episode 226: “The Weaponization of Loneliness” with Stella Morabito
“Terror can rule absolutely only over men who are isolated against each other.… Therefore, one of the primary concerns of all tyrannical government is to bring this isolation about.”
— Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
“Americans have long sensed a new kind tyranny creeping into our lives. This disquiet has hovered in the background for a long time, though most of us couldn’t put our finger on it. Trends to control speech and behavior are isolating us from one another, and they have begun to intensify rapidly and spread throughout society’s institutions.”
— Stella Morabito
In this episode Stella Morabito returns to talk about her recently published book The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer.
Stella, a prolific author at The Federalist, writes incisively about the social fallout of propaganda, mob psychology, and the cult mindset, drawing in part from her years as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency where she focused on methods of Soviet propaganda and disinformation, and its state-controlled media.
Some excerpts from our conversation:
- The underlying dynamic of totalitarianism is the same: a machinery of loneliness that threatens to turn people into social pariahs in order to extort compliance. History is filled with vivid examples – Cromwell’s England, Robespierre’s France, Lenin and Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China – of the damage done by totalitarian regimes that impose the machinery fueled by the conformity impulse and terror of isolation.
- “Isolation and how tyrants use it to control people, is really the greatest threat to freedom, no matter what level of tyranny it is. It can be a gaslighting partner, it could be a cult leader, it could be a world-class dictator. I finally concluded that there is a machinery at work—a machinery of loneliness. Tyrants operate that machinery—wittingly or not—in order to disarm those they wish to control.”
- When signals surfaced in America —such as anti-speech codes written into federal law in the 1990s allegedly to curb hate—we tended to shrug them off. It was too frightening to believe those speech codes could really lead to direct attacks on freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.
episode 226 transcript
Bill Walton (00:00):
So what’s the one thing you wanted to have us take away?
Stella Morabito (00:04):
Well, that isolation is really the greatest threat to freedom and how tyrants always use it to control people, no matter what level of tyranny it is. It can be a gaslighting partner, it could be a cult leader. It could be a world-class dictator.
Bill Walton (00:21):
Okay, we’re going to cover that a lot.
Stella Morabito (00:22):
Yeah. But that’s the main thing. But also for people to understand that. People say, “Oh, it’s so daunting. What can I do?” Well, the thing to remember is that even one voice makes a huge difference, because they’re always trying to shut down every single solitary voice.
Speaker 1 (00:49):
Welcome to the Bill Walton Show, featuring conversations with leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, and thinkers, fresh perspectives on money, culture, politics and human flourishing. Interesting people, interesting things.
Bill Walton (01:09):
Welcome to the Bill Walton Show. I’m Bill Walton. A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and I, my wife, and Sarah’s here-
Sarah Walton (01:09):
Bill Walton (01:18):
… to my side, helping out today at the beginning. We were at a book party for Naomi Wolf, who as most of you know, has had an awakening about tyranny and freedom in America, and has come over to our side and really doing a good job with her messaging. And we were standing there and all of a sudden I saw one of my favorite people, a woman who’s been a guest on the show a couple of times in the past, Stella Morabito. And as most of you know, she’s a longtime writer for The Federalist and has written some marvelous essays. And I think last time, Stella, you were on, we were talking about the Supreme Court nominations and how they were personally attacking the justices and what those issues were there.
Stella Morabito (02:04):
Yes, the nature of tyranny and tyrants, yes.
Bill Walton (02:08):
So we’re going to continue that theme today. And so I asked Stella, “So what are you doing now?” And she said, “Well, I’ve written a book.” And she handed me a book called The Weaponization of Loneliness. And I thought, wow, that’s a very interesting title. And the subtitle is How Tyrants Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer. And I took the book and Stella was nice enough to inscribe a pretty nice inscription in the front of it, then I showed it to Sarah, and, Sarah?
Sarah Walton (02:42):
I picked it up, opened it, just started reading a few pages and I said to Bill, “This is terrific.” I wanted to read it and he wanted to read it, and we only had one copy. But I couldn’t stop reading it. And then last week… You can tell this story.
Bill Walton (03:01):
Yeah, we’re friends with Matt and Mercy Schlapp. I’m on Matt’s CPAC board, and they were out at our place in Rappahannock and sitting on the coffee table in prime, pole position was The Weaponization of Loneliness. The next thing I know, Mercy Schlapp is totally unavailable for conversation because she’s spending the whole time reading the book.
Sarah Walton (03:24):
And she said, “This is terrific. I’ve got to get a copy of this for my daughter who’s a sophomore at Notre Dame.” Then she said, “I need 10 copies.”
Bill Walton (03:35):
Yeah. So she’s asked for 10 copies. Now you know something about the publishing business and magazines. You’ve got a background in-
Sarah Walton (03:41):
I did the first illustrated cover for the New Republic, they used to have just type on the cover. And what they used to do was call me up on a Friday, and say, “If you can come up with a idea…” They’d send me the cover story, “If you can come up with an idea and give us a sketch tomorrow, you can do the cover and have the artwork ready on Monday.” And then, I moved to New York and-
Bill Walton (04:07):
But you got to tell the story about you’re the only one who read the paper.
Sarah Walton (04:10):
Yeah, but there’s three people at a mag-
Bill Walton (04:12):
We got to get Stella in here quickly.
Sarah Walton (04:13):
Yeah, okay. But there’s three people at a magazine who read every article, the editor, the copy editor, and the art director. So I read every single article in Harper’s the whole time. I read every article in the New Republic. And after a while I said, “These people are crazy and these ideas are ruining my life.” And that’s when I went from being a liberal to whatever it is I am now.
