Breaking Through the “Front Lines of Human Thought”

Breaking Through the “Front Lines of Human Thought” November 10, 2023

The president of China, Xi Jinping has some rather remarkable things to say about what he calls the “smokeless battlefield”:  the war of ideas.  We need to be aware of this part of his strategy for China’s domination.  And we should wonder, has he already attacked?

I was reading an article in the Free Press entitled  Why Do Young Americans Support Hamas? Look at TikTok.  by Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI).   He  cites a Harvard/Harris poll that asked, “Do you think the Hamas killing of 1200 Israeli civilians on Israel can be justified by the grievances of Palestinians or is it not justified?”  Most Americans in every cohort said, “No.”  But among respondents aged 18-24, a majority, 51%, said that it is justified.

(Interestingly and disturbingly, when asked, “Do you think that the attacks on Jews were genocidal in nature or not genocidal?,”  62% of this group said that they were genocidal, which means that a large number of young adults must think that genocide against the Jews is justified.)

Rep. Gallagher blames the influence of TikTok.  He cites research showing that 51% of Generation Z (teen through 26) use the video sharing site as a search engine instead of Google or some other actual search engine!  The reasons they give is that they prefer information in a video format instead of having to read it (69% say that), and that TikTok videos are “more relatable” (65%).  He cites another study that found that about six in ten teenagers, in his words, “are hooked on the app before their seventeenth birthday.”

Rep. Gallagher observes that TikTok has close ties with China’s Communist Party.  He is concerned that this gives Chinese Communists the ability to shape how America’s new generation is thinking.  China is pro-Hamas, he reasons, so this why 51% of TikTok-obsessed American teenagers feel the same way.  He thinks TikTok should be banned.

I think Rep. Gallagher is jumping to conclusions.  Using TikTok as a search engine turns up videos from both sides of the controversy.  I’d want to know if the 51% of 18-14 year olds who support Hamas have actually been watching Chinese propaganda on the subject on TikTok, or if their opinion is just because they adhere to the larger left-wing ideology of woke intersectionality.  That belief system has long identified Palestinians as being an oppressed group with whom progressive people must be “allies,” with Israel branded as the “oppressor.”  They may have learned that in school.

But whether the connection is completely valid or not, what most struck me in Rep. Gallagher’s article is this quotation from Xi Jinping (my bolds):

Xi Jinping understands the importance of information warfare—or the “smokeless battlefield,” as he’s called it. In a text regarding “military political work,” Xi declared, “The crumbling of a regime always starts in the realm of ideas. . . changing the way people think is a long-term process. Once the front lines of human thought have been broken through, other defensive lines also become hard to defend.”

Maybe TikTok’s role is to serve not so much as a channel for Chinese propaganda as to turn young Americans’ minds to mush, with all of the “challenges” that are idiotic (such as styling your hair with Gorilla Glue) and sometimes dangerous (such as boiling a chicken in Nyquil or taping your mouth shut while you sleep).  And the general anti-intellectual ethos of preferring watching videos from your peers (often consisting of dance moves or “influencer” commercials) to reading.   Surely, disabling your enemy’s rational faculties must be a major tactic on the smokeless battlefield.

But the war of ideas has more fronts than that.  “Western thought” has been a target on university campuses–which once existed to transmit it–for decades.

As we’ve been blogging about, assaults against “liberal democracy”–that is, freedom and self-government–are being mounted both from the left (as usual) and from the right (as is unusual).  I can see why Chinese Communists and their Marxist and post-Marxist fellow-travelers would be against our Constitutional order, but how have they become allies with ostensibly conservative intellectuals?

Once cherished beliefs about marriage, sexual morality, and having children are being bombarded.  Basic human identity, such as whether a person is male or female, is imploding.

And, of course, religion, which is opposed on principle by Marxists, is being dropped completely or changed beyond recognition.

Chairman Xi calls for breaking through “the front lines of human thought.”  Think of that.  “Human thought” is the enemy.  And certainly that front line is being fired upon and assaulted.

Is there a Chinese connection to any of this?  Maybe.  But most of this we are doing to ourselves.

 

Photo:  President Xi Jingping via Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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