The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figure o

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The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figure o

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The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figure of Kidult
by Jacopo Bernardini [1]
Postmodern Openings, 2014, Volume 5, Issue 2, June, pp: 39-55
Published by Lumen Publishing House On behalf of Lumen Research Center in Social and Humanistic Sciences

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Abstract

Being young today is no longer a transitory stage, but rather a choice of life, well established and brutally promoted by the media system. While the classic paradigms of adulthood and maturation could interpret such infantile behavior as a symptom of deviance, such behavior has become a model to follow, an ideal of fun and being carefree, present in a wide variety of contexts of society. The contemporary adult follows a sort of thoughtful immaturity, a conscious escape from the responsibilities of an anachronistic model of life. If an ideal of maturity remains, it does not find behavioral compensations in a society where childish attitudes and adolescent life models are constantly promoted by the media and tolerated by institutions.

Keywords

Adulthood; kidult; Infantilization; adult; youthful; immaturity; postmodern; postmodernity

Introduction

Contemporary societies are experiencing a new phenomenon, for which children and teenagers represent the epicenter of the consumerist culture, influencing the media system and forming wishes and behaviors of a growing number of adults: those who Postman (1994) defines adult-children, Epstein (2003) individuals locked in a high school of the mind, Tierney (2004) adultescents, Cross (2008) boy-men. The concept is useful to describe an increasingly recurrent reality: husbands in their forties who spend hours playing the same video games that obsess adolescents, fathers verbally and physically involved in fist fights at their children's game, politicians and managers who behave like impulsive teenagers, young adults who live with their parents, watch cartoons and see in marriage and in parenting an obstacle to their independence. In general, one finds infantile adults, unable to take responsibilities.

Therefore, the purpose of this essay will be to analyze the growing culture of infantilization that seems to have become one of the most recent hallmarks of postmodernity, making outdated and ineffective the classic paradigms of adulthood and maturation to which the social disciplines still refer to.

In fact, the postmodern adult is by now characterized by an unprecedented infantilist nature. He chases the aesthetics and lifestyles of young people, lives in a state of continuous present, postpones or eludes those stages that used to mark the social recognition of maturity as well as the responsibilities and the preclusions involved.

The classic paradigm of maturity, therefore, does not seem to find real behavioral compensations in a contemporary scenario that not only has reduced the sense of social disapproval, but in which infantile attitudes and adolescent life models are constantly promoted by the media and tolerated by institutions.

Throughout the course of the essay, these concepts will be examined in a concise measure, comparing them to some typical phenomena of the postmodern change: individualization, presentism and the reversibility of canonical indicators of adulthood.

Infantilization as a Law of the Market

As recently stated by Samuelson (2003), we are living in an era in which it is practically normal to refuse to accept one's own age, an era that is characterized by young people who want to be adults and adults who want to be young. The traditional stages of the life cycle, to which the social sciences still refer, were progressively postponed and altered: the age of childhood has been shortened; adolescence today begins way before puberty and for many seems to last forever (Blos, 1979; Arnett, 1998; 2003; Samuelson, 2003); the boundaries of the adulthood seem, by now, indefinable; and seniority, from a phase of the life course, is likely to become an individual concept. In such a scenario, the media, market and advertising seem to have played a fundamental role in the transformation of the life stages, gradually lowering, starting after the Second World War, the criteria of measurement of youth (Epstein, 2003) and extending the possibilities of a young semblance to people who are increasingly older. The evidence in favor of this thesis is seen in popular culture: newscasts give more and more space to news of color and crime; the language of politics has been simplified, depleted, dogmatized and has lost the complexity of a typically adult morality; video games and role playing games - once a prerogative of youth - are becoming increasingly popular among adults; each year, the most successful movies are cartoons or childish comedies; the clothing of adults has become a photocopy of clothing styled for the young; and the fields of cosmetic surgery and beauty products have systematically grown. The actor-consumer of this system tends to childishness without pleasure, to indolence without innocence, dresses without formality, has sex without reproducing, works without discipline, plays without spontaneity, buys without a purpose, and lives without responsibility, wisdom or humility (Linn 2004; Barber, 2007). The postmodern infantilization coincides with a kind of collective regression, largely as a result of stringent market logic. The promotion of what Barber (2007) has recently defined an infantilist ethos is achieved by correlating the postponing of the canonic indicators of maturity with the global market.

The propensity of a capitalism - which is no longer productive - to shape new clienteles and imaginary pseudo-needs (Debord, 1967) may therefore be connected to the gradual creation by the market itself of a new social figure: the infantilist adult or, as recently named in the American scientific production, the kidult. This figure is an archetype of an encouraged regression, to facilitate the promotion of goods which are only apparently addressed to young people and children. But why opt for a regression toward youth or even infantile ages?

There are at least four reasons. Firstly, the needs of children and young people are ideally and potentially infinite, while the demand for adult services and goods has proven not to be endless (Del Vecchio, 1997). Though the adult can consciously assess the real need for an object, the youth tends to the accumulation of goods which are ephemeral, superfluous, devoid of any practical or utilitarian value; similarly the child evaluates only the playful aspects of the object and does not voluntarily limit the desire for new goods.

Secondly, the adult used to be a child and a teenager. The memory of those years is a heritage that is always present in the eyes of the consumer and that can continually resurface when the market relies on the nostalgic effect. It is a simple stratagem, very common nowadays, leading the actor-consumer to relive past experiences and regress once again toward previous life stages. After all, as Gary Cross stated (2008), in a society as frenetic and uncertain as the postmodern one, the individual manages to find stability in the memory of past experiences.

The third reason is purely demographic. After the baby boom years, the birth rate in the Western world has progressively decreased and, as a consequence, the average age has risen strongly; it is assumed that will gradually continue to grow. In 1950 those who were fourteen years old or less made up more than a third of the world's population, today these are just the 13.5% and in forty years it is estimated that they will be only 8.6%. [2] In the United States the average age has switched from 25 years old in 1960 to 38 in 2012. [3] Moreover, it is assumed that by the year 2050, in the United States, the number of people over seventy years old will be greater than that of teenagers [4]. The European scenario reflects this trend in an even more obvious manner: in France the average age is 40 years old, in Spain 42, in Italy and Germany 44. [5] Italy, in addition to being the third country in the world with the highest average age, it is also the second country with the highest life expectancy at birth - 82 years - preceded only by Japan. [6] Young people are elsewhere: in the Second and Third World, but do not yet constitute an approachable market.

The final reason is the standardization of the young lifestyle. As ascertained by numerous studies (McNeal, 1992; Walker, 1996; Barber, 2007), if adult cultures are pluralist and distinctive, the culture of youth is extraordinarily universal. According to a purely economic logic, therefore, the young - both real and presumed - represent the most profitable target since they allow the sale of identical products in necessarily different realities.

On the one hand, therefore, the logic of global capitalism provides for an overproduction of goods in a market which is, by now, saturated. On the other hand, in these times of economic crisis as the economic boom years have ended, consumers have acquired a strong diversification in what they desire to purchase and are apparently less likely to buy goods that are not necessities. And it is in this scenario that the child acquires a new marketing value and becomes the prototypic figure of consumption, endowed with several characters vital to the market: he is easily suggestible; tends to want objects that have no utilitarian purpose; is driven by individualistic, irrational and almost exclusively playful desires; does not take into account the needs of others and does not present a substantial diversification in tastes.

The market, however, has not deviated production toward the child-customer, rather it has found in the irrationally consumerist nature of the child the ideal customer. The main target remains the adult for at least two reasons: his economic resources and the massive presence in the population. The promotion of the infantilization by the market has this aspiration: to foster the regression of the desires of the consumer in order to make them more compatible with a capitalist logic based on surplus production and equality of the products.

Not only that. As recently shown (Bernardini, 2012), the economic promotion of an infantilist ethos has widely influenced the major social and mass media contexts. Television schedules, for example, have gradually lost their original pedagogic and cultural depth in favor of fun and entertainment; the movie industry is increasingly focused on kidult movies, sequels, remakes, comics and cartoon superheroes at the expense of the complexity of plot and dialog; in publishing one sees motivational books and novels apparently addressed to children or adolescents (think of the Harry Potter phenomenon); Internet use, by adults, seems to be increasingly linked to ludic motivations, especially through social networks, while that of video games has assumed a nostalgic-escapist function that promotes the regression of the adult male to a utopian world of fantasy and virility, and to the consequent escape from family obligations and social responsibilities (Burrill, 2008).

In specifically institutional areas, the political debate is increasingly focused on individualism, privatization, narcissism and profit. Politicians, also, seem to have assumed, in the course of time, patriarchal and pedagogical roles towards the electorate and have dedicated more and more attention to appearance. Sporting events have gradually changed in favor of the pure spectacle; the banking system has perpetually simplified forms and language; the secularization has entailed a gradual revisiting of religious institutions in the direction of social disintegration and of individualism. Moreover, recent years have witnessed the proliferation of religious sects, Human Potential Movements, and N. R. M., [7] which combine myths and superstitions with modern popular culture, with a mostly sci-fi imprint, with the intent to foster the regression of the rationality of the believer to a typically infantile irrationality (Klima, 1999). Similar clues related to infantilizing practices can also be found in modern iconology and iconography, in language, in law enforcement agencies, in the management of hospitals and in the organization of events, as has been recently shown (Bernardini, 2012; 2013).

