Monday, January 30, 2017

David Livingstone Smith: The Politics of Salvation: Ideology, Propaganda, and Race in Trump's America

David Livingstone Smith's talk at UC Riverside, Jan 19, 2017:

Introduction by Milagros Pena, Dean of UCR's College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Panel discussants are Jennifer Merolla (Political Science, UCR), Armando Navarro (Ethnic Studies, UCR), and me. After the Dean's remarks, David's talk is about 45 minutes, then about 5-10 minutes for each discussant, then open discusson with the audience for the remainder of the three hours, moderated by David Glidden (Philosophy, UCR).

Smith outlines Roger Money-Kyrle's theory of propaganda -- drawn from observing Hitler's speeches. On Money-Kyrle's view propaganda involves three stages: (1) induce depression, (2) induce paranoia, and (3) offer salvation. Smith argues that Trump's speeches follow this same pattern.

Smith also argues for a "teleofunctional" notion of ideological beliefs as beliefs that have the function of promoting oppression in the sense that those beliefs have proliferated because they promote oppression. On this view, beliefs are ideological, or not, depending on their social or cultural lineage. One's own personal reasons for adopting those beliefs are irrelevant to the question of whether they are ideological. In the case of Trump in particular, Smith argues, regardless of why he embraces the beliefs he does, or what his personal motives are, if his beliefs are beliefs with the cultural-historical function of promoting oppression, they are ideological.

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