This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Cult of Personality

If you turned the ad hominem fallacy upside-down and inside-out, you would get the Cult of Personality. Instead of refuting an argument by assaulting a person’s character, this fallacy goes the opposite direction by building some person into an idealized, celebrity-hero that is beyond reproach and beyond scrutiny. This idol, who may even have a special title—“Führer” or “Ill Duce” for example, although more commonly just a radio talk-show host—is then used to garner support for a particular position since whatever he says will be accepted by followers without the intervention of the critical reason.

For example, when John Wayne spoke on some political topic, his words carried great weight because of the heroic ideal which he had come to symbolize via his film work and public persona. I, personally, enjoy John Wayne movies, but it is nonetheless fallacious to accept a proposition simply because John Wayne supported it.

The mass media is often a significant component in the cult of personality because it controls who gets the limelight and how much each person gets, and its omnipresence enables the entire population to be incessantly bombarded with portraits, videos, and slogans relating to the hero. For this reason, although the cult of the personality has been present in every age, we can say that this trick is chiefly a modern technique due to the power of technology to build it up systematically. In the past, in order for some person to gain a fanatical following, they would have had to have done at least something to have gained the notoriety. Thus, for better or worse, and even if the reputation was overblown, they were typically acting with some significance. Today, on the other hand, it is conceivable that a cult of personality could be built up around a person that doesn’t even exist—it could be done entirely artificially, using media.

Using the mass media as a vehicle, various regimes have exploited this procedure, from Adolf Hitler to Benito Mussolini to Saddam Hussein.

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