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Authoritarians and the reality wars.

by geezer in Paris Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 10:14:42 AM EST

Jerome,

Reality exists- it is just desperately unpopular these days. You may have noticed that.

It was the height of the Viet Nam era, and a half million people died in Cambodia under a rain of bombs while our president lied to everyone.
I was a student at the immense factory for flunkies and functionaries, Ohio State University, where the general political tone was about as right as possible. You couldn't get three people to even talk about Nam- they were all on their way across campus in their uniforms to the drill ground, and did not want to be late for ROTC. The Lantern, the campus newspaper, was of the general opinion that the only good Vietnamese was a dead Vietnamese. The university administration was run by Novice G Fawcett, a useless authoritarian dingbat who used to look over the girl's dormitories with field glasses, note the room numbers of those young women who failed to pull their blinds and report them for disciplinary action.  

Across from the diaries with an edit - afew


We started an alternative newspaper, The People Yes, from a poem by Carl Sandburg (whom I generally dislike), which got to be pretty good and pretty infamous. I wrote my heart out and dodged the cops, rebuilt after arson, endured threats, distributed in the dead of night, stole kegs of beer from the local distributors trucks and, with their aide,  recruited the lacross team to hand out papers- a bunch of seriously aggressive thugs who looked forward to the chance to step on a few heads, fuck politics. We activated enough bright kids so that when OSU had it's Kent State incident (utterly unrecorded by history), the widespread tear gassing of many of the dormitories by the national guard served as a catalyst for real discussion about such no longer abstract ideas such as justice, brutality, murder, and just general safety. Two years later, 30,000 young people were collected on the oval to make change. We did. To make a long and complex story short, `OSU went from a complete oligarchy to a pretty egalitarian place, with student representation on every committee and planning staff, real voice in management and decision making, and a faculty that was finally free to speak and to publish as they saw fit.
The three men who controlled off-campus housing, true-blue racists who had systematically ghettoized all of it, with each racial grouping and skin color crammed together to satisfy their prejudices, and mercilessly exploited were out- two were in jail (tax evasion and fraud) and the other had flown the coop. Governor James A. Rhodes was gone, and with him a criminal administration the would make the Daly boys blush.
Nonetheless, the authoritarians remained in the majority, and we were in for a big disappointment.

Seven years later, all the progress we had made was gone. Apathy and reversion had emptied the administration of student representation, and resurgent right-wing reactionaries were once again in firm control. OSU had the "distinction" of being the only major university in the US to ASK the FBI for more undercover agents to help root out student and faculty commies, and the only thing that could activate the students en masse was the OSU-Michigan football game.

Twenty years later the same potholes remain in the streets and the same dark ghettos surround the university, but the new 300 million sports arena and media center looms over the now-empty fields where the antenna farms used to be and where Dr. Jack Krauss and company birthed radio telescopy.
The point of this story is that the victories we won were false.

I can write tens more of diaries with facts and actual information, I won't change a thing to what flows into public discourse and what drives policy making these days among the insiders.

You are correct.
We thought that it was sufficient to change opinions and stimulate discussion and action, to use the press to inform and to force the law to be enforced. We cleaned out the rat's nest. But the ratlovers just bred another crop.
We thought that democracy relied on a well informed, motivated electorate with problem solving skills who voted in honest elections, for candidates selected without corrupt reliance on corporate money for campaigns.
We were wrong. We missed a huge element of the equation.
Jerome, I do not regret all those years of work and idealism. I would do it again. But I just "celebrated" my 65th birthday, and I hope to God I have learned something since then.

Deconstructing the FT, successfully countering the lies with truth just drives the authoritarian personality to dogma, and they are an immense force today, just as they were then.

Has the authoritarian personality always been this much of an element in American society? I think so, but I am not enough of a historian to speak definitively on that.
But I can tell you that preaching to the choir will feel good- and you are very good at it- but it will not, as a stand-alone exercise, even in the medium term, help much.

American sociologists for the most part cannot study social change, because we do not admit either the need for it or accept any example of a successful attempt to deviate from the market religion. Nor can the subject of the authoritarian personality and social dominance traits be discussed. It strikes far too close to the heart of the machine that comprises our surround, and that our media camoflage so sucessfully. What we need is a new approach- a new understanding as to what keeps the disease of reality denial recurring.
For a good start on this discussion, I'd like to suggest that you read an e-book called The Authoritarians.
Written by Bob Altemeyer, at the University of Manitoba, it is an insightful summary of 25 years of work and study into authoritarianism. He shows us the genesis of the new armies of certainty that fear and self-righteousness have given us, and offers some ideas about a base to work from in combating them.

Why do we slave and study, then write our hearts out and just slaughter the dragon, only to have it rise up from the offal and laugh, and torch the truth again?
Altemeyer has a good start on answering that question.

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/%7Ealtemey/

This book does not offer comfort. Nor do I, as much as I would like to. It opens doors that reveal scary landscapes. But for me, at least discovering one of the most important things that defeated us helps, and the next plan will be better.

Jim Miller

Display:
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose is not just an aphorism.  It is a dynamic that needs to be unpacked if we are ever to move forward.
by cambridgemac on Sat Mar 31st, 2007 at 11:54:14 PM EST
Robert Feinman had a diary recently on the book by Altemeyer. Maybe worth revisiting...

One point I'd like to make is that my own experience has been shaped by my early trips as a teenager in the Soviet Union, and the perception of how stifling (in an often petty way) and oppressive (mostly in the way things were simply interiorized by people) it could be, even in its last years. Then right after that I saw the election campaign for the "bureau des élèves" (the student representative body at my university) and how a small group, once it has managed to establish the fact that it speaks for the silent majority (by sheer repetition, and demonization of the sole opposition group as extremists) can get away with almost anything.

And as your exemple points out, the best one can hope is to roll it back temporarily, by an intense and disciplined exercise to fight back that has no permanent effects.

When I think back at these examples, I usually wonder how we've managed to remain democracies for so long, becuase it appears an inherently unstable system, all too easily abused by those that really want to.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:45:57 AM EST
I saw Feinman'post.
Please take the time to read it all- it's not very big a book. I deeply wish this research had been done when I was breathing teargas- it would have made our tactics far more effective---as it will likely do for you. A gift from someone who knows the dark place of despair well.
Altemeyer writes for the greater group, so it is easy to see the book as simplistic. In my opinion it is one of those issues that IS in fact simple- like most great truths.

And yes, I too wonder how democracy survives in an environment such as Altemeyer has illuminated so well.
I usually avoid reductionist answers thinking that it just aint that simple, and of course, it aint. But just nothing works without an understanding of this issue.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:06:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary, Geezer.

Brings back Proustian memories of the piquant bouquet of riot control agent and clears the head a bit.

Think the major problem in this is media consolidation, at least in the US.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com has some serious recent commentary on the subject over there. You have to watch an ad to read Greenwald, but it's well worth it.

And DL, To get out of your blue funk, you need to cut back on the FT and ECON. Both are powerful downers. I'd suggest some mild uppers.

I really like BigO and WWN myself.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 07:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since I have lots of urgent things to do, I decided do procrastinate by reading Altenmeyer's book.

Chapter 1 contains three traits defining the Authoritarian Personality

  • submission to authority
  • aggression
  • conventionalism [defined not as the need to conform, but as the belief in the need of everyone to conform to social norms]
These indicates why authoritarians are more likely to organise into a movement than non-authoritarians, and why they are likely to be a formidable foe if they do organise. Non-authoritarians would
  • question authority
  • be less aggressive
  • tolerate difference
and would not be predisposed to identify the authoritarians as a threat (because of tolerance).

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 09:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't stop there, Migeru. I am very interested in what you think when you have chewed through the rest.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:55:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll be in Paris on April 12-15. Can we meet?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:03:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chapter 3, in which Altemeyer explores how Authoritarians are unable to reason logically, is quite mind-boggling. But it illustrates a sad fact that I have been aware of for some time, which is that rationalism, why, rationality itself, is a cultural construct and so rather more fragile that those schooled in enlightenment values tend to think possible.

I have called this "anthropology as the Enlightenment's reductio ad absurdum". Modern anthropology originates with Enlightened intellectuals such as Humboldt but, by identifying myths (i.e., culturally transmitted narratives) as determining the filters through with reality is perceived and interpreted (Kantian resonances here) and by showing that rationality and the scientific method are, themselves, contingent cultural norms, destroye the claim of universality and, more importantly, inevitability and superiority of rationality.

It's rather scary. I think this is part of why people react to Lakoff angrily, and misrepresent him as trying to teach Democrats how to lie their way to power. Frames are not lies, they are fundamental cognitive strutures.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, Mig. Quite scary. Wait till you meet the "double high".

The whole question of narrative and story is another post I want to chew on a bit more  before I hit it. I think it has potential to provide some answers to the question below.
From a tactical point of view, please look at my note to Bob Fineman, and help answer the question about a strategy that avoids the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em or the lay down and die approach.

After you get over chapter six.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am actually quite pessimistic, to the point that I am beginning to wonder whether extreme pessimism couldn't be classed as a personality disorder.

I am beginning to realise how amateurish and incompetent ordinary political structures actually are. Voluntary organisations and political parties can literally be taken over by able, hard-working and and determined people. So maybe there's hope in "ordinary" avenues for political participation.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:09:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't forget Trotsky&Co: Entryism

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 04:58:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just smoked chapters 5 and 6. Potent stuff!

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 06:28:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The advantage for an authoritarian system is that it forces people to adopt. In certain historical circumstances, regurlarly provoked by autocratic or militant maniacs, it is safer to be with a silent majority. Rationality usually does not address an immediate urgency, at least perceptually.

Reason (and democracy) is not a part yet of deep humanity inclinations. At the good times, people still tend to rely on known instincts and power patterns; then they find (and misapply) ancient habits of self-indulgence, especially when there is no "survival" need to be reasonable and fair.

In the long run, humanity can learn right ways to live prosperously. Lies and self-delusion won't be a big part of that. As for now, human affinity for "no brainer" easiest living and convenient lies should be accepted as a part of the environment: you cannot be angry at stormy weather or dog shit, so to speak.

by das monde on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 11:59:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geezer.

I know where you come from. I admire you... and I think this is a powerful diary...

but I am sorry to say... from my point of view the explanation of the past fact and the conclusions could not be more wrong... and it pains me to say so... but I think that if we do not know what really happened we cannot go forwards.

