Answer to Question #161063 in History for Wilson Huang

Question #161063

 How can social movement forces which rely on facts and evidence combat those that are born of conspiracy theories and misinformation? Why do you think misinformation, propaganda and lies succeeded in the crises of the 1930s which brought the world Mussolini and Hitler, and how can social movements for social justice triumph today?

Expert's answer

Since many conspiracy theories arise from feelings of uncertainty and fear, an angry debate will only cement the ideas, and open ridicule is even less constructive. Therefore, it is important to try focusing on the rhetorical devices and tricks of persuasion that have been used to spread the ideas in the first place. Also, practicing the art of pre-suation is also important. This is the removal of reflective mental blocks that might make the rejection of arguments possible. This is through the establishment of empathy, understanding the origins of such beliefs. The use of special pleading is also critical. This is where you essentially move the goal posts whenever someone asks for evidence to prove your point.

Misinformation, propaganda and lies succeeded in the crises of the 1930s which brought the world Mussolini and Hitler because fascist Italy's official foreign policy positions were known to commonly utilize rhetorical ideological hyperbole to justify its actions as well as harmonizing its ideology. There was the adoption of anti-semitic laws. Also, the abandonment of Marxist egalitarian internationalism for non-egalitarian nationalism led Mussolini to endorse Italy's intervention in the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary. As a result of this, he and the new fascist movement received financial support from foreign sources.

Social movements for social justice triumph today because such social movements are aimed at better alignment of America’s political and social order with its ideals of liberty, equality, and opportunity for all. Also, the notion of progressivism as a reform tradition has always focused its moral energy against societal injustice, corruption, and inequality. The activists and leaders of these movements believed deeply in the empowerment and equality of the less privileged in society, the primacy of democracy in American life, and the notion that government should safeguard the common good from unchecked individual and commercial greed. They challenge the government to eliminate its own legal injustices and also harness the force of government as a vital tool for advancing human freedom and establishing the more perfect union envisioned by the Founding Fathers.


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