Dominance and Submission

From the classic discussion of the psychology of interruption in discourse: a power-oriented interruption is an attempt to establish dominance over an interlocutor by non-rational, semi-coercive means. In a televised debate, the television audience is a sort of interlocutor, so interruptions can be interpreted as attempts to establish dominance over the audience.

In this context, the relevant question is not who won the debate, but whether the audience acquiesces in domination or resists. The outcome of the “debate” was irrelevant because it wasn’t one. The whole event was simply a bid for domination, full stop, and its success or failure as an attempt depends on how the audience responds to the bid. Does the audience play along with the bid, take its aims for granted, and make excuses for it? Or does it push back in wholehearted rejection? There’s not much room here for neutrality or agnosticism.

Each one of us knows the answer to that question in our own case, and has the power to figure out what it is, partly by bringing it about. Voting may not give you much power or control over the powerful. But that one act does.

2 thoughts on “Dominance and Submission

  1. I didn’t feel dominated. I did feel morally disgusted and saddened by the spectacle — and had the desire to remove the cause of it from the scene.

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