Where do I start?

Authoritarians...yes.. they may be in power but there are a lot of people who are not authoritarians in the US and vote right-wing or have right-wing positions ona great variety of issues.

Second, no it is not that reality is not important... it is that reality and facts, and scientific analysis is a myhtology.. it is just another mythology among many and you have to convince the people that it is the proper one and you do it by using the only truly universal enitty in human behavior (the narrative need of anthropology)... you can not just give data and statistics and using mathematicahal explanation to a person who does not consider it relevant. Reality is a construction of our basic mythology ..the one we learn.. In europe more or less most people give it some relevance...but it is not the most important issue..and again it is not unviersal.. Actually in Europe science is basicallya status generator but that's another issue.

The universaa need is the explanation, the "narrative"... the tale.. and a links of narratives that generate the myths by which a culture lives with. Some myhts are universal in a culture (and even some myhts coudl be universal among cultures).... and we certainly have all some mythology in common (rigth-wina nd left win in Euroep and the US bleieve int he idea of the "self" and the ubber relevance of feelings and.. I coudl go on with the list of structural myths in Europe and the US).. but the vision of the world regarding poor, suffering, richness, evnironment, racism... is not at all common.

So while you were busy pushing data the right-wing was busy tryting to find and explain and spread an "explanation"..a  narrative about what was going on... and they win.. they were smarter than you.. basically the knew much mroe anthropology than you... You/we lost in the US.

US left has a lot to catch up. starting by building a media system, insittuions, framworks... and overall narratives, explanations... pushing the relevance of science and of facts... day on and day off... and eventually you will be able to create a general mythology more to our liking.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 07:33:55 AM EST
Seems that myth and reality both are important to the present discussion and equally valid.

In the 2006 US elections reality collided sharply with myth (on Iraq and the economy), and when this happens, my guess is that reality bites and myth loses badly.

But yeah, the left in America needs to update their myth:

"Save the last transgendered whale" does not get a lot of votes in a national election, at least here.


"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 08:18:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Myth and reality are not opposites.

Myth does not mean "something false". Myth in the antrhopological sense has nothing to do with something "flase".

Myth is a set of narratives interlinked and related who configure what you believe.

Acutually, the only true things are myths. I repeat the only real and true things int he aboslute snese of the world are myths.

One important myth among us is the idea that we have about reality (our diccotomy self/external world.. whcih is quite weird if we compare it with other myths  by the way.. but this is our myth and our playfield). The idea that there is something called reality, and fact.. and that they are relevant to stablish discussion. The whole myth of our political system and economics (capitalism) as something who should react to facts.  More to the point, that we improve if we look at facts from different perspectives, understand it and try to reproduce.

Some people go further with the sicence mythology about being the only source of truth (although I am radically oppose to this vision of science.... but it is still there).

In any case, this scientific world.. or reality world was created during the enlightenment.. it did not existed before..and humans can be quite fine without it...We just happen to believe that it is hundred times better than a fundamentalistic religion (or even scientific religion) vision of the world... where the authroitirain approach is the proper way to deal with the world.

But again and again.. in the election in 2006 reality did not beat myth or the other way around.. Democrats just won in an specific game where two positions were considered as equal and where Democrats made good use of the "reality" apporach... and still the basic mythology did not change, the basic narrative did not change.. and relaity is still irrelevant... if they really wnat to change the eocnomic and world vision of the Americans they will have to follow a completely different path.

Create a media, create a narrative.. and then push the data.. the reality in a anrrative.. otherwise.. in four, eight years they will get someone worse than Bush II.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:00:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depending on your audience's myths/narratives/frames you need to use "myth", "narrative" or "frame". Otherwise they won't understand you.

Especially people whose narrative is that logos [reason] succeeded, replaced and superseded myth [superstition].

I've been researching where this particular wording comes from, and I have found German references from the 1st third of the 20th century. "Vom Mythos zum Logos" is the title of a 1938 book by a certain H W Nestle.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry.

I was using the term myth generally, in the sense of extended story or extended spin. You mentioned Herr Goebbels upthread.

I would argue that events at Stalingrad in February 1943 were "real" in the sense that they happened in the world, were observable, and quantifiable. And that these events put one hell of a dent in Goebbel's myth-making machine.

Sort of the way Iraq and Katrina dinged Bush.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like Migeru says.. maybe I should quit. But myth is the proper word...

somehow it appeared as soemthing like superstition last century... mainly because greek mythologies seems like "false" or "superstition" from our perspective.. PLus our  mythology, the ones we live by is not recognized as such... it seems like everybody beliives that our myths are not myths but just "the thing asthey are".

I could use encompassing structural set of narratives that convey one basic beleifs and way to look at the world (world in general terms) but it is too long..

I have been thinking about a proper word different thatn myth.. but I do not find any :)

The idea of one-self is a myth... it is the best description.. scientific thinking is a myth. Capitalism is myth. Strucutred religion is a myth. The idea that feelings are very important and all the details of each feeling is a myth (or set of sub-myths)...

I just can not find another word... and still...maybe I should use the greek or latin  version to not confuse people. I dunno.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been thinking about a proper word different thatn myth.. but I do not find any :)

Always the anthropologist.

Embrace the One True Cognitive Linguistics and call it a frame (albeit culturally transmitted).

Or maybe we should agree to use the middle-ground term "narrative" as in "stories we tell ourselves".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:47:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frame is too soft... frame is only the linking.... the conceptual approach..DO not like it :)

The network component is needed... a network structural narrative?

What about using "mytholos".. or another weird word :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:10:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you already written your diary on "myth"?  Could I have a link?  (Or a link to material out there?)  Your comments about "myth" remind me of Chris's comments about LLPs.  I sorta get an inkling, but then...pfff....

Could I ask for a diary on geezer's example: "The sun rises in the East"?

I can see:

"For some people it is in the west"
"For some reason we dive towards the sun, rising is only an illusion"
"The sun rises on a large string pulled by God [verifiable]"
"The sun appears to rise because we circle around it, spinning as we go [verifiable]"

Do you mean that the myth explains the "why" rather than the fact?  And maybe facts are relative, but are there any humans that don't have a large light-coloured ball moving across the sky during what we call "the day"...etc...[maybe the sky moves, the ball stays in place, maybe the ball is a disc, etc...]

Do you mean myths are "explanations"?  And that for explanations to work they need to have internal logic, whether it be "God did it all" or "It's all about the inter-relation of sub-atomic particles"?  Nah, see?  I'm lost already!  But I'm sure you wrote the diary--or if you haven't, I'm looking forward to reading it.




Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 08:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow???

Well.. where do I start???

Yes to everything.... that's it..

Yes..the improtant thing is the internal logic.. as in the movies. And the example of the sun is an example of an explanation .. a narrrative of a fact..

Dead on... in our political world and in our economic world all we have are explanations, narratives of things that happen... actually the things that happen to us are explained by the narratives. Your example of the sun is brilliant.

So you get me perfectly on political terms.. except maybe when I try to recall a final and crutial point...the existence of structural narratives (or as antrhopologists call it, structural myths).

These structural narratives are those narratives believed by all members of the society without them being aware of the fact. These structural narratives are the keystones of a society.. the so-called playing field that all humans in a particular society learn... and from there.. they may choose some others option availables that appear thanks to the basic field.

Examples of structural narratives in Western Europe? The narrative of the self "you are an independent person who has to grow up and improve .. and so on and so on... (I should recall that this narrative is quite singularly western.. the idea that you are independent..actually the bororos think just the opposite.. that our brains is an open basket where every item in nature can think in)..

Then you have the relevance of feelings in western society.. and the list of relevant feelings that we learn as childs. And then you have the narrative of progress and improvement...and four or five more (no time for them here)

And the one I want to talk about more.. the idea that "facts, experiments, conclusions, science and the how? quesion exist and are relevant". This is the key narrative (I  mostly use the word myth as the proper one in accademia) that appeared during enlightenment... that we all share (except for some elements in the US)... I just point out again and again.. that it is just a narrative... there are other explanations out there for the world, and most of them do not need facts, or experimetns or science. The scientific narrative or myth is NOT THE ONE THAT PEOPLE TAKE BY DEFAULT!

That's my point. DO not give this narrative for granted...furthermore try to explain it and use it... and recall that most people is not very much into this mythology of science... for a lot of people science is just an status generator....

So, in front of a compelling explanation and pure facts.. people chooses explanations.. always. We must develop our narrative... and push back the people tryting to introduce a new structural narrative about economics (a right-wing narrative).They are trying to transform an ideology into an structural narrative.. and we'd better get our own narrative and push it.. We must use facts.. but at the service of our narrative.. of our explanation of the world.. not as a self-defining explanation.. Facts are not explanations.. they are a concept of an explanation (scientific explanation) that most people do not understand.

I did write a diary about why strucutral narratives are so important.. and the experimetns behind showing it

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/3/7/134143/8644

Comments of other people there are much more interesting than the diary itself as usual.

And a very old one

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2006/4/13/82438/7096

not coherent but all the ideas were there.. before the community here improved them a lot.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 09:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The narrative of the self "you are an independent person who has to grow up and improve .. and so on and so on... (I should recall that this narrative is quite singularly western..

You know, I just don't understand your insistence on this point. How is this a distinct "Western" (what do you mean by that?) narrative? Is/was it not present in "other" cultures? China? India? Japan?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 09:33:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No NO Colman.. do not get me wrong..

I am saying that it is western.. not that is distinctively western....

So I do not know about China, India and Japan (well I know a bit but for the purposes of this argument I do nto know).... they can really have the same structural narrative.

And actually, usign western is also bad word..I apologize again. I agree it is common to any big city nowadays in China, India or Japan with small modifications (well in India maybe a little bit stronger modifications for some members on the "you must improve part").

Actually I think rural Japan right now has also small modifications (well relativley small, for japanese in rural areas they may seem huge).

But India and CHina in rural areas... well.. there the differences are very strong..and if the references of my grandma and grandpa who were born in rural Spain in the 20-30 are any indication, the differences are abismal... (given the huge differences with the present and the religious and other differences wiht Eastern countries evne more abismal), actually this myth is probably non-existent in most of Chinese and Hindu rural areas.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 09:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we need to pick this one apart again ... what precisely do you mean by that myth?

