How The Mind Justifies Ideological Violence

“Dangerous ideologies erupt when these faculties fall into toxic combinations. Someone theorizes that infinite good can be attained by eliminating a demonized or dehumanized group. A kernel of like-minded believers spreads the idea by punishing disbelievers. Clusters of people are swayed or intimidated into endorsing it. Skeptics are silenced or isolated. Self-serving rationalizations allow people to carry out the scheme against what should be their better judgment.”

Steven Pinker: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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How To Spread An Unpopular Ideology?

…the really big body counts in history pile up when a large number of people carry out a motive that transcends any one of them: an ideology. Like predatory or instrumental violence, ideological violence is a means to an end. But with an ideology, the end is idealistic: a conception of the greater good.”

Steven Pinker: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

In the first part of the post we described how ideas become more polarised and opinion groups have a tendency to become more extreme in their opinions over time. In the end a great many people may end up conforming with an unpopular view – even if it contradicts their own eyes.  Continue reading “How To Spread An Unpopular Ideology?”

Conditional Morality And Cynicism In The Authoritarian Mind

One of the symptoms of unfree thinking is conditional morality – the view that one cannot afford to apply everyday moral standards under the circumstances. So when they look for guidance as to what is right and wrong, the will of the oppressor will fill the gap left behind by morality.

It is often covered up by cynicism, which is an obvious façade for the underlying sense of helplessness. Rebranding things from “I don’t even try” to “It couldn’t be done” is a way to rationalize as well as to pose as competent in the face of the crippling sense of helplessness. Continue reading “Conditional Morality And Cynicism In The Authoritarian Mind”

You Blame Them Because You Can’t Help Them

The human mind abhors the absence of control – and does everything in its power to avoid the sense of helplessness. When it cannot avoid it, it performs mind tricks to not to have to acknowledge it. One of these tricks is never seeking fault in the stronger, and never taking the side of the underdog, not even by accident. If you happen to agree with the stronger, there is no need to intervene. Lucky because you couldn’t do it if you wanted to.

Victim blaming and seeking fault in the underdog in general are mental efforts to maintain the illusion of control. Victim blaming is just its most conspicuous symptom, but disdain for the weak and the underdog is not limited to that. Continue reading “You Blame Them Because You Can’t Help Them”

Where Is Freedom in the Hierarchy of Needs?

We regard freedom as a luxury, only to be sought when all else is safe and secure – but it may be the other way around. The lack of freedom makes it harder to make money – and secure our livelihood. And ultimately, the lack of political freedom makes it hard to breathe – ask political prisoners hung for their views.  Continue reading “Where Is Freedom in the Hierarchy of Needs?”

Those Who Depend – Love

Some argue that Stockholm syndrome or ‘dependence bonding’ is hard to study because it is rare. But what if it is a basic tendency of human nature – only we don’t pay attention to it when it seems ‘logical’. Like when someone bonds with the person, who cares for them. We only notice it when someone bonds with an aggressor. Even though both are examples of dependence bonding.

Bonding can be achieved by threats and oppression – and the victim will find it hard to tell it from actual love that is deserved by merit and appeal. It has massive political implications for the transition to freedom and consolidating it.

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Fear and Helplessness in Politics

There are three layers to unfreedom or authoritarian thinking that is sweeping the world today.

1) On the surface…

…we can see populism, xenophobia, racism, extremism, anti-semitism, eroding support for democracy and human rights, and self-appointed strongmen promising illiberal states – and it is tempting (and immediately rewarding) to jump on these symptoms.

Unfreedom can take many shapes, but it would be naïve to believe that the rush towards the usual, instinctive solutions (left- or rightwing populism, religionism, nationalism, protectionism, communitarianism, authoritarianism, socialism etc.) cover vastly different things. Continue reading “Fear and Helplessness in Politics”

Loving Growth – Not Freedom

When the legitimacy of the regime is based on its (economic) performance – not freedom- the decline of the economy erodes the appetite for freedom.

“It takes six months to change a political regime, six years to change the economy and at least 60 years to change society.”

Ralf Dahrendorf, 1990

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How Oppressive Regimes Rob Their Victims of Their Sense of Agency

The term “Stockholm syndrome” may cross your mind every time victims defend the indefensible: their own oppression, domestic violence, a dictatorship. And you may be right. People don’t have separate reactions in store for political and personal oppression. The mechanism for survival is the same. Continue reading “How Oppressive Regimes Rob Their Victims of Their Sense of Agency”