A lot of Trump’s rhetoric is concerning to me, but one particular part stands out. It’s a rhetorical and psychological pattern which can be commonly found with variation on theme and structure. Other than radical feminists and Donald Trump, it’s also notably present in Christian theology and in the ideology of the Nazi party. Godwin’s Law be damned, I have a point to make!
I’m going to focus on the phenomenon present in these four entities, explaining what it is, why it’s there, and why it’s a problem.
This particular phenomenon has historically been extremely dangerous to societies and individuals. It’s essential for radical feminism, which is unravelling the best aspects of society, and in the case of Trump, it might seriously endanger modern civilisation.
Scapegoating is a hostile social-psychological discrediting routine by which people move blame and responsibility away from themselves and towards a target person or group, [which is thereby a scapegoat.]
However, scapegoating is too specific for my purposes here, so I’ve invented a new term for a broader concept: The Plague Wagon.
A Plague Wagon is an entity to which negative stigma is attached to be used to affect others or its creator.
The name is derived from two historical facts; there’s a history of using plagued corpses as weapons, and that it would be beneficial, in a time of plague, to move the plagued dead away from the living. These represent two forms of the Plague Wagon.
Note that the effect of a Plague Wagon doesn’t have to be negative, but it almost always manifests as either positive to its creator or negative to its targets or both. In any case, it’s usually negative to someone indirectly if not directly.
You may notice that this definition also encompasses a scapegoat.
There are some important variants of the Plague Wagon, which all act a bit differently:
Weaponised Plague Wagon
A Plague Wagon intended to attack a target.
This is usually done by asserting that the existence of the plague wagon, onto which negative stigma has been attached, somehow incriminates or should compel its target to feel guilt or to submit to the wagon’s creator.
Purity Plague Wagon
A Plague Wagon which is intended to remove the negative stigma from its creator and/or the creator’s group.
Just as the plagued dead would be removed from towns and villages, this wagon is used to ignore the negative stigma piled upon it, and let it disappear to the benefit of its creator(s), which works indirectly to the detriment of others.
Exhibit Plague Wagon
A Plague Wagon which is intended to exhibit to its creator’s allies what the source of the negative stigma is.
Notably, this wagon is usually abjectly dishonest. Asserting that the wagon is the source of the negative stigma is usually the opposite of the truth.
Using the Term ‘Radical Feminism’
The term ‘radical feminism’, like the term ‘scapegoat’, is too precise for my purposes here. What I’m really discussing is a pattern which is present in exactly the same way in a larger group which also encompasses radical feminism. For that reason, I’ll use the term ‘Neo-progressive activist‘ in its place. I don’t think this term is ideal, but it serves the purpose well enough.
This can be interpreted to cover Social Justice advocates of all stripes, the racists who comprise some of the Black Lives Matter movement and those like it, and even those submissive-liberals who abrogate blame from its real causes to causes that fit more with Political Correctness.
Spotting a Plague Wagon
Abrogation of ‘sin’ using the imaginary scapegoat of Jesus is the central precept of Christian theology.
In this example, Jesus is a Purity Plague Wagon, onto which negative stigma (sin) is attached. The idea is that because he’s almighty and has volunteered for these sins, there’s no limit to how many corpses can be piled onto the wagon. All an adherent has to do is ask nicely.
Really, they’re just forgiving themselves, using a fiction to justify their leap from guilt to self-righteousness.
This conviction in their own justification is at the heart of all atrocities committed by Christians.
The worst evil thinks it is the best good.
The Nazi Party
…the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
Perhaps the most obvious example of political scapegoating is the Nazi party. The most impacting fact about it is: it worked.
If Germany was having any sort of issue, Hitler and his comrades would lump the blame onto the Jews. This only fuelled the racial pride and eugenics, and general sense of self-righteousness and great destiny which led to the attempt at world domination.
This is an Exhibit Plague Wagon.
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. And they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.
This rhetoric from Trump, while not as bad as Hitler’s, is exactly the same psychological pattern. He uses immigrants, particularly from Mexico, as an Exhibit Plague Wagon, and blames them for a disproportionately large amount of the problems the US faces.
This attitude, just like in 1930’s Germany, will increase racism, nationalism, and may lead to more pointless local and international conflicts. These are not things that the US needs more of.
The exact same destructive tactic by which Hitler gained power is now being used by a US Presidential Candidate. This should be very concerning to you.
Neo-Progressive Activists (Radical Feminism)
The mechanism by which the wagon is created in this case is offence. Conspicuously, it’s rarely personal offence, but vicarious offence: assuming the existence of some group who could be offended by some words or actions. That imaginary entity becomes the Weaponised Plague Wagon, pushed forth as a talisman against those deemed less socially conscious than the neo-progressive activist who created it.
The intended conferred guilt arises from the asserted oppression of the entity in question, which is the negative stigma used to create the wagon. Lacking, as often they are, in substantive rational arguments, and in cases of one-way communication, their tactic becomes to ally themselves with the plague wagon, asserting their intention to help the poor thing, making the assumption that the real group being represented by the wagon both feels oppressed, and wants their help.
Interestingly, often the plague wagon represents a group that the neo-progressive activist themselves are part of. This makes it even easier to weaponise, since they will assert that their opinion as part of that group represents the entire group.
This generates an extremely apparent collectivist dehumanisation effect with any who don’t submit to the plague wagon, as all opposition is framed not as an opposition to a position, but as an opposition to the group that they assert are oppressed. A quintessentially dishonest and toxic tactic which is the refuge of one without rational arguments.
This dehumanisation can easily lead to racism, sexism, discrimination based on gender identity, or several combined.
I have a lot more to say on neo-progressivism, radical feminism, and many related positions, but I think I’ve done enough damage for now.
Don’t elect Trump.
But more broadly, don’t use plague-wagons. If you ever want to solve a problem, you must assign only a sensible degree of blame exactly where it belongs. Dishonestly incriminating those you hate will only cause harm.
Plague Wagons cause rampant discrimination of many kinds, collectivism, ignorance to facts, general dehumanisation, excessive authority including various challenges to personal freedoms, and ultimately, if unabated, genocide.
Spot them before they get out of control. As we vowed to oppose fascism at every turn after it burned half of Europe, this phenomenon was implicitly included. As long as it benefits someone to kindle that fire anew, we must always stand vigilant.