If you mean self-improvement as an end in itself, then I might understand what you mean, but I'd be very cautious about it.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK.. I will develop.

I think it is a strucutral narrative of all cities in  EUorpe, US, CHina, Japan and India that one-self exists and that its existence is very relevant on this world. The idea that your skin separate the external world from the internal world. And the idea that what happens inisde the skin has "unity" (generally being unique is associated with being relevant .. I do not know exaclty why.. but I think that it is the way I read it)

Notice that there are two aspects here, the division and the relevance/uniqueness. Some cultures have one without the other. Others have none. Others have the opposite of both.

Then you must add the idea of progress and improvement. The idea that a person must "grow-up" and "develop" as a person. Tis is called in anthropology self-centered education (in contrast with positional education.... the word education comes from historic stuff in the field). In a word , the idea that inside there are some sets of abilities that somehow we have to master and take care of them to improve and "fulfill our life here".

I would say these three ingredients are common to any big city nowadays. I have not known any person thinking otherwise in a big city. And I have references (multiple) talking of very different structural myths about this same topic... the most common references is the lack of "uniqueness" and relevance of the "self". So it is very common (my gradnpa) to find societies where self is not unique or relevant.

It is more strange to find the lack of division between external and internal worlds (even in some soft way) but the bororos proof that it was just part of the mythology (very common , although most people do not put the difference in the skin... for most cultures, hair, shit, sweat are part of yourself..as much as your brain , or more).

And finally the idea of self-improvement as a conscious act.. well I have not read any other society going for this except in big cities and highly technologichal-rural areas.

That's what I have read...Is there anything wrong? Please, correct me.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:21:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So it is very common (my gradnpa) to find societies where self is not unique or relevant.

Expand on that a little for me again - or link back to whereever it was last time. Not fitting in my head.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want to cause your head to explode, but looking at the cluster of wikipedia articles around "self" is a surreal experience.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:35:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in a good way, on a quick scan.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:39:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, unfortunately.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:42:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh well. in the rural areas of Spain in 20-30's... self was not relevant.

The basic idea is that the part from the skin towards the inside had two goals.. none them relevant in itself.

The first one was "you" the image of God...the self was relevant because it was the image of God.. there was no notion of personality whatsoever.

No pshychologgical notion.. no unique and rich internal world... no depressions.. nothing like that.. null zip, zero.

And finally , education in school (normal sense of education) was religion for but outside the school, the education was what anthropologists call referential.

The important thing for my grandpa was not his technichal abilities or personal desires (what was that? no concept about that).. the important thing is what his position with respect to other was. That was it. When to start working? What do you do.. how to behave... everything positional... everything.

When I reach 14 I am physcially strong enough.. my position in the group tell me that I can work.. so I work.. so I go with 14 to take care of sheeps to neighboor towns.

Can I go on.. I love it. It is my fmaily for xsakes!!!

My grandma for example... when do you become a mother?
I guess you should know by now that you become mother at the age of 6-8...(do not know why yet? I was surprised but I learnt...she explained).. position.. position.. you were a mother where your position allow it to be and society took it as a given.. So when you have a sister and you are 8 year old.. the biological mother does other stuff... the sister is the mother (all in the smae house.. different family structure of course)

More examples of the differnces in narratives. Marriage... when do you get marry.. due to very complex internal-pshychological mechanism that reside inside the psyche.. I think you already know that not at all because these concepts do nto even exist... you marry positionally (and what a lovely long marriage)... two brothers lost their mother..two sister or cousins from another family must fill the place. Some ability to mutually choose.. but if you have been talking to each other more than on average... there you are.. married.. I do not know if I should be expalining this personal stuff... what the heck.. who is going to know..

Until they grow up and reached the cities and then the inmigration and reached the big city. then the shock....

I have much more.. but maybe better one day face to face..Colman :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:48:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My problem with that is that it doesn't seem to match what I know of rural Irish life at all.

Sure, you did what you had to do and your choices were generally limited, marriages were often arranged - if you were rich enough for that to be worthwhile - and the emphasis was on accepting your place in the world rather than self-improvement (unless for the good of the community) but I don't see how there was no concept of self or self improvement or self expression. The emphasis, social pressures and , crucially, the expectations were very different, but

there was no notion of personality whatsoever.
No pshychologgical notion.. no unique and rich internal world... no depressions.. nothing like that.. null zip, zero

doesn't make any sense to me.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:01:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is the difference.

Stressing position and not self-improvement per se was not a differnce of measurement. My grandpa did not have the notion per se. Regarding the community , indeed..a bsolutely. The same thing about depression or pshychological notions.. nothing..nill.

They always say that they were sad yes... but "not all this modern thing like "depression"".. and it is also funny because they use the word "sad" as bad word..as knowing that it was not exaclty it.. but that "sad" is a way for me to understand.. you could define it like that... it is lovely I can tell.

The shock was when they got to the city. But in the city you have the distribution shock (spatial mythology is much more stornger than self or things like that.. I know it form the shock).

In the city, soon you can learn the notion that others have about self-improvement... except that they never use it for themselves. Improvement in the position of the society.. yes.. they learnt that like wow.. amazingly fast...but personally .. not.

Regarding self-expression.. nothing.. never.. null. There people who play music... they were the ones in charge of playing... you can certainly be one of those by practicing.... not by self-improvement.. but because you play in the "fiestas al lado del molino"...

All form of expression were positional... like "la corrida de bandera" that we still ahve in our town each summer.. one old tradition we conserve.. THe ability is posioional.. learnign how to move fast a big fly... the expression is following the norm and oding it fine.. that is the key self-expression. No internal stuff.

I think we must not forget that myths in rural Spain were completley different 100 years ago.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er... kcurie, tell me more about your grandpa. I feel like I should be able to understand that piece of evidence, but I could be wrong.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:45:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My grandpa is dead.. but my grand ma is alive.. and if yours lived in rural areas.. and they are alive.. please please do interview them!!! learn a little bit about how to do a field work in antrhopology... and interview them. It is a treasure.

I had the change to read a etnography about rural areas in central Spain in the 20-30's about medical antrhopology (medicine narratives)... I was amazed.. incredible.. those cultures from another continent (they seemded).. then I asked my grandma... did you think that eating chicken after having birth was something awful for the mother?.. she changed her face.."yes.. absolutely.. how do you know?"  He never believed me completely when I stated that it was not to show that they were stupid back then...so she replied once and again... "we had stupid ideas back then".. and I repeat her again and again "not really, or as stupid as most of modern medicine now..."

You will perfectly understand.... see you soon in front a cup of tea.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bah, all my grandparents are dead and the only one who ever met me (when I was a child) didn't seem to like me all that much. I do have some surviving aunts and uncles of my father but I don't have any contact with them.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pity..sorry.

I am really lucky.. So I will explain to you any detail or question next saturday :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:36:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The narrative of the self "you are an independent person who has to grow up and improve .. and so on and so on... (I should recall that this narrative is quite singularly western..)

Actually it wasn't - and isn't - to the same extent as it is in the West. In these other cultures (including Rome) family and social relationships were more important than personal development.

Buddhism has the concept of liberation, and Christianity has its own spin with the idea of sin and redemption. But the idea of a personal psychological work ethic - in the sense of working commitedly towards becoming a better person is a rather Calvinist way - is something that seems to be uniquely Western.

The closest analogues in other cultures seem to be the idea of working hard to acquire specific skills, or of self-purification with a view to reincarnation in the next life and/or final liberation.

One of these is very practical and isn't really about a sense of personality - the metaphor is that skills are external to the self. The other is much more moral, in the sense of good and bad thoughts and actions leaving specific traces on the self.

The Western idea seems to be somewhere between the two. Skills - such as social and business skills - are considered internal. But good and bad are seen almost entirely in terms of practical utility rather than a semi-supernatural moral code.

There's some shading between New Agers who see personal development as a supernatural mission, and devotees of the business cult who see it purely in terms of accumulated profit. But the middle way is somewhere between the two. And the idea that you have to improve your lot is common enough that it's taken for granted in many Western social interactions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 04:11:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Myth as a technical term is one thing. However, in common speech, myth doesn't mean what you'd like to to. Sorry.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:54:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know I know... pain in the ass :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 06:56:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't mean to single out my fellow Americans because plenty of other examples could be found amongst other nations, but the current bottom line is that an electorate dumb enough to have voted for Bush in 2004 is hardly likely to be smart enough to prevent a looming disaster.  The dice IS thrown. Mene, Tekel, Peres.
by Lupin on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 12:23:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the electorate was only just dumb enough to vote for Bush. Of the relatively small percentage who voted, a reasonable proportion were authoritarians on the one side, and progressives for the other side. The sleeper voters mostly slept through the whole thing. Which is one reason why it was possible for the authoritarians to organise from the ground up and stage their hijack.

And there's also that issue of the media lockdown. And swiftboating. And the fact that Kerry was hardly Mr Inspiring. And the Dems generally were on the defensive against the deciderer's 9/11 narrative.  

To people who weren't politically active, Bush doubtless would have seemed to be doing a decent enough job. Katrina hadn't happened yet. Iraq was on but the news was mostly tolerable. Wiretapping hadn't been reported yet. And so on. When Fox still had the megaphone it was easy enough to make it look like business was running smoothly.

Now, the cracks are showing. The challenge is to tie the next decade or so of disasters to the crazy rich wingers who caused it. Like the 30s, that's going to leave a lesson that won't be forgotten for at least a generation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 01:32:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Like the 30s, that's going to leave a lesson that won't be forgotten for at least a generation.

In the 30s, it took a world war, the holocaust, and the competition of Soviet Russia. What will it take this time? Can we have the lesson without the same price to pay?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:34:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we have the lesson without the same price to pay?

No.


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:43:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do we plan for it, then?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cut back.  Focus.  Repeat.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of all - be ready with a replacement.

Narratives are easiest to change during times of social stress.

The far-Right already knows this, and is already planning for it.

If there isn't a counter-narrative ready and waiting, the far-Right will win this one by default.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I'm afraid of.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:51:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob Altemeyer points out that in a crisis, the general opinion usually becomes more authoritarian, as a result of increased fear. He points out that two predictors of authoritarianism are fear and self-righteousness.

So, when the BNP says "at 18% support we're one crisis away from power", he might be right.

