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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘politics’

Northern Ireland under the Brexit Bus

Well, Wednesday evening’s videos of youths setting a double decker bus ablaze with petrol bombs – see below (courtesy of The Guardian) – seem finally to have got the current surge in violence in Northern Ireland on to at least some of the news channels.   Even so, Northern Ireland was only on 3 front pages yesterday morning – as the montage below demonstrates.  As ex-MP Anna Soubry commented on Thursday night’s Sky News Press Preview, it’s almost as if much of the news media are determined to ignore the spreading violence – preferably in favour of heartening stories of winning the war against Coronavirus. A frozen conflict On Facebook this week I saw Northern Ireland described as a ‘frozen conflict’. Initially I rejected that term. ‘Frozen conflicts’ were the ‘little wars’ Vladimir Putin’s Russia fought on its borders with Georgia – see Tribal War in South Ossettia – and Ukraine – see Hope from the Tragedy of MH17..? and The Madness of Pietro Poroshenko…? Frozen conflicts…wars, official in Ossetia and unofficial in Ukraine, in which the Russians had gained as much as they wanted to or could, in the face of international condemnation and minor economic sanctions. So they simply… Read More

Coronavirus Crisis: can We go back to ‘Normal’?

All governments around the world are still continuing to approach the coronavirus crisis as though a return to ‘normality’ is not only desirable but possible. Boris Johnson used the term several times in yesterday afternoon’s Downing Street briefing. A number of recent reports have revealed how the pandemic is exacerbating existing massive social and economic inequalities, both nationally (eg: Philip Aldrick in The Times) – and globally  (eg: Oxfam). This lunchtime Sky News‘ Nick Martin showed how Covid-19 is increasing poverty in the already desperate town of Oldham. Of course, a return to the kind of normality described in the Oxfam report may desirable for some but abhorrent for others – ultra-Capitalist systems that create “a rigged economy…enabling a super-rich elite to amass wealth in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, while billions of people are struggling amid the worst job crisis in over 90 years.” This is the kind of normality a great many in the Plutocracy – as defined by Guy Standing (2009; 2011) – and their Elite lackeys in the right-wing media and political parties are working towards developing further. (See: How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…) Not only do a… Read More

Coronavirus Crisis: Radical Rethink required

The UK government has never had much of a strategy for dealing with coronavirus. Locking down late long after the scientists told them to – all 3 times. Failing to secure adequate PPE right through the first wave. Discharging untested elderly patients from hospitals into care homes. Spending £12 BN on track & trace systems that failed completely or have been only partially effective. Uneven and unfair financial support for those who have lost income. Failing to secure the UK’s borders against potential Covid-carriers. Just for starters! But with the ambitious vaccine programme being rolled out, it did seem the Government was at last getting it right. Close on 5,900,000 had received the first dose by Saturday. Very impressive! But, at Friday’s sombre and testy Downing Street press conference, it looked like the proverbial wheels might be coming off again… Boris Johnson himself revealed that there is “some evidence” the new Kent variant is associated with an increased mortality rate of up to 30% Reports – eg: James Rothwell in the Daily Telegraph – that an Israeli study was suggesting having a longer gap between the first and second jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was significantly reducing its effectiveness A letter… Read More

Trump and the Attraction of the Extremist Political Hard Man

Donald Trump’s sending of his followers to Congress (Wednesday 6th) to protest the certifying of Joe Biden’s election victory ended the way it inevitably would: in violence. That Trump sent his followers as he did was bizarre. A single protest by a few thousand people was never going to stop Congress doing its job. The protest, of course, turned into a riot and the storming of Congress. That it got so far was equally bizarre. The followers becoming violent was so predictable it was nothing less than astonishing that the Capitol Police, who knew well in advance about the protest, weren’t much, much better prepared. The photo below shows how well the nearby Lincoln Memorial was protected during the Black Lives Matter protest in June last year. That Congress wasn’t equally well-protected beggars belief. The astonishing ineptitude of the police operation – especially when compared to the Lincoln Memorial guard -has prompted accusations of racial bias. (No doubt fuelled by video footage of some officers opening barriers for protestors and protestors’ selfies with compliant officers inside the Capitol building) In the immediate aftermath the media pundits around much of the world are puzzling about what the storming of Congress means for… Read More

Race and Demographics: Biden’s Challenge

So, thankfully, Joe Biden got enough Electoral College votes to claim victory in the 2020 US presidential election. However, it is far from the landslide that the more wishful-thinking Democrats had hoped for and which might have obliged Donald Trump to concede defeat. As it is, Trump is threatening a barrage of lawsuits to challenge the results in several states, alleging electoral fraud. Given that a Michigan judge has already rejected the Trump campaign’s allegations as lacking any substance, as reported by CNN’s Jessica Schneider & Laura Jarrett, Trump may find he simply doesn’t have the backing of his sponsors and donors to pursue his case throughout so many courts. According to Sky News’ James Matthews, some of Trump’s closest advisers are against his continuing Tweets about electoral fraud and senior Republicans such as Maryland governor Larry Hogan and Congressman Adam Kinzinger are calling for Trump to cease these allegations. However, given Trump’s history of erratic behaviour, it is entirely possible that he may refuse to accept Biden’s victory and resist his own dismissal, using every tactic available to him, from the courts to white supremacist militias like the infamous Proud Boys. So unpredictable is Trump seen to be that there are… Read More

