Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Project Veritas: Confessional of the Left

Project Veritas has struck CNN twice and has promised to deliver additional secret-camera footage each day through the end of the week. In the two videos already released, a CNN producer and one of their leading on-air personalities were caught admitting that the Trump-Russia narrative was fictional, with the former also indicating that the network was pursuing the story for ratings, that many of his colleagues share his cynicism, and that the decision to pursue the Trump-Russia story is being driven directly from the top by CEO Jeff Zucker. We can only hope that PV director James O'Keefe is saving the best goods for last.

PV has mastered the art of extracting unintentional confessions from liberals in the Democrat establishment, the media, and activist groups. Usually their agents either pose as eager interns or set a honeypot -- frequently a male flirting with another male. It is without doubt that PV agents are playing off the relevant social situations to get their footage. However I think there is another force at hand putting some wind in the PV sails. It's been surprising to most people that they manage to get such candid confessions from their targets. In some cases it seems like they are playing long game. For instance, the footage of DNC operative Scott Foval (an obvious gay honeypot) takes place over multiple interactions, in various settings. We suspect the PV agent is putting in the leg work to build trust to extract the kind of honesty shared between intimates.

But the recent footage of CNN anchorman Van Jones shows the entirety of the interaction in a single encounter.

Or perhaps it's not the first interaction. The agent approaches and says they met before in Palm Springs. My first impression was that the agent was fibbing, but perhaps they did meet. Van sure seems happy to see the agent, so either they agent has already run some trust-building operations, or Van just liked what he saw, or he loves any public recognition.

Van is happy to see someone
In any case, this is clearly not a highly established relationship. Either they've never met (despite the agent saying they have) or they did indeed meet, but the acquaintanceship is so weak that the agent had to remind Jones of how they know each other. Jones still couldn't help but unleash the truth in a public setting to an almost stranger: that he doesn't really believe the Russia narrative that he's helping to promote. Why would he do that? Why does it seem to be so easy?

The Ricky Gervais Principle is a social philosophy put forth by Venkatesh Rao, who believes that the television series The Office contained a very deep social theory of the modern workplace. In The Gervais Principle VI: Children of an Absent God he describes the force of sin (and the resulting guilt) in crafting human power dynamics. The sociopaths amass amoral power through loss of innocence. The losers and the clueless, still innocent, turn to the sociopaths in hopes that their sins will be absolved. In Rao's view, there is a vacancy in the vital societal function of forgiveness that used to be administered by the church. He believes that sociopaths in business often perform that function to increase their own power.

The modern left serves more like a religion that anything. It is a belief system, requires public displays of piety, and seeks to expose, shame, and punish transgressors of the Holy Narrative. Progressivism is interesting because it is an anti-religious religion. They believe they have transcended religion, rather than re-creating it. As such, they can never admit that they are adherents to a religion, a restriction that puts some limitations on their ability to consciously improve and adapt. If they were aware, they would do what anyone would do if they were building a religion: steal the best parts of other religions. The major religions have all survived and adapted for hundreds and thousands of years. All have reasons for their success. Buddhism puts it followers on the path to serenity. Islam gives license for militant expansionism, and also builds community through activities such as daily group prayer. Christianity's power lies in the notion of afterlife judgment -- a boon for social order -- and in its role in granting forgiveness to its adherents.

The Church has at times been less than virtuous in its role as the arbiter of divine forgiveness. Luther's major complaint with the Roman church was that it had essentially become a big racket; a shakedown of the people, taking their wealth and obedience in exchange for that sweet ticket to heaven. And yet, the societal need for forgiveness remains. The natural response for anyone who feels guilty about a wrong they've committed is to make that negative feeling go away. Many people today try to rationalize their misdeeds away, but even then the nagging guilt often remains. So they tend to confess to their sins, even when it is totally unnecessary. Pay attention in social situations. It really happens all the time. Social media is dominated by people seeking validation or approval, which are so similar to seeking forgiveness that it might for all practical purposes be the same thing. The Church is out, and there is big market potential out there for absolution of sins.

Progressivism doesn't offer forgiveness. It does offer scapegoating. The leftist can be reprieved of his burden to some extent by claiming moral superiority by denouncing others -- you know, the real sinners -- and engaging in crusades for social justice. But still that is ultimately a distraction and doesn't solve profound levels of guilt and regret. That can only be cured by the forgiveness process, which is ultimately a two step process.
  1. The guilty confesses his sins to society
  2. Society assures the sinner he is still accepted and loved
So when these PV agents come along, broadcasting love and acceptance, and pushing into the areas where the target may feel guilty, the confession almost falls out on its own. The target is desperate to divulge the truth. The CNN producer stated that many of his colleagues share his cynicism. That means they're talking amongst themselves, having little confession pow-wows in secret. But they still have not received forgiveness from broader society, and they will jump at opportunities to do so. For progs to end these confessions they need to offer their own vector for forgiveness. Not only must they grant forgiveness from their own camp, but they must make the case that they speak on behalf of society at large.

Right wingers should take note of all this as well. There is market potential for forgiveness. There is great power to be had in either leveraging people's guilt, or curing it. That may sound shady, but someone is going to grow powerful from the dynamic, one way or another. Also, to be a sound social movement its adherents must be taken care of in that regard. If they languish in moral agony they are likely to be recruited away, or at least end up in a damaging Project Veritas accidental confession video.

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