The alternative narrative needs to be in place before the crisis.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:57:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why the so-called "Stalinist" left has always been more succesful in harnessing the power of the sort of tumult we might well be in our rights to expect. Far more succesful than Social Democracy.

Compare and contrast the Kremlin to Weimar.

There's really no avoiding human nature, for this is what is being recounted here.

Pick your poison, and prepare for what comes after, once fear has abated. Think Glasnost, and get to it far sooner than our predecessors.

Because while fear is unavoidable, and the impulses it engenders equally so, hope and optimism, and dissent, is equally unavoidable and worthy of valorisation.

Imho, just as the principles of 1789 were not firmly part of our European heritage until the despotic regimes which fought them had fallen over the next century and a few decades, further refinement of those principles, of solidarity, of equality and of human dignity, will not occur until the present economically despotic regimes have fallen.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:15:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brilliant.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:31:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a nation or nations, I don't know.

As individual families, I can use our own example which was a drastic reorganization of our previously comfortable personal life (while fully aware not everyone can do what we did).

If we were in 1936, knowing what we know, what would you do?

by Lupin on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:22:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Emigrate to South America.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep.
by Lupin on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 06:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Much of my wife's family did this, in fact.

It turned out ok, though many ended up in France, Israel, the US or Canada by the 1950's.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps it will take the popped bubbles, bee blight and ethanol induced famine.

It certainly won't be a osmotic education and assertion of their rights by the stakeholders in the American experiment.

The myth is that there is or ever was a Democracy in America. The reality is that we are fighting as if it existed and all we need to do is tweak about the edges, keep fools from taking control and repair the damage caused when they do.

Oligarchs and peasants. Well dressed peasants perhaps. Arguably, well fed, through arguably not. Peasants educated enough to bring technologies and trades quickly to the oligarchs, instead of just potatoes from the leasehold. Peasants willing to borrow several layers deep to make sure the oligarchs eventually get all the money.

I wonder if the percentage of lackeys for the oligarchs is a constant, or if technology has even made even that more efficient. There are a lot of new marinas and yachts being delivered.

But back to the point. We must fight the right target. The target is to achieve a truly representative democracy.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:50:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not enough to slither by with the usual few points in 08. The problems still all remain- few of the dems will really support functional change:

-Media rediversification, fairness doctrine,etc.  

-Campaign finances from the public trough,

etc. etc.

Ah, yes. Now THAT I can get into.
Tie the rotting carcass of neolib econ to the neck of as many of Altemeyer's "double highs" as possible.

 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:11:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A compelling argument. When you look at the polls right now, you appear to be correct, but that's assuming a status quo.

Another jihadist attack and the electorate will swing right again.

Also, if stern, unpopular measures are raised (e.g.: a tax on gasoline) will the electorate not swing again?

If the electorate isn't smart enough (which it wasn't before) can it cope with such factors?

I don't think so.

by Lupin on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:18:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your tone is patronizing, and I accept that as a minor but not unnoticed irritant. I ignore it, and accept the real value of your comments.

But it is you who are wrong, my friend.

Is it invisible to you that a newspaper named after a poem clearly intends to be more than an arid purveyor of data?

So while you were busy pushing data the right-wing was busy tryting to find and explain and spread an "explanation"..a  narrative about what was going on... and they win.. they were smarter than you..
basically the knew much mroe anthropology than you... You/we lost in the US.

No one involved with "The People Yes" was unaware of the need for drama, for passionate and convincing narrative-- narrative that offered an alternative path. We supplied it. We won. And then we lost.
"They" knew just exactly as much anthropology as a pissant, because the group whom we slaughtered in the short run but who defeated us in the long run did not even believe in anthropology. They believed in obedience, they were afraid, they were deeply self righteous (a trait you might find interesting to learn about), and we failed to know our enemy.

it is that reality and facts, and scientific analysis is a myhtology.. it is just another mythology among many and you have to convince the people that it is the proper one

Tomorrow, the sun will rise in the East, irrespective of the narrative that you or I attempt to impose upon celestial mechanics.
There is an immense body of fairly solid knowledge just drifting around out there, and when you turn the key of your car, you will discover how completely helpless a counter-myth is to alter the results.
The Seventh Day Adventists passionately and massively believe that God will insure that man will never reach the moon, and that no good thing can come without the acceptjesusasyourpersonalsavior stuff.
Good strategy will take into account reality- that body of knowlege and causality that is beyond myth. It exists.

You might say that the myth that we believed in -the power of narrative coupled with good thinking would win- was eventually overwhelmed by a reality we failed to understand. The reality illuminated by Bob Altemeyer.  

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 06:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to disagree with you..

Sorry if I sounded insulting. Nothing further from my intention.

With no insult, no second meaning , no intention other than trying to change your perspective. I think  Bob Altemeyer is profoundly and deeply wrong. I am sorry.

I do think like Brit that this was engineered.. that they knew very well what they were doing. That they built the narrative and the institutions to push it forward.

And regarding your lack of consideration about the power of myths... I think science completely refutes what you are saying sorry. Any study I know about pshychology ,anthropology and biology disproofs the notion than reality has more value than the one we want to give it to it. Actually we construct it. We must fight to make reality count. If you believe that the scientific myth will beat any other becuase "the sun always rises in the East"... I think you are wrong.

If you think that just because the planet is finite and resources is finite, the scientific consideration about taking into account the environment in our economic decisions will beat any other narrative.. you are wrong.... data , sorry, by itself is irrelevant...

And it has nothing to do with authoriarians... it  has do with a the basic narrative need .. one of the few human universals.

But... sorry if I do not agree.. and sorry if I sound pratronizing.

I do shut up now..

sorry again. Seriously.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think  Bob Altemeyer is profoundly and deeply wrong.

Please elaborate.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:10:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny.. I just clarified.. before watching your post :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should be more precise.

Bob Altemeyer analysis is interesting , relevant and should be taking into account... but it is not interesting for the topic in hand.

The fact that there are authoritiarains..sure.. but Why?.. and here there is no answer.. no approach.. no scope.

let me be more precise...tryting to explain things in terms of "the reason is that there are authroitariasn" is wrong.. not the fact taht there are indeed authoritarians in our society...

Certainly our mythology allows for the presence of this kind of people.. they have  a vision of the world very characteristic. A set of myths and narratives that set them a part from other ... no doubt,

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:15:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It almost sounds like you take the insights from anthropology to deny the existance of individual and social psychology. In other words, is there no personality, just culture?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely , there are two way interactions...and there are indeed as many personalities as people choosing form the available repertoire

But when you can find an encompassing group of people with certain common characteristics.. I would always go for the narrative explanation and anthropology .. and not pshychology.

Another question is why some people choose one narrative from another.. Here the direct link between biology and personal history may have some effect or even strong effect.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:25:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you read Altemeyer's book?

His study of the connection between the authoritarian personality and christian fundamentalism is of limited applicability outside North America, but what he seems to have found is a personality type that is susceptible to adopting certain cultural norms. Obviously you can only be authoritarian withi the parameters set by your culture, but if there were not an authoritarian-follower personality type, there wouldn't be authoritarian subcultures. Similarly, the authoritarian leader (Dominant) type he describes subscribes to a certain set of culturally determined opinions (like, for instance, free market fundamentalism - it's quite interesting) but in other cultures they would have subscribed to other opinions. Which doesn't deny the existence of the Dominant personality type.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 07:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I knew... actually I read  a long review... bad thing.. i should go to the origin itself (like with Darwin you can get very good surprises).

Regarding his findings about the US.. They seemed very robust to me.

Regarding the personality type.... mmmhhh... I dunno..

The idea of a personality waitng for an specific culture to exist.. I dunno... I am not sure how he can proof it.

Not in the sense that there are other cultures where other traits similar to ahtoritarism appear (there are)... but take a society without authoritarian figure.. when the concept of vertical hierarchy does not exist. Or take the Australia aborigen with its economic sub-group egalitarian subdivision as another exmaple making... the autrotarian concept almost impossible... what hten?

Altemeyer can always say.. there are these personalities that trascend culture ... the problem is that culture prevents them from developing..How can you proof it?  

So I disagree with him on that point.. you can not make  a difference between personality and culture around. You can only develop a personality if you live in a society where, first personality make sense (boror as the clasic exmaple where personality has no sense whatsoever) and where an sepecific set of narratives are present to develop a particualr sub-set of them as personality..

Now.. it is very common in the scientific world to fix the debate and make everybody happy talking about tendencies: there are certian biological or historical traits that may make some people more inclined to use and believe in any authoritarian narrative (small as it can be) in any particular culture... but this is very difcicult to proof. You would need to know what makes some people like this, detect them as children (or make them live those anguising events like a dominant father), put them in different societies with different autoritarian concepts and predict that they will adquire those traits. This is feasible .. but we are far from even starting this experiment.

So he can not proof the last part of his statement...  so I do not believe him on that point....until more experimetns are available.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 09:47:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Different breeds of dogs can be predisposed to very different behaviours, so there's some evidence that you can breed that sort of thing into a brain.

I'm not sure what definition of "feasible" you're using there.  

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 09:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure..

differences in biology of the brain and differences in personal histories can indeed be an explanation for the differences on choosing a different item, or stretching it further a different mini-explanation. It is a possibility indeed.

BUt Altemeyer is going one step more.. he is stating that you can take a pacakage of narratives (as the authoritarian behavor is) and link it to biological traits...that's a whole new game... And in this case the dog analogy is irrelevant because you can not make dogs choose among sets of complex relations. They are trying to do it with monkey thouhg...(dophins may be too)... so there may be some proof about tendencies to pick up some pacakges among others. But I doubt it. I bet biology can not go that far.. (personal opinion)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:05:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
J ej ej and I still do not like the biology/culture dicotomy :)

The "brain/culture two ways highway" is still the one I like... so in a case by case you can choose if culture-> brain or brain-> culture is stronger.....because you will always have the loops to get any conclusion you can regarding the "why" while at the same time you understnad perfectly the "how" :)

Colman , as always

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly it's a complicated feedback system, which is why it's so hard - probably impossible - to separate the details.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:14:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about psychology? Can you reduce it entirely to the interplay between biology and culture, or do you have a trichotomy?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:16:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you know my answer about what I think about folk pshychology :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:50:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Altemeyer's work is not folk psychology. And you insist on writing it off because it doesn't square with your undertanding of anthropology. I think you're going to have to start refuting direct quotations from Altemeyer.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely Altemeyer is not folk pshcyhology at all.

