The radicalization of American society

The radicalization of American society continues. Part of the solution to that is in the hands of lovers of liberty, promoting and living peacefully, promoting an attitude of live and let live, and encouraging voluntary action to resolve conflicts and solve problems.

Today in 2020, we can clearly see (pun intended) that American society is radicalizing at a faster and faster rate.  And therefore, fracturing even more. Not just faster, but more completely. The last few weeks with the COVID-19 Panic have, in my opinion, sped that process up. The fractures grow larger and larger, the extremes (the radicals on all sides) more pronounced.

No one predicting such a situation, fifty, seventy, a hundred years ago, seems to have foreseen the actual degree of breakup and extremism which we see around us in 2020.  Indeed, the pendulum seems to have come loose – and is flying off into space.

We have an outrage mob-driven “Cancel Culture.” This does not just permeate our media, but individuals and groups of people. This is reflected in the demand for more and more extreme responses to the outbreak, and the hatred vented at the other side.

More and more people seem to be looking for reasons to attack others. Now, supposedly this is to defend ourselves against their aggressions.  I call foul. Much as “the best defense is a good offense,” this goes a long way beyond that.

While it is the woke SJWs that really push the idea of micro-aggressions, I see more and more people of all political, religious, and social persuasions who are really doing the same thing. People no longer look for things they have in common, but rather, find ways to make what little we have in common go away. And they are constantly on the lookout for things to get hyper, and hyper-upset about. Actions or conditions that may have warranted a frown or shake of the head even a few years ago are now excuses to whinge, complain loudly, threaten action, and often take legal actions. And once in a while, words turn into actions: a push or shove, a fist swung, or more.

Consider media and education.

It is only in looking back for the past half-century and more that we can see the detrimental effects on our society, culture, and political climate caused by the mainstream media.  It was not just television. Although as ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS are replaced by Apple TV, Google TV, NetFlix and Amazon, we realize that we are yet to endure the worst of that impact.  On the purely entertainment side of things (Hollywood, Broadway, and Nashville), is it actually possible that The Mouse (Disney) might actually be worse for society than MGM, Fox, and all the old-time entertainment moguls were?  Indeed, look back at the warnings of the moralists and doomsayers of the 1920s and 1930s about the impact of motion pictures, radio, popular music, and more. Their stated fears do not come close to the reality of damaged society.

If anything, the situation is even more dire in the field of academia and education. Consider the constant push for more and more government supply and control of the education – and more and more of their daily lives – of children as young as three and four. While at the other end of the spectrum, even progressives and neo-liberals profess to be shocked at the hideous woke condition of more and more university campuses. The administrations, the faculty, and the student body seem further and further divorced from both reality and society. While the quality of the education declines across the board.  Again, the warnings of too many in the later 1950s and 1960s about the decay of education seem too mild, too little. Today, one of the greatest “goods” as pushed by the education establishment is for students to go streaming out into the streets to join protests and take some action (often ill-defined) to defeat or support some issue.

It happens in our businesses as well. If someone is sold an inferior or damaged product? Go back to the business or manufacturer, and get a replacement or a refund? Hardly! First, we must attack the business, manufacturer, and often their employees on-line or in the media. Often followed by legal action. Usually with a highly-vengeful attitude.

Don’t like what a neighbor did on their own property? Never mind going and talking to them (unless it is to threaten them). Instead, go sic the code enforcement goons on them. Whip up ill-feelings towards them through social media. Even file charges against them.

Those who do these things are often praised more than condemned for going to extremes and skipping the response expected a few decades ago.

At the same time, one of the major fractures in society is those people who actively seek to create a sense of outrage and anger. To drive people to the kind of over-response I’ve just discussed.

Once more, the Coronavirus Panic has caused people to double-down on these extremes. There is less and less communication; more and more irrational behavior. The longer this goes on, the more difficult it will be to heal the divisions, and to move back from the extremes.

Lovers of liberty have a strong incentive to present solutions: live and let live, warning but not forcing people to take actions against threats, and promoting voluntary, peaceful solutions to disagreements. Right now, it is not a message that people will take kindly to. But we can’t give up.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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