Real Issues Behind Regressive Identity Politics

Here is a quickie. Jordan Peterson likes to oversimplify things with easy answers, as that is what his audience wants. He mixes genuine information with misinformation and misinterpretation. Then too often exaggerates something into a caricature of moral absolutism, such as about social roles in terms of his defense of patriarchy, class hierarchy, and race realism. It’s all about the lobsters or some such thing.

He does this with gender all the time, in treating it as a clear demarcation. The reality, as always, is much more complicated, even on the biological level: “It’s far from uncommon for people to carry genetics of both sexes, even multiple DNA” (Is the Tide Starting to Turn on Genetics and Culture?). Mixed genitalia is far from uncommon as well, although in the past doctors would have done gender assignment to babies to ensure they conformed to perceived biological norms. Here is a typical example of a strong view from Peterson:

“And the biggest sex differences that we know of that aren’t morphological are in interest. So women are more interested in people, by and large, and men are more interested in things, by and large. And the difference is actually large, it’s one standard deviation. And so that means if you’re a man, you would have to be more interested in people than 85% of men to be as interested as 50% of women. And if you’re a woman, you’d have to be more interested in things than 85% of women to be as interested as the 50th percentile male. So the difference is actually quite substantial, and it’s certainly large enough to drive occupational choice differences, which it does” (Jordan Peterson, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Danielle Crittenden (The Femsplainers)Full Transcript).

Peterson will use this as a rationalization for gender disparity in careers, such as low level of women in STEM fields. Yet many convincingly argue that some of this is cultural. Consider that in India and Latin America, women are the majority in the tech industry, the career that we think of as being the most male-centric in the United States. By the way, many other countries also see greater number of women in leadership positions, such as presidents and prime ministers.

He will sometimes vary his emphasis by saying that men prefer ideas while women people and relationships (Jordan Peterson, On the Differences Between Men and Women). Yet women are much higher achievers in education. Most college students are women and they outnumber men in grad school. Then they come out with 57% of the bachelor’s degrees, 60% of the master’s degrees, and 52% of the doctorates. Women dominate 7 out of 11 areas of study, including tough fields like biological science and medical science. That doesn’t indicate a gender difference crippling women’s interest in ideas and the ability to work with ideas.

Consider one of Peterson’s favorite topics, the thought of Carl Jung. He talks a lot about archetypes, if in such simplistic ways that Jung is rolling in his grave. One way he’ll talk about gender differences is in terms of personality. So, let’s go with Jungian typology, as seen in the data collected through the Myers-Briggs test.

There is only one area that shows a minor gender divide. Most dominant Thinking types are men and most dominant Feeling types are women. It’s a difference between how one makes decisions, whether through objective reasoning or by subjective values. It’s a bit complicated, though, since Jung held that for introverts the opposing function would be more apparent outwardly. So, the introverted Feeling type would tend to deal with the world through extraverted Thinking, the latter being what is sometimes referred to as the aspirational function.

Complexities aside, the data shows that this gender divide does not apply to 30-40% of the population, at least in this country. Yet Peterson is ready to build entire gender stereotypes that should be used to socially construct the moral order that upholds gender roles, based on an assumption of genetic determinism and essentialism. It’s amazingly naïve. It’s not to dismiss the importance of biology, but we have no idea how much of this difference is shaped by genetics vs environment and epigenetics. He is simply assuming that humans are mere puppets of their genetic fate, that culture and history have no great relevance in shaping our shared conditions. Even if that were true, what about the 30-40% who are by nature contrary to conventional expectations and norms of conservative ideology?

As a male Feeling type, according to the official Myers-Briggs, nothing Peterson says resonates with me about how men are supposed to be. I’m not even sure most male Thinking types would be all that persuaded either. His audience is a very narrow selection of males who identify with or aspire to his ideologically-driven masculine ideal. As a minority group even within the WEIRDest of WEIRD populations found primarily in North America, these Peterson true believers aren’t likely representative of most men in the world. That isn’t to say this group is insignificant in their sense of alienation, frustration and outrage, as I’d suggest they are canaries in the coal mine.

For certain, I don’t entirely disregard conservative concerns about gender, specifically problems with boys (The Boy Crisis). There is an argument to be made that some neurocognitive conditions, such as autism and ADHD, are extreme expressions of otherwise normal masculine attributes that no longer are deemed socially desirable in our society, specifically in schools. Others have noted boys are physically and cognitively maturing later than prior generations, as girls are maturing earlier. This stunting and growing gap might be caused by hormones and hormone mimics in the industrial diet and packaging. Whatever the cause, it sheds light on why women have suddenly come to dominate higher education.

It’s intriguing, actually, the changes that have happened. As a sign of something gone wrong, there has been a continuous decline of sperm counts, testosterone levels, and musculoskeletal strength over the generations, specifically in the United States and Western world. Some data indicates this goes back to the early 20th century when measurements were first taken, but the trend likely began in the prior century. This change is dramatic. And it’s being felt on a personal level. Young men admit to feeling conflicted with the social expectations of being masculine, as it simply doesn’t match their own experience. The average man is just not feeling all that manly these days. And those who feel (or rather are made to feel) like inferior ‘beta males’ can be drawn to self-help gurus like Peterson who promise to make real men out of them.

All of this is fair debate to be had, but let’s quit with the stereotypes already and allow for nuance. And it’s far from a new debate (The Crisis of Identity, Moral Panic and Physical Degeneration, Old Debates Forgotten, & Rate of Moral Panic). Going back to the late 1800s, there was a rising concern of boys becoming effeminate and men being emasculated. That was around the time the industrial diet began taking over American society. At first, it was an increase of starchy carbs and added sugar, but soon after seed oils replaced animal fats like butter and lard. And who knows what chemicals were being used in early canning and such. Actually, the concern about shifting gender roles goes further back to before the American Civil War. Besides diet, there were many other things going on. Industrialization, of course, went hand in hand with urbanization that in a short period of time became mass urbanization with most Americans urbanized by the dawn of the 20th century.

Reactionaries arose to try to re-enforce what they thought were divine-ordained gender roles based on nostalgia about rural life and they did so in ways that were clumsy and oppressive. But that isn’t to deny something odd was and still is going on. That is why reactionaries continue to hold sway. For all their foolishness, they are pointing to real issues and occasionally they do bring up genuine information to be taken seriously. Peterson wouldn’t be so popular if he was entirely full of shit. He is speaking to what many others are feeling, even as he distorts what it all means with regressive white male identity politics. If we ignore or dismiss the reactionaries now without responding to what made them turn reactionary in the first place, the persuasive pull of the reactionary mind will only become more powerful.

* * *

They select different degree programmes: Are women and men born with different interests?
by Rasmus Friis

A disappointing response

According to Christian Gerlach, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Southern Denmark, the answer is a bit disappointing. As it is actually impossible to say with certainty whether it is biological or social conditions that get men to apply for, say, IT and engineering subjects, and women to choose, say, subjects in the healthcare sector.

This is mostly due to the fact that it is hard to carry out experiments that clearly delineate cause and effect. You can’t just change the gender of your subjects, turn men into women and so on, and then find out what effect it has.

»We can’t control all the variables, which means that it is extremely difficult to find causality. It turns into guesswork when you have to say whether one factor or another is decisive. This is the fundamental problem.«

Gerlach is sceptical about the robust interpretations made by Jordan Peterson and the authors of the article.

He is particularly sceptical of the explanations that point to biology as a decisive factor behind the genders’ different interests.

»It has been incredibly difficult to associate complex patterns of thinking and acting to biological things like hormones,« says Christian Gerlach.

»I myself have a background in the biological part of psychology, so I should be open to the fact that you can explain a lot of these differences biologically. But I don’t personally think so. I think it has more to do with socialisation.«

Difference between Jude and Judith

He says that we affect each other in subtle ways and he mentions an experiment:

A baby sits on a carpet in a laboratory with several different toys in front of it. The researcher invites a test subject into the laboratory and asks the person to keep an eye on the baby while the researcher goes outside the door.

The researcher indicates each time whether it is a boy or a girl, and this is precisely what turns out to be decisive for the experiment.

If the experimental subjects think they are taking care of a girl, they tend to give the baby a doll or another toy that we consider feminine. If the subjects think that they are taking care of a boy, they will more often give the baby a toy car or something they consider masculine. A variation of the experiment can be seen in this BBC video.

Conclusion: There’s a difference between being named Jude and Judith.

»When you ask the subjects afterwards, it is clear that they have not done it consciously. It is an example of how this works slightly outside our field of attention,« says Christian Gerlach.

You can also find studies that support the opposite hypothesis, however. Researchers have, in a couple of experiments, showed that monkeys also prefer the toys that many humans would connect with their gender. Male apes, for example, choose to play with cars rather than dolls.

One of the researchers behind the first experiment, Gerianne Alexander, said to New Scientist that you should be careful about over-interpreting the results. But she added:

»It is probable that there is a biological tendency, that is then amplified by society.«

You’re Not The Man Your Father Was
by Neil Howe

Studies show that men’s testosterone levels have been declining for decades. The most prominent, a 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, revealed a “substantial” drop in U.S. men’s testosterone levels since the 1980s, with average levels declining by about 1% per year. This means, for example, that a 60-year-old man in 2004 had testosterone levels 17% lower than those of a 60-year-old in 1987. Another study of Danish men produced similar findings, with double-digit declines among men born in the 1960s compared to those born in the 1920s.

The challenges to men’s health don’t end there. Rates of certain reproductive disorders (like testicular cancer) have risen over time, while multiple European studies have found that sperm counts are sinking. These trends coincide with a decline in musculoskeletal strength among young men: In a 2016 study, the average 20- to 34-year-old man could apply 98 pounds of force with a right-handed grip, down from 117 pounds by a man of the same age in 1985. Though grip strength isn’t necessarily a proxy for overall fitness, it’s a strong predictor of future mortality. […]

What’s happening to men physically dovetails with a broader story of social transformation. The economy is shifting away from jobs that favor men, like manufacturing, and toward sectors dominated by women. Young men have fallen behind women in educational attainment. They’re increasingly dropping out of the workforce and expressing less work centrality. The anxiety over the state of men mirrors a bigger debate over America’s national identity. Americans have traditionally seen themselves as a “pro-testosterone” nation: restless, striving, and rowdy. Yet in his new book The Complacent Class, Tyler Cowen argues that America is losing the dynamism, mobility, and enterprise that made it special. This anxiety may have even led the old-fashioned, overtly macho President Trump to victory.

The confusion over what masculinity means today is reflected in the conflicted feelings of males now coming of age. Most American Millennial men report feeling pressured to project a traditional image of manhood characterized by traits like toughness, self-reliance, and hypersexuality—but when asked if they wish to emulate these characteristics themselves, the majority don’t. A separate survey asked men to rate themselves on a scale of “completely masculine” to “completely feminine.” Only 30% of 18- to 29-year-olds chose “completely masculine.” That’s compared to 65% of men over 65.

46 thoughts on “Real Issues Behind Regressive Identity Politics

  1. Peterson wouldn’t be so popular if he was entirely full of shit.

    So many of us have tried to point that out, it’s ridiculous in and of itself. No, Peterson is not entirely full of shit, as you say. He just hasn’t been able to get across the real issue in this case, which is the pursuit of gender sameness, as he’s put it in the past, rather than gender “equality” or “compatibility” or “complementarity” or whatever else one wishes to call it. Due to his own political ideology and beliefs? Perhaps. Due to the political atmosphere itself? Perhaps. Due to his poorly chosen “battles?” More than likely, definitely. But that is, in fact, the real issue he’s attempted to bring to light in the past: the pursuit of gender sameness. Of course, one would have to actually listen to him rather than what others’ think of him (or his political leanings or anything else) to pull that idea out of the crowd to be seriously considered. But, there we are.

    I’d personally just as soon other contemporary “thinkers” were awarded far more attention than Peterson himself (and am certainly not alone in this), but that I think other “thinkers” deserve more attention than Peterson does not alter the fact that Peterson himself has genuine insights to share, whether he’s all that adept at it or not. The real problem here is that he’s been lauded as one of the greatest thinkers of our time whereas many of us consider him a misleader and, that, largely due to his political passions alone. We forget that politics, as presently practiced, is not something many, if not most of us, have any interest in at all because there’s hardly anything political about it. Rather, politics has become the new — and highly judgmental — religion for not entirely unsurprising reasons.

    • My personal interest is that I think the sense of moral crisis about gender is real. But I disagree that feminists are the driving force of gender change. It would be hard to believe that feminists have somehow over a century been able to cause decline of testosterone levels, sperm count, and musculoskeletal strength. Not only in the United States or even only the West. Some of these declines are seen across the entire world. Feminists caused all of that, really? Well, feminists in cahoots with postmodernists and neo-Marxists, according to Peterson.

      That is giving the political ‘left’ a lot of credit, as an almost superhuman cabal controlling the world. The ridiculous argument aside, there is something major going on here. Young males admit to feeling less masculine. How could they feel otherwise with dropping testosterone levels? Maybe we should get serious about figuring out the cause(s). Check out the Neil Howe article at the end where he discusses some of the theories about what has happened, from chemical exposure to loss of manual labor. This is something I’ve been following since the Aughts. One of the my earliest blog posts was about the “Boy Crisis”.

    • I’m picking on Peterson here. He is an easy target. But he is largely irrelevant. As for worthy thinkers, Neil Howe is a good example. Are you famililar with him? His main focus is on generations theory. I earlier mentioned his work in a discussion we had elsewhere as an example of a cyclical way of looking at humanity.

      Howe’s work (written along with William Strauss) was an unintended inspiration for Steven Bannon’s vision of Trumpian populism as economic nationalism borrowing generously from progressive rhetoric. Howe has had his finger on the pulse for many decades now. And I’ve been following his work for a long while. But this is the first time I’ve seen this article by him about the gender moral panic.

      The topic has been on my mind as separate from Howe’s writings. The issue of gender identity and politics plays a central role in one of my longest and most involved pieces, The Crisis of Identity. It’s maybe my favorite post of all time, as it is still quite satisfying for me to look back on.

    • As you are one of those people to take the issues seriously, what do you think of the boy crisis? I take it similarly to the men’s rights movement. There are some kernels of truth that should not be ignored but that get buried under reactionary identity politics. Liberals and progressives will ignore this at their own peril.

      It reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt’s response to socialists. First, he thought most socialists weren’t actually revolutionary radicals but simply people seeking basic reforms. Second, he thought the issues they brought up were real and had to be dealt with. He argued that if we (speaking of his fellow conservative and paternalistic plutocrats) don’t offer solutions to these problems the socialists will gain power and their solutions won’t be favorable to our plutocratic interests.

      His argument was noblesse oblige, but the point was that he realized the problems actually did exist and wouldn’t go away by ignoring them. That is how he got elected and he made good on his campaign rhetoric. He offered some of the reforms that socialists were demanding, if only barely enough to keep some of them appeased. Of course, the problems kept getting worse. Nonetheless, he demonstrated that he was willing to confront the issues head on.

      Where on the present political ‘left’ is there any leading figures and public intellectuals talking about the boy crisis or even acknowledging its existence? To be fair, I don’t think even most conservatives have put much focus on this. My young nephew has serious problems along these lines and lives in a conservative small town, but no one appears to be doing much to help him.

      Why is this being left to the likes of Peterson to be a lone voice in the wilderness? Many young boys and men turn to him because he is one of the few people speaking to what matters in their personal lives. Why is that? This should be part of a broad public debate.

        • By ‘broad’, I meant in terms of platforms that have larger audiences. The Mythic Masculine only has 330 subscribers on Youtube.

          I understand there are voices out there talking about it, but they are not getting much attention. Even so, I’m glad that these voices exist. It might take a while for them to get more broadly heard.

          I’m listening to one of the videos right now, Challenging the Frame of White Fragility:

          • I understand there are voices out there talking about it, but they are not getting much attention.

            Correlate the voices and you’ll understand what I mean by broad.

            Mackenzie is a flimmaker and, through his work, homies with Charles Eisenstein and Velcrow Ripper, et alia. He’s also met and spoken with the inimitable Bayo Akomolafe, Sharon Blackie and many other contemporary artists and writers. Together they have an enormous audience and even have broken into the mainstream with appearances on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday and the Tavis Smiley show, et al.

            If you’re looking at political platforms and soapboxes alone, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. Those platforms are spent; exhausted; wasted; dead. Very few of us want anything to do with them aside from, perhaps, performing autopsies on them.

          • It’s a good question of what ‘broad’ means in a practical sense of actually reaching a significant audience, as opposed to a small echo chamber. How broad does broad need to be to have an influential impact on the larger society? What is the magical tipping point?

            By large platforms, I don’t only mean mainstream/corporate media. Youtube is a large platform. There are even large alternative meda sources like TYT that operate independently through their own websites based on paid subscribers. So, some alternative voices have sizable followings, whereas others do not.

            I spent the past week looking around. I never doubted there was some public debate going on. But I’m still not sure it’s reaching that large of an audience. Even in the alternative media, it’s rare to see reporting or commentary on the boy crisis and the viewer count tends to be low.

            Other than Jordan Peterson, there is no relatively large source that has much of an audience. A his audience is surprisingly small considering he has gained inernational attention. My sense is that the average American is not particularly familiar with a boy crisis and even less aware of Peterson.

            It seems that the boy crisis has too often become buried under the rhetoric of reactionary identity politics. It’s become isolated from the larger publc concern about the crises going on in our society. This distorts everything and so much gets lost in oppression Olympics in different identity groups arguing about who suffers the most.

            There is a real boy crisis, but it isn’t fully discussed even by the advocates of the boy crisis. Middle-to-upper white boys are still doing just fine. The boys falling behind are mostly lower income and racial minorities. Research confirms that these disadvantaged boys are being treated unfairly. We have to look more carefully to see what is going on.

            Much of this is not a new situation. Males have long had high rates of juvenile delinquency, crime, violence, suicides, etc. That is less a crisis than an ongoing pattern. The same is true in education. For more than a century, boys have consistently had lower grades than girls. Then again, boys when they grow up still have an overall advantage in getting hired, getting raises, and getting promoted.

            Besides, the same problematic patterns involvng boys existed even when the patriarchy dominated, before the welfare state, before the 1960s, before present culture wars and feminism. I’ve pointed out that the same sense of gender wars goes back at least to the 1800s, much of it having arisen prior to the American Civil War but certainly hitting a fever pitch by the end of that century.

            Sure, there is something unique going on with declining male grip strength, sperm count, and testosterone levels. But in the general population, there are worsening rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, mood disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, autism, ADD/ADHD, etc.

            As a last point, there is the 3.5% rule. To make changes in society, we need 3.5% of the population somehow actively involved with an issue (publicly discussing it, agitating for change, etc). That is the magical tipping point that probably would apply here. That would require 11M Americans, 20M North Americans, 30+M Westerners, or 60M English speakers.

            Let’s put this in context. Only the top two videos about the boy crisis reached over a million, one by Peterson (1.7M views) and one by Dr. Farrell (1.3M). There are a few others with hundreds of thousands of views, but most of them get a few hundreds views. Compare that to a video on sugar by Robert Lustig that got 11M or, for more serious issue, the top 75 videos on climate change are in the millions of views each with the top video getting 26M.

            In spite of its importance, the boy crisis doesn’t appear to be of overwhelming interest to the general viewership. Even correlating all the videos on the topic, it doesn’t appear to add up to a massive number of people, relatively speaking. But I could be wrong. Maybe those numbers are misleading, as we don’t know how many people are being exposed through other sources. Nonetheless, my sense is we are nowhere near a tipping point.


            Click to access ESO_BoysAndGirls.pdf


          • it’s rare to see reporting or commentary on the boy crisis

            Maybe because all the talk of “destroying the patriarchy,” “toxic masculinity” and so forth on the “left” has buried the real issue?

            I’m not male, so I’m not qualified to address the subject. I have observed and mentioned a widespread confusion among those of us who identify as either male or female. Traditional gender “roles” have been upended here in the “space between stories,” and there is a lot of confusion in the air about how male and female human beings are now to relate to one another.

            You’ve noted a decided lack of self-reflection and critique on the “left” of itself. In fact, there can be no questioning of any of its passions, including feminism, yet there are different strains of feminism as surely as there are of any other ideology and one of them is, frankly, destructive: the feminism that insists women must themselves assume a traditionally male “role” in society if said women wish to “get ahead.” In other words, women must look, walk, talk, dress, act and think exactly like the so-called “manly” men of yesteryear to “succeed.” (Erm…no thanks.)

            Perhaps resulting from this upending of gender roles, both men and women — as well as boys and girls — are now unsure quite how to approach and treat one another. One can almost hear the gears turning their heads. “Should I open the door for her? Oh, but what if she’s one of those? She might offended at the gesture. Maybe even tell me off because, of course, she’s perfectly capable of doing it herself.”

            ^That kind of thing.^

            As noted, there is a lot of talk about “toxic masculinity,” but who is speaking about “toxic femininity” on the “left?” (Crickets) That’s right. Only “men’s rights” groups on the “right” are talking about “toxic femininity.”

            Is it really any wonder Peterson’s is the most prominent voice on the subject? How unfortunate that his is, in no way, a nuanced voice. He just blasts feminism, period, a subject he clearly knows nothing about.

          • Let me make a basic point first. My sense is that, though it gets some minimal public debate, the boy crisis almost never gets put into perspective. Those on the ‘left’ often don’t talk about it at all or dismiss it. The old school economic left has never had gender issues as a main focus. And the Clinton Democrats are fairly reactionary and right-wing, which means I expect little that is progressive from them. As for those on the ‘right’, they never talk about the real boy crisis that involves intersectional politics of class and race. There is no single boy crisis or any way to separate it out from numerous other shared crises.

            Now to your points. I do hear about both toxic masculinity and toxic femininity. In listening to any conservative media, even something as mainstream as Fox News, I come across talk about toxic feminity. I think both sides are pretty loud about what they perceive as toxic. But of course not many on the ‘left’ talk about toxic feminity, as those on the ‘right’ don’t talk about toxic masculinity (of course, I’d point out that Clinton Democrats and most of the ‘liberal’ class is not particularly ‘left’ relative to the American majority). That doesn’t seem any more surprising than partisan Democrats not criticizing the Clintons and partisan Republicans not criticizing the Bushes. It’s just standard group psychology.

            The fact of the matter is that there is a patriarchy, even now. We are ruled by a patriarchy. And as a male-identifying man, I do favor taking down the patriarchy as it only benefits a small percentage of men and a few women who defend it. The patriarchy is most definitely part of the problem and so it does complicate discussion of a boy crisis and men’s rights. The boy crisis involves the disadvantaged boys who are harmed by the patriarchal system that only benefits certain boys, according to class and racial divisions.

            None of that is to say most attempts to challenge the patriarchy have been effective or well directed. The thing about patriarchy is that it isn’t only about men. Women can internalize it, in the way that research show that blacks internalize racial bias against blacks. Few of us probably have the the level of awareness that is needed for genuine change. That is demonstrated by the feminists you speak of who have internalized the ideal of masculinity as success, although I wouldn’t attempt to guess how many feminists could be fairly judged by this criticism.

            On a personal note, I’ve never felt particularly confused by gender issues, per se. I see the positives and negatives on both sides of the gender identity conflict. I’m a fairly manly man in some ways, according to the mainstream stereotype, in that I’m tough, muscular, and athletic (not to mention follow a carnivore diet, just like Peterson). But I must admit I’ve never felt macho nor have had a desire to play that role. I was raised to be a sensitive male. Yet looking at the evidence, I understand the moral panic about effeminate boys and emasculated men.

            By the way, I do open doors for women and I don’t give it a second thought. If a women told me that she was offended, I would not be offended by her expressed offense. Not that anyone woman has ever acted offended, as far as I can tell. But as far as that goes, I’ll open doors for guys too when it seems the helpful thing to do. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing. I’m not particularly worried about appearing politically correct. If anything, I have some propensity for being politically incorrect, not that I go out of my way to do so. I don’t worry about it too much. And I genuinely don’t understand men who say they feel oppressed by feminism. I just don’t get it.

          • I wouldn’t attempt to guess how many feminists could be fairly judged by this criticism.

            It was more prevalent during the “second wave” of feminism, and it’s due to the character of it that it’s largely disdained. At any rate, it’s the strain of feminism itself that deserves the criticism, imho. This is a point I differ on compared to many. Women who have internalized the idea as a prerequisite for “success” are not themselves deserving of the criticism. The idea is. It’s conditioning like any other conditioning, and it’s conditioning of every kind that we have to grapple with in order to know ourselves and our true potential. While there are more constructive strains to be mentioned, I’m not much interested in feminism myself. So, I’ll leave it at that.

            As for the patriarchy, I know it simply as the good ol’ boy network, which is very different from a patriarchy. Both patriarchies and matriarchies have existed throughout human history as forms of descendent social organization and relationship. We even tend to speak of patriarchs and matriarchs of our own families out of respect for their wise eldership, provided their eldership is actually wise, of course. 🙂 In fact, one might wonder how “the generation gap” ever came to be when so much of our knowledge and wisdom actually has been passed down from generation to generation.

            I often think of ideas like this these days in terms of Gebser’s efficient and deficient modes of consciousness or Khayyam’s hair dividing the false from the true. It seems everyone today wants to throw out the baby with the bathwater; just burn everything to the ground and start over from scratch. That doesn’t strike me as great plan. Humans have endured by honoring our roots; pruning the dead branches; and breathing new vitality into the Tree of Life. You might think of this more in your own terms of tradition as opposed to the disparaging manner in which tradition is so often thought of today. As noted in the description of The Chrysalis Effect, “when the budding culture replaces the previous one, it doesn’t create a new way of being out of nothing.,,,”

          • Yeah, I’m not so sure where ‘mainstream’ feminism is these days, as I don’t follow it closely. I’ve never identified as a feminist simply because such identities feel too narrow to me. But according to certain definitions, some people might perceive me as a ‘feminist’. A friend of mine calls me a ‘Christian’ because of my ‘spiritual’ attitude, despite my lack of religiosity. I’m fine with that. I also have a ‘conservative’ side to my personality in respecting the past and what is established, according to prudence and the precautionary principle.

            Personally, the main thing of interest in feminism is the area of intersectionalism. It feels like an emergent, if imperfect and maybe occasionally problematic, understanding of the integral. But intersectionality still remains a bit radical, maybe even within ‘mainstream’ feminism (specifically among Clinton/corporatist Democrats). Intersectionality played a major role in the Black Panthers who at one time sought alliance with not only feminists but also AIM, and poor whites. Intersectionality, in its original form, upheld a vision of solidarity. That is why the FBI felt compelled to destroy them and Fred Hampton’s Rainbow Coalition.

            About the patriarchy, there is the element of a good ol’ boys network. But one might consider our present system to be much more than that. Ignoring the powerful men who rule our society, it remains true that a disproportionate number of men are given unearned advantages in their careers that most women are denied, no matter the greater educational achievement of women. The patriarchy, so it seems to me, is not only about patrilineal descent which is seen in our society (e.g., Bush Sr. to Bush Jr.). Moreso, it’s about a set of male privileges that benefit even many average and below average males. As a working class guy, I have a strong suspicion that being male, particularly a white male, has gifted me with a basic cushion of privileges.

            I actually don’t find the generation gap to be surprising. The generational passing of knowledge was never merely about the exposure of children to their parents. Until quite recently, it meant being surrounded by multigenerational households and large kin networks. My mother grew up with her grandmother and uncle living in the house next door, houses that were about 10 feet apart, and she had numerous cousins in the neighborhood, not to mention hundreds of extended family members a short drive away. She grew up hearing her grandmother tell family stories that went back to the 1800s, as she also regularly visited the village her family lived in during the 1800s. That kind of experience is nearly non-existent in the US today.

            My opposition to the patriarchy is not a dismissal of the past. The liberalism I ascribe to has increasingly become aligned with the early liberalism of the likes of Thomas Paine. He definitely wasn’t seeking to destroy what came before. His first instinct was to reform the system from within, but failing that he only came around to revolution in middle age. Even then, he kept one eye on the past in realizing that, if we can’t go back, we nonetheless must save what was of value. That is the purpose his citizen’s dividend was meant to serve, in creating a compensation for what was destroyed with the ending of the feudal Commons. Oddly, it was the emergent ‘conservatives’ of his era who were the most dismissive of this long view of historical development.