I just reject one aspect taken by a lot of people from his conclusions. An aspect I should check if he really claims.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:00:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which aspect?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The notion that there are some a priori biological underpinnings that give rise to a slection of certain narratives related with authoritarians..

He points out that you can group certain group of people in the US accordign to some narratives. Agreed.

He shows in similar societies (like the soviet union) you cna find similar people. Agreed

A society with the three notions you mention and with some particualr needs will probalby have thsoe type of behavior. Agreed

I agree with all that..

But notice that he does not give a "how" explanation.

And then the jump:

There are some biological stuff that create those kind of people in every society. (and soem even go furthrer, they are the repsonsible of our problems, not going into here).

This last statement is not proven.
NOt only because there is no mechanism but becasue most of the measurements are not universal.

It is also not demosntrated becasue the three things that could give a measure of unviersality (fear, status creactiona dn group identity) are not made cross-cultural (no culture with completely diferrent "self" myhtology... do it wiht the dowayos... I am afraid the results wil be negative).

NO biological mechanisms, no cross-cultural analysis plus the fact that there are cultures with no presence of authoritarians whatsoever given the basic (mythologicahl) field of this society...results in... rejection :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:57:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But notice that he does not give a "how" explanation.

What would be "a 'how' explanation"?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:41:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
he is stating that you can take a pacakage of narratives (as the authoritarian behavor is) and link it to biological traits

I don't think he is.

Now, can you please explain how

  • fear
  • self-righteousness
  • submission
  • aggression
  • conformity
  • (in/out)-group identification
are narratives?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:10:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
each issue is different...Takin the notion that if its not universal there is a clear cultural and narrative component we have

fear is universal... And experimetns showing it is not a narrative. You are right here.

self-righteousnes.. it is .. it is a narrative.. completely and thoroughly. Not universal. very well defined set of interlinked concepts.

submission, narrative.. no hierarchy no submission. Notions of structure and complex mythology required.

Agression... tough one. I have read opinions of any kind.. I know anger is not unviersal (but quite widespread) Violence is absolutely cutlural in learning but unviersal in the ability (experiments  show it is highly mymical) but passive aggression I dunno. Personal opinion I htink violence is cultural for sure... so I would go for that regardign agression.

Conformity.. cultural. My grandpa did not know what it was when he was a child :)

Group identification.. Universal.. yep.. this is universal...Huge topic here..

So on all the issues about which are cultural.. yes he is taking a leap of faith. Except for fear and group identification which are universal for all humans in one degree of another...so there you can really measure if they have more than in the surroundings.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:59:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conformity.. cultural. My grandpa did not know what it was when he was a child :)

How about the experiments where it is shown that people change their behaviour depending on whether there are other people present, and what they are doing? Is susceptibility to that cultural? Can it be measured even if people can't conceptualise their own attitudes or are aware of them?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ohh you are right!! Geee

Status conformity... yes, yes.. that one can be universal indeed... status is universal..reaction to it, is an universal.. although in a different space of parameters (using physcis language)

Absolutely...Here you can not be wrong!!! so.. yes three paremeters of Altemyer can indeed provide some significance (fear, group pertenance and status conformity).. but not the rest. And I do not know if this is his approach.. (not certianly from the reviews).

But again I accept that the brain and some other biological stuff can have tendencies to behave in a characteristic scale in those unviersal...but no relation with a personality which is an idea beloinging to a subset of societies (the ones that had the idea of pshcychology behind) that we project a posteriori. But as far as I know he jsut proofs that some people do tend more in one direction... but does not find biologically how (there will always be differences.. the question is how they work).

I only reject the last part of his interpretation because they would require cross-cultural research and the elimination of two ro three variables.

But I agree that authoritarians exist , but not the authoritarian personality a priori. Some people happen to have such beahvior when certain items in the society are present. ONly across-cultural research with those thrree universals you mention MIgeru will provide light on wether there are brain influences in the selection of such narratives (selection of personal personalities).

NO cross-cultural study no proof on the last claim some people say he makes.

A pleasure

Some brains more inclined to go for some of them.. yes it could be... not personality but brains.. yes.. I

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:48:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, if status is universal, can't submission to high-status individuals exist cross-culturally?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Up oh..

Yes sorry in your set of items you call it submission to status.. this is what I agreed with you.

Submssion or reaction to staus yes.

The confomance to culture is the one that it is not universal...

A reaction to status.. in terms of follign the rules given to the status is indeed unviersals.

There are three things that if checked cross-culturally could show if there are groups of people with certain tendencies:

Fear, reaction to status and group identification.

If someone does a cross-cultural research on this with the dowayo, the dogon, bororor,....and comes with results proving that they all go together in a certain direction and that they exist... it will a long way to show the existence of some brain correlations with this issues.

Then of course if they can explain and cehck the biological mehanism...then you will have a scientific for teh existence of biological authoritarians...(of course I will never accept the personality meme, not scientific).. if they happen to exist..it is a fact. That's the beatiful thing of science.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're assuming that human populations are homogenous in behavioural tendencies?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:12:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you infer that?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fear, reaction to status and group identification.

If someone does a cross-cultural research on this with the dowayo, the dogon, bororor,....and comes with results proving that they all go together in a certain direction and that they exist... it will a long way to show the existence of some brain correlations with this issues.

No, the point is not that there is a correlation between the three [submission (to status), aggression (fear) and conformity (in/out group)]. The point is that if all three are present one would call the subject an "authoritarian follower".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:45:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All present in a strong degree is a correlation for biological mechanisms :)

And yes, the authoritarian follower indeed exists in our society... my question has always been about biological and universal traits... if they exist in all societies  and if the mechanism is known of how you become one (if it is universal). If soemone finds proof then some people may have a biological authoritarian tendency (which is the thing not proven at all).

A pleasure


I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 02:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Altemeyer mentions studies with twins at some point, but he generally stays clear from making such claims. He does suggests hypotheses that should be studied.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 02:13:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given my past experience with Darwin.. I bet that he might just reduce his conclusions on our society and in the classification of certain join characteristics... leaving the biological and universal stuff for the future..

Typically he would hint it.. and then you would have all the narratives jumping into the bandwagon.

If Darwin is any experience... well Darwin not even suggested some of the things people claim he said... :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 02:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I finally understand what your issue is: the different meaning of "personality" in psychology and anthropology.

And I understand that you reacted violently to my use of "personality type" and that's what you meant by "folk psychology".

I do suggest that you read the book and report back, because your report is going to look completely different to anything else on this and other threads where people have talked about the book.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:59:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I finally understand what your issue is: the different meaning of "personality" in psychology and anthropology.

So can you explain it for us confused people?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personality in pshychology is a priori, personality in anthropology and biology is a posteriori.

Pshcyhologists of the wester-world type believe all it exists are western parameters. There are personalities because we think so.. and therefore personalities are unviersals.

The vision of the antrhopologists (and the scientific proof I may add) is that personality is a narrative.. the creation of a personality means living in a socsiety with our "self" mythology as a requirement. Pklus the notion of internal rich world. You can not get any relevant information about "personality" if you do nto do a cross-cultural study (whcih until now it has been laways been negative). And then you find that personality is not universal. Actually you can gardly find any other culture that has the notion of personality.

The relevance for antrhopologists and biologists is brain-biology and culture... we look for universals.. and partciualrs.. and we try to assocaite the two directions brain-culture to try to understand how it works.. Are instituional or biological mechanism at work? Is basically a sociological pehnomena or biological?

Antrhopologists and biologists do not use "personality" in any explanation since it is a posteriori (not scientific).. personality is not a scientific word... except to say that some people in western society have it as its myth.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A complete respectable myth by the way.. just not scientific.. and you know that I have deep respect for non-scientific narratives.  Not that much when I see someon saying that something is science when it is not.

YOu know.. I can not withstand an astrologists saying that he is doing science... and even less a scientists saying to the astrologist that what he does is bullshit because it is not science... I am fraid I do not have a lot of love for both.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:19:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personality is an epiphenomenon?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
an epiphenomena of our culture of course.

BUt I repeat.. this does not mean that there are not biological traits or tendencies.. of course there are. It is that using personality as a word for describing brain related tendencies is... crazy! :).. and carries a lot of baggage.. Personality is a loaded word.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:28:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the problem with multidisciplinarity. A huge amount of effort gets spent on the meanings of terms.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean by "personality"?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:29:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pshychologists in western  traditions think that there are a set of traits that come from an interaction of biology and environemnt when you are child.
This interaction at the early stages fixes something called personality. The set of personalities is finite, they exist in a platonic world and one person develops this personality because of genes or historical avatars.

So, the personality set available for you is finite and exists a priori .. you happen to have one given your genes of history.

Absolutely scientific nonsense... proven again and again to be utterly false. Personality is not unviersal, it is not finite, not a priori and you need anthropology/biology and "self" myths to explain the human behavior related with self-awareness and self-thoughts.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:34:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. Right. That would be nonsense.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:35:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The set of personalities is finite, they exist in a platonic world and one person develops this personality because of genes or historical avatars.

I have pointed out how Altemeyer does not subscribe to Jungian archetypes.

To a certain extent you're attacking a bogeyman, because I don't think modern "personality psychology" research is archetypical in nature. But you can call a certain set of tendencies and attitudes a "personality". It's just not a qualitative classification but a name for a certain collection of quantifiable attitudes.

Of course, most of the tests that Altemeyer uses can be seen to be formulated in language that is not cross-cultural.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:41:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My refute of ALtemeyer is on the lack of cross-cultrual approach and lack of biological mechanisms.

And I feel bad about using personlity for a non-archetypical phenomena. Personality had a clear definition which was proven wrong. People did not want to change the old word and now put different meaning in the same basket so that no one can pinpoint he problem. For each perosn, a meaning.

I think it is find to talk about all the things we do nto know about ourselfs in our every day life and say "ei.. this is my personality".. but using personlaity in science for "tendencies  and attitudes".. no way becasue then you mess thing up. BIological factors, mechanism or correlations have a clear meaning and can be tested. Narratives, mythologies and sociological behavior can be tested and checked in very rigorous terms.