Conformity & Obedience #3

PART 3 Dispositional and Situational The 2 approaches to explaining obedience were to some extent reconciled via the work of Alan Elms (Alan Elms & Stanley Milgram, 1966). One of Milgram’s assistants, Elms tested sub-samples of the 20 most obedient and the 20 most defiant from Milgram’s first 4 experiments, using Adorno’s F-Scale questionnaire. He found that those who tested highest on the F-Scale gave more stronger shocks and held the shock buttons down longer than those who were low scorers. Participants were also asked a series of open-ended questions about their relationship with their parents and their attitudes towards the experimenter (authority figure) and the ‘learner’. Elms reported that participants high in authoritarianism were more likely to see the learner as responsible for what happened to him, rather than themselves or the experimenter who was seen as an admirable figure by many of the authoritarian participants, They also often spoke in negative terms about their fathers. Though Elms’ sample groups were small, the implication is that there is indeed a dispositional element in blind obedience – so that some will respond to a situation demanding obedience more than others. In Integrated SocioPsychology terms the vMEME most likely to obey blindly the orders of a legitimate… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #4

PART 4 Defining behaviour as crime Picking up from Sutherland’s 9th principle – also discussed earlier when exploring the work of Bonger and considered in Crime & Deviance – the Difference – who decides what is criminal and what is deviant is no simple matter. Nor are there absolute definitions as even Functionalists argue definitions can change over time and between cultures. In the Interactionist view laws are, to all intents and purposes, political products that reflect the power of some groups to impose on others their memes of right and wrong and normality. Thus, Anthony Giddens (1993, p128) writes: “The labels applied to create categories of deviance thus express the power structures of society.” This goes beyond the Marxist view that the social control is about Capitalists using the law to control the working classes.  Howard Becker’s (1963) application of Labelling Theory to crime and deviance posits that, rather than a fixed scenario of the Capitalists dictating values that reflect their interests in society and are enforced via the legal system, in fact politics is a competition between different groups to gain the power to impose their values on others. Routes to such power obviously include legislative institutions such as Parliament… Read More

RED Thinking is not up to 21st Century Crisis Leadership

The RED vMEME is strong in the vMEME stack of most politicians. Granted, there may be a sense of calling to public duty (BLUE) for some while others may see becoming a politician as personal career progression ORANGE); but there will almost always be strong RED. The schemas in the selfplex that I am important…that I have the answers…that I can make a difference…. This RED drive will enable these people to put themselves forward, to shout louder in a world of noise where he or she who shouts loudest is the one most often others listen to. It will literally drive them to work long hours, cajole potential allies and bully enemies, and build power networks with ‘subservient lesser beings’ dependent on their favours. Strong RED, lacking any real anticipation of consequences, will make promises it can’t keep and tell lies it can’t possibly substantiate to avoid the immediate shame of seeming powerless under pressure from ‘challenging lesser beings’. RED is usually mediated by BLUE and ORANGE in most politicians. Such strong RED gets out of hand from time to time so politicians tell stupid and indefensible lies, get caught having sex with someone they shouldn’t, fail to declare a… Read More

Could the Political Centre be making a Comeback?

    Could it just be that, with Bernie Sanders’ 13 April endorsement of Joe Biden as Democratic candidate in November’s presidential election – see the ABC News clip above – and the 4 April ascension of Keir Starmer to leadership of the Labour Party, the ‘centre’ is making a comeback in American and British politics? A new poll reported by The London Economic’s Jack Peat puts the centrist Starmer’s net favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘hardcore leftie’ he succeeded. (Of course, Corbyn was not really the Marxist the right-wing media slandered him as, though his views  were well to the left of Labour under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband) Meanwhile Sanders’ concession to Biden effectively signals the end of what might be termed the Democrats’ ‘hard left’ campaign to win the nomination for presidential candidate. (By ‘hard left’ here, we mean the leftie side of social democracy; again Sanders is nothing like the Marxist some on the hard right claim he is!) Biden is decidedly centrist in his politics – some might even argue right of centre – but that enables him potentially to pick up leftie Republican votes, especially those who are totally… Read More

We might never have a Labour Government again…

…if Keir Starmer isn’t elected Leader In and amongst the genuinely scary headlines over coronavirus and the lurid headlines about Priti Patel’s bullying of her staff, it’s easy to lose sight of the Labour Party leadership election – and just how important this will be for our kingdom. Voting in the membership ballot opened on 24 February and closes at midday on 2 April. The result of the leadership election will be announced on 4 April. To the dismay of a number of my Corbynista friends, I’m going to contend that, if the Labour Party fails to choose Keir Starmer as their leader, they will almost certainly lose the next election. If, following that, they fail to elect Starmer or someone like him, they will lose the election after that. In fact, it’s not inconceivable that we might never have a Labour government again. The problem with choosing Rebecca Long-Bailey is that, like Jeremy Corbyn before her, she will be pilloried by the right-wing press as a near-Communist flogging neo-Marxist policies exhumed from the 1970s. Anything she has said remotely expressing sympathy for a cause (such as Palestine) that could, how ever tenuously, be linked to a terrorist act (or even… Read More