Category Archives: Politics

The Bigotry Of Personality

The Fable Of The Monkey And The Pig

A pig and a monkey were sitting in the commons, enjoying the freedom given to them by their glorious country. It was only weeks until a new government would be elected and the topic turned to the presidency.

“I may trot for government!” oinked the pig to the monkey, in exclamation.

“You?” replied the monkey, incredulously, tittering hopelessly as he scratched an annoying itch on his shoulder.

“Of course!” grunted the pig, “And why not?”

“No need to be like that,” explained the monkey, “After all, isn’t it obvious?”

“Just what are you saying?” snuffled the pig, indignant.

“Well please then,” the monkey replied, expectantly, “explain to me what would make you a good president?”

The pig snorted, and trotted in a small circle before breaking into an elaborate presentation. “Well I’m just as good as anyone, and that’s just for a start. I’ve been thinking, there are much better ways to feed all the animals. And moreso, WHY are all the candidates monkeys anyway? It’s not fair, not fair at all,” and at this she squealed and plonked herself down hard on the dirt.

“Well, you see,” retorted the monkey, “it’s not enough just to have good ideas. The position of president requires more than being smart. It requires dignity and tact, of which, you clearly lack. For instance, why dost thou snort so oft? How do you think other farms would see us if you were in charge? It may not seem fair, but such a role requires certain, attributes, that must come before, so called, equality and good ideas.”

“But WHY,” the pig grunted angrily, “WHY are all the candidates monkeys? Isn’t that unjust? Tell me that my friend!”

“Now,” the monkey responded with seemingly natural serenity, “I’m not one to say that a pig COULDN’T run for presidency. IF a pig was to have the right manners, and the right constitution, surely they would be given just as much opportunity as ANY animal. Alas, so many I’ve met do seem to lack heavily in, shall we say, communication. It would just never do in such a world.”

“Harumph, my friend! Harumph,” exclaimed the pig raising her snout high, “What of equality then? Do you say there is no such thing in the real world?”

“Why of course, my friend,” replied the monkey, sitting back on his two hind legs. Waving a hand, in an explanatory manor, he continued, “There IS equality. And any animal, be that monkey, pig, goose, or ANY other animal, is perfectly at liberty to run for government, JUST so long as they teach themselves to ACT in the appropriate manor, just like all these monkeys have done.” With that he waved his hand in a general way, to imply that he was talking of the caucus proper.

The pig stamped her feet. She snorted through her snout. She looked piercingly into the monkeys eyes. “Well one of these days, I WILL be president, just you wait and see,” she said finally.

At this, the monkey took a step back, reproachingly. “Now, now, my friend. No need to make idle threats. All I’m doing is explaining to you how the world works, don’t put the blame on me if it doesn’t suit your choices. Getting angry won’t get you anywhere. And with that, I bid you adieu, good friend.” Having said so, the monkey and the pig parted ways.

The pig trotted back home to the trough from which she and the other pigs would feed. As she approached for her evening meal, some monkeys were filling the trough with slop.

“I say,” said one monkey to the other, “rather not sure why we have to give all this slop to the pigs. What do they do for us after all?”

“Well would you eat it?” joked the other, poking the first monkey in the ribs.

“Oh, of course not,” said the first, hooting at his joke, “I eat at a table, like ALL good mannered animals.”

“So what does it matter than, eh?” furthered the other, questioningly.

“Well, it’s just, if pigs are to eat our food too, I just don’t see why they shouldn’t try a little harder to fit in. After all, they don’t HAVE to eat at this trough, they’re perfectly welcome at the table too, if they were to learn the proper ways of behaving. None of this grunting and stamping nonsense. It’s really not that hard,” the first replied indignantly.

“Perhaps you’re right,” concluded the other, “If only they acted more like monkeys none of this would have to happen at all.”

Moral: Monkeys can go fuck themselves.

So much of what we say and believe goes unexamined in life. People, as I see it, tend to live between two versions of reality. The first is the patently bigoted reality, in which one openly declares hatred for other people. Live in this world, and surely you will be rightly declared a bigot by society, even while you enjoy some comfort amongst others of a similar nature.

