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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘morality’

Meanings in the Blood and Turmoil of Egypt

BBC journalist Tim Whewell has posted a brilliant and provocative analysis of the current crisis in Egypt entitled: Egypt Crisis: does Political Islam have a Future? In it Whewell characterises the conflicts which have erupted in Egypt as first the demand for the removal of Mohammed Morsi a month or so back by secularists and since then the demand for his reinstatement by Islamists. The desperate determination of the Egyptian secularists is summed up in Whewell’s piece by the Royal United Services Institute’s Shashank Joshi: “What we’re seeing is a coalition of liberal, secular, youth, revolutionary groups…who have decided that what they value is secularism at all cost, even if the cost is the shredding of every other liberal value that they hold.” While the brutality of the military in repressing the Cairo Islamists is shocking and has drawn condemnation from right around the world, there is ambivalence towards it from many Egyptian secularists. There is real distrust of the Islamists; and the fear meme has spread virally, as Whewell indicates when he says: “President Morsi was removed as much through fear of what he might do in the future as anger over what he had done already.” The Egyptian crisis… Read More

Topless FEMEN: who’s exploiting who?

You might have missed it in all the intense media coverage of Margaret Thatcher’s death this Monday but 5 FEMEN activists sure upset Vladimir Putin on his visit with Angela Merkel to an industrial fair in Hanover. With “Fuck you, dictator!” scrawled across their bare breasts, they chanted the same slogan as they rushed at him – only to be bundled away by the security men. Although he claimed afterwards to have been amused by the protest, according to the leader of the protest, Inna Shevchenko, writing in The Guardian 2 days later, the Russian president was furious and demanded the Germans prosecute the protestors. What a great excuse FEMEN provide to feature a picture of an attractive woman with bare breasts on my Blog – all in the name of serious sociopsychological commentary! What a great excuse for the tabloids – including those who have supposedly turned their back on Page 3 girls – to include pictures of pretty topless women in their news pages! FEMEN, the radical Feminist group who have staged topless protests at key events, including a mass by Pope Benedict in November 2011, Euro 2012 and the London Olympics, have certainly gained considerable coverage in the… Read More

The ‘Gay Cure’: was Spitzer right to recant?

Robert L Spitzer is one of the giants of modern Psychiatry, a scientific philosopher as much as a hands-on medical man. He’s been a fearless opponent of too-easily-accepted givens, notably challenging some of David Rosenhan’s conclusions in his 1973 study, On Being Sane in Insane Places. However, Spitzer really made his mark by leading the campaign to have homosexuality removed from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a psychiatric disorder – which it was in 1973. So the news last week that Spitzer had ‘recanted’ a study he had carried out in 2000-2001 and had published in 2003 caught my eye – especially as I had referenced that same study in a lengthy letter I had published in Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, in 2009. My letter, titled ‘An Imposed Etic’, was published as ‘An Imposed Ethic’ – presumably the editor thought ‘etic’ was a spelling mistake and didn’t get the sense I was trying to convey through the use of the term ‘imposed etic’. My point was that particular, localised values and norms were being applied as though they were universals, without empirical justification. I had been somewhat concerned by John Daniels’ article,… Read More

The Riots: who’s right – Cameron or Blair?

Today what appears to be the final battle to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya is rightly dominating the news – as it probably will for several days, as stories of valour, celebration, desperation and atrocity are told from the streets of Tripoli. There will also be much speculation about what kind of Libya will emerge from the civil war – even whether the rebels can hold off splintering into their own warring factions. And, inevitably, since the West invested so much in the NATO bombs that so potently aided the rebel victory, there will be speculation as to what the West can do to help build a new Libya that is friendly to the West and accepting of its interests in North Africa and the Middle East. In and amidst this focus on Libya, we also need continue the debate about what brought violent rioters and looters onto the streets of London and other cities just a fortnight back and what we should do about these issues. Both David Cameron and Tony Blair had key articles in this weekend’s Sunday newspapers, setting out their positions. Moral decline, moral panic and folk devils As you might expect for a piece in the Sunday… Read More

Is the Big Society in BIG Trouble?

So the day after David Cameron effectively relaunches the ‘Big Society’, with a new ‘white paper’, his key figure in charge of implementing the Big Society, Lord Wei of Shoreditch, resigns…. That could hardly be worse timing! Surely Cameron knew Wei was going?!? In which case it would have been much more politically astute to have rescheduled the launch of the white paper. As it is, Wei’s departure is a gift to Labour, with Shadow Cabinet Office minister Theresa Jowell saying, “….yet again”  the Big Society is “descending into farce. Only a day after Cameron told us all to take more responsibility, it appears that there will now be nobody in his government responsible for bringing the Big Society into reality.” If Cameron didn’t know Wei was going, then it says something about Wei that he could time his resignation to such negative effect or about either Cameron’s judgement in recruiting such a fickle ally or  Cameron’s treatment of Wei that he could undermine his boss in such a damaging way. Whatever the circumstances of Wei’s depearture, the effect is damaging both to Cameron personally and to the development of the Big Society concept. Whether you think Cameron is being honest when… Read More

Well, are the Arabs ready for Democracy?

