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Monday, January 12, 2015

Fighting Authoritarianism

Bullying and "Right Wing Authoritarian" behavior aren't confined to right wingers, but is a primary issue in American Politics and one we have to combat rationally. Anyone following my series on Social Dominance and Right Wing authoritarian behavior knows that the attributes of RW people are that they are:

Authoritarian Followers

Authoritarian Followers are:
A. highly submissive to established authority,
B. aggressive in the name of that authority,and
C. conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide.
The described behaviors include:
Illogical thinking
Compartmentalization
Double Standards
Hypocrisy
Self Blindness
Ethnocentrism
Dogmatism

Social Dominators

And that the people they submit to are usually high scoring on "Social Dominator scales" which basically translate to "Exploitive Manipulative Amoral Dishonesty (EMAD)" behavior. The studies describe hierarchy formation, pecking order behavior, discrimination, oppression and bullying in society. None of the material is that new and all of it derives from studies that date to the 40's when behavioral scientists were trying to understand the madness of Totalitarianism, especially the Nazis. In addition to studying the appearance of the phenomena the studies also try to describe how that behavior is produced.

Pecking Orders

Essentially, what social dominance and submissive authoritarian behavior produce is a Pecking Order:

In a pecking order the top rooster dominates, pecks at, bullies and rules the roost. And the increasingly submissive and frightened chickens down the hierarchy suffer bullying, pecking, clawing, and ultimately an early death from the hierarchy. We eat the Chicken Chickens. Dominating animals (or people) pick on everyone with lower rank than they have. And the members of the hierarchy enforce the hierarchy by punishing any animals (or people) who don't "know their place." Authoritarianism is essentially an ideology based on Chicken hierarchies.

If we want to do something about it, then we have to learn what produces that behavior and what to do about it.

Two kinds of enemies to peace

The studies show that there are two kinds of people involved in authoritarianism, totalitarianism and oppression. One kind are the enablers and followers. The other kind are the alphas who lead them. Combatting the behavior of authoritarians means fighting two very different styles of thinking and reacting to the environment. Which means that if we are to produce a better governed society we have to have at least two prongs on our forks for fighting Authoritarianism. On the one hand we have to have tactics that encourage ordinary people to question and stand up to authority (A), reduce the fear that causes the "aggression in the name of that authority (B), and that encourages folks to be less afraid of the unconventional and more accepting of diversity (C). Dealing with authoritarian followers requires we find ways to get them to shift allegiance from Conniving dishonest leaders to people with genuine moral authority. That requires us to fight fear and hatred, false myths and.... At the same time we have to deal with the exploitive, manipulative, immoral (forget amoral) and dishonest people who lead them.

Authoritarian followers require one kind of strategy, but the EMAD leaders require a very different one.

Authoritarian Followers
Require confidence building, "getting to know you", "Kumbaya", getting folks together and talking type behavior. As well as efforts to combat nasty myths with more positive narratives. Unfortunately dealing with the followers requires defeating the manipulative scoundrels who they trust and followers and that requires a different kind of strategy.
Fighting EMADmen (Exploitive, Manipulative, Amoral, Dishonest) Authorities
There is no authoritarianism without such authorities. The real thing depends on expertise and confidence in what they are doing. But the authoritarian leader exudes confidence and pretend expertise on the subjects he dominates. Followers and manipulators alike will engage in mental gymnastics, defamation, sophism, but the manipulators know they are lying and the followers are usually just in profound denial about the truth out of fear of the "Other" and/or misplaced loyalty to authorities who claim to know how to herd them through troubles. That the shepherds are herding them over cliffs or to the slaughter never occurs to the follower.

Two different strategies that have to combine.
Thus if one can compromise and work with the Authoritarian Followers to calm their fears and get their brains engaged one must first overcome their blind attachment to their leadership. And that is not easy. Sometimes the leaders themselves can be won over, but first we have to be aware that they won't be won over by reason. It has to be self interest.

Anyway. I'm still working on this subject, but I wanted to state the bald outlines.

Refer to:http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/01/understanding-social-dominance-theory.html

Also read this article from "Raw Story:"

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/conservatives-fear-center-brain/
Not sure if the large fear center is a response to continual fear, or something genetic. Probably a "mind/body, genetics/nurture" thing with all four elements involved. Probably some folks are more prone to grow their fear centers in response to constant fear-mongering due to genetics. I suspect people with same genetics can be conditioned to respond to fear that way.

From Above article about fear response:

"A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives’ brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other “primitive” emotions. At the same time, conservatives’ brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate — the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism." [Raw Story]

And:

“It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes,” [Raw Story]

Genetic study:

"researchers at Harvard and UC-San Diego found that a variant of the DRD4 gene predisposes people to being liberal, but only if they had active social lives as adolescents. The “liberal gene” has also been linked to a desire to try new things, and other “personality traits related to political liberalism.”" [Raw Story]

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