A Historical-Generational Question

According to some scholars (e.g., Mitchell, 2006; Cross, 2008), the culture of immaturity that has arisen in postmodernity must be connected to historical-generational motivations rather than economic factors. In support of this argument, they point out that the phenomenon of infantilization concerns almost exclusively people currently in their thirties and forties, those who once were labeled as generations X and Y and who were characterized by the significant contrast of values and behaviors in respect to their fathers, the baby boomers . However, it is precisely in the generation of the economic and demographic boom that the main causes of the contemporary infantilization may be encountered: a generation that has preferred to reject and deny the culture of older people - the so-called great generations - and to exalt the value that the life stage of youth was acquiring, rather than creating a new and better meaning of maturity. Unlike their fathers, the baby-boomers have not been able to produce sufficient styles of maturity and have made a model of enjoyment and freedom out of the nostalgia for their youth (Cross, 2008). In rejecting the behavioral patterns and the traditional indicators of the great generations, they have left to their children a vague figuration of growth, maturation and adulthood. The intention was, undoubtedly, to become better partners and parents in respect to their own ones by refusing a culture based on authoritarianism, patriarchy and masculinity. However, they have not been able to propose an alternative model of maturity, one that the children could have followed or to which they could have, also, opposed, finding in the common refusal some sort of adult identity.

According to a purely historical prospect, therefore, the problem of postmodern immaturity rotates around three generational figures, and each is a party to it in its very own way. The years of economic and demographic boom have marked the definitive end of the Victorian patriarchate, the birth of feminism, the growth of technological innovation, and the overall rising of the level of education. Between the Sixties and the Eighties, the transition to adulthood of the post baby boom cohorts has been marked by a personal rejection of the previous values structure and, at the same time, by marketing that began to celebrate youth. Advertising strategies changed, and no longer promoted family responsibility, competence and machismo, but a young identity and personal wish. In parallel, the market proposed new consumer goods that promise detachment from the conformism and authoritarianism of the great generations, celebrating leisure, the vitality of youth, and the expression and the satisfaction of the individual. An economic counterculture is born which seems to attack consumerism in general, but that in fact rides the wave of the youthful rebellion to oppose the utilitarian consumerism of the Fifties and promote the very personal interests of the individual, which once were repressed.

These factors have led to two main consequences: the removal of social and individual attention from the two main canonical indicators of adulthood - work and family - and the abandonment of traditional ideals and models of family, work and community responsibilities, leaving to future generations a significant emptiness of values, especially regarding the concept of maturity itself.

A New Definition of Transition

The classic signs of adulthood and maturation, social ideals and models of the social sciences do not seem to take account of the recent processes of infantilization. Rather, they largely reference a specific historical period: the so-called golden age of Hobsbawn (1995), a time between the Second World War and the early Seventies during which the Western world has registered unprecedented economic and industrial growth. It is in this space-time frame that the standard model of adulthood (Lee, 2001) arises, a model that, even today, is strongly referred to despite being inadequate to contemporaneity. The entry into the adult age, classically, coincides with the crossing of certain thresholds: a steady job, stable relationships, independent living and parenthood. These social indicators of adulthood are, so far, firmly fixed in the structure of the evaluation and the social recognition of the western countries and provide those essential points of reference for the attribution of the status of adult. On a psychological level, the standard model of adulthood provides for greater self-understanding and self-confidence, resulting from the accumulation of experiences and skills and by the consequent social validation. The adulthood as a prototype of stability, experience and certainty has been preserved over time, but today this representation, from an idea, has been transformed into a plain ideal (Arnett, 1997). In fact, many studies have shown that the standard model of adulthood largely persists in Western societies in spite of the very different context in which it is inscribed today. It persists both as a social representation and as a paradigm in the social sciences.

The classic indicators of maturity, therefore, remain in the postmodern era. They have, however, been gradually delayed, rescaled in the social and individual value to them attributed, and increasingly relegated to an ideal and abstract level.

The end of formal education - first classic indicator that should be achieved in the course of life - has encountered a systematic postponement in all Western societies since the Fifties. Along with this, in the postmodern context, education in advanced age has assumed a new role, both for the need of continuous training updates in increasingly specialized work and for individual maturation itself (Knowles, 1989).

Housing and economic independence are two indicators that, on the one hand, have experienced a gradual postponement over time and, on the other hand, have lost, in contemporary society, the disposition of stability. The boomerang kids phenomenon (Okimoto and Stegall, 1987; F. Goldscheider and C. Goldscheider, 1999; Mitchell, 2006) is more and more frequent: unlike their predecessors, the young adults of today often experience less permanence and greater movement inside and outside many work-related statuses and housing arrangements. The sociopsychological difficulties linked to the process of separation from the parent’s house (Mitchell, 2006) and the birth of semi-autonomous residential accommodations (F. Goldscheider and C. Goldscheider, 1999) have increasingly encouraged the return to the parental home. Similarly, employment policies increasingly linked to precariousness and flexibility, and business hiring strategies increasingly based on apprenticeship and indeterminacy, have systematically questioned the characters of occupational irreversibility and economic stability during adulthood.

Also marriage and the construction of a family unit are classic indicators - through which the social recognition of adulthood occurs - that have undergone significant and continuous retardation. In the postmodern scenario, moreover, the centrality of such indicators is widely put into question. Not only has the systematic increase in the number of divorces and separations weakened the irreversibility of marital status, the gradual emergence of non-traditional forms of family is marking marriage itself as an individual option rather than a practical social obligation.

The Birth of a New Social Figure: the Kidult

Postmodernity is, therefore, going through a profound process of infantilization that virtually concerns every institution and area of interest and that has strongly influenced the value and timing of the major indicators of adulthood. The process of social changes related to the phenomena of individualism, presentism, globalization, multiculturalism and expansion of the dimensions of uncertainty and speed has produced an unprecedented social figure - the kidult. He represents the prototypical image of immaturity, characterized by apprehension, insecurity, instinct, exploration and the inability to love and work (Freud, 1905). He is the emerging adult of Arnett (2003; 2004) who remains permanently caged in a life stage free from obligations and responsibilities, the boomerang kid that has made the affective, occupational and housing instability a choice rather than a constraint, the homo ludens predicted by Huizinga (1944), inclined to systematically take refuge in the dimension of play. He is an adult-child who shuns the social obligations tied to family and work, without feeling inadequate in the collective environment; aware that the canonic indicators of maturity that have characterized the previous generations are now fallen.

The kidult does not design his existence along a line that goes from the past to the future; rather, he takes his decisions day-to-day, on the base of needs and desires related to the situation and the context (Rosa, 2003). He lives an artificial youthfulness as infinite potentiality, he lives in a universe in which any valence to diversity between young and adult has been subtracted and in which, on the contrary, the lack of distinction between the two became a characterizing element (Bonazzi and Pusceddu, 2008).

The kidult, therefore, may be considered to be the evolutionary peak of the postmodern changes linked to the socio-media infantilization, to the weaknesses in adult value models as a historical-generational consequence and to the social and psychological reproposal of an infantilist and youthful ethos.

Profiling him however, is not an easy task. If academic studies in the field of cast are few, the ones on the phenomenon of kidults are virtually non-existent. In some historical, economic and sociological publications (Linn, 2004; Schor, 2004; Barber, 2007; Aberdeen, 2008) the phenomenon is briefly mentioned but never examined in depth; the press, on the contrary, especially in the United States, has tried to analyze it in numerous articles by correlating him, however, almost all the time with other events.

In other studies (Bernardini, 2012; 2013), such a figure emerged as characterized by the predominance - more or less clear - of some indicators of childishness on their antithetical compensations, which are typical of a standard conception of maturity. Below, the main ones:

Impetus vs. reflection:

Schueler (1995) has noted how the actions of many adults, in response to a desire, are not mainly affected by external factors that stimulate rational forces, but rather by blindforces, essentially not influenced by the rational deliberation. The pursuit of desire, mainly guided by blind forces rather than by reflection, might represent a characteristic of the kidult: just like children, his actions will be frequently influenced by the impetus rather than by reason.

Dependency vs. independence:

As mentioned previously, one of the major breaking elements between the great generations and the baby boomers concerns the behavioral and educational conduct towards children. While the great generations accentuated the importance of role distinction and independence, the post-baby boom generations conferred a strong value on emotional investment by establishing an unprecedented meaning of interdependence. The absence of any real stimulus to seek housing and economic independence, the dilation of baby talk, the unconditional affective dedication devoid of an authoritarian model of adulthood to follow, are all factors that might gradually establish in the adult son a sense of psychological and physical dependence. In kidults, in particular, the sense of dependency prevails over the search for independence. It becomes an inescapable condition which jeopardizes the natural path toward autonomy and individual and social self-determination. This propensity certainly does not end within the family context, since the positioning of the child within the family can greatly influence his positioning within society (Hockey and Allison, 1993).

Doubt vs. certainty:

The contemporary time is inevitably marked by the dimensions of doubt and uncertainty. The young adult, in general, and the kidult, in particular, nowadays call into question those social stages that used to permanently turn him into an adult. Doubt constantly affects training, working and relational spheres; social conventions themselves are interrogated and no longer accepted as taken for granted.

The search for instantaneous pleasure vs. happiness in the long term:

Back in 1992, George Loewenstein and Jon Elster examined a phenomenon which, in their opinion, was booming in those years: the continuous search for the present and the consequent lack of concern for the future by adults. The thesis of choice over time takes form: the low households' saving propensity, the drop in long-term investment of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the rise of public and private debt are interpreted as indicators of a pronounced and, in some ways, unprecedented propensity to live more and more the present and to not make investments in the future. Today this is a widespread phenomenon in which the adult individual, just like the child, privileges immediate gratification instead of future benefits and instantaneous pleasure instead of long-term happiness. A phenomenon that depicts a significant indicator of kidultness.

