The New Discourses Podcast with James Lindsay, Episode 14
In a recent long-form essay on New Discourses, James Lindsay explained the origins of totalitarianism in a single word: psychopathy. There, he explained that totalitarianism arises from people who cannot cope with reality as it is, and yet who are content to manipulate others, constructing a “pseudo-reality” in service to a vision of the world that serves their needs. That pseudo-reality holds as its North Star a Utopian vision that aligns with artificial resolutions to their inability to cope with reality as it is, and it thereby attracts others who have similar issues. By constructing a false logic (a paralogic) and a false morality (a paramorality) to define and enforce the pseudo-reality, they can gather supporters in a cult-like fashion. In the end, those ensnared lose the ability to distinguish reality and pseudo-reality almost entirely and become functionally psychopathic, and if they gain enough social, cultural, economic, and political power, they can hold hostage entire societies that are, in effect, on the march to totalitarianism and, eventually, total catastrophic collapse.
The essay is an important read, but it is also a difficult one. In this episode of the New Discourses podcast, James seeks to explain the essay in easier language and to flesh out its ideas one by one. He sees this process of unpacking the essay as his next major work, and in this podcast, he begins the process of linking the concept of “ideological pseudo-reality” to more familiar examples, not least Wokeness. Critical Race Theory, for example, is a pseudo-reality that positions racism as the ordinary state of affairs in society, not an immoral aberration from them. Queer Theory is a pseudo-reality in which being normal with regard to sex, gender, and sexuality is a problem while being in some way deviant (which is not the same as being gay or even trans) is elevated as normal. Communism is a pseudo-reality that deems socially engineered command economies as effective and efficient ways to maximize human flourishing. Covid-19 is a pseudo-reality built to enact control around a genuine and serious virus called SARS-CoV-2. These topics and more are presented in this episode of the New Discourses podcast to help people understand and, hopefully, able to see reality for itself again.
Previous episodes of this podcast are available here.