Adrianne LaFrance wrote an excellent and thoughtful article called The New Anarchy in the April 2023 issue of The Atlantic. I would like to comment on several points she made over my next few posts.
She writes that the conditions that making a society vulnerable to political violence are complex but well established:
- highly visible wealth disparity
- declining trust is democratic institutions
- a perceived sense of victimhood.
- intense partisan estrangement based on identity
- rapid demographic change
- flourishing conspiracy theories
- violent and dehumanizing rhetoric against the “other”
- a sharply divided electorate
- and a belief among those who flirt with violence that they can get away with it.
LaFrance does not state how these conditions were determined to be essential for societal vulnerability to political violence but seems to imply that are self evident and commonly accepted. If we look carefully at what goes on in the lower levels of our society, we can see all of these factors at work in creating decay and chaos in our social structure. This is not the only time in our history or in the history of other societies.
Next we will look at an interesting conundrum.
If we look at what has been happening in the past few years, we can see the presence of all of them. It seems to me that there may be other factors as well but her list gives us plenty to think about.
All of these factors have not arisen by chance. Over the course of time, we have demeaned and marginalized each other and not taken seriously the needs of all our citizens. Those left by the wayside have been most prone to suffer from the factors mentioned and to fall prey to anger about being left behind.