Antoni Puigverd – 18/01/2021
I haven’t listened to the radio or watched political television for five or six years: it was recommended to me by a good friend, concerned about my mental health. If a citizen takes politics seriously, the social gatherings destroy his nerves. That happened to me: the simplifications of reality, the plot demagoguery and the stridency of the confrontations between antagonistic positions made my day bitter. They depressed me more than I already am due to the labyrinthine situation we are experiencing. In theory, the gatherings were designed to promote political reflection. And so they were in a remote time.
I am talking about when, for example, Ernest Lluch, Baltasar Porcel, Pere Portabella and Francesc Sanuy, from very different ideological positions, but with a formidable background, cordially discussed any current pretext; And the same can be said of that other gathering that Lluch shared with Santiago Carrillo and Herrero de Miñón: cultured, highly experienced and reasonable people who, instead of fostering the sterile vice of confrontation, valued the fertilizing virtues of dialogue. But the gatherings gradually became an ideological boxing show, a rhetorical substitute for political warfare. The arguments gave way to the slogans that the communication cabinets send to the political show talks (vicars of a party, which protects them in the manner of a feudal lord with his vassals).
As a sport, politics manufactures more fanaticism than football
The spectacle of antagonistic social gatherings like Al Rojo Vivo or FAQS suited the two great beneficiaries of political polarization: the networks and the parties. If there are extravagances, exaggerations, exchanges of blows and screams, the show is more tempting and consequently accumulates more audience, more publicity, more business. Now, the parties also benefit from polarization. Fifteen years ago, the great problem of politics was civil passivity, abstention, the lack of harmony between politicians and citizens. But as a sport spectacle, politics has manufactured even more fanaticism than football. You cannot be surprised by the argument confusion around the Barça and Parliament elections. There are no differences even in the slogans. The astute Laporta sings: “We will do it again.” The antagonism was sweeping the nuances, made the balancing arguments disappear from radios and televisions. The talk show hosts, whose success depends on the audience, considered the leisurely talk show hosts obsolete, which did not simplify reality or did not respond to slogans. Reasonable and nuanced positions take more time, are difficult to argue, and cannot be compressed into an ideological pill. Moderation and argumentative slowness were cornered and replaced by radicalism, verbal reductionism and expressive speed.
Now that we have witnessed live a grotesque simulation of civil war in the democratic heart of America, the whole world laments the unstoppable rise of the conspiranoids and fanatics. But the follies of the political Trump would not have been possible without the success of the follies of the television showman Trump. Political polarization would not have been possible without networks like Fox, which have bombarded tension, lies and polarization for decades.
All Western societies are fractured (no matter the pretext: Brexit, Trump, vaccines, independence, civil war, immigration). Social networks (conventional or encrypted) are the uncontrollable instrument that fosters fanatical ideological and identity bubbles. But the foundations of the fracture were built by the mainstream media which, imitating American Fox, sold its democratic soul to the devil of the audience.