“When a speculative philosopher believes he has comprehended the world once and for all in his system, he is deceiving himself; he has merely comprehended himself and then naively projected that view upon the world.” – C.G. Jung
The beliefs held by individuals comprising today’s society have become increasingly separated from one another; that is, the foundational beliefs that previously were points of overlap are following the trend of polarization.
Most recently, this pattern of civil disagreement is being illustrated with the rising tensions between the West and Russia. Interestingly, those in the United States who align with the political Right have taken an almost sympathetic approach to Russia, during this geopolitical event. While legislation about addressing this issue has been, relatively speaking, met with bipartisan support, conservative media figures and influencers, such as Tucker Carlson and Charlie Kirk, have continued to focus on domestic suspicions related to the situation.
One example that illustrates this point is what Donald Trump Jr. stated to Sean Hannity of Fox News, speculating that the U.S. intelligence agencies could be “lying to us to try to instigate us getting into another war.” This statement provides insight into more than merely thoughts about the elements of this particular world event; it serves to highlight the core issue of our current civil differences: doubt and distrust.
The focus of this article is not about the given political ideologies themselves, rather I have selected this quote about this current event to serve as a point of inquiry for investigating the broader societal and psychological changes that are associated with and have contributed to this way of thinking about the government. Moreover, this particular geopolitical issue is a significant indicator to explore broader trends because both party’s stance toward Russia has historically been united and, particularly, this political issue previously was a point of emphasis for the political Right and central reason for the lasting influence of the Regan administration on the conservative movement.
However, it would seem that this historical precedent has been less than influential than that of the checked past of the United States intelligence agencies on shaping conservatives’ views about the current international issue. This seemingly indicates that distrust of government is stronger than that of historical precedent related to political part.
Furthermore, even if the point of the intelligence agencies is conceded, and we adopt the belief that these agencies have and continue to operate nefariously, the counterbalance, in this particular situation, is believing Russian intelligence. Additionally, this situation is broader than merely the United States’ intelligence agencies against those of Russia, but it includes the collective intelligence efforts of Western countries comprised in NATO. Therefore, the scope and magnitude of the current situation implies not only a doubt of the U.S. but also of those Western countries unified against Russia.
Some political analysts have explained that the current situation is similar to two different types of civilizations trying to determine a way to coexist. China’s tacit support of Russia appear to substantiate this notion of the current situation being that of a standoff of the East and the West.
However, this makes the statement doubting the United States intelligence agencies more confusing, given the popular conspiratorial belief that President Biden and Vice President Harris are puppet leaders installed by the Chinese government. Since the second half of initial statement insinuates (arguably outright accuses) that the U.S. intelligence agencies are stoking the tensions between Russia and Ukraine to initiate a war, then it would not be logical to hold both of these beliefs simultaneously; that is, the current administration are puppets of the Chinese government and that the intelligence agencies are trying to start a war that would poise the U.S. and China against one another (as U.S. officials have asserted their intention to hold China responsible for their enabling of Russia were war to occur).
This is one of many examples of cognitive dissonance that have been more clearly elucidated by the current geopolitical situation. From a psychological perspective, to assert claims of doubt and distrust toward the U.S. and Western intelligence agencies necessarily implies a belief in another information source that is considered to be more credible. From a societal perspective, the issue of a source’s credibility is increasingly contributing to ruptures within the public sphere and appears to be breaking off into fragments of information bubbles, diminishing the capacity for civic discourse by reducing the areas of overlap that serve as a necessary foundation for starting a discourse from agreed upon premises. Lastly, while the outcome of the current geopolitical tensions between the East and West are still to be determined, it appears that despite what does or does not occur there is significant fracturing within the landscape of the United States.