Personality is an awful word for science. IN every research you would have to asl. what do you mean by personality? What do you measure? How do you measure tendecies..? are  you talking about biological or sociological personalities? Are you talking as archtyoe pshychologists or as behavioralist? Are you talking as ....? and for each person a different answer. A mess.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I can, but I think kcurie is approaching this from a Psychological Anthropology frame, and thinks that [Jungian] "archetypes" are nonsense. Actually, in chapter 2 of the book, Altemeyer dismisses Psychoanalytic theories of aggression in favour of behavioural theories because the latter are testable. In particular, he talks about a "social learning theory of Aggression".

It is not that the authoritarian personality is an "archetype" but a set of propensities and attitudes. When I called it a "personality type" and said it could be "expressed in culturally appropriate ways" I pressed all kinds of buttong in kcurie.

I think I take more of a social-psychology view of personality, but kcurie with his anthropological bend tends to interpret anything that is not cross-cultural as not really psychological but cultural.

I don't know whether I'm making any sense.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:17:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are..

Adquiring, interpreting and naming a personality are all industrilaized traits (western ?? je je COlman) coming form the "self" mythology.

Given that it is a mess as a concept and a false scientific concept I always use biological tendencies.. or biological explnations if necessary.

And yes.. the existence of personality has been proven to be non-existent cross-cultural so I never use authoritary personlity-type. I would use  biological underpinnings for authoritarians attitudes (authoritarian related with fearand group identity plus status reaction as MIgeru showed me before).

Let me point out that this lack of understanding about what personality is lead ALtemeyer to include concepts unique to our culture in his research.. making the results useless formt he point of view of discovering if those biological underpinnings exist.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:25:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Adquiring, interpreting and naming a personality are all industrilaized traits (western ?? je je COlman) coming form the "self" mythology.

I would like to tie this with our recent debate on civilisation. You mention of the role of "the city" elsewhere in this thread leads me to suggest that personality is a "civilised" trait.

In fact, it seems to be easier for me to relate to writings from thousands of years ago in other cultures than to what you were saying about rural life in Spain 100 years ago (also, apparently, another culture and quite alien at that).

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:30:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're right, and it's true across all of civilisation that I'm familiar with at all, from early Greece to early China to early Celts. All seen through modern civilised eyes, of course.

I'm confused as to why rural Spain wasn't civilised when rural Ireland was. Seems unlikely to me.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ei... show me a referene I can read please about complex interior behavior in early Celts.. please do.. please.. I would love to read it.

Chinese old tradition of self-awareness is incredible..and they do not use personality whatsoever.. if I recall correctly. Personality is really western :)

Colman if you have anything dealing with complex interior world in Celts.. please post it here.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:40:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Define "complex interior behaviour" for me, because you are just not making any sense to me. While you're at it, define "self-expression", because your usage of it doesn't make sense to me either.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:42:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Examples better.

Self-reflection is when you see someone thiking about himslef as an entity. Complex answers to self-questions as "Why do I feel like this?".. or "why I do that?" are the typical indicators of complex interior behavior.  

The bigger the symbolsim and the narratives that talk about myslef and how I feel and how I do that, and why.. the more this particular culture gives relevance to the "self".

Shakespeare will be the sumum of complex inteior behavior regardign feelings (he alone fix tham all and most of the feelings you can read in Shakepsear are still alive and kicking)

So I would love to read this kind of stuff from Celts. Not probably about feelings.. but about any complex internal symbolism (what am I? why I do this?...)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:03:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upps... very good theory..

I dunno.. NO idea... but personality is a post-enlightenment invention which appeared in cities indeed.

I would say that complex interior awareness ("mirarse mucho a uno mismo") is probably related with external huge institutions... it certianly could be.. yeah..

But I have no proof whatsoever. :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:38:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I seem to recall the claim that the Coplas a la Muerte de su Padre signal the emergence of the concept of individual memory enduring beyond Death. Also the claim that the reason that we have no idea who build or decorated the cathedrals is that medieval builders and artisans had no concept of individual attribution of work. These (fame, individual attribution) would all be Renaissance concepts, at least in Europe.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:45:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru.. if I double check those issues.. you bet I am going to use them like crazy in my view of the world :)

Thanks a lot.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:10:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have confirmed that this is the "standard" academic interpretation of the coplas. Look here:
Después de puesta la vida          385
tantas veces por su ley
al tablero;
después de tan bien servida
la corona de su rey
verdadero:                           390
después de tanta hazaña
a que no puede bastar
cuenta cierta,
en la su villa de Ocaña
vino la muerte a llamar              395
a su puerta,

  diciendo: «Buen caballero,
dejad el mundo engañoso
y su halago;
vuestro corazón de acero,            400
muestre su esfuerzo famoso
en este trago;
y pues de vida y salud
hicisteis tan poca cuenta
por la fama,                         405
esfuércese la virtud
para sufrir esta afrenta
que os llama.

  No se os haga tan amarga
la batalla temerosa                  410
que esperáis,
pues otra vida más larga
de la fama glorïosa
acá dejáis,
(aunque esta vida de honor           415
tampoco no es eternal
ni verdadera);
mas, con todo, es muy mejor
que la otra temporal
perecedera
.                          420

  El vivir que es perdurable
no se gana con estados
mundanales,
ni con vida deleitable
en que moran los pecados             425
infernales;
mas los buenos religiosos
gánanlo con oraciones
y con lloros;
los caballeros famosos,              430
con trabajos y aflicciones
contra moros.

  Y pues vos, claro varón,
tanta sangre derramasteis
de paganos,                          435
esperad el galardón
que en este mundo ganasteis
por las manos;
y con esta confianza
y con la fe tan entera               440
que tenéis,
partid con buena esperanza,
que esta otra vida tercera
ganaréis.»



"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 04:33:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and romantic/courteous love is also a Renaissance concept.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 04:34:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're talking about a system we don't understand very well at all. I don't necessarily see that small differences in "initial wiring" couldn't have systematic effects that would statistically affect personality type.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:11:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea of a personality waitng for an specific culture to exist.. I dunno... I am not sure how he can proof it.

He doesn't say that, I say that. But I think it's implicit in what he says, especially when he talks about the effect education or life experience has on the development of the personality type.

But he does say that "Right-Wing Authoritarian" is not an ideological position, it's a personality type. Which means that, for instance, during the cold war Authoritarians in the USSR and the US believed the other country was an evil empire and would have believed the same if they had been born in the other country because the personality made them conformist and submissive to authority, not capitalist or communist. It is in that sense that Right-Wing Authoritarians will express their authoritarianism in whatever ways are culturally available. In other words, a Fascist, a Nazi, a Stalinist and a McCarthyist believed quite different things, but for the same reasons. He does claim [I didnt check the footnotes] that the mechanism underlying religious fundamentalism is the same regardless of what religion one is considering, but he focuses on Christian fundamentalism for obvious reasons of context.

So maybe a lot of things that he takes for granted only exist within our culture, but you'd have to go and read it and point them out. But are you really saying that fear, self-righteousness, submission, aggression and conformity don't exist in certain cultures?

There is a whole chapter dedicated to how Right-Wing Authoritarians have a hard time functioning in the scientific/rational frame, by the way, which shines a newlight on the whole "reality-based vs. faith-based" debate.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:08:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not saying that there ar eno cultures with those trais.. I agree, there are... absolutely.

I am stating that a lot of thsoe traits are inexistent in most cultures...

I gave you the list about how I recall each one of those elements...IN the lsit there are clearly cultural elements.

Get out of Soviet Empire or US Empire.. in Africa.. dowayos.. and they disappear.

I repeat... again. I reject the claim that there are some "personalities" ab-initio waiting for a culture because is non-scientific-. It is pushing something that you can not demonstrate. So I reject it. No.. no such a thing as personality ab initio. It is always an interaction brain/culture.. that's all it is in there measurable and checkable right now.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:06:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm saying this is an interesting but tangential conversation.

Animals have a theory of mind, to varying degress, and  clearly have different temperaments. Whether or not this matches the anthropological definition of 'personality' is neither here nor there. What matters in practice is that behavioural tendencies are visible and consistent enough to be reliable.

This shouldn't be controversial. I'm sure a lot of regular ET readers would be able to match posts and posters if Scoop's name field was blanked out.

All Altermeyer is saying is two things:

  1. A subgroup within the population seems to have a consistent set of responses.

  2. These responses are very different to the ones that the rest of us take for granted.

You can argue that this is a clash of narratives - and it surely is. But in basic psychological terms it also affects socialisation (debatable, but even so...) and practical problem solving skills. (Not so debatable.)

There's nothing mythological about being able to accurately predict what the world is going to do next if you kick its tyres. Different cultures may be kicking different sets of tyres, but the point is that if you can't correctly model what's required by your culture, then you have some serious problems.

And if a group's stated goal is to make it possible for others to learn how to make accurate predictions, then the culture as a whole has some serious problems.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 03:50:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But when you can find an encompassing group of people with certain common characteristics.. I would always go for the narrative explanation and anthropology .. and not pshychology.

One of the things that Altemeyer discusses in the book is how people "drop out" of Fundamentalist Christianity after being born and raised in it, and it is not primarily through exposure to other subcultures but through people exercising independent thought in a way that supposedly an Authoritarian Fundamentalist shouldn't be psychologically or culturally able to do according to the evidence presented. So it must be that being raised in an Authoritarian Fundamentalist milieu doesn't completely determine one's personality and so those who don't have the authoritarian personality have some likelyhood of dropping out. [My interpretation again]

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 10:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this is called enlightenment process.. and there is a huge bilbiography about it.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 11:02:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But when you can find an encompassing group of people with certain common characteristics.. I would always go for the narrative explanation and anthropology .. and not pshychology.

Would you allow psychology as a descriptive and discovery tool for identifying what needs to be explained?

What do you think constitutes an "explanation" of behaviour?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What would need to change in out culture for it not to "allow for the presence of authoritarians"? Like I said elsewhere, Altemeyer boild down the "authoritarian follower" to three traits:
  • submission to high-status individuals (or to institutions)
  • aggression (coming from fear and self-righteousness)
  • conformity (not just the wish to be average but intolerance of deviations from the average)
What cultures wouldn't be able to express this?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 01:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you rdf and geezer for the recommendation.  One fascinating book.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 10:54:11 AM EST
I've continued thinking about the issues of why authoritarianism has become so important in democracies these days.