Egocentricity vs. self-abnegation:

The kidult, similar to the child theorized by Piaget, puts himself and his very own problems at the center of each experience, disregards the presence and the interests of others and is often convinced that everything is allowed to him. The reasons should be sought, once again, in the transformations of postmodern societies, in the development of individualism and secularization, but especially in the behavioral liberalism and the refusal of authoritarianism, para-educational models of the post-baby boom generation.

Right vs. obligation:

If, at a macro-level, the extent of egocentricity has increased, at a micro-level individual ambition has grown to the point that a job, today, not only must ensure a salary but also give satisfactions. The ambition and the egocentricity of the kidult may, therefore, result in an unprecedented form of presumption towards a society that, in reality, does not seem to follow nor direct him in his choices, but only suggest an infinite list of possible alternatives.

Narcissism vs. sociability:

In 1964 Erich Fromm widened the merely clinical concept of narcissism by gathering to it any form of vanity, self-admiration, self-satisfaction and self-glorification that affects the individual. The term then becomes synonymous of an asocial individualism in clear juxtaposition with the cooperation, devotion, and love toward neighbor. The phenomenon of narcissism is widespread today: Christopher Lasch (1991, p. 12) has even asserted that we are witnessing the birth of a new culture of narcissism and that this is bringing individuals to an "egomaniacal, experience-devouring, imperial self regression into a grandiose, narcissistic, infantile, empty self." What is interesting is that Lash attributes the culture of narcissism to a circle of adult people guided by infantile attitudes, in other words those that today might be defined as kidults. Similarly Gary Chapman (2003, p. 81) saw in narcissism a triggering factor of the delay and the decay of the major indicators of adulthood: work and marriage. According to the author, the increasing delay with which young people enter into the world of work is due to their narcissistic presumption, while the constant increase in the divorce rate is the result of "narcissistically puerile and irresponsible attitudes that people bring to marriage."

Impermanence vs. stability:

As previously described, the contemporary socio-cultural context of the Western young adult has been defined by some scholars (Okimoto and Stegall, 1987; F. Goldscheider and C. Goldscheider, 1999; Mitchell, 2006) as a real Boomerang age. It is in this context that the kidult becomes what, more than twenty years ago, Okimoto and Stegall (1987) had labeled as the boomerang kid: an adult who denies the traditional stability of the family role and the housing situation and, rather, opts for temporary affective and housing solutions. He is the one who decides to go and live on his own, with his partner or with friends and then decides to return to the family nest; who prefers the temporariness of various cohabitations rather than the ostensible inalterability of marriage; he is also the one who divorces and gets married again. He is a proponent of increasingly frequent trends that seem now to have compromised the traditional linearity of emotional and family formation and of housing independence.

Insecurity vs. self-confidence:

The proliferation of the culture of immediacy has often led to a climate of constant uncertainty, concerning especially those who have built their lifestyles on the dimension of speed: the youths and the kidults. As seen before, in addition, the kidult is presentist: he focuses his attention almost exclusively on the day-to-day dimension and is unable to make long-term projections, a conduct necessary to overcome the insecurity and anxiety related to the vision of the future. We could compare him to the no longer secure individual of Wallulis (1998), that is to say, the individual who has lost any kind of expectation towards the future, particularly in the employment and affective fields. As a consequence, marriage and work are no longer designed as safe and definitive milestones, but rather as precarious and provisional situations, as a land of probable disappointments and frustrations. However, the strong insecurity of the kidult is nothing other than the explicitness of a widespread trend. Several scholars (Beck and Gernsheim, 1994; Wallulis, 1998; Klima, 1999) have observed in contemporary society an increasingly wider sense of insecurity towards the future. A general lack of confidence which is nothing other than the direct consequence of the increasing demand for labor flexibility, the loss of expectations in a permanent marriage and the sudden inefficiency of the insurance state.

Individualism vs. community:

The infantilist orientation, like the ethics of consumption to which it is closely related, leads to a purely individualistic vision of life. That is to say, human beings are seen, first and foremost, as individuals and not as relatives, companions, lovers, citizens or members of a community.

Conformism vs. diversity:

The phenomenon of the kidults, from an economic point of view, has been seen as the ultimate consequence of the infantilizing process promoted by postmodern capitalism. The kidult is an adult who chases the standardized trends and desires of the youths; who suppresses the variety, the singularity and the distinctiveness of his own persona in favor of an extraordinarily universal youth culture; and who enjoys the same identical products, tangible or intangible, regardless of age and nationality. He is the one-dimensional man of Marcuse (1964), the symbolic product of an industry in search of a monopoly under which all of the mass culture is identical (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1947).

The kidult exhibits characteristics closely related to typical phenomena of postmodernity. He is a figure that seems destined to occupy a fundamental place in the redefinition of the paradigm of adulthood and life course. He is a figure with which the social sciences must, necessarily, start dealing.

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Biodata

Jacopo Bernardini – Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD in Social and Political Theory and Research, Department of Political Sciences, Università degli Studi di Perugia (Italy). Email Address: jacopower@yahoo.it.

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Notes:

1 Jacopo BERNARDINI - Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Political Sciences, Università degli Studi di Perugia (Italy). Email Address: jacopower@yahoo.it.

2 Source: Statist Bureau; M. I. C., Ministry of Internal Affair and Communications, United States (2012).

3 Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, United States (2012).

4 Source: US Census Bureau (2008).

5 Source: The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency (2012).

6 Source: Census of Gibraltar (2010).

7 Human Potential Movements (HPM) indicates all those groups and movements that offer radical improvement of capabilities and potentials through techniques that are not mainly related to Christianity, nor to the oriental religions.

The initials N. R. M. (New Religious Movements) indicates religious faiths or recent ethical, spiritual or philosophical movements that do not belong to any official religious institution. Almost all of them emerged in the second half of the last century.
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Re: The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figu

Postby admin » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:18 am

The infantilization of Western culture
by Simon Gottschalk
Professor of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
August 1, 2018 6.39am EDT

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Disclosure statement: Simon Gottschalk is affiliated with the Democratic Party and other organizations affiliated with it.
Partners: University of Nevada, Las Vegas provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.


Image

If you regularly watch TV, you’ve probably seen a cartoon bear pitching you toilet paper, a gecko with a British accent selling you auto insurance and a bunny in sunglasses promoting batteries.

This has always struck me as a bit odd. Sure, it makes sense to use cartoon characters to sell products to kids – a phenomenon that’s been well-documented.

But why are advertisers using the same techniques on adults?

To me, it’s just one symptom of a broader trend of infantilization in Western culture. It began before the advent of smartphones and social media. But, as I argue in my book “The Terminal Self,” our everyday interactions with these computer technologies have accelerated and normalized our culture’s infantile tendencies.

Society-wide arrested development

The dictionary defines infantilizing as treating someone “as a child or in a way that denies their maturity in age or experience.”

What’s considered age-appropriate or mature is obviously quite relative. But most societies and cultures will deem behaviors appropriate for some stages of life, but not others.

As the Bible puts it in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

Some psychologists will be quick to note that not everyone puts their “childish ways” behind them. You can become fixated at a particular stage of development and fail to reach an age-appropriate level of maturity. When facing unmanageable stress or trauma, you can even regress to a previous stage of development. And psychologist Abraham Maslow has suggested that spontaneous childlike behaviors in adults aren’t inherently problematic.

But some cultural practices today routinely infantilize large swaths of the population.

We see it in our everyday speech, when we refer to grown women as “girls”; in how we treat senior citizens, when we place them in adult care centers where they’re forced to surrender their autonomy and privacy; and in the way school personnel and parents treat teenagers, refusing to acknowledge their intelligence and need for autonomy, restricting their freedom, and limiting their ability to enter the workforce.

Can entire societies succumb to infantilization?

Frankfurt School scholars such as Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm and other critical theorists suggest that – like individuals – a society can also suffer from arrested development.

In their view, adults’ failure to reach emotional, social or cognitive maturity is not due to individual shortcomings.

Rather, it is socially engineered.

A return to innocence

Visiting America in 1946, French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss commented on the endearingly infantile traits of American culture. He especially noted adults’ childish adulation of baseball, their passionate approach to toy-like cars and the amount of time they invested in hobbies.

As contemporary scholars note, however, this “infantilist ethos” has become less charming – and more pervasive.

Researchers on both sides of the Atlantic have observed how this ethos has now crept into a vast range of social spheres.

In many workplaces, managers can now electronically monitor their employees, many of whom work in open spaces with little personal privacy. As sociologist Gary T. Marx observed, it creates a situation in which workers feel that managers expect them “to behave irresponsibly, to take advantage, and to screw up unless they remove all temptation, prevent them from doing so or trick or force them to do otherwise.”

Much has been written about higher education’s tendency to infantilize its students, whether it’s through monitoring their social media accounts, guiding their every step, or promoting “safe spaces” on campus.

Meanwhile, tourist destinations like Las Vegas market excess, indulgence and freedom from responsibility in casino environments that conjure memories of childhood fantasies: the Old West, medieval castles and the circus. Scholars have also explored how this form of Las Vegas-style “Disneyfication” has left its stamp on planned communities, architecture and contemporary art.

Then we’ve witnessed the rise of a “therapy culture,” which, as sociologist Frank Furedi warns, treats adults as vulnerable, weak and fragile, while implying that their troubles rooted in childhood qualify them for a “permanent suspension of moral sense.” He argues that this absolves grown-ups from adult responsibilities and erodes their trust in their own experiences and insights.

Researchers in Russia and Spain have even identified infantilist trends in language, and French sociologist Jacqueline Barus-Michel observes that we now communicate in “flashes,” rather than via thoughtful discourse – “poorer, binary, similar to computer language, and aiming to shock.”

