Democracy in a de-civilizing age: The rise of shameless personal truths

Authors: Scullion, R. and Armon, S.

Journal: International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics

Volume: 14

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-300

eISSN: 2040-0918

ISSN: 1740-8296

DOI: 10.1386/MACP.14.3.283_1

Abstract:

Shit, piss, fart, puke, burp, excrete, etc., repeat. This could easily be part of an art installation symbolizing a cultural turn to the base and vulgar, but it is not. This simply represents a list of bodily functions that have been increasingly hidden away, controlled and soothed through euphemism. It is illustrative of a ‘civilizing process’ witnessed since Medieval times, a process driven by value being placed on human sociality and a defining of self through our interactional relations with others. Indeed modern forms of democracy can be considered, in part, the result of us placing greater trust in the collective will, an acknowledgement that our own future is intricately tied to that of our fellow citizen. However, in this conceptual article, we argue that contemporary notions of democracy, ontologically premised on the atomized individual as the legitimate social agent are themselves being destabilized. This disruption is due to a shift in our conception of ‘self’ that is both corroding the core pillars of our civilizing process and altering the nature of our engagement with democratic politics. In essence a contemporary self that is characterized as having narcissistic tendencies desensitizes our sociality and thus thresholds of embarrassment and shame rise. Consequently, we see our democratic rights but not our responsibilities; we engage in democracy primarily to assert and validate our way of living, our beliefs, our existence. Also, to corrupt further an oft-misused quote from Sartre, ‘to hell with other people’. Such populist uses (perhaps misuses) of democratic processes undermine the very principles on which democracy is based: fairness, equality and the dignity of all human beings. ‘Trumpism’ and other forms of populist political outpourings that are marked by disinhibition, vulgarity and personal truths are the result of these cultural shifts. This article explores this cultural turn situating narcissistic individualism at the heart of the post-truth phenomenon.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/30862/

Source: Scopus

Democracy in a de-civilizing age: The rise of shameless personal truths

Authors: Scullion, R. and Armon, S.

Journal: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MEDIA & CULTURAL POLITICS

Volume: 14

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-300

eISSN: 2040-0918

ISSN: 1740-8296

DOI: 10.1386/macp.14.3.283_1

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/30862/

Source: Web of Science (Lite)

Democracy in a de-civilizing age: The rise of shameless personal truths

Authors: Scullion, R. and Armon, S.

Editors: Lilleker, D.

Journal: International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics

Volume: 14

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-300

Publisher: Itellect Publishers

ISSN: 1740-8296

DOI: 10.1386/macp.14.3.283_1

Abstract:

Shit, piss, fart, puke, burp, excrete, etc., repeat. This could easily be part of an art installation symbolizing a cultural turn to the base and vulgar, but it is not. This simply represents a list of bodily functions that have been increasingly hidden away, controlled and soothed through euphemism. It is illustrative of a 'civilizing process' witnessed since Medieval times, a process driven by value being placed on human sociality and a defining of self through our interactional relations with others. Indeed modern forms of democracy can be considered, in part, the result of us placing greater trust in the collective will, an acknowledgement that our own flit-are is intricately tied to that of our fellow citizen. However, in this conceptual article, we argue that contemporary notions of democracy, ontologically premised on the atomized individual as the legitimate social agent are themselves being destabilized. This disruption is due to a shift in our conception of 'self' that is both corroding the core pillars of our civilizing process and altering the nature of our engagement with democratic politics. In essence a contemporary self that is characterized as having narcissistic tendencies desensitizes our sociality and thus thresholds of embarrassment and shame rise. Consequently, we see our democratic rights but not our responsibilities; we engage in democracy primarily to assert and validate our way of living, our beliefs, our existence. Also, to compt further an oft-misused quote from Sartre, 'to hell with other people'. Such populist uses (perhaps misuses) of democratic processes undermine the very principles on which democracy is based: fairness, equality and the dignity of all human beings. 'Trumpism' and other forms of populist political outpourings that are marked by disinhibition, vulgarity and personal truths are the result of these cultural shifts. This article explores this cultural turn situating narcissistic individualism at the heart of the post-truth phenomenon.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/30862/

Source: Manual

Democracy in a de-civilizing age: The rise of shameless personal truths

Authors: Scullion, R. and Armon, S.

Journal: International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics

Volume: 14

Issue: 3

Pages: 283-300

ISSN: 1740-8296

Abstract:

In this paper, we articulate an argument that suggests we need to look to broad, yet often quite subtle, societal and cultural changes, in order to better understand post-truth politics. We argue that democracy, ontologically premised on the atomized individual as the legitimate social agent, (Hay 2007) is itself being destabilised. This disruption is due in part to a shift in our conception of 'self' that is both corroding the core pillars of our civilising process and altering the nature of our engagement with democratic politics. The historic processes of a civilising culture are outlined in order to argue that the power of our neoliberal consumer culture has generated a ‘decivilising turn’, characterized by the rise of shame thresholds and narcissistic personalities. We then illustrate how these cultural changes produce a climate welcoming of ‘Post-truth’, linking this most specifically to the contemporary political landscape. Civic life resides most acutely in the customs and conventions upheld through the practice of our public dealings with others. The more entrenched, the less easily it can be disrupted by maverick acts and demagogues’ deeds. However, when those in positions of high office show little self-restraint, and sufficient numbers of the populous don't care, the norms democracy depends on are vulnerable to 'charlatan' leaders and populist causes. Here, we offer a picture of democracy in a ‘decivilising’ age where shameless personal truth is privileged.

Please note that the start of the introduction contains words that some readers may find offensive.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/30862/

Source: BURO EPrints