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How to sell a controversial ideology

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Cartoon by Mark David/@mdavidcartoons

In a political world full of harmful ideologies, here's one person's guide on how to spin them to the masses and make them work.

HERE IS A LITTLE TIP for you. If you are trying to promote your unpopular fringe ideology, tell some lies.

Lie number one: Make out that you are more popular than you are

It’s hard to sell an unpopular idea, largely because it’s unpopular, so tell everyone it’s actually popular. In fact, why don’t you just give it a name that implies popularity, like “populism” and that way you don’t even need to make the argument? It is there every single time you are referenced.

Why is it important for “populists” to be popular?

Controversial ideologies like racism or homophobia tend to get demonised in most modern cultures, so people with these views were historically looked down upon. Standing up and saying “wait on a minute, I don’t believe in these racial equality stereotypes that you poofters are peddling” was a pretty reliable path to becoming ostracised and marginalised and nobody likes that.

Don’t get me wrong, racist and homophobic views have had their time in the sun, but more recently, as society has evolved into a more inclusive entity, people with a more homophobic or racist disposition have had their voices repressed.

A key player in that repression is the fear of social isolation that goes hand-in-hand with expressing unpopular views. If you want to hear those voices, if you want to free those voices, then you have to address that fear.

No one is afraid of shouting out popular views. If you were sitting in a meeting room with the south Mississippi KKK chapter, would you be more afraid of shouting out “I love Hillary” or “kill the nigger”?

To free those voices, you have to convince them that they are not alone. You have to convince them that they are not isolated. In fact, I’d probably go one step further and try convincing them they are actually in the majority. The silent majority.

Lie number two: If you don’t have an actual enemy, you have to create one

If you are going to rally your troops to a cause, they’ll need to be focussed. It’s hard to fight a war against an unknown enemy, so you need to identify your enemy. You need to stick a big sign on your enemy so your troops know where to aim.

If you can’t find an enemy that stands out, then you sure as hell need to invent one. And not just any enemy, they have to be different. If you want to push the narrative that you are the majority, then you would be hard-pressed to find a better correlate than an enemy that is in the minority. A fringe group. A group of elites.

Lie number three: Create your enemy’s arguments for them

If you really want to press home the advantage, you need your troops to bristle. You can’t rely on subtle nuanced discourse. You need to tear down the ideology of your enemy. If their view is different to your own, don’t put your faith in subtle disagreement.

A far better approach would be to listen to what your enemy is saying and then interpret it in an outrageous way for dissemination amongst your troops. Exaggerate your enemy’s ideas into an indefensible position, attribute it to your enemy and then you won’t even need to argue. The troops will go apeshit all by themselves.

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Your enemy says, “I advocate for a society where people are free to choose their own religions, including Islam”. That’s way too innocuous.

You say, “my enemy supports the right of people to mutilate the genitals of young girls”. See how that works? I’m bristling even writing it.

Here’s another.

Your enemy says, “I think that the Newstart allowance is too low”. Fairly reasonable, right?

You say, “my enemy wants to give these leeches more cash. It’s straight-up socialism”.

Do you see what I did there? Not only did I demonise the poor buggers on welfare, but I also tethered my enemy to a failed ideology. What’s more, I didn’t even have to justify how much people on Newstart actually get.

One more.

Your enemy says, “I think that franking credits are unfair and it gifts money to people who are already affluent”.

You say, “it’s a pensioners tax. These people are so messed up they want to tax pensioners and give it to bludgers, it’s the red peril all over again”.

Game, set and match. Victimise your troops, demonise the enemy, link them to a failed ideology and completely avoid the arguments at hand.

Lie number four: If you do find yourself under attack for your ideas, guide your argument away from the detail and argue your right to say it

Don’t underestimate the power in making a victim of yourself. If you play the victim, you can be the champion standing up against an evil oppressor.

Let’s just look at that old nursery rhyme that we use to teach kids how to make a random selection: “Eeny, meeny, miney, mo, catch a nigger by the toe, if he squeals let him go, eeny, meeny, miney, mo”. The Leftist elites want us to swap the word “tiger” in for “nigger”.

Whoever heard of a tiger that squeals? It’s madness. Besides, according to the rhyme, you actually let the nigger go if he squeals. No harm, no foul. And yet, these Leftist elites think they can erase these cultural gems.

I have a God-given right to call a chocolate biscuit shaped like a caricature of a negro a “Golliwog”, but the Left want to tear me down for it. If it was a foul-tasting biscuit, I could understand how it might be offensive, but those biscuits taste really good. It’s political correctness gone mad, is what it is.

In conclusion, you have to lie about how popular you are, lie about how popular your opponents are, exaggerate and take liberties with your opponent’s ideology and play the victim unmercifully in order to create a nurturing space for your bigotry to thrive.

Dr Kyle Mervin is a former neuroscientist with post-doctoral experience working at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Neurobiology department).

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