Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Intellectual Sadism

Human kind has a history of obsession with conflict. From the blood sports of the Aztecs to the Roman gladiator to the conventional obsession with organized sports, the attraction to physical combat in one form or another is a sizable brick in the foundation of human social existence. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with realizing ones “inner warrior” through the tribal collective that is being a sports fan. Quite the contrary, I wholeheartedly participate. However this collective seems to be maintaining an increasingly sadistic nature as the UFC (and American, near no holds barred blood sport,) the K-1 (it’s tamer Japanese counterpart) gain popularity and various camera phone captured adolescent “fight club” matches find their way into the public mainstream. This sadism doesn’t end here, however.

From the perspective of mainstream America I will posit that the advent of a global forum for opinion, self grandeur and free speech (the internet) has jumped our inherent want for sadistic physical entertainment to one of intellectual contest. In short, the popular politics of the Free World have, in many cases, devolved to a perverse form of Intellectual Sadism fomented by what could (and should) be an incredible visage of free thought and constructive debate but which as often as not finds itself a wallow of tit for tat banality. Generally, we have reached a point where presenting a sound, if provocative, political opinion or assertion does not breed excited debate but instead manifests itself as an intellectually sadistic want to viciously mitigate and deprave those that do not meet our strict framework of social understanding. We attempt to undermine our political adversary’s ideals through shallow verbal attacks with full knowledge the reciprocation will be equally banal and even more savage. The sad part is we seem to look forward to a blistering reply to our galvanized position so that we might lash back with equivocal sarcasm, insult and even blatant hate. It’s a cycle not of construction but of basic, boring and bleak nothingness.

As we of the western “modernized“ world have socially evolved past the tyranny of expansionistic communism and found a global situation in which there exists a vacuum of collective world vision we have too often chosen not a Renaissance of free thought but a Dark Age of partisan verbal warfare. From newspaper headlines maligning the “idiocy” of American voters to the shallow “Freedom Fries” version of international outlooks we succumb to idealistic herd mentalities with pontificating ideologues waving us to our proper battle stations. These ideals are then further magnified in this vast virtual world in a fashion that appears not as constructively partisan but more partisan genuflection. With every salvo of “Bush is a Nazi” or “Liberalism is a disease” we await a counter salvo to further fuel our damn near tribal resistance to the evil of the other.

There are, of course, various online elements that make up a silver lining in what is increasingly sullied in political absolutes. Some of these free thought arenas are linked on this very page. They assert challenging ideas and invite not a partisan following rather an exchange of ideas based on critical thought and enjoy a very healthy amount of traffic and commentary. Others assuredly float, as yet unknown to me, in near obscurity (a principle I am not at all unfamiliar with J)out in cyberspace while the galvanized ideologues enjoy the unchecked attention of our apparent intellectual sadism.


Dan tdaxp said...

Group conflict, violent are not, is a very male (and very human) trait. I doubt we will ever get away from it. And to the extent people care about political opinion, those tribes will battle it out using political rhetoric.

Jay@Soob said...


Thanks for swinging by.

No doubt conflict is an inherent trait in human kind and no doubt rhetoric, both political and personal will abound for our lifetimes.

However, there seems to be a growing phenomena of baseless rhetoric that is designed not to put forward an opposing analysis or philosophy (constructive conflict) but simply to piss the opposition off and goad them into a reciprocatory attack (sadistic conflict) from which the offenders enjoy not only a base to relaunch yet another banal, verbal salvo but a bizarre sense of satisfaction.
It's as though the tribal environment of an elementary school playground at recess is infesting social debate.

Dan tdaxp said...

Agitation-propaganda is an old tactic.

America's tradition of limited, federal government may be the only real safeguard against this: by diversifying the points of contention as much as possible, it is less likely that a coherent message of anger can translate into severe political gains.

In other words: make politics matter less, and it becomes a subject of polite conversation.