The way resistance—just plain resistance—works is by restoring to the normal person the epistemic and moral authority necessary to resist the ideologue’s illegitimate demands to participate in a pseudo-real fraud. That is, it restores confidence in normality to the normal. No one feels ashamed of resisting a con, whatever form it takes, and this is the real phenomenon we face with any growing ideological pseudo-reality. Its paralogic and paramorality work to drain us of our sense of authority to know what is and is not true and what is and is not right. One’s authority only lacks under the assumptions of the paralogical and paramoral systems, however—that is, inside pseudo-reality—and it can be reclaimed by anyone who simply refuses to participate in the lie. Step outside of the pseudo-reality (take the “red pill,” as depicted in The Matrix), and you’ll see.
Many of the greatest horrors of the history of humanity owe their occurrence solely to the establishment and social enforcement of a false reality. With gratitude to the Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper and his important 1970 essay “Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power” for the term and idea, we can refer to these alternative realities as ideological pseudo-realities.
Pseudo-realities, being false and unreal, will always generate tragedy and evil on a scale that is at least proportional to the reach of their grip on power—which is their chief interest—whether social, cultural, economic, political, or (particularly) a combination of several or all of these. So important to the development and tragedies of societies are these pseudo-realities when they arise and take root that it is worth outlining their basic properties and structure so that they can be identified and properly resisted before they result in sociopolitical calamities—up to and including war, genocide, and even civilizational collapse, all of which can take many millions of lives and can ruin many millions more in the vain pursuit of a fiction whose believers are, or are made, sufficiently intolerant.
The Nature of Pseudo-realities
Pseudo-realities are, simply put, false constructions of reality. It is hopefully obvious that among the features of pseudo-realities is that they must present a plausible but deliberately wrong understanding of reality. They are cult “realities” in the sense that they are the way that members of cults experience and interpret the world—both social and material—around them. We should immediately recognize that these deliberately incorrect interpretations of reality serve two related functions. First, they are meant to mold the world to accommodate small proportions of people who suffer pathological limitations on their abilities to cope with reality as it is. Second, they are designed to replace all other analyses and motivations with power, which these essentially or functionally psychopathic individuals will contort and deform to their permanent advantage so long as their pseudo-real regime can last.
Pseudo-realities are always social fictions, which, in light of the above, means political fictions. That is, they are maintained not because they are true, in the sense that they correspond to reality, either material or human, but because a sufficient quantity of people in the society they attack either believe them or refuse to challenge them. This implies that pseudo-realities are linguistic phenomena above all else, and where power-granting linguistic distortions are present, it is likely that they are there to create and prop up some pseudo-reality. This also means that they require power, coercion, manipulation, and eventually force to keep them in place. Thus, they are the natural playground of psychopaths, and they are enabled by cowards and rationalizers. Most importantly, pseudo-realities do not attempt to describe reality as it is but rather as it “should be,” as determined by the relatively small fraction of the population who cannot bear living in reality unless it is bent to enable their own psychopathologies, which will be projected upon their enemies, which means all normal people.
Normal people do not accept pseudo-reality and interpret reality more or less accurately, granting the usual biases and limitations of human perspective. Their common heuristic is called common sense, though much more refined forms exist in the uncorrupted sciences. In reality, both of these are handmaidens of power, but in pseudo-realities, this is inverted. In pseudo-reality, common sense is denigrated as bias or some kind of false consciousness, and science is replaced by a scientism that is a tool of power itself. For all his faults and the faults of his philosophy (which enable much ideological pseudo-reality), Michel Foucault warned us about this abuse quite cogently, especially under the labels “biopower” and “biopolitics.” These accusations of bias and false consciousness are, of course, projections of the ideological pseudo-realist, who, by sheer force of rhetoric, transforms limitations on power into applications of power and thus his own applications of power into liberation from it. Foucault, for any insight he provided, is also guilty of this charge.
It must be observed that people who accept pseudo-realities as though they are “real” are no longer normal people. They perceive pseudo-reality in place of reality, and the more thoroughly they take on this delusional position, the more functional psychopathy they necessarily exhibit and thus the less normal they become. Importantly, normal people consistently and consequentially fail to realize this about their reprogrammed neighbors. Perceiving them as normal people when they are not, normal people will reliably misunderstand the motivations of ideological pseudo-realists—power and the universal installation of their own ideology so that everyone lives in a pseudo-reality that enables their pathologies—usually until it is far too late.
