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The Rhetoric of Power and the 'Language of Love'

“Of course I have nothing against the fact that your boss treats you in a nice way and so on. The problem is if this not only covers up the actual relationship of power, but makes it even more impenetrable. You know, if you have a boss who is up there, the old-fashioned boss shouting at you, exerting full brutal authority. In a way it’s much easier to rebel than to have a friendly boss who embraces you or how was the last night with your girlfriend, blah, blah, all that buddy stuff. Well then it almost appears impolite to protest.
And I think that this is for me almost a paradigm of modern permissive authority. This is why the formula of totalitarianism is not — "I don’t care what you think; just do it." This is traditional authoritarianism. The totalitarian formula is "I know better than you what you really want and I may appear to be forcing you to do it, but I’m really just making you do what without fully knowing what you want" and so on. So in this sense yes, I am horrified by this.” - Slavoj Zizek

The problem that Zizek is pointing out is not that the boss is a nice person, but rather that this niceness covers over the systems of power and hegemony that exist.

I think this can equally be applied to how fundamentalist Christians respond to the LGBT community (and more recently Caitlyn Jenner). The rhetoric is one of love and concern, as though by posting articles saying that gay people are 'deceived' that they are in fact being loving. They call it “tough love”, but what this “tough love” is doing is only re-entrenching the oppression the Church has held over the LGBT community for centuries. The Church is still the one controlling the interaction and telling others how they are to behave. The Church is still the one holding the power.

The rhetoric of love in this context functions as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, pretending to be love while covering over a destructive bigotry. At least with the previous authoritarianism of the Church, where it violently opposed homosexuality, it was quite clear that what was happening was wrong, and people could rise up against the hegemonic control of Church. Today, the authoritarianism is more subtle and more chummy, but it’s still there.

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