            It’s my heavy focus on the past that puts my understanding of the present in perspective. That is why I think the boy crisis gets misunderstood across the spectrum. We lack historical memory of what came before. We are repeating culture war debates that go at least back to the early 1800s and likely much earlieir. Feminism first emerged as a force in the 1700s and there was a rising tide behnd it right before the American Revolution’s unleashing of a reactionary counterrevolution. The economic debate goes even further back with proto-socialism, proto-Marxism, proto-anarchism, etc strongly showing up in the 1600s during the English Civil War. My sense is that the precursor for intersectionalism probably can be traced back centuries, as there were always those who understood that various issues were tied together.

            Maybe that is what is holding back public debate on the boy crisis, not to mention the larger public debate that is being suppressed on so many fears and concerns that keep popping up. Kwame Anthony Appiah writes about how the arguments for a position typically become well known long before societal change finally happens. For example, the anti-slavery arguments that became central in the American Civil War were widely debated in the 1700s. But moral progress requires more than people knowing a compelling argument or even agreeing with it. Consider climate change. Most Americans for quite a while now have taken it seriously in believing it will personally harm themselves, their families, and communities. And most Americans support the government doing more, specifically stronger environmental regulations. Yet we are politically paralyzed.

            Now consider the boy crisis. Even though the debate about it is much older than the climate change crisis, it has never been able to break out into full public consciousness, except maybe for rare moments and still in constrained form. There is the 3.5% rule, although some argue it’s closer to 10% of the population when talking about revolutionary-sized changes. But I’m not entirely sure it’s the percentage that is key. Like climate change, the boy crisis feels generalized and vague. Neither side will talk about the actual issues involved that make it complicated. There is no crisis includes all boys and excludes all girls. There are simply dozens of overlapping crises. And that is where our everyday experience resides, in these overlaps. But we are not allowed to talk about that in an of the corporate media and corporatist politics, ‘left’ or ‘right’.

          • Indeed. Hedges has been writing this same “dirge” (as Don Salmon put it) for a long time now. I’m honestly sick and tired of the “this will happen” and “that will happen” stuff myself, though. I want to say, “Is that so? No room for other possibilities to take form? Why are other possibilities, then, taking form?”

          • You could call it a dirge. I might prefer to call it a classic jeremiad, an old American tradition that I’m fond of. I have nothing against Hedges playing the prophet. It’s a needed role.

            There are definitely other possibiliities. But this particular vision does grab one by the gonads. It’s the kind of pattern we have seen repeat so often in history that it does give one pause. It doesn’t seem like we humans ever learn this particular lesson.

            Still, I’m always game for new possibiltiies. Maybe we need to mourn the loss of hope before an entirely dfferent sense of promise might take its place. We shouldn’t cut short the grieving process that helps us to let go and move on to what’s next.

        • Could be interesting. Yesterday I noticed an article about virtual reality and gender. I can’t find the article again, but below are some similar one’s.

          Basically, experiencing gender swap in virtual reality alters gender perception and behavior. What if, in virtual reality, male-identifying men’s rights activists experienced being female and female-identifying feminists experienced being male?

          I don’t know that would end the gender wars. But it might make for a more interesting public debate.

          Click to access 2020.01.13.905315v1.full.pdf

          • Funny you should mention that. Members of the video gaming community conduct such “experiments” all the time, whether intended as experimentation or not. In RPGs, men often choose to play female characters; women often choose to play male characters. People also switch up avatars in online co-ops with few ever-knowing one’s gender identity unless asked for whatever reason, etc. The experience can be both eye-opening and liberating, to say the least.

          • Online interactions are similar to multiplayer gaming. People can present themselves however they want to. I personally have never been one to try out different identities. I simply am who I am. But I don’t tend to give much thought to identity on its own, except as it relates to other things. It doesn’t generally occur to me to even wonder about other people’s identities, in particular gender identities. Although male-identifying, my gender identity isn’t all that important to me. It’s just in the background. I even have some feminite personality qualities, not that it has ever caused me to question my identity. Then again, maybe my thoughts on gender would change if I tried some gender exploration in VR. I’m always in favor of experimentation.

          • my gender identity isn’t all that important to me

            Me either. I’m a person (or human being, if one prefers the term) first; a woman second; if that makes any sense. My “gender identity” seems to matter a great deal to others, though. Oh, the stories I could tell! I’ll spare you, though.

            Happy Holidays. ^.^

  2. JP does have some fairly important insights or knowledge to share for those who are able to use or exploit it. I’ve looked at some of his academic papers–mostly on alcholism plus one on a sort of ‘systems theory’. which actualy had one famous formula in it on ‘entropy’ or ‘information’.–he used the simplest case of that formula basically S=k ln W but this gets a pass and even kudos in a psychology journal.

    Its sort of like he wrote F=ma or E=mc^2 and S= k ln W and then says
    ‘ this shows i know everything about newtonian , relativistic, and statistical mechanics, and shannon’s information theory. Also i will also teach you to write these formulas –for a price –and explain you can apply them to build yourself a computer, atom bomb , internet and go to mars. I’ll also give you references to some books (which i haven’t read) if you need more details on the process –but these cost an additional fee. ‘.
    any use of the formula S= k ln W in actual physics nowadays if written out in detail might be 100 pages. you need a computer to solve it in most cases. .

    his papers on alcoholism in indigenous people collected a bit of data –eg interviewed some indigenous people abiout drinking habits— and ran it through fancy software programs–maybe anova. ends up with alot of p values and came up with the conclusion that these people are alcoholics because they drink too much. this gets you a job at Haravrd and Toronto. deep stuff.

    one can ask if its genetic–eg a trait of indigenous people–or poverty–but that may be genetic acording to jp and others. maybe the people get drunk the minute JP shows up . its one way to cope with a bad situation.i might too–and use his mouth as the garbage can.

    JP is correct that you should follow at least some of his 12 rules to be happy and wealthy (if not wise except in the financial sense but it may be no other ‘wisdom’ beyond finance).–clean up your room, etc. IN his case focus on important things—eg your wardrobe and fashion. f-k everything else including research. just cobble together alot of oudated socio-biology and jungian psychology and publish it and you are good to go to oxford. get yourself a pay for view web program . find some good memes–f-k n’s, f-s, Tg’s ho’s and b-s. something that resonates with the masses of a-s’s.
    maybe one day he can host a tv show with Oprah and Trump and proud boys and even refuse fascism, blm and a TG group. . if technology advances he could even try a sex change during the tv show and see if he likes it–if not just revert back.

    • That’s one perspective. Your take on Peterson is amusing. It is easy to ridicule him. He is the kind of conservative who makes a caricature out of himself, as he likes to make caricatures out of others.

      He is not generous of spirit in interpreting others, which does not invite generosity in spirit of others toward him. Instead, he is constantly on the attack and defense, and wallows in victimhood identity politics. If not for the mean, bullying feminists, postmodernists and neo-Marxists, all would be well with the world.

      About the indigenous and alcoholism, I’ve briefly looked into some research about that. There was a study done in Canada, Peterson’s territory. It showed that tribal communities that had maintained storytelling traditions did not have higher rates of alcoholism and maybe not higher rates of other problems like suicide.

      When we look at any dysfunctional community, we’ll almost always find a place where traditional culture has been destroyed. For blacks, they had centuries of slavery and much else that stripped them of their own separate ancestral identity. But in other cases, it is simply a matter of traditional communities being gound down under the wheel of modern industrialized capitalism.

      Peterson doesn’t talk about this. It doesn’t fit into his ideological reality tunnel. And he is plain ignorant about it. Yet he talks as an expert about subjcts he knows nothing about. Whatever real issues he does bring up gets lost in all of the bull shit. That is unfortunate, to my mind. The real issues aren’t limited to reactionaries.

  3. No idea where to put this in relation to the many comments on the matter, but this article by Bridget Phetasy was floated on social media yesterday: The battle cry of the politically homeless. Considering your thoughts on “the silent majority,” I thought you might like to take a gander at it. As per usual, some of it resonates; some of it doesn’t. What stands out to me, though, is a certain acquiescence to the very dualism and compromise the powers that be are constantly attempting to ram down our throats. As if there are only two political parties active in America, for starters.

    I am, generally-speaking, a “moderate” person and a “centrist” in a very different sense of the words than they are being used in the article, which is to say in no political sense whatsoever. No doubt why some of the article resonates and some of it doesn’t.

    It’s locked behind a paywall now. (You can probably access it as a free article for the month.) I’d planned on going through it with a fine-toothed comb to tease out every detail I’d personally found disturbing to the core, but that disturbance can probably be summed up in that this author seems to think the “Third Way” centrism of the elites is the very definition of what “the silent majority” itself desires.

    • It’s fine to put the comment here. But it would fit in with any of the recent posts on polls.

      I sometimes call myself a ‘centrist’ and ‘moderate’. Even though I have a ‘radical’ imagination, I don’t feel all that radical in how that term is commonly used, such as being a political activist or worse still a community organizer. I can imagine all kinds of interesting and inspiring possibilities. In my personal utopia, I might like some kind of anarchist-style socialism with free markets (e.g., anarchosyndicalism with employee-owned businesses). Marx, after all, supported free markets, not to confuse free markets with corporate capitalism.

      Is this actually all that crazy of an idea? In practice, this kind of anarcho-socialism probably wouldn’t be all that different from a standard Nordic social democracy. And, certainly, I’d be fairly content even with an imperfect social democracy that only partly approximated my ideal. This doesn’t seem ‘extremist’ or ‘fringe’, considering the vast majority of Americans appear to agree that they want a basic social democracy. So, what are we debating and why? Or rather, who is allowed to be part of the debate and why?