I can't speak for Europe, but I think I have a partial answer for the US.

The US has always had a strong current of conformity. For example in the 1950's we had "the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" as the norm. Before that we had "Babbitt".

Most of the time the pressure for social conformity was expressed in terms of personal behavior and enforced by the church or social convention. The exception was in war time when the US consistently abrogates civil liberties. In WWI we had the Palmer Raids which imprisoned thousands of leftists and union organizers. In WWII we had the Japanese-American internment. We are all aware of the current abuses.

What is different right now is that social conformity is being coupled with religious dogma and turned into explicit government policy. It is unprecedented for the government to have a "faith based" (i.e. religious) department which gives out money to preferred religious groups.

My reading on what has caused the change is that a small group of economically conservative, religiously conservative, super wealthy families have entered the social policy area. The rise in conservative and libertarian "think tanks" since Reagan can all be traced to the financial backing of these families. People tend not to realize their influence since many are not household names and try to remain in the background.

There is an organization which tries to track the influence of this money on non-profit organizations.
Here's a link: Source Watch

As an example here is their listing on the prominent Libertarian Cato Institute.

Between 1985 and 2001, the Institute received $15,633,540 in 108 separate grants from only nine different foundations:

    * Castle Rock Foundation
    * Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
    * Earhart Foundation
    * JM Foundation
    * John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
    * Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
    * Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
    * Scaife Foundations (Sarah Mellon Scaife, Carthage)

So the change in public perception didn't just "happen" it has been part of the "vast rightwing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton talked about several years ago. She was derided for her remarks, but they seem to be true.

Remember Hitler early on realized the importance of getting his message out and established an explicit department for propaganda. Orwell analyzed this mechanism for social control and his conclusions still ring true.

So the confluence of extreme wealth and religious fundamentalism has lead to a proto-theocratic, plutocratic state in the US. Because of changes in tax laws and other measures these families are able to transmit their wealth from one generation to the next almost untaxed. This has given rise to a semi-permanent autocracy for the first time in US history. Previously only a handful of such families existed, notably the Rockefellers, and they tended (with a couple of exceptions) to focus on making more money, not social policy.

Why there is a rise in libertarianism and laissez faire economics in the UK, France and Germany I'll leave to others to analyze.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 11:18:13 AM EST
I think Europe has stronger pressures for social conformity than the US.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 12:45:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm unconvinced about that. I have heard it said that America is culturally a germany that speaks english.

I think the anglo-french tradition of insolent dissent still remains a dominant force in our countries.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:18:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess it depends on your experience of Europe vs your experience of the US. Big city Europe has less pressure to conform than small town America. It also depends on which pressures to conform bother you and  which boxes and mileau you fall into.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:23:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on where you are in the US. It's not true of the east coast for example - the culture is derived primarily from French and English culture, and accounts for most of the reason I found it so hard to live there (vs. the German / Scandinavian influenced midwest where I grew up).

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 07:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My reading on what has caused the change is that a small group of economically conservative, religiously conservative, super wealthy families have entered the social policy area. The rise in conservative and libertarian "think tanks" since Reagan can all be traced to the financial backing of these families. People tend not to realize their influence since many are not household names and try to remain in the background.

Yes! And this is one pestilential influence we don't have in Europe. Possibly because it's not home territory for them, and possibly because these conservatives consider Europe a vassal state rather than an independent entity.

These people have deliberately engineered a shift towards the right in the US. And they've succeeded far beyond their wildest dreams, to the extent that when the BBC recently interviewed a proponent of fair trade, the interviewer quoted the Cato Institute and described it as a 'respected economic think-tank.'

Without these people we wouldn't have had Bush, and it's possible we might well not have had Reagan. We'd possibly still have had Thatcher, but we might very well have had John Smith instead of Blair.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 01:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could not agree more..

They engineered a full mythology .. from scratch... amazing.. as I have said before.. a work much more better than Goebels and pure propaganda.. they really had the knwoledge and the money... but still it is kind of scary that antrhopology was so right.

Rdf and brit.. excellent sumamry about how you can create one "explanation/tale" from scratch..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We'd possibly still have had Thatcher, but we might very well have had John Smith instead of Blair.

Umm, minor point but we did have John Smith. Sadly he died before he had a chance to lead the Labour party to electoral victory.

His succesor was Blair who won a mere pyrrhic victory over John Major. The Conservative party dedicated to corruption and the advancement of minority wealth lost and was replaced by a different conservative party equally dedicated to corruption and the advancement of minority wealth.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:16:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I know. I was just taking paranoia quite a bit further than most people want to go.

I remember noting at the time that Smith's death was very convenient for Blair, who would surely never have come anywhere close to power without it.

Smith was an old-fashioned centrist rather than the wild  reformer that Blair turned out to be. He might not have won three terms but it's likely he'd one at least one. The Overton window in the UK would very likely be quite a way to the left of where it is now if he'd survived.

Smith had had at least one heart attack, so it's possible his death really was convenient.

But Blair has been so consistently dishonest and scheming, and has such a bad record now, that it's hard not to wonder at least a little about how convenient and well-timed Smith's death was.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:43:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great stuff, Bob, but I'd call your very useful information more tactical data than strategic, in the military sense. You show us ONE of the groups that have seen the potential of the authoritarians to be used as a weapon--an army, if you will. I think the problem is that there is this great huge dog running around with the end of his choke chain in his mouth, looking for the biggest napoleonic megalo on the block to hand it to.
I am more interested in this bag of questions:

-Genetic or learned behavior? Or a combo? What exactly produces them? Altemyer gives us a bit, but not enough.

-Historically, what fraction of the population have they represented over time? What has caused it to change (if it really has)?  

-Can we work out a functional strategy to deprogram them? Altemeyer has none.

-If not, and likely not,it would seem that the dog is well out of the bag. SOMEONE will be dragging on the leash. Does that mean that we are doomed to the position of having to out-manipulate the right wing manipulators, just to survive? And if we choose not to do this for ethical reasons, ---where does that leave us?

I think the real task is to develop strategy that wiggles between becoming just another progressive version of PNAC and being eliminated by the army of the righteous and mentally disabled.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:24:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I have observed that most European countries show about 15% of authoritarian votes, if given a visible authoritarian choice to vote for.

I believe at least half of Bush's rock-bottom 30% approval rating reflects something of this sort.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:51:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The percentage (15%) is probably about right here too.

The discussion thus far has been very interesting.

If we could work John MacLaughlin,Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Pat Roberson,TV news as infotainment,talk radio, Rush Limbaugh and clones,and repeal of the FCC Fair Use Doctrine(1987)in with the "think tanks" and finance thereof, it would probably move us along a bit.. All these phenomemena had emerged full blown by 1990.

To see how far all this has progressed, vist the Washington Post website. Check out think-tank town and the section on faith. Both were added in the last six months. The selection in On Faith this Sunday is to point.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:28:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One interesting piece of trivia about the 15%.

In the Basque country there are hardly any violent right-wing youths of the "skin-head" variety. The reason: violent left-wing youths of the Basque independentist variety would beat the hell out of them. ETA's political arms poll between 10% and 15%, or did as long as they were allowed to contest elections.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Altemeyer wrote, RWA is a job description not a location on the political spectrum.  There are still RWAs  running around spouting Trotsky-ite nonsense.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 10:28:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Think I've observed it around a little bit.

Thanks

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 12:02:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a historian, I just play one on TV. :-)

Whether one chooses to look at the Roman Empire, the Victorian Empire or the USSR, the parallels with the US' situation today are scaringly familiar.

Leaving aside the unexpected disasters Bush and/or the jihadists might foist upon us at any time within the next 2 years, the facts remain that the US (Republicans or Democrats) will not willingly pull out of Iraq until the country is on its knees -- that fact alone should be enough to convince anyone that the US will be bankrupt and forced to undergo a serious transformation during the 2010-2020 decade.

Add to the mix the bubble economy, the absence of manufacturing, the crumbling infrastructure, the decaying educational system, the latent religious civil war, the health crisis, the reliance on cheap energy, peak oil and global warming and I don't see how the Empire can survive another decade.

What individual Americans will do, and what new society will emerge, I do not know.

I think that, like the once proverbial Viet-namese village, America has to be destroyed in order to save it.

by Lupin on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 12:05:38 PM EST
I don't know if it can be saved, or at least the deeply-rooted cultural mythologies that create and sustain the post-WWII militarised "America of democracy and freedom" cannot be saved. What happens to the political institutions and people is currently indeterminate.

But it is certainly actively engaged in self-destruction.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pretty much agree, but I still think there are many avenues we have not explored that matter-

I welcome the death of the American empire, as do you, I think. It was always an evil thing, and stank of death and self- delusion. That said, I am not yet ready to say that the entire continent needs to be written off as irretrievably screwed up.

It could reach a point of no return, and if it does,it will be the armies of righteousness that push us there. Let's not go there.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:32:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The single biggest failure of the New Left was our inability to organize across time (diachronic) as well as at a single point of time (synchronic.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 12:35:43 PM EST
Biggest single reason why we failed to organise over time was we did not know what Bob Altemeyer has written about and studied. We never really knew our enemy.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think the Democrats know what hit them, yet?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:21:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please!, have mercy...

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 03:20:28 PM EST
I don't think this will make much sense to those in Europe, but it is a good example of how far rationality has moved from public debate in the US.

God Debate

Sam Harris is the "atheist" author of two books about the influence of religion in public policy. His opponent, Rick Warren, is the founder of a mega-church.

That such a discussion can be taking place in the 21st Century, after 2000 years of scientific progress, just shows the resistance to dogma to change.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:25:46 PM EST
I think I can safely say that one thing that mystifies all Europeans (and unites them in that) is the extraordinarily prevalent place of religion in US society - in discourse, in politics, in social life.

I've made my opinion on religion clear, but that's not the point here - that place is really different from what it is in Europe.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 04:31:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely.. this is one of the few fundamental differentces between US and Europe in narratives (and even myths).

The direct fight-back agains enlightenment happens only in the US.. not in Europe.

In europe the tenets of Enlightenment are used in the favor  of right-wing propaganda... but they do nto mess with them. They are considered as structural myth of Europe.