As a result of this failure of perspective, many particularly epistemically and morally open normal people will reinterpret the claims of pseudo-reality into something that is plausible in reality under the usual logic and morals that guide our thinking, and this reinterpretation will work to the benefit of the pseudo-realists who have ensnared them. This sort of person, who stands between the real world and the pseudo-real are useful idiots to the ideology, and their role is to generate copious amounts of epistemic and ethical camouflage for the pseudo-realists. This phenomenon is key to the success, spread, and acceptance of pseudo-realities because without it very few people outside of small psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually unwell people would accept a pseudo-reality as if it is a superior characterization of the genuine article. Clearly, the more plausible the account of pseudo-reality on offer, the stronger this effect will be, and the more power the ideologues who believe in it will be able to accrue.
Pseudo-realities may have any degree of plausibility in their distorted descriptions of reality, and thus may recruit different numbers of adherents. They are often said to be accessible only by applying a “theoretical lens,” awakening a specialized “consciousness,” or by means of some pathological form of faith. Whether by “lens,” “consciousness,” or “faith,” these intellectual constructs exist to make the pseudo-reality seem more plausible, to drag people into participating in it against their will, and to distinguish those who “can see,” “are awake,” or “believe” from those who cannot or, as it always eventually goes, will not. That is, they are the pretext to tell people who inhabit reality instead of pseudo-reality that they’re not looking at “reality” correctly, which means as pseudo-reality. This will typically be characterized as a kind of willful ignorance of the pseudo-reality, which will subsequently be described paradoxically as unconsciously maintained. Notice that this puts the burden of epistemic and moral responsibility on the person inhabiting reality, not the person positing its replacement with an absurd pseudo-reality. This is a key functional manipulation of pseudo-realists that must be understood. The ability to recognize this phenomenon when it occurs and to resist it is, at scale, the life and death of civilizations.
Adoption of a pseudo-reality tends to hinge upon a lack of ability or will to question, doubt, and reject them and their fundamental presuppositions and premises of the pseudo-reality. Therefore, the “logical” and “moral” systems that operate within the pseudo-reality will always seek to manufacture this failure wherever they can, and successful pseudo-realist attacks will evolve these features like a social virus until their effectiveness is very high. This deficiency is often the direct result of mental illness, usually paranoia, schizoidia, anxiety, or psychopathy, however, so maintaining and manufacturing these states in themselves and normal people is strongly incentivized by the false “logic” and false “morality” of the ideological pseudo-reality. That is, the methods and means applied in service to a pseudo-reality will create and manipulate psychological weaknesses in people to get them to carry water for a destructive lie. The nicer, more tolerant, and more charitable a community is, supposing it lacks the capacity to spot these counterfeits early on, the more susceptible its members will tend to be to these manipulations.
Pseudo-realities and Power
The ultimate purpose of creating a pseudo-reality is power, which the constructed pseudo-reality grants in many ways. Though these means are many, we should name a few. First, the pseudo-reality is always constructed such that it structurally advantages those who accept it over those who do not, frequently by overt double standards and through moral-linguistic traps. Double standards in this regard will always favor those who accept pseudo-reality as reality and will always disfavor those who seek the truth. An ideological pseudo-reality must displace reality in a sufficient population to grant itself power to succeed in its goals. Linguistic traps will often employ strategic double meanings of words, often by strategic redefinition (creating a motte and bailey), will beg the question in ways that forces people to participate in the pseudo-reality to respond (often by Aufhebung-style, i.e., Hegelian, dialectical traps), or will begin with an assumption of guilt and demand proof of innocence such that denial or resistance is taken as proof of guilt of some moral crime against the moral system that serves the pseudo-reality (a kafkatrap). Demands will be made with sufficient vagueness such that they can never be said to have been met and such that responsibility for failure will always be the fault of the enemies of the ideology who “misunderstood” them and thus implemented them incorrectly.
Second, the very assertion of pseudo-reality demoralizes all who are pressed into engaging with it by the mere fact of being something false that must be treated as true. We should never underestimate how psychologically weakening and damaging it is to be forced to treat as true something that is not true, with the effect strengthening the more obviously false it is. Despite the fact that obviousness of the pseudo-real distortion concentrates its demoralizing power, pseudo-reality is only pseudo-real when the distortion is not immediately and wholly transparent and also when it is sufficiently widely socially accepted to become a socially constructed pseudo-truth. Whether or not the distortion is apparent, however, the situation it creates is most demoralizing for those who see through it because making the distortions of a pseudo-reality apparent to those who do not already see them is always exceptionally tedious and will be vigorously resisted not only by adherents but by useful idiots.
