Sunday, November 04, 2007

Authoritarian Consciousness in American Democracy|ren

Well this makes the third installment of our exploration of ren's posts. The final post of ren's has taken longer for me to get into the groove from our most recent deep discussions on the subject of: "can a free market be forward looking and thus proactive to crisis that could or will face humans in the future" as compared to how markets are reactive by changes in the economy and society. This definitely had me thinking on several different levels. But without further delay...
I see where in a Media Lens, on line article by David Edward, A Warning From Auschwitz, he cites references from the seventies, a period where consciousness about our societal authoritarianism had been raised. A consciousness that has been under severe attack since then, I would say. It's at the heart of the values battle that must be rejoined by those who have given in to the traditional values being crammed back down our throats. Part of my signature line at Thom's states: “The only right you don’t have in a democracy is the right not to be offended.”
This is definitely a pattern for ren. He somehow thinks that consciousness can somehow be under attack. How can thoughts be under attack if not by better ideas? This whole post of course shows his extreme fear of 'authoritarianism'. He even approaches complete strangers and either assumes they are authoritarian or comes right and asks them as such. While the last hypothesis may be questioned I still have to wonder how values be "crammed back down our throats"? As being part of our multi-cultural and diverse society we are constantly exposed to values that we may or may not agree with. I mean for those sensitive to pornography will see those values or lack of values shoved down their throats all the time. What are we to do? Eliminate some freedoms so that they can feel 'safe' from other value systems?
It is certainly dangerous for a state when its citizens have a conscience; what it needs is men without conscience, or, better still, men whose conscience is quite in conformity with reasons of state, men in whom the feeling of personal responsibility has been replaced by the automatic impulse to act in the interests of the state.
Well if the interest of the government as elected by our liberal democracy is aligned with my interests then why should I not also have conformity with reasons of the government? Of course I changed the nouns to reflect that yes governments can provide benefits to the citizens and that the power of the 'state' or police state as I often call it may have interests that are outside the interests of nearly all parties of the nation.
This is, in a nutshell, the return to "traditional family values" movement that makes up the bulk of the Christian fundamentalism on the right. But the critical thing to take note of is not that this is safely instituted with only the fundamentalists, but is institutionalized in the culture. Some have been breaking free and the result has been a home environment that tends more towards egalitarianism and nurturing, with engendered mutual respect for all in the family, males, females, adults, children, with a trend away from leadership mindsets towards a partnership sharing of responsibilities. This involves a deep cultural change in the values of work itself. A monster task in the face of existing cultural institutions. This type of home environment develops the physical and mental conditioning in individuals that becomes the basis for the "evil liberalism" that has been so successfully demonized in the past twenty years or so.
Well I guess we live in an open society, and it is not like people live in caves and not exposed to what many people consider pornography all around us and being forced on the innocents as well as the guilty.

Well if it is evil like Communism then yes we should identify it as such. And of course the writer does not recognize that demonizing of all political groups is done on others. Just look through rens posts to see the "evil neocons".
Eisler seems to have seen the need to drop the gender pointing term: "patriarchy" and has transformed it to "dominator", at least in part I suspect because she sees that the women have been as responsible for maintining the system as men, thus gender is irrelevent. It's also a subtle use of language to move away from the victimization that is cognitively imbedded in everyone who conforms to the system. And that includes many people who consider themselves liberal, democrats, communists, or any number of other left identifiers, in other words it's systemic, not political and the challenge is to raise the general consciousness again about it, terrifying as that will be for those who now have the bit between their teeth.
This passage just reminds me that those that are afraid of something, they tend to find it at every turn. They in addition tend to speak in those terms. Like Marxists also talk about inequality and thus they see it everywhere to justify their views.
But in our society exactly this self-surrender is promoted and affirmed by the fact that it is demanded of us by every corporation that 'employs' us

Eisler and many others (including George Lakoff's strict parent/nurturing parent paradigm) are saying now that the conditioning for this starts in the home, continues in the schools and prepares the population for this self surrender to the work life of being in an essentially rightless chain of command environment most of their lives, thus giving little time to the questioning of whether it can or even ought to be any other way.
Again we go back to the controller and the controlled in our society. Instead of recognizing the ability of people to pick their careers or to start their own business. Hell, we slaves only work 40 or so hours a week. If we don't have time to think of other possibilities then maybe we are truly slaves that have chosen our bonds.

