Building walls

Echo chambers. In a monopolar or heavily polarised environment, what strategic value do professions of faith have? In a monopolar culture like those during the European age of faith, holding strong views benefits the person holding the view, giving her a sense of achieved righteousness. In a polarised world like the 21st century West, strong professions of faith, like those of Twitter users who changed their names to include their voting preference in the US election only benefits themselves and those already won to their cause/camp/candidate. Everyone else is either left indifferent or resentful.

The two meanings of the word rhetoric are diametrically opposed. One is about style and effect and usually impresses those who’ve already been enlisted. It is confirmatory, re-enforcing, reassuring. The other is far more difficult for it involves persuasion. It jumps over the wall and seeks to speak another language, the one of the unconverted. It aims to persuade by making itself welcome first. It is concessive, propitiatory, assuasive. The former is far too common, the latter way too rare.

The lockdown has introduced the concept of support bubble. But we’ve become accustomed to being bubbles to ourselves, which are only self-serving, maximising assent and smothering contradiction.

We’ve built so many walls we’ve run out of mortar. And amid our walled loci amoeni, a wasteland of cacophony, hatred and despair.

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