From Outer Space, Three Guideposts for the Resistance

Source: Public Domain (adapted).

by Roy Eidelson

Later this summer, millions of Americans — from Oregon to South Carolina — will be looking skyward to witness a rare total solar eclipse as the moon briefly blots out the sun. Yet for so many in the United States, dark days aren’t really anything new. And they’re becoming all the more commonplace as Trump, Ryan, and McConnell advance a heartless agenda that dims the lights on pretty much everyone except the privileged few.

Fortunately, resistance groups have been working around the clock to blunt this ongoing assault on basic decency and the public good. They have a different reason to turn to the heavens: chronicles of aliens from outer space offer some valuable lessons about psychological challenges that lie ahead. Let’s consider three examples.

Our first stop is Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. On an autumn night back in 1938, thousands of radio listeners thought the Orson Welles adaptation of “The War of the Worlds” was the real thing: a live account of Martian invaders landing nearby.

Panic ensued for those fooled by the broadcast’s air of authenticity – complete with “we interrupt our program” news bulletins. Some frantically called the local police to find out what protective steps they should take. Others fled from their homes seeking safety farther from the reported invasion site. Some fainted beside their radios. Within hours the hoax was revealed, but this “brush with death” remains a memorable testament to human gullibility.

The lesson from Grover’s Mill? Since we’re not very good at judging peril, we can be easy prey for those who resort to scare tactics to achieve their goals. Manipulative fearmongering is often used by politicians to garner votes or prop up sagging poll numbers. Trump and his entourage wouldn’t be the first to gain broad support and dutiful obedience by raising the specter of mushroom clouds over our cities or other nightmarish scenarios. Indeed, invented crises and wars of aggression have long been popular ploys with leaders who seek to benefit from the collective rush toward blind patriotism.

Our second stop is Lake City, USA. On a December night in 1954, Mrs. Marian Keech (an alias) and her band of disciples awaited the landing of a flying saucer from the planet Clarion. As recounted in the social psychology classic When Prophecy Fails, they confidently sought salvation from the massive flood that they believed would soon submerge much of the country. Convinced by Mrs. Keech’s purported contact with superior beings, some followers left their jobs and others gave away their money and possessions in preparation for their fateful journey. When neither the aliens nor the deluge ever arrived, this small doomsday cult — bound together by shared convictions — concluded that their faith and devotion had led higher powers to save the world from its scheduled destruction.

The lesson here is that we shouldn’t expect Trump’s ardent supporters to abandon him simply because he pursues policies that actually hurt rather than help them. Especially if they’re surrounded by like-minded devotees, many will instead embrace his “alternative facts” and his false claims about “fake news.” This is because, psychologically, the desire for consistency in our beliefs and actions often leads us to interpret the world in whatever ways most readily reduce any dissonance we feel. That’s why, for instance, the cigarette smoker who’s told his habit could be deadly may convince himself that the scientific research is flawed — it’s easier than quitting. Likewise, misplaced political loyalties can persist indefinitely, without the adherents ever recognizing how far they’ve gone astray.

Our final stop is Maple Street, USA, the fictional setting for a 1960 episode of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. When a mysterious roar and flash of light disturb a quiet summer evening, a young boy warns that creatures from outer space have arrived in human form. His notion seems farfetched until lights, phones, and automobiles stop working up and down the block. At first neighbors unite in a search for answers. But soon they’re accusing each other of plotting an extraterrestrial invasion. As mob violence erupts, one alien watching from above explains to another, “All we need do is sit back and watch…Their world is full of Maple Streets. And we’ll go from one to the other and let them destroy themselves.”

The lesson from Maple Street is clear: “divide and conquer” is a tried-and-true psychological ploy when it comes to ruthlessly — and selfishly — controlling the lives and prospects of other people. It’s no different for Trump. Whenever he can, he’ll encourage distrust and hostility within and among opposition groups, preying on our differences to stymie the forging of new alliances and broad-based movements against him. Likewise, he’ll ramp up his brutal selective targeting — of Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and others — as a way to scapegoat the most vulnerable among us and thereby misdirect the blame for his own failings.

