My last blogpost concerning the poisoning of our political discourse, and the abusive and vulgar response that I received from its chief antagonist, has reminded me of the (usually unmentioned) toxin that is continual put into our political system by so many of the politicians and political commentators - political machismo. It is easy for people to retreat from meaningful discourse and instead treat their political adversaries to a steady diet of vulgarity and abuse. When someone calls out a government or a political commentator on some piece of corruption or a toxic diatribe it is much easier to turn those accusations back upon them then it is to actually deal with the issue in a meaningful and thoughtful way. We continually tell our children about the terrible effects of bullying, but how serious can they take us when it is the very modus operandi of our reigning political order.
When someone is concerned about accountability in military expenditures or operations, accuse them of being a terrorist. If someone calls you on your political actions or style, seek to abuse them or bully them into silence. It is silence and obedience that macho tyrants are looking for and if they can't get it through intimidation they will inevitably fraud, and it is a quick step to real violence.
The roots of genuine violence are found in the socially sanctioned behaviours in which people, powerful and influential people, engage on a regular basis. The swagger of the politician and the ruthless vulgarity of the political commentator are the macro-manifestations of the machismo and violence that go on in our playgrounds, on our streets, and most unfortunately in our homes. We de facto sanction violence when we ritualize it in our sporting events and when our political class operates in a continual mode of macho abusiveness. And this machismo extends into our prevailing ideology of ruthless competitiveness and the brutal attacks not only on political opponents but on our very ecological system. The reduction of dialogue is, in fact, a road-marker on the path toward real violence. It is little wonder that so few women are willing to actively engage in our political system, and that many of the ones who do so and are successful, are themselves imbued with the swaggering machismo that has become the hallmark of our politics in general.