Bill Walton (04:36):
Whatever we call ourselves now, we’re not exactly sure. Stella, what should we call ourselves now?
Stella Morabito (04:41):
Bill Walton (04:42):
I love that, I love that. I’ve been looking for a label.
Stella Morabito (04:45):
I wrote a piece about a year or two ago that there are really only two political camps, pro-thought and anti-thought.
Sarah Walton (04:51):
Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it.
Stella Morabito (04:53):
And that ties into my thesis as well.
Sarah Walton (04:55):
But your book is filled with ideas like that, and it’s so conversational. You were just saying it didn’t get edited enough. And I said, maybe that’s why it’s so easy to read because it’s your voice.
Bill Walton (05:10):
So why do you write the book?
Stella Morabito (05:10):
Well, I felt that these dynamics all around us, especially that deal with isolation and the use of isolation as a political weapon is something that people generally, maybe they understand that instinctively when they say, oh, I don’t want to say anything because I’m afraid they’re going to call me a bad name. But I really felt, I wrote the book because I felt that Americans, especially youth, if they can manage it, needed to understand how these dynamics work. How they work on us, how they work within us, and how self-censorship in particular gives so much oxygen to destructive agendas. And when self-censor, we’re affecting public opinion.
And I’ll get into that a little bit more. But the main point, and the main reason I wrote it was to help figure out these dynamics that help us understand what it is that we’re watching in terms of all the insanity out there. And I believe that our self-censorship, which is always due to that fear of ostracism, as well as that hardwired need for connection, human beings are just created to connect with other people. And when that’s threatened, we withdraw and we shut up about what we believe or even lie about what we believe in order to avoid that. So I just felt that people need a much better understanding of how these dynamics work in order to build counter strategies.
Bill Walton (06:51):
So Stella, you wrote in the book, I thought it was powerful, that Cato did a poll and they said that 62% of people said they had political views they were too fearful to express.
Stella Morabito (07:02):
That’s right, that poll was taken in 2020. And I think there’ve been polls since then that show an even greater number. But what was also interesting is that liberals were the ones who are least likely to be fearful of expressing their political beliefs. And that’s because when you have a media monopoly that’s pushing one narrative, it’s not risky to go against that narrative. And that’s right, that’s why you have that a lot more liberals who are not fearful of expressing their views.
Bill Walton (07:44):
Well, they’re in a cocoon of approval.
Stella Morabito (07:46):
Bill Walton (07:46):
If you look at all the major media, I think they’re locked up, so they don’t feel isolated.
Stella Morabito (07:53):
That’s right. Well, it’s interesting you should say that, Bill, because I think that they experience a different kind of isolation, as you said, being stuck in that cocoon. But they don’t seem to feel the same threat that somebody who goes against the narrative would feel.
Bill Walton (08:12):
I asked after reading the book, I got through almost all of it, it’s terrific. I talked to some of my liberal friends and I brought up this topic of loneliness without getting into the weaponization part. And they all said, “Yeah, loneliness is a big problem.” And that they’re citing things like social media, they’re citing things like the… They would never admit that the lockdowns had anything to do with it. So it’s pervasive in America, maybe pervasive in the West.
Stella Morabito (08:43):
Everybody feels it. But when it comes to the political aspects that I get into in the book, how this is used as a political weapon, that’s where a lot of them who are stuck in that cocoon will step back. But that’s really interesting you bring that-
Bill Walton (09:07):
Well, Sarah, you mentioned you had a point to make-
Stella Morabito (09:10):
Well, you Were talking about young people, and I thought Mercedes has five daughters and the oldest is a sophomore in college and they’re all close coming into college age. And she wanted the book for all her daughters to read. And I suppose it’s because she wants them to be able to express-
Bill Walton (09:27):
Well, particularly in universities now. I mean You talk about liberals who are unafraid to speak to. Let’s talk about the typical university professor.
Stella Morabito (09:36):
Oh yeah, and having to go into that kind of an environment where the slogan now, what is it? Free speech is hate speech. How crazy is that? how anti-thought, how against the entire notion of what a university is supposed to be, the exploration of ideas. And if you know what happened at Stanford a couple of months ago where the federal judge, what’s his name? Kyle Duncan, went to speak for the Federalist Society at their invitation and was shouted down by a mob that just can’t stand to hear anything that goes against their narrative. It’s dangerous.
Bill Walton (10:23):
So Sarah, you-
Sarah Walton (10:24):
Well, I thought you were raving about this book and saying who knew what Robespierre did and what Cromwell did.
Bill Walton (10:31):
Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. Because there’s a part of the book where you say, this is not a new phenomena. This has been characterized by lots of regimes, totalitarian regimes in the past. And you start with, and I didn’t quite recognize this as what it was, Oliver Cromwell and the Revolution in England. And tell us about Oliver Cromwell.