Thus, third, by trading off normal people’s assumptions that seemingly serious people care about what is true, they successfully force normal people to verify aspects of the pseudo-reality even in the act of denying it by getting the normal person to meet the ideologue part way. This is the relevance of pseudo-reality being pseudo-real, with greater plausibility strengthening the effect. That is, many normal people will fail to realize the pseudo-reality is false because they cannot see outside of the frame of normality that they charitably extend to all people, whether normal or not.
This dynamic bears a brief elaboration. Normal people do not tend to recognize that a broken logic and twisted morality is being used to prop up an ideological vision—a pseudo-reality—and that the mental states of the people within it (or held hostage by it) are not normal. Some among them, particularly the very but not exceptionally smart, thus skillfully reinterpret the absurd and dangerous claims of the pseudo-realist ideologues into something reasonable and sensible when, in fact, they are not reasonable or sensible. This, in turn, renders the pseudo-reality more palatable than it actually is and further disguises the distortions and underlying will to power presented by the ideological pseudo-realists. All of these features, and others, advantage the ideologue who, like some modern-day Zarathustra, speaks a pseudo-reality into existence, and all of these confer power upon that ideologue while stealing it from every participant in their social fiction, willing or not.
A Note on Ideology
As we are now speaking in terms of ideologues, we need to be clear before continuing that by “ideology” is meant here something closer to “cult ideology” than a more general meaning of the term. It is crucial to distinguish between these so that we do not confuse those sweeping approaches to contextualizing and understanding reality that are generative of comprehension of the real with those that exist in relationship with the pseudo-real.
Liberalism may, for example, be construed as an ideology, but it would not qualify as a cult ideology because, for any shortcomings it may have, it makes itself subordinate to the truth. (Indeed, this together with its incorrect general assumption of the normality of all people is why liberal systems are so susceptible to ideological pseudo-reality and thus so desperately need a vaccine against them.) That liberalism subordinates itself to an external, or objective, truth is obvious from the first principles of liberalism, which arises in the context of favoring rationalism and deferral to the greatest degree of objectivity in any circumstance it seeks to understand or dispute it aims to solve. It also explicitly sides with due processes in service to these objectives and explicitly denies any “ends justify the means” rationales. Accordingly, it exhibits none of the psychopathic tendencies that arise quite regularly in the context of ideologies that depend upon the production and maintenance of some useful but bogus pseudo-reality.
Cult Pseudo-realism and Utopianism
Though we are primarily interested in ideological pseudo-realities, perhaps the most atomic example of a pseudo-reality is not ideological in nature. It is the tragic world of the clinically deluded person, which only he accepts as the “true” state of affairs. “His reality,” “his truth,” is no one else’s because he is not a normal person, and no one is confused by this. The psychopathology involved is readily apparent to all normal people, and, if all goes well, he receives treatment, not enablement. Extending this example up by one rung on the social ladder, we can imagine that our delusional person is sufficiently charismatic and linguistically savvy to establish a cult following of fellow believers in his pseudo-reality. While a cult may not itself be ideological, it requires no effort to climb the ladder from a cult (say of personality, even) all the way up to global pseudo-real sociopolitical movements that endure over decades or even centuries (Hegel, for example, wrote The Phenomenology of Spirit in 1807).
Only two propositions are needed to understand this ladder exists from a single deluded person with a small cult around him to a massive and devastating political movement. The first is simpler: it is that otherwise psychically, emotionally, and intellectually healthy people can be manipulated into pathologies in these domains. That is, such a ladder exists because pseudo-realists are sometimes able to persuade people that the presumptions underlying their pseudo-real construction provide a better read on reality than others, which obviously happens all the time. Cults arise and can grow quite large.
The second is that cults can become ideological, and, more specifically, Utopian. This also happens with some documented frequency, especially in situations where some oversimplification of how to arrange the entire social order in which we all live takes on a glorious vision with a Utopian endpoint—literally, nowhere, in the original Greek (there are no Utopias, only dystopias). A reliable symptom that this is occurring is a vision over a very long time period (often a millennium), after which time all social ills will be cured, that nevertheless requires a revolution in the here and now to begin. These cults of pseudo-reality are very dangerous and threaten us and our civilizations even today.
