Morrison’s disinformation campaign is his greatest weapon

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The Morrison government has become so enmeshed in scandals and misinformation that it is difficult to determine what is real, writes Dr. Jennifer Wilson.

STEVE BANNONformer chief White House strategist in former US president’s administration donald trumpinvented the term “flood the area with shit”.

This strategy, succinctly identified by Bannon but not created by him, is to spread masses of disinformation intended to sow public distrust and erode the public’s ability to determine what is true. Overwhelmed by misinformation, it becomes impossible to identify a coherent narrative and the search for truth becomes too exhausting to pursue.

When the audience is exhausted, the area was flooded with shit. There is confusion, anger, insecurity and fear, and having concluded that there is no knowable truth in politics, people yearn instead for an authoritative leader, someone which seems to cut the shit out for them, like the only possible alternative.

In Australia we desperately wade through the shit flooded area, trying to keep our heads above the solids. With a Prime Minister recognized as a liar international and national and a government that is willing to support it despite its lie, thus participating in it, we have no hope of determining what is true in the political narrative they currently dominate.

With a largely captive media no longer acting as guardians of truth in power, we have lost our most important defense against the deception and duplicity of those for whom power is the only goal.

The need for clicks is a primary determinant of what gets published and how, to an extent inconceivable before the internet and social media. Add to that the blatant preference of the federal government by the majority of the mainstream media and you have the perfect conditions to flood the area.

There are still voices speaking the truth in a valiant attempt to thwart the tsunami of lies, but they are too rarely in the mainstream.

And so it is that in times of a pandemic, as we rapidly approach a federal election, the outcome of that election is likely to be determined not by the neglect to death elderly people in nursing homes and not by Catastrophic failure of the federal government to manage the pandemic and its effects, but in leaked text messages and personal betrayal scandals.

Instead of showing teeth, reporters pampered Morrison during a recent speech

Why? Because leaked text messages and the one-on-one psychodrama soap opera get more clicks than policies, even when those policies have proven to be critical failures with horrific consequences. These scandals offer titillation, a mild relief from the futile daily struggle to determine what is true and the despair that comes with being overwhelmed by lies.

The scandalous can make us laugh, albeit bitterly. It is fun to mock the powerful who control our future and in mockery we can forget for a moment that however ridiculous, brutal, amoral and unethical they are, they still control our future.

We are only human and we must forgive ourselves, says Prime Minister Scott Morrison who, over a long political career, showed no concern for the interests of anyone but his own while overseeing brutal policies that brought death and despair to Australians and refugees alike.

That Morrison’s efforts to humanize himself and his colleagues accelerated in sync with the scandals is telling. We’ve all made mistakes so we should be able to forgive our leaders for them, that’s his spin. Never mind the immeasurable nature of these mistakes and the power differential between them and us. We all don’t care. It is human to be wrong and to forgive is divine. You can read this as another flood level of shit, in which the corrupt power tries to make you believe that we are equal.

Election polls show Morrison slipping

To some degree, however, everyone is complicit. When the ruling class floods the area with irresistible scandal, of course we will be careful and they know it. It’s the equivalent of throwing us cake for an immediate sweet fix, instead of providing us with the more substantial bread we need to survive. We become so addicted to cake that bread no longer satisfies our cravings, even if without it we become weak. It takes an effort of will to resist the cake and demand the bread, and we are already dealing with a pandemic.

The flooding strategy aims to produce a maze of narratives and counter-narratives so complex and confusing that we have neither the time nor the energy to navigate through them. A pandemic provides the perfect opportunity for this manipulation.

This period of our history is sometimes described as the “post-truth” era, however, it is not so much “post” (the truth is there somewhere) that the truth sank five fathoms deep. into a sewer basin of misinformation by the people who have figured out that making the truth impossible to find is the most useful propaganda tool ever.

Until now.

Dr. Jennifer Wilson is an AI columnist, psychotherapist and academic. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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