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View Diary: Contemporary conservatism: ideology or psychology? (99 comments)

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  •  this is a first class diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    googie, johnva, freeport beach PA

    and a most important topic to be understood by our side.

    i get weary when I read anything from our side either excoriating or mocking the reichwingers for being blind to the 'facts, information, reality.'  It is the writer, in those instances imo, who is blind.  It is like making fun of bats for not being able to see.  

    We MUST learn to understand with whom and what we are dealing and use that information tactically.  

    I believe that the authoritarian temperament, having read a few of the those books mentioned, is also based on a borderline personality disorder, which splits the world into absolute good and evil... and famously projects its own anger and hate onto suitable objects not like itself.  For the borderline, this projection is essential to stave off the huge anxiety that would result in discovering that we are all a blend of good and bad and that we exist and function in a gray world.  And basically, 'that there for the grace of god, go I."  Empathy is impossible with this split mindset.

    Now, I am not necessarily saying that all the members of the Borg are borderlines, but if you look at the leaders, I would bet serious money that the are flaming borderlines of one stripe or another.  And then a 'folie a deux' occurs in the group think with the followers.

    I think that the reason that a lot of people are susceptible to this group think, is rooted in the perversions of religion.  (Let me state upfront that I believe that healthy religion can be a very important healthy part of our life.)  However religious perversions are toxic.  An example is the extreme Calvinism that created the type of psychology about which the author so astutely speaks: a belief in a moral judgement by god on one's state in life.  If you are wealthy, you are right by god; if poor, there is something wrong with your relationship with god.  This perversion got released into the American bloodstream from the time of the Puritans and the Elmer Gantry's of the religious world have been exploiting it ever since.

    The second religious perversion that exists is one that has been disseminated by the major christian religions that have resisted their own evolution.  Namely, they continue to insist that the principal quality for a follower is blind obedience, and enforce that through fear of punishment or guilt.  There is no better exposition of this and the difficulties that this creates than James Fowler's "Stages of Faith"  

    Anyone seriously studying the authoritarian mind can not overlook Fowler's work.  It provides an indispensible view of how human psychological development is reflected in religious development and how getting stuck in the development area, results getting stuck in the religious area.  From a review on Amazon, a good summary:

    Have you ever wondered why some people take religious texts literally and others understand them as metaphoric? Ever wondered why some believe that their religion is "the only one" while others view all religions as streams leading to the same ocean?

    Ever wondered why everyone seems to start life seeing things in black and white, and while most continue to do so, some people begin seeing in gray or even colors? Why every tradition starts with a list of concrete laws, and then eventually someone comes along and sums them up with one or two -- if his or her listeners will only pay attention? And why some members of the tradition feel more comfortable with the dozens or hundreds while others let them go and embrace the one or two?

    Fowler deals in depth with the six stages of faith, moving from the "Mythic-Literal" that we all begin with, explaining why some of us never outgrow it and each successive stage. He then discusses the processes one must move through, which he calls "crises of faith," in order to move from one stage to the next.

    He also explains why those in a low level of faith not only cannot understand those at a higher level, but are usually either distrustful, afraid or worshipful (or possibly all three at once) of them, and often pressure them to move back to the lower stage so they will feel more comfortable around them.

    The bottom line of Fowler's stages for our purposes are that Stage Three is the concrete developmental stage and is authoritarian.  In that stage the world is black and white and the primary virtue exercised is obedience.  Any attempt at self direction or individual conscience is seen as a betrayal of the group norm and by definition, wrong.  Belonging is the primary social characteristic of this group and anything that takes you away from belonging to this group, is wrong.  And so you are locked in an impenetrable world.  And in my opinion, that is where the religious reich is.

    Bottom line for anyone serious on understanding the people we are dealing with:  Fowler must be read and understood.

    This is a great diary and many of the comments are very thoughtful.  Thanks to the diarist for this excellent work.

    I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

    by SeaTurtle on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 08:07:06 AM PDT

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