The Utopian vision hiding at the heart of all (cult) ideologies provides the rationale beneath and means by which an ideological pseudo-reality is created. The pseudo-reality is a construction that misunderstands actual reality as compared against the imagined Utopia that resides at the end of the ideological rainbow. It is constructed to force as many people as possible to live within the Utopian daydream of the people who find reality less tolerable than a fictional alternative that cannot be believed without nearly universal compliance. That is, the pseudo-reality that is constructed in service to an ideology is a fantastic vision of society made perfect for certain intolerant misfits that is then turned backwards upon itself. In other words, as we shall see, Utopian ideologies are psychopathic and arise from an inability to inhabit reality (at least without treatment).
So the construction of an ideological pseudo-reality tends to be done in reverse by starting with an impossibly perfect society (in the view of particular psychopathological people) and then inventing an alternative vision of the world we actually inhabit as a kind of mythology that contains a pseudo-real explanation for why we have not yet arrived at Utopia and how we might get there yet. Details are light—specifically because no plan can replace reality with pseudo-reality—and it will be insinuated by the ideologues that they will be provided as we go. The pseudo-real Utopia will thereby be produced from reality through a process that’s rightly described as alchemical in nature—seeking to make something out of that which cannot produce it—which nearly always involves creating fundamental changes to society and the people who inhabit it. Here it bears mentioning that any injustice in the present and near future can be justified against a vision of perfection for fictitious people a thousand years hence.
Pseudo-realities as Language Games
As implied by Pieper, as can be seen even in the title of his essay from which we’re taking the term “pseudo-reality” (“Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power”) these constructions tend to arise out of abuses of language that enable abuses of power. These manipulations are therefore attractive to people with strong inclinations to control other people or to take power, particularly when they are of moderately high intelligence, relatively well-off, and linguistically savvy (while, perhaps, lacking in other more concretely valuable skills). That is, pseudo-realities are constructed by linguistically capable manipulators who wish to control other people, and it’s reasonable to assume that a sufficiently convincing (and convicting) pseudo-reality will then draw in more such people who are able to develop the pseudo-world and its fictions and then convince people it maps meaningfully onto reality in a way that it does not. The process by which they do this might most accurately be called discourse engineering, with the exact same connotation that we usually attach to the bigger project it facilitates, social engineering. Some specific types of these language games, to borrow a phrase from Wittgenstein, were mentioned briefly above.
These behaviors, even when done by the sincere person who has confused reality for a pseudo-reality, should all be seen as manipulations and abuses, though it’s always important to recognize that intention of each participating individual matters in the moral ramifications that follow from this fact. Pseudo-real world-builders tend to manipulate people upon their vulnerabilities, which is a well-known fact of cult recruitment. Thus, they are most effective on people who have an underlying baseline of psychological, emotional, or spiritual illness, particularly of the kinds that relate poorly to the real world and the rough-and-tumble social realities within it. As noted, these are also often manufactured to purpose and target the psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually susceptible, along with the naive, the angry, and the aggrieved. It is in such minds where pseudo-realist manipulations are most effective and can generate a sizable sympathizer base among otherwise normal people, some of whom will be induced into the psychopathologies that underlie the whole project. This is the real alchemy of the pseudo-realist ideological project: turning normal, mostly healthy people into psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually broken water-carriers who can no longer cope adequately with the features of reality and thus must prefer the pseudo-reality that was built to receive them—and, more importantly, to make strategic use of them.
Given the fact that they are the tool of manipulative people who exhibit high thirst for power and linguistic savvy, pseudo-realists tend to target the (bourgeois) upper-middle class whose livelihoods depend most upon their credentialing and acceptance by a group of peers, particularly the highly educated, though not most brilliant, among them. An abnormally high proportion of such individuals are employed in education, media, politics, and especially academia. (The most potent and dangerous ideological pseudo-realities are the kinds of absurdities only academics could truly believe.) Among its features, pseudo-reality, being a linguistic and social construction, enables a path to careerism and credentialing in these sorts of professions far more than in most others, which generates an incentive structure that favors the pseudo-realists’ ambitions.
Aside from base careerism among the otherwise underaccomplishing, these people are also particularly susceptible to rhetorical devices that arouse the possibility that they are insufficiently intelligent, sensitive, or spiritually enriched, and the pseudo-reality will then be presented as the proper “interpretive frame” that resolves these defects. Maybe it will be suggested, for example, that the pseudo-realist has a more complete or sophisticated understanding of reality that the intended target doesn’t or can’t understand (often by appealing to the infinitely complicated “systemic nature” of problems that are otherwise quite straightforward). Maybe a moral or spiritual attack will be made that renders them feeling unlikable by others or self (often through accusations of moral complicity and crimethink). The fact that the pseudo-reality does not conform correctly to actual reality will generate cognitive dissonance that, in the circumstances, will be usefully generative of more indoctrination into the basic premises of the pseudo-reality. This is, of course, a specific manifestation of the process of cult indoctrination and reprogramming.