They just have to pretend that they are scientific...which is more difficult that just rejecting the basic of our approach as some sectors of the US are trying to do.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:34:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The place of religion in the US is a complete mystery to me too, Jerome. I went to a Seventh day Adventist academy for a year in high school and have a deep knowledge of the whole fundamentalist bag of tricks, and what life is like in their world. It aint viable. But---egad, there it is!
That drags us back to Altemeyer, and the whole question of the genesis of people whose problem solving faculties are sao disabled that they think the earth is 6,000 years old, and that hell awaits anyone who eats a hamburger. Not a joke- the Adventists are pretty far out.
My suspicion is that people seek such nonsense explanations of the world when their ability to understand the world in more rigorous ways fails, or becomes unsatisfying in some way, perhaps for reasons we have not even touched yet. We need to know those reasons.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:45:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Holy shit!

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 05:36:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a couple of remarks about Altemeyer's thesis.

  1. He thinks the high (RWA) types are about 20% of the population. The fraction depends upon how you define "high". This seems to be a general characteristic of people regardless of cultural milieu, although he hasn't studied enough societies to make a claim. I don't see wh it wouldn't be universal, like other characteristics.

  2. The high RWA types are mostly passive, what gets them going are leaders which he calls Social Dominant Orientation. When a high SDO also has a high RWA personality you get amoral sociopaths. Unfortunately this combination is also associated with some personality traits that make them attractive as leaders. Even now we see remarks by people about how much they like Bush on a "personal" level. They are like used car salesmen. They rise to the top because of their ability to sell themselves.

  3. The problem is that the qualities that make them dangerous are also some of the qualities needed to have somebody in charge. Read Altemeyer's chapter on his experiments with a world strategy game when all the players were either high or low types. The highs destroyed the world (Rumsfeld, Cheney) while the lows allowed it to fall apart from inaction. They simply could not organize to take effective action.

  4. I think it is a bit unfair to think Altemeyer would come up with solutions. First, he is a psychologist not a politician or a sociologist and second, no one else has come up with a solution either. The study of mass movements has been going on in earnest since the rise of Hitler and Lenin and people still don't have good answers.

  5. The one thing that he thinks is a positive is that education and exposure to the world, especially to people unlike oneself, makes people less dogmatic. This is why the movements toward home schooling and sectarian schooling are so dangerous in a democracy. This is also nothing, new John Dewey wrote about the need for a broad, public education during his entire career in the first half of he 20th Century. His ideas, "progressive education" were once very influential, but the lessons seem to have been forgotten.

  6. We can see the consequences of this in the educational debates in the UK and France these days (the US has rolled over on the idea of a universal liberal education). Personally I think that mandatory public education is the best option. Those who wish to teach their children other things such as unique cultural or religious doctrines can do it after school. This worked before so I don't see why it is so strongly resisted (even by intellectuals) now. It is exactly the act of isolating children which allows them to be turned into unthinking robots.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 06:23:14 PM EST
Thanks, rdf
1)  I accept his description of the many cultures where his work has been tested and found reliably predictive as good enough.
It's tough to even speak of "cross-cultural" without having to dodge brickbats, but this is good enough for me.

  1. Yup.

  2. Social dominance is not necessarily a bad trait-- the idea of a constitutional republic revolves around the assumption of a functioning constitutional and legal system, and that the president ABOVE ALL OTHERS must be subject to these laws, given even a brief glance at history. The problem is that the combination of mobilized high RWA s and a double high seems to make short work of both these checks on abuse of power, not just in the US, but generally.

  3. Never expected Altemeyer to unravel the riddles of the universe- he has accomplished wonders already. Just was making the point that we need more, and hoping another poster might have a good link, or idea.

  4. Yes, that lesson has evaporated, and indeed broad experience is often seen as a corrupting influence. American guests in my home in Paris react radically differently to the city and to the French and French culture depending upon my impression of their authoritarian leanings. Indeed, I think I can predict their scores generally on Altemeyer's test from observing their reactions when visiting here.

  5. Strongly agree. A broad education and wide cultural and ethnic associations is a pretty good vaccination against the disease of authoritarianism, I think.

All this is an essential element in curing the disease, but a long-term one. We need to move now.

As has been said by several people upthread, I agree that we either generate a good narrative/frame /whatever now and find a way to make it the dominant one, before the crisis hits that will regenerate the fear machine, or we will lose this by default.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 04:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
3. I disagree on your interpretation of the outcome of the world strategy game. This is in chapter 1.
The Low RWA Game

...

As soon as the simulation began, the Pacific Rim Elite called for a summit on the "Island Paradise of Tasmania." All the Elites attended and agreed to meet there again whenever big issues arose. A world-wide organization was thus immediately created by mutual consent.

...

An hour into the game the facilitators announced a (scheduled) crisis in the
earth's ozone layer. All the Elites met in Tasmania and contributed enough money to buy new technology to replenish the ozone layer.

...

Other examples of international cooperation occurred, but the problems of the
Third World mounted in Africa and India. Europe gave some aid but North America
refused to help. Africa eventually lost 300 million people to starvation and disease, and India 100 million.

...

One cannot blow off four hundred million deaths, but this was actually a highly
successful run of the game, compared to most. ...

How is this "the lows allowed it to fall apart from inaction"? Okay, there wasn't enough action to solve all the problems, but the simulation didn't fall apart.

By contrast,

The High RWA Game

...

As soon as the game began, the Elite from the Middle East announced the price of oil had just doubled. A little later the former Soviet Union (known as the Confederation of Independent States in 1994) bought a lot of armies and invaded North America. The latter had insufficient conventional forces to defend itself, and so retaliated with nuclear weapons. A nuclear holocaust ensued which killed everyone on earth--7.4 billion people--and almost all other forms of life which had the misfortune of co-habitating the same planet as a species with nukes.

It gets better after that.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 05:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The world that falls apart from inaction is, in fact the "all RWA, no Social Dominators" run of the game in chapter 5, not the "all low RWA" game of chapter 1.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 05:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could we perhaps in a more accurate depiction of the English language substitute or rather use as a synonym the word parasite for authoritarian!
by Lasthorseman on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 09:01:06 PM EST
there is a test that can be taken here :

http://www.anesi.com/fscale.htm

I'm not even a liberal airhead, I scored 1,73

"3 to 4.5 is Within normal limits; an appropriate score for an American. (The overall average score for groups tested in the original study is listed in the 1950 publication as 3.84, with men averaging somewhat higher and women somewhat lower.)"

there is a lot of job to do...

by oldfrog on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 11:28:27 PM EST
"Average = appropriate" is typical authoritarian thinking. LOL

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 02:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Various Republican candidates attended a meeting of Club for Growth, and afterwards, National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru spoke to Cato Institute's President Ed Crane about what they said. This brief report from Ponnuru is simply extraordinary:

Crane asked if Romney believed the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind.

Mitt Romeny can't say -- at least not until he engages in a careful and solemn debate with a team of "smart lawyers" -- whether, in the United States of America, the President has the power to imprison American citizens without any opportunity for review of any kind. But in today's Republican Party, Romney's openness to this definitively tyrannical power is the moderate position. Ponnuru goes on to note:

Crane said that he had asked Giuliani the same question a few weeks ago. The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.

It sounds like Giuliani is positioning himself in this race as the "compassionate authoritarian" -- "Yes, of course I have the power to imprison you without charges or review of any kind, but as President, I commit to you that I intend (no promises) to 'use this authority infrequently.'"

Two of the three leading Republican candidates for President either embrace or are open to embracing the idea that the President can imprison Americans without any review, based solely on the unchecked decree of the President. And, of course, that is nothing new, since the current Republican President not only believes he has that power but has exercised it against U.S. citizens and legal residents in the U.S. -- including those arrested not on the "battlefield," but on American soil.

by das monde on Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 at 02:00:17 AM EST
great diary..

i had internet problems and was offline a few days, and so profited to read the first 3 chapters, having seen so many refs to the book here and at dkos.

it is well -even jauntily - written, as the author takes us down into the underworld of the collective human psyche, revealing some disturbing truths through intelligent statistical analysis.

pdf's involve a  lot of scrolling and zooming...

at public (private) school in the uk during the 60's, i was able to study this type, the first example being the rotc instructor, who was a case...

i realised how some people need a narrow mindset, as it gives them an illusion of more and better control....less floorspace to sweep, as it were.

a pride that stems from an extremely anal-retentive attention to detail, at the dreadful expense of the whole...

a logjammed mind, blocked with rigid, linear thought-forms, snarled up in cognitive dissonance.

my english father and grandfather were both strung out on 'unthinking duty', as were the good germans of the same era.

a forelock-tugging mentality, from centuries of underclass-consciousness.

except money became the new royalty between the generations; social climbing status became within reach of the underclass, provided they had the business acumen.

so while grandpa venerated the king, kitchener-style, dad grovelled before millionaires, and watching his body language before them was an educationally nauseating experience.

it helped that some were massage clients, and aging millionaires, stripped of their finery down to the buff, conjure little awe, lol!

it's about power, at the end of the day, and the ego's fear of the void.

it's only childish clinging to the 'mother's leg' of belief in its all-ness, and terror of annihilation, or return to forever, as it could be better phrased, perhaps...

this is also why the personal almost always trumps the political, except in times of cataclysm.

fear of dying motivates this obsession with quantification, with fetishisation of detail, with appearance over reality, veneer over substance.

being raised male in patriarchal cultures installs a sense of false entitlement, which can balloon into megalomania with the fuel of certain social preconditions.

this is why tibetan buddhism focusses on understanding the death process, for its ability to familiarise us with the idea of our own impermanence.

the native americans liked to meditate at the top of cliff-edges and high falls, until familiarity bred contempt for vertigo.

likewise, confronting our fears of dissolution are keys to achieving serenity, notwithstanding the tininess of our pretensions.

pre-tensions, hmmm....

spiritual education seems to be the key to unwinding the fear of 'non-existence',  perhaps the ultimate oxymoron!

as a culture we see millions of acted out deaths on tv, most very violent.

does this help us delude ourselves that death is another form of control?

actual, real death is not portrayed, and would probably be taboo  anyway!

sneak those coffins in at night!

kc, your growing ability to articulate your concepts is a joy and delight to behold and learn from.

this discussion and comments have been stellar, vintage, futuristic think-banking, cheers to all for thoughtful contributions and insightful observations.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 at 03:49:25 AM EST


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