A Short Piece
Baudrillard and the Capitol Invasion
Why do we believe someone is behind everything?
You’ve probably heard the rumors by now that the protestors yesterday (January 6th) were actually members of Antifa pretending to be Trump supporters in order to stage an invasion of the Capitol that would destroy Congressional support for investigating claims of election fraud.
First, I want to note how quickly this narrative emerged. It didn’t take but an hour for the idea to spread across the internet like wildfire. A few people came up with it, and instantly the idea dawned upon millions.
Furthermore, once we encounter the idea that “Antifa staged the riot,” how can we consider ourselves “critical thinkers” unless we investigate it? Thus, we can be compelled by a sense of “epistemic responsibility” to consider the idea and to think of people who don’t consider the idea as “epistemically irresponsible.” This causes what I call a “Conflict of Mind”-situation — a major problem. (Please note that other people will consider it “epistemic irresponsible” to even consider the Antifa thesis and those who consider it the opposite of “critical thinkers” — ideologues.)
Point 1: We are habituated and trained to instantly interpret everything as “not what it seems” (relative to our ideology) and to even moralize doing this as “epistemically responsible.” Consequently, “the real is dead.” I will call these narratives here “Tricks.”
Please note that this idea cannot be falsified. Even if a hundred of the Capitol invaders were captured and proven to be Trump supporters, someone out there on the net could always say that, sure, there were Trump supporters in the group, but they were motivated to go “too far” by Antifa. Antifa started it.
Point 2: We are habituated to produce Tricks that cannot be falsified, and thus we can always come up with a logic to continue ascribing to our Tricks.
(For more, see Karl Popper and “If We Think for Ourselves Without Falsification, We’ll Probably Go Crazy.”)
Perhaps Antifa did start the riots. Do we have 100% proof that they didn’t? Probably not, but this doesn’t mean Antifa had anything to do with it. The lack of evidence against a premise doesn’t verify the premise. But for the people who want to believe Antifa started the riot, this means there will likely never be an undeniable reason to make them stop believing it.
In other words, certainty is not possible either way.
Point 3: Many of us have been trained to think that the only valid grounds to accept or dismiss a premise is with certainty. Certainty is mostly impossible; therefore, we can never be forced by certainty to change our minds.
(For more, see “Certainty Entails a Lot of Unintended Consequences”; also relevant is “Anxiety and Schrödinger’s Conceivability Structures.”)
1. We are habituated to not believe anything we see.
2. We are trained to make our beliefs unfalsifiable.
3. We are trained to only be willing to change our minds with certainty.
We are therefore habituated to interpret events as unfalsifiable Tricks that no one can be forced to disbelieve or believe, Tricks that will then spread across the net like wildfire. Everyone will thus ascribe or disregard these Tricks according to their ideologies, greatly contributing not only to tribalism but tribalism surrounded by impenetrable walls.
Baudrillard warned us about “the death of the real,” a situation which makes everything “(un)real,” a “Schrödinger Cat”-esq mixture of the true and the false, the determinable and the indeterminable, the solid and the melting. I can’t say I’m an expert on the thinker, but it seems to me that Baudrillard was right.