The other day I was thinking about the fact that the UAW is such a strong and powerful union, I could not see why they could not with the help of union members buy out at least one auto company. For example the market cap of Ford (F) is around $15.3 billion and there is over 1/2 million active members of the UAW thus just over $30,000 for each member to come up with not counting their war chests UAW Dues at Work. I wonder what Marx would think of that. Thus the 'means of production' can be easily owned in our society if 'labor' so desired it. Their only chains are their own inability to invest and risk capital like capitalists do on a daily basis.
What I find fascinating is the way Eisler takes this common, traditional societal perspective, the strict parent, dominator perspective, and sees it as a form of legitimized abuse. She traces it back to neolithic times in many of her works, starting with the Chalice and the Blade, and shows how humans have developed dominator style societies in place of what once were far more egalitarian, even the early agriculture based ones, which I once believed were the root of hierarchical dominance. Fascinating and very scholarly, but approachable by anyone. Well worth the exploration.
As some of the other posts have pointed out, hierarchy reared its ugly head when man planted seeds. That was the root of all evil-evil capitalist that wanted to secure the lives of their children and ancestors. And to provide a home and comfort so that he could accumulate the pleasures of society and even have time to explore his mind.
She suggests that the result of this characteristic societal abuse (and many of us have not been abused in this way at home, thus we may at heart be the "evil liberals" no matter what our political affiliation) is a "social trance". It's similar to what's been found, clinically, to happen in the more extreme cases of child abuse, where :

"the psyche of the abused child is similar to what happens in a hypnotic trance. People in Hypnotic trances are so influenced by another's suggestions -- or more properly, commands -- of what they should think, feel, and do that they suppress their own perceptions, feelings, and even will. But in the case of a chronically abusive childhood, this substitution of another's view of reality for one's own becomes habitual. Even one's own abuse, one's own pain, and one's own outrage at such injustice gradually become unreal, repressed into the deepest recesses of one's unconscious mind, or -- as required to maintain a dominator system -- legitimized as the way things are supposed to be." Sacred Pleasure, Sex Myth and the Politics of the Body Riane Eisler, 1995, p. 186

Any of that sound familiar?
Nope none at all. If you see the world as class struggles you will see it as such. But I do have to love the 'societal abuse'. Don't you feel abused? If not we have the cure for not feeling that.

These symptoms remind me of the Southpark episode World Wide Recorder Concert.
Meanwhile, Mr. Garrison has confronted his father about the issues of sexual molestation, however, the issue was not that his dad had molested him, but rather that he felt neglected because his father had not touched him. When Mr. Mackey finds out about this, he fears Mr. Garrison Jr. is so distraught about the issue that he could actually die if Mr. Garrison Sr. doesn't molest him.


And now for another perspective on this nihilistic thoughts I close with the article (without comment):
Baby Boomers Owe Young People an Apology
One was, "Never trust anyone over 30." Our infantile attitude toward adult authority has inflicted great harm on you. Because of it, many baby boomers decided not to become adults, and this has had disastrous consequences in your lives. It deprived you of one of the greatest needs in your life -- adults. That in turn deprived you of something as important as love -- parental and other adult authority. With little parental authority, you were left with little personal security, few guardrails and a diminished sense of order in life. And we transferred this denial of authority to virtually all authority figures, from teachers to police.
...
We also made you weak. We did everything possible to ensure that you suffered no pain. Sometimes we changed game scores if a team was winning by too large a margin; we abolished dodgeball lest anyone suffer early removal from the game; and we gave trophies to all of you who played on baseball teams, no matter how awfully you or your team played so that none of you missed getting a trophy while members of another team did. Much of this was thanks to the self-esteem-without-having-to-earn-it movement, which in our generation's almost infinite lack of wisdom we inflicted upon you. Sorry for that, too.

We also apologize for coming close to ruining so many of your schools and universities. Despite the unprecedented sums of money we had America spend on education, most of you got an education quite inferior to the one we got at a fraction of the cost. But we thought of our teachers as fools (they were, after all, over 30) who just concentrated on reading, writing and arithmetic (and history, music and art). We were sure we knew better and we therefore concentrated on sexual issues, and teaching you about peace, global warming and the horrors of smoking. The fact that few high school graduates can identify Mozart, let alone were ever exposed to his music, is far less significant to many baby boomers than your knowledge of the alleged perils of secondhand smoke. Most of you cannot identify Stalin either, and we are sorry for that, too. But, hey, we did make sure you saw Al Gore's film.
...
And, young women, we apologize especially to you. Many of us baby boomers bought into the feminist idea that getting married and making a family with a man were far less fulfilling than career success and that marriage itself is "sexist" and "patriarchal." So, to those of you women who have career success and didn't get married, we sincerely apologize. Turns out that most careers aren't as fulfilling as we promised.

So we really blew it, and what's really amazing is that few of us have changed our minds. Most people get wiser as they get older. But not those of us baby boomers who still believe these things. Of course, many of us never bought into these awful ideas that have so hurt you and our country, and some of us have grown up. But many of us still talk, think, dress and curse the same as we did in the '60s and '70s. And we're still fighting what we consider the real Axis of Evil: American racism, sexism and imperialism.

But for those of us who know the damage baby boomers as a whole did to you, a heartfelt apology.


Links:
Authoritarian Consciousness in American Democracy

A Warning From Auschwitz

Riane Eisler

Partnership in Action/Riane Eisler

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