Propaganda and the Collapse of Trust

Last week, I brought to a conclusion some reflections on the reality, gravity, and depth of the matters that divide Americans. I spoke about abortion, ‘LGBT’ issues, race (or more exactly ‘critical race theory’ or ‘wokeism’). I pointed out how underlying these issues, working through what is called ‘intersectionality’, is a Marxist dialectic setting ‘oppressed’ and ‘oppressor’ in perpetual, irreconcilable opposition. Then I examined the globalist/nationalist divide which is revealed in attitudes towards climate change and the pandemic regime. I observed that the would be globalist regime seems very comfortable with the pro-abortion, pro-LGBT, pro-critical race theory side of the Marxist dialectic. I suggested that there was little reason to trust the globalist regime with its totalitarian tendencies.

That might be a scary thought for many. Indeed, we are living in a scary time for an American who has grown up with a basic confidence in American institutions. We are used to trusting the FBI (aren’t they protecting us), our government bureaucracy (don’t they have our best interests at heart), and other institutions because after all of this is the product of our wonderful American system. We have grown up being taught that the major news media are trustworthy; unlike the ‘alternative press’, they have ‘standards’. Of course, we also have been taught to trust our health-care system and our civic organizations, our schools and universities. Many in this parish gain their livelihood directly or indirectly from these very institutions. Yes, we have complaints; we know there is corruption, but we have been accustomed to thinking of all this as secondary elements in an otherwise healthy and reliable system.

Yet, here I am suggesting that what we now have is an outward appearance that hides a new and more insidious reality; the outward appearance has been co-opted by ‘influences’ (Globalism and Marxism) quite foreign to the best of the American ‘genius’. Worse, something similar has been taking place in the Catholic Church, except that in the case of the Church we at least have the promise of our Lord that the gates of hell will not prevail.

In any case, once we no longer trust the institutions that we have been accustomed to rely on, whom do we trust? Suddenly we may really feel disoriented and lost. If we consider the events of January 6, we saw the dangers of radical distrust on open display; a sort of radical distrust underlies the dangers of the real right-wing extremism that was on display not in the Trump rally on the Ellipse, but among the mob that actually went into the Capitol building. Aren’t we starting to run into the danger of extremist ‘conspiracy theories’?

American politics, indeed all democratic politics, requires putting together diverse coalitions; that means any serious political movement will inevitably attract ‘extreme’ elements and be faced with how to deal with them. “Public relations” seems to require that successful political activity avoid the label ‘extremist’ and be able to present itself as ‘reasonable’ and ‘moderate’.

All this ‘labeling’, however, has been manipulated by the left, with the help of a sympathetic media, in a rather one-sided fashion. That means there is a public pressure for a political movement and its representatives to ‘disown’ ‘extremists’ and reject ‘conspiracy theories’. Those two: ‘extremism’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ seem to go together. The problem is that the demand of public pressure weighs more heavily on the right than on the left.

Indeed, opposition to abortion, to same-sex marriage, and to transgenderism, is now all publicly regarded as ‘extreme right wing’ just as much as the crudest racism. Indeed, critical race theory has made opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism to be expressions of racism. That means that traditional Catholic moral teaching now classifies not only as ‘extreme right wing’, but also as ‘racist’.

That really means that we are in a situation in which we can only appear ‘reasonable’, be accepted in the ‘main-stream’, and not be labeled as ‘extremist’ at the price of compromise with the Catholic faith. That means we have to be prepared to accept the ugly label, without embracing or approving the reality that deserves it.

That is the position in which the powerful propaganda of the globalist regime has put us. So long as we trust that propaganda and so long as we seek to meet their standards of approval we will be unable to serve the Kingdom of God. Yes, once we learn to distrust the propaganda of the globalist regime, we still have to avoid giving way to real extremism, real conspiracy theories, and real racism.

But is the situation really that bad? (To be continued)



Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.