POLITICAL MIND GAMES: How the 1% manipulate our understanding of what’s happening, what’s right, and what’s possible

 

Political Mind Games: How the 1% Manipulate Our Understanding of What’s Happ ening, What’s Right, and What’s Possible Mar 17, 2018 2 by Roy Eidelson

Note from KMM: Are you satisfied with the way things are going in this country today?  or wondering what the heck went wrong and why we seem to be in such a mess?  if you want some answers and want to know what to do about everything that has gone awry, read D. Roy Eidelson’s new book: POLITICAL MIND GAMES:  How the 1% manipulate our understanding of what’s happening, what’s right, and what’s possible.

Bonus feature: you can click on the image of the book and order your copy through Amazon.

Post by Roy Eidelson

Giant corporations are raking in record profits, while millions of Americans remain scarred by  nk and a recovery that has left them behind. Mammoth defense contractors push for more of everything military, while programs for the poor are on life support. Global polluters are blocking effective responses to climate change, while the disenfranchised suffer disproportionately from environmental disasters and devastation. Influential voices ridicule those who are disadvantaged by prejudice, by discrimination, and by dwindling resources. All the while, our middle class is shrinking, imperiled, and insecure. This is not the America most of us want.

It’s really no secret that certain individuals and groups — the Koch brothers, Walmart heirs, some Wall Street CEOs, prominent politicians (many Republicans, and some Democrats too), big-business lobbyists, right-wing think tanks, Fox News — use their wealth and influence to pursue a self-serving agenda that betrays the common good. Indeed, they’ve been doing it since long before Donald J. Trump moved into the White House. But what often flies under the radar is the extent to which they rely on psychologically manipulative appeals to advance their narrow interests at the expense of the rest of us. Examples include “The dangers of global warming are overblown,” “Voter fraud is a rampant injustice,” “Workers protesting low wages are devious and dishonest,” “We’ve earned every dollar and deserve your praise, not criticism,” and “Everyone will be helpless if gun reformers have their way.”

 In my new book, POLITICAL MIND GAMES: How the 1% Manipulate Our Understanding of What’s Happening, What’s Right, and What’s Possible, I explain the psychology behind the success of today’s plutocrats in marketing their false claims — and what we can do to counter them. Offering a research-based framework, I show how the 1% exploit five fundamental concerns that govern our daily lives: issues of vulnerability, injustice, distrust, superiority, and helplessness. These concerns are soft targets for manipulation because each is linked to a basic question we ask ourselves as we try to make sense of the world around us. Consider:

Are we safe? Whether as passing thoughts or haunting worries, we wonder if we’re safe, if the people we care about are in harm’s way, and if danger lurks on the horizon. Our judgments on these matters go a long way in determining the choices we make and the actions we take. But we’re not particularly good at assessing our vulnerability. Among the ways that the 1% use this shortcoming to their advantage is by promoting alarmist accounts of the perils associated with change.

Are we being treated fairly? Cases of mistreatment frequently stir our anger and our desire to bring accountability to those we hold responsible. But our perceptions of what’s just and what’s not are far from perfect. This makes us ripe for exploitation by those eager to shape our views of right and wrong. That’s a key tactic for today’s plutocrats, and portraying their own selfish actions as efforts to address injustice—on our behalf—is just one of their ploys.

Who should we trust? We tend to divide the world into people and groups we deem trustworthy and others we don’t. When we get it right, we can avoid harm from those who have hostile intentions, while building valuable relationships with those who enhance our lives. But here too our judgments are sometimes unreliable. Among the ways the 1% exploit our doubts is by intentionally fostering distrust in order to divide the ranks of their adversaries.

Are we good enough? We’re quick to compare ourselves to others, often with the hope of demonstrating that we’re worthy of respect or admiration. But the impressions we have about our own worth—and the positive or negative qualities we see in other people—are intrinsically subjective. As a result, they’re susceptible to manipulation. One way plutocrats capitalize on this is by insisting that those who are struggling to get by are simply inferior to the rest of us.