Stella Morabito (10:58):
Okay, the reason I brought up Cromwell, so I have a whole chapter on the history of radical utopian revolutions and how they all seem to use what I call the machinery of loneliness to push their agendas forward. And the machinery of loneliness today, I call it identity politics. It’s three parts, components, identity politics, to define us and erase our individuality, to classify us according to certain labels and demographics, okay. So identity politics, to divide us, political correctness, to induce self-censorship, to induce that fear of being ridiculed or rejected. And then it’s all enforced by mob agitation. And of course we know during the French Revolution, all these other revolutions, mals, struggle sessions, Red Guards, there’s always mob involvement. Mobs can take different forms, as I say. But Cromwell, why Cromwell? Why start with Cromwell? I started with him and that whole 17th century Puritan Revolution in England because I thought it was very interesting that you had not just this major figure who brought England under the thumb of this whole, his theology and all of that, but that this whole army, his army of-
Sarah Walton (12:36):
Stella Morabito (12:36):
Sarah Walton (12:37):
Stella Morabito (12:38):
Bill Walton (12:39):
Stella Morabito (12:40):
And how puritanical thought, purity of thought was enforced in very much the same way that you see it enforced today by whatever you want to call it, the woke left or whatever. You are required. That’s why there’s so much of this like, oh, I don’t know if that’s the right word. Oh, so much of this self-apology and confession and all of that that you’ll see in that particular political woke left, what’s taking over our society. And so that’s why I brought that up.
Bill Walton (13:25):
I’m here with Stella Morabito and my bride, Sarah.
Stella Morabito (13:29):
She’s so enthusiastic about the book, which is why I’m here.
Bill Walton (13:31):
So she’s here, so are we good?
Stella Morabito (13:34):
Bill Walton (13:34):
All right, she wanted to make sure she told you exactly what she thought and everybody should buy this book.
Stella Morabito (13:41):
I just am so grateful, Sarah, and thank you.
Sarah Walton (13:44):
Just in talking to you, particularly young people, anybody going off to college should have this book.
Stella Morabito (13:51):
Well, thank you.
Bill Walton (13:51):
And it’s on Kindle too. I have both paper and Kindle, it’s great.
Sarah Walton (13:55):
Bill Walton (13:56):
Thank you, my dear.
Sarah Walton (13:57):
Bill Walton (13:59):
Fun. So Stella, the thing that strikes me about what you’ve done is you’ve distilled the essence of five or six of the great, the most powerful, the most egregious revolutions in history. You took Oliver Cromwell in England, Robespierre in France, Lenin in Russia, and then we have Hitler, of course in Germany. And then we did also Mao in China with a Cultural Revolution. And the thing that was really compelling to me is how similar they all are. They’re all true believers. There’s a small cadre of people that are the inner group, and some people say you could take over a country with a couple of thousand people. Well, they did. And so you had this army of people, and you now believe that that same sort of zealotry and totalitarian thought and cult-like thinking affects a lot of what we now call wokeness, or used to be political correctness. I guess if we’re pro-thought, you’d call them anti-thought.
Stella Morabito (15:07):
Bill Walton (15:08):
But there are similarities. But the difference you say today though is today’s phenomena is technical, technological, it’s global. This is not just one country and it’s also hydra-headed. Where before with these other revolutions, you had a Lenin or a Mao or a Hitler, or a Robespierre, or a Cromwell. Now we don’t seem to have any singular villain that we can focus on. And to me, that’s disconcerting because I see people acting in concert and I wonder who’s that man behind the curtain?
Stella Morabito (15:46):
That’s right, yeah. The goals are always the same. Whether it’s the globalist push that we see today, the so-called great reset push or all of these other utopian revolutions in the past, the goals are always the same. And they are all focused on global domination. It’s just that today there’s a greater means for that because the world is so much more interconnected than it would’ve been during the French Revolution or the Bolsheviks and so on. And then of course, the role of technology itself can be very alienating. Originally the idea was, oh, we’re going to all be interconnected through the internet and oh, well, how great it’ll all be. But as we see it becoming more and more information, becoming more and more under centralized control, that is very disconcerting.
And then just the virtual reality itself is alienating to people. It affects us both in an outward way in terms of how it affects our world and commerce and everything else. But it also has a huge effect internally on people, especially youth just being slaves to these devices. And then of course, as you pointed out, there’s not one particular dictator we can point to. It’s all hydra-headed. We’ve got the corporate world, the big tech, big media, and you can take over, you mentioned maybe 1,000 people could take over, as long as you’ve got a media monopoly. If you have control over information, you can more easily make a run for total control, totalitarian.
Bill Walton (17:48):
Well, as you wrote this though, did you begin to think, is there somebody coordinating what seems to be this group think among what we’ve called the globalist great reset elite, the big tech companies, social media, traditional media, et cetera? Is there somebody?
Stella Morabito (18:08):
I think it’s like, don’t you think, Bill-
Bill Walton (18:12):
Because you’ve been thinking about this a lot, haven’t you?
Stella Morabito (18:13):
Yeah. And don’t you think it’s kind of like they all want a piece of this pie? If there is a global great reset where everybody goes to digital currency and everybody is tracked. That there are a few who kind of call the shots and everybody else is some kind of a drone in this, I don’t know what the end product is. But it’s not good when people are cut off from one another, which is what happens with censorship and control of information. Don’t you think?
Bill Walton (18:51):
I do. Well, let’s talk about your central idea, the loneliness piece. Let’s talk about how people end up so isolated. You mentioned it, but let’s drill into it.
Stella Morabito (19:01):
Okay, well it’s really interesting today because, well I could go off in 1,000 different directions on this.
Bill Walton (19:11):
Stella Morabito (19:12):
Okay, first of all, loneliness. We know from all the research that it has a very destructive effect on human beings to be isolated. I begin my book at prologue with a story about this feral child who had been isolated for 12 years of her life. And how once you’re cut off, you become sensory deprived, you become basically feral. You can’t communicate, she was never able to communicate. And that was a stark example of what happens in severe isolation. And I think that’s one reason why most people are fearful of being isolated and rejected, cast out of. That herd, what we can call the herd instinct, is so powerful and I believe that’s because we were created for connection with other people and created for communion with God and created to interact with others.
And the flip side of that is that if that’s threatened, we’re very fearful. It’s a primal terror actually, of being ostracized or socially rejected. And tyrants have always, whether instinctively or consciously, tyrants have always been able to exploit that vulnerability within us. And I wrote the book because I think that we need to become a lot more aware of how these dynamics work. And loneliness of course, isolation leads not only to the mental health epidemic, pandemic or whatever you want to call it that we have today with suicide rates and depression and drug dependence and overdoses and all of that. It also leads to physical health issues. The stress of isolation can cause premature death. It can cause the early onset of Alzheimer’s, stroke, heart disease, so many things caused by the stress of isolation. So that would also add to the at least subconscious fear that human beings have of that, as well as the use of it by tyrants to control society to socially engineer.
Bill Walton (21:46):
What about the lockdowns? What about what we’ve seen with the pandemic? This accelerated it.
Stella Morabito (21:50):
Oh yeah, there were lots of headlines about an loneliness epidemic well before the COVID era. But COVID definitely fast tracked it all because this is what is so unbelievable about what happened, is that our isolation was enforced in a way that had never happened before in this country. It should have been very foreign to any American. I know youth kind of went with a flow and all of that, but it was unbelievably brutal in ways that we should appreciate more in retrospect and never allowed to happen again, sadistic actually. When you think about how they were separating people from their loved ones in the hour of greatest need and actually hastening the deaths of their loved ones, neither of whom might have had COVID, but they were not allowed in the hospital.
It was just really brutal. And you mentioning that to me is really interesting because just in the past couple of days, I don’t know if you’re aware or if your listeners are aware, but there was an announcement by the Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy, yeah, is his name, who said that, “Oh, we’re going to build an infrastructure now to take care of this loneliness epidemic and it’s going to have six pillars.” All of which in my view is, and this is the first time I’m really discussing this. In my view, this is about really delving, the government really having an excuse or giving itself an excuse to delve into the private sphere of life. They’re going to be sending bureaucrats to metal.
Bill Walton (23:53):
What are the six pillars?
Stella Morabito (23:55):
Oh, man, it has to do with-
Bill Walton (23:57):
I don’t need all six, but what’s the gist?
Stella Morabito (23:58):
Yeah, the idea is basically to get institutions connected with this idea that people might be lonely and to go into the communities and make sure that people are not isolated. And I don’t remember the specifics of each pillar. I read through it, it was a big CNN story.
Bill Walton (24:20):
Well there’s a theme here, but I spent a lot of time in the financial sphere and money and with the central banks now the idea is to get a central bank digital currency, which would give us information about all of our transactions centralized. Technically you can find that if a government goes looking very hard for it. But this would make, it just simply is looking at a ledger. And then I had Chris Cavell on of American Securities last week, and they now want to centralize, the SEC wants to centralize all your security holdings in one database. And so they’ve got a snapshot of all your assets. So they’re delving into your financial life, banking, delving into your investment life through the securities firms. And now we’ve got which agency is it, the Surgeon General?
Stella Morabito (25:09):
The Surgeon General was the one who made the big announcement, yes.
Bill Walton (25:11):
And they have six pillars. Because what we want to get the solutions, one of the things that we’ve got to do is raise the alarm that this is happening.
Stella Morabito (25:21):
Bill Walton (25:23):
The biggest thing we can do is to get together and say, this is happening and we’ve got to stand together to do something about it.
Stella Morabito (25:30):
Exactly, because it’s really all about tracking, surveillance and bureaucratic meddling in the private sphere of life. That’s really what it amounts to.
Bill Walton (25:39):
And of course, we’re seeing the medical state, the medical deep state, security state is doing the same thing with our physical health and I suppose our emotional health. So now we’ve got the six pillars.
Stella Morabito (25:53):
Right, one of which had to do with medical, the institution of medicine, and making them more aware of the dangers of isolation and loneliness, which of course, it’s crazy when you consider that you’re not even allowed as a therapist to say certain things. You have Big Brother right there in the therapist office now. So somehow we’re from the government and we’re here to help, is really what it amounts to.
Bill Walton (26:25):
This is Bill Walton, this is the Bill Walton Show, and I’m here with Stella Morabito, who’s written the terrific book, The Weaponization of Loneliness. And we’re talking about how the instruments through what this is happening is through federal agencies who are now beginning to want to delve into our private lives to solve our loneliness problem.
Stella Morabito (26:46):
That’s what they say.
Bill Walton (26:47):
Gee, I can’t wait.
Stella Morabito (26:49):
Oh, they’ll show up at your doorstep. “Hey, your neighbors say that they haven’t seen you.” Yeah.
Bill Walton (26:59):
Well, you’ve mentioned 1,000 ways to go in. As you mentioned something as I find particularly chilling, well you call it the so-called snitch society. And increasingly, schools are beginning to tell certain kids that you ought to tell us, the authorities about the behavior of other kids in the case of I think the pandemic was if they weren’t wearing a mask or they hadn’t gotten a vaccine or that sort of thing, there’s a compliance culture. They’re enlisting deputies, individual citizens in the state project.
Stella Morabito (27:38):
Oh yeah. No, we’ve seen this through all these totalitarian societies. The snitch culture, especially during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and his Red Guard. All it took was an accusation to get someone in trouble or pushing them into what’s called a struggle session. And what you mentioned about kids in school, it’s really disconcerting that they’d be encouraged not only to snitch on their peers, but also on their families. And this is all part of what’s called the social and emotional learning curriculum that’s being baked into all of the schools.
Bill Walton (28:20):
What’s in the social and emotional learning curriculum?
Stella Morabito (28:22):
Well they claim that, and it’s run by this organization called CASEL, C-A-S-E-L, the Collaborative for Academic, they just kind of throw that in there, Social and Emotional Learning. And it’s been pushed into Common Core for a long time, for decades really. But now it’s really taking off. And what we have with the Surgeon General’s announcement is basically social and emotional learning in a nutshell for all of society, not just kids in school. The idea is, oh, well kids don’t get a chance to learn enough about how to treat others, how to relate to others, how to be responsible, how to be respectful. And of course, the government has its own definitions for what all of that means. They’ve got their own agendas. The government, when I say the government, I mean really, the woke left, which kind of runs the show now, has its own definitions for those words. Respect, responsibility, kindness, and all of that.
Bill Walton (29:31):
Stella Morabito (29:32):
Oh, yeah. Well, here’s the other thing that I would say, equity and diversity, these ideas, I won’t even get into the inclusion part at the moment, but they’re mutually exclusive. The world that they’re trying to build, at least for us to-
Bill Walton (29:52):
DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion. So diversity and equity are mutually exclusive?
Stella Morabito (29:58):
Yeah, equity really means sameness. It means making us all the same in how we think and what our perspectives are. And that’s why we’re cut off from information, that’s why there’s so much censorship top down. Or the push for censorship is to cut us off from one another and cut us off from information. And the main source of information is other people, don’t you agree? If you’re isolated from other people and all you have is the screen that you’re being pulled into, you’re not really getting the full picture of real life.
Bill Walton (30:40):
Well, you have to be trained to recognize that that screen is giving you lots and lots of false information. And people are not really trained to make those kind of distinctions.
Stella Morabito (30:52):
And that’s a problem. And that one reason I wrote this book is to help people become more aware of a lot of these different things. I couldn’t do the whole thing, but that’s the main point. So the social and emotional learning curriculum where kids are supposed to be taught how to relate to one another. These are things that you should learn in the home from parents. But the school has taken on the function of family and more and more is cutting family out of the picture. But what we have with this loneliness project that the Surgeon General just announced is a project to deliver social emotional learning to the masses as well as DEI to the masses on a very personal level. And I think you’re exactly right to say snitch culture will play into it for sure.
Bill Walton (31:55):
Well the thing is that my mental model for this is I’m of a libertarian bent, and my mental model is we’ve got all of us living in communities, and people think of libertarians as rugged isolationism. It’s really a communitarian kind of world where you have small communities and you get groups you’re involved with. And lots of mediating institutions like the church and the local civic societies, and used to be the Boy Scout and the Girl Scouts. So those have been captured by the-
Stella Morabito (32:29):
Yeah, they have been.
Bill Walton (32:30):
… by the woke police. But I think it’s something like 1984, you had, what’s his name? Winston Smith, our protagonist. And it was basically Winston Smith alone in his room looking at the screen with Big Brother and Big Brother would come on every so often, and they have hate exercises, they didn’t get-
Stella Morabito (32:51):
Two minutes hate.
Bill Walton (32:52):
Two minute hate. But there were no intermediating institutions. He had no friends, he had no church, he had no other social connections with people. He didn’t go bowling with other people. And it seems like that’s the agenda though. You look at the schools trying to cut the family, the parents out of the curriculum, out of decisions about their kids. If you see this, it’s trying to get rid of all the other intervening institutions who just have people dependent on the state. It seems like that’s the endgame.
Stella Morabito (33:24):
You’re right, you’re right, Bill. I think the big prize-
Bill Walton (33:27):
Good. I feel like I did well in class because you’ve been studying this a lot more than I have and I-
Stella Morabito (33:31):
I think the big prize is the private sphere of life. This is what totalitarians, total control, totalitarians have been after for centuries. And controlling our relationships, our personal relationships, regulating. That’s where this loneliness infrastructure to supposedly cure loneliness is leading, is the control and regulation of all personal relationships, the removal of the private sphere of life. And all good tyrants and totalitarians want to be able to control or track every social interaction. And I’ve read that in one particular book about-
Bill Walton (34:27):
You write about Robespierre, whose intellectual heroes were Rousseau and Voltaire who talked about the general will. And they were there not because of their own ego, but because they were the uncorrupted, enlightened interpreter of the general will. And of course, the general will was whatever they thought.
Stella Morabito (34:49):
Exactly, that’s exactly right. But they think they put themselves up as gods, right?
Bill Walton (34:55):
Stella Morabito (34:56):
Because they can’t be wrong. And so that’s where we’re headed though. And that’s what I would like people to understand, is that our strength as human beings really comes from these connections in the private sphere of life. And you’ll see in that book, I do cite lots of hoddles work from 1978 called The Power of the Powerless. He was the Czech dissident in the ’70s during when Czechoslovakia was a Soviet block nation. And later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall became president of the Czech Republic. But he wrote this book that was a shot in the arm to the dissident movement in the 1970s.
It was called The Power of the Powerless. And he pointed out that our power really comes from this sphere of life, these relationships that we have, that are hidden from, at least at the time, hidden from the tyranny that rules over us, the tyrants. And of course today with all of these tools, technological tools, that is less and less hidden, our private lives, especially as you mentioned going to a digital currency where every single transaction gets tracked. But also now with this, I believe the first foray into finally trying to control our personal lives, our personal relationships through this massive supposed intent to cure the loneliness epidemic or to get it under control.
