The enemy image is exceptionally present today and it has been so for centuries, just in the last century alone, we have had, The Nazi’s, The Soviet Union, The Environment, The Balkans, The IRA and Global Terrorism to name but a few. On the larger scale, the reasons for this are obvious, a frightened population is a controlled population.
The purpose of this article, however, is to look at how this process is internalised, a good place to start is demonisation/dehumanisation. First, a target for this process is identified, in this stage, identifying a group or an individual as a problem may be entirely justified but from here on in, it’s all downhill so to speak. The next stage is to separate the target from the majority and this is done in a variety of ways over a period of time. The aim of this process is to make the target “the terrifying other”. The target will then become the object of disdain, fear and eventually hatred of the majority until the target is then viewed as small, primitive, dirty, dangerous, less than human, basically, any and every negative you can conceive of, it is now that any action taken against the target can be justified. This process has proved to be extremely effective over the centuries because it is internalised by individuals who exist in a scary, competitive environment where our very survival is at stake and in this environment people enjoy the feeling that they are better than the next person, the previously mentioned target also offers the majority a convenient scapegoat to project all of their personal deficiencies, irritations and fears upon.
This process also has a mirror image and it takes the form of deification, the classic example of this is a teenager with posters of their favourite singer on their bedroom wall. In both deification and dehumanisation imagery is very important. The process of deification, at least, over the last 50 years, is a far more internalised process. The individual identifies a target for various reasons such physical attractiveness, abilities/skills, personal aspirations, charisma etc. The individual then immerses him/herself in the work and life of the target and may take inspiration from the target to acquire a skill.
The individual will view the work of target constantly, read the targets biographies, watch the targets T.V appearances, travel to the targets live performances and the like, until, eventually, the target attains a god-like status in the eyes of the individual. During this process, the individual is projecting on to the target all of the traits of character that the individual deems are positive and even in the face of evidence to contrary, the individual will still continue to believe that the target is what the individual imagines the target to be. The individual wants to have what he/she perceives the target has, aspires to grow to be like the target or in extreme obsessive cases, even become the target.
At this point, it is time to broaden the example to include media, gurus and politicians because their deification is much more subtle. These groups of people tend to come into our lives offer solutions to a problem that is perceived to exist or in some cases they themselves have created for us (this is how advertising works). In offering a solution that does not begin with us they are elevating themselves over us and before you know it you have surrendered all of your own personal responsibility to them. Think of this in terms of the daily television news, maybe you started watching the news because there was something specific to you or your locality featured on a nightly episode, maybe you started watching because it was always there and you were bored, either way, if you view it for a period of time, say, a year, for instance, you will find that it sucks you into a dangerous, frightening world which is spiralling out of control, whilst, at the same time offering scapegoat after scapegoat and many pseudo-solutions but never a solution that actually solves the problem. The end result of regular television news consumption is confusion and fear. Why? Simply because we take their word as gospel, they are thus deified because they offer the one true word, they are beyond question and beyond our reach and although most people reading this might say “Well I don’t have the time to check up on the news media or politicians” or “I’m in pain now, I need
The end result of regular television news consumption is confusion and fear. Why? Simply because we take their word as gospel, they are thus deified because they offer the one true word, they are beyond question and beyond our reach and although most people reading this might say “Well I don’t have the time to check up on the news media or politicians” or “I’m in pain now, I need this guru snake oil” The point that personal responsibility for your being (mind, body, soul and outlook), has been abdicated in this process, still stands.
In our lives, most of us, if not all, will both deify and dehumanise a person or a group of people at some point, what lead me to write this article is the idea that both the dehumanisation and the deification of others in the internal workings of an individual is, in essence, the same process. There are far more forms that process can take and a myriad of ways it can be exploited but in essence to see someone as lower than yourself or higher is the same process in its positive or negative state. In reality, there will always be people who are better at doing a thing than you are, by the same token, there will always be those who are not as good at doing a thing as you are. That does not mean, however, that a person is better or worse than you, that situation can only exist in perception. If you identify too strongly with the thing, whatever it maybe, that you are doing, to the point that you believe that you are that thing, i.e I am a musician, poet, garbageman etc, then you will perceive superiors and inferiors. If, however you come to choose to identify as a process in a state of becoming (whatever it may be) then there are no superiors and inferiors there are only processes in different states of becoming, some of them may be quite irritating but such is life.