For a decade a dangerous tendency has been discernible and it is threatening our democracy:
They mutate to real political movements and sweep away reason and logical thinking. But the reason for this is not an illness, and it is also not a hallucinogen. This paranoia, which is spreading worldwide, is the result of increasingly difficult usable and assessable information, which is disseminated via the Internet, in particular through social media.
As a result, every theory, also those of conspiracies, can be circulated easily. Those who believe in the respective theory congregate in opinion bubbles and spread these crude ideas further. There is no longer another instance – previously these were newspapers and television – which checks and categorises the information, and for this reason each theory is on an equal ranking with all the others.
When speaking about the pharmaceutical mafia, which wants to suppress homoeopathy, it is, for example, not mentioned that globules are partially more expensive than medication, with which they could be replaced.
The most popular theory is that of the secret power in the background, which dictates our lives.
From all these ideas of threats and secret manipulation, patterns, typical for paranoia, are formed. And paranoia leads to isolation in those groups which maintain a clear friend-enemy image. A symptom of being paranoid is the feeling of always being pursued; but this danger is not provable and can also not be clearly outlined. Those people who appear to have internalised paranoia to a great extent operate like magnets for many others with their unique appearance. And everyone else, who rejects these fixed ideas, would, according to his/her own theory, have to be a member, sympathiser or at least a useful idiot of a global conspiracy.
And even well founded criticism is labelled as a mere expression of an attempt ‘to silence the people who spread the truth’. References to thoroughly prepared contributions in the Internet or to book publications are provided in order to prove the scientific character.
Let us think back to the radio as a mass medium over 90 years ago: it was available to everyone, and thus a similar development of the masses occurred. And even back then, demagogues (today we call them “populists”, whether they are politically right or left) were in the limelight. Due to the radio, work could be done with emotions, and anger, fear, hope and excitement were played with.
We are aware of the social catastrophe which followed: the awful crimes against humanity, the incredible horror which resulted from the accessibility of the masses. To form feelings of the masses, to manipulate people with “WE women are”, “THE men have”, “THE Muslims act…” “We the natives want…” “America first”, “THE elites dominate…”, “these do-gooders”, “we concerned citizens”, “WE blacks” and “THE whites” (or vice versa) and to form smaller and bigger masses seems to be the aim.
A “we” requires a “you”, but not as long as, as in this text, the “we” refers to humanity as a whole. According to demagogues, this “we” includes the good, and the others? They are the bad. Their rights have to be restricted, ultimately cleared away, because they would jeopardise our safety – preach the demagogues loudly and often very effectively in the media.
And nevertheless, in the past decades, the demagogues largely did not have a chance for long. The seducers of the nation could not spread over a broader base because now they had to step forward live, and not virtually like now, to the people, whose mind-universe had not yet been sufficiently pervaded with these ideas. Thus they are often exposed as crazy, as people, who seem to consider weird ideas as the best. And quickly they disappeared once again into oblivion.
What we have to observe today: the ambassadors of madness sprout in the Internet and can already be happy about thousands upon thousands of followers. In no time a huge group of followers has gotten together via facebook & co., even before the entire population is aware of it. On twitter they host a meeting with hashtags like #outcry, #brexit, #vaccinationlie, #islamicdanger etc., for the necessary march. And with these memes they direct the masses.
Memes are nothing new. It is the power of the symbol. The swastika, blood and soil, the Venus symbol, the International, the crescent, the cross, “the patriarchy”, “capitalism”, “our country for our people”, “we’ve been robbed of our future”, that is the type of material which can seduce us. Movies, images, music, words and easy sentences are mere tools to penetrate the world of a naive person and further to plant a seed, which promises a feeling of solidarity; in the same way, a feeling of hostility is also created toward enemies. An easy and promising phenomenon.
Those who are familiar with these methods can move any masses, up to the division of humanity into two masses, the good and the bad. Only one common feature is required and birth features are the most suitable. Descent, origin, skin colour, gender. For this principle is simply a division. The masses can so easily be incited against a person or a group, and the other side of the masses represents a threat for one’s own. The individual position may be the savior from the damage of the world by others. But without division, all of this does not function. The seduction of the masses needs boundaries. Even when it, disgracefully, disguises itself as open-mindedness.
It is the hour of demagogues, male or female – it does not matter. Their main medium is the Internet – the social media. There are already hundreds of such seducers of the masses and they are enthralled with their followers. The proof of this are the increasing numbers of divisions in society in all directions: gender, age, origin, everything becomes an opposite. Camps are formed and they seal themselves off. The hate of another group grows and waits to break fresh ground. Some of these people, who manipulate the masses, are very easy to recognise. But others disguise themselves very well.
P.S.: And of course this article can also be interpreted as a conspiracy theory. Therefore we find ourselves in a veritable lie/truth-dilemma. How do we recognise if we fall victim to a paranoid concept or if something does indeed correspond to reality? The easiest means is for us to check statements before acknowledging something as correct and circulating it. Nothing combats demagogy more effectively than when people, who should be seduced, identify it as propaganda.
Translation into English: Donna Stockenhuber
Photo credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-17049 / Georg Pahl / CC-BY-SA 3.0
|Bundesarchiv Bild 102-17049, Joseph Goebbels spricht||Georg Pahl||CC BY-SA 3.0 de|