Can we control what happens to us? Feelings of helplessness can pose a substantial obstacle in both personal and collective initiatives. When we lack confidence in our capabilities, we’re more inclined to give up and abandon our goals, and less likely to show resilience in the face of setbacks. The 1% take advantage of this inclination in several ways, including by telling us that stark inequalities are the result of powerful forces beyond everyone’s control.

In responding to these questions, today’s plutocrats are masters at using duplicitous mind games—like “It’s a Dangerous World,” “No Injustice Here,” “They’re Different from Us,” “Pursuing a Higher Purpose,” and “Don’t Blame Us”—to lead us away from a more equal and more decent society. Their answers are designed to manipulate our perceptions and emotions while distracting us from careful evaluation of arguments and evidence. Rather than viewing concerns about vulnerability, injustice, distrust, superiority, and helplessness as guideposts for improving the general welfare, the 1% exploit them to advance their interests and derail effective opposition to their rule.

Political Mind Games was written with a clear purpose: to help inoculate the public against the 1%’s self-serving appeals. When we expose and debunk their mind games, the plutocrats’ empty rhetoric loses its allure, their selfish motives are laid bare, and everyone can see clearly how a privileged few have fleeced and forsaken the country—and the people—that made their enormous wealth and power possible. In turn, this recognition lays the groundwork for the coalition-building and collective action that can restore and reinvigorate our democratic principles and commitments.

Dr. Roy Eidelson has been a practicing clinical, research, and political psychologist for over thirty years. His work focuses on applying psychological knowledge to issues of social justice and social change. He is the former executive director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania, and a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He is also a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, which advocates against complicity in torture and in favor of restoring psychology’s commitment to do-no-harm ethics

 

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4 Responses to POLITICAL MIND GAMES: How the 1% manipulate our understanding of what’s happening, what’s right, and what’s possible

  1. LB says:

    “It’s really no secret that certain individuals and groups — the Koch brothers, Walmart heirs, some Wall Street CEOs, prominent politicians (many Republicans, and some Democrats too), big-business lobbyists, right-wing think tanks, Fox News — use their wealth and influence to pursue a self-serving agenda that betrays the common good. ”

    Also *most* Democrats. As well as CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, the BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, Huffington Post, Guardian and a bunch of others.

    As I type this, pressure is building for our president to feed the always-hungry industrial war machine by murdering more Syrians:

    “It’s important to understand that Western governments and media are not merely reacting to some “atrocity” this week, rather they have been geared-up for escalating a hot war on Syria since 2011, and even well before that. At every turn, a concerted effort have been made to downplay any reports which run counter to the US-led coalition’s narrative and to promote any claims or video footage supplied by Western-financed media producers like the White Helmets, Aleppo Media Center, and the SOHR (based in the UK), as three prime examples, but there are dozens of other outlets performing the same function. This command and control structure of the West’s ‘Syrian’ information network should be obvious by now. Instead, all we hear from the mainstream media is a steady chorus of “Assad’s Barrel Bombs,” followed by “Assad is butchering his own people,” and “Assad has killed 400,000 of his own people,” and “Assad and the Russians are targeting hospitals and schools and killing children.” Such talking points are often repeated, but never challenged.

    The last seven years has seen one of the most coordinated propaganda campaigns in history and, save for a few brave award-winning journalists like Seymour Hersh, John Pilger, Gareth Porter, there’s been little self-examination in the Western media. It’s as if there’s a party whip line in West where no one dares cross it for fear of being accused of being against “the children of Syria,” or being branded with derogatory McCarthyist labels like ‘Assadist’ and ‘Putinist,’ or the latest iteration, ‘white supremacist.’ Such slurs suit those whose mission it is to silence dissent against what is looking more and more like an official declaration of war by the US and UK against Syria, Russia and Iran.