      To the elite in political and corproate world, this public consensus of the moral majority is beyond the pale. What the elite perceive as ‘centrist’ and ‘moderate’, based on the opinions and interests of the elite, is far to the right of the American people. Even though some of the elite knows this fantasy of elite-majority consensus is total bullshit, there are plenty elite who seem entirely disconnected from the reality of what most Americans believe and value. I have a post that discusses the data on this elite disconnection, indicating that some of their ignorance is genuine.

      In my PRRI survey post, I suggest that the minority of the ‘Ferengi’ (the crossover demographic of Fox News viewers, Evangelicals, and Republicans) have created a false sense of division when, in reality, this is a small minority. They only seem large because the majority has been silenced and disenfranchised while this minority has been promoted and given a powerful voice across all of the corporate media. It’s effective social control. This is where I suspect there are social dominators among the elite who know full well the deception they are pulling, not only on the public but also the gullible elite who want to be told a comforting lie. I have another post about why propaganda campaigns target the elite first and foremost, as they have to be on board for propaganda to be effective.

      Here is the problem. It’s not a left-right divide, not even in terms of liberal vs conservatives. All the time the media tries to foment conflict by portaying Americans in two large camps, such as the urban vs rural divide, but the fact is most conservatives live in urban areas as well. As for most poor whites, like poor people in general, they don’t vote much in general, not even for Trump. It’s not even a partisan divide, if we define the parties by the positions held by the majority of those who identify with and vote for those parties in elections.

      The Ferengi demographic isn’t only disconnected from the majority, disconnected from the ‘left’, from liberals and progressives, not to mention socialists and anarchists and social democrats, along with disconnected from independents and third partiers. They are also disconnected from the average conservative and Republican. Some polls show that not only do a majority of Americans support universal healthcare for a majority of Republicans also supports it (majority of Republicans also support higher taes on the rich, paid maternity leave, etc). So, the Ferengi, so obsessed over by media hacks and politicians, don’t even represent the typical person on the ‘right’.

      That means on certain major issues, specifically economic policies, the majority of Republicans are sometimes to the left of even the DNC elite. That is freaking disconnected to a massive degree. Who are the real extremists here? Yet people like you and I are portrayed as being so far out as to be a nuisance getting in the way and so who need to be eliminated or simply treated as if we don’t exist. If not for all those spoiler candidates who dare to represent the majority of Americans, the paternalistic elite could rule and solve all our problems. Somehow, we the disenfranchised majority are one of the problems. No matter how powerless we feel, no matter how silenced we are, we still have too much power and voice for elite preference.

      As always, the elite go on punching left while pushing right. Biden is still preaching the wonders of corporatocratic Obamacare that benefits no one other than the bureaucracy and insurance companies. But none of this is new. In the PRRI post, I link to numerous books and studies that show politicians almost never do what the majority wants them to do, except on the rare occasion when it happens to coincide with plutocratic, kleptocratic, and corporatocratic agendas and interests. It’s so soul-despairingly sad. It literally makes my heart ache. Considering this is what gets called ‘democracy’, it’s no wonder polls also show that people are losing faith in ‘democracy’, while their faith in ‘socialism’ is on the rise (a majority of Democrats and 43% of Americans now want ‘socialism’). What does Biden do? He openly attacks ‘socialism’, which is to say he attacks social democracy. That is lesser evil? WTF!

      I’ll end with one last issue that is the focus of the Spectator article. This time of conflict we are living through isn’t particular bad in the long view. Don’t people know history? The Cold War, not that far back, was far more oppessive and censorious than now. In fact, during most of the past few centuries, freely speaking one’s mind would have more likely harmed one’s reputation and livelihood, sometimes one’s life. The sense of division we feel in the present comes from how open our society has become about free speech. Millions of Americans say crazy shit on social media on a daily basis and then we think it’s oppression when a few times a year someone gets targeted by some form of political correctness, ‘left’ or ‘right’.

      No one mentions the millions of others who talked freely without any fear of threat, a larger number practicing free speech than ever before in history. It’s like how the corporate media obsess over violent crime and such, even though objectively speaking the violent crime rate is at a low point. But the constant fear-mongering makes the average American feel like they are surrounded by a looming threat of constant violence. The corporate and ruling elite have found that fear is a good way to manipulate people, whether for advertising or votes. And becase of political rhetoric and the propaganda model of media, the public is kept ignorant so as to ensure public perception management.

      The real silenced voices are the majority that are completely shut out. It’s elites like that Spectator author who constantly harangue and harass the majority for their ‘extremism’ with fantasies about elites like them being part of the silent majority. They use subtle lies about what is ‘moderate’ and ‘centrist’ that resonate with many who genuinely are part of the silenced majority. I have a hard time believing the elite, largely Ivy League educated, really are that ignorant and stupid as they pretend to be. Why is it I can so easily find this polling data that comes out every year from major sources and they cannot? It’s not random polls. Take the highly respected Fox News poll, not only from this year but also years past, and you’ll see that for a long while now it was showing how far ‘left’ was the American public.

      The thing is the so-called silent majority isn’t all that silent. They are constnatly voicing their opinions, not only in hundreds of polls every year. Bernie Sanders ran the most popular campaign in 2016 than has been seen in a long time. Instead, the the two party nominations in the last two presidential elections have been the least popular candidates since records were kept. The people are speaking out. They aren’t silent but being silenced. That is a big difference. But as long as the public doesn’t hear their voice in the ‘mainstream’ media, they have no public knowledge that they are a majority and so they never develop a collective identity as a public, as We the People. That situation has been created on purpose as social control. The people will act powerless if the elite create a narratve of powerlessness. It works, sadly.

      For further reading, see:
      Democracy: Rhetoric & Reality
      What is the Moderate Center of a Banana Republic?
      Inequality Means No Center to Moderate Toward
      The Golden Rule and Reality
      The Court of Public Opinion: Part 1 & Part 2

      • Behind all the labels, elites are simply people who are afraid to lose their status and wealth, and are willing to go to extreme lengths to preserve their privilege, many in that population -if I might say- have a zero sum game perspective on life, that is some people must suffer for the other some to live in luxury. The real reason they are scared is because most simply inherited their wealth, and didn’t earn it, so there is no logical series of events that led to their current mountains of money, the only philosophical reasoning they comfort themselves with is that they “deserved” it, that small word speaks volumes, but the take I’m concerned with is that some people are better than others because they just are.
        Any notion of meritocracy has lost its weight today, some fringe cases of smart/hard-working still make it to the top, same as some people get struck with lightning twice, the question is will people keep eating cake while in crippling debt?

        • Many of them did inherit wealth, as most wealth in the US is inherited, along with access to resources and opportunities. How wealth gets passed on also has been racialized from generations of racial practices: redlining, housing loans, GI Bill, etc. Other forms of disparities have also advantaged and disadvantaged various groups in other ways. It’s a highly developed system of privileges and prejudices that maintains the hierarchy.

          That is the obvious stuff, although it still gets denied. The more hidden things is the culture, attitudes, and behaviors, not to mention privileges, that get inherited. Tendencies toward the reactionary, authoritarian, social domination, sociopathic, Machiavellian, etc are also passed on within wealthy families from one generation to another. That can be seen in political and business dynasties like the Bush family and Trump family.

          This is a large part of the disconnect. Even someone like Hillary Clinton who, though not growing up rich, did grow up in the comfortable professional class. And of course, it was easier for her husband, Bill Clinton, to move up in the world as a white male. A black woman never would have gained as much wealth and power aw he did, specifically all those decades ago when his political career was established. There are many kinds of privileges and disconnects.

        • Have you heard any interviews wth Donald Trump’s niece Mary or read any articles about her book? Her basic message is that he had a traumatic childhood. His father was bullying, abusive, and sociopathic while his mother was sickly and often absent, physically and emotionally. One doesn’t become as demented as Trump by having a healthy childhood.

          We often think of growing up rich would be an easy life. But I bet many rich people have some of the most messed up families. That would be even more true in a society like the US. In general, Americans seem like a highly traumatized people. And Keith Payne argues that high inequality causes problems for the rich as well with increased rates of alcoholism, addiction, and various health conditions.

          “Mary Trump’s insight into her family’s outrageous entitlement becomes an apt metaphor for how white supremacy works — and how Trump’s presidency works! — how it is often an antidote to a white person’s shame or sense of inadequacy. She writes:

          “If not for an accident of birth, none of them would have been a millionaire… Still they acted as if they had earned every penny of my grandfather’s wealth and that money was so tied up in their sense of self-worth that letting go of it was not an option.

          “Reading this, I thought of politicians who vote conservatively on issues of social justice — who cut funding for schools, cut affordable health care, deny money for scholarships. They love the idea of people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. But for these same people, the idea of turning down millions of dollars in inherited wealth and saying, “I think it is best to make it on one’s own,” would be inconceivable. There are a lot of white faces in these streets shaking their heads at the tragedy of Black economic “failure” while living in houses and driving cars bought with family money that was inherited (read: stolen) from Black labor and Black wealth.”

          “But what matters most about Mary Trump’s book is that it shows just how important it is to question how we’re raising our children. Even though every childhood is different, all children have the same needs – to be cared for and loved when we are born is inherently human. So even though there’s no single recipe for parenting, it is crucial that we take children, and their needs, seriously.

