“As I began to hunt for writings on dehumanization, it dawned on me that although scholars from a wide range of disciplines are convinced that dehumanization plays a crucial role in war, genocide, and other forms of brutality, writings on the subject are shockingly thin on the ground…If dehumanization really has the significance that scholars claim, then untangling its dynamics ought to be among our most pressing priorities, and its neglect is as perplexing as it is grave. ”
—David Livingstone Smith, Author of
Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, And Exterminate Others.
Deep Web is a response to the current upswing in social and political chaos in the United States. One of the primary drivers behind this terrifying destabilization is a phenomenon called dehumanization. The philosopher David Livingstone Smith characterizes dehumanization as the process of stripping a person of that which distinguishes us from other animals. It begins with an attitude that shifts our moral thinking and allows us to see others as fundamentally different than ourselves. In his book Less Than Human he notes that the mass media are highly instrumental in propagating dehumanizing stereotypes that help shape the requisite attitude. The primary function of this form of propaganda is to metaphorically or symbolically represent one’s so-called enemies as monsters, ghouls, zombies, rats, snakes, cockroaches, contagion, cancer, etc. Crucially, the rhetoric of dehumanization is not exclusive to the adherents of a particular worldview. Dehumanizing language and strategies show up in every social institution and every ideological persuasion.
The mission of Deep Web is to counter dehumanization in all its forms by producing creative, original, and highly accessible content that:
Educates readers on topics that are relevant to being human—that complex feature that distinguishes us from other animals intellectually, socially, and morally, and that is responsible for our greatest accomplishments as a species.
Promotes the cultivation of attitudes that immunize people against propaganda and pernicious stereotyping.
Protects the vulnerable by facilitating empathetic engagement with human experiences that are richly diverse.
Deep Web is not primarily about social justice or the promotion of a particular social justice issue. However, dehumanization is intimately tied to social justice so it will be impossible to refrain from highlighting the role it plays in the social justice issues that plague the United States today. Ideally, Deep Web will support effective social justice attitudes and actions through the clear and creative articulation of ideas that are central to making the world better for all.
Finally, Deep Web is not intended to promote the well-being of humans above all other sentient creatures on the planet. The cultivation of the social and moral attitudes that protect us from dehumanizing tendencies also motivates action that promotes well-being in any form.
Help promote our mission on social media with the hashtag #EmpathyNotIdeology