Professor Mattias Desmet, psychologist, Belgian politician and professor at Ghent University, teaches us in his book “The Psychology of Totalitarianism” that when fear arises in society, the immediate consequence is the search for greater control by the state.
Social networks replace family, religions and communities. However, the same basic need for “belonging” remains. Human instinct leads individuals to join a group that suits their interests or ideas. By “belonging” to this group, you trust the opinions and criteria and do not question them; Just like he never questioned his elders or his religion in the past.
This begins a process of radicalization, not only because of the fear that these groups instill in their followers, but also because of people’s own fear of not belonging. In addition, when exchanging in this way, any reaction is immediate. There is a lack of reflection and discussion.
Dialogue between generations is decreasing as the extended family has been reduced to the point where peer-to-peer contact predominates. In this way, the oral tradition that enriched knowledge and united values is lost. Professor Desmet attributes the emergence of this new technological revolution to a high level of intolerance, as the need to create an emotional connection leads to the search for people who have an opinion similar to one’s own and to the rejection of everyone, who holds an opposite opinion.
There is little opportunity to learn what the strange thought is like. A narrative emerges that prohibits questioning; a tightening of censorship as a result of groupthink. Professor Desmet argues that threats to individual freedom are increasing. The state exercises such power in society that it changes the rules of life in society and what constitutes a citizen.
The limits on political power are becoming ever smaller and society’s tolerance for diversity is decreasing. “Whoever is not with me is against me” becomes the dominant behavior in society. A clear example of the population becoming increasingly more tolerant of leaders who agree with their way of thinking and radically more intolerant of those who oppose it is what is happening in the United States in the run-up to the presidential election.
Radicalization in governments can descend into dogmatism and divide a country until it becomes two critical masses that neither understand each other nor work for the same interests.
In Colombia, the changes taking place are simultaneously affecting the foundations of institutions and generating a rhetoric of fear that has the effect of breaking the will to dialogue. There is a real danger that in three years a government will emerge, be it from the right or from the left, that will return to totalitarianism.