          “The emotional neglect Trump experienced was a type of malnourishment. Where he could have been fed with love and tenderness and a sense of protection, baby Donald felt insecure, unprotected, and in need of calling for even more attention.

          “Emotional neglect, just like physical malnourishment, doesn’t represent an immediate sentence for future life, but it still has an impact on the way a child grows to become an adult.

          “We need to talk more openly about how we grew up to be the adults we are today and how we want to raise our children. When we’re raising the next president, the stakes couldn’t be higher.”

          “Mary Trump chronicles the lives of three generations of Trumps in her book, and shows how trauma is passed from generation to generation. The Trump family considered their lives to be normal. They probably never gave a thought to how their behavior was shaped by what they experienced as children. When people—a few hundred thousand by now—with similar backgrounds have learned about ACEs science, a constant refrain is: “I didn’t know that what I experienced was abuse. I thought it was normal. This explains my life. Why did it take so long for me to hear about this?”

          “The participants in the ACE Study were 17,000 mostly white, middle- and upper-middle class, college-educated people with jobs and great health care. Looking at Donald Trump’s ACEs is a potent reminder that ACEs apply to people of all economic classes, something to which the ACEs movement and research hasn’t paid much attention lately because people of color and low economics bear the burden of ACEs.

          “We know that the phrase “hurt people hurt people” emerged from the understanding that most people who’ve committed violent crimes have high ACE scores.

          “However, hurt people hurt people on many levels, including enacting policies and laws that are just as harmful as interpersonal violence, and often more harmful because they affect hundreds or thousands or millions of people.”

          “I suspect that Donald was not the only person shaped by a man like Fred Trump.

          “Many people, on some deep emotional level, resonated with Donald Trump’s style, his abuse which they, like him, had experienced from childhood. This is not the only reason for the rise of Trump, but it may be an overlooked reason. […]

          “It is a cultural problem, not only in sports but in corporations, among parents, even in popular culture. How many people report being afraid of their fathers who, they will quickly add, loved them and whom they loved? It was astonishing to see actress Kim Novak, at the age of 86, tear up in a CBS interview when she was asked about her difficult father.

          “Many Americans were not brought up by Andy Taylor in Mayberry. They were brought up by Bobby Knight and Fred Trump and Kelly Greenberg. They were told to take bullying and toughen up. They were demeaned and abused, sometimes physically and more often emotionally. It happened at home and at school. It happened on the playground and ball field.

          “They got it from the boss at work.

          ““The idea of the all-knowing coach who has lots of power and uses it in the way we now call bullying — that was kind of the norm,” according to SI. But it wasn’t only the norm in sports.

          “It ran throughout the culture. “Our conviction that hostility works is encouraged by a culture that makes legendary figures of Knight and Steve Jobs.” But Dr. Ben Tepper of Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business believes that Knight and Jobs succeeded in spite of their abusive leadership, not because of it. “The studies all say that there’s no incremental benefit to being hostile.”

          “The abusive leader has been lionized for so long, and so many people have memories of it stored in the very cells of their bodies, that when Donald Trump came along, a lot of white Americans felt deeply on an emotional level that he was their guy. He felt right. He embodied all their experiences that tougher was better, that compassion was wimpy, that demeaning and bullying was emotionally satisfying when aimed at people they did not like.”

      • Let’s throw out some more links to old posts. I easily forget how much I’ve written on these kinds of topics. It’s interesting to look back and reread some of them. There is so much info gathered over the years. That is why I’m constantly amazed at how little reporting it gets. For certain, it’s not for a lack of large amounts of easily accessible info from diverse sources, ‘left’ and ‘right’, ‘mainstream’ and ‘alternative’. This knowledge is an open secret.

        This is why I constantly wonder what good is done by adding one more post basically repeating the same thing over and over again. But I guess it’s not mere repetition, as I do gain further insight over time. My observation about the Ferengi demographic is entirely new in that I didn’t realize how symbolically powerful was this sub-group on the political ‘right’ and how divergent they are even from the average conservative and Republican. Yet the Ferengi are falsely portrayed as being representative.

        Jonanthan Haidt has complained that research shows liberals don’t understand conservatives. But maybe that is because the corporate media lies to liberals in telling them that the Ferengi caricature of conservatism indicates what is typical. In fact Fox News, in being the leading voice on the right, caters almost exclusively to this small demographic. This leaves the majority of people on the ‘right’ without a voice, not unlike the ‘leftist’ majority is also without an ideological home within the ‘mainstream’ media.

        It seems unfair to blame those on the ‘left’ for being victims of propagandistic public perception management. That argument of scapegoating victims seems like yet more propping up of the syste of indoctrination. It’s ensuring properly controlled groupthink. Wouldn’t want anyone to have any crazy thoughts, such as the majority being so far ‘left’, including the majority supposedly on the ‘right’. I’m thinking of writing a post about this.

        American Populism, From Frustration to Hope
        We’re Ready For Democracy
        Evil, Socially Explained
        Poll Answers, Stated Beliefs, Ideological Labels
        Liberalism: Label vs Reality (analysis of data)
        Who Are the American Religious?
        Environmentalist Majority
        Non-Identifying Environmentalists And Liberals
        Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
        Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich
        Most Oppose Cutting Social Security (data)
        Warmongering Politicians & Progressive Public
        Who Supported the Vietnam War?
        Claims of US Becoming Pro-Life
        Minority-Majority, Us-Vs-Them, and Racism
        Polarizing Effect of Perceived Polarization
        Racial Polarization of Partisans
        Funhouse Mirrors of Corporate Media
        The Establishement: NPR, Obama, Corporatism, Parties

    • The first post I wrote about the ‘leftist’ majority was in 2010. I remember it being a revelation at the time. Up until then I had assumed that I was an extreme outlier in my social, political and economic views, as that is what the corporate media (including corporate-funded NPR) had kept telling me my entire life. Something caught my attention or got me curious. I did a wide search across years and decades of polls/surveys from as many sources I could find. I then brought it all together. It was one of the first pieces I did in this style of deep dive research and synthesis.

      Now here we are a decade later. I’ve written about this topic regularly ever since with some posts like the PRRI one that are doozies in their own way, if focusing on a single set of data. My early awakening also came with the Pew survey, Beyond Red vs Blue, which they do every few years. The Pew shows that a large percentage of self-identified conservatives are largely or entirely liberal on the issues, across the board. Their conservatism is what is called symbolic ideology and it’s highly effective for identity manipulation for the purposes of getting people to literally vote against not only their own interests but against their own beliefs and opinions, values and principles. The division without is mirrored by a divison within, and this internal conflict is much more extreme in some than others.

      This understanding has been combined with my study of ideological history. I incresaingly became aware of the long established trend of bourgeois (pseudo-)’liberals’ (i.e., the so-called “liberal class” and “limousine liberals”) opposing the political ‘left’, not only fighting against communists, socialists, Marxists, and anarchists but also fighting against or at least strongly resisting and undermining social democrats, labor organizers, civil rights activists, and on and on (e;g., the Cold War warriors of the DNC like Joe Biden). What goes for ‘liberal’ in the United States is what would be called a ‘conservative’ in some other Western countries. My knowledge and insight gained further nuance by studying the anti-traditional and historical revisionist reactionary mind and the historical conditions that made its appearance possible.

      Based on my ongoing self-education, I formulated a theory that could be broken down as the following: (1) the reactionary is the shadow of liberalism in this post-Enlightenment reactionary age, (2) self-identified ‘liberals’ easily turn into reactionaries or get manipulated by reactionary rhetoric, and (3) conservatives are simply the reactionary form of liberalism and any liberal who gets pulled into the reactionary mind becomes a conservative by default. This semi-reactionary and often conservative liberal class represents a large segment of the disconnected elite and the good liberals that align with and follow them. But this liberal class also includes, to varying degrees, many self-identified ‘conservatives’ and ‘libertarians’. Identity politics becomes rather murky, particularly with the weirdness and superficiality of partisan groupthink. While symbolic ideology for some hides a covert liberalism and progressivism, for others it hides a covert authoritarianism. And those affected by this identity confusion typically lack the awareness to realize their schizoid affliction.

      These particular demographics of what I think of as the broad liberal class (the comfortable class of moderately liberal-minded professionals and elites, along with many conservatives and libertarians) haven’t necessarily shifted right or else not to a great extent, depending on what is the comparison. They typically do embrace or tolerate a basic level of social liberalism, although they often lag behind the majority public opinion (as seen with Clinton and Obama’s shift on same sex marriage or John McCain’s shift on LGBTQ rights). Look at the average Republican politician today and you’ll quickly realize they are more socially liberal than most Americans were in the 1950s. It’s on issues of economics and law-and-order that the broad liberal class has gone rightward, the issues that are about the main systems of power and control (corporate capitalism, cronyism, inverted totalitarianism, regulatory capture, revolving door politics, legalized bribery, warfare state, military-industrial complex, militarized police, mass incarceration, privatized prisons, etc). But they generally don’t care if gays get married or whatever, just as long as they get to maintain their wealth, power, and privilege.

      So,the broad liberal class, elites and otherwise, haven’t gone far right if one were to average out the social issues with all the other issues. That would be a bit deceiving way of looking at it, though, since on those other issues they’ve increasingly embraced something akin to fascism, if it be friendly fascsm — that is to say, they won’t be putting Jews, gays, and feminists into death camps (or, at least, not until a hardcore authoritarian comes to power and then then the bourgeois liberals will fall in line, as they’ve so often done in the past). Still, that would be irrelevant were it not for the fact that they dominate all of society. I don’t care about minorities holding minority positions and I’m all in favor of even protecting the rights of distasteful minorities. But what I refuse to tolerate is a minority oppressing the majority and then blaming that majority for their own oppression. Fuck them! If they want a fight, they’ll eventually get one. Even the most cynical and apathetic population eventually becomes desperate enough that they have nothing left to lose.

