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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ENLIGHTENMENT AND SOCIAL HOPE, Part 2

For Enlightenment by Kathie Malley-Morrison

by Stefan Schindler

Liberation from self-imposed immaturity is liberation from social conditioning.  Liberation from social conditioning is escape from Plato’s cave.  Escape from Plato’s cave involves appreciation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s tragic dictum that “man is born free, but is everywhere in chains” – what Eric Fromm calls “chains of illusion.”

To break the chains of illusion is to become what Albert Camus calls a “lucid rebel.”  A lucid rebel engages in Promethean protest against the vast ignorance that Buddha recognized as the primary cause of suffering.  Ignorance, Buddha said, manifests primarily as greed, hatred, craving, clinging, and delusion.

To overcome such ignorance is to embrace the point made by Karl Marx: “The demand to abandon illusions about our condition is a demand to abandon the conditions which require illusion.”

For example, the primary function of the U.S. military is make the world safe for the Fortune 500.  The primary function of U.S. education is to ignorate.  To awaken people to these nefarious facts, Martin Luther King declared: “Wealth, poverty, racism, and war – these four always go together.”

Hence the only way to move from an age of enlightenment to an enlightened age is to recognize that the four vices noted by King are inextricably entwined with pervasive political sophistry, a lapdog mainstream news media, and jingoistic pseudo-history in what Gore Vidal calls “The United States of Amnesia.”

Equally relevant here is Mark Twain’s observation: “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they are being fooled.”  Also worth noting is that Emerson, Twain, and William James were members of The Anti-Imperialism League.

The point is this: The U.S. will never be the country it ought to be – and will never be at peace, either at home or abroad – until it eliminates Presidential pardons, throws corporate and Presidential criminals in prison, conscientiously repents for America’s Indochina Holocaust (euphemistically called The Vietnam War), and dismantles the American empire (the largest and most globally devastating in world history).

It is therefore also necessary to transfer most of the Pentagon budget to an educational system in which schools and universities are gardens and palaces of self-actualization, artistic expression, authentic historical literacy, sophistry-detecting critical thinking skills, and cooperative creative evolution.

Posted in Armed conflict, Champions of peace, colonialism, culture of violence, Democracy, Genocide, imperialism, Nonviolence, politics, Protest, racism, Stories of engagement, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Path: Tears and Laughter through the Generations

By Kathie Malley-Morrison

The Path: Tears and Laughter Through the Generations By Barbara Malley and Kathie Malley-Morrison 2018

I have exciting news!  My mom and I have written a three-generation memoir, The aPath: Tears and Laughter through the Generations, which has just been published by Amazon. Here is what the announcement on Amazon.com has to say about it:

     The Path is a journey through the creative careers of three women writers from one family. Widowed at age 44 in the middle of the Great Depression, with three kids to raise, Ernestine Cobern Beyer’s goal of enhancing her meager income by selling her poems led to her career as one of the most popular children’s poets of the 20th century. Her daughter Barbara caught the writing bug and created rollicking stories of family foibles, personal misadventures, and boating and flying mishaps— which have entertained thousands of readers of her magazine articles, memoir (Take My Ex-Husband, Please—But Not Too Far) and her blog, Tears and Laughter at 90.blogspot.com.

Granddaughter Kathie has written largely on more serious issueswar and peacebut has also published stories on her blog, engagingpeace.com

Their memoir is amply illustrated with photos, sketches, and paintings to add color to their poetry and prose.

About the Authors

     Barbara Malley excels at making lemonade out of lemons. Is the horse on the loose and the goat in the lilacs? Is her younger son the greatest debater since Abraham Lincoln? Her rollicking tales invite laughter. Her heartaches—the loss of a daughter in an auto accident and the loss of a son to ALS—provoke sadness and empathy in any reader’s heart.  

     After decades of publishing scholarly books and articles for academic audiences, Barbara’s daughter Kathie Malley-Morrison is writing for a more general community, a community that cares about friends and family, a community that favors nonviolence over violence, a community that enjoys a good laugh but also a good cry. She reaches some of these people through her blog, engagingpeace.com, but hopes to reach more through this three-generational memoir, written with her mom in honor of all the family and friends who embrace her now and have gone before.

Posted in Book reviews, Champions of peace, Commemorating peace, Media, Poetry and the arts, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Enlightenment and Social Hope, Part 1

Searching for Enlightenment by Kathie Malley-Morrison

 

By  Stefan Schindler

In his 1784 essay on the nature of Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant declared: “Enlightenment is liberation from self-imposed immaturity.” He also noted that, if I may be so bold as to paraphrase, “We live in an age of enlightenment, but we do not yet live in an enlightened age.”

Kant’s observations ought to give us pause. They are worth pondering. They are as relevant today as they were in the late 18th century. To reflect upon them with the seriousness they deserve, we might begin by noting that one hundred years later, another German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said of the same Prussian country in which Kant wrote his revolutionary Critique of Pure Reason: “This nation has made itself stupid on purpose.”

Nietzsche’s observation applies to America today. So does the maxim by George Santayana: “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Let us then pause a moment to reflect upon the possibility – indeed, the necessity – of what Richard Oxenberg calls “heart-centered rationality.”

Heart-centered rationality is a way of referring to The Golden Rule, revived by Martin Buber in the Kantian-based ethics of his book I and Thou. Kant and Buber argue for the innate dignity of every person; a dignity worthy of respect. In order, then, to put an end to what the post-Kantian philosopher Hegel called “the slaughter-bench of history,” we need an ethical, educational, and cultural revolution; one in which cooperation has primacy over competition, and which embraces what the Dalai Lama calls “a common religion of kindness.”

Accordingly, we must recognize that our collective survival now depends upon a global commitment to what might best be called The Enlightenment Project. This, of course, returns us to Kant’s definition of enlightenment, which I will elaborate on in my next post, with reference to other major figures in the history of philosophy and the pursuit social justice.

Meanwhile, we might begin by noting that during America’s wars on Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Mark Twain declared: “America’s flag should be a skull-and-crossbones.” And when Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilization, he replied: “I think it would be a good idea.”

 

Posted in Champions of peace, colonialism, culture of violence, Democracy, Ethic of reciprocity, imperialism, Perspective-taking, politics, Protest, resistance, social justice, Stories of engagement, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment