The term gas-lighting means:

manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.

This is given in individual terms; by this, I mean that gaslighting is done by some-one to some-one. But can gas-lighting have an ideological resonance? For example, Hannah Arendt wrote in her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (a notion that, by the way, not unique to her, it was theorised also in Raymond Arons Totalitarianism & democracy):

Totalitarian politics - far from being simply anti-semitic or racist or imperialist or communist - use and abuse their own ideological and political elements until the basis of factual reality, from which the ideologies originally derived their strength and their propaganda value - the reality of the class struggle, for instance or the interest conflicts between Jews and their neighbours - have all but disappeared.

One might say that this is gas-lighting the terms in general. Except of course, terms, in general, have no life of their own, they are held, thought and argued by people. Thus the above can only mean the 'abuse' of an entire segment of the intelligentsia. But given that means that the entire factual basis of reality is undermined -it seems to me that this has a distinct resonance with gas-lighting.

Q. Can we take ideological gas-lighting as evidence of a totalitarian structure within capitalist society?

  • 1
    No. Both US political parties could credibly be accused of trying to gaslight the country, but on different topics. I'm keeping this politically neutral. The point is that even in a non-totalitarian situation, powerful people can sell bs stories to the public. – user4894 Oct 28 '19 at 1:04
  • 2
    You can find this video interesting from 1971 link Capitalism counts with the latest techniques in psychological manipulation. Controlled opposition, information control, education control etc. We are socially engineered morons and few of us know it. You have clear example in the 9/11 truth movement which is considered a "conspiracy theory" even when it's backed up by 3300+ Architects and Engineers. ‘It’s Easier to Fool People Than to Convince Them That They Have Been Fooled’ Welcome to the fake news era – user22051 Oct 28 '19 at 9:10
  • 1
    Capitalism unrestrained by strong and healthy democratic institutions is an open invitation to totalitarianism (have I heard the phrase "brand totalitarianism"). But "gas-lighting" can be evidence of many things, its mere detection can only be indicative of a (powerful) hidden agenda. – christo183 Oct 29 '19 at 10:29
  • @user4894: MacCarthyism, the Red Scare/Communism despite the fact WWII would not have been without the help of Russia, Vietnam war, the era of fake news, gas-lighting social media troll armies, the rule of capital in international politics ... – Mozibur Ullah Oct 29 '19 at 11:03
  • @user4894: What are you saying 'No' to by the way? – Mozibur Ullah Oct 29 '19 at 11:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.