Demonizing “Demonization”

Here’s the N-Gram for the pestilent word of the year “demonization.”

Notice, if you will, that until the fateful year of 1960, there was virtually no use of the word “demonization,” and this was in a world saturated with the timeless verities of stupidity-based religion, which assigned demonhood and devilry to almost anything or anyone that was somehow against what the individual deemed righteous or correct or superior. There was about .00000175% usage. Then, in our allegedly secularizing age, when all the world information power bears down upon the baseless, evidence-less pontiff-ications of the charlatan religios -and “demonization,” that is, the ascribing of supernatural demonic forces to another, has to go through the roof? After the odious presage of doom Reagan in 1980, the use and overuse of the nonsensical phrase rises exponentially, to where now every political opinion has to include at least one alleged “demonization” of some powerful figure by some other entity or group.

Carl Sagan may have titled one of his most enduring books “The Demon-Haunted World,” but then he was on a quixotic search for extra-terrestrial search for intelligent life, and we are not. There are no “demons” or “devils” in this world, just us humans, and that is plenty awful and despicable and harmful enough. Can we not face the facts that anthropology and history can tell us about our species without resorting to speculative fictions about supernatural control of evil other-humans?

At one particularly dreary mass convention/rally for a union president in a conservative, pro-management union, the capo di tuti capo invoked the specter of “demons” that were afoot in the union trying to take down his reign of error. His face on the screen showed that this Christian meant it – his evil opponents within the union were obviously possessed by satanic impure desires to malign him and the world at every opportunity, according to his bizarre belief system.

Humans simply cannot abide a world wherein we humans are the cause of whatever ills and horrors and dissatisfactions and genocides and petty irritations that mar their moments of conscious experience. Evil acts have to diagnosed as extra-human, not intrinsic to us and our species. Have humans been war-driven? Do they commit ghastly crimes against their fellows and against the immediate natural world of non-human animals and defenseless ecological necessities like air and water? Of course the answer is yes, and all without any supernatural agency involved whatsoever. All due to the ineptitude of our human systems of self-governance, which cannot restrain a butterfly’s rampage, let alone ego-saturated tyrants and vicious slob bullies. Neither is there much observable self-restraint within ourselves, since we become habituated to the perpetuation of easily-identified forms of harm and destruction, because stopping them on our own would go against the inheritances of position and advantage.

Are we to be the subject of a self-assigned “demonization”? That serves no purpose. We are fated to live on a demon-less world of increasing brutality and idiocy-suffused social reality.

Do the overusers of the word “demonization” not mean the world literally, so all should be forgiven? No, religious vocabulary and metaphors and iconography have real histories and continued deleterious effect upon the ideas and conceptions of our fellow upright primates. Rather than do the hard work of endeavoring to understand how the dead hand of the past grips the vital institutions of our present, demonologists look away to the fanciful consolations of a human-absolving otherworldly specter – that doesn’t exist. Unless you count George W. Bush or Elon Musk – well, no, they too are not of the demiurge stripe, but all too fatefully, megalomaniacally human. We can dream of justice meeting the fates of malefactors loose upon our condemned surroundings, but those dreams will only vanish as they have before for our predecessors, who didn’t have the available evidence that we have for the lamentable immutability of the supersystem. Demons and “demonization,” be gone!

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