10/25/16

Social authoritarianism

10/25/16
Several years ago I quit consuming political news on a daily basis. With seemingly rare exceptions, political news largely consisted of partisan hacks screaming about the other partisan hacks. Then the ignorant would take their cues and proceed to yell at each other.

Having an ignorant, naive, and/or biased media report on such goings on only contributed to my despair. So I quit. Mostly. I kept a healthy distance.

As the years went by, the increasingly toxic political atmosphere only served to reinforce my decision. Things got worse. The concept of "loyal opposition" seemed to have gone out the window.

Even now, even after Hillary walked back her "deplorables" comment, you can't step foot in a political forum without Trump supporters being called racists/sexists. And as we all know, people labeled racist or sexist tend to lose their jobs, friends, social media privileges, etc. Essentially, you risk being ostracized for voicing a political opinion. Sometimes, even for not voicing the right one.

It's not Republicans vs. Democrats. It's the more extreme leftist factions (stupidly united under the big Democrat tent) vs. anyone threatening their narrative.

The parallels to oppressive authoritarian regimes aren't always hyperbole. They may not go to the same lengths as the Stasi or NKVD, but the difference is in degree, not in kind.

In a perverted way, this was kind of tolerable, at least in Western democracies. Because we Westerners don't have (by most observations) secret police. There is no significant government-sanctioned thought-policing going on. It's all social. And we all knew it was coming from the same loudmouths we try to ignore.

But I'm not sure it's going to stay that way. This social authoritarianism is growing, and I worry it may catch on as a viable strategy for other groups. Only because we're letting it work.

What am I getting at, you ask? Well, I'm still sick of political hacks yelling about each other and don't think that will change anytime soon, but this social authoritarianism is another beast. I hate it, and won't sit idly by while we are relentlessly nudged and prodded into safe-space Ingsoc chambers.

There's good news and bad news about this. The bad news is that the gains made by this newly empowered social authoritarian beast haven't gone unnoticed. Like I said, we're letting it work. Because it's working, the political hacks are allying with, co-opting, doing whatever they can to use it. Hell, maybe they invented it. But the scope of the beast is much larger than politics.

The good news is that even while most ignorant people are blind to partisan hackery, and most informed people are blind to their own side's hackery, the social authoritarianism is much harder to miss.

I've been sporadically blogging about this kind of stuff for awhile now. The phenomenon got me consuming news and commentary on a regular basis again.

So it's refreshing and reassuring to see more and more people take notice, re-examine their views, and wise up. Like Dave Rubin. He hosts my new favorite talk show. It surpasses the quality of any talk show on cable. He talks a lot about this kind of stuff too, including his most recent interview:

 

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