At the other end of the scale, is the imagined reality of total equality, in which “all men live as brothers” (and if you can’t see the obvious problem with that common phrase then you’re not really paying attention). Mostly and largely, I think it’s fair to say, that most people would, at least ostensibly, agree with this stand point. Even if it’s purely for purposes of self interest and wanting to maintain the delusion that each person could themselves crawl their way to the top of the pile, all the way to wanting some type of true equality for the goodness of all, there are many reasons why people generally believe this is a good thing.

In reality, though, in spite of loud and raucous claims to the opposite and condemnation of both camps from either side, the world isn’t like either of these, nor, as is often asserted, a clearly divided conglomerate of both. In some ways, the out and out bigots help reinforce the delusion amongst the “more enlightened”, through showing by comparison how much more enlightened those folks are, and diminishing the bigotry that is extant and omnipresent in their own lives. In doing so, this duality serves to further, regardless of any intent, the needs of the privileged, while at the same time creating the perfect narrative to both hate the disenfranchised and boorish, as well as to silence the critics, that exist as truly enlightened to the nature of the world, from disturbing the hidden reality that silently benefits them.

Personality, far from being an objectively measurable quantity, is the mystical oil that greases the gears of this silent bigotry. Virtues such as good manners, an even temperement and eloquent grammar, are such a deeply ingrained TRUTH in essentially all of us, that any sort of analysis seems a forgone conclusion. In fact, such things are the CORNERSTONE upon which almost all other orthodox arguments on the topic of equality are based. I suggest that it wouldn’t seem entirely distorted to suggest that equality, in the neo-modern sense, could be described as that state in society, in which, each and every person has the same opportunity for success, given they act in the same mannerisms and with the same temperament (incidental luck aside).

Here is where so-called “equality” gets thorny though. After all, who gets to decide upon which mannerisms ALL people will be judged? How is this conundrum resolved if there is disagreement? Does it revert to the dominant class? And, to take this analysis further, if a member of a minor class is in disagreement with the dominant culture, what happens if the dominant culture believes disagreement to be a bad manner? Therein lies the mind trap…after all, consider the case that a person is completely convinced of the dominant cultural norms. How could one, using reason alone, break that trap?

Nowhere is this kind of thinking more apparent than in the political arena. It almost goes without saying, that almost all personal traits are of benefit to the politician, but none is quite so ABSOLUTELY necessary as that of cultural mannerisms. The history of the collapse of political careers, is the history of politicians being labelled as jerks and scum. Yes, some times there are coinciding criticisms of political decisions, but almost ALWAYS there is corresponding criticisms of personality. This is even within the incredibly finite spectrum of personalities that are even considered worthy of entering the political arena.

After all, as the argument generally goes, politics requires such lofty things as maintaining favour, and forging relations. Therefore charisma (or at least a large enough collection of individual’s definitions of charisma) is almost an absolute requirement for the role. Being a good person is simply not enough.

Of course, this becomes self reinforcing. Those who are oppressed by the current political climate are naturally angrier, one of the most demonised personality traits, and hence representation becomes atrophied amongst them. Given this, it is completely self serving to try and separate the issues from the personality traits. Claiming you are not a bigot, and making arguments to the effect of “I agree with their opinion but you won’t get anywhere acting like that” is hypocritical at best, and oppressive and discriminatory at worst.

And then there’s the whole issue of being groomed towards certain cultural standards. Is it any wonder that children of the rich find it easier to “fit in” in the political arena when it’s already so much closer a leap from their (raised from birth) natural position? At this point it becomes apparent that one of the biggest forces reinforcing the class divide is not money but the CULTURE OF CULTURAL STANDARDS that are given to the rich FROM BIRTH, and reinforced by the private education system, to be used as keys to the kingdom.