Bill Walton (36:51):
You have some great ideas for solutions to this, because this is not inevitable.
Stella Morabito (36:57):
No, it’s not.
Bill Walton (36:58):
But I did want to get touched back into something we talked, the lockdowns, why did America comply the way it did?
Stella Morabito (37:06):
Bill Walton (37:07):
That was really disconcerting to me.
Stella Morabito (37:09):
Exactly, and I wrote this book also to answer two basic questions. Why do we fall for this stuff? Number one and number two, how do they get away with it? And so I think that-
Bill Walton (37:25):
What page are the answers on? I want to-
Stella Morabito (37:27):
Well, I go into my thesis about isolation and the machinery of loneliness and all of that. But to answer your question about the lockdowns, I believe that Americans had already been dealing with obedience to political correctness already for decades, that we were already conditioned to self-censor. So that when a therapeutic-
Bill Walton (37:54):
And taking our shoes off at the airport helped.
Stella Morabito (37:56):
Oh, that’s all part of the condition process.
Bill Walton (37:58):
We’ve been in obedient school for decades.
Stella Morabito (38:01):
Bill Walton (38:01):
Stella Morabito (38:03):
That’s right. And so we were more tuned into listening to, of course, with a media monopoly as well, to listening to them as some sort of voice of authority. Not all of us, of course, but many Americans just fell right in line. And then they engaged in the snitch culture as well. People in grocery stores, if they saw someone whose mask was even just a little below the nose, were like little mask Nazis.
Bill Walton (38:33):
Have you ever been in the Safeway on Connecticut Avenue in DC? It’s a very snitch-
Stella Morabito (38:40):
Oh, man, yeah. I don’t know what happens-
Bill Walton (38:40):
It’s still going on, yeah.
Stella Morabito (38:44):
… to people. Well, I think I kind of have a feeling for what happens to people, but it’s bad, it’s very bad. But there are ways out of this, and my last chapter is called Throwing a Wrench in the Machinery of Loneliness. And I think there are many different ways that people just on their own, as a single voice, can make a difference.
Bill Walton (39:09):
Well, you’ve got a lot of interest… Your first idea there is to launch propaganda awareness book clubs.
Stella Morabito (39:14):
Well yes. And in fact, I’m in the process right now of doing a syllabus just based on this book, but also there are hundreds of amazing multimedia, I have multimedia sources that deal with this theme, whether it was intentional or not. Movies, documentaries, books, articles, novels. There are so many.
Bill Walton (39:45):
Well, you’ve got a terrific bibliography in the book-
Stella Morabito (39:49):
Yeah, very select.
Bill Walton (39:50):
… but this is the beginning. This is just the select.
Stella Morabito (39:52):
… this is just the beginning and it doesn’t include the movies. But I think if people watch certain movies together with these ideas in mind, and the book club that I envisioned, and I have some people I’m working with on it, they wanted to start to begin with this book. And I don’t know for however many months and however often you would meet. But just going through each chapter and getting real conversant with the whole machinery of loneliness and the weaponization of loneliness and how it works. And then moving on to all kinds of other books, articles, novels, movie nights.
Bill Walton (40:32):
Well you mentioned it in your book, one of the great movies on this one is Lives of Others.
Stella Morabito (40:37):
Oh man, that is amazing.
Bill Walton (40:39):
Which is the movie about East Germany before-
Stella Morabito (40:41):
Right before the fall of the wall. In the ’80 the Stasi and yeah, that was an incredible film, The Lives of Others.
Bill Walton (40:49):
And I guess they came out after it was revealed how many files the Stasi had. There were files of virtually every person in Berlin.
Stella Morabito (40:57):
Oh yeah. And the Stasi guy was up in the attic listening in on the writer’s conversations and his life and his girlfriend or whatever. And of course, now they don’t have to go up and set it up in an attic.
Bill Walton (41:12):
Now we have iPhones.
Stella Morabito (41:14):
They got it all. Oh, like I said, in one point in the book, no medieval Wizard or alchemist would’ve ever dreamed of having such tools at his fingertips as this cyber sphere.
Bill Walton (41:31):
Well, just to hammer this home, you write totalitarians depend on isolating people in order to control them through terror. And you said the daunting task begins with this question, what’s the primary weakness? Speech.
Stella Morabito (41:48):
Bill Walton (41:50):
Speech, free speech.
Stella Morabito (41:53):
That is the greatest weakness of totalitarians, is when people can speak openly to one another, they gain knowledge. That to me is the source of knowledge, is other people, even if you’re just reading a book, you communicate ideas and perspectives. And all of these things are very dangerous to totalitarians. And that’s why they have always been sticklers for censorship under the guise today of protecting us from disinformation and so on and so forth. That is their number one agenda item, is to abolish the first amendment, to abolish freedom of speech, so that we can-
Bill Walton (42:43):
Now just speech, it’s assembly and all the other rights that are-
Stella Morabito (42:48):
Exactly, association. They want to dictate relationships, who you can associate with. They want to dictate what you can say, what you can think. That’s why I say the two political camps today are pro-thought and anti-thought.
Bill Walton (42:59):
The other idea, which I’m going to be using that one from now on.
Stella Morabito (43:04):
Good, thank you.
Bill Walton (43:06):
You also mentioned building parallel policies and institutions. It does feel sometimes we ought to go full John Galt and he was the character in Atlas Shrugged-
Stella Morabito (43:22):
Atlas Shrugged, right.