This feature of pseudo-realist cultism strengthens as the mark accepts more of the premises of the pseudo-reality and thus divorces himself further and further from reality and normal people who live within it. This slowly traps adherents, who have almost no escape mechanism, even when ideological off-ramps are made plainly available. Without even mentioning that they know how their daily bread is buttered—and by, and in relation to, whom—because those who accepted pseudo-reality have distorted their understanding of the world (their epistemology) to the internal (bogus) “logic” of the pseudo-reality and have subverted their ethics (their morality) to the (evil) “moral” system employed by it, they are well and truly trapped by the ideology the pseudo-reality serves. With a distorted logic that can no longer perceive reality except as a counterfeit, they lack the necessary epistemic resources to challenge the ideology, even within themselves. With a subverted morality that perceives evil as good and good as evil in accordance with the slave morality of the pseudo-reality, their entire social environment is conditioned to keep them in a Hell whose gates are locked from the inside. Thus, to understand ideological pseudo-realities and to try to discover something we can do about them, it is necessary to examine their internal logic and moral systems in more detail.
Because the pseudo-reality is not real and does not correspond in any faithful way to objective reality, it cannot be described in terms that are logical. In the realm of how it thinks about the world, a pseudo-reality will employ an alternative logic—a paralogic, an illogical fake logic that operates beside logic—that has internally comprehensible rules and structure but that does not produce logical results. Indeed, it necessarily must correspond not to reality but to pseudo-reality, and it must also therefore violate the law of non-contradiction. That is, a pseudo-real paralogic will always be internally (and often unrepentantly) inconsistent and self-contradictory. This can be taken as a symptom that a paralogic is being presented in support of a pseudo-reality, as can be any sustained attack on principles of objectivity and reason.
In successful ideological pseudo-realities, the paralogic in play necessarily manipulates normal people outside of its purview into trusting their own (incorrect) assumption that the paralogic must somehow be logical (why wouldn’t it be?). Thus, normal people will (wrongly) assume that the given descriptions of the pseudo-reality must have some reasonable (real) interpretation that is intelligible by applying real logic (incorrectly) to the claims of the pseudo-realist. (Very) smart people will look for this “logical” reinpretpretation of nonsense by reflex and will thus render themselves (very smart) useful idiots.
The role paralogic plays in being parallel to logic but for a false reality is crucial to understand. It reliably leads (very) smart, thoughtful people who utterly reject the pseudo-reality—and yet who remain mostly ignorant of its paralogical structure—to carry water for the ideologues inhabiting it by normalizing it while portraying accurate critics as kooks and bad actors. In fact, these (very smart) people are generating the smokescreen to the broader normal public that makes the pseudo-reality look far more reasonable and tethered to reality than it actually is. This intellectual manipulation of (very smart) people is a crucial factor in the establishment of any successful large-scale pseudo-reality, which will only be able to maintain a relatively small proportion of true believers. Of note, nobody is better at this than an educated or credentialed liberal who stands to lose a lot by being branded a kook or bad actor by other useful idiots.
It must be recognized that the paralogical structure that serves the ideological pseudo-reality is ultimately alchemical—not chemical, not scientific, i.e., not logical—in nature. That is, it wants to make something out of nothing (and thus makes nothing out of something). More specifically, it seeks to change the substance of one “reality” into another effectively by means of a magic that does not exist. Indeed, its objective is to transmute the substance of reality as it is into what is envisioned in the pseudo-reality and the Utopia it is ultimately based upon. This means that there can be no legitimate form of disagreement with a pseudo-real paralogic, and there can be no disproof of the pseudo-reality it claims to make sense of. The paralogic, falsely appearing logical, dismisses all such contradictions. Real communism, as we have heard, for example, has apparently never been tried, and the problem was that the people who implemented it, say through the Leninist Soviet model in one design or another, didn’t properly understand it or its crucial elements. Thus, the paralogic of the ideology cannot produce philosophy but only sophistry. It cannot produce gold from lead, but it can get its sorcerers to drink mercury and drive themselves mad.