After all, in a world of pigs and monkeys, equality can never be considered just if we define equality by the terms of the monkeys. Or, to put it in the words of one of the greatest writers in modern history:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” George Orwell, Animal Farm

See Also:

False Equivalency, Nonsense Thinking and the Grand Delusion

Sociopaths And The Collapse Of Conservatism Part 1

The Most Annoying Thing

This is part of a series on politics and psychology. You can jump to other parts here:
Prologue: A Tale Of Two Blogs
Part 1: The Most Annoying Thing
Part 2: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless

The most annoying thing for many sufferers of mental illness, so far as I can tell (or at least for me), is when a well meaning normal tries to relate. It’s a special kind of (probably unintentional) arrogance that assumes they would have any idea what it’s like to suffer the kinds of anxiety that true sufferers go through.

I figure it’s all meant to be some kind of harmless bonding exercise. I suspect, and this is just hypothesis, that it stems from the fact that for many people the worst thing they’ve ever had to deal with is having to drink Pepsi instead of Coke (which I understand, believe me). And so you go through life trying to optimise your privelige, “Oh you like drum and base? I like drum and base TOO!”. Of course it’s assumed that they’re already in agreement of all the really important matters in life and what they’re after is simply another priveliged person with whom they won’t have to worry about what station the television is switched to.

So when a person with really difficult problems opens up to them, they respond in the only way they know how: a sort of quasi believable connection. “Oh you sometimes think of slashing your wrists with razor blades because your uncle used to rape you as a child? I have bad days TOO!”

And it gets even worse the longer a normal attempts to be supportive in this world that completely bamboozles them. They attempt to offer advice…which at the end of the day is like a mouse trying to tell an elephant how to lose weight. There’s two things wrong here: one, they’re assuming the problems the other person has are the same (either in intensity or type) as the problems they experience, and two, they’re assuming that the only reason they’re not in the situation the other person finds themselves in is because of the rather intelligent actions they took.

This is largely because most people are still living under the delusion that most if not all of our actions are the result of conscious free will. Many religions, for example, express free will as some kind of gift. The reality couldn’t be further from it: most discrimination comes from using the concept of free will to judge and persecute people who never had any real choice in the first place! (This, as an aside, is one of the main tenants of existentialism.) If you’re still convinced that this is true then youhaven’tbeenpayingattention!

“Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion” Sam Harris The Moral Landscape, p112

In fact, there is almost no scientific evidence that supports the idea of free will, while most indicates that thoughts are initiated unconsciously while coming all but completely debunking the myth of free will (in the sense that people usually think about it in terms of contribution to outcomes, let’s leave the religious interpretation of free will to another time).

And so, with this myth prevalent in their minds, along with perhaps a certain amount of Dunning Kruger effect, normal people go ahead and make suggestions such as, “just go out and have fun”. The same principle applies to many things in life, and it’s really no different to claims such as “go get a job”.

Privilege, not to put too fine a point on it, is like being lucky enough to have a seat on a crowded train…and THEN having the gall to eviscerate other passengers for wobbling around.

It’s quite convenient, in fact, for people in positions of privilege to perpetuate this belief. It allows them to continue their privileged lifestyle completely guilt free, and to oppress the people that otherwise might claim sovereign right to their properties. This is something I’d like to call The Abbott Paradox.

But wait, doesn’t paradox imply some aspect of irony? At first appearance, it would seem that applying this sense of privilege reinforcing logic advances the status of the normal while oppressing the status of the victim. And for the short term that is almost certainly true. But what is paradoxical about this logic is that IN REALITY a divided system will almost always collapse and take down the top and the bottom with it both!

For instance, in the nineteenth century, before the invention of public garbage disposal, cholera threatened to wipe out entire populations! And it wasn’t just the poor who were at stake since so many poor people with cholera meant rich people were contracting it too. Hence began the tradition of publicly funded waste removal (aka socialism..omg).

In fact, the vast majority of human improvements have come about because of social minded decisions. Think about it: where would we be without roads? Gas pipes? Water pipes (aka aqueducts one of the earliest examples of social responsibility)? How about police? Ambulances? Firemen? Our armed forces? Public education? Whether you like it or not, you are a socialist by the very virtue of enjoying civilisation. Even the basis of civilisation, the social contract, IS ITSELF A FORM OF SOCIALISM!