Bill Walton (43:22):
He got tired of all this and went off to Colorado, I think set up a separate community, so they could be free from all this. But I don’t know quite that that’s what’s going to happen today. But is that the idea behind a parallel policies or these institutions inside where we live in say, Virginia.
Stella Morabito (43:46):
Well, okay. So most of our institutions are corrupt and have been subverted. I didn’t catch your last question, last piece of that about Virginia.
Bill Walton (43:58):
Well, it really gets to the larger question I’ve got, a larger whatever, but the red/blue distinction, if you look at the lockdown, certain states locked down egregiously.
Stella Morabito (44:09):
Oh, yes, yes-
Bill Walton (44:10):
So other states, people preserved their freedoms. And the difference in outcomes was stark. And so there are places, we have a federalist system, and there are many differences among the states in terms of how locked down they are, how totalitarian they are, how much chilling effect there is on speech. And so when you talk about policies, are we all going to move to Florida or is this a metaphysical thing?
Stella Morabito (44:38):
Right, right. And of course, one of my points about parallel institutions to replace the corrupt institutions, there are examples of them. You’ve got, what’s the name of the one that does Boy Scouts now? The Girl Scouts, it’s like American Heritage Girl.
Bill Walton (45:02):
Yeah, so there’s two, there are a couple organizations that have sprung up.
Stella Morabito (45:05):
And so like Hillsdale College would be parallel to all the corrupt universities or independent journalists. There are different ways of going about this, but go ahead.
Bill Walton (45:18):
Well, I just want to define corrupt. By corrupt, you’re simply saying these people are chilling other ways of thinking and free expression and it’s a lock. What do you mean by corrupt?
Stella Morabito (45:28):
I mean subverted, so that the institution no longer serves its mission, its original purpose. For example, the university as an institution has been subverted. It is no longer a place where we explore ideas, it’s no longer a place of freedom of speech. And like medicine again, especially psychiatry. So much of that has been subverted. So that you’ve got Big Brother right there in the psychiatrist’s office along with you and the psychiatrist or the therapist or whatever. The federal government has already dictated what people can say in what-
Bill Walton (46:09):
Well, and an example, critical race theory has thoroughly permeated regular medicine. And they’re now saying, you’re not allowed to make distinctions among races. And it turns out that there’s certain illnesses that only one race gets, the other doesn’t. So if you’ve got somebody and you’re not supposed to admit what race they are, you’ve just tossed most of the diagnosis out the window.
Stella Morabito (46:37):
Right. Yeah, and that’s exactly right. And there’s so many other examples. Like for example, in music, for auditions, for Philharmonic Orchestra, they don’t want it to be a blind audition anymore. They want to be able to see the race or the sex or the gender identity, whatever of the musician.
Bill Walton (46:59):
This is one I know a lot about. I was president of Symphony here, and blind audition is where the musician is up on the stage playing their instrument and there’s literally a blind between the musician and the people determining whether this musician is really good or not. So you can’t see sex, race, color.
Stella Morabito (47:19):
Mm-hmm, you just listen to the music, yeah.
Bill Walton (47:21):
Yeah, but now they want to get rid of that blind, they want-
Stella Morabito (47:24):
Right, so the purpose of the institution has been subverted. And so when I talk about parallel institutions to take over from the corrupt or subverted institutions, I mean we need to start building those. But it begins really even just one-on-one. One of my favorite quotes is from Jacques Ellul who wrote Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes in which he says that propaganda ends where simple dialogue begins. And that of course, is what every tyrant is afraid of. They don’t want people talking to one another without their permission, talking to one another and having real conversations and exchanging ideas. And so parallel institutions, parallel policies, they want to cut them off at the knees whenever they find them or wherever they find them.
Bill Walton (48:27):
I’ve spent a lot of time in the arts, and you have great recommendations here. I want to get two before we got to get out of here.
Stella Morabito (48:34):
Bill Walton (48:35):
One of them is Supporting the Revival of Beauty in the Public Square.
Stella Morabito (48:40):
Yes, yeah. And oh, yeah. I don’t know. Do you get on Twitter much, Bill?
Bill Walton (48:46):
Stella Morabito (48:46):
Okay. So are you familiar with a Twitter account called Culture Critic?
Bill Walton (48:51):
No. Should I?
Stella Morabito (48:51):
Bill Walton (48:51):
Culture Critic, okay.
Stella Morabito (48:54):
And he’ll show what a beautiful building was replaced with, and it’ll have side by side pictures. Like maybe the old Penn Station, and then today’s Madison Square Garden. They tore apart this incredible train station in New York.
Bill Walton (49:16):
Stella Morabito (49:16):
Penn Station, and replaced it with, I don’t know, just this block, this mass-
Bill Walton (49:25):
[inaudible 00:49:25] concrete.
Stella Morabito (49:25):
Yeah, right, yeah. And you go down there, and there’s nothing aesthetic about it. And of course, Sir Roger the late Sir Roger Scruton, this was a big issue of his, as I’m sure you know. And with beauty comes truth, as Keats said. It kind of opens our eyes to order in the world as opposed to chaos. Anyway, you’ll want to go to that Twitter site because he has some of the most beautiful examples.
Bill Walton (49:58):
Well, I’ve always liked the phrase, beauty is truth and truth is beauty, although I never really totally understood it.
Stella Morabito (50:06):
Yeah, that’s John Keats.
Bill Walton (50:07):
But it has a wonderful resonation. That was Keats, yeah.
Stella Morabito (50:11):
Yeah, the Ode on a Grecian Urn, yeah.
