepticism require it. Classify me as a "cognitive casualty" on those grounds as you like, but it isn't as if open warfare hasn't been declared and isn't already being aggressively and violently waged against me -- indeed, against us all -- to inflict exactly those wounds and more.
Meanwhile, the rotting corpses of liberation theology and unified populist activism lie buried or entombed in the shroud of their own cold-war Marxist and other so-called 'leftist' alliances. Resurrection of those ideologies offers scant hope at best unless those alliances can be fully severed in a new harmonizing Christian and secular apologetic, witness, and testimony capable of inspiring many or most of the 90-99% of us to rise up and stand firm in peaceful, nonviolent unity to resist and oppose the covert tyranny of Inverted totalitarianism.
But the likelihood of that taking place, unfortunately, is quite low. Here are the approximate probabilities of outcomes, as I see them. The numbers are basically arbitrary, but the ordering is the intended message:
- Clinton 'wins' by 'overwhelming majority' -- 65%
- Too close to call -- Congress or SCOTUS determines outcome -- 15%
- National emergency and/or martial law declared, election cancelled -- 8%
- Trump 'wins' by any margin -- 5% (then assassination or other removal ~90%)
- Nuclear wars within 12-18 months lead from #4 to post-apocalyptic new 'dark age' -- 6%
- 3rd party 'wins' by overwhelming or surprisingly slim majority -- 0.8%
- The overlord aliens finally reveal themselves and openly assume total control -- 0.1%
- Jesus returns -- 0.1%
#1-#4 are the most likely outcomes. #5-#8 are the less likely and 'all bets are off' outcomes (with the possible exception of #6). #3 and #5 may actually be among the likely outcomes, in fact, considering recent escalating and intensifying of tensions between Russia and the US over Syria, for instance. The tyranny's bread and circuses that keep us blindly consuming and deluded very effectively conceal such things from us, and obfuscate their probabilities of occurrence.
As a Christian, all likelihood and probability irrelevant, #8 is my constant hope and prayer -- Lord, please hasten that day!