If we look still further back, to the dawn of time, as seen in our closest living relatives, “even the most extreme form of human tolerance and altruism is in part driven by our genes”.

What would happen if we take away our medical system from poor people? DO GERMS OBEY THE LAW? They bow to no master and will attack and destroy the lowliest pauper to the tallest of kings all the same. Do you want to live in a world where you could contract a deadly disease by merely walking down the street?

Or to return to the original topic briefly, do you want to live in a world where people under extreme mental stress lose control and kill yourself or your friends and children?

This is why inequality is bad for everyone. The only difference between the privileged and the oppressed is that the oppressed have seen the man behind the curtain. H G Wells explained it best in The Time Machine, in which the underclasses are pushed so far down that they are forced by necessity to EAT THE RICH!

It gets worse. Lately, it seems, there appears to be a growing delusion that not only should we reduce support for the oppressed classes but that the government should spend as much on services for the rich as the money those people contribute. As though the government were nothing but a pay for service toy for the rich. The self entitlement is astounding. Far from the truth though, they ignore the fact that their wealth was set in place HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO at GUN POINT!

NO. Government assistance is repairing the damage of YOUR forefathers. They wax rhetorical about true Australians (AS IF THERE IS SUCH A THING), but in truth Australia was founded on the backs of criminals and paupers. And now they want to take back what WE created.

Capitalism has truly become a farce. It serves no one but to perpetuate the DELUSION that some are born masters and some are born slaves. And the lie exists in many forms, whether it be mental illness, race, creed, sexual identity, or more, but they all exist for some purpose: to maintain the position of the rich, paradoxically making us ALL poorer by virtue.

There’s a second paradox though. Kind of a meta-paradox you might say. In fact, the likes of Tony Abbott are guilty of NOTHING MORE than that which they were preordained to do, caused by the hidden restraints of the privileged class. The truth is that the encumbant rich are in fact suffering from one of the strongest mind traps of all: one that is in PLAIN SIGHT! That may be the silver lining to our current times, that long after we’ve evolved past this idiocy, that Abbott will be remembered for the sad, degenerate, mentally redundant imbecile that he is.

“‘Cause I’d rather stay here
With all the madmen
Than perish with the sadmen roaming free” David Bowie All The Madmen

I guess there are people out there that will see this all as quite a stretch. Wondering how I got from misunderstanding of mental illness to REBUKING THE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE! I suppose it’s easy to dismiss this as the rantings of a mad man. But just like epistemology revolutionised modern thought, it is idiotic to ignore the truth of all ideas: ALL IDEAS COME FROM FRAGILE MINDS.

I suppose that’s the point of this whole blog. If you’ve been wondering why I switch from philosophy to psychology to personal experience (seemingly randomly), there’s a reason for this. It’s a fundamental truth I’ve come to learn. Philosophy without psychology is simply guessing.

Sociopaths And The Collapse Of Conservatism Part 2

Sociopaths, Losers, and the Clueless

This is part of a series on politics and psychology. You can jump to other parts here:
Prologue: A Tale Of Two Blogs
Part 1: The Most Annoying Thing
Part 2: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless

Looking back over the approximately forty years that I’ve lived, it’s a strange observation that in spite of modern ideals, like socialism for example, it can appear at first glance that as a society we are devolving. Conservatism seems stronger than it ever was, at least in places like the U.S.A and Australia. And what’s more it is gradually becoming more idealistic and extremist. While conservative governments have always had some bad ideas, when you compare the likes of Tony Abbott to John Howard, or George W. Bush to Ronald Reagan, it seems almost as though we’re living in some kind of dystopic world. Those politicians that many once saw as villainous seem almost leftist by comparison, which is a sad state of affairs indeed. So why is this happening? There are several possibilities that come to mind.