    When you peel back all the pejoratives and political smears, however, what you are left with are the facts, and they are damning. But the problem is that you cannot find many facts in The Guardian, or the Washington Post; only polemics and narratives which are synonymous with the public policy positions of the US State Department and the UK Foreign Office. One reason is that these mainstream outlets do not have reporters on the ground in Syria, and if they do, they tend to be embedded with ‘rebel’ terrorist factions – which is the only side of the story which is being transmitted to Western audiences.” https://www.rt.com/op-ed/423846-syria-attack-trump-war-russia/

    https://fair.org/home/major-papers-urge-trump-to-kill-syrians-risk-world-war-iii/

    For details on ‘sources’ of chemical attack information:

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/how-the-syrian-american-medical-society-is-selling-regime-change-and-driving-the-u-s-to-war/

  2. LB says:

    There’s also this Truthdig article, which begins by discussing the US oligarch, Brian L. Roberts, the chairman & CEO of Comcast (which owns MSNBC):

    “Roberts is just one of dozens of powerful U.S. oligarchs. They compose a “U.S. ruling class” and preside over a “corporate state”—a couple more phrases one virtually never hears in mainstream U.S. media. One reason these oligarchs get little critical coverage and no systemic scrutiny is because—as in Russia—oligarchs are owners or major sponsors of mainstream media.

    Let me be clear, so as to not overstate things: Fox News hosts are free to tarnish certain oligarchs, Democratic ones like George Soros—and MSNBC hosts gleefully go after Republican oligarchs like the Mercers and the Koch brothers.

    But to get a clear and comprehensive view of the workings of the U.S. political system (aka “U.S. oligarchy”), I have a suggestion: Disconnect from MSNBC, CNN, Fox and other corporate news sources and turn instead to high-quality, independent progressive media.”

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/where-are-all-the-u-s-oligarchs-with-links-to-washington/

    I also recommend the excellent series by WSWS (World Socialist Web Site) on “The CIA Democrats”:

    “An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.

    If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress.

    Both push and pull are at work here. Democratic Party leaders are actively recruiting candidates with a military or intelligence background for competitive seats where there is the best chance of ousting an incumbent Republican or filling a vacancy, frequently clearing the field for a favored “star” recruit.”

    Parts 1, 2 and 3 can be accessed through this link:

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/07/dems-m07.html

  3. LB says:

    Based on this post, and in choosing to leave out any mention of the ‘political mind games’ of neoliberal MSM news sources, and the ways in which the political game itself is played by the majority of left-wing Democrats in support of our oppressive, imperialist system ~ someone reading this could reasonably infer Dr. Eidelson is saying we ought to rely on and place our trust in the MSM and Democrats to meaningfully articulate and represent the interests of the 99%.

    If that’s the case, I, along with a growing number of others, disagree.

    In an article titled, “Pro-War Press Is the Real Scandal, Not Cambridge Analytica” by Daniel Lazare, he begins with the following paragraph:

    “The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal is simple. To understand what it means, all you have to do is take everything you’ve read about it in The Guardian, The New York Times or at CNN and stand it on its head—or, as Marx would say, on its feet.”

    Later in the article, the author goes on to say:

    “It would be disturbing—if true, that is. But it’s not. The real story is not about how Cambridge Analytica used dark arts to swing the 2016 election but how the press, led by an endlessly Russophobic Guardian, has exaggerated the firm’s skills in order to manipulate the public into believing that Putin is a latter-day Svengali who must be stopped by all means necessary. Although Americans may be too shellshocked by this point to notice, they are now the subject of an unparalleled propaganda blitz about nerve agents in Salisbury, poison gas in Syria and internet manipulation that is now threatening to lead to all-out war.”

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/cambridge-analytica-scandal-goes-down-the-paranoia-hole/

    There’s also the matter of McCarthy-like blacklisting, censorship, and silencing of dissent being supported by the neoliberal MSM, Democrats, Republicans and ruling elite.

  4. LB says:

    “Based on this post, and in choosing to leave out any mention of the ‘political mind games’ of neoliberal MSM news sources, and the ways in which the political game itself is played by the majority of left-wing Democrats in support of our oppressive, imperialist system ~ someone reading this could reasonably infer Dr. Eidelson is saying we ought to rely on and place our trust in the MSM and Democrats to meaningfully articulate and represent the interests of the 99%.”

    I need to correct myself. In re-reading the article, I realize these may have been your words, kathie, not Dr. Eidelson’s. If so, I wonder if he agrees with what you seem to be implying, and if you based your brief summation on themes from the book. Either way, and whoever said it, I still disagree.

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