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When politics is understood as a fight of angels against demons, eventually everyone ends up suffocating under the fumes of hell, and it shows. We see it in America and the rest of the world: politics has become more toxic in recent years and this is reflected both in electoral strategies and in the growing cancel culture and even in the justification of violence as a tool to achieve political goals.
This was clear in America during the months of rioting, murder, and destruction committed under the command of the supposedly vigilante “Black Lives Matter” struggles. We saw it too, on January 6th with the absurd attack on the Capitol by some of Donald Trump’s supporters, and we saw it in Spain, with the violent attacks against Vox during the regional campaigns in Catalonia, to give just a few examples. In all these cases, the anger stemmed from the same source: the demonization of the rival.
It is particularly the left and the progressives have turned this low political resource into the center of their strategy. They accuse of “fascism” anyone who is supposed to be “fascist,” compare him to Hitler and accompany that accusation with the proclamation that “there is no dialogue with fascists,” using outdated references to Popper’s “paradox of tolerance,” to justify that they can censor, beat and destroy those they consider fascists, and all in the name of democracy.
Angels and demons in America
This demonization discourse has become absurdly evident in America. The industrialized press and the spokespersons of progressivism in social media have been accusing Republicans of being fascists for years, and then they played dumb when this distortion of political discourse led to physical attacks against hundreds of Trump supporters, often as punishment for the “sin” of wearing a hat with the acronym of Make America Great Again (MAGA).
Similarly, in Spain, the industrialized press and progressive spokesmen have been absurdly accusing Vox of being a fascist and extreme right-wing party for years, heating up tempers and creating the breeding ground for violent people to feel justified in stoning the party’s supporters.
On the right, these campaigns of demonization of the rival have not resulted in as many acts of violence as those launched by the “progressives”, but they also exist. Perhaps the most obvious and absurd is the conspiracy theory of QAnon, which literally labels rivals as pedophile demons, denounced by the enigmatic “Q”. In both cases we are faced with an absurdity, and a very dangerous absurdity.
Angels against fascists
No, neither Trump nor Bolsonaro are fascists, and it is time to make it clear that the cheap recourse to label as fascist every politician we do not like is unworthy and counterproductive for the very democracy that supposed anti-fascists claim to defend. Fascism was a specific political movement, arising in certain specific historical conditions and with a totalitarian, racist and genocidal agenda that is not represented in any of today’s major political movements, left or right. It is true that there are still radicals, but they (the real ones) are nowhere near the situation that existed in Italy or Germany in the 1920s.
Today, February 24, 2021, there is no potential Hitler in sight who has any real chance of winning elections and imposing his agenda (at least in the West), so leftists who have assumed the mantle of anti-fascism would do well to dial down the hysteria 3 notches and understand that they were 70 years too late for WWII. Both anti-fascists and fascists are already buried, while Jimmy, a sociology student, and Keosha, an anthropology student, fight in their minds a war that ended in 1945, with the defeat of fascism.
On the right, too, some self-perceived angels must be calmed down and a distinction made between the real coordinated efforts of progressives to impose their point of view (which we have discussed in other articles) and the absurd conspiracies. No, there is no cabal of gay and transgender reptiles who want to force us all to sin and who can only be stopped by sharing “the video the government doesn’t want you to see,” but which of course, runs free on YouTube.
Yes, the left and progressives certainly push agendas and ideas we don’t like, but that doesn’t necessarily make them demonic monsters, just people we disagree with.
The great danger is not that the next tyrant will emerge around the corner. The great danger is that the language of angels and demons continues to weaken the consensuses that sustain democratic life, the first of which consists of the simple but extraordinary idea that those who think differently from us have the right to exist and to compete.
Apocalyptic rhetoric is tempting, because it facilitates mobilization and donations in the short term, but in the medium and long term it will end up destroying the consensus of coexistence that sustains democracy and will throw us all back into the abyss of totalitarian governments and intolerant societies, that hell from which we have barely and with much effort been able to emerge in recent generations.
Mexican politician Carlos Castillo Peraza once explained that politics is not a fight of angels against demons, but must start from the conviction that our adversary is a human being, something that both right and left need to understand, because if we sink into the rhetoric of absolute good against absolute evil, eventually, violence will again become the main instrument of political action, as it was in most of human history.
It will be then when we take a break from our violent struggle against the monsters on the other side, that we will find ourselves in the mirror to discover that we have become equally monstrous, for when we make politics a game of angels against demons, we all end up in the middle of hell, burning with hatred and weeping with pain.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”