Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The value of the lone dissenter

Originally, this was posted on Scott Horton's blog

For all its intrinsic merits - and God know they are numerous - it is unclear how big an audience Scott's show reaches and, even more importantly, how much of an impact it has on anyone. Surely in a country which re-elected, scratch this, which elected Bush the Lesser in the midst of two lost wars any voice for reason and decency is lost in the ocean of stupidity? Not so. Here is why:

Social psychologists have done a lot of work on the issue of conformity. In particular, the experiments of Sherif, Asch and Milgram have looked deeply in the the mechanisms which make people agree to seemingly obviously mistaken and outright evil concepts and actions. One of them (Asch) centered on the effect of the group on an individual's judgment. Basically, he showed that most people tend to agree with other's obviously wrong judgments usually to the point of kidding themselves in to sincerely believing whatever the group says. That's the bad news. The good news is that it only takes ONE dissenter to dramatically decrease this phenomenon. In fact, if ONE sole dissenter's common sense makes him openly challenge the unanimity of the rest of the group members the number of people who choose to conform against their best judgment falls by 75%!

Unanimity is what the Imperial rulers need from their population. This is one of the mains reasons why most authoritarian and all totalitarian regimes spend a truly phenomenal amount of resources trying to silence even a very small minority. For example, in the Soviet Union the so-called 'dissidents' had very little popular support, if any. But the KGB had an entire Main Directorate (the 5th if I remember correctly) only to deal with them. Often this is explained away as "paranoia", and sometimes it is so. But it is also a reflection of an acute understanding by those in powers that only a unanimity (even only a seeming one, an external one - that's all that's needed) can secure the passive compliance of a population.

So this is why Scott's work is truly invaluable: it allows anyone listening to his shows who would otherwise nod his/her head and shut up to think "yeah, that makes sense, and its the others who are full of shit!" and break the psychological barrier of the need to conform.

Even Scott's "rant shows" are hugely valuable because he shows that somebody can get on the air not just somewhere, but in Texas of all places, and speak freely without fear or self-censorship.

I strongly encourage everybody to *totally* cut any contacts with the corporate media. Don't watch TV, don't read the paper, don't listen to the (non-pirate) radio. Not ever, not once. Get all your information ONLY from independent and free media (God knows with the Internet you can get enough of top quality info and analysis - see links poster on the lower left of this page) and re-direct ALL the money you would be spending on corporate propaganda to truly free and independent media. And then - spread the word, tell all your friends, download sample shows and burn them unto CDs and give them out. That will be *your* way of puncturing the ugly bubble of unanimity.

A huge 'thank you!' to you Scott - you are the real patriot ;-)