Bill Walton (50:15):
Now the last one I will, is reviving comedy is the key to reviving freedom.
Stella Morabito (50:23):
Oh, it’s one of the big keys because as you, I’m sure, know in the Soviet Union and all of these totalitarian communist nations, and comedy was basically illegal. One of my favorite dystopian novels is called We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Disillusioned Bolshevik. It was written in the ’20s. And George Rowell wrote a review of that novel for the London Tribune in 1946, and it inspired him to write 1984. It’s titled We and is it any of the points in there-
Bill Walton (50:23):
Is it in your bibliography?
Stella Morabito (51:00):
Bill Walton (51:00):
Stella Morabito (51:02):
Yes. And one of the points that the narrator makes is that jokes are basically illegal. And one of the dissidents, there is still a dissident or two in this dystopia, and she cracks jokes and she does illegal things like smoke and crack jokes. And anyway, why? Why is comedy such a threat to tyranny? Because it exposes us to truth in ways that it gives us a sense of relief in terms of, yeah, I never thought of it that way, or yeah, isn’t that funny? Isn’t that true? And everybody just kind of, almost as a relief, just starts laughing because of when there’s good comedy and good satire, you can see the lies exposed, the evil of the system exposed. And that’s why in the Soviet Union, of course, it was illegal.
Bill Walton (52:05):
Not a lot of good standup comics in Chinese Communist or communist China.
Stella Morabito (52:13):
Do they actually try to have standup though?
Bill Walton (52:16):
Can you think of those? I mean how many great standups were Nazis? Now this explains late night TV, and why it’s just absolutely funny.
Stella Morabito (52:25):
Oh, they’re just mouthpiece for, aren’t they?
Bill Walton (52:27):
Stella Morabito (52:32):
For the woke left. It’s like cringey stuff.
Bill Walton (52:33):
So the big reason we’ve got to make this happen is we’ve got to get late night TV being funny again.
Stella Morabito (52:38):
That’s right. Make comedy funny again. Right, make comedy real again.
Bill Walton (52:44):
Well, and we could continue for a couple of hours, but I don’t have a couple of hours, neither do you. So give us your takeaway here. We’ve talked about some of the solutions. What should we be doing?
Stella Morabito (52:58):
Well, we should not be fearful of speaking the truth when we feel it, because more people probably agree with you than you realize. Most people don’t really believe all that stuff, all that woke stuff, except for those who have just kind of been totally drenched in it. But most people don’t really believe this stuff. And if you’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone, and you just allow yourself to say what you feel about an issue, that goes a long way towards opening up a civil society again, freedom of speech. People need to understand that free speech is use it or lose it, number one. And number two, it’s the only way we can have real relationships. If we can’t speak openly to people, we can’t get to know them. If you can’t speak openly to someone, Bill, can you get to know them?
Bill Walton (54:05):
Well, just as a footnote to that, I think the quickest way to not waste time on people who are maybe wildly divergent from you is to say things like, “I voted for Donald Trump. I worked for Donald Trump, and I plan to vote for him again.” Now certain places I’m in the greater DC area, they’ll leave the room.
Stella Morabito (54:29):
Bill Walton (54:31):
Or worse. So one thing about telling the truth is you can figure out very quickly whether you’ve got a kindred spirit or not.
Stella Morabito (54:41):
Bill Walton (54:41):
I think it’s a very useful way to make life simpler.
Stella Morabito (54:46):
Yeah. But yeah, it is really important because if we’re worried about isolation, and that I believe drives so much of human interaction, is that fear of isolation and that need to connect, the converse, need to connect. It drives, I believe, just about everything in human affairs, what we say, what we don’t say, whom we associate with, whom we might shun. It drives everything. And so I think it’s just really important to become aware of these dynamics and aware enough to build these counter strategies and to build the courage to go forward. It’ll take leaders, first of all, to bring to-
Bill Walton (55:33):
Stella Morabito (55:34):
Well, and like you.
Bill Walton (55:34):
Let’s get the word out.
Stella Morabito (55:35):
And like Tucker Carlson. And it’s so many people who aren’t fearful of speaking the truth. And understand, that’s one of the things Tucker Carlson said in his speech that was so powerful that Friday night at The Heritage-
Bill Walton (55:51):
Yeah, I was there, yeah.
Stella Morabito (55:51):
He said, “Telling the truth makes you stronger and lying only makes you weaker and more terrified.” And I think we need to hold those words to our hearts and understand, that’s basically biblical, really. And the truth really will set you free. You might get beat up in the interim, but it’s really the only way forward. And it’s really the only way to avoid loneliness, to avoid isolation, because again, if you can’t speak freely, you end up isolated. And that’s the whole purpose of censorship, to isolate you.
Bill Walton (56:38):
Ms. Stella, thank you. This has been the Bill Walton Show, and I’ve been talking with the wonderful, astute and courageous Stella Morabito who’s written a book, The Weaponization of Loneliness, I highly recommended. And anyway, as always, thanks for joining us on the show. As you know, you can find us in all the major platforms, Rumble, YouTube, and all the major audio platforms as well. We’re on Substack and also on CPAC now on Monday nights. And as always, send us your ideas about shows, topics, people you’d like to have us dive into things with. And we take a lot of comments through our website, the billwaltonshow.com, and on Substack. So thanks for joining, and hope you found this interesting. And in this case, I’m really going to plug it again, buy the book, The Weaponization of Loneliness, Stella Morabito. So thanks.
Speaker 1 (57:29):
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