Others have noted similar trends in popular culture – in the shorter sentences in contemporary novels, in the lack of sophistication in political rhetoric and in sensationalist cable news coverage.

High-tech pacifiers

While scholars such as James Côté and Gary Cross remind us that infantilizing trends began well before our current moment, I believe our daily interactions with smartphones and social media are so pleasurable precisely because they normalize and gratify infantile dispositions.

They endorse self-centeredness and inflated exhibitionism. They promote an orientation towards the present, rewarding impulsivity and celebrating constant and instant gratification.

They flatter our needs for visibility and provide us with 24/7 personalized attention, while eroding our ability to empathize with others.

Whether we use them for work or pleasure, our devices also foster a submissive attitude. In order to take advantage of all they offer, we have to surrender to their requirements, agreeing to “terms” we do not understand and handing over stores of personal data.

Indeed, the routine and aggressive ways our devices violate our privacy via surveillance automatically deprive us of this fundamental adult right.

While we might find it trivial or amusing, the infantilist ethos becomes especially seductive in times of social crises and fear. And its favoring of simple, easy and fast betrays natural affinities for certain political solutions over others.

And typically not intelligent ones.

Democratic policymaking requires debate, demands compromise and involves critical thinking. It entails considering different viewpoints, anticipating the future, and composing thoughtful legislation.

What’s a fast, easy and simple alternative to this political process? It’s not difficult to imagine an infantile society being attracted to authoritarian rule.

Unfortunately, our social institutions and technological devices seem to erode hallmarks of maturity: patience, empathy, solidarity, humility and commitment to a project greater than oneself.

All are qualities that have traditionally been considered essential for both healthy adulthood and for the proper functioning of democracy.
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Re: The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figu

Postby admin » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:21 am

Authoritarian Hierarchies Rule Most Workplaces
by Carol Kleiman
Chicago Tribune
May 5, 2005

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The workplace is not a democracy. Instead, it is filled with layers of command.

That's the informed opinion of Harold J. Leavitt of Pasadena, Calif., a retired professor of organizational behavior at the graduate school of business at Stanford University.

"Hierarchy, that oldest and most controlling attribute of large human organizations, shouldn't just go on and on, but it does," said Leavitt, who has a doctorate in social psychology.

His book, "Top Down: Why hierarchies are here to stay and how to manage them more effectively" (Harvard Business School Press, $29.95), addresses this concern.

Hierarchies -- the opposite of a democracy -- should be examined, Leavitt says, "because those multilevel, pyramid-shaped structures are authoritarian."

Because they usually follow a military style of management, he points out, "they breed infantilizing dependency that generates distrust, conflict, toadying, territoriality, back stabbing, distorted communication and most of the other ailments that plague every large organization."

There are no real democracies in big businesses no matter how kind and gentle their top executives and middle managers profess to be.

"Hierarchies can be powdered and perfumed, but in the last analysis, they still can lay off 10 percent of their workers -- and you can't do that in a democracy," said Leavitt. "They are as real as the air we breathe and often as impure."

However, the professor also adds that hierarchies are "surprisingly efficient in getting big, complicated jobs done." And they continue to exist -- perhaps even to increase -- despite the fact that many workers feel alienated, which can hurt productivity.

I asked Leavitt how employees at the bottom of the pyramid can cope in such an environment. "You have to understand that in the last analysis you have a boss and develop savvy about what aspects of the organization you can control, such as informal relationships and networking," he said. "Don't assume that you are perfectly free to say and do whatever you want. Nine to five is not the same as five to nine. It's naive to think you work in a democracy."

When faced with these constraints, Leavitt adds, "employees who think they can speak completely openly to their bosses are making a mistake. And any boss who thinks employees speak the truth to them all the time also is making a mistake."

The fact that the lack of complete democracy is a given in most workplaces is illustrated in a study by David A. Morand, professor of management at the Harrisburg branch of Pennsylvania State University.

"The tension created between the supposed egalitarianism and the hierarchical realities of the American workplace can cause (situations) in which employees avoid calling their bosses by any name," said Morand, who has a doctorate in management.

His study of 74 students enrolled in a part-time MBA program -- their average age was 30 -- shows that even though the boss might call workers by their first names, "subordinates often are reluctant to use the first name of more powerful others."

And so much for illusions of democracy.

Carol Kleiman is a writer for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. She can be reached at ckleiman@tribune.com. *
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Re: The Infantilization of the Postmodern Adult and the Figu

Postby admin » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:42 am

Infantilization and Degeneration of the Politics in the Recent Times
by Shalu Nigam
February 2017

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Across the world, many democracies are in crisis and the civilization is crumbling. The crisis erupts because there is an impoverishment of political life where intolerance, greed, ignorance and rage are growing recklessly. The vibrancy of the democracies is diminishing as the public sphere of informed democratic dialogue is shrinking. Blatant lies, infantile emotionalism, absolute disrespect, open display of religious and other forms of discrimination, racism, misogyny, casteism and bigotry and other such evils are replacing the concept of the egalitarianism and consensus building. The substantive engagement with the ideas in the public life is being emptied of contents and as happening in the mainstream media, celebrity culture is being promoted in political and social life, which relies more on emotions rather than reasons or the rationalism. The spectacle of right wing fantasies is growing as the public sphere is increasingly occupied by the majoritarian Hindu, upper caste elite male [1] club in India as compared to White male Christian club in the US or other parts of the West. The concept of respecting the diverse views is being collapsed in the cacophony of uninformed arguments, unintelligible jargon, esoteric theories and unsubstantiated opinions. Lawlessness is increasing and fanatics are getting louder and louder. Ignorance clubbed with the power, narcissism and megalomaniac attitude among ruling elite is giving rise to the dangerous state of affairs. The democratic secular ethos are being replaced by the culture of blood thirsty crony capitalism, cruelty and politics of uncivility. Anti-intellectualism and oligarchy is expanding while pushing for catastrophic human miseries because the totalitarian tyrannical and authoritarian state had failed. Militarization is expanding causing harm to the unarmed citizens while war mongers are consolidating their power. The language, the culture, the ethos, the civility, all are being infantilized and crippled leading to the decay of sociopolitical environment. The world is being pushed into the dark times by the newly emerged populous self-centered leaders. Democracies across the world are facing new kind of challenges but the critical question that is being raised here is that will these democracies be emerge out of this situation to imagine a different world while reclaiming democracies? When the politics is infantilized and its standards and norms are degraded, are there ways to revive and re-sustain mature democracies? Are these democracies in crisis, ready to contest the murky forces to bring desired transformations that would end the barbarism in politics? When human rights are curtailed by demagogues through strategies ranging from heavy militarization to the trolls of army on the internet, is there any way out to this global assault to imagine ways to cherish democracy, establish social justice and reaffirm human rights?

The Rise of Tyrannical Empires

History reveals that since ancient times, demagogues have appeared and controlled democracies. Aristotle warned that these populist leaders signify the manner in which `democracy feed’ on itself. Cleon of Athens has been considered as the first demagogue who through his brutal role has led to destruction while using his common man appeal. He persuaded the fellow Athenians to murder every man in the city as a punishment for revolting. It is for this Greek tyrant that Aristotle wrote, “He was the first who shouted on the public platform, who used abusive language, and who spoke with his cloak girt around him, while all the others used to speak in proper dress and manner.” Modern demagogues include Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini, Huey Long, Senator of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, Father Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy, a US Senator in Wisconsin from 1947 to 1957 among others. The list has got several new additions in recent years with those being compared to `Goblin Word’ [2], Voldemart and other fictional rogue characters because most of these political figures who fashioned themselves as the leaders of people could go to any extreme to hold and expand their powers by exploiting the sentiments of masses [3]. In 1838, James Fenimore Cooper defined the populous leader as a `leader of the rabble’. These demagogues, today, in the cloak of being a `messiah’ are exploiting the people’s passion and are distorting, infantilizing and misusing those reactions to grab power while threatening the established rules of political conduct. Signer [4] has argued that these demagogues are the symptoms rather than the cause of decay and could lead to the self-destruction of democracy. They emerge because people wrongly choose to select leaders who enslave them rather than choosing those who would ensure liberty. It is these demagogues who are consciously and deliberately choosing to infantilize politics for their vested interests.

Samuel Huntington, an American political scientist, in 1993, in his famous proposition `The Clash of Civilizations?’ [5] wrote that the world is divided along cultural lines and according to him each cultural block has its own distinct sets of religious and cultural values which are primary source of conflict. His thesis led to furious debate. Many could not agree with him. However, as partly propounded by him, today, the authoritarian, totalitarian regimes are increasingly expanding across several countries. The great recession of 2008 resulting in the economic disaffection and dissatisfaction has created conditions that has directed the intensification of authoritarian regimes at the surprisingly faster rate. With the triumph of right-wing populism in many countries, recently, the world seemingly is moving in a dangerous phase where the repressive pseudo conservative forces are expanding, consolidating and strengthening and where fascism and fundamentalism are becoming a norm. The volatile and chaotic situation that is emerging in some way is legitimizing dangerous paths against that which favours establishing the paradigm of human rights and social justice.