On 22 February David Cameron, in an address to the Kuwaiti parliament, hit out at suggestions the Middle East “can’t do democracy”, saying: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism.” Even at the time it was blatantly clear that such statements were part of his and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to persuade the United Nations to approve military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi viciously and bloodily repressing pro-Democracy rebels across Libya. A little over 6 weeks later, as NATO tries not to apologise for bombing the hell out of the first armoured column the hard-pressed Libyan rebels have been able to assemble in what is now a de facto civil war…as revolutionary Tunisia and revolutionary Egypt wonder what on earth to do next now they’ve gotten rid of their dictators…and Syrian security forces exterminate yet more pro-Democracy protestors on the streets of Deraa, I’d argue it could be construed as racist not to ask the question: “Can the Arabs do Democracy?” After all, thousands of Arabs have died over the past 3 months in the name of Democracy. If we’re not to devalue their lives, we have to ask whether their sacrifice for their cause is justified.… Read More

The Northampton ‘Supergran’ and the Issues She raises

The footage of ‘supergran’ Ann Timson belting hell out of a bunch of would-be ‘smash ‘n’ grab’ scooter boys at a jewellers in Northampton the other week (7 February, to be precise) has had me musing ever since it was first  broadcast. The fact it is has become a ‘viral phenomenon’, spreading right around the world, has only caused me to muse further. By pure coincidence, a camera man was over the road filming for a documentary and he managed to capture the entire event on film. The footage was aired on ITN News that evening. Within hours, it was on YouTube and received nearly 6,000 views over the next 24 hours. Now there are multiple versions all over YouTube, Daily Motion, etc, using Superman logos and music like Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’, etc, etc, etc. Ann Timson’s onslaught has made news bulletins in the United States, Australia and many other countries. The event itself raises important questions – as does the fact it has become such a ‘viral phenomenon’. Just in case you haven’t seen it or you need a reminder, here’s a slight edit of the original footage…   Ann Timson So what made a 71-year-old grandmother with arthritis in… Read More

The Mamas & The Papas: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll or Incest, Addiction and Unreleased Albums?

Did you know The Mamas & The Papas have an album out of new material – ‘MANY MAMAS & PAPAS’ – and it’s arguably even better than the albums they made in their mid-60s heyday? Er, hang on, I hear you say, how can The Mamas &  The Papas have an album of new material out when 3 of them are dead – Mama Cass Elliot since 1974? Well, of course, it’s not the original 4 members – though leader John Phillips (died 2001) is present throughout, had a hand in writing all the songs but one and produced and arranged all the material. Original Papa Denny Doherty (died 2007) is on many of the numbers – with Phillips’ protégé Scott Mackenzie (of ‘San Franciso’ fame) on others. The Mamas this time around are John’s daughter Mackenzie Phillips, more than surpassing stepmother Michelle Phillips in the role of soprano while the rotund contralto role of Cass is given a pretty reasonable pastiche by the nearly-as-rotund Spanky McFarlane (once of Mamas & Papas soundalikes Spanky & Our Gang). The music, which was actually recorded at various sessions in the 1980s by the touring Mamas & Papas and their backing bands, still treads the pathway between bright pop… Read More

‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair

Wow, Tony Blair sure is back in the news in a BIG way! First the Gordon Brown-bashing memoirs, then having eggs and shoes thrown at him in Dublin on Saturday and being a star guest yesterday on the inaugural showing of the new breakfast programme, Daybreak. And, of course, in the Sunday Telegraph both he and Brown were bashed by former Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt for failing to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq adequately. (Dannatt was in uncompromising mood, blaming Blair and Brown explicitly and personally for needless deaths.) Perhaps the most interesting set of comments to emerge from the seemingly endless round of interviews the former prime minister has conducted were those to do with ‘radical Islam’ and the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran. Talking about radical Islam in general, he described it to ABC News as “…the religious or cultural equivalent of [Communism] and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.” Blair told the… Read More

What is Democracy?

by Jon Twigge Here is another contribution by Jon Twigge, ardent Spiral Dynamics Integral enthusiast and supporter of the Centre of Human Emergence – UK. Jon wrote the piece for his own blog and has graciously consented to it being published here as well. Most people here in the West seem to think that Democracy is a good thing.  Even those people who don’t think that voting is worth bothering with would probably rather live in a democracy than under a brutal dictatorship. I would say that there are some key aspects of a democracy. The first aspect is an emergent behaviour in a society that arises when a significant proportion of the people believe in rights and fairness.  This belief leads to behaviour that supports law and order and moral codes rather than “may the strongest win” or “survival of the fittest”.  Britain holds a long tradition of Democracy, at least at home here in the UK. You can’t really create a democracy in a country by simply imposing it if the people in that country don’t yet live by social rules that embed rights and fairness in them.  The values of rights and fairness only really come into their… Read More