The first, and perhaps the most intuitive, especially to right leaning people, is that left policies are out of control. We’ve gone too soft and our society is headed for doom. Only flipping the switch the entire opposite direction can possibly save us now. There are two reasons for which I would discount this theory. Firstly, this idea comes out of a sort of collection of morals and ideals that were common to pre modern times. That is to say things like, every person should earn his own living, food is scarce and everyone needs to pull up their boot straps, or even to say that there is an abundance of employment and anyone who is not working is lazy. I’m not criticising this view point, per se, but rather pointing out that this viewpoint is the basic ideal of conservative parties. Surely if this was the reason driving a return to conservatism we must believe that a massive number of otherwise left thinking people suddenly changed their minds about everything and became conservatives. This is unlikely beyond belief. In fact studies have shown that many who vote conservative actually have ideals that support left policies, like fairness and equal access to jobs, health, education and so forth. The second reason I find this hard to believe is that the underlying basis of the position is absolute bollocks and I suspect that people are as a species more intelligent than we give them credit for.

Another leading argument is that the standing governments are on the take and through the power of financial investments have ceased to listen to the common person, who is too stupid to realise it. This does sound appealing to myself and I suspect many generation x’ers. We grew up amongst scandals like watergate, so we learnt to distrust the position of politician. There is also a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest this, such as special meetings with tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch or Gina Rhinehart, or policies that go against all scientific evidence in favour of big business. I am tempted to believe this is the truth, but I fear I would be lacking objectivity. There may be more than a few grains of truth to this theory, but at the end of the day I must throw suspicion on this as a total explanation of current affairs. Firstly it breaks the adage “you can’t fool all the people all of the time”. There are cognitive biases such as illusory superiority, the tendency to believe we are above average, that allows us to be convinced that everyone else is stupid. It’s an easy leap to make, but difficult to prove, and I think there’s more to it. Something specific must have changed because it’s safe to assume people are not dumber now than they were in the eighties, and we didn’t have regressive policy then.

In order to understand the reasons for the resurgence of conservatism, there are a few ideas we need to understand: the psychology of politicians, the psychology of the voter, and, perhaps the most important part, the economics of political parties and affiliations. But first politicians.

I’d like to borrow an idea here from one of my favourite bloggers Venkatesh Rao (although this specific idea he borrows somewhat from an earlier source). If you’ve never read The Gervais Principle I highly recommend it. It is the kind of article that can change how you view all interactions. The idea we’ll be talking about is that the world is made up of three basic types: sociopaths, clueless and losers. It took Venkatesh six extremely long posts to cover so I won’t do it here, just explain the basic mechanism.

Sociopaths in this model are essentially detached realists. They see the world for what it is and will do anything that benefits themselves in some objective way (money, happiness, power etc). That’s not to say that they are all morally bankrupt, per se, just that they do not bind themselves by a traditional sense of what is wrong or right. Sociopaths set their own morals.

The clueless are the opposite. They are naive and driven by a repressed lack of basic childhood needs. For example, if a clueless grew up without family they may seek to have an unrealistic number of friends. The clueless ARE morally bankrupt, not necessarily because they’re not good people nor want to be, but rather they never learnt to understand moral reasoning to begin with. Their morals are held by society at large and they look to society to validate or disallow their behaviour.

The third group, the losers, are the every person. Not meant in a negative sense (and ignorant of the fact that most losers value more social things and are therefore much happier, at least in the sense that they believe they are happy) the term indicates those that give up the lion’s share of the economic pie in return for security (eg a wage job). To put it in a (possibly too) simplistic manner, if life were a game of monopoly the losers would be, well, the losers.

The hypothetical relationship between these three groups is as follows: the sociopaths promote the clueless to positions of power as a buffer to take all the anger and hate from the losers (apt readers from Australia may have some idea where this is heading).

Amongst the three, in a political sense, it is perhaps the clueless that are the most dangerous. Sociopaths may be immoral, but at least we can make predictions of their behaviour based on past actions. The clueless however are unpredictable. Their behaviour depends entirely on the zeitgeist of the moment. It wasn’t because Adolph Hitler was crazy with power that tragedy occurred (although he was crazy with power). One man alone can not execute so much destruction. It was the fact that THE CLUELESS FOLLOWED HIS LEAD that lead to actual atrocities being committed. In fact it has been commented by many that one of the leading reasons for complicity was the common following of the Lutheran church, that teaches people to obey their elected leaders, the religion of the clueless if there ever was one.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Hanlon’s Razor