Currently, across the globe, the newly emerging right-wing populist leaders, in the name of nationalist agenda [6] are re-creating a sense of false nationhood while cultivating the rhetoric of violence and misappropriating the growing feelings of resentment and outrage. Mishra [7] in his piece elucidates that these populist leaders cultivate rage and promise prosperity that “collides with the massive disparities of wealth, power, education and status”. The demagogues are breaching the code of political conduct, respect, equality and dignity in the multicultural diverse societies by encouraging fascism and fundamentalism and are openly promoting unfettered majoritarianism [8]. The culture of violence and impunity is being manufactured, designed and cultivated by these leaders to endorse their vested political agenda. Anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant views are being propagated to contest against the `common enemy’ [9] while demonizing the minorities, stereotyping the refugees, banning the travelers from specific countries [10] and vilifying the migrants. While explaining the rise of populist leaders across Russia, Philippines, Kurd, France, Germany, USA, Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand and India, McCoy [11] explained that, “In their compulsion to “protect” the nation from what are seen as pernicious alien influences, such populist movements are defined by their need for enemies. That need, in turn, infuses them with an almost uncontrollable compulsion for conflict that transcends actual threats or rational political programs”. Instilling fear and terror [12] among masses while fueling hate are some of the tools that are being deployed strategically to grab and maintain power position. Religion is being used as the weapon to create binaries and divides and those who do not confirm to autocratic diktats are labeled as `others’ [13] or `anti-nationals’. Obedience and compliance is becoming the norm and any voices of dissent are crushed. Hence, demagogues today are weakening the stable democracies by turning government `by the people’ against `the people’ who elected them [14].

These demagogues are mocking those who speak against them, keeping judiciary under control through malicious means, rolling back gains in development and rights arena and are jeopardizing the basic human rights. The autocratic rulers, in the recent times, are indulging in self-aggrandization while throttling the voices of the civil society and are ruthlessly attacking the non-confirming and dissenting citizens. Mass surveillance and invasion of privacy are a few of the tools that are being used as tools to maintain control while ignoring the international human rights laws, conventions or treaties. War, persecution, terror, brutalities and torture are handy weapons that are being used to maintain the power status. Demagogues do not accept accountability for their actions and are keeping discontent under the wrap. They are trying to build popular support by spinning the false explanations and cheap solution to genuine ills [15]. The Human Rights Watch Report [16] 2017 rightly observed that the new generation of populists is emerging which while “claiming to speak for the “the people” they treat rights as an impediment to their conception of majority will, a needless obstacle to defending nation from threats and evils. Instead of accepting rights as protecting everyone, they privilege the declared interests of the majority, encouraging people to adopt the dangerous belief that they will never themselves need to assert rights against an overreaching government claiming to act in their name” [17].

Demagogues are Endangering and Weakening the Democracies

History shows that the demagoguery has ultimately leads to the death of democracy. Polybius, a Greek philosopher around 200 BC, elucidates that the demagogues undo the democracies and that every democracy eventually decays leading to “tumultuous assemblies, massacres, banishment.” Hitler sponsored the holocaust by creating the concentration camps and vilifying the popular sentiments against Jews, however, today, the populist leaders are evoking distinct elements of totalitarianism by generating lawlessness while denying constitutional rights and undermining civil liberties. These populist leaders are not creating special concentrations camps rather they are turning the entire nation into their laboratories of fascism and brutalities.

Hannah Arendt in her work The Origin of Totalitarianism [18] has described the manner in which the totalitarian regimes seek to gain absolute power by propaganda and only state approved voices are tolerated while all other dissenting voices are muffled and throttled. Similarly, the demagogues, today, are imperiling the human rights and endangering the democratic constitutional structures. Populism is inherently hostile to the constitutional values. In their zeal to accumulate power, demagogues are violating the constitutional rights and are manipulating the human rights paradigm [19]. Intolerance, moral policing, religious fanaticism, all are becoming the norms and diktats are being issued as to what people should eat and how they should survive [20].

Today, in many countries, the rule of law is being bend and broken to favour those who are in power [21] while overlooking the concerns on common citizens. Anarchy and subversion is rampant and martial law is justified. Spate of laws and policies are being formulated by these populist leaders which are anti-people and anti-constitutional [22]. Rights of citizens are being diluted by making amendments in the existing framework of laws and policies [23]. Policies are being made to restrict human rights of marginalized groups. The police, the army, the para-military forces, all are deployed to fulfil the whims and fancies of the anarchical autocratic leaders. Arbitrary implementation of laws and policies is emphasized and those who raise voice against inhuman decisions are being put behind the bars or are being murdered. In many places, prisons are full of citizens from the minorities communities and the civil right activists while those who essentially commit the crimes roam around freely with impunity because they knew they are being supported by the dictators. The populist leaders, in many nations, are turning blind eye towards violence inflicted on the citizens or the defenders of human rights and in the process, they end up murdering and killing the human right and democratic paradigm. And, at times, while not condemning violence on the civil society they support and promote the violence through their silence [24].

Rising Culture of Cruelty

Demagogues, in the recent times, pursue callous forms of neoliberalism while ignoring ethics and overlooking the social and economic cost. Crony corporate capitalism is favored and promoted at the expense of the rights of citizens. Corruption is increasingly becoming the norm in such societies. Exploitive market apparatus that lack human compassion is being pushed continuously while negligently ignoring the appalling human misery and ruining the democratic institutions. And all this is being done while using the framework of `development’ [25]. Such pitiless attitudes and actions on the part of ruling elite is giving rise to the `culture of cruelty’ which results in producing “inhuman policies that treats the most vulnerable with contempt, relegating them to the zone of abandonment and forcing them to inhabit a society increasingly indifferent to human suffering” [26]. Human societies are made to bow before the dictates of the market where the worth of an individual is determined by material standards set by the capitalism. The hegemonic market approach favours monolithic set of norms that push accumulation of personal wealth, career advancement, material status and brands while ignoring the diverse needs and desires. Human agency, creativity, independent thinking capacity for self-reflection and moral autonomy is lost behind the cluttering desire to confirm to the repressive standards of totalitarian, inhuman and authoritarian market. Neoliberal capitalist system is based on irrational belief that market is sufficient enough to cater the range of needs of diverse population. The worth of an individual is reduced to a factor of production and s/he is compelled to comply with the exploitive market norms. The system is never blamed rather it is the individual who is censured, in case he or she fails to fit in. The reality is banished giving rise to delusions and what is espoused is irrationality, absurdity and infantilism.

The zeal to conquer the wealth and resources and to grab power is guided by the dark ethic of the senseless capitalism and it propagates imperialist expansion. Citizens in such economic and political environment are being victimized by those whom they elect to govern. This irrational greed is leading to extreme inequalities, rise in poverty, hunger and malnutrition, climate change, droughts, carbon emission, rising global temperatures, changing agricultural patterns, decline in crop yield, rampant corruption, shrinking free spaces, curtailment of civil liberties, financial crisis, endless wars, poisoned ecosystem, increased stress in daily lives and similar endless concerns. Today, specifically in the country such as India, the educational institutions, civil society, NGOs all are under attack and restrictions are being made on the right to freedom of speech.

The decay of the democratic polity is evident when the culture of myths, magic, unreasonableness and illogicality is being propagated in many contemporary societies. This is mixed with the greed, gluttony and with the plundering, loot and exploitation which is harming the very essence of a democratic society. Absence of intelligence and lack of imagination to break free from the `glorious past’ of `blood and orgy’ is leading to anarchy. Fundamentalist, fascist and unethical perception is prioritized. Reasoning and rationality hold no meaning in such senseless and baseless pursuit. Evidences and facts are being detached from the arguments and truth is set aside while being branded as the `fake news’. Anti-intellectual forces are becoming strong and politics today embody the essence of this decayed intellectually bankrupt and immoral world.

Neo-fascists are acting to erode political and social values, exploit resources and harm social relations. In the absence of social security provisions and because of chaotic situation being created by the demagoguery, citizens across the countries are denied of basic essentials even to survive [27]. In fact, in many developing countries, including India, the policy of `liberalization, privatization and globalisation’ has resulted in situation where the spending on health and education is continuously being reduced and no emphasis is laid on creating opportunities of employment. Conservative, neo-liberal ideology is being deployed to destroy all public institutions including education. Taking advantage of the situation, the populist leaders are making all efforts to exploit the raw youth energy to serve their hideous purpose.

Violence is being normalized or rather glorified [28] in the current times [29]. Violence has so much permeated into the daily normal life that cruelty is being accepted as a part of the regular culture. Bullying, intimidation and harassment in all forms, whether children victimizing each other or cyber bullying, all forms of violence is legitimized. Also, it is considered as a normal to be indifferent and insensitive to the sufferings of others. In fact, today, violence is being promoted as a means of entertainment and `pleasure’ in the form of the violent video games, action and drama films and violent stories depicted in the daily news in audio, visual and print media. The news channels are fiercely and selectively promoting wars and violence while sensationalizing the news, in and out, to gain mileage in terms of their rating points. Some of the television channels in India have been accused of running motivated doctored videos [30] and the fabricated news items. Often, false stories are being promoted in the rat race to gain mileage. In fact, currently most of the media ownership is politically aligned or they are owned by the corporate houses [31].

Growing Militarization

Harming the unarmed citizens is the trend that is growing over for the past few decades. Demagogues are obsessed with the national security and thrust on militarism, both external and internal. The toxic mix of religious chauvinism [32], social biases and the evolving gun culture is used to create volatile situations where those vulnerable are easily targeted. Increasing militarization is degrading societies it is intended to protect. Brutalities and barbarism is being legitimized for the sake of false sense of national security and integrity. Emphasis is laid on procuring arms and arsenals while exhibiting the toxic macho style of governance. It is excluding the marginals, normalizing the brutalities and insensitivity to human sufferings and is devaluing open debates, negotiations or exchange of ideas or dialogues.

In fact, it has been said that the `welfare states’ are moving towards `warfare states’ and are impacting all aspects of the given social order [33]. By evoking the culture of `militarization of minds’, the populist leaders, world over, are reaping the benefits through cultivating fear among masses. The general dissatisfaction and outrage is easily used to create `us’ versus `them’. Innocent people are being killed world over [34] and civilizations are being destroyed because of the sickening and gruesome psyche these demagogues are displaying [35]. Any protest or any act of dissent is being crushed with the arms and the arsenals consisting of grenades, sprays, pellets, bullets and platoons of armed forces. The rage and anger among people is crumpled with equal amount of force. The cops are being trained to approach their jobs with wrong mindset [36]. The polarization is being engrained to the extent that common people are made to believe lies without questioning or ascertaining the facts.

War is being waged against common citizens where women, children, students, minorities, poor and middle classes are assaulted. People are being forced to live in the shadow of fear. Women and children are suffering greatly out of this madness deployed by these politicians for their vested interests. In many places, children are growing up seeing military men or the militants as a part and parcel of their lives [37]. Bombing, shooting, rapes, abduction, killings are the part of daily routine and are severely impacting the children who grow amidst such environment. Rape, abduction, killings, by army personnel as well as militants, all are being normalized in the name of nation’s security. Civic institutions are being undermined. Also, when the people are killed the media report the number of deaths but not the cost in terms of arms and arsenals, destruction of life and property, emotional and social cost of the life of victims and survivors and so on. The rhetoric of “War” and “Terrorism” is misused over the years even to militarize the common day to day language too [38].

Defense spending is continually being increased considerably over the years while reducing budgetary allocation in health, agriculture or education sector in countries all over the world. Armed forces are being modernized and nuclearization is being prioritized by the populist leaders across the globe. This war mongering attitude is harming rather than protecting the nation states. Recent report says that India has overtaken United Kingdom in defense spending and now occupies the fifth position in spending on defense budget [39]. India spend 52.5 billion dollars on defense in 2017 as compared to UK which spend 50.7 billion dollars in the same year as compared to US which spend 602.8 billion dollars. In the Union Budget of 2018 defense spending get the increased allocation by 7.81 percent [40]. Similarly, in US, the budget plan for 2018 proposed that 30 million dollars for the military parade that the President wants in Washington DC [41]. Despite criticism, the Trump administration defended the proposed plan saying that military parade would help show appreciation and support for those serving in the military. Arrogant vulgar display of masculinity through the pompous military parades holds no value when the budget for other essentials such as health or education are being cut and common citizens are denied the basic necessities. However, the demagoguery could not understand this simple reason.

The Growing Politics of Lies, Narcissism and Megalomaniac Arrogance

Demagogues are abrasive politicians who are creating a cult of personality to attract supported and to be surrounded by the cult of blind loyal followers. This army of supporters generally follow the populous leaders thoughtlessly and unquestioningly and is ready to commit violence of all kinds when required without reason. Fascism and fanaticism are the strategies that are being deployed by the demagogues to create the cult of blind followers. Haque [42] noted that immature, insecure and stunted mind that could not find a way to grow gets trapped between fear of the father figure and fear of freedom. The fascist mind, according to him is afraid of freedom and afraid of living and therefore for such mind obedience replaces inner morality. It is for this reason that fascist mind is stuck and regress into infantile stage and cannot understand reason, logic facts or evidence.

These demagogues are also using fear and hatred to stir up frenzy which help them to further establish their authority [43]. They are playing on while exploiting prejudices, ignorance and misinformation among common people and are shutting down reasoned debates. They are advocating for relentless forceful and violent means usually without any deliberations. These populist leaders are taking all possible steps to appeal directly to the emotions of poor and uninformed while telling lies and exploiting the crisis situations. The shallow image of strong macho man [44] is being maintained by the autocrat leaders to subjugate masses while projecting opposition as weak or disloyal. Most of the populist elites ruling the nations today, across the globe are woefully deficient in knowledge or intellectual pursuit. They lack the capacity of critical thought. There is the dearth of intelligence and scarcity of the judgement. What they possess is unbridled narcissism. Childish temperament coupled with the volatile bloodthirsty masculine impulsiveness as being depicted by these populist leaders is putting not only the nation but the planet at risk.

The populous leaders are using techniques such as scapegoating which implies blaming others for troubles, fear mongering by evoking fear among people as rape or death threats, telling unfettered blatant lies and more lies, being unfair and corrupt, using emotional oratory and personal charisma, using crude propaganda, accusing opponents of weakness and disloyalty [45], making empty promises and often promising the impossible, violence and physical intimidation [46], personally insulting, ridiculing and mocking the opponents [47] and portraying them as corrupt and immoral, displaying vulgar and outrageous behavior, grossly over-simplifying and using polarization and exclusion while demonizing the `others’. They are anti-pluralists, and are controlling media to their own advantage. Self-promotion is one of the main characteristic of these populist leaders. Politics is mixed with theatre and dramatic use of emotions is a strategy that is being used to fool people. These demagogues in modern democracies are the dream sellers [48] who are perfect at arousing the aspirations and play on the hidden fears of masses. Overall, it may be said that these demagogues are degrading the standards of politics, taking all possible steps to escape accountability, are overlooking ethics and are belittling others as well as themselves.

Infantilization of Standards and the Language of Politics

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind” explicates George Orwell. However, in today’s global context, telling lies is normalized and violence [49] has become the catalyst to promote the irrational, senseless, vulgar and fundamentalist arrogance. Wild promises are being made with no intent to fulfill them. Truth which keep check on the corrupt power is being posed as fake and the language of fascism is utilized to normalize falsehood and create sensationalism [50]. People are being easily seduced and the shrewd leaders and opportunist manipulators are not being held accountable for their actions. Words no longer hold meaning [51] or bind the leader [52] and dialogues lack social or ethical imagination [53]. Shameless, senseless, eccentric, crude and vulgar use of language [54], daunting sociopathic behavior [55], using divisive anti-Muslim [56], anti-immigrant rhetoric rooted in hate and violence [57] bigotry, toxic masculinity, sexism [58] and misogynist conduct is being used to ridicule the opponents. Empathy no longer remains a concern and vague ideas are proposed to attract the attention of masses [59]. Narcissism is shamelessly being promoted [60] and rationalism is under attack [61]. Unapologetic, arrogant attitude is portrayed with the agenda of self-glorification [62]. These leaders are creating powerful rhetoric and imagery and use their magical appeal to befool masses by their uniformed utterances [63]. Myths and bizarre irrational statements are being made to attract uneducated masses [64]. The growing nexus between the superstitions, celebrity culture, irrationality and political patronage is giving rise of cult of godmen and godwomen while the rationalist, secular and pluralistic character of the societies is being ripped into pieces [65]. These leaders surround themselves with the likeminded conservative people who are against intellectualism and most of these demagogues avoid press conferences which may put them in embarrassing positions and generally prefer one side dialogue using media.

Today, with the growth of technology, these populous leaders are using mainstream media [66] as well as social media to address political issues [67]. However, these social media platforms are used to humiliate and ridicule the opponents and critics and at times, mocking the physical characteristics using demeaning sexually charged insults and vulgar language. False, defamatory and deceptive statements are being made while latching on the vulnerabilities. Aggression is clearly visible and cyber bullying is becoming a common practice. Mercilessly, battering the opponents on social media is increasingly becoming a norm. In fact, an army of trolls is purposely being deployed “to construct, contrive and calibrate a social media culture where dissent towards a leader or an ideology or even a party is reciprocated in a worst possible manner” [68]. Disparaging and vituperative remarks, disgusting sexual innuendos, rape and death threats, hateful memes, abusive language, threat and intimidation all are used by these trolls which shut down the opportunity for democratic dialogue and fuel as well as incite hate online. Right-wing militancy on social media is responding to dissent by abusive language, bigotry and fanaticism [69]. These troll army lack the logic or basic decency and could go up to any extent to demean, insult and humiliate the person who dare to say anything against the party or its leaders. Attack is coordinated and fully well organized.

In such situations, politics instead of building societies and developing civilizations is becoming a tool to destruct nations. Social cohesion is disappearing and the political disintegration is becoming the norm. The infantilization and decay of politics is leading to the anarchy.
Samuel Huntington explains political decay as “the lag in the development of political institutions behind social and economic change” [70]. Today, political institutions are decaying and democracy is being crumpled. Fukuyama [71] explains that the “Institutions are created to meet certain needs of society, such as making war, dealing with economic conflicts, and regulating social behavior”. “But as recurring patterns of behavior, they can also grow rigid and fail to adapt when the circumstances that brought them into being in the first place themselves change,” he added. Worse still, such rigidity can be exacerbated by the elite classes’ misappropriation of state power for their own primary benefit. Those two dreaded forces—rigidity and elite self-dealing—are the sources of political “decay,” Fukuyama’s emphasized. Currently, democracies across the world are facing decay and disintegration. Manor [72] in his work emphasized that in the hierarchical democracies such as India, political decay and awakening run parallelly, but the citizens eventually have been able to develop a corrective and though regeneration did not fully reverse the process of decay but it has been able to avert the collapse.

Reclaiming Democracies and Strengthening Politics

In fact, currently democracies over the world are crumbling by the obnoxious alliance between the conservative forces and the neo-liberal economy. Today, demagogues are flourishing taking advantage of the fact that the democracies are ailing and that the neoliberal forces are further weakening the democratic structure. However, strong and mature democracies have shown capacities to survive such assaults in past. Aristotle in his work, `The Politics’ wrote that “Revolutions in democracies are generally caused by the intemperance of demagogues” [73]. Robust movements have been initiated and thrived earlier, which have ultimately led to revitalizing of democratic spirit. Social movements as the form of an expression to fulfill the legitimate democratic ambitions and aspirations have helped to instill political awakening in the past. Similarly, even today, the crisis can be resolved by reclaiming democracies where ultimately people hold the answer, if they dedicate themselves to the rule of law. A broadbased movement where people with different political and ideological vision may come together in defense of equality and social justice to reject the nondemocratic governance may help to revive the political spirit in a positive manner and may help to preserve the radical democracy. Solidarity above class, caste, religion, race or gender differences against the neo-fascism is crucial to make structural changes.

Also, Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor in Germany in 1892 in his famous poem` First they came for the Jews’ and this was later adapted and re-adapted with its numerous versions. He wrote

“First They Came for the Jews
And I did Not Speak Out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for the Communists
And I did Not Speak Out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Trade Unionists
And I did Not Speak Out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist
Then they Came for Me
And There was no One Left
To Speak Out for Me”


Democracies suffer from “an intrinsic paradox – if left to its own device it can disintegrate and can lead to tyranny”. Therefore, citizens have to play a meaningful role in strengthening political situations and institutions. In a democracy, it is the onus on the citizens to make the politicians answerable and to fix the accountability of every institutional mechanism through collective actions. Ordinary, informed citizens may play a vital role in reclaiming democracy and political regeneration. When the populous leaders are infantilizing the politics, it is an obligation of the common citizens in the mature democracies to check and balance such actions. Meaningless politics, therefore, must be controlled. Making democracies across the world strong and robust is the need of the hour.

Various scholars and thinkers have pointed out towards strengthening the political role for ordinary people as a solution besides increasing civic education and cultivating a strong sense of responsibility and obligation among common citizens. Kant in his essay on Perpetual Peace in 1795 based on contemporary liberal thoughts has proposed his peace program. Similarly, today, the universal unalienable right to life and liberty needs to be protected. Opposing the forces of domination and oppression is crucial.

In today’s democracies, whoever control people also regulate the power. Power can be evoked by wide range of actions ranging from protest for justice to massacres and the mob lynching. Essential is to understand the relationship between individual mass leaders and the citizens. Collective resistance build on solidarity of diverse group of people could challenge the power of fascist forces. Also, the lies and falsehood propagated by the populist leaders need to be contested with the truths. The uninformed utterances could be challenged with informed reasoning and facts. The language of fascism needs to be countered with the critical sustained dialogue and narratives of freedom and empathy.

In contemporary times, the need is to think beyond the role of citizens to vote and elect the candidates to monitor and survey the work being done. Civil literacy is the modus operandi in the given situation to create political awareness. Critically informed and socially responsible engagement may help to create new public spheres that may help to revitalize the democratic struggle. Civil society has to play an affective role in providing vigilance and creating more instruments such as Right to Information Act and similar such instruments which could held those on power accountable for their actions as well as inactions. The struggle for democracy in the appalling time requires agency and resistance. The concept of dollar vote needs to be re-examined. Decentralization of power has been suggested by many leaders in the past. The need is to think beyond the party politics to be understood as a vibrant ecology of practices to include wide range of perspectives, aspirations and innovations.

The market system is destroying the political system by relentlessly undermining the social institutions and depoliticizing the citizens while make democracy impossible. This need to be re-examined. Resistance at local as well at the global level is essential to prevent destruction by such powerful forces. Therefore, there is a need to connect local politics with the national as well as global political developments.

H.L. Mencken [74] in 1939 wrote, “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out … without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.” Thus, reclaiming ideals and promise of democracy require sustained critique of comprehensive politics along with the channelizing forces of fierce and courageous collective systemic, ongoing, educative and creative resistance at various level in and different forms in which radical and ethical imagination is being realized through mass demonstrations and protests. It is the process of engagement of informed citizens who confront the dark times with energized optimism to create a social movement that could bring change. This is a non-violent resistance that is transformative and emancipatory. It is a dissent of hope, conviction and courage that allows to think critically, dialogue effectively, questions the autocracy, deliberate thoughtfully, reveal and challenge the oppression and transgress the established norms.

Fredrick Douglass in his speech in 1857 said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. …This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So, there is a need to cultivate hope and to imagine a sense of possibility. With the bankruptcy of the political language in the contemporary era, there is a need to develop a new language of hope and justice which could provide new meaning to the question of substantive democracy. Bauman [75] stated that “as inevitably as the meeting of oxygen and hydrogen results in water, hope is conceived whenever imagination and moral sense meet”.

The author is a practicing advocate and an activist working on human rights, gender, law and governance issues. She has written several books and articles. She may be contacted at shalu_nigam@rediffmail.com

_______________

Notes:

1 Nigam Shalu (2016) The Privileges of Being a Hindu Upper Caste Elite class Male in India, Countercurrents.org February 10, https://www.countercurrents.org/nigam100216.htm

2 The term is propounded by John Milton in 1649

3 Signer Michael (2009) Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies, Palgrave MacMillan, New York

4 ibid

5 Huntington Samuel (1996) Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon and Schuster, UK

6 Make America Great Again is the agenda which is being used by Donald Trump and in the garb of this agenda, the rights of minorities and refugees are curtailed. Similarly, the Hindutva agenda is being promoted by the Modi government which backed by the corporate sector is threatening the rights of women, poor, minorities, Dalits, tribals and common citizens.

7 Mishra Pankaj (2016) The Globalization of Rage, Foreign Affairs, November/December Issue https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles ... ation-rage

8 Ogden Chris (2012) A Lasting Legacy: The BJP Led National Democratic Alliance and the Indian Politics, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 42 (1) 22-38

9 McCoy Alferd D. (2017) It’s Not Just Trump: A Toxic Right-Wing Nationalism Is Rising Across Planet, Alternet, April 2, https://www.alternet.org/world/its-not- ... tionalism- rising-across-planet

10 The Hindustan Times, (2018) Appeals Court Declares Trump travel Ban Unconstitutional, February 16, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-ne ... umptravel- ban-unconstitutional/story-lsoQepm5jtRISU3kJuAuPJ.html

11 Supra

12 Mob lynching, communal riots, polarization all are used to strengthen Hindutva agenda in India and the anti-Muslim frenzy is capturing the imagination of majority

13 Daniyal Shoaib (2018) Video: How Could I Reconcile My Hinduism with These Mob Lynchers? Asks Shashi Tharoor, The Scroll, February 13, https://scroll.in/video/868482/video-howcould- i-reconcile-my-hinduism-with-these-mob-lynchers-love-jihadis-ghar-wapsitypes? utm_content=buffera612e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaig n=buffer

14 Megan Garber (2015) What we Talk About When We Talk About Demagogues, The Atlantic, December 10, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainme ... talkabout- when-we-talk-about-demagogues/419514/

15 The Hindu (2018) How Shah Made a Virtue of Modi’s Pakoda Remark, February 5, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/new ... e-ofmodis- pakoda-remark/article22660316.ece

16 Human Rights Watch (2017) World Report, USA https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files ... 17-web.pdf

17 Roth Kenneth (2017) The Dangerous Rise of Populism: Global Attack on Human Rights Values, The World Report 2017, Human Rights Watch, USA

18 Ardent Hannah (1966) The Origins of Totalitarianism, Harvest Book, USA

19 The Wire (2017) Don’t Call Yourself Secular, Identify by religion or Caste Instead: BJP Minister, Anant Kumar Hegde, The Wire, December 25 https://thewire.in/208017/dont-call-secularidentify- religion-caste-instead-bjp-minister-anantkumar-hegde/

20 Dhavan Rajeev (2015) Death of Secularism: This is Modi and Hindutva’s Dream of India, Daily O, September 21, https://www.dailyo.in/politics/hindutva ... midansari- mahesh-sharma-kalam-khaps-ar-rahman-fatwa-aurangzeb-nmml/story/1/6346.html

21 BBC (2014) The Many Trials of Silvio Berlusconi Explained, May 9, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-12403119

22 Berry Deborah B (2016) Trump Says He’ll Open up the Libel Laws if He’s Selected, USA Today, February 27, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/pol ... trumpsays- hell-open-up-libel-laws-if-hes-elected/81042044/ also, The Hindustan Times (2017) Rajasthan Govt Tables Bill to Replace Gag Ordinance, Oppn calls It Kaala Kanoon, October 23, https://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/r ... nanceoppn- calls-it-kaala-kaanoon/story-RUFuqEhtnwP5L0EM9iVlEK.html

23 Dilutions have been made in the RTI law in India, the policies such as demonetization and GST have been introduced which have affected the masses, Labour laws are being diluted in the garb of making environment business friendly, agrarian distress has increased and farmers are committing suicides, the freedom of press is being restricted and even the judiciary is being targeted

24 In India, many people protested when it was observed that the Prime Minister followed those on Twitter who pompously cheered the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. See Sanyal P (2017) PM Modi Follows Twitter Accounts Who Think Gauri Lankesh Deserved To Die, Daily O September 6, https://www.dailyo.in/politics/gauri-la ... endramodi/ story/1/19367.html

25 PTI (2013) Narendra Modi’s development Model is Pro-corporate: Medha Patkar, The Hindustan Times October 28 https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ne ... ndramodis- development-model-is-pro-corporate-medha-patkar/articleshow/24827531.cms

26 Giroux Henry (2017) The Culture of Cruelty in Trump’s America, Truthdig, March 22 https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-c ... s-america/

27 In India, recently many people lost their life because Aadhaar was made compulsory and in its absence, citizens were denied basic services such as food grains, medical services, etc. In Jharkhand, many people died because they were denied rations. Further, in the hospital in UP many kids died in the hospital because of lack of oxygen because the government could not made budget available to get the supplies

28 Corbridge Stuart (1999) The Militarization of All Hindudom? The Bhartiya Janta Party, The Bomb, and the Political Space of Hindu Nationalism, Economy and Society, 28 (2) 222-255

29 Keen Sualeh (2016) Militarization of Civil Society: Theodicy, Double Standards and Schizophrenia, July 13, The South Asia Citizens Web, http://www.sacw.net/article12864.html

30 Deshmane Akshay and Vishnoi Anubhuti (2016) JNU Videos Doctored: Forensic Report; Smriti Irani’s Aide Shilpi Tewari Under the Lens, March 3 The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ne ... dforensic- report-smriti-iranis-aide-shilpi-tewari-under-lens/articleshow/51232360.cms

31 Kaushik K (2016) The Big Five: The Media Companies that the Modi Government Must Scrutinize To Fulfill its Promise to End Crony Capitalism, The Caravan, January 19, http://www.caravanmagazine.in/vantage/t ... overnment- must-scrutinise-to-fulfill-its-promise-of-ending-crony-capitalism

32 Pane James Di (2017) The Festering Religious Violence That Underpins Modi’s India, The News Week, April 14, http://www.newsweek.com/festering-relig ... dis-india- 583835

33 Thatcher Leslie (2016) We No Longer live in Democracy: Henry Giroux on a United State at War With Self, TruthOut September 25, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/3 ... -nolonger- live-in-a-democracy-henry-giroux-on-a-united-states-at-war-with-itself

34 War is being waged in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and many countries where civilians are suffering the most.

35 The insurgency in the Kashmir valley in the North India and in the states of Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and Tripura in North-East reflect the rampant militarization. The war against the poor in the tribal regions of Central India to capture their mineral-rich land for corporate interests has resulted in increased use of the Armed Forces in Internal Security.

36 Balko Radley (20013) Rise of Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, Public Affairs Books, USA

37 Raj Yashwant (2018) Florida School Shooting: Easy Access to Guns raises Questions, the Hindustan Times, February 16, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-ne ... lshooting- easy-access-to-guns-raises-questions/story-N2BvsMe9oy4WA1enSVbHjL.html

38 Carpenter Ted Galen (2016) The Creeping Militarization of American Culture, The National Interest, May 13, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-sk ... namerican- culture-16207

39 Sonwalkar Prasun (2018) India overtake UK in defense spending, China Remains a Major Challenger, The Hindustan Times, February 15, https://www.hindustantimes.com/indianews/ india-overtakes-uk-in-defence-spending-china-a-major-challenger-report/story- JSWeQtP6SfNsuQ1wWqx31K.html

40 Singh Rahul (2018) Union Budget 2018: Defense Spending Increased by 7.81% but Lower than Expectation, The Hindustan Times, February 2 https://www.hindustantimes.com/indianews/ union-budget-2018-defence-spending-increased-by-7-81-but-lower-thanexpectations/ story-UzfVvX6tjYEIHlynWwho1K.html

41 Brimelow Ben (2018) Trump’s Military Parade Could Cost as much as $30 Million, Business Insider, February 14, https://www.businessinsider.in/Trumps-m ... st-asmuch- as-30-million/articleshow/62921989.cms

42 Haque Umair (2017) The Psychology of Fascism: Fear of Father and Fear of Freedom, February 4, https://umairhaque.com/the-psychology-o ... 8c6e7d60fc

43 Cruz Elfren S. (2016) Demagogues, Phil Star Global, April 23 https://beta.philstar.com/opinion/2016/ ... demagogues

44 Modi claims 56 inches chest is being thumped on and oft by his followers though opposition taunts him for the same. See Kumar Manish (2014) Narendra’s Modi Talk of `56 inch’ chest Draws Acerbic Response from Sharad Yadav, NDTV January 24 https://www.ndtv.com/indianews/ narendra-modis-talk-of-56-inch-chest-draws-acerbic-response-from-sharad-yadav- 548777

45 Rai Valay Singh (2018) Modi’s Speech in the Parliament: What is this Obsession for Nehru? Daily O February 7 https://www.dailyo.in/politics/modi-lok ... hrusardar- patel-gandhi-family/story/1/22240.html

46 Adolf Hitler in his Mien Kampf wrote that physical intimidation is an effective way to stir the masses

47 The Print (2018) TalkPoint: Modi’s Remark on Renuka Chowdhary’s Laughter – it is Wit of Misogyny? February 8, https://theprint.in/2018/02/08/narendra ... wdhurywit- or-misogyny/

48 PM of India promised Achche Din or Good Days as a candidate but four years after he has ruled the country is yet to see good days. The opposition leaders are hailing him as jumla man.

49 The Print (2018) TalkPoint: Is the BJP Falling Back on Communal Polarisation Ahead of 2019 Elections? February 13, https://theprint.in/2018/02/13/talkpoin ... ncommunal- polarization-ahead-of-2019-elections/

50 Giroux Henry (2018) Shithole Countries: Trump Uses the Rhetoric of Dictators, The Conversation, January 11, https://theconversation.com/shithole-co ... erhetoric- of-dictators-89850

51 Scroll (2018) SAD Serious Acronym Disorder: Twitter Users are on the TOP of the World Over Modi’s Latest Word Play, The Scroll February 4, https://scroll.in/article/867518/sad-seriousacronym- disorder-twitter-users-are-on-top-of-the-world-over-modis-latest-wordplay

52 ET Bureau (2015) PM Modi’s Promise of `Rs 15 Lakhs in Each Account’ an Idiom: Amit Shah, The Economic Times, February 6, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ne ... andnation/ pm-modis-promise-of-rs-15-lakh-in-each-account-an-idiom-amitshah/ articleshow/46139139.cms

53 The Hindu (2018) How Shah Made a Virtue of Modi’s Pakoda Remark, February 5, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/new ... e-ofmodis- pakoda-remark/article22660316.ece

54 Howard Adam (2015) Trump on ISIS: `You Have to Take Out Their Families’ February 12, MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/trump-isis-y ... r-families

55 Holmes Jack (2016) Donald Trump Longs for the Good Old Days Where He Could Punch the Protester in The Face, February 23, Esquire, http://www.esquire.com/newspolitics/ videos/a42370/donald-trump-punch-protester-in-face/

56 Swain Ashok (2017) It’s Not What Modi is Saying About Muslims, Its Why He Shouldn’t Say it At All, Daily O, February 21, https://www.dailyo.in/politics/modi-fat ... urakshaks- love-jihad-gujarat-riots/story/1/15774.html

57 Johnson Jenna and David Weigel (2015) Donald Trump Calls For Total Ban on Muslims Entering United States, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 11e5-8728- 1af6af208198_story.html?utm_term=.139fe31bd569

58 Makarechi Kia (2015) AT GOP Debate, Carly Florina Effortlessly Bats Away Trump’s Sexism, September 16, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/09 ... -gopdebate

59 Singh Rajgopal (2018) Modi’s Exam Warrior: It’s All About Politics Stupid, The Print February 13, https://theprint.in/2018/02/13/modis-ex ... cs-stupid/

60 Alford Henry (2015) Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In, Vanity Fair, November 11, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11 ... therapists

61 Sharma Dinesh C (2015) Kalburgi Killing: Rational Thinking and Free Speech are Under Attack in India, Daily O, August 31, https://www.dailyo.in/politics/mm-kalbu ... reespeech- dharwad-bangladesh-sanal-edamaruku-dabholkar-pansare/story/1/5977.html

62 Pereira Fr Myron SJ (2017) Modi: From Democracy to Demagoguery, UCA News December 8, https://www.ucanews.com/news/modi-from- ... uery/81018

63 Mishra Pankaj (2017) How to Understand Modi’s Magical Political Appeal, The Economic Times, March 14, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ma ... nderstand- modis-magical-political-appeal/articleshow/57625930.cms

64 Sidharth Arjun (2018) BJP and Science: From Ganesha’s Plastic Surgery to `Yoga Can Cure Cancer’ The Alt News, February 9 https://www.altnews.in/bjp-science-gane ... icsurgery- yoga-can-cure-cancer/

65 Nayar Kuldip (2015) The BJP is Lethal for India’s Secular Democracy, The Citizen, February 2, http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/n ... forindias- secular-democracy

66 The Gulf News (2018) Fake News: Viral Video Clip in Indian Media Spread False Propaganda on UAE, February 11, The Gulf News, http://m.gulfnews.com/news/asia/india/fake-newsviral- video-clip-in-indian-media-spreads-false-propaganda-on-uae- 1.2172114?utm_source=mobilesite&utm_medium=socialbar&utm_campaign=twitter

67 Burns Alexander and Maggie Haberman (2016) To Fight Critics Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140 Character Doses, The New York Times, February 26, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/27/us/p ... trump.html

68 Acharya Devparna (2017) Why Does Narendra Modi Follow Trolls on Twitter, Ask Author Swati Chaturvedi, FirstPost January 24, http://www.firstpost.com/politics/why-d ... odifollow- trolls-on-twitter-asks-author-swati-chaturvedi-3176476.html

69 Malhotra Swati (2016) I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of BJP’s Digitalized Army, Juggernaut, India

70 Huntington Samuel P (1965) Political Development and Political Decay, World Politics 17 (3) 386-430

71 Fukuyama Francis (2014) Political Order and Political Decay, FSG Books, USA

72 Manor James (2016) Politics and State Society Relations in India, Hurst and Company, London

73 Signer Michael (2009) Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies, Palgrave MacMillan, New York

74 Mencken HL (1926) Notes on Democracy, Republished in 2009, Dissident Books, New York

75 Bauman Zygmunt (2004) To Hope is Human, Tikkun 19 (6)
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