      What has changed dramatically in recent decades and maybe going back further is that the American public has been shifting ‘left’, consistently and persistently, year after year, moving further away from the elite and Ferengi. The majority has gone so far ‘left’ that many in the media elite can’t even comprehend what has happened. As I said, much of this is sincere ignorance. There is no reason to believe the Spectator author realizes how she has been duped by an organized camapign of disinfo and propaganda (as Jack Black, an early 20th cent. hobo and professional burglar, put it: The con man has to first con himself). She probably really does believe that people like her are the ‘moderates’ and ‘centrists’. So, for all my anger and outrage and frustration, I’m not sure what good it does to blame the average hack in the broad liberal class. They are infected with a mind virus and are acting as carriers who infect millions of others. They are victims who should be treated with compassion and care, but until they are cured they need to be ideologically quarantined.

      Nonetheless, the Spectator author (however uninformed and misinformed) is speaking to a feeling so many of us share. We sense that something is off about our society, specifically about the political-media machine, but we have a hard time understanding exactly what is wrong. So, vague and misleading language is used, not always as intentional deception and manipulation but often as basic, honest confusion. We simply don’t know what we’re talking about. All we can go by is this feeling that is a common experience. And based on this, we have this sense that some group of problematic people are the root cause. This is sort of true, assuming we could correctly identify the social dominators playing their games of power (consider Karl Rove’s comment about the “reality-based community”; or consider Steven Bannon hoping to play the role of Rasputin or Gríma Wormtongue by whispering into the king’s ear), although maybe it’s ultimately more to blame the mind virus that gets hosted by those with weak ideological immune systems. We are all vulnerable to this sickness.

      The article gets one thing particularly wrong. Yes, the over-sensitivity in our society does cause angst and anxiety, antagonism and aggression, divisiveness and defensiveness. This has been framed as political correctness gone bad, an ever readiness to blame and attack the otherwise innocent, but that might miss the point. We are NOT more politically correct now than in the past. It’s simply that one single ideological system of political correctness doesn’t any longer dominate and suppress all other views, as was often the case in the past. With social media and blogosphere, it is the open conflict and competition as an ideological free-for-all that magnifies what we perceive as political correctness, despite the fact that we have more free speech now than ever in all of history. Political correctness was a thousand times worse and more harmful during McCarthyism, the same era that some of the older curmudgeons feel nostalgic about. Their real complaint is that their views no long rule over all others without question. Their privileged position has been challenged and it makes them uncomfortable.

      Most of us, though, have come to feel this way to some extent, privileged or not. It’s similar to why the American colonists were the first to revolt, as they had the most freedom and wealth of any population in the world. So, any small infringement of their perceived rights felt intolerable because they had come to take their freedom for granted as a given, as a default state, as their birthright. More oppressed populations were less likely to revolt because they, instead, took oppression as the norm and expected nothing else. It’s those who have the most who complain the most when even a tiny fraction of what they have is taken away. We take the rabid open public debate on social media, warts and all, as a sign of censorship when it is evidence of the complete opposite. Even with corporate censorship, we have more free speech now than during the Cold War. That is for damn sure. It’s never been so easy for the average person to get heard, even if only by a few hundred people on their social media and blog, more than what was possible even a couple of decades ago.

      That goes to the point I made about the majority beng silenced, not silent. We wield free speech so frivolously that we barely notice what an open society we have. But that is the thing. No matter how much we hear ourselves in our respective echo chambers of social media and the blogosphere and our favorite alternative media, the corporate hegemon silences us and so we feel like we have no voice because we don’t hear our voice in the ‘mainstream’. We feel isolated and disconnected and splintered, which is exacerbated by hyper-individualism and social Darwinism. The elite feel this way as well, as their elitism disconnects them from our common humanity, which has to be a disconcerting experience. No wonder the elite are on such an edge and actng so oppressive as they fall into the reactionary mind. But it’s not only an elite disconnected from the majority, from the public. In having lost their sense of common humanity, they divided within against themselves. Our common humanity is where our deepest and truest self resides. To identify as elite is to deny oneself and betray one’s humanity. That is a heavy price to pay for privilege.

      Here is an interesting thought. All the talk about a moral majority or silenced majority isn’t fundamentally about politics. Sure, most Americans want at least a minimal level of equality, fairness, justice, freedom, civil rights, social liberalism, social democracy, safety net, public good, self-governance, etc. But what does that mean. My suspicion is that it’s simply an expression of a natural impulse toward moral concern, a very human sense of compassion and care for others. Most Americans want to live in a good and kind society, and they believe such a thing is not only possible but necessary. It’s interesting that, even as most say they don’t trust government, they nonethless also state that they want government to do more which is to say they’d like a government they could trust to do the right thing. Americans aren’t cynical.

      Even our mistrust is selective toward big gov, big biz, and big media. But we Americans still trust our neighbors and the small business owner in our community. This is shown in studies where most Americans, as typical of WEIRD countries, express trust toward other Americans and even trust toward stranges and foreigners. We may not have Scandinavian levels of social trust, but there is a relatively strong culture of interpersonal trust in the United States. It seems that we Americans have an underlying faith in the goodness of society and the goodness of other people. For all the corruption and authoritarianism within the elite systems of power, the hearts and minds of Americans have been won over by a much gentler and inspiring vision of humanity. And as our shared problems get worse, instead of embracing fear and hatred (as have many elite and Ferengi), most Americans have become even more convinced in the worthiness and necessity of the good liberal dream, the seed planted so long ago by the likes of Thomas Paine.

      I might go so far as to speculate that this kind of faith and hope is to be found as well within the heart of hearts of most elites and most Ferengi, barring the even smaller minority of Dark Tetrad and social dominators. As I said, my sense is the elite are the first victims of propaganda and the Ferengi are probably the second target. If they ever could escape the dark voices that have taken over their minds with fearful fantasies, they too likely would admit that they simply want to live in a good society that treats everyone well. The reactionary mind, as I’ve argued, is not normal. The desire for a good society keeps popping back up amidst oppression in the way the tenacious flower blooms from the crack in a sidewalk. There is a creative and constructive force in the world. It can only be temporarily suppressed and even then requiring great effort. We don’t live in a society barren of hope for the soil of this culture is fertile and planted with seeds waiting for the rain. This dry period won’t last forever. Change is coming, one way or another.

      • And as our shared problems get worse, instead of embracing fear….

        I don’t know about that one. The Culture of Fear in America is so ingrained in the very fabric of American society that perhaps the only way to escape it is to become a recluse on a mountaintop somewhere. You cannot go anywhere outside your own home without being confronted with it and that, of course, includes most of our workplaces with their reams and reams of spiritless rules and regulations.

        I was lucky in that for seventeen years I enjoyed a career working with a family of Armenians from Lebanon in a small, family-owned business — a career in which I was actively encouraged to stretch my wings; do new things; think new thoughts; and fulfill my creative potential as a human being.

        I’ll never forget the day I had to go across town to take care of some important personal business and, dutifully, asked permission to do so from the President of the company, as I’d been conditioned to do in the jobs I’d held previously. He waved his hand and replied, “You don’t have to ask. Just go.” Then, with a double-take and a come hither gesture said, “Look. Here we live; then we work.” And that was that. I knew right then I was home. For seventeen blissful years, I could speak my mind about anything with no fear whatsoever of being canned because some tin-plated dictator, i.e. a co-worker who’d been granted a modicum of authority, took it as a personal affront to their supposed authority. I was treated like an extended member of the family. If I could have retired there, I’d have been the happiest kid on Earth. Alas, their struggles as a small business intensified after the financial crash of 2008 and they had to let go their only remaining employee in 2010.

        They remain in my thoughts and prayers every day because I know what they’re up against and fervently hope their business doesn’t wind up going bankrupt. Depite that I don’t work there anymore, I still find myself trying to think up new ways for them to turn a profit and, unfortunately, coming up empty.

        Anecdotal experience aside, I’m sure your readers are familiar, perhaps even intimately so, with the very dynamics of which I speak when I say, Culture of Fear.

        • As I’m prone to do, I might say yes and no. Obviously, you are correct in what you say, as far as it goes. And I doubt many Americans would strongly disagree with such an assessment. But the full picture is complex, as I see it. It’s important to understand the secret link between the liberal and the reactionary. There is absolutely no contradiction between a society with high levels of fear and high levels of trust, a society that is overwhelmed by stress and yet optimistic.

          We are inundated with fear-mongering in the ruling media and politics. But that is not the same thing as the majority embracing that fear. It’s similar to the distinction between being silenced and being silent. If the majority had embraced fear, they indeed would be silent, not only silenced. Odd as it may seem, all of the anger, frustration, and outrage could be taken as an expression of an underlying sense of hope. Some Americans have given into despair and cynicism, more than would be preferable, but not all or even most. For all the problems that have been offloaded onto them, the younger generations for some crazy reason are not pessimistic about the future.

          This might indicate something about American culture and character. Maybe it would be more rational to be a hardcore pessimist, but for whatever reason that attitude seems less attractive to the average American. Decades of polls, surveys, and studies show that Amercans have high levels of trust toward others. Why? In the book The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich discusses this phenomenon by looking at the social science research. This greater social trust of strangers and foreigners, as opposed to trust limited to kin and community, is common in the Western world but not common elsewhere. He spends hundreds of pages of academic writing to explain this pattern, which is more detailed than is necessary here in these comments, but it is quite fascinating and more than worthy of reading in detail.

