Political extremism is a rapidly spreading virus, one that cripples the thinking of those it infects and one that does great harm to civil society.
The only thing you need to really know about the history of civil society is that before it was a thing, we all wandered around the bush gathering berries, getting mauled by wild animals on a regular basis or getting killed by a rival clan for some reason, like when you picked berries on ‘their’ land.
Civil Society Is Our Responsibility
There are groups who have already done a fantastic job of explaining what civil society is, so let me explain what civil society means to me.
Civil society is what protects us from the dark, its what protects us from the violence and its what protects us from the demons that live within us.
Civil society is the art of living together, next to each other and on top of each other, it is a set of unspoken rules that we all mostly adhere to, ones which keep us from using violence against each other on a regular basis.
To me, the beauty of civil society is that my family and I can safely live next to you and your family, despite our political beliefs, because we understand that the good of our society is more important than our personal opinions.
I Protect Your Right To Disagree With Me
This means that I respect what you have to say and your right to say it, providing that you do the same in return, it also means that neither of us have the right to persecute the other for speaking our opinions.
If we can maintain this balancing act by not being hateful to each other in public, then we can mostly get along without hating each other and to me this is the very essence of civil society, being civil to one other.
Political Hyperbole Damages Civil Society
For a very long time in political history, the demon known as hyperbole was confined to extremists and demagogues because civil society understood it for what it was in political discourse and instinctively knew its evils.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle thought that the user of hyperbole was juvenile (meirakiōdeis) and inappropriate for older men and we presume this is because Aristotle thought that hyperbolai, when said in a political context, were mostly said by extremists and demagogues.
What Charybdis is so greedy? The Ocean could hardly have swallowed up so many things, so widely scattered, in such distant places, and so quickly!
Charybdis is a legendary and terrifying sea monster who eats ships whole, but he becomes insignificant when compared to Antony’s greed by Cicero.
Political Hyperbole Is A Liar
Back when politicians took rhetoric in debate seriously, the Roman rhetorician Quintilian described hyperbole as an ‘appropriate’ exaggeration of the truth, but he also thought that a sense of proportion was necessary.
I feel it distasteful to report the many faults arising from hyperbole and it is important to remind the audience that hyperbole is a liar.
This is because hyperbole helps to create an environment where violence is acceptable and dialogue becomes impossible and we see this hyperbole today in modern politics being distributed via social media.
Forget What You Know, Prepare To Be Emotional
I think its important that we understand how a demagogue uses hyperbole, they use it to manipulate their audience emotionally.
They use it to make typical human feelings or events seem emotionally remarkable, they use it to make the ‘normal’ so remarkable and emotionally intense, that the normal no longer looks ordinary to anyone.
They do this to manipulate you emotionally so you are no longer thinking rationally about a subject and its an old trick, one that has been practised by demagogues throughout history to push divisive and extremist views.
The Demonization Of America
One of the quickest ways for an extremist to discredit anyone who disagrees with them is to call them a sexist, fascist, racist or nazi as loudly as possible.
Its done in an attempt to discredit parts of society as people whose views are ‘not worth listening to’, so that their views do not have to be properly discussed in a civil way, the only real way to resolve any real problems.
Extremists using hyperbole to repeatedly label an element of civil society as sexists/racists/fascists, it’s a way of controlling how other people see them and we are now at the point where nobody is innocent, everyone is guilty.
You MUST Call Them Nazis
If you call people a Nazi, nobody wants to talk to them and that is why it is really important to extremists that we all agree with that label when they decide they want to call a person or group of people Nazis.
In labelling opposing political groups Nazis, you kill any conversation between competing political groups and enable violence against them.
You have to be wilfully ignorant of history and disrespectful of those who died fighting real Nazis to insist that others call your political opponents Nazis, just because they disagree with your political views.
We must also ignore Godwins Law, which states that “As a discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches”.
Under the cover of this, left wing extremists commit violence.
A Demon Waiting To Devour You
Political propaganda is creative content (audio/video/text/images) used to promote a political point of view and hyperbole is its best friend.
Historically when these two get together, they combine to form a demon, one that is ravenously impatient to devour us.
Using technology and social media, demogogues have perfected the art of presenting the right piece of hyperbolic propaganda to the right audience and automated it to the point that civil society is being barraged by it.
The crime that extremists are committing against society is that they are pushing extremely divisive perspectives, ones that are fracturing long term friendships, families, romantic relationships and whole communities.
Foolishly, we either share the hyperbole on social media or angrily comment on it, but worst of all we are continuously engaging with the hyperbole and its beginning to undermine our civil society in a thousand little ways.
Whatever your politics, we can mostly agree that those who set out to use hyperbolic propaganda to encourage violence onto others are negative influences that need to be countered if our civil society is survive.
Death By A Thousand Cuts
Whatever your politics happen to be, we are all surrounded by hyperbole coming from everywhere and its starting to take its toll, we are becoming hardened to its continous drone and we are starting to normalize it.
This is a perfectly human response to seemingly harmless negative stimuli, but we still do not know how deal with it effectively, because civil society has never had to deal with hyperbolic assault of this scale and magnitude.
It is eroding our democratic system, the trust we used to have in our institutions and each other, its pitting sexes and races against each other and its a threat to civil society because we can no longer talk about anything.
Whilst elements in our society are cheering it on, those of us with a sense of civic duty can see civil society slowly dying a death by a thousand cuts.
Whatever your politics, civic duty demands that we silence the demagogues.
The danger is that we lose our civility and the violence returns, before this happens we need to eliminate the hyperbole so we can return to a place where civil society can have a rational conversation about reality.
Civil Society Criminalizing Extremists
During the Great War and World War Two spreading enemy propoganda was a serious criminal offence, it did just as much damage then as it does now, but we decriminalized the practice and today elements of our society gleefully use hyperbole to burn civil society and make money.
Present day Spain is a democratic nation and a member of the European Union, but like other Western democratic societies, their institutions were under attack from barrages of hyperbole, launched by extremists.
After seeing the damage to civil society after they sustained intense attacks on elected officials, state institutions does, the Spanish acted with the force of the law and worked to criminalize the worst elements of civil society.
Spains ‘Citizens Security’ law was approved in a democratically elected parliament by a majority and it worked to protect civil society from extremists at a time of unrest caused by the economic crisis in Spain.
Criminalizing Political Extremism
Unauthorized protests carry strict fines, especially if the protests are near democratic institutions like the Senate, Congress, or Regional Assemblies.
Disrupting public events such as religious ceremonies, public speeches and sports events carries individual fines based on the severity of the incident.
Inciting others to protest and spreading political hyperbole on social media can carry heavy fines for those caught. Failing to assist the security services in the prevention of a public disturbance also carries a fine.
Those who damage civil society in Spain face individual fines of anywhere between $100 upto $250k depending on the damage they caused to civil society, regardless of their individual political beliefs or background.
Freedom of expression and freedom of speech is fine, but not if its hateful hyperbole aimed at society, its institutions and its elected officials.
Finding A Solution To Political Extremists
If our families are to live next to each other in peace, then we need to start dealing with the extremists who are labelling the whole country sexist/racist/fascist and infecting others with their ideology.
In the Great Britain, they have dealt with religous extremism fermenting hate on the streets by passing legislation to deal with the influence extremists have on society and criminalizing the radicalization of others.
If the Europeans, the British people and the Queen can get behind criminalizing extremists who damage civil society, so can America.
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** Why I should proofread my articles when I can just blast them out and let you guys correct them (thank you) for me in private comments over time?