Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Capitol

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
     (Not A Government Publication)

- Like many people I was expecting something very like this and yet, happening as it did, it was at the same time astoundingly strange. Was the storming of the Capitol a post-modern revolution of alternative facts, was it a revolution-spectacle of imitation facts? Why were there so few police at the Capitol on a day it was known a crowd of tens of thousand would be gathering, only a skeleton crew of 500 out of a force of 2,300, no barricades, no battle horses, when we private citizens, not a mob, are under constant surveillance here there and everywhere by guards, spy cameras and on the internet, and normally would never be allowed near this seat of power?
- There appears to have been two separate groups acting at the same time.* A violent group organized on internet message boards, populated with Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, that converged on the Capitol with the goal of stopping the certification of the electoral college votes, taking Congress members hostage and killing the Vice President. If not by prearrangement, they had the luck to be let in by sympathetic Capitol police (this standing aside by forces of order a common feature of successful revolutions) and were only stopped from entering the inner chamber of the house by gun wielding, physically fit, civilian clothed dark suited men who I guess were (just a guess) secret service agents present because the Vice President was presiding over the joint session of Congress, the supposed agents shooting and killing one of the insurrectionists. This violent action occurring under cover of a separate group, the thousands of more ordinary supporters at the Trump rally near the Washington Monument with no obvious taste for violence, instructed by their leader to come with him to the Capitol Building. 'It's going to be wild,' he said.
- So then: violent insurrection and spectacle insurrection at the same time, the insurrection was expected, the strange form it took was not. 
- Also giving us the appearance of spectacle was the deliberate lies the revolutionary attempt was based on: that the election was fraudulent, that the President's opposition were totalitarian socialists trying to take away the people's freedom. We watched with astonishment violent dupes, performing the actions scripted for them by others not on stage, witnessed by a crowd worked up by the President's rhetoric of revolution, equally duped, sent over by him to be audience to the violent action. 
- Real revolution under cover of fake revolution. But I think you left out what makes this seem most unreal: that the lies told were believed. How do you account for that?
- In Trump's extortionist recorded telephone conversation with the Georgia Secretary of State threatening him if he doesn't find him more votes, the President said: 'They are shredding ballots, in my opinion, based on what I heard.' You know how money laundering works? Dirty money is moved from one bank to another, to another, to another, each transaction by the book, making it difficult in the end to trace the clean transactions back to the original dirty one. Think of the lie, 'the stolen election', as the dirty money, and each new presented bit of evidence a seemingly clean and honest confirmation. We know the election was stolen, this evidence proves it, we have thousands of affidavits.
- There are photos of ballots being trashed, photos which when investigated turn out to be from the previous year's election. Those thousands of affidavits when read are no more than statements that someone had witnessed others who filed affidavits or made statements of being eye witnesses to voting fraud.
- That would be tracing the evidence back to the original dirty laundry, something the liars take care, constantly shifting attention to another path of primed evidence, their audience doesn't do. Remember when we talked about the two paths taken by artificial intelligence programmers to recognize language: probabilities, or models? Both ways work to produce knowledge. Knowledge based on probability doesn't involve any picture or model of the world, only a mathematical relation between one part of the world and another, expressing how likely it is that when this happens, that is likely to follow. 
A model involves a whole with parts, each part having a known relation to the world and to other parts. Think of evidence laundering as a kind of prearranged build up of evidence, each piece of which increases probability the view of the follower of the path is correct, without there being an explanation of how any piece of evidence relates to others and to the world.
- Explanation which, having no character, forming no model of the world, these followers of the path of laundered truth never arrive at. Is it probable the President's own Attorney General resigns after announcing that there was no significant electoral fraud means he was 'gotten to' by the other side? Is it likely that the Georgia Secretary of State, a Republican Trump voter and Trump donor, likewise willingly betrayed the President, even after being threatened and cajoled by him to find him more votes? 
- When we say someone has character we mean we can make a model of his behavior showing how parts of the mind are related to each other and each part is related to the world. There is a relation between imagination, sympathies, knowledge, intentions, and how each is applied in the world. The character of Trump believers is broken down, disintegrated by always seeking the changing gain of the moment, acting on probability of getting what they want, or through consumer products or fantasy entertainments getting in the habit of imagining they have achieved maximum probability of getting all that they want. Without character, life that should be a matter of holding together of self in harmony and moderation, and of better relation to the world instead is a sequence of adjustments, pursuit of the advantage of the moment, doing which nothing of one's self persists, therefore no character. People with no character are ripe for propaganda and conspiracy theories,** open to be guided down the path of primed evidence never to be followed back all the way to the dirty secret of intentional dishonesty.
- But what about the equally unsurprising but still really strange behavior of Congress? Nancy Pelosi, the hundred times millionaire House leader says we are in a state of existential threat, the president must go, then adjourns the deliberative body for the weekend.
- There's more than one kind of bad character.
** Conspiracy theories are identifiable by the fact that they are not theories at all: not models of the world but assemblages of probability.