You don’t have to look very far to see this in action. For years we mocked one of the stupidest men in political history, by the name of George W. Bush. But apart from being clearly out of his depth, and somewhat naive, was he really an arch villain? Or was he just the pawn of more powerful men? Still today the mention of his name will cause flames to appear in eyes everywhere, but does the same visceral anger appear when we remember the investment bankers that almost brought the world economy to a stand still in 2008, or the oil companies that lobby for regressive laws that put our very climate at stake? Of course, we all have a feeling those things are bad, but we reserve the real anger for politicians. That’s fine. That’s exactly how the sociopaths with the real power want it. They don’t want to be your friend so they don’t care too much if you are a little upset at them. Anger, on the other hand can be a motivating factor for change. It needs to be funnelled away. And that’s where politicians come in.

There are two basic types of politicians in the modern world, and if you understand this simple point you will be better equipped to see that in fact the different factions of politics are in fact not similar at all, and in fact, DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE.

The first politician is the one that some would believe all politicians are (to their own detriment). The politicians that genuinely care about their country and their people. It’s fairly easy to spot these politicians. They don’t champion groups or specific people, they champion ideas. As they say, follow the money. If there’s no obvious direct beneficiary (eg oil cartels) then the only rational conclusion is that the politician, at least believes, they are doing the righteous thing.

The second type of politician is the polar opposite. The bottom feeders of the psychopolitical spectrum, they eat the scraps falling off the table of their masters, in return for policies that grossly increase the powers of said masters, and further the economic divide between those that have power and those that do not. If a politician talks about specific interests, for instance, specific industries, and specific fears, such as the DRASTIC personal effects you will suffer if you do not give way, then you can bet a pony you’re talking to the clueless.

The clueless don’t even UNDERSTAND that the rationale thy pedal is ignorant nonsense. They haven’t evolved past a three year old mentality. Everything boils down to, what do I PERSONALLY lose, what do I PERSONALLY gain, and IS ANYONE ANGRY AT ME? It often doesn’t have to be things of material value. To the clueless the prestige of being in a position that they clearly have no right to attain can be reward enough.

Take modern Australian politics. Just when we’d finished spending years laughing at America, and could only assume that a stupider leader would never be elected again, Australia, not one to be beaten at anything, topped the expectations of even the most pessimistic of observers. We elected Tony Abbott, such an imbecile that he SOLD OUT THE FUTURE OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS for a mere SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Let’s look at some facts: recent comments from the University Of Western Australia suggest that fees would increase by thirty percent under new legislation. Let’s take a conservative position and suggest that they have only one thousand students per year at the lowest expected cost of sixteen thousand dollars. This equates to a windfall of no less than THREE MILLION dollars a year. This is not the type of corruption we imagine in the movies, this is an imbecile trying to play with the big boys, and getting short changed in the process.

It’s no coincidence that Tony Abbott resembles, almost to a T, Hugo Weaving’s character, Agent Smith from The Matrix, in his most insane moments. Hugo once described his performance as trying to portray a robot, that has no concept of emotion, attempting to mimic the emotions of humans. Is it coincidence then, that many of the most iconic photos of Tony Abbott show approximate, yet at the same time, completely inappropriate expressions? Is it political opportunism or simply a child trying his best to be recognised as appropriate by his peers?

And finally, at the risk of giving away the villain before the end of the story, if you need more convincing take a look at the infamous Fox News. The comments that flood from the presenters are all the evidence you need to see that the clueless really are the center of attention. Is it any wonder? Remember that the clueless have some overpowering need, and the need for attention is one of the very earliest childhood needs that can be oppressed. When presenters on the likes of Fox take a dog eat dog attitude to the world, it’s not just because they are ignorant, it’s that by and large these people have never known real empathy. They are incapable of feeling ethics for themselves so they gather together, never even aware, that they truly are the blind leading the blind.

That’s it for the clueless for now. There are more parts to this puzzle as we will explore in coming parts. In the mean time, remember the old saying, “two dumbs don’t make a smart”.


Not to belabour the point, but…