Gaslighting: To systematically seek to undermine a person or persons by causing them to doubt their own senses and sanity, through carefully deployed misdirection and systematic telling of lies and half-truths.
If you have read any recent articles on domestic violence you will likely be familiar with the term gaslighting. Gaslighting is a deception technique used by abusers to keep their victim in line, and loyal to them, all while harming them at the same time, whether psychologically or physically. Wikipedia (2019) defines gaslighting as:
…a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.
Put simply gaslighting is a technique used to keep the victim off their feet and unable or less able to use their reasoning faculties to make a reasoned defence against their abuser. You may wonder why an abused wife, or husband, might stay with a dangerously abusive spouse, often it is because they are gaslighted into thinking they are at fault and they are the problem. It may be hard to conceive but skilled narcissists are often very capable of using lies to emotionally overwhelm their victims.
This causes the victim to doubt themselves, doubt their beliefs, even doubt their whole perception of reality. Which in turn causes them to feel more dependent on their abuser, which is a vicious and sad cycle. It is one that people can break out of, but it is not always very easy, especially if the person is isolated, and kept away from healthy family and friends, who will be honest with them.
Right now you are thinking: this is fascinating Matt, but what does this have to do with diversity in society?
Well, our leaders have been gaslighting us, and most of us don’t realize it, and many people who do realize it are afraid to speak out publicly for fear of being accused of being racist, xenophobic, Nazi, or something else… in other words many people are afraid to speak out because they are worried they might be the problem. We have been gaslighted into submission to deceptive and self-serving leaders, who do not have our best interests in mind.
Let me give you some examples. You have probably heard the oft-repeated phrase “diversity is our strength.” It is the kind of corporate doublespeak that you hear from woke CEO’s, diverged fashion companies, progressive agenda pushing sport codes (I am looking at you Rugby Australia, AFL, and, sadly, NRL).
Among many other world leaders, both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are both famous for crying that “diversity is our strength.” Khan even had the gall to say as much while London was going through a string of terror attacks that were a direct gift to Britain from their diverse immigration policies over the last few decades. Indeed he told Britons this was their new normal. I wonder why they voted for Brexit?
The average person can automatically smell the whiff of balderdash in the statement “diversity is our strength”, but then we are pumped with so much messaging about its benefits that we tend to shrink back thinking, well maybe it is true.
Our media, our news, our movies, our TV shows, our radios, our sporting codes, our school teachers, our government, and the elites in every aspect of society have been repeating this phrase, or a version of this phrase, for so long that many people have come to accept it. And even many who do not accept it, because they can see the downsides of too much diversity, hold back their criticism, wondering if they are the problem. Our western societies are showing the symptoms of being gaslighted by abusive leaders and it’s not good.
And I mean abusive. You know why? Because many of them know that they are harming society with their increased push for more and more diversity with religious zeal, and they have known for some time, and they continue to push the agenda anyway. How do I know this?
Well, have you heard of the 2007 Putnam study on diversity, E Pluribus Unum- Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century? No, well I can guarantee many of our leaders have, especially because when it was published it was a very big deal, and it shows, beyond a shadow of the doubt, what too much diversity does to a society – it destroys social cohesion, divides people, and decreases the social capital that is needed for society to be healthy.
What is social capital? Well, put simply it is the ability to access networks which enable us to succeed (Putnam 1007, 137). The familiar phrase ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know,’ sums up the importance of social capital in society.
Social capital can look like communities that have BBQ’s together, high positive engagement in politics, ability to leave your home knowing your neighbours are watching it, access to trustworthy babysitters, feeling safe enough to let your children walk to school, or having neighbours who can feed your dog when you are away. A society with high social capital is a healthy society.
The benefits of social capital are many. Neighbourhoods with high social capital have less crime (Putnam 2007, 138). Why? Because people watch out for each other and are more likely to come to your aid. In fact:
…much evidence suggests that where levels of social capital are higher, children grow up healthier, safer and better educated, people live longer, happier lives, and democracy and the economy work better (Putnam 2000, in Putnam 2007, 138).
Sounds like some very desirable outcomes doesn’t it? Indeed these outcomes are so desirable you would think that our leaders would be doing everything they can to foster a society where social capital increases. While there is some evidence they do, with investing in sporting clubs, community groups and community care groups like chaplaincy, they are also undermining all of this with one act: a religious-like commitment to high immigration, from diverse cultures.
Why does this undermine a healthy society? Because the higher the diversity, the lower social capital is. For example, consider these findings:
- Across countries, greater ethnic heterogeneity seems to be associated with lower social trust (Newton & Delhey 2005; Anderson & Paskeviciute 2006; but see also Hooghe et al. 2006).
- Across local areas in the United States, Australia, Sweden, Canada and Britain, greater ethnic diversity is associated with lower social trust and, at least in some cases, lower investment in public goods.
- Across American census tracts, greater ethnic heterogeneity is associated with lower rates of car-pooling, a social practice that embodies trust and reciprocity (Charles & Kline 2002) (in Putnam 2007, 142-3).
Higher diversity directly correlates with lower trust between groups of people between those diverse groups. Consider figure 1.1:
As Putnam (2007, 147) says, “Inter-racial trust is relatively high in homogeneous South Dakota and relatively low in heterogeneous San Francisco or Los Angeles. The more ethnically diverse the people we live around, the less we trust them.” This research wasn’t just based on a few people it has a sample size of roughly 30,000 people (Putnam 2007, 144), which is far beyond the level of engagement needed to be considered representative of society.
The implications of this are pretty clear, the consistent increase in smashing cultures together through high immigration is only going to exacerbate whatever tensions there already are between individual people groups. Increased diversity is going to have the exact opposite effect well-intentioned people want. Rather than creating bridges between the people groups, it will create increased tension, distrust, and withdrawal. And the data bears this out conclusively.
But what is sad is this happens even on the neighbourhood level. “…In more diverse communities, people trust their neighbours less”, and not just diverse groups in wider society (Putnam 2007, 148). Perhaps the most interesting finding was that people even trust fewer people of their own ethnicity in diverse communities (Putnam 2007, 148). Consider figure 1.2:
In other words, high levels of diversity destroy social cohesion in all directions and cause people to withdraw in on themselves and remove themselves from the social networks which are needed to help society and individuals develop along healthy lines.
I just finished reading an article earlier today written by a man who had immigrated here from an Islamic country, who was arguing that he didn’t want Australia to become more like his own country. He liked Australia as it is. He also said when he moved here his family lived in a mostly Caucasian community, and he experienced no racism, even though he was clearly from another very divergent culture.
Why? He likely moved into an area with high social cohesion and therefore high social trust, which was extended to him and his family as they engaged in this community. His experience exactly comports with the findings of the Putnam study on diversity. Societies with lower levels of diversity are more likely to trust those who are different from them.
So, trust goes down in more diverse societies. Here are some of the negative effects:
Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.
- Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in their own influence.
- Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.
- Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).
- Less likelihood of working on a community project.
- Lower likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.
- Fewer close friends and confidants.
- Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.
- More time spent watching television and more agreement that ‘television is my most important form of entertainment’. (Putnam 2007, 149-150).
Now, this research is not new, it was widely reported on when released, and there are many academic articles discussing the findings, all you need to do is google: ‘Australia and Putnam Study on Diversity’, and you will find it has been widely circulated and discussed.
For example, this article in the Australian, Ethnic diversity ‘breeds mistrust’ by Peter Wilson, discusses the findings of the study in one of Australia’s most widely read newspapers. So, if this data is known by at least some of our leaders, why do they still push it?
Well, one possible reason is they are ideologically committed to pushing it, either because of progressive ideological commitments to diversity or for free trade reasons, such as the free movements of people for easy access to skilled labour. There is after all evidence that immigration does benefit the economy (Putnam 2007, 140). However, is making a little bit more money really a good enough reason to damage society in all of the ways listed above?
But another possible reason is this: they know it divides us. A society divided is one where those in power can more easily hold their power. Note that one of the direct effects of social withdrawal is “…more time spent watching television and more agreement that ‘television is my most important form of entertainment” (Putnam 2007, 150).
This immediately tells us that the talking heads on TV who are constantly discussing such issues as ‘why do people give less’, ‘why are people more alone than ever before’, ‘why do people engage in politics less and trust politicians less’, etc, etc, have no incentive to tell us the real answer to these questions because they directly benefit from all these issues. The more divided society is, the more the media can create public controversies or create faux-controversies to keep us watching their inane shows.
This division also benefits politicians who love to play the game of the politics of fear, or the politics of class envy, or the politics of age wars, all issue which low levels of social trust help foster. A divided society is one which is easier to manipulate.
There are plenty of reasons why Machiavellian leaders would want to foster divisions in their society, even if they only get short term gains, but the simplest one is this: divide and conquer. Our politicians often seem to aim for short term gains over long term plans, indeed our whole system of government tends to foster looking to the near future rather than further ahead. Sadly as society gets more divided this situation is exacerbated. In other words, our leaders are sacrificing our societies future for their own temporary power and gain.
You may think this is a rather cynical view of our leaders and media, well all I can say in response to that is, I trust them less and less every day, and they continue to return reasons to trust them less. I wonder why my trust in them is decreasing?
Right here, let me say what must be said. This article is not an attack on immigrants or a call for Australia to shut its borders completely. Like most Australians, we can think of some benefits of immigration, and the ways in which immigrants have added richness to our society.
Whether it is the Middle Eastern man in my church who with his family dedicates much of his life to helping refugees find their feet in Australian society, or the Dutch immigrant I know who speaks better English than me and is 100% correct that cycling more wouldn’t hurt a lot of Aussies, or the South African couple I know who display a self-reliance and work ethic that many Aussies would be proud of, or even my own dad, who if he had not immigrated here, I would not have been born in this awesome country, whether it is these or other immigrants who you or I know, they have contributed greatly to Australian society. I am not denying that in any way.
This article is written so that we can have an honest look at what will happen if immigration is not drastically slowed, and if the people of diverse backgrounds who are here are not given the chance to build the social cohesion and social capital that is necessary for our society to flourish. There is no point in offering people from overseas the chance to live in a wonderful Australia if when they get here, they find that social trust in at all time lows and on a downward spiral, and they are incentivized to withdraw into cultural enclaves.
I know my thoughts here aren’t popular, but I don’t care. I am sick of being gaslighted by dishonest, bordering on abusive, leaders who care more about keeping their power, than being honest about how their policies are affecting everyday Aussies. Time to call out their balderdash. Also, time to slow down immigration, before all social trust is gone.