A Whimsical Look at Fallacies: Appeal to Antiquity - Part 2

Last time, you suggested that you really can't blame these antiquity-lovers for their chronic condition. After all, you're in advertising and are largely responsible for keeping the old ideas alive. I say "advertising" only because that's the modern term for it, but back in the good old days when we called things by their right names, there was an entire division of government devoted to this purpose: "The Ministry of Propaganda."

Now we call it "advertising" for obvious reasons, but call it what you will: advertising, propaganda, public relations, indoctrination, lobbying, disinformation, brainwashing, spin, mind control, or manufacturing consent, they all have the same function -- getting people to think what you want them to think.

Today, however, I want to talk about your persuading audiences to embrace old ideas that predate the FDR era over 80 years ago. Many are in awe of your uncanny ability at getting millions of working-class, middle-aged Americans on board with ideas that would clearly be against their self-interest.

You've succeeded in having them want to return to an America when there was no social security, no health benefits, no Medicare, no minimum wage, no strong labor unions, no attempts at tax and bank reform -- the "bad old days" when there were no protections whatever for the average worker and they were at the mercy of the factory owners.

This is how America was before the New Deal of the 1930's, and yet you've been able to repackage and sell this shredding of the social safety net to millions of today's Americans without their even realizing that this would cause them unparalleled misery! Now, that's salesmanship!

You have experts scratching their heads as to how, in these desperate times, you've been able to pull this off, since it would threaten the very existence of these people! Care to give me an exclusive on what magic you used to accomplish this?

You're really too kind. Well, I don't want to give away any trade secrets, like selling austerity, but look around at the times. Or, better yet, just listen to the presidential debates. You'll hear a large part of my handiwork in what these candidates are saying. I just sit down with them to help them organize their thoughts, and they just run with it.

If you listen closely, they're tapping into very old ideas, ideas that have been around for thousands of years, ideas and feelings that appeal to the lowest in people: malice and hatred, bigotry and racism, intolerance and prejudice. This is what sells, and a few of them are going at it hammer and tongs!

What's older in this world than sowing fear and suspicion, creating hysteria, and turning people against one another -- minorities, nations, races, or religions -- instead of calming the waters and urging people to live together in peace? You'd think you were back in Germany in the 1930's with all this scapegoating going on!

Who would have thought that this kind of fear-mongering would come roaring back from the past and coming from the mouths of presidential candidates! You can't make this stuff up! Ratings have literally gone through the roof.

Yes, I am rather proud of this piece of legerdemain which works wonders when you tell people that it's the end of the world. And why do people buy into this paranoia? For one reason only - they're frightened and an easy prey for these presidential wannabes.

And it works, especially in times of collective madness when demagogues are coming out of the woodwork to infect the susceptible with their private delusions. All I do is to help shape the chaos, stand back, and enjoy the performance.

But I spend most of my time on Capitol Hill, advising on policy and legislative proposals that attack the helpless and innocent, rob them of their rights, and make the lives of the poor and oppressed even more miserable than they already are.

What is older than any of these old time-tested measures that go as far back as biblical times? Getting people all riled up with raw, primal fears which advance the agenda of our billionaire friends who help get our people re-elected. It's a win-win situation all around!

But that's not the end by any means of what you've been up to. You've also been beating the tom-toms by lobbying politicians and resurrecting other old ideas that were part of America in years gone by. You're certainly part of a noble profession that puts teeth in old "Silent Cal" Coolidge's immortal one-liner that "The business of America is business."

Only now you're hawking a wider assortment of products -- candy bars, dishwashers, automobiles, fear, panic, paranoia, government proposals and policies, and even political candidates. Word comes down about what the Big Boys want, and you prepare the country for it. It's like it used to be -- democracy in action when the people thought that they had a say!

Please don't misunderstand me. I don't want to press the "advertising" angle too hard, since I know you also function as political consultant, think-tanker, talk radio host, columnist, general factotum, and hired gun for galvanizing the public on whatever needs selling.

It naturally depends on the particular account you're assigned, and in some cases you'll doubtless want to check your conscience at the door before thinking up jingles to get the public to buy what you're selling, like recycling old ideas that go back before the Environmental Protection Agency was created decades ago. But I'd be remiss if I failed to commend your unflagging dedication and persistence in trying to undermine this agency since its inception!

I shouldn't think it's necessary to believe in the products you're selling, although I'm sure that it helps, especially if you want a good night's sleep when you're jingling to justify what some squeamish consciences might label as criminal enterprises on the part of your clients, like contaminating drinking water, polluting rivers, and destroying the environment.

But don't get me wrong. I don't mean to suggest that you've only been active in trying to gut the EPA. It seems you're everywhere these days, from upping pharmaceutical prices 550%, which cause the death of thousands as collateral damage since their meds are no longer affordable; to trashing social justice at universities that keep their professors in poverty; and abolishing political rights across all of America. But, then again, there are always winners and losers, for that's the beauty of our free enterprise system, which has made our country great!

But it's fair to say that in whatever capacity you find yourself, when you honestly believe that what you're doing is honorable, it's a laudable calling. If, however, you're in it for the power or money, then that's something else. I know, I know what you're going to say, so why don't you say it?

Well, if I don't do it, someone else will, so why not me? But I want it on record that I do have a code. I'd never promote cigarettes for home consumption and kids because I'm a true American and know the very real hazards caused by tobacco. I just couldn't live with myself if someone got cancer because of my actions -- although if they're being shipped overseas, well . . . .

Besides, the money is good, and when it is, it's surprising what a conscience can get used to. Don't forget, I'm trained to think short-term, quarterly dividends. It comes with the territory. Nobody thinks long-term anymore. There's no money in it.

Refreshing candor, to be sure, but you sell yourself short. You try to be flexible, open-minded, so open-minded, in fact, that you'll sell anything -- within, without, or beyond reason, even what may demoralize your own nation, put millions out of work, drag down the economy, or even destroy it, as long as it advances the interests of the party you're serving, no questions asked.

That's very generous of you! Thank you!

Any parting words?

Well, they say that the truth will make you free, but not that it will always make you happy. Given a choice between truth and happiness, most will choose happiness over truth every time. Life is not about truth, but survival, and people prefer denial rather than facing uncomfortable truths.

"Humankind cannot bear very much reality," said T. S. Eliot somewhere. And then there's that old Latin adage: "Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur" or "The world wants to be lied to, so why not oblige it!" This little maxim has always been my inspiration, as I go about my work with a song in my heart trying to keep folks from looking into the face of Medusa and be turned into stone.

However, I'm not the only one who does them this service. Look at the media! The entertainment industry! Hollywood! TV! The corporations! The politicians! Why, I'm a small-timer next to these people. They all tell lies to advance their agenda.

Nobody tells the truth anymore. Not even those who are running for President! And you know what's surprising? Nobody cares! They even expect it! We've finally reached the Brave New World. The entire country is into denial, not only about the climate, since it would be bad for business, but about everything! And I do my part to help things along because children aren't the only ones who are fed fairy tales.

So, full-speed ahead as we rush toward the rapids!