Although the total solar eclipse on August 21st will only last two minutes, the Trumpian days of darkness show little sign of abating. The three guideposts described here, drawn from not-so-close encounters with extraterrestrials, can help light the way forward. First, don’t fall for Trump’s scare tactics. Second, don’t count on his zealous followers to waver. And third, let’s stick together no matter how he tries to divide us.

About the Author

 

Posted in Armed conflict, Book reviews, Donald Trump, Media, Patriotism, politics, Propaganda, Protest, racism, resistance, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hear-ye, Hear-ye, Read all about it!

By Kathie MM

Last Saturday, June 17, 2017, on a miserably wet day, multitudes of women marched in New York City.

Their purpose? Rallying for a United Nations ban on the use, development, and sale of nuclear weapons.

Support for such a ban, like support for efforts to deal with climate change, may be essential to the survival of most of the remaining species on earth, including human beings.

However,  effective banning of the bomb faces enormous obstacles. Foremost is the opposition of all member countries already possessing nuclear weapons—including the United States.

Fortunately, many courageous women—and their male supporters—have faced daunting obstacles in the past and have overcome them.

Step back. Imagine what it must have been like for women in this country when:

  • they could not vote,
  • advocating for a right to vote could mean a term in prison or an insane asylum,
  • divorcing an abusive husband meant losing your children,
  • distributing contraception aids or advertising safe abortions was a criminal offense,
  • higher education was pretty much out of bounds, and
  • while poverty was rampant, nearly every kind of job was closed to women except domestic work and prostitution (which was more lucrative but also a pathway to prison).

Perhaps you have heard the names of some of the women (e.g., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull) who worked, often at great personal cost, to challenge these injustices.

If you want to immerse yourself in the lives of those women and others (e.g., Susan B. Anthony) as they struggled against widespread oppression and persecution (personified by the smug zealot Anthony Comstock), read Marge Piercy’s Sex Wars.

The novel is riveting, with rich and well-researched characterizations of Cady Stanton and Woodhull–courageous, passionate, sometimes conflictual, flawed, admirable human beings–and the nefarious Anthony Comstock (who devoted his life to sending uppity women to jail ), as well as the inimitable fictional immigrant, Freydeh Levin.

Read it for an intimate and engrossing engagement in a culture awash with violent prejudices, run by a cabal of rich and powerful white men able to postpone but not prevent the protest movement for women’s rights.

Read it, be grateful for the progress that’s been made,, and ask what you can do for…

  • Peace,
  • Survival of the earth, and
  • Human rights.

 

Posted in Book reviews, Democracy, Human rights, Nonviolence, politics, Poverty, Prisons, Protest, resistance, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where have all the fathers gone

Profiteer: THE WAR IS OVER, MY BOY. FORGET IT! Cartoon in “Life” Magazine, March 10 1919 p. 349 Via. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

by Anthony J. Marsella

On this day honoring fathers, too many fathers have been and are being lost to war.

General Smedley Butler’s words from 1935, in his book “War is a Racket” reminds us of who is benefitting from war, and who are the victims across time and today.

If so many are against war, why do wars continue with such savagery and tragic consequence. Cui Bono?

In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.  (Wikipedia)

Time to end the racket?

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.

 

Posted in capitalism, Champions of peace, imperialism, Military-industrial complex, Pacifism, politics, Protest, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting to peace and social justice

Anti-nuclear arms protesters display a banner during the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) rally at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. April16,2011. Author: Brian Stansberry

By Anthony Marsella

Here  is a straightforward list of actions and policies to promote peace amidst the madness of pursuing destruction and war for the apparent rewards of empire, economic, and delight in immorality and illegality.

