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People want chaos

RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor’s blog summarises research that shows a significant minority of people actually want chaos.

The authors [identify] those ‘in need of chaos’ who gain satisfaction from anything which may contribute to ‘tearing down the system’ … this research finds a much higher level of enthusiasm for destruction than might have been expected. They put forward three statements that propose this kind of radical action and find that 40% of people support two of them and 20% the third.

As the authors write, “A substantial minority of individuals are so discontent that they are willing to mobilize against the current political order to see if what emerges from the resulting chaos has something better in stock for them.”

In relation to hostile online material, the enthusiasts for chaos have no interest in whether it is true, nor even whether it supports their own ideological position. They will share hostile fake material both for and against their ‘side’, not simply for the devilment but because they see it as making collapse and chaos more likely.

It was getting close to a received wisdom that votes like those for Trump or Brexit were more votes against an establishment that had failed those voters. This seems an order of magnitude beyond that: as much as 40% of people (enough to win a general election in this climate) are probably happy for the current constitutional chaos. Maybe the Cummings/Johnson strategy is 4-dimensional chess after all.

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