Much of the psychology of Clown World is the psychology of the herd. Although the human ego likes to place itself above the rest of the animal kingdom, the reality is that we are just as much a herd animal as any wildebeest. Understanding the psychology of Clown World requires that we understand the phenomenon of groupthink.
William H Whyte Jr., the sociologist who came up with the term, described it as “a rationalized conformity – an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well.” This sense of righteousness is key to understanding groupthink. It’s what motivates groupthinkers to destroy outsiders.
The Asch Conformity Experiments demonstrated the power that groupthink exerts over human behaviour. In these experiments, participants were placed into a group, all of the other members of which were conspiring with the experimenter. These other group members then pretended to believe something that was clearly false, so that the participant was forced to choose between conforming to group norms or speaking the truth.
In about a third of cases, the participants went along with the false information, despite that it was obviously false. When asked why, most of them said they were afraid of social disapproval.
Humans have always been a social species, right back into the biological past. Because of the threat of ostracisation, we have always had to take the social environment into consideration. This has had consequences for how our minds have evolved. We have learned to be afraid of assuming a low social status, lest it lead to us getting kicked out of the group. The more dependent a person is on others, the more afraid they are.
The desire for social harmony leads people to go along with things that they know aren’t true. This has always been the case when it came to cults, but in Clown World it’s the case in general. Today’s groupthinkers insist that mass immigration has made us all wealthier, or that all racial groups are precisely the same in all psychological measures, or that cannabis causes mental illness. The existence of evidence demonstrating otherwise is simply denied.
Characteristic of groupthink is that it increases the likelihood of dehumanising the outgroup. The more a person becomes convinced that their ingroup is morally superior, the more they become convinced that any outgroup is morally inferior. This line of thinking can have lethal outcomes.
The most prominent example of groupthink in Clown World was the leadup to the Iraq War in 2003. Although many people expressed a feeling that the war was a bad idea (a million people protested in London, and three million in Rome, the largest protests in the history of the world), no-one close to George W Bush seems to have done so. Iraqis were dehumanised; civilian deaths in the invasion were written off as “collateral damage”.
In principle, any time a group of people get together and start irrationally hating outsiders could be considered an example of groupthink. The war-like mentality that fuels it seems to be built into human nature. It’s as if that, sometimes, it’s just time for killing, and when it is the group needs to work together as a single unit, with no dissent.
The ruling class is aware of all this, which is why they like to hype the population into a war mentality whenever possible. One of the most unpleasant aspects of Clown World is that the war hype is now permanent. There is always an enemy, always some terrorist out there who will destroy us the moment we relax. The mainstream media keeps us in this state of combat readiness with 24/7 reminders of the world’s danger.
In an age where the average person is so weak, groupthink is much more common than it was. The average person is now so cowardly that the prospect of going against the authority of the group is practically unthinkable. Only abject submission can reduce anxiety to tolerable levels.
This was demonstrated amply by the hysteria around the need to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All it took was for the mainstream media to create the perception that anyone not wearing a mask was endangering the public, and people were happy to rip into them. At no point was it necessary to demonstrate scientifically that wearing masks was worth all the grief. Groupthink ensured that dissenters were destroyed.
The general propensity for groupthink is made worse by situational factors. Increased anxiety makes people more liable to put group approval above truth. The prevailing sense of panic in the West since 9/11 has made groupthink a common phenomenon. When a wartime mentality prevails, you don’t want to go against the group, lest you be declared a traitor and cast out (or worse).
The rise of social media has made groupthink much more intense. Because dissenting views can be, and are, silenced so easily on online platforms, it’s very common for people to get an illusory sense of consensus. Anyone accused of xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or Islamophobia will soon be shut down, creating the impression that everyone agrees with the main globohomo narrative.
Perhaps the most archetypal examples of groupthink in Clown World are the SJW vs. Alt Right conflicts that are boiling over all across the West. An alt centrist can try to stay out of the fray, but the outgroup hostility possessed by both groups will inevitably cause them to accuse any neutral party of being an enemy.
Groupthink is why political activists can get so hysterical when encountering their declared enemy. This is a grave danger – such hysteria has motivated some of the worst atrocities of times past. Given the extent of social discord in Clown World, it’s easily possible that it could motivate some terrible crimes in the future. The presence of cancel culture is an unmistakable sign that the will to destroy the lives of perceived enemies exists.
Fortunately, perhaps, groupthink is also a function of group cohesion, and neither SJWs nor the Alt Right have the group cohesion to enable any truly malicious outgroup prejudice. At least not yet. As Clown World gets worse, though, we can predict that the hunkering down phenomenon will intensify and this will lead to increased groupthink and increased outgroup hostility.
This article is an excerpt from Clown World Chronicles, a book about the insanity of life in the post-Industrial West. This is being compiled by Vince McLeod for an expected release in the middle of 2020.
If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.