Productive Foreign Policy and Domestic Options, Choices, Alternatives: Paths to Peace and Social Justice

  • Acknowledge the national security of the USA is best secured by pursuing and modeling peace, not by engaging in constant accusations and enemification of nations, cultures, religions, and people;
  • Address and resolve domestic inequities and inequalities in wealth, power, and position. Create new policies for equity and opportunity;
  • Address and limit monopolies (e.g., Big Agro, Big Pharm, Big Health, Big Transportation, Big Education, etc.) because these monopolies concentrate power, and they become impossible to control – “Too big to fail.”
  • Address the reality of USA decline in reputation and image by stopping the pursuit of a global empire;
  • Adopt a “Never Again” policy and practices for all countries, by all countries. “Never again” must not be limited to a single group or nation;
  • Apologize and ask for forgiveness in a public forum. Express intention to no  longer pursue violence and war as national policy;
  • “Be the nation you want others to be;”
  • Build museums, monuments, holidays, and tributes to peace. Stop glorification of war;
  • Cease all vilification of Muslims and Muslim nations;
  • Condemn and prosecute apartheid;
  • Choose and support non-violent and non-killing protests and social changes;
  • Circulate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  (UDHR) to all schools and governments as an accepted guide;
  • Close Guantanamo, and other “war on terrorism”  prisons, camps, and rendition sites;
  • Destroy all weapons of mass destruction Nuclear, Toxic, Gas, etc);
  • Develop Department of Peace as an official standing cabinet office separate from State or Defense Departments;
  • Develop a metric to assess and prosecute USA international abuses and crimes;
  • Develop metrics to assess USA contributions to advancing humanity and the natural sectors. Assess metrics constantly;
  • Develop, implement, and empower UN conflict resolution office;
  • Develop ethic/ethos of global interdependency;
  • Diplomacy dialogue, rather than military force or violent interventions;
  • Educate women and children, and re-educate men;
  • Empower UN, and improve its functions and roles;
  • End corporate political election influence, control, and dominance;
  • End global surveillance and restore privacy and constitutional rights;
  • Increase governmental transparency and accountability;
  • International loan forgiveness;
  • Join and cooperate with international courts;
  • Limit “imperial” president powers as reflected in abuses of signing statements;
  • Limit lobbyist influence and control of public offices;
  • Limit Presidential terms of office to six years;
  • Limit Congressional terms of office to eight years. End seniority system of power;
  • Limit military-industrial-congressional- education complex powers;
  • Non-Contingent humanitarian aid and assistance, rather than contingent aid;
  • Practice humility, apology, and forgiveness;
  • Prosecute American war and military crimes to national and international laws;
  • Public apology for violent and destructive national and international policies and actions (e.g. NATO);
  • Reconsider political and economic treaties that isolate and marginalize nations (e.g., TPP) and seek hegemonic control (e.g., Russia, China);
  • Resist military solutions to conflicts and disagreements – choose diplomacy;
  • Restore balance of power across executive, congressional, and justice sectors. Dominance of the executive branch under the auspices of protecting national security has been abused, and has proven a failure and crime;
  • Restorative justice to victims;
  • Restrict central banking model of financial control over nations’ debt;
  • Review immediate and long-term consequences of DHS/NSA Abuses;
  • Stop “for profit” prisons, and their associated judicial corruption;
  • Speak truth, do not distort or exaggerate, practice transparency;,
  • Use “Justice” as an arbiter for decisions;

From: A.J.Marsella (2014).Two Paths in the Wood: “Choice” of Life or War. First published in Transcend, 27 October 2014. TRANSCEND MEMBER

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.

 

 

Posted in Armed conflict, capitalism, colonialism, culture of violence, Democracy, Human rights, imperialism, Media, Military-industrial complex, national security state, Nonviolence, politics, Poverty, Prisons, Protest, racism, Reconciliation and healing, resistance, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment