Axis of Likability

I am catching up on Brain Pickings articles. This quote stood out from Junot Diaz.

Full article can be found here

I grew up in a post-dictatorship dictatorship society. The axis of likability is how dictatorships survive. Becoming popular is part of what dictatorships hijack to remain in power. For me to write things from the same toxic axis that made stronger the dictatorship that completely disfigured my family and my society, it just wasn’t going to happen. My father was a Dominican military police apparatchik. He was emblematic of that culture. And I lived in a place where it was so much better to be liked because your shirt was ironed, or because you had a good posture. It was just insane, the way a military dictatorship is like Reddit… My experience of living in a post-dictatorship society is that everybody believes that they’re going to be the Reddit article that gets pushed all the way up. The like axis is just very, very powerful and I needed to tilt a different way. I needed to say that it is possible to say things, to be involved in a conversation with people where the relationship is determined by things more complicated than whether you like me or not. Maybe the content of my communication would be in itself worthy of discussion, regardless of how you felt at an emotional level about the person bringing the news. In a dictatorship, the two things get quickly put together. The news you bring stands as a moral judgment about you, and this is the way you keep critics silent, because you basically say, “If you criticize the dictatorship, it’s not only your thinking, your body is out of order, which is why we must destroy your body.”


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