          That said, the comparison you offer is important. Other societies can be far different than ours and they offer useful perspective. That is part of the point of Henrich’s work. He has been the main proponent of the critique of the WEIRD bias in social science research. Almost all subjects in studies, social science and otherwise, have been white middle class college students in the United States. This has created a skewed view of human nature. It was assumed that all humans were like this narrow demographic, but further study has proven this false. Instead, WEIRD populations are among the least representative on the planet. There are some asepcts of WEIRD societies that are dysfunctional or less than desirable, but other aspects have great benefits in various ways.

          WEIRD-style social trust is one of those advantages. Americans are more likely to treat a friend, family member, or neighbor no different than they’ll treat a total stranger. Study after study has confirmed this, and it’s highly unusual. This kind of impersonal egalitarianism is a necessary component of democracy, ignoring the critiques of American democracy for the moment. The United States, as an immigrant country, has led the way on WEIRD culture. The British journalist Henry Fairlie was shocked by American WEIRD culture when he first moved here earlier last century. He was in Texas walking down a sidewalk when a small child rides by on his tricycle and greets him with complete openess. Fairlie said that never happened in Britain at the time, as children were strictly taught deference toward adults which meant not speaking unless spoken to. This lack of deference is a defining feature of WEIRD culture, but it also goes hand in hand with WEIRD-style trust as expressed in open friendliness to strangers.

          Some foreigners visiting the United States find this confusing. In most countries, to be friendly to someone is to indicate that you consider your relationship with them to be close or indicating that you’d like to be friends. It’s been observed how Americans will invite complete strangers over for dinner in their homes and to many non-Americans this behavior is bizarre. A home, for them, is a private space limited to close family and friends. They take this open friendliness as meaning their host wants to be friends. But Americans will be openly friendly even to people they may have no desire to be friends with. The infamous American smile and greeting generously given out is not discerning, as it is more likely to be offered equally to anyone, acquaintance or stranger.

          There are practical effects to this egalitarian attitude. Americans, for example, are less likely to lie to defend a friend or family member. We Americans have internalized the WEIRD ideal of objective truth and democratic proceduralism. We are a rule-oriented people who aspire to rules applying equally to all. For all the corruption we like to complain about, the US actually has low corruption rates compared to most of the world. We get a distorted view of things because we are always compariing ourselves to countries like Scandinavia, which are also extremely WEIRD.

          • There is that. As a contrast, that makes American-style trust and optimism so strange. Or maybe it’s not strange at all.

            There is a connection between WEIRD impersonal trust, rule following, and authoritarianism. Something like German Nazism (hard fascism) or American corporatocracy (friendly fascism) would be less likely to happen in a traditional non-WEIRD society.

            The positives of WEIRD cultures are easily subverted or redirected to oppressive ends. But the very same traits can also make possible social democracy. WEIRD traits are building blocks that can be made into many different ideological systems.

        • The comparison you draw, one might argue, is not between a culture of fear and a culture of trust but between two divergent cultures of trust. The small, family-owned business in a traditional non-Western culture is a typical example of the non-WEIRD. It’s trust built on a foundation of kin and community. Basically, the President of the company was treating you as family. The message was, if I didn’t trust you in the first place, I wouldn’t have hired you. That is because his hiring you communicated that you were worthy of being an honorary member of the family. That kind of trust does not apply to strangers, but once allowed into the circle of trust you were no longer a stranger.

          The same difference can be observed in the US between Northern states and Southern states. The less industrialized and urbanized South maintains more of the pre-WEIRD cultural traditions. Group identity in the South can be insular, included extended family networks, church congregations, close family friends, and sometimes long-term neighbors. Once you are included into a group identity, you are treated as if part of the family. As with non-WEIRD societies, Southern culture is modeled on the family. This is great for those born into this world as they are automatically included. And, in some cases, a lucky few will be allowed into the circle of trust. As a kid having moved to the Deep South, it was easier for me to cross boundaries of mistrust and exclusion than it was for my parents who were always outsiders in the neighborhood. In many cases, it might take 20 years or longer for someone to not be considered an outsider.

          The North is far different in that it is modeled on the multicultural immigrant community with much earlier and more expansive industrialization and urbanization, not to mention ore widespread education and literacy (a key point made by Joseph Henrich; literacy alters the neurocognitive development and behavior). Family and church are less relevant even in many small rural towns in the Midwest. What makes you belong is being part of the larger community, a public identity as citizen. In the Midwest, unlike the South, welcome wagons have been more common to ritually initiate new residents into a community, no matter the family they belong to or their religious affiliation. Even nationalism took hold quicker in the North than in the South where regionalism held on longer.

          Unsurprisingly, American Northerners have more impersonal trust where strangers and foreigners are treated more equally as those already known. Whereas American Southerners tend to limit their trust to an intimate group of close and often cross-generational relationships. There are probably more small, family-owned businesses in the South as you describe in Lebanon. They are also more common in East Asia, such as China and Japan even as both have outwardly adopted Western forms of business and sometimes law. It’s not to say one form of trust is better. They are both forms of trust, each with advantages and disadvantages. The impersonal trust, though, works better for the kind of capitalism dominant in the world right now. Most of the top successful international corporations are highly WEIRD.

          The intimate trust, as opposed to the personal trust, can feel extremely warm and supportive to those who belong. It’s an honor to be allowed into that circle of trust. But anyone who doesn’t belong will be offered little or no trust at all. Their experience would be extremely cold in being excluded. The impersonal trust of WEIRD cultures has less of either extreme with everyone being more equal but still an overall greater trust across society since an individual can go anywhere that has the same WEIRD culture and expect the same treatment. One doesn’t have to earn it or be related to the right people. This is one of the reasons WEIRD cultures have been prone to social democracy, liberal proceduralism, civil rights protections, etc. Your identity is defined more as an individual in relation to the larger society.

          Nordic countries are even more extreme in this regard. Without explicitly talking about WEIRD, Anu Partanen, in her book The Nordic Theory of Everything, explains how Nordic countries are more individualistic than even American hyper-individualism. In US law, family and marriage is still treated as central; but, in Nordic countries, the individual is the basis of the legal system. People aren’t taxed nor receive benefits (welfare, college loans, etc) based on family relations and family income. So, an abused individual could leave a rich spouse without fear of being impoverished and homeless because the government will treat their situation equally to someone married to a poor spouse. The same goes for college education where it matters not if one’s parents are rich or poor. Nordic countries legally break the ties of family dependency and so disincentivize the intimate forms of trust that goes along with it. Instead, they have a larger system built into a nation-wide culture of trust.

          One result of WEIRD cultures is a decline of family-owned businesses. Instead, WEIRD individuals prefer to do business with strangers and maintain their personal relationships with no financial ties. This is probably one of the many ways schizoid attitudes develop in WEIRD societies. This breaking of organic bonds is highly abnormal. It goes against the grain of hominid evolution and disrupts millennia of societal development. Nonetheless, according to Henrich, this isn’t a mere modern imposition. The Western Church began institutionalizing new forms of identity and relationships during the Middle Ages that set the stage for the WEIRD. Then Protestant promotion of literacy sealed the deal. So, this WEIRD culture took form in the aftermath of the Roman Empire’s collapse, but it was built upon particular radical changes that took hold in Axial Age Greece that were later incorporated into the Judeo-Christian tradition.

          Still, at best, we might trace the proto-WEIRD back 2-3 millennia which isn’t that long in the big picture. In some ways, all that the WEIRD is at it’s most fundamental is multicultural imperialism as first established with Hellenism and expanded upon by the Romans, specifically when the Roman Empire declared all free people within its territory to be citizens with equal rights. An individual could travel anywhere in the Roman Empire and expect to be treated basically the same. That was a revolutionary change that was magnified by later cultural developments in Western Europe, a region that for most of human history was a cultural and economic backwater. The culture that helped give rise to capitalism as we know it might decline as that economic system fails to meet changing demands and exigencies. The Achilles’ Heel of impersonal trust is the destruction of social capital by way of the disintegration of the personal trust of kin and community. The West has experienced a quick rise and might as quickly decline back into a backwater. Nothing is guaranteed with changing conditions. Whatever becomes of it, at the very least it has been an interesting social experiment.

        • Here is a thought about your comment in relation to mine. Impersonal trust is nothing to dismiss. It’s the reason why, in WEIRD cultures, strangers are more likely to return a wallet without taking the money in it, why people are more likely to follow shared rules even when no one is watching, why individuals are more likely to speak the truth as a witness when it means their friend will be prosecuted, and on and on.

          A democratic society and a well-functioning bureaucratic state are promoted by WEIRD values and behaviors, identity and ways of relating. Western civilization as we know it, from North America to Scandinavia, is inseparable from the WEIRD and would not have been possible without it. But it came at an immense cost. That dismantling of traditional culture and close bonds of intimate trust have made the West both dynamic and unstable.

          That is why it makes perfect sense that the highly weird US could have both high rates of fear and high rates of trust. It’s a matter of what kind of fear and trust we’re talking about. Every cultural worldview has its shadow. The reactionary mind is the shadow of the good liberal dream. But that doesn’t make that good liberal dream any less relevant, as Americans have genuinely believed in it and acted accordingly.

          That is true no matter what some cynics may say about the American Dream and being asleep. Right or wrong, it seems most Americans continue to hold onto that article of faith. The imperfection of that dream and it’s too often being betrayed does bring out a darkness within the American psyche. But the point is that such darkness is a shadow cast by the brightness of the ideal.

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