Archive for December, 2012

The Lie The Tell Themselves

Often in the course of debate, I have such a hard time pinning down those who believe the “free market” (which is an indirect lottery) to see it is far from fair and just form of economic distribution, is because they are so willing to believe a lie. In this case the lie that the system is way more level than it actually is, those that believe “I did something and people paid me for it” is describing the subtle yet very real forces of sociology. Common sentiment are, “CEO/ Business owners worked hard to build their business” as if there were no laborers in their business. “I didn’t make these people poor, I provided them with jobs, they could have chosen to work elsewhere, and they took the offer I made them.” But that is a school of thought that so much lacks understanding of human psychology and sociology that it is darn near of the likeness to a sociopath. People believe all kinds of things about other different people that allows them to do some generally negative and dysfunctional behaviors. The consideration of other races of people are animals, or some less variety of human has lead the way to many wars and genocides. Republican pundits recently kept telling themselves that Romney would win, even though the chances for over a month before looked bleak. They had convinced themselves and their views that Obama was less than human. That he was a threat to their very existence. There is so much vested by some people in leadership choices, the thought of losing is incomprehensible. They want to believe they deserve more, so they accept a story that confirms it at face value.

Raw Examples of Social Experiments.
It is common to hear people exclaim, “Nobody held a gun to their head and make them do it.” But to think that only threat of harm is the only way to influence another person’s behavior is to reject 100 years of psychological understanding out of hand. Nobody held a gun to the “shockers” in Milgram’s experiments. Nobody forced the “guards” in the Stanford prison experiment (or in Abu Ghraib) to be mean, violent, or demean the students that were designated as “prisoners”. Many generations after the negative punishment of the Stephenson experiments with gorillas was removed, the anxiety still existed. When you have a single mom who lost her husband to a draft and a war who has to find out some way to care for her children, you don’t need a gun to get her to work for a dollar an hour. Those children witness their mother working for such low wages and when they feel the threat of financial ruin, they too accept that they have to work for low wages or die of starvation. When your other option is to return to your native country overrun by drug cartels, crimes, and corrupt governments, your option to live in a project shack, work for a dollar an hour, and collect welfare seems far superior.

What Causes One To Choose Inequality?
This is a question that in itself could be a post, if not a book. But forgoing the factors of life experiences that create different triggers and concentrating just on the mechanical meaning of the question, the answer can be summed. In order to get people to do something unjust, that subjugates them, and socializes them into something less than equal, one only needs to trigger their “Fight or flight” / fear mechanism, and then offer them hope the most desirable path. Remember we are driven by the pleasure principle. If you can control which options appears most pleasurable once all the consequences are weighed, then you can control their will. Sometimes informing them of an option they have never considered and using high pressure to force a quick decision is just the way to do it. Making a choice, even a bad one, has immediate good feelings involved. If a person made one with your help or urging, they can assign some pleasant feelings to you. Violence is only one method by which to trigger the fear mechanism. Fear of starvation, fear of being homeless, fear of social disgrace are all factors that violence cannot make one feel. Fear of these things happening to a child or loved one seems to compound the need for resolve. When that fear reaches an entire group, it spreads like wild fire. If you can find a segment of the society which is already riddled with destitution and fear, half your work is done. In the minds of many large business providers, they may even be able to think “I can help these people.” You can’t. There are no good options until they first help themselves. Nothing proves that more than the popping up of not only Wal-Marts, but “payday lenders” and now “internet cafe’ casinos as well. Breeding ever so slightest sprinkles of home for security, equality, and justice and many will flock to it like starving pigeons. People choose inequality because they feel they have no choices (and sometimes don’t) where they are equal. Sometimes the choices that will lead to equality are a matter that require the entire community to unite and work together. In those cases the few who break ranks earn reward, but at the cost of the whole community. A drug dealer is an extreme example of this. Everybody knows they are bad for the community. But a few do it because they see pleasure in it over the risks.

The Slave Example
So back in the late 1800’s a “business owner” could go to a market and buy a human being to do services for him. The term I was describing before is called “cognitive dissonance” which is how the mind justifies a contradiction. Now he (the cotton famer) could say that he simply purchased them because “Somebody was gonna do it”. Many would go on to boast about how good they were as salve owners. “I never hit or mistreat my slave. I treat him with respect, and I even put a new roof on that old chicken coop (Which I no longer allow chickens to live in) so he wouldn’t get wet when it rained. Good guy, right? So, if he has no threat of physical violence, why does the slave stay? Because where is he going to go. What are his other options? Outside the farmer’s protection, there are people who would be violent towards him or her. He can’t own land, go to school, earn money, ride on a bus, go to a hospital, or even in some cases teach himself to read. The Underground Railroad gave opportunity to so few slaves and many that it did were so afraid of the consequences if they got caught, that they chose to stay. They are Africans, adapt to surviving in a completely different environment. Oddly enough, on the day that Lincoln freed the slaves he didn’t do them any favors. Many stayed, because, where the are they gonna go? If they are fresh off the boat the only help would have been to deny anybody buying a human being. But after a generation or two here, even that is not a rational solution. They can’t “go back to Africa”. They have no natural environment that is truly “free” any longer. They are “free” to make the only choice available and of their knowledge. Before they earned the right to be equal, many generations saw and became comfortable living in less than socially acceptable conditions and by less than acceptable behaviors. Today’s projects are the results of transferred anxiety and behaviors dating all the way back to the time when we could buy humans.

The “Reality” That Is Still There In The Morning When You Wake
So there are many many ways other than direct threat of violence to force a choice on people. If there is a threat to the 3 basic needs, the mind will quickly launch into anxiety and troubleshooting mode. “How am I going to fend off this threat?” If you offer a less then equal, just, or humane option to address that threat when no other option exists or is viewed as too big of a risk, then you have control of their will. Even if they know it won’t bring pleasure, the opposite is true of the pleasure principle. “There is no free will. The path that is perceives to cause the least amount of pain will always be chosen.” When the republicans woke up in the morning, they all started organizing movements to secede. The reality is that they had backed the loosing leader, the world didn’t end, and time moves forward. But fear drive their actions. If you control the fear, you control the individual in most cases. if you control the fear of the whole community, you can have subjects as loyal as any who are captive to a gun.