Moments between photographs: Part 1
Combine the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced abrupt change to the status quo, the polarising narratives of traditional and digital media and a growing distrust in leadership and you have yourself the perfect storm. The challenge to the prevailing hierarchies and ideologies that support them were inevitable.
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A climate of fear
When individuals do not feel safe, physically, or emotionally, they will do whatever it takes to regain control and grasp at any measure offering this, illusory or not. The rise of nationalism and tribe centric cultural revolutions are two modern manifestations of this drive towards wrestling a sense of security back.
The second world war is a sobering example of a worst-case scenario in the wake of a similar global consciousness shift. This period in history saw the rise of nationalism as well as communism, both trends rising in the world today.
Will this give cause for another global conflict? Probably not since there were no nuclear weapons around to insure mutually assured destruction during the two preceding world wars. This technology was only developed near the end of the second world war and today many countries possess nuclear arsenals, which ironically has ensured an uncomfortable global peace.
War has also become far too lucrative an endeavour for the military-industrial complex of the western world not to control and regulate. Supply and demand dictate that a global nuclear conflict would ultimately harm what has become a stable market. The real money is in perpetual and managed warfare which effectively mitigates the brinkmanship that had tipped the world into global conflicts in the past.
We seem to have returned to a formalised form of warfare practised by kings and emperors in Europe’s pre-industrialised past. This notwithstanding, the doomsday clock is standing at a hundred seconds to midnight because global leaders continue to actively engage in ideological propaganda and weaponizing information to further their aspiration to power.
In this war-for-profit theatre of operations, expansionism is frowned upon since this would destabilise the established world order. Expanding of borders and influence are closely regulated and requires popular sanction to be legitimate. This is why the modern theatre of war is your mind.
This is a psychological battlefield where the success of a campaign is measured in views, likes, votes, subscriptions, clicks and conversions. The prize is your attention because it is the gateway to your thoughts and your wallet. This idea might present itself as a new arena of conflict but the tried and tested military strategies continue to apply.
Divide and conquer along with always choosing the higher ground remain classics that garner measurable results.
The perfect country to use as a case study for this is America since its cultural narcissism and position of power obliges its media to continually broadcast the productions being played out on its socio-political stage. If you want to see this in action tune in to CNN and FOX news.
Observe both networks objectively and you will notice that the only objectivity present is your own. Both these media outlets have veered away from factual news to focus on what can only be considered polarised opinion. Spurious headlines and skewed narratives are the bullets fired by journalists who style themselves as the vox populi.
From a financial point of view, this makes sense since America operates on a bipartisan political system that in effect guarantees an evenly segmented market and loyal viewership to both networks if the two continue to work together as enemies.
As to higher ground, social movements took over where religion had left off in the piety department. Those seeking a higher morality can join a congregation with a group identity tailor-made for them. In their crusades, mostly fought in the theatre of social media, all are equally victims, but some are more victims than others.
Just ask gay rights activists, traditional feminism, and civil rights advocates. Their movements were hijacked by radical voices and drowned under a deluge of ideological rhetoric weaponised by militant and vocal minority interest groups. Unlike their predecessors, these movements do not seem content with equality but rather dominance.
The end goal does not seem to be for social justice but rather the complete destruction of the enemy, which should be the goal of any combatant in a theatre of war, even a social one.
It's a M.A.D world
If the enemy fears you the battle is half won. This is how Genghis Khan conducted his conquests. Once a city has been besieged it would always be offered the option of surrender. If it does Genghis would show mercy and offer protection and trade along with a demand for tribute. If they resisted, he would raze that city to the ground, cancel it completely.
This tactic greatly expedited his campaign of conquest and is one that has proven equally effective for radical social movements. What else is cancel culture but authoritarian moral censorship designed to forcefully convert opposing opinion? Groups that eschew this tactic online effectively issue only one ultimatum, agree with us or be destroyed. They get away with such naked aggression because the causes they represent are nuclear grade weaponised holy cows camouflaged as Elephants in the room.
On the opposite end of this conflict, we find the conservatives, traditionalists who represent the silent majority, the herd. They are happy with the status quo since it ensures their privileged position in society. Their ideology supports the reigning hierarchical capitalist male-dominated order. An order forged through conquest, colonisation, and oppression from which they continue to benefit. Theirs is not an argument of emotion but logic. Their energy is as masculine as their opposition is feminine.
One side fight for a new way of life and the other to protect the old. Both claim their causes to be just, but neither can claim innocence, and both have a habit of taking things just a little bit too far. In America, this has resulted in a domestic row that has conflagrated to the point where it threatens to destabilise society since both parties seem determined to destroy each other.
Constructive Debate is no longer an option and divorce is on the cards. This conflict threatens to go nuclear with every election cycle as democrat and republican leaders set the trend by going head-to-head with no holds barred. This is when things start to go M.A.D. Mutually Assured Destruction in the social arena is playing out exactly as it did in the real world with the advent of nuclear weapons, and we are left to contend with numerous skirmishes on multiple fronts.
About Edward Herridge
Edward matriculated in 1992 after which he performed military service and began his working career in printing by studying electronic origination at the South African Printing College. Edward eventually became an account executive for Oakes and Associates at Investec Bank. He then migrated into advertising and became brand manager for Ronin Grain Management Solutions. Edward departed Ronin GMS to pursue his own interest before finding employment at Grey adverting as a finishing artist, re-toucher, motion graphic and digital designer.
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