How to Craft Social Mischief

This is a curation of a potently insightful X thread by Benjamin Carlson that I considered important enough to archive on this site because it needs to be featured and highlighted. Enjoy. Or not.

[paraphrasing Sam E Antar]

  "As a corporate executive, I consider your humanity, ethics, and morality to be an exploitable weakness in the execution of my crimes. I am not constrained by the moral and ethical constraints that decent people impose upon themselves. The same thinking and strategy is used by terrorist organisations and their supporters. Your morals, ethics, and decency are exploited and used against you."

How do you make people join radical movements?

Perhaps the best answer comes from Dostoevsky's forgotten masterpiece, Demons

Sentenced to death for conspiracy, he knew the lure of radicalism—and saw the madness to come

28 insights on how brainwashing really works:

1. Attract followers not with logic, but with raw feelings.

Sentimentalism—playing upon soft-heartedness—disarms people's rational defenses. You must persuade purely through emotion. Amplify feelings of resentment and injustice.

2. Make them ashamed of having their own opinions.
When constructing a radical movement, you must make sympathizers embarrassed of holding a different view. Discourage questions and independent thought. This is the glue that holds everything together.

3. Erase privacy. Create a culture of snooping and denunciation. To keep order in your secret society, encourage spying and reporting on one another. There should be no such thing as an innocent remark.

4. Shower followers with made-up jobs, titles, ranks, duties. Actions are upstream of beliefs. If you give a man a made-up title for your ideological cause, he will take responsibility for it. Inevitably he will start to believe in your ideas.

5. Bind them together in wrongdoing. Unite a group by driving them to commit crime. Once they have done evil, they will never step out of line against the organization, or one another, because they all are bound together in guilt.

6. Eliminate all original ideas. You have succeeded when one no longer has a single original thought in his head.

7. Target the refuse of society. In times of radical change, the dregs float upward and become prominent in public life. Scoundrels. Sullen misanthropes. Sentimental idealists who can be twisted to go against their own interests.

8. Create the appearance of a vast global movement. Give followers a feeling that an irresistible force—history itself—is at their back. Encourage their sense of belonging to a great power waiting to reveal its strength.

9. Leverage fear of being left behind. Some people dread nothing more than being seen as latecomers to a fashion. Prey on this vanity.

10. Negate the good. An ideology that glorifies disgrace is a flame to draw weak and angry members of society. Make a point of openly dishonoring the noble. Pull down the talented.
“Shakespeare must be stoned.”

11. Foster hatred.
Hatred will bind together the conspirators in the end. Not merely hatred of their object, but finally, hatred of one another and fear of the damage they can cause to one another.

12. Use mockery.
Comedy and vulgarity play in essential part in the overthrow of a moral order. Corrosive cynicism and sarcasm accelerate revolutions in beliefs. The vanguard of a regime change is vulgar comedy.

13. Rely on cowardice
As low characters gain influence, let them loudly denounce everything sacred. To avoid seeming out of touch, elites will begin to listen. Some will smile and even nod their heads to approve even the most outrageous ideas.

14. Appeal to the vanity of the elites.
In time, a small group of "advanced" people (who are always anxious to show they are in advance of other people) will assume control of the criminal elements and egg them on. Afterward, many will wonder how they lost their heads.

15. Abolish crime.
Make society ashamed to enforce the laws, and the laws are suspended. At a certain point, crime becomes practically a duty: if a radical needs money and feels he must commit crime to get it, there can be no possible objection to it.

16. Know your allies
Your supporters include many who unwittingly help the cause of radicalism Judges who tremble in fear to give an unpopular sentence. Teachers who mock the beliefs of children's families. Kids who beat and rob just for the thrill. These are seeds to grow

17. Embrace stupidity.
To change the world, great ideas must either be brilliant or stupid. Nothing else but the greatest genius or the greatest stupidity can cause a revolution.

18. Elevate scoundrels.
Disturbances of politics will always be accompanied by intrusions of sinister people into the sanctum of the elite. This humiliation will accelerate a crisis.

19. Silence dissent
Allow some to furiously attack anyone who speaks up. You must curb not only those who dare express an unorthodox thought, but also those who express orthodox ones. Once everyone is intimidated into silence, only the insane will choose to speak.

20. Deceive shamelessly
Brazen lies are easier to believe than modest ones. This will help you identify those who are anxious to be deceived. They are people who, once committed, would rather be lied to than accept the truth that they were fooled.

21. Make use of the ambitious
Understand the dreams of those who wish to achieve influence in society. Entwine the success of your ideology with their plans, and you will become indispensable to their dreams.

22. Damage the prestige of all institutions.
Systematically denounce existing authority as a way to foster universal disbelief and desperation for change.

23. Build momentum.
You must harness that social energy that drives people to take actions they would never do on their own initiative. It is what makes plotters carry through an insane idea despite their best attempts to sabotage or delay it.

24. Pretend it’s nothing.
When the ugliness starts, dismiss it as rambunctiousness—pranks—a form of play which only the unfashionable could mistake for serious. This allows it to countinue and grow until it is far too much to control.

25. Go beyond the turning point
When your allies who incite radicalism see chaos erupt, even they may feel appalled. You must make them recognize that it is worse to have planned a conspiracy and failed than to carry one out Then, to cover their error, they will ram it through.

26. In the decisive moment, use symbolic means of destruction
To succeed, a radical movement must use a recognized and preferred mechanism of unrest native to the country. In Russia, that meant fires. In America, it may be boycotts, riots, vigilantism.

27. Expect chaos.
In a conspiracy, surprises are inevitable. It is common for the most adventurous and reckless to hasten that moment of crisis. You cannot train a group of men to create havoc, and then expect them to follow your every order.

28. The aftermath: embarrassment
When the crisis is past, the elite will wonder why they complied with the madness of a mob. Few will want to understand what happened. Most will rather leave it behind. For this reason, the real architect of the outrages may remain forever hidden.

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