MERCIECA, JENNIFER R.
Special Issue 2019, 49.3
Dangerous Demagogues and Weaponized Communication
Abstract: This essay argues that we can usefully separate “heroic demagogues” from “dangerous demagogues” by whether or not the demagogue allows themselves to be held accountable for their words and actions. “Dangerous demagoguery” can be thought of as “weaponized communication” that uses words as weapons to achieve the dangerous demagogue’s strategic goals. The essay examines several recent examples of dangerous demagogues using weaponized communication strategies including: conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, President Donald Trump, and Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin. Weaponized communication is a danger in any democracy and may contribute to democratic erosion.