In American mythology, enemies of the peopel come to the attention of the state because they are doing something that worries the state. The people who got in trouble with the Soviets, for example, were either freedom fighters, skeptics of communism or religious people just trying to practice their faith. In other words, the person getting the business from the state, were both heretics and a specific threat. The state rationally picked them out from among the population for special treatment by the goons of the system.
The truth is, there is a great deal of chance involved in these situations. The Chinese have always understood this. The Chinese curse, “May you be recognized by people in high places” captures the serendipity that is always part of government. There are minor nuisances, who get caught up in the government dragnet, while others, who are very serious subversives escape attention. Sometimes it is simply a matter of pissing off the right person, or wrong person. Sometimes it’s just bad luck or bad timing.
Ideological government, either the hard type like the Soviets or the soft sort like we have in America, needs enemies. More specifically, it needs examples. In order to reinforce the rightness of the civic religion, they need to demonstrate the wrongness of heresy. That means the demand for heretics is constant. Finding heretics one at a time is expensive, so it soon becomes a bulk operation. They cast the net, pull in some trouble makers, throw away the small ones and keep the useful ones.
Social media has proven to be excellent fishing waters for this sort of operation. The need to preen and signal, means left-wing fanatics flood these sites. They become chum, attracting the sorts who enjoy criticizing Progressive piety. Every once in a while, a heretic gets caught up in the nets and is hauled aboard for defenestration. It’s no surprise that doxing, the tactic of leftists where they harass heretics at their work and school, almost always starts on social media. Swim near the trawlers, risk getting caught in the net.
There seems to be a corollary to this practice in the realm of official propaganda. The fire hose of fake news, conspiracy tales, and selective reporting is also an economical way of solving the propaganda issue. Instead of spending time and money coming up with credible narratives and high production values, the ideological state can simply reduce the verity of all social information to zero. If everyone comes to believe everything they hear is false, the critics of the regime have no way to convince the public.
Think of it this way. Imagine JFK was actually assassinated by a secret cabal within the government. In order to avoid detection they could find a sucker to setup for the crime, but there’s the risk someone could notice defects in the narrative. What if the sap they selected has an alibi or some physical evidence contradicts the story? The other choice is to try and erase all evidence pointing to the conspiracy, but this is hard to do. There’s always a few bread crumbs that point investigators in the right direction.
A third option is to create and promote a wide range of conspiracy theories that are plausible, but lack proof. This not only muddies the waters, it attracts the sorts of people who seek attention. Before long all of the Mike Cernovich types are promoting their favorite theory of the crime. Not only does this obscure the facts of the crime, it makes the real theory seem just as nutty as the fake conspiracies. The very act of trying to identify who killed Kennedy disqualifies the person doing it.
This is a pattern, by the way, we see with lots of unsolved mysteries. The official inquiry comes up dry or seems to lack official support, so there is a flood of conspiracy theories by professional conspiracy mongers. Obama’s birth certificate is a great example. Team Obama let that linger, because they wanted people talking about the birth certificate, rather than the gaping holes in Obama’s official biography. Before long, anyone puzzling over his backstory was cast as a “birther” and laughed off the stage.
Maybe that’s what has happened to our media over the last few decades. The ideological state no longer has to sell a credible narrative. They just have to allow the fake news to flood the zone so that the public assumes everything is fake, even the people criticizing the ideologues in charge. In a zero trust society, the value of subversion falls to zero, but the value of the institutions grows geometrically. Therefore, the people controlling the institutions increase their power, even as they become less credible.
That’s not to say the people in charge sorted this in advance. That would be a conspiracy theory of its own. No, these things may simply evolve. In the late stages of the Soviet Union, dark humor about the near total lack of trust in Russian society was common. It’s probably not an accident that some of those jokes are making a comeback in modern America, particularly in response to the Russia conspiracies. In a world where there is no truth and no one can trust anything, all you can do is laugh.