“Radicalizing” is a bad word. Radical means “going to the root of something”, not related to violence per se.

We need a word for the propaganda process that dehumanizes the other to the point you commit violence while assuming you’re purifying the world.


Something like “he was groomed to dehumanize” but well, shorter.

I like how “been (verb)” removes their agency. Let’s keep it.

Bonus points if you can stretch it to say target (who was dehumanized) or vector (the groomer).

@nonlinear I think "radical" in "radicalize" is a shortening of the concept "radical reform", as in a reformist who wants to make change to a system from the roots.

I agree that "radicalizing" by itself doesn't signify that concept wholly.

@vortex_egg when they say “radicalized” they mean when someone broke and got violent with others.

Or at least THIS case that we need a better word. It’s about being so hypnotized by ideas, you dehumanize the other.

(Realize A LOT more people are this than “radicalized”)

@vortex_egg it’s not extreme. It’s not radical. It’s when propaganda grooms you to dehumanize others.

Anything not status quo is used as “radicalized”. It’s a trap.

@nonlinear I think I see what you mean (also, I agree with all of your background assessment here).

You are looking for a distinction specifically naming the phenomenon of people being informationally programmed into not seeing other people as people.

It seems like there are two key parts to making this distinction (correct me if I misread you here):

1. Propagandistic grooming or informational programming, or something like that, and
2. Coming to hold a belief that certain people are less than human (as a result of #1).

Is that correct?

@nonlinear The thought has occurred to me before that this can happen even in early childhood: children are not born seeing other humans as sub-human. It is a belief that they have to be led into by their parents and/or other people in their community.

Would a child being taught racism at a young age also fall within the distinction you are trying to name? (In addition to it happening to people later in life).

@vortex_egg yesss!

It’s about dehumanizing others. Sometimes people they never met, a parasocial hatred.

I like the “so-and-so has been (verb)-ed” because it takes their agency away, they’ve been targeted by someone.

I guess we can cover a lot of ground with it. Because algorithmic filter bubbles have been weaponized for a while.

@vortex_egg yes exactly. It becomes a range of this quality we’re trying to name.

How (verb)-ed are you? How deep in the rabbit hole are you to dehumanize entire groups of people?

It’s also a reality check. We are social animals. We’re educated to hate.

@11backslashes @vortex_egg true, but fanaticism doesn’t imply dehumanizing others to the point of violence. Some yes, but it’s not inherent.

Zealotry I dunno, I dunno the word.

@nonlinear @11backslashes I don't think fanaticism or zealotry really gets at the second part of the distinction, i.e. to come hold the belief of others as sub-human.

The act of informational programing does often result in fanatics and zealots who are strong believers in _some_ idea, but it might not necessarily be the specific idea of other people being subhuman.

@nonlinear @11backslashes I want to zoom up from this and bring another distinction into play: Marshall Rosenberg's distinction of violent communication and nonviolent communication. (I think this will ultimately be related to the idea we want to get at).

In Rosenberg's ontology, communication is an act that humans do in order to get their basic human needs met (physical needs, emotional, psychological, etc).

Violent communication is zero-sum communication that assumes that one person's needs being met _must be at the expense_ of another person's needs. This type of language uses threats of punishment and reward, praise/blame, shame, etc.

Nonviolent communication starts from the premise that everyone can get their needs met, because everyone is a human being with basic human needs.

@vortex_egg @11backslashes that’s zero-sum game and open ended game.

But zero-sum is still just a hook propagandists use to dehumanize others. Sometimes they use the narrative of critters, outside agents that you can’t reason with, just exterminate.

Or not?

(Critter/vermin arguments are a HUGE red flag)

@nonlinear @11backslashes Rosenberg maintains that violent communication is the default communication style that is taught in most world cultures throughout most of history.

He tells a story from Hannah Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem, where Arendt discusses the war crimes trials of Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

Eichmann was asked how he and the fellow Nazi officers who organized the concentration camps were able to do so. Eichmann said that they used a special form of language that allowed them to distance themselves from the acts they were doing and from the people they were doing them to. He called it Amtssprache, or "office speak" or "bureaucratese". It was a way of speaking where if you were asked why you took a certain action you could say "I had to", "Officer's orders."

@nonlinear @11backslashes What I think I'm getting at is the idea that this propagandizing, or informational programming, leads people into a way of dehumanizing other human beings through a particular use of language that normalizes the otherness of those who are dehumanized, because "of course" it is normal that they they can't get their needs met.

@vortex_egg @nonlinear i think it's this lack of nuance in personal philosophy that prevents a lot of coalition building between people. as a whole, humans have a lot of common interest, but these memes of "black vs white" or "drawing lines in the sand" distract from the actual goals we're trying to accomplish.

@11backslashes @vortex_egg a good way out of it is to reframe adjectives into verbs.

It adds nuance to your assessment. You don’t get to judge the dividing line that makes someone this or not-this, but you warn of a direction, a trend.

@vortex_egg @11backslashes and that’s nothing new. But before memetics followed physical space, but now it’s detached.

If we can have digital communities, we can have digital cults (it’s just a deadly community configurations, after all)

That means hate can be groomed silently, and burst out. We need a criteria (and metrics) to gauge the damage.

@vortex_egg @11backslashes yeah, they do the same in corporations. A language that separates yourself from the results of your acts.

That’s numbing. Your CNS uses it to distance yourself from extreme distress.

I like your train of thought because it centers that dehumanization is a process, taught.

(Indoctrination and education and training are interchangeable, depending on goals)

@nonlinear Yeah exactly. Though, I realize now we have gotten into the weeds of the mechanisms about how all this works, as opposed to giving the distinction a name.

Let me go back to @11backslashes's word zealot for a minute and look into the etymology.

@nonlinear @11backslashes Sooo....

It seems to me like the modern use of the word zealot is derived from an (((anti-semitic dog whistle))) and perhaps we should all drop that word going forward.... yikes.

@vortex_egg @nonlinear interesting. i grew up conservative christian, and zealot was synonymous with "good christian soldier", et al

@11backslashes @vortex_egg I’m thinking of Paul virilio. Dromology, information bomb. Dude probably has a theory for it.

And glad my questioning resonated with you, folks. Let’s sleep on it.

@11backslashes @nonlinear Agreed... I definitely want a term for this process though; I've been thinking about it for a while as a novel distinction and it needs a name!

@11backslashes @nonlinear The wikipedia article on dehumanization has some interesting information about the causes of dehumanization, including government-led dehumanization and mention of propaganda to that effect.

It frequently refers to governments leading “dehumanization campaigns”, which gets close to our distinction but not all the way there: the subject of this phrase is the group of people who are being dehumanized, and not the group of people who are being propagandized into doing the dehumanizing.

It also mentions related concepts that we’ve touched on such as depersonalization, and infrahumanisation (this one is new to me) which is the tacitly held belief that one’s ingroup is more human than an outgroup.

Infrahumanisation also gets close to the mark of what we are looking for, being that its subject is the set of people coming to have the belief of the less-ness of other people, but unfortunately it does not cover the 1st key element, of the propagandistic coercion into coming to hold that belief.

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@11backslashes @nonlinear I might be jumping to conclusions with that. A term which was originally used to refer to a particular sect of Jews, and which later came to have connotations of "fanatical belief", could possibly be historically problematic. Especially when it takes on connotations of "people who are intolerant of others beliefs".

@11backslashes @vortex_egg its a measurement of how far you’ve been made to dehumanize the other, by propaganda.

Which is what “radicalized” is used for.

Maybe it’s about terrorism. Terrorism is about inflicting pain in a member of a group as a message to others from same group.

But “terrorism” is sooooooo over.

@11backslashes @vortex_egg and thanks for taking the time.

I also asked on Twitter. Let’s see if something comes out of it.

@nonlinear @vortex_egg
"Behavior as a zealot; excessive or undue zeal; fanaticism."
"excessive intolerance of opposing views"

All of the above are easily exploitable to the point of violence. A "zealot" was a person historically involved in the crusades, which should serve my point.

@11backslashes @vortex_egg zealot is closer, so.

I guess it’s how to make it a verb, inflicted on you. Made-into-a-zealot-ed.

But a self-explanatory word. Zealot is not (well it’s something something zeal, I guess, but I can’t parse it on its own)

@nonlinear Radicalizing refers to political opinions that are radical, as opposed to moderate.

Radical meaning "extreme" is very well established language , and is routinely used for music, sports, and politics.

A lot of political movements openly embrace the label of "radical". The issue is the propaganda that tries to connect *any* radical ideology to dangerous terrorism. Or: radicalization is a real term for a a real thing, it just isn't always "terrorist recruiting".

@nonlinear I guess what I mean is: yeah, radicalizing really isn't the word for what you want. But replacing just this one word isn't enough. It would keep lumping all kinds of ideologies together with hatemongers and terrorists and stuff.

Treating the manipulation tactics of hateful ideologies as a general process that takes someone from "acceptable" moderate opinions into "violent extremism" feeds into a certain narrative that de-legitimizes all activism that opposes the status quo.

@nonlinear People will say that BLM protests were dangerous riots, because "radicalization" as a concept doesn't distinguish between being radically against police violence and being radically racist. They argue that any disruptive protest is "terrorism". And that is, clearly, an error.

You can't fully dissociate the propaganda process from its ideology.

@nonlinear (To be very clear: BLM doesn't belong on this discussion; they are an example of people using, in bad faith, the language of "violent extremists" against those it does not apply - like protesters and activists.

My point is that, by separating the dehumanization process from the dehumanizing ideology, we get empty